Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy Birthday & New Year

Every New Year's eve is my husband's birthday, so he gets a day full of his favourite things plus fireworks at the end!My present to him was his favourite.. cinnamon rolls! After they're cooked I take them out and turn them upside down so the gooey cinnamon caramel is on top.

I finally got the knack of plaiting onions to hang them up to dry. They blush when drying out - which jogged my memory.. they're French shallots! The name "potato onions" had me baffled for a while there.

In the end we had picked approx 6kilos of carrots and 3kilos of shallots. We still have a few more to pick from another patch in the garden.

I've been trying to figure out the recipe for these savoury nibbles made by Duchy Originals they're my favourite. I think I have the taste right, but I end up with a yummy biscuit instead of a crumbly crunchy "nibble". Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!

Apparently it took them 18months to perfect the recipe, so I don't think I've got much hope of getting it right anytime soon.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Gift giving time

Home made gifts are the best. They prove that you've really thought about your loved ones and invested (and sacrificed) time for them - which is what we've done this year.

The little lad made paintings for his Gramps, Farmor and Aunty in the UK. Some were laminated with Christmas paper and made into fridge magnets.

My rels locally had little hampers made up of dried herbs, home made gingerbread, gourmet items (that were reduced to clear through the year - with a long shelf life to go!), tapenade that I'd made at the Christmas crafts RS activity, and home made dukkah.

I hope you all had a great time too.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Today's Pickings & Picklings (well.. a preserve anyway)

A friend of mine gave me a really good idea. She said to grate up the zucchinis and freeze in 2cup lots so they're easy to get out and make zucchini cake.
I think I have my work cut out for me, I've still got the two I picked the other day!

Returning from a quick trip to Tassie, my friend sent me home with a back pack full of her home grown red currants. There was just over 2kilos and so what else could I do but make red currant jelly :o)

There's a delusion with jam making that alot of people have. Pectin is very rarely if at all needed. This recipe for "Superlative Red Currant Jelly" is from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1840).

Just place the washed fruit – stalks and all – in a preserving pan, bring slowly to the boil and stir, pressing the redcurrants to break down the fruit and release the juice. As soon as the fruit is cooked (about 10 minutes), add the sugar, stir until absolutely dissolved, then bring the mixture up to a rapid boil, and boil for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a large nylon sieve over a bowl and line it with a double layer of gauze. Then, when the 8 minutes are up, tip the whole lot into the sieve and let it drip through. If you don't mind not having a completely clear jelly, you can press to extract as much as possible. Then pour the jelly into the jars, which have been washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes

It set beautifully and tastes sensational! Eliza got this one right, it is in fact superlative red currant jelly.

It made 1 kilo of jelly. Can't wait to blob it on the turkey on Christmas day! Then on the left overs.. and the left overs...

Monday, 10 December 2007

80 Acres - Goat's Milk Soap

Natasha and Aaron (and family) have 80 acres of land up in Tropical North Queensland. I find their ethos refreshing and encouraging as making money is not a priority. They live to be self reliant (as we should be), have a happy home, with happy well education children.

I LOVE their website which demystifies the soap making process, reveals the deliciously simple and honest ingredients, all of which are AUSTRALIAN MADE/ produced.

We use our own goat’s milk. We don’t use powder, or source our milk from anywhere else. We milk our own goats, who are happy and content. Whilst there isn’t anything wrong with sourcing the milk from elsewhere, after all, there’s no rule saying to make goat’s milk soap you have to have goats! We consider this is beneficial for the customer as you can be reassured that the milk comes from a humane method.
We love our goats; they all have names and are milked by hand and spoilt rotten. We have enough goats that we don’t need our animals to be breeding machines to produce milk and we ensure all the babies stay with their mums until mum has had enough. We let them feed as much as needed and then we milk no more than we need with what’s left over. We do not support ANY method of factory farming whatsoever.

Goat's milk soap is amazing and I really don't think it should be classed as "soap" as the mental associations of dry skin or harsh cleansing is incorrect when it comes to hand made soap. It hasn't been messed with, nothing is taken away (like glycerine in regular soap production).

The ingredients in this soap are:

Goats Milk, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sunflower Oil.

No artificial colours or preservatives added.
(You can have fragrance and colour too - check the website)

Sunday, 9 December 2007

December Garden

While we've got a break from the co-op I thought I'd update you on my garden.

I've grown some cocozelle zucchini's which are similar to the old fashioned marrow. They are a variety that you can grow up to 2kgs without them becoming bitter. They're delish stuffed and baked or used for zucchini cake (or choc zuc cake)

I also have bunching onions called potato onions (no idea why), a strawberry patch (that little bucketful is just from this morning) and beetroots.

Here are some purple runner beans, snow peas, medium-ish carrots, strawberries and lemons.

I haven't really spent all that much time in the garden this year but I seem to have a bumper crop.

Anyway, off to stick in some more cucumbers.