Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Walnuts and a Zundapp Sewing Machine

Just look at this beauty!  a 1950's styled machine, made in Germany by a company who were better known for their motorbikes.  That is real eye candy.  I havent yet put it to use, but I'm hoping it will be sturdy and a good choice for basic quilting.

It is in going order, and actually had rows of sewing in it.  It has its own case, a lovely set of extra feet, some screwdrivers etc and someone even wrote out some instructions on how to load the cotton and bobbin.

I'll let you know how I get on.

As an aside, I have some walnuts now drying......another job to come, that of shelling.  Oh joy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feels like frost, pulled out Basil

Well, the nights are colder, and there is a distinct autumny feel in the air.  I pulled out the last of the basil last night before going to bed, as I was worried about getting up in the morning and finding it all gone brown overnight.

Here's my pesto recipe...I often substitute parsely for basil in the winter, with great success

Pick all the parsley or basil that you can.
In the blender put 1c oil and 3 cloves (or more) of garlic.  Whizz till you have garlicky oil.  Add the pesto, 1t salt, 1t pepper, and 1/4c of walnuts (if free even better) or pinenuts (not so free at about $17.00 per oz).  Whizz till you have a thick paste.  Scrape out of the blender and stir in 1c or more of grated cheddar cheese.  Stir through hot, drained pasta.

I know this is not a "traditional" pesto, there's no parmesan!  but it is made with staples from the pantry and is much easier to rustle up when it doesnt call for hard to get, or expensive ingredients.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just checked the Wine

Somehow the grape wine hasnt quite finished fermenting.  There is still a lot of fizzing going on, even though I have now "casked" it.  When will it stop?  if it doesn't stop do I bottle up "sparkling wine"?  Oh, my technique is so vague that its impossible to know what is going to happen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

High Drama in the Chookhouse

It's 3:52am and I am wide awake.  In the chookrun a ferret skulks in a trap.  We can hear the occasional rattle as it tries to free itself.  I know that in the morning I will have to kill it!

We were woken earlier this morning by the screaming of a chicken.  I didn't know chickens could scream, it was surely a sound I have not heard before.  Due to the unusual placement of our chook run it is right outside our bedroom windows.  Bad news, bad news.  I woke with a start, jolted by the sound.  Mark is grumbling that he will ignore the noise, but I cant.  By the time I rushed outside in dressing gown and gumboots the chicken noise is horrible.  Mark reluctantly got up, and went to the garage to get a hammer.  Actually he came back with a torch, which proved to be just as good as a hammer.

My god, a FERRET was trying to drag one of the chickens (still alive) under the chookhouse.  Dumb thing had not worked out that one large chicken will not fit into one small ferret hole! The chicken's head and neck are under the chookhouse and the rest of it is flapping around.  Mark dragged it back by its feet, dragging the ferret out at the same time.  He proceeded to hit the ferret on the head with the torch to make it let go, which eventually it did, retreating into the hole.

We close the chookhouse door (we have been slack recently and not locked them in at night)

We went back to bed.

5 minutes later we got up again.  More drama....the ferret is now trying to climb through the chicken netting to grab a chook which is not perching but sitting in a drab heap on the chookhouse floor.  I have the torch trained on the sharp toothed killer, it's in the spotlight.  This doesn't seem to deter it one little bit.

Right, I go and get the dog from Matt's room.  Dog is pleased to see me, but not pleased to be thrown in to the chookrun in the middle of the night.  Mark tries to interest the dog in the hole where the ferret has retreated for a second time.  Dog ignores Mark and tries to get out the gate....

We do have a ferret trap, left over from our last ferret experience (2 ferrets on consecutive nights).  I get it out, and place an egg into it.

We go back to bed.

Neither of us can sleep....soon we hear the telltale rattling sound of a ferret enjoying an egg, but not enjoying captivity.  Thank god they are not particularly bright!  Yay, one ferret caught.  However, Mark and I are wide awake.  A cup of tea and a read of a book....

Photo to come in the morning :-) night all....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pumpkins today, also the promised Elderberry Wine recipe

So, today was the pumpkins final day, I hope they enjoyed the sun for the last time.  Now they are put down in the garage for a long sleep until we need them.  I did manage to cut one of them accidentally without a stem, so we will eat it first, but the others should last for months in the cool garage.

The Elderberry Wine recipe is especially for my motherinlaw, Pam!

ELDERBERRY WINE (Gentlemans Wine, or Elderberry Port)
This makes a strong, fragrant, sweet port-like wine which is lovely after dinner.

Step 1: Take 2kgs of elderberries, stalks off (to do this, run a fork down the stems to remove berries), put into a bucket and mash with a potato masher.  Pour over 6 litres of boiling water.  Cover with a cloth (to keep out flies and bugs) and leave to stand for 2 days, stirring each day.

Step 2: Strain through a muslin into a clean bucket.  Slice 1 lemon without peeling, bruise a 2inch piece of root ginger with a hammer (I just grate it), put in a pot and add 1 litre of the elderberry liquid.  Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4oz cloves.  Boil for 20 mins.  Put the whole lot in with the bucket of liquid.  Stir in 1.5kg brown sugar and 8oz  raisins (chopped roughly).  Stir in 1t yeast.  Cover with muslin and leave in a warmish room till it stops foaming and fermenting, which takes about 6 days (more or less depending on weather).

Step 3: Strain into a big clean container.  Leave 6 months.  Then into clean bottles.

Ready to drink in 3 years...but I started drinking mine in year 1 and it was lovely!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Crescent Dragonwagon rocks!

When I was in my late teens I lived in Sydney and I had a lot of spare time, being young, working (read - had money!), and exploring the Sydney streets all the time.  Not long after I had arrived I picked up a copy of a cookbook called "The Commune Cookbook" by Crescent Dragonwagon.   What a ridiculous name, I thought.  How could that be her real name?

It read a bit like a diary, with recipes inserted.  Kind of like a blog is these days.  She was 16 and had moved in with this guy, into a Brownstone in (perhaps) San Fransisco or somewhere similar.  I have since read that she and her hubby (yes, she was impossibly young to get married, it hasnt lasted so I read on the net), wanted to change her name.  There is a strange story about how they came up with "Dragonwagon".  I think they changed it by deedpoll and everything, it was her legal name.

She tells of trying to make and sell bread (not a success), of getting free food at the end of the day from markets, and even of "gasp" stealing food in an effort to live cheaply.

So, I trawled the net.  It's not a book I have managed to hang onto over the years.  She read so well tho, despite being very young, impressionable, incredibly idealistic and naive.  I found that she is the author of many, many books.  Several cookbooks, a myriad of childrens books and goodness knows what else.  She also runs writing classes.

When I owned this book I thought it was a one-off, oddity.  Not so.  So, not so!

Go Crescent!

Food from today's harvest

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Winemaking, the good old fashioned way

At last! someone who sees the world as I do.  This person has "uncomplicated" the art of winemaking.  I particularly like his suggestion of taking a container of wine juice and leaving it in a container in a warmish place for 3 months then bottling it and drinking....how simple can that be!


Today I have picked the last of our eating grapes and made them into my own "wine"....I'll let you know in 2 or 3 years time how that has gone :-)  I just squished them up, added boiled water and sugar, and a cinnamon stick, a few cloves and some grated fresh ginger.  I then added 1t of plain yeast....and now I wait.

It;s a pretty nice colour, and the stuff tastes good off a spoon....

How to dehydrate herbs

Pick the herbs on a dry afternoon, place in a single layer in the dehydrator.  Put on low heat for about 4-6hrs.  The ones I have been most successful with are thyme and mint.  In fact, the mint smells wonderful, good enough to make tea with!

You can also just tie them in bunches and hang in a cool dry place till crispy, which is the old fashioned way and just as successful.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Maori Purple Potatoes

I don't know what variety these are, just that they are known here as "Maori Potatoes".  They are deep purple in colour, both inside and out.

Previously I have tried to cook them by boiling, but the result was not very good, they fell apart and made a mess rather than something nice to eat.  My sister gave me seed potatoes this year, and told me to roast them and then eat hot, or wait till they are cold and add to salads for colour.

We are going to try this lot with our Roast Chicken tonight.  I'll keep you posted on how we go....

Look at the inside of them, as purple as the outside, it's very spectacular.  The kids refused to eat them, but Mark and I enjoyed them :-)