Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Head Cheese and Mini Quiche. !

We have had a huge glut   of zuchini ,both green and yellow,
and eggs,
and as I have already made up a big batch of pickled zuchini I decided to make up some mini quiches
So using a dozen eggs at a time and adding some cartons of sour cream that after Christmas were fast approaching their use by date,
I then added a few grated zuchini,  2 pkts of spring vegetable soup base, some grated cheese, 2 Tablespoons plain flour, salt ,pepper and an onion cut up finely and a little extra milk .
After mixing this altogether I poured them into oiled  muffin trays.
I baked them at about 190 deg c until risen  but set.
I made this amount three times,
When cold I then bagged them and froze for later use, They are handy to pull out as a cold snack or with salads, or can be gently reheated to have hot with veggies.
The other issue we had was freezer space. Before Christmas we had butchered two pigs,
And although all the meat was not  all  for us  I decided to freeze the two pigs head to have a go at Brawn or known else where around the world as Head Cheese or Souse.
I dug out a few recipes  that I found in my overly large collection of old cook books and decided to just wing it taking all of the info that I found on board.
I defrosted my two  heads( and I apologize in advance if the pictures offend  you)
And a view from another angle to show just how meaty they are.
After soaking the heads in salty water for a few hours to clean,  I then decided that I would try cooking them in my big pressure canner as the days are extremely hot here and I didn't fancy having my stove cooking away for up to 5 or 6 hours.
So I added my two heads, and the remains  of the two ham bones that we had devoured over Christmas,
Then I added 3 large chopped onions, 3  carrots,  a few sticks of celery, about a dozen peppercorns, a Tablspoon salt,3 Bay leaves, some garlic, a cup of vinegar and  just covered it with water.
The lid was then locked down on the pressure cooker and  we cooked  it at 15 lbs pressure for 45 minutes.
After the  pressure cooker had  de pressureised , we removed the lid ,
I then removed the meat and bones,( which were practically falling apart) strained the  liquid, discarding the vegetables(to the chooks)
All the usuable, meat, skin and fat was removed and chopped and set aside, tongues peeled and chopped and added to the meat dish and the  non usable parts  also given to the chickens.
The remaining liquid was then simmered  for about another half an hour to reduce a little to concentrate the flavours. I measured about  a litre out of this into a jug(not really knowing how much I would require), and stirred in 4 teaspoons of powdered gelatine.( I did this as a precaution as I was unsure how well it would naturally gel.
This was then mixed into the reserved chopped meat ect until it looked about the right consistency , and I found that this only required a little under 500 mls) This could vary on batch to batch.
The mix was then poured into my tongue press, a beautiful old piece of  kitchen equipment passed on to me about 20 years or so ago by a butcher friend, which had been previously oiled and then had a couple of layers of plastic  wrap  put into it with excess  each side and end.
The ends were then wrapped over the mix to form a package,
and the  press lid was clamped down to put pressure onto the mix.
Once it was locked down it was placed in the fridge overnight to set the gel.

The next morning we  unlocked the press, unwrapped the plastic wrap and  were so pleased with the results of our effort, a glorious log, about 2 kgs( 4 lbs ) of Brawn or Head Cheese.
Of course we couldn't resist slicing it immediately,
I was very happy with the texture of the loaf, the only change I would make would be to include a little less fat in the mix next time.
We have had this several times since  with salads and on crusty sandwiches with pickles, but my favourite is with a good squeeze of my recently made plum sauce...delicious, even if I say so myself. !!!.
I will certainly be making this on a regular basis, quite easy and such a tasty way to use up a lot of otherwise wasted ingredients.
The older generation certainly knew how to make the most of everything, I take my hat off to them.
So , I will try and catch up  with posts more often, but sometimes I just  don't and I apologize in advance.
Until we meet again down the track,
Take care
Jane and Brian.

Monday, 9 January 2017

And Life Goes on. !!!

 Christmas is over for another year, I wasn't as excited   as I should have been, but I loved having my Mum here with us for a few days.
My brother Gordon  also joined us and while he was here Brian and he got a few small jobs done.
One of those was to put a temporary fence around  a few of the vegetable gardens to stop the chooks and guinea fowls  munching away on our young spinach plants. They also installed the new retracting hose reel that Brian got for Christmas and put a temporary shade cover over my two young blueberry bushes to protect them from that hot biting summer sun.

The garden is doiling well considering the lack of rain, Brian has been watering diligently every day, the garden in the orchard is doing well and  I saw the otherday that the melon vines have some decent sized melons on them. Maybe he will win first place again this year at our local agricultural show.
The Brother in Law next door gave me a second bucket of plums, so I made up a second batch of plum sauce.
They were Satsuma variety this time,
They made a slighter darker red sauce up and I have included the recipe below. I used white vinegar, but any would be fine. This recipe is from the old Commonsense Cookbook.
 It  was about this time that Brian noticed the birds starting to attack our new plum tree in the orchard with it's small crop and we picked half a bucket of  fruit from the tree.
Ours is a grafted tree with two varieties, Satsuma and Santa Rosa plums.
So once again I cut  them up and  this time decided to make plum jam.
Below is the recipe for the Jam, also from the old Commonsense Cookbook.
It cooked up beautifully,
and produced 13 jars of gorgeous plum jam.  We don't eats much jam, but always handy for sale, or gifts or  to have on hand for visitors or Devonshire teas.
I recycle jars that my younger daughter saves for me. She purchases them at Aldi with  products that she cooks with regularly and  they are a great size for the pickles and jams( I just purchase new lids  for each use.)
Our eldest daughter and  her children came to spend a few days with us over New Years, the weather was  extremely hot but we managed to get through with  our fans and a paddle pool for the littlies and lot's of drinks. We invited the in laws next door and their grandchildren over for New Years Eve dinner.
Brian had bought a new fancy Christmas laser light  and the kids loved it how it lit up the back verandah

The  neighbours brought sparklers over and the kids loved  playing with them also, we had a lovely night.
New  Years  brought with it many storms around the area but  sadly we missed most of them with just once  giving us 2,5 mm of  rainfall while  farms very nearby getting   around the 50 mm mark, oh well it will eventually come.
We have had a sneaky  turkey hen, that every day for the last three weeks or so has hopped the fence, by way of flying up onto a rainwater tank, wanders around the yard until she thinks no one is looking,
Then she sneaks in behind one of the raised vegetable gardens,
And hops up into it,
Then plants herself among  the zuchini plants,
And lays her egg  !!! and then Brian  steals it and the process is repeated again the following day. ( we have enough turkeys for a while ,so we are just eating the eggs .
Brian started a new batch of chickens off  in the incubator this week, some special australorp eggs from a friend and  some of our Isa Brown eggs as well.
We moved the last batch of 16  chickens from the halfway house,
down to the grower shed,
gave our grand daughter a few hens for Christmas( her request) and moved the cockerels up to Death Row awaiting despatch( not nice way to think but a fact of life here.)
We advertised some of the half grown turkeys for sale yesterday,
hoping that maybe  there may be a market  for them, but if not  we will despatch them to the freezer and canning for the pantry.
We  moved the  29 three week old turkeys  from the brooder in the shed into the now vacant halfway house.

As the paddocks are drying out extremely quickly, we decided to purchase a large round bale of oaten hay for the sheep,
They flattened it in no time at all, and have barely left the pile for the last 4 days since it was dropped.  They waste a bit usually, but this time they have just stayed there munching away.
This week marked two years since we made the final move to live here permanently here on the farm,.
It was a big decision, and at times has been fun, and not so fun, hard work and  and relaxing times, construction and mess , but we are slowly creating the place we want to be in  and wouldn't swap it for quids.
We have met and made many new friends, re acquainted  ourselves with old friends, joined a few volunteer groups and had a few trips away,  Life is Good  !!!!
Take care of you and yours until we meet again,
Jane and Brian.