Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Chick,Chick,Chick peas

We have gone through a fair few tins of chick peas and four bean mix over the years, so when I recently saw a quick method of canning  chick peas and beans recently I was keen to give it a go.
I owe credit for the info to a fellow called Ben Scholes on one of my canning sites I belong to, and the recipe was just called "Ben's Beans ".
I started with just one jar, slipped into a canner load of raw packed lamb chunks.as they are processed for the same time.
When I opened the jar we were very impressed as the  ratio of beans to liquid was perfect and the texture of the peas was just right.
So I decided that I would do a whole canner load of chick peas.I used  packets of dried chick peas that I purchased at a  middle eastern shop down in our local shopping centre that sells lot's of interesting bits and pieces.
I started by rinsing off the chick peas in a strainer under running water and then placed 1/2 cup of the dried chick peas into each pint(or 1 cupful per quart).
Next I filled the the pre-washed  jars with plain water  leaving about 1 inch headspace.
I then  wiped all the jar  rims with paper towel dipped in white vinegar, and applied the lids that had been previously simmered in water for a few minutes to soften the seals.  I then added the rings and screwed just  until finger tight.

I also added 1 jar of 4 bean mix as well so i could see how they would process too.
I then placed them all in my pressure canner and processed them at 10lbs pressure for 75 minutes for pints(or 90 minutes for quarts)
After the processing time was complete I turned off the stove and let the canner  drop back down in pressure and after it returned to zero I removed the weight,and when all steam had completely ceased I removed the canner lid .
I then removed all the jars and placed on a towel on the table to cool for 24 hours.
The next day I removed all the rings, checked my seals were intact and washed the jars and stored my rings for future use.I then stored the chick peas away for future use.
I had also on a previous load of  lamb stock processed some lima beans in the same way, but forgot that stock is processed at a shorter time than beans, so the beans really hadn't been done correctly so I refrigerated those and used them straight away.
I made "pantry stew" the next day, with jars of,lamb chunks,tomatoes,carrots,corn,stock,and the lima beans, It was really delicious.

We had unexpected quests turn up that weekend also  and I was quickly able to make up a 4 bean salad with the jars of beans, a  pint of canned corn, and a few other bits, and it was  great too.
Tonight I am cooking a small piece of pork and instead of the usual baked vegetables, my husband requested  that we have a chick pea salad and coleslaw, suits me just fine.
These beans will be so handy to us for quick salads and ways to stretch a soup or stew if extras turn up, I am certain that I will can many more jars of them in the future. Every time I can meat and I haven't a full load I will just slip a few of these in.
I must away now as it is close to our dinner time and I have that roast to check,
Until we meet again,

Monday, 28 October 2013

Water....always an issue

I know I have touched briefly on the subject of water before, but thought I would share a little more.
When we first bought the property back in 2003(Wow that time has flown) the only water we had was supplied by a couple of  metal tanks that collected the water off the house and  various out buildings. This just wasn"t enough to supply the needs of the house, garden and livestock, so we had to do something fairly quickly.
There had been an existing dam which at some time in the past had held water, it  now leaked badly and had become overgrown with pine trees and grass.

We talked to a few  people  who suggested it may be worth having the dam dug out  so we hired a  fellow to come and do that.
Unfortunately this didn't work as it then leaked like a sieve and was totally useless.
We made the decision to then use it as a rubbish tip as we demolished  and cleaned up the property we pushed and pulled all the  "stuff" into that big hole.
When  we had  filled it with all the rubbish, we then had our man come back with the bulldozer and fill it all in. It totally changed the look of that area . We suddenly had a much nice view to the west and a usable small paddock for our sheep(still no water but at least  grass.)
The previous owners  had also installed  an old above ground swimming pool to collect excess water and it probably was  also used for leisure during the hot  dry summer months as well by their children..As well as this storage, we had a smaller metal tank at the side of the house which collected  water off the house.We arrived up at the farm one day to find it had burst(it was old and rusty) and  we had lost 10,000 litres of water.

We removed  both lots of old rusty metal (and added it to the previous temporary rubbish hole) .
This left us a nice level platform to place a new  plastic  water tank (these are  special food grade for household water storage.) We ordered it through the local rural supplier and he delivered it out to our farm.

This tank holds 22,000 litres of water, which is collected off the roof of our house only and we then transfer it by  petrol pump up to  another storage tank behind the house .
Slowly as we have saved our money, we have  replaced  more of the antiquated water storage that was on the property. We then decided to sink our bore hole, which had to drill down 300ft to strike water , added all new  underground piping from the bore  to right up high behind  the house, where we got our bulldozer man back to push out a level pad for us to put another tank or two in time..

Brian added some nice compactable red dirt which we "borrowed " from an old quarry  down the road., He then laid these three thick sheets of  black rubber material to cusion the bottom of the tank from any small sharp stones that may be there.
Our same friendly rural supplier then  came with another tank, larger this time 27,000 litres.

Brian then did the connections to the old existing tank,virtually doubling our storage.(as the old one expires we will then twin the newer one as we can afford to ).
This photo shows the tanks. The  far left tank is our existing older metal rain water storage, the middle the newer plastic one (both these hold now the rainwater collected off  the  house and out buildings, and is then gravity fed back in the house. The green tank is what we pump the bore water up into and also then gravity feed back onto gardens. The system seems to work well but is  labour intensive with Brian having to lug pumps around a lot of the time. When we save a bit more money  we intend to set up a solar bore and a few electric pumps to ease the work load and have  the water supply a little more dependable and easier to work with .
There has been a lot of work and expense, but everything we do now is one less thing to do further  down the track.
Water will always be a priority, and without it we or anything else will cease to exist, so we value it greatly.
So until we meet again,
Cheers  to everyone,
Jane .

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Cuppa Anyone ?.

Every year in a small  old town  about half an hour from where we live on the coast they hold a Tea Pot Festival.
I went to it many years ago with my lovely neighbour Rita and her daughter , sadly since then Rita has passed away, so her daughter and I make the pilgrimage every year up to the festival.
I thought I would show you a few of the displays of the weird,wacky and also some very beautiful tea pots and related bits and pieces.

The tea pots vary from the traditional, to the quirky to the totally ridiculous, but we have a lovely day wandering around the place. This was the first year that I have ever taken my camera to take some photos.They have many,many more than what i have  photographed, with beautiful traditional pots and sets as well. There  is something  to interest most people.

Morpeth, the town where the festival is held,dates back many years  and is on the hunter River and steam boats  in years gone by used to service the township to the coastal port of Newcastle.. There is a lot of history in the town, beautiful old buildings and a very good  town association which keeps events like these running every year. They do a tremendous job.
My companion  and I make the  day out so much more than the tea pots, we always have a lovely morning tea and then follow it up later with a nice lunch somewhere.

The  two  tea pot sets above  have a distinctive Australian flavour with tradittional  aboriginal designs on them.Every year there is also a Tea Pot  Cosie competition, and they always have many weird and quirky designs among them.

This year they had a Golly display, they are either loved or disliked, but I decided to include them as they were there on the day.
They also had a display of early Australian electric Jugs(Kettles), they have become quite a collectors item these days and can fetch a good price.

Something I also found   hanging around was  a lot of wind chimes made from old,pots, and milk jugs and sugar bowls ect, they were quite effective, or at least I thought they were.
This painted cow was there too, so thought I would pop him in just for fun.
We have a fun day up at Morpeth tea pot festival  each year, and hope to keep going  for many years to come. It will be a good excuse for me to head back down this way each year to keep up the tradition.
So on that note, I may just put the kettle on and make myself a cuppa,
So until next time,

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rosemary drying

We grow a fair bit of Rosemary at the farm, mainly because it's one plant that survives the long periods that we are away without water, and it stays green all year round  and then produces lovely blue flowers for us,and gives us a herb that we use  constantly in the kitchen cooking our lamb.
We chose the "Tuscan Blue " variety  an upright ,hardy vigorous grower and it has done just that.We have to prune it regularly to keep it at a good and attractive height.
We have several areas in which we have planted  them.
We pruned this one  back about  two months ago and hung all the chopped off stems in an old curtain  up in the shed which remains  fairly dark and cool when we arn't there.
When we returned to the farm the next time   and checked it , it was all crunchy and dry , so I brought it inside to the kitchen and stripped of all the dried leaves....It made quite a mess as I am  really not a tidy or neat food preparer.

I ended up with  4 quarts of  dried leaves,loosely packed.
My husband reckoned  it was too coarse so he suggested that we blitz them in the processor, but I didn't have that up at the farm , so just gave them a hit with the stick blender to chop them up a bit finer.

I then placed the rosemary into 3 pint and 1 half pint Pre- washed  jars on a tray in the cold  oven and heated the jars and contents until the thermostat reached 200 Degrees Celsius, and then maintained that for about 10-15 minutes.
While the jars were heating in the oven, I simmered the jar lids in some water for a couple of minutes and when the rosemary was done, a jar at a time, dried the lids and sealed the jars with lids and rings to finger tight, and waited for them to ping, which they all did quite quickly.
I only had 2 pints  and a half pint left when I took the photos as I passed on one to my next door neighbour. We tend to swap and share a bit of everything we do.
This rosemary will keep us going for ages, as well as having the fresh.We often use the long rosemary  sprigs to skewer fish and chicken for BBQ's and just put sprigs on the BBQ when we are grilling our multitude of lamb chops.(We really do eat a lot of lamb!)
We also grow a fair bit of lavender as it is easy and hardy.
Next year once we relocate I hope to grow many more herbs and dry and store them, they are just so handy to have in the cupboard. One in particular is mint as I want to make mint sauce and jelly, and I also will grow,coriander, Italian parsley and basil,as they are the main  staple herbs that I use in cooking and salads.
We are having extreme heat here at the moment, for this time of year, we reached 38 Deg C (about 100 deg F) yesterday and we are told will be about the same today.(not bad for the middle of Spring) I hate to imagine what summer will bring this year.
So think I will hibernate this week until the cool change they are predicting hits us later in the week.
So cheers to everyone until we meet again,
Stay cool,