Sunday, 23 February 2014

My kitchen runneth over .

It's been a really busy week in the coast  kitchen, The man of the house went off away  to work and I decided,in my wisdom that I really needed to pull the proverbial finger out and get something accomplished and have something to show for all my time here alone.
So I decided in my wisdom to  stock up on my Apple Pie Moonshine supply as as it was  getting pretty low and I had found some cute jar mugs for $1.00 each
in our local cheap shop that I thought would be perfect for the job.I was really pleased with the result and am sure that they will be a big hit at our next  social gathering that we  organize .
Next  item on the agenda was "Habanero Gold", we had grown Habaneros for the first time this year specifically to make this gorgeous golden jelly with a kick  and thought that if I didn't do it soon, they would fall off the shrub and all would be forgotten ,which would be such a waste..
So, I picked the hot little blighters (wearing gloves) and prepared them(wearing gloves) along with the other ingredients and  produced these beautiful little jars of the most tasty jelly to have with cheese and crackers  during happy hour. I have also been told it is  lovely as a baste for chicken and fish before grilling and warmed a little as a dipping sauce.
This  batch is supposed to last me 12 months, but there is fat chance of that happening, so as more habaneros ripen looks like  I will be making jelly again.
The next item on my to do  list was dilled carrots, I had purchased a 5kg bag and had big plans for them, half into the dilled carrots and half for  some salad pickles.
I had decided to make some Vietnamese  Daikon radish and carrot pickle. There had already been an earlier batch made of this  a few weeks ago, and I quickly realized that the supply I had was definately not going to last very long, as we were consuming it at the speed of light(or should I say The Man of the house was !).So, here goes, this is how I make it.....
Firstly I peel and  julienne Daikon long white radish and the same for carrots. I think there was about 2 kgs of each when done.
Then in a deep stainless steel saucepan on the stove, I heated up 6 cups of white vinegar,6 cups water, 3 cups white sugar,and about 2 tablespoons grated ginger root, until boiling, adding the carrot and radish and bring back to the boil and simmering for  1 minute.Then take off the heat.

Then into the bottom of your pre -prepared jars place 1 Star Anise (a beautiful aniseed tasting  spice).
Next pack the carrot and radish into the jars and pour the sweet  boiled liquid over the top of them leaving about a 1/2 inch head space at the top.You will then need to  release any bubbles with a non metallic utensil and then re-adjust the head space level again.
A quick wipe over the rims  with paper towel soaked in vinegar, and pop on the pre-simmered lids and screw on the rings finger tight and all is ready for the water bath.


We then place the jars in the water bath preserver (electric in my case) and cover the tops of the jars with a couple of inches of water, place the lid on ,bring to the boil and maintain that for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off, and remove the lid and let the jars sit for another 5 minutes before removing them  onto a towel covered bench out of cold  draughts  to cool down .
The jars are  left  to cool for 24 hours before removing rings, washing and labeling and storing away in the pantry(minus the rings).
Another job  I decided to do  was to use up the peelings of the radish,carrot and some celery leaves  that I had saved  to  make  some vegetable powders by dehydrating them and  grinding them up..



So I loaded all these into my great little dehydrator and set them going. I had to do this in two loads which took most of the day.After they were ready ,they looked like the photos below.


After they had all dried and been ground up this is what I had, celery powder, Tomato powder(from a previous days work) and a mix of carrot and radish together.

These powders will be a wonderful addition to my pantry to use as fillers and flavours for many dishes to come out of my kitchen, without the added salts and chemicals and preservatives that are found in the commercial products.I was very pleased with the final results and will continue to make and use these extra little  bits and pieces that would normally have been wasted to a certain degree.
So until we meet again next time,
I bid a cheery farewell to you all,
Jane.

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Rain Finally came.!!!

We made a quick trip up to the farm this week as we had purchased a cool room. We had been  keeping our eyes open for one for some time and this one just happened along and was the perfect size  for us and was  within our price range that we had  allocated.
When we do our butchering up at the farm we usually do a couple of sheep  at a time to make it worthwhile, and now being able to hang the  carcasses for a few days  will make the meat taste even better. Also it will be  fantastic when we have large gatherings for keeping  food and drink cold. It will take so much pressure off my house fridge.
We will need to add a few more solar panels and an  inverter of it's own as we want to keep it on a separate  "grid" to the house.
When we arrived, there had been 26 mm of rain the night before, the place was still very bare,but we knew it would pick up soon.

Our next door neighbour(my husbands brother) has a better block down the road a few kilometers, and we keep a few of our sheep and a couple of cows there while the conditions are so bad on our smaller properties.  As we had driven  past on our way  to our place we had noticed a small new calf by himself, so after the brother in law  helped us to unload the cool room we went for a drive down to check it out.

She was a very sweet little calf, but sadly the first time mum was no where to be seen.We hung around for a couple of hours there  hoping that the Mum may  come back.We wern't
 sure which one it was and the boys did a bit of a scout around to try and identify her,meanwhile, my sister in law and I  had some very friendly horses  come up to say hello. They were lovely.
They eventually found the mother of the calf and decided to lock them up together  into the yards  so that she may begin to nurse him overnight. We raced home and got some hay for her and a big  container for water and left them overnight. That night we had three  storms pass over and we recieved another 27 mm of rain. Next morning the brother in law went to check on the mum and bub and they were ok, and the calf was still alive, but to my brother in laws shock, two of his best animals, a steer and a lovely cow were laying dead under a nearby tree, struck dead by lightening during the storms of the night, the tree they were under was smashed and charred from the lightening..
 And then the rain came again.



Just so lovely to see the tanks overflowing again...not all are full to the top, but most of them are.
Brian continued to hand
feed the sheep, as he hoped that by doing that , that the sheep  would have full bellies and may leave some of the new shoots alone for a couple of days...I think it worked a bit, they certainly seemed content. The babies born last month are growing, especially the singles. The twins arn't doing as well, but hopefully will pick up once there is a bit of green feed.


While we were up there, I also took the opportunity to sort out a few more preserving jars. I had purchased these green plastic stacking boxes from Aldi and had these shelves down in the shed holding used paint tins, so combined the two and scored myself  a  good new storage area for some of  the empties.
And speaking of green, within 48 hours of the  first lot of rain, we had beautiful new green shoots   all around the place. The photo below is on our front lawn,....I am so happy.
With a bit of luck, when we go up next I should be able to post some  photos of a wonderful green  farm, I certainly hope so anyway.
That final night we were there we had the most glorious sunset, we were in the kitchen doing the dishes and my husband pointed it out to me through the kitchen window, so I raced out and captured it's last golden rays through the trees as it was setting behind the rocky hill  on our boundary.
We headed home yesterday morning, back to the rat race, back to work and routine. Sadly when we arrived home we had a message from my Brother in Law to let us know that  the dear little brown calf unfortunately hadn't been strong enough to make it through the  second night and they had lost her.
So sad,I hope there is more success  with the others. They already have had 4 healthy calves, with  a few more still to  deliver, all we can do is hope for the best outcome.
So, until we catch up again,
best wishes to everyone,
Cheers,
Jane.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Been away to Binnaway

When we were up at the farm  a couple of times ago I went for a drive into Binnaway ,our soon to be local town and took some photos through a tourists eyes. Binnaway is located about 460 klms west of Sydney. It was founded in around 1876 . I grew up  on a large farm near  this town which then was a thriving  little railway town with a population of about 1500 for town and surrounding area.
 We had a  busy railway, hospital, 4 grocery shops, butcher, 2 bakers, 3  garages, a couple of cafes, a movie theatre and various other  shops and businesses.
When the railway service was down graded, we also lost our local hospital and many other bussinesses and services  went by the way.
Now Binnaway has a smaller population of about 500 people.

 This is an aerial photograph of the township, I didn't take this but thought I would include it in this post.

The road into town from our direction  is quite pretty, efforts have been made to plant  lovely deciduous trees either side of the road, and as they grow they are starting to give a wonderful display as the seasons change.
You enter town from this direction over the Castlereagh River, a lovely meandering river most of the time with great fishing spots along its banks but it can at time of heavy rain be a threatening raging torrent The view up and down the river off the bridge is beautiful, a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon.


.Just over Corry Bridge(named after a wonderful Doctor who spent his life time  as our greatly valued GP) is a lovely little picnic area, one of a few in the township.
Directly across the road  from the  river is the Binnaway  Central School. It has classes from Kindergarten up to year 12 senior High School and has a wonderful reputation and  excellent staff.
Binnaway has a pretty tree lined main street where most of the shops and businesses are located.The Railway signals,clock  and station signs were placed here to acknowledge  the great part the railway played in Binnaway's history.This is maintained  by dedicated local volunteers.
Also along the river is a wonderful caravan park/camping grounds.It is known as the Pump House camping grounds..This is the old pump house that used to supply the township with water in days gone by.

This is a free camping site beautifully maintained by the Binnaway Progress Association and the Lions club, a very  dedicated group of volunteers.,  there are free unpowered sites available as well as powered sites for a small fee. The only cost is for hot water( $2 per 5  min) and power if needed .There are plenty of shaded area ,BBQ's and facilities, a really pretty spot to spend a few days.Contact number for this facility is  02  68492144.
Binnaway  has  two Hotels, The Royal and The Exchange, both excellent watering holes, offering meals on certain days and regular raffle draws, usually as fund raisers for local groups of volunteers.

We also have a local police station to keep law and order, not that ,that is a big problem.
 Across the road from the Police Station is the little church that  we got married in, now no longer in service  and has been  converted into a residence.
Binnaway also supports a local Bowling club,
Golf club,tennis club,
Small bore target  rifle club, and a very good and successful  junior sports club and a beautifully maintained stadium and sports oval.
Binnaway main street is at times quiet and slow but at other times busy and really alive.
There is a newsagents/ post office/rural transaction centre, and a rural supply shop.
There is also a local craft shop,ran by volunteers, and a local supermarket and garage.

Across the road from the supermarket is "Len Guy Park" so named after a very dedicated man who still lives in Binnaway, that while running a local business and raising a family still gave many,many countless hours to the town in many volunteer positions.I think this park is maintained by the "Lions" club volunteers and is a credit to them.
Also in the main street is the place where I first worked upon leaving school, The bank !
Also nearby is the local council swimming bathes , many an afternoon was spent there with friends  and is still a very popular place in summer for children and adults alike.
With such a large rail history ,when it was downsized the  local  people organized a volunter group called the "Rail Heritage Society" and raised money to convert the old  Railway mens barracks to  more up dated accommodation. They restored the old building and now maintain it as excellent  visitors accommodation, which is regularly booked for  local functions.
It supplies 11 rooms(twin singles) at very reasonable overnight rates. It has disables access both entry and bathrooms and  has communal, breakfast  and lounge rooms on a help yourself basis.There is an onsite caretaker  and has had excellent feedback from past visitors. For anyone interested in booking accomodation at the barracks the contact number is :  0400477355 or if that number is  not available you can try   02 68441593.Also nearby of interest is the old water tank towers, they were used in the old steam train days for  refilling the water in the steam engines.

Binnaway is in a rural area, well known in the past as a big wheat growing are, and now mixed crops,cattle and sheep. The photo below is one of two  grain storage silos that operated  along side  the railway.Also  a big part of the rural sector is the sale yards which  still have regular  cattle sales.
One of the other wonderful volunteer groups that we have in town is "The Men's Shed", it gives local men a place to meet and share  talents and stories and  work together doing joint  works to enhance their skills and friendships.As well the town benefits from many of their projects. They use the  building that used to house the local fire Brigade ,which now has a newer home.
As we leave Binnaway by another  direction we cross a lovely old low level cement bridge. When I was a child this was our only way into town and when the Castlereagh was in flood  it was usually impassable. It was replaced with Corry bridge  in  the late 60's or early 70's.
The above photo shows the same location during a flood a few years ago.
 This is a very picturesque  spot on the river that is always changing after each and every  flood that passes down it and  it  always hold very special childhood memories for me.
 I know , there are many more  places, groups and area that I have not mentioned  or photographed in this post and that is not to say what a great part they play in this wonderful  small town.A small town like this these days needs all the support and  help it can get. Times are hard everywhere and many small towns like this are suffering  and they  rely more and more on the tourists dollars. If ever you are passing by this way, stay a day or two and relax, you won't be sorry.I'll keep a lookout for you !.
So until we meet again
Cheers to all,
Jane.