Monday, 28 April 2014

Sauce with a kick !

About a week ago, I noticed that the Habanero bush was producing much more than I could realistically use up in "Habanero Gold"(sweet pepper jelly), so I decided I would make up a batch of  spicy Tomato/Habanero sauce.
So I picked  a decent amount of them, sorted the ripe ones to do the sauce and retained the others to cook with and to give to a friend that wanted some green ones..
For the recipe I  used 14 cups of peeled,cored and chopped Tomatoes..
5 Cups white vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons ginger(minced)
2 tablespoons Garlic(minced)
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons mustard powder
3 bay leaves
2-3 cups, seeded chopped  red/orange Habaneros
4 largewhite or brown onions(chopped)
1x 500 ml bottle of tomato pasta sauce.
I added all of this together into a stock pot and boiled for about 30 minutes.
After this I removed from the heat, fished out the bay leaves and blended the entire contents of the pot. I then placed it back on the heat and boiled for another 20-30 minutes to reduce and reach the desired thickness., keeping an eye not to stick to the bottom.
I then made my self a funnel out of an old drink bottle and filled my bottles that had been keeping hot in a sink full of hot water.
After this I wiped the rims clean with paper towel soaked in white vinegar, placed the caps on(which I buy new each season) and placed all the bottles into my electric  boiling water bath preserver.
After bringing up to boiling point, I then processed the jars for 15 minutes, after which I turned off the processor ,removed the lid and allowed the bottles to sit for a further 5 minutes before removing them onto a towel covered bench to cool.When they were cooled I labeled them and stored away 9some to stay on the coast and some to go up to the farm.
I ended up with 12  x 500 ml bottles, which I was really happy with.
I had a small amount over(about a half pint) which we used some of on our dinner that night.
 It was so tasty, I am very pleased with the result, just a lovely tomato sauce with a good kick of chilli.I was extremely happy with dinner that night because apart from some of the sauce  every bit of that food on the plate we had produced ourselves. The lamb was from the farm, the chokos fresh from the garden, corn frozen when we harvested our crop, and canned carrots and beans from our garden as well.Even the tomatoes had been our own(I used previously canned tomatoes)
I certainly will be making this again, I think it will prove to be a popular condiment in this household in the future.Most of us like a bit of chilli.
So until we meet again,
take care all of you  and stay safe,

Friday, 18 April 2014

Mrs Morris's Mustard Choko Pickles.

Ever since we have lived here on the coast, nearly 30 years, we have had a Choko vine for most of that time. Some years there are a glut,and some years just a  reasonable amount, but every year, we run out of things to use the choko for. It is also known by two other names around the world, Chayote and Merliton.

The top picture shows the vine in a good year, where it ran every where, the the lower photo is just last week, we have a smaller crop this year due to the extreme heat and dry weather  that we had experienced this last summer and the fact that we were not  here to give it as much water.
I have a mustard pickle recipe that I make each year,  that a lovely   neighbour of my Mum's  up in the country passed on to her.She is long gone now , her name was Mrs Morris( so we now always without fail call this recipe "Mrs Morris's Pickles" It can be made with Green Tomatoes,cauliflower,choko or a mix of all three.(I have used zuichinni as well sometimes).
Firstly I advise you to put on thin "skins" gloves as the chokos have a strange slimy  feel when peeled that dries like a brown second skin on your hands and is difficult to remove. I doubled the recipe when I made this batch. It doubles and triples quite well. I rarely make a single batch.

You will need to have 2 1/2 lbs of Choko, Green Tomato or Cauliflower(I used all choko)
next you add 1 cucumber,Peeled and chopped
Then  you add 1 green capsicum(Bell pepper) Chopped(seeds removed)
And 2 large onions, peeled and chopped.
Put this altogether in a large stainless steel stock pot, cover with water and  add 1/4 cup salt and leave overnight. All the peelings went to the two worm farms.

Next morning, place pot on heat and bring to the boil and boil for10 minutes,. While this is boiling prepare your jars ready and  make a  smooth  paste  up in a bowl of 2 tablespoons of plain flour, 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder,1 teaspoon curry powder,2 teaspoons Turmeric and a pinch of cayenne pepper with about 3-4 tablespoons  of white vinegar.
After the 10 minutes, drain off the liquid, and add 2 cups white sugar and 1/2 pint white vinegar and return to heat and boil for about  3 minutes.

After this, remove and add  yellow paste
Then stir thoroughly to  combine evenly and make sure there are no floury lumps.Place back on heat and boil for about a minute or two to  thicken and cook the flour.
I then used a small plastic jug to pour the piping hot pickles  into jars  as my plastic jar funnel  is just a teeny bit too small for the jars I used this time.
I then wiped the rims of the jars clean with a paper towel soaked in white vinegar, screw on my new lids and place my jars in a double layer with a pizza tray separating the layers into my electric water

bath preserver.I then brought it to the boil and processed the jars at that temperature for 10 minutes, after which I turned it off, removed the lid and let the jars sit in the unit for another 5 minutes.

I then removed them out onto the towel covered bench until they cooled,
I then insisted they line up and pose  for one final photo shoot before labeling and storing away in the pantry.

We use these  pickles a lot, We use it in Sandwiches,plain and toasted with cheese, and on hot and cold meats, beaten into cream cheese as an impromptu dip.and in a tuna casserole that I make pastry and spread the pickles over the pastry then roll it  up and cut  slices through(I then turn these spirals face up on top of the tuna and white sauce and bake.) It Maybe an acquired taste, but one my family loves.My Mum used to make it when we were young and we always loved it.
This may be the last crop we see here as we will have probably moved to the farm full time before next years crop, and it will probably take a while to establish a vine out there(if at all as it is frost sensitive). So I may in future be making the Tomato or cauliflower version of this, which isn't a problem as they are equally as tasty.
So everyone until we meet again,
Cheers to you all,

Monday, 14 April 2014

A basket full of pears.

Due to the prolonged drought last year we have been fairly limited this season as to what fruit we can preserve. The supplies have been lower and more expensive than usual. Even our neighbours who usually have their own Apples,plums,apricots,peaches, pears ,quinces ,cherries and mulberries have had  nothing at all this year.
So  with this in mind when I was shopping the other day I noticed that pears were on sale at Harris Farm Market at 99 cents a kg, so I decided to purchase about 15 kgs.
So, I thought about what I could preserve. I decided to do pear slices and diced pears in extra light syrup.(we are trying to cut down on the sugar  load a little)
I set to work peeling,cutting and coring the pears and as each was done I dropped them into a solution of water and lemon juice to stop them from turning brown.
The pears were then packed into pint mason jars and covered with an extra light syrup made by dissolving  1 1/4 cups white sugar into   5 1/2 cups of hot  water .
I then removed the bubbles from the jars, wiped  the rims clean with  white vinegar on paper towel and completed the seals and processed  in my electric water bath preserver for  20 minutes
I was on a roll, and thought about what else I could make,so  I went and purchased some more pears and some other fruit and started on making some fruit salad  cocktail.
So the peeling and chopping began again, I placed all the fruit in a big stockpot, mixed it all up well and then packed into my jars, poured the same extra light syrup over and then  removed the bubbles with a good old chopstick.

The jar rims were then wiped  clean, lids fitted to seal and  they were processed in my electric water bath preserver for 20 minutes.
I had about 2 kgs of pears left after this and  wanted to try a recipe for Caramelized vanilla pear preserves that a canning friend   Bev Dobson had passed on to me.
So , back to the chopping board I went. This recipe calls for 2kgs of diced pears(cut to about 1-2 cm )
To which you add 2 cups sugar,1/3 cup lemon juice and 1 good teaspoon vanilla  extract.
This is then cooked until the fruit softens and the liquid  reduces, thickens a little and changes to a  light golden colour. The smell is amazing as it cooks.
It is then put into jars, sealed and water bathed for 10 minutes to  make sure that the seal is intact to make shelf stable.
All in all I was quite pleased with my couple of days work, these will all be wonderful additions to my pantry shelves and I am certain they won't last very long.Having said that, we have already gobbled up two pints of pears .
I now have to think about what to preserve next, I have this thing where I struggle to look at empty jars on the shelf, I want them full again as quickly as possible....All part of that Canning Addiction I suspect.
I have also started my own Facebook  page. It is called" My Canning Addiction" and can be found at
I hope to see you there sometime,
So until we meet again,

Friday, 4 April 2014

Mud,Mud,Glorious Mud.!!!

Recently on here and on my face book page I have had  a few lovely comments  about our beautiful Blue Heeler "Tilly". She is the love of our life and goes everywhere with us.
I was reminded recently of one day  a few years ago when I was out photographing my husband putting up a new fence on the farm and Tilly was with him as she always is.

She must have got bored and she wandered away a bit and  went out to check out the nearby dam, that was dry all bar one little mud patch at the bottom.

So, Tilly, being Tilly decided to wander down and have a little play....
Need I say more, I think I will let  my photos  tell the story!.

And then the fun began ....

Tilly was in doggie heaven......

She just couldn't get enough mud on her.

Finally she had enough, I took her back to the yard to give her a bath, and later she returned to help her lord and master finish the big job of fencing.

We are so fortunate to have Tilly, I assure you nothing would ever get done on the farm with out her constant presence and encouragement , she is the driving force, Or I believe that at least she believes she is.
I read recently where a blog friend has just lost their doggy  lifelong friend and companion and are broken hearted, I just can't imagine that we too will have to cross that bridge one day with our old girl.It  is something I would rather not contemplate at this point.
So Every one,
Until we meet again,
Look after yourselves and your doggie friends if you have one,