Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sweet and Tangy Tangerine Marmalade.

Last year when  our tangerine tree was full of ripe fruit I got in and made  marmalade the traditional way, sliced up the fruit on my mandolin, added sugar and boiled the heck out of it until it jelled.
It  was  average, but it has all been eaten so can't have been too bad.
We aren't as a rule big marmalade eaters, but that being said I won't waste the fruit either, and can always give it away.

This is what I picked of our small tree, which was all reachable  from the ground. We have had a few frosts which has sweetened them up, some years we don't have that and they are very tart to say the least.
So I selected about 24  of  the larger ones first and gave them a good scrub to remove any dust and mould, which we get here a bit on the coast sometimes.

After that I  got my potato peeler and removed just the thin orange  peel( not the white pith) off most of the fruit( adjust the amount depending on how sweet/bitter you want the marmalade.
I then placed the peel into my food processor and chopped up until it was a lot finer. (my advice  after doing batch 1 was to microwave this peel for a few minutes to soften it a bit  before adding to the  jam pot )
I then cut all the  tangerines  in half around the middle and removed the seeds(reserving any juice to go into the pot.
I then removed the flesh from the skins( a tedious but worthwhile job) You need to have about 2 kgs of flesh)I also put this into the food processor before adding to the pot.

In the pot I put the peel,the juice,the flesh, 2 tblspns lemon juice, and 2 kgs of CSR jam sugar (sugar with pectin  incorporated into it)
This was  then heated slowly while   mixing  the ingredients until combined thoroughly and then bringing to a boil and boiling rapidly for about 10 minutes.
After this time, I turned off the heat and let it sit for a couple of minutes before  filling  clean warm jars(no need to sterilize jars if water bathing for 10 min or more)
The rims are then wiped clean with paper towel soaked in white vinegar, warmed lids and bands applied and then they are placed in the water bath of hot water ,covered by a couple of inches, brought to the boil and maintained boiling for 10 minutes.

After the allotted time was up I turned off the preserver,removed the lid and let sit for a further 5 minutes. I then removed all the jars out onto a towel covered  bench out of  the draught  to allow to cool for 24 hours.
I stll had many more tangerines so I decided to juice  a pile as well and can that.
Citrus juice must be heat treaded before placing into the jars and then water bathing. You have to heat the juice up to 190 Deg F (about 88 deg C) and maintaining this temperature for about 5 minutes. You then pour the juice into warm/hot jars and water bath 15 minutes.
I got 7 pints of juice which will come in handy, but at least now if someone offers me  citrus, I will gladly take and juice and can where as before I would kindly decline as my limitations were marmalade alone.
I also made  a second batch of marmalade, putting into pints as I had ran out of smaller jars here on the coast( plenty at the farm though) But I decided to add  chopped naked ginger(same as crystallized but with less sugar) to the second batch for  a slight variation. I do prefer to have ginger in  the marmalade I eat, we love ginger with  lots of things.
This should be a nice amount for us, with a few give aways this should last us the year..
Who knows what next year will bring in the way of citrus, we only have a ruby grapefruit,a lemon and a lime up at the farm until we plant more.
I would like to plant a mandarin and a good eating orange, that would probably do us.
All I have to do now is pack these jars away in the cupboard.
So until we catch up again down the road I hope you all take care,

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sheep playing hide and seek.

When we are away from the farm we always keep the sheep down the front where the fences are good and the sheep are more visible to our next door neighbour who keeps watch for us when we aren't there..

While we are there we often let them into the house yard to eat the grass, they may as well have it in their bellies instead of us mowing it.
Tilly loves the sheep, she gets so excited when  we go to do anything with them, she watches from the verandah when they are in the yard and if the put a single foot too close she hunts them out, they are only allowed( according to her rules) in certain areas.
Once we arrive, we usually open up the back gates and let them up the hill behind the house, it is a steep  rock face with 4 WD access only but plateaus off up top with about 10 acres of neglected bush  for them to wander around in.
On our last visit they didn't  wander back down much so  the day before we had to leave we went up to  locate them and bring them back down the front.
We head up the track with Tilly racing ahead of us like a crazy dog,  she used to run up and disappear   and find us later, running crazy all over looking for rabbits and wallabies and roos"s, but now she is old, she only goes up the hill once or twice a visit, it knocks her around too much these days.

We wander around looking for the sheep, and when looking at the photos later I find this pic of me taking photos(sneaky man...I had handed him the small camera to hold  for me walking up the hill,as it is steep with loose stones, and  if I slipped I needed to have at least one hand free)..
We finally found those  cheeky sheep, in a little  grassy hollow ,nearly right at the back of our property.we gathered them up and walked them  back towards the road for what we hoped would be  an easy  wander back down the hill. But they had other ideas, they gave us the right royal run around but  we finally got them back down .

While we were up on top I took a few photos of the outlooks from there from a few different directions.

The photos above are looking north toward the Warrumbungle mountain range.The top one overlooks our house down below .

And these two are looking west.I am so in love with  our surrounding landscape, I wish I could paint, I would spend every waking minute up there.In the meantime the camera  has to do.

The top  pic is looking down toward our house as you decend on the track, and the other is just a bit of the rock face I love, We have often seen  wallabies  camping  up there at times.

While we were at the farm we got a call from another neighbour who is a  part timer like us, worried that he wasn't able to get there as planned and that he had his sheep locked into an area too small to stay  in for the exteneded  time, he asked  if hubby and his brother would check on them and open gates or do whatever was needed.
They did as requested   and  found the sheep were in urgent need of drenching, and that it shouldn't be delayed until  the neighbour returned, so the brothers 2 got together and did the drenching. They work well together and love any excuse to  hang out  together and chat.(as do us girls)
As we were leaving the following morning, we  stopped down  the front to take this photo of the sheep, laying around, relaxing and  just looking so content. A nice way to leave them until we return again soon.
take care everyone until we meet again.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A mix of things from our last visit to the farm.

Along with  the major activities we strive to complete each time we go to the farm there are always other little bits and pieces that we do and see  to be done   along the way.
While we were there this time, after seeing a Facebook page called "Our Half Acre Homestead" I decided that I too would attempt  to  make my own laundry gel for the first time. I will give most things a trial and if successful adopt them to our regular household routine, and if not  forget  it and move on.
This recipe required  1 cup Grated Sunlight soup, 1 cup Borax and 1 cup powdered washing soda, but me in my forgetful mind and not  bothering to Write it down, remembered it as double those ingredients. SO..... This is what I did.
I grated 2 bars of Sunlight soap on the coarse grater side.
I then dissolved 2 cups borax and 2 cups  washing soda crystals(meant to be powder) in a 2 gallon bucket of very hot water, and stirred this until it was completely dissolved.

I then  put about 4 cups of cold water and the grated soap into a large heavy based old saucepan and melted the soap on low heat  while constantly stirring.
After this, I then added the hot melted soap into the hot water in the bucket, stirring to  blend thoroughly. I then set this aside overnight and the next day this had formed a very thick gel. I then broke this up by stirring  thoroughly until it became pourable , At this point I decided to add some  Double D Eucalyptus  100% oil for  that extra lovely fresh smell. I then placed it into bottles, leaving a good couple of inches spare at the top as to be able to give the contents a good shake when needed.
I  am very pleased with the results, I am finding it every bit as effective  as the powder I was using from Aldi., and I will continue to use it, To compensate for my miscalculation, I am using a smaller amount than suggested per load.
I also made the suggested fabric softener, with 1 litre white vinegar,1 litre water, 2 capfuls of Glycerine, and about 20 drops of lavender 100% essential oil. It smells wonderful and so does my clothes and washing machine and every thing is nice and soft. Brilliant.
Quite a few mornings up at the farm we woke to lovely thick fogs rolling through , we are lucky where our place is situated as the sun hits our front verandah  nice and early and the fogs rarely last, and burn off quite quickly.

One night our next door neighbours, Hubby's brother and family invited us over for a quick sausage sizzle and a bonfire with their grandchildren.
We had a great night and the kids had such fun with the sparklers, they were mesmerized by them . They also had toasted marshmallows for the first time, but they decided they liked them cold better..
Each time we are up the farm if there has been rain we pump the water out of the tank that collects off the house roof up to  another larger tank on the hill so that it can gravity feed back down into the house.

After I had  Pressure canned a load of carrots, I had reserved the peelings and dehydrated them and  powdered it to use later in the sausages and meatball mix, along with the other dehydrated powders I do instead of flour.

 We also really gave our new ice cream machine a workout while we were there, we made vanilla, rich chocolate, peppermint choc chip,Rhubarb and finally apple and cinnamon, My personal favourites were the rich chocolate and the apple and cinnamon which is pictured below.
I went walking one day down to check the mail box and found some  tail feathers off a Glossy black Cockatoo, these birds usually fly over each morning and evening and one must have met with disaster. They are a striking feather, the bird is mostly black with splashes of red on his tail and under wings I think.
We had some really cold, windy sleety days while we were there  and  it was great to be able to pull out jars of meat and thicken it on reheating and make pies in my pie maker. I make lots of fruit pies as well, just so easy, hot pies in 5 minutes. I loved this machine so much that I decided to splurge and bought another one which makes family sized pies in about 15 minutes. You can either use  store bought pre-rolled frozen pastry sheets or make your own, I mainly use store bought(the lazy side of me rearing it's ugly head)Either way they are delicious.
We had a good wander around discussing where we would locate our fruit orchard( we have a few randomly placed fruit tree already, but want a designated orchard as well) and we decided on a long rectangular  yard from where I took the photo below  up to the shed. We are going to plant all dwarf fruit trees that only grow to about 5 ft X 5ft making them easier to  maintain and pick from.
We will make it fox proof and include a coop in it  so that the chickens can spend part of the year in there to help with pest and weed control.Hubby will get onto building it when he fully finishes the main run and coop.
We had a great two and a half weeks up there and accomplished a lot on our to do list, and added a few more things to the list as we thought  of them.,This post is a bit of a mish mash, but  that's our life and how it is,
So...until next time,
Take care,