Thursday, 18 May 2017

A Busy Week In The Kitchen

Cooking and preserving seems to come in waves here, I have weeks where I do almost no cooking barr the everyday meals ect and then I have a few days where it feels like I do weeks worth of  kitchen jobs in a day.
Last week I had a few of those days.
It all started when my daughter sent me a photo of some Lebne (marinated yoghurt cheese balls),
They looked divine and she assured me that they were delicious.
So ! I thought, I can make these the instructions were simple and I thought it would be something that we would enjoy with our nibbles and drinks that we partake in occasionally.
So the first step was to  stir 2 teaspoons of salt into 1kg of natural full cream non-flavoured or non-sweetened Greek yoghurt.
After stirring it through the  yoghurt was then placed into muslin cloth and suspeneded over a bowl to drain.
I chose to sit mine in a strainer over the bowl.
This  has to sit in the fridge for about 3 days, after which you squeeze the remaining liquid from the cloth,
Don't throw the strained off liquid away(whey) as this is rich in protein and can be added to  anything that you are cooking as extra goodness.
You then remove the  yoghurt/cheese from the muslin,
I then took small portions and rolled into golf ball sized portions and placed on a tray in the fridge for several hours to dry a little.
After drying a little the balls were then placed into a glass jar along with some rosemary,tarragon , thyme sprigs,garlic (I also added a small piece of chilli)  and then covered with a good quality olive oil.

This then had to sit  in the fridge and marinade for 24 hours before using. This will keep approximately a week in the fridge.
I took some of this away on our trip to the ABBA Festival and it proved  to be very popular and I certainly will be making this regularly in the future.
After our last cull of turkeys I had quite a lot of meat to deal with and decided to make  some turkey stock,turkey soup and turkey bolognaise sauce.
We boned out the turkey halves and divided the  resulting bones into two lots,  the less meaty ones for the stock which I cooked on the stove in the pressure canner,
And the more meatier ones went into the soup pot on the wood stove/cooker.

The trimmed meat was minced(ground),
This then along with some of my home canned tomatoes ,sauce and pasta sauce became the base for the bolognaise which also cooked in a big pot alongside the soup on the wood stove.
The bolognaise was the first thing cooked and  it was promptly   canned up into my jars. This was then processed in the pressure canner for 70 minutes(pint jars) at 15lbs pressure(my altitude)
The stock meanwhile cooked and was strained into large containers when cool and placed in the fridge overnight to  set any fat on top so it could be removed.
When the soup was cooked, I also canned it up hot, also processing in the pressure canner for 90 minutes(quart jars) at 15 lbs pressure.
The next morning I removed the fat from the containers of stock and also processed it in the pressure canner. These jars are only 750 mls but must be processed as quart jars for the 90 minutes required under pressure.
Even though it was an extremely busy couple of days it was well worth the effort as I gave us a great addition to the pantry, bolognaise for quick heat ups over pasta, stock for future soup pots and soups for quick easy meals when I don't feel like cooking much.

On Mother's day we got together in the morning with our friends and neighbours from up the road a ways and  culled  a dozen roosters that had started to become a problem  to us both( we had 10 and they had 3), one of ours got a reprieve as the friend fancied him for his girls and took him home with him.
We hung them in the cool room for a couple of days while deciding what to do with them.
Our friends  came and got theirs and I decided to make  up 5 of ours
into Apricot chicken.
Two  were cooked  in the gas stove, two were cooked in the oven of the wood heater/cooker and one was cooked all day in the crock pot.
After I pulled the meat off the bones and they cooled down I bagged them into large zip top plastic bags and froze flat on biscuit slides in the freezer.
Freezer space is minimal, so we also  cut the remaining 4  roosters in half and flat packed them.
While on a chicken roll we pulled out 2  chickens from the freezer (from a previous cull and roasted the pieces and when cool pulled the meat off the bones and added store bought sweet and sour sauce.( we retained the bones for a future stock pot) , the sweet and sour was also flat packed into zip top bags. We find this a great way to pack a lot of food in the freezer. These bags are a handy size to defrost and reheat if a crowd turns up and we decide to do an impromptu meal. All we have to do is cook up some rice or pasta and we have a quick tasty meal for a hungry horde.
This week we attended The Biggest Morning Tea, an annual event held in town usually  by our local CWA ladies to fund raise  for the support of cancer research and treatment.
Sadly our local CWA is no longer viable as the numbers of members had dwindled and it  has reached the point of closure. Unfortunately this is common in  small country towns, but the spirit of these wonderful ladies won't die and they will still rally for good causes as the need arises I am sure.
A great time was had by all , even a few of the local men appeared and enjoyed the morning tea and catch up  and we look forward to the next one( maybe we should make it a more  regular event) as the social interaction  is such a great aspect as well as the fund raising side of it.
 A few years back, someone had the  forethought to plant an avenue of decidious trees along the way into town,  between the Golf club and the bridge .
At the moment this is just an amazing  hit of stunning autumn colour.
It truly is beautiful, but sadly only lasts a few short weeks and is gone for another year, and we patiently await  it's return.
We are heading off into town this afternoon for a meeting ,so have baked a batch of Mum's good old fashioned rock cakes.
Haven't made them for years, so am looking forward to that cuppa this afternoon with the other Rail Heritage Barracks volunteers.
I hope your week has been good,Ours as you have seen has been busy, but enjoyable.
Take care until we meet up again down the road,
Jane and Brian.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Trundle ABBA Festival.

We  were in need of a little break and the booking we had made a few months ago to  of attend the Trundle ABBA Festival was just the tonic we needed.
We packed up our little caravan and along with three other fellow travelling pairs headed off in convoy to the small central west NSW town of Trundle.
Six years ago a very struggling Trundle decided that an ABBA festival may help their dying township....little did they know !!
ABBA fans came from everywhere and it has grown from strength to strength, and this year it's 6th festival  was amazing.
We were booked into the showground camping area and found our spot and set up camp,
Alternatively you could camp at the race course. Both of these need pre-booking.

We had a great BBQ tea with all our friends , had quite a few drinks and chats around the fire  and settled in for the night.
The next morning we were greeted with a stunning sunrise,
We got ourselves organized and headed off downtown, to see all the sights.
People filled the main street, and there were many  people dressed in ABBA style fashions, and many not... but here a few of what we saw.
The couple below  were camped near us, and after taking  their photo and chatting to her the next morning realized it was the same couple.

The weather had been predicted to be sunny,warm and clear, but the clouds rolled in for a while and rain fell and we all took shelter.
But it wasn't enough to dampen the spirits and the  party  continued on.

 The sunny skies reappeared  and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Even our friends Wendy and Dennis got into the swing of it (slightly)
The beautiful  historic Trundle Hotel is the centre for most of the activities, with shops open to browse, market style stalls set up along both sides of the street and many wonderful food vendors to feed all the hungry hordes.
Among the market stalls were these gorgeous metal Australiana  sculptures of the Bird of Paradise plant, emus and grass trees.
These were so beautiful and would have loved to buy one, but they were a bit out of my price range.
Also while wandering the street I spotted these beautiful  gum tree flowers and couldn't resist  a photo.

After lunch the ABBA train,a historic set of 10  restored 1920's carriages pulled by restored diesel  locomotives made it's way from Forbes to Trundle loaded with ABBA fans.
This train was from the Lachlan Vintage Railway.
And this is where we made the greatest mistake............
At this point we decided to head back to camp as the others in our group had done, not realizing that the street  fun was just starting..
Apparently we missed the fashion parade and competition, dancing and much more partying in the main street.   Our thoughts were to head back to camp have a rest ,drinks nibbles and get ready for the Bjorn Again concert in the evening.
Brian and I took the drone up  at this point and captured  the main street. In the bottom of one of the pics you can see the ABBA train.
We four girls had booked to attend the evening concert and the men had opted to stay at the camp grounds and relax.
We arrived  after  the gates  were open  and secured reasonably close to the front seats.
And as dark began to fall the audience numbers began to swell.
Firstly we were entertained by the hilariously funny Kransky Sisters and then after a few speeches the main act that we had come to see, Bjorn again  started.

What an amazing night we had. It's been ages since I went to a live concert  and we all had a ball, giving up our seats by the second half to join all the other crazy dancing people down the front.We left the oval on a high and walked back to camp. Many people stayed on to be entertained by  "The New Normal" band at the hotel well into the night.
After another great night around the campfire and  a good nights sleep we all packed up  the next morning  and headed home again, vowing to return next year together again  and do the Trundle ABBA Festival in style.
I would highly recommend  to any one to give it a whirl, you will thoroughly enjoy yourself( but book early).
I had a few problems  uploading this post, so am finishing with a very short clip from the concert.
So until we meet again,take care of you and yours,
Jane and Brian.