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.


  1. You are a "preppers" delight. I love your sense of community. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Goodness me - indeed a tidal wave of preserving and activity. I often ponder the CWA and feel sad at its demise....I wonder if it can be re-imagined?

    1. I really hope so. Some CWA's are still going very strong, but in these very small towns we find it's the same people doing all the same jobs over and over again, and even if re invented to something else, will be still the same handful of people doing it. Many( not all) the young ones just don't seem to be interested in community or volunteer, they want instant gratification or reward for their time, and they fail to become involved. sad, but true.
      Take care

  3. I haven't had rock cakes since I was a kid - would you be able to share your recipe please

    1. Mum's Short Rock Cakes
      1 lb flour(I used half SR and half plain)
      2 eggs
      1/2 lb butter
      a little milk
      1 tspn baking powder
      1/2 lb white sugar
      1 cup sultanas
      a little salt
      Cream butter and sugar, add well beaten eggs, then flour and baking powder and salt.
      Lastly add sultanas.
      Drop into small portions and bake about 10 minutes in 200deg C(180 fan forced).

      Sorry this took a long time, just been snowed under and not online as much

    2. I used baking paper on my slide.

  4. I cant wait to try making those little cheese balls. I am going to make a double batch of yogurt next time and one will be turned into these yummy looking little treats! Your day in the kitchen looked so busy. I have no chance of that yet with my little tots chasing around at my feet, haha :)