Sunday, 30 July 2017

A busy if slightly frustrating week.

When we first moved here full time to the farm  our poultry numbers have increased dramatically, and we  realize that if we are going to be able to travel and leave  friends or neighbours to look after them we must continue to downsize their numbers.
To achieve this we have been routinely  dispatching roughly a dozen at a time( 6 turkeys and 6 roosters) We leave them hanging in the cool room for three or four days  before processing to the freezer.
With some of the turkeys from the freezer I decided to make up some turkey curry,
Firstly I dusted the cubed turkey pieces in seasoned  flour,
These were then fried to brown them,drained,

and  added to a big  stainless stock pot. I then added my curry base( from a jar this time)  and stock and vegetables and cooked  on the stove until the  meat and vegies were tender.
At this point I thicken it  and cook a little longer to cook the flour thoroughly.
I decided to  put this into  meal sized dump bags that are just right for Brian and I for a meal and we also  tested to see if they fit into the small freezer section in our caravan, and they do.
We attended the Mudgee small farm Field Day, we had traveled there  with Brian's brother and his wife from next door and we had a lovely day  wandering the exhibits.
we only managed to lose the men once, but after a quick  embarrassing public announcement over the loud speaker we were very quickly reunited.

The men especially  loved watching the tractor pulls, which I have to admit I  rather enjoyed as well.
We bought some tasty salamis off two different stalls and some really delicious chorizo that I made up into a couple of tasty dishes  back home.
This one was  a nice spicy type of quick fried rice  dish, perfect for a quick lunch.
I also  got in and made a  couple of batches of  turkey soup( from the  carcasses  left over from the turkey curry.
I ended up with 14 quarts and 16 x 750 ml jars of  turkey and vegetable soup to go into the pantry.
I have been saving all the carrot,onion, & pumpkin peels and ends  as I prepare  all the  vegetables and freezing them for future use  when I want to make a batch of stock.
We  attended the AGM of our local Rail Barracks volunteer group so I tried a new recipe for a lemon curd cheesecake using the lemon curd up that I had  made a few weeks ago.
It was  really   good and is certainly a recipe that I would make again for another occasion.
I did a good tidy up again in the pantry( this is a regular activity as I am the queen of dumping in there.
We had a trip to Dubbo last week and managed to catch up with my Mum for lunch which was  lovely. Mum will be 93 this year and is very independent and we are very proud of her( I snapped this pic of her without her knowing as it tends to give a much more natural result.)
Some friends of ours had  asked us if we would like  some bee equipment that they no longer used, we gratefully accepted their gift and went out to their farm and picked it up. It will be handy for us  after we  sterilize them to make sure there  is no disease  in them. ( It had been 17 years since they were last used.)
A few months ago we  purchased a pallet load of retaining wall blocks from Bunnings, last week Brian began constructing the retaining wall at the end of our back verandah .
As we had never had anything to do with building a retaining wall before( with an inside 90 deg corner) we did not know that  to do this properly you must start  with the  base level corner block first.
So after discovering this important little piece of information after we were unable to complete  the corner we had to totally dismantle what we had built and start again.
Things were looking up and we  kept building until we ran out of blocks.
We then traveled back to Bunnings ( over an hours drive away) and purchased  another pallet load of the same blocks as we  already had.
We unloaded them on the lawn and began building the next morning,.......then I heard Brian call out in frustration, went out to discover this.............
The new load ( obviously from another batch) were slightly different, too different to just  keep laying them....a couple of phone calls left us with  two options, to either return all blocks for a full refund or work with what we had. We chose the latter.
After once again disassembling  the full wall( bar the base row) and rebuilt it alternating the rows  to produce a  striped effect along the wall.
Our son had arrived at the farm by this point and he helped Brian  rebuild at a much quicker rate. To save time , this time they didn't back fill as they went and just as the  last couple of blocks went down, the whole wall collapsed.
If  we didn't laugh we would have cried..........we were devestated.
Our son just said, come on, let's just do it...... and we all got in, row by row, barrow after barrow of soil and rock backfill and got it back up.
We have progressed as far as we can, we still have  a few more blocks to lay down the side( we need to purchase about 10 more blocks) The curved corner  at the end was difficult  as it leads onto the stone steps, but we are very pleased with the final result.We still need to source the capping stones for the top as well.
We  held a  birthday BBQ  lunch here yesterday for a friend and neighbor, we had a lovely day  with many compliments on our wall( it went a long way to  make  all  the grief worthwhile).
This morning was the most amazing sunrise, the whole sky was just stunning. We see this glorious  display from Mother Nature  from our bedroom  most mornings when the  conditions are  right.
The beauty of the country side is  outstanding. It is so sad to see  how dry it it. We desperately need rain, there are predictions for a few  small showers this week,  if they come it will help but we need  good steady large  falls of rain over a prolonged period.  Large trees are dropping dead, there is no moisture  in the soil, even when we buried our beautiful Tilly girl  we would have expected to see some moisture down deep but there was nothing but powdered soil.
The  land is suffering and I dearly hope it turns around soon.
Hopefully the next time I post I will have better news on that front as  surely we must get rain soon.
Take care until we meet  again
Jane and Brian.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Lemon Curd, Rhubarb and more Labneh Cheese.

Over the last couple of months  along with our regular jobs we do and the extras that  were added in just for fun, I decided ( or was  pushed  to decide) to do a little cooking and other fun things .
Our daughter had given me a  wonderful pile of lemons, as  she had been able to strip a neighbours tree . She had made some beautiful lemon curd so I decided to make some as well, something I hadn't made in a long time.
Our sweet hens have been laying  an average of about a dozen eggs a day,
So armed with the two main ingredients, I sought out a good old fashioned Lemon Curd recipe.
I gathered all my other  bits and pieces together and prepped the rest of the things I needed.
Unsalted Butter,
Lemon Zest,

Lemon Juice,
Beautiful egg yolks,
And finally  castor sugar.
Mixed all together over low heat until  butter and sugar  are all combined  with the other ingredients.
Continued stirring constantly over low heat until the  beautiful golden  mixture thickens  enough to coat the back of the spoon.( about 15 minutes or so)

Then pour into   sterilized  bottles and seal ( I didn't water bath these as there was only a small amount and I shared  them with  friends). These must be kept in the refrigerator and  have a   use by of three weeks.
I then  asked Brian if he would  pick me some rhubarb from the garden,
and this is what I got, a heap !.
I washed and trimmed it and cut it into roughly 1 inch pieces.
Normally I would then stew the rhubarb  and after it was all mushy would then fill jars, seal and waterbath it that way.
This time I followed the instructions on canning it with the method  from the Ball Blue Book.
This involved  stirring through a generous amount of sugar,
Then leaving to  soak and produce its own liquid over a few hours at least.

You then bring  it all to the boil and boil for a minute, remove from heat and fill hot preserving jars.
The lids and bands are then placed on the jars and they are water bathed.
The rings can be removed  after 24 hours, seals checked, jars washed, labelled and stored on the shelf.
I just can't get enough rhubarb, love the stuff.I will often just sit and eat a jar for a meal.
Another  little project I tried was a different method to the last of making labneh (yoghurt cheese)
Last time I used store bought Greek yoghurt, this time I used a packet mix and made the Greek yoghurt  overnight in my yoghurt maker.

I then stirred the salt into the yoghurt and placed the mix into muslin( in this case a new  muslin sling bandage)
This I then placed in a strainer suspended over a bowl and placed in the fridge for three days.
Last time at this point I  rolled the "cheese " into balls, but this time I just  squeezed out the last of the liquid, placed the cheese in a bowl, and added chopped parsley,oregano,some crushed garlic and a drizzle of olive oil and mixed altogether.
That night we were having visitors over to watch NSW lose the state of origin football( although we had  hoped it not to be the case), and I served  the cheese up on crackers with a beautiful piece of smoked salmon on top.
It was delicious, along with all the other yummy  drinks and nibbles that we  consumed that evening. (Football has a lot to answer for !!)
We had a wonderful night,  even when your team loses it  is all good when you are with friends.
Another  thing I tried over the last few weeks with my egg surplus was to freeze them in  silicone muffin pans. I have froze whole( blended )eggs successfully before and defrosted and made  lovely quiches.. I also know that whites freeze really well to and make excellent meringue and egg white omelettes after defrosting, but I was unsure about yolks. So I gave  them a try...I blended the yolks slightly then froze.  I as of yet haven't had a chance to try them.
It really has been a tiring  few weeks, but we have much to show for  our efforts and we have mostly  had an enjoyable ride  along the way..
I don't realize how much happens here until I  start to document what has been happening.
I will try to keep up with the posts but  sometimes it just insn't possible, so I opologise.
So until  we meet again,
Take care of you and yours,
Brian and Jane.