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.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A quick overview of the last two busy months.

I cannot believe that  it has been 2 months since I last posted.
So much has happened in that time that I just have no real  idea where to begin. We have had some great fun moments and a few really sad  down days but all is okay now and we are back on track( for a while at least).
I thought what I might do is a huge post of photos and a few  comments here and there to catch up.
We have a nice lot of baby lambs born this season, all mums and bubs doing well .
Unfortunately we seem to have missed the bulk of the rain once again, so we are continuing to supplement their feed with  hay.
We travelled to Mudgee to celebrate the 70th birthday of our Son in Law's Mother ,May.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch at a local hotel with family and friends.
The habanero chilli bush continued to produce masses of fruit ,

Brian requested that I make him some more hot,hot,hot mango habanero sauce ,so I obliged.
We travelled to Parkes so that I could attend a Wiggles concert with my daughter and two gorgeous granddaughters. It was such fun, we have front row positions and our  little girls were just totally entranced with the show.
Brian's shoulders just arn't what they used to be , so after a very lucky win of some money we decided to invest it in a  log splitter, it already has been worth it's weight in gold( ten times over)
Winter finally  arrived and we began to  experience a few frosts and fogs, but generally the days have been glorious.( although dry)
Our Old Blue Girl Tilly  really started to wind down, never venturing far from her bed on the front verandah and barking out orders  to us.
We travelled to Newcastle to celebrate the 60th  birthday  of a very dear friend. We met with other friends  and family for a lovely high tea.

On our return journey we brought back  to the farm an old workmate of Brian's to spend a week with us here. He used to be a regular visitor when we were commuting back and foward from the coast.
Victor was wonderful, never had the broom out of his hands, loves to sweep...the place never looked cleaner.
He also helped Brian  clearing sticks and burning them,
While he was here we also had a day drenching and marking the sheep at  the BIL next doors other block. Our son was also  visiting and helped out.

Rusty the alpaca also got a toe nail clip.
And we all enjoyed  a lovely picnic  lunch after all our hard work.
We  had a trip to Coonabarabran and   lunch in the park with some very friendly geese,

Brian removed a few dead trees that had been struck by lightning, and then later that  evening we had a great bonfire with friends.
Our turkeys have multiplied and grown rapidly and we had to have another processing day.
We freeze them in halves as we find that more practical to use.
I used two halves ,baking them,
I then pulled the meat off( reserving the bones to make stock later, and added store bought sweet and sour sauce to the meat . I filled  smaller  plastic bags and froze them flat to use later when needed.
We had a clucky hen, so Brian put her in  the smaller  cage,
And this week we had 4 lovely little chicks hatch, unfortunately the rest of the eggs were not fertile.
We butchered two sheep, one for us and one as an exchange with  our next door neighbour who has pigs. We will get a pig from him at a later  time when required.
A good supply for the freezer and many quick meals  for us out on the BBQ.

We lost our beautiful big Light Sussex rooster, think he just collapsed and died from a heart attack.
I did a big clean up in and around the bottom old shed. It is falling apart and leaking like a sieve so we are going to demolish it and rebuild soon, but all the sorting and clearing has to happen first.
Foxes have become a major problem with us losing 4 turkeys in one night while we were  away for the weekend. and Brian invested in a good quality spotlight that attaches to  the scope on his gun to give him excellent night vision. Between that and his traps he has reduced the fox population by 5  in the last few weeks.
The man ,Rob that comes to help with our bee hive came to check how it was all going and was very happy with it's progress.
He said we  will be able to collect our first  honey come spring time. We added a top teir as they were doing so well.
We babysat  our neighbours  spoodle for a few days while they went to QLD, her name is Princess and she was a delight to look after. Her and our old Blue girl Tilly  got along famously, they were really lovely together.
Back in March our daughter and son in law eloped with the girls to North Queensland and got married in a lovely private ceremony in a rainforest. They held a post wedding party a few weeks ago which we attended with other family and their friends. A wonderful night was  had by all , culminating with the announcement that we were to be grandparents once again. Wonderful  news.!
On our return to the farm we also brought home 3  roosters, two light sussex and 1 coronation sussex that  were surplus to my neice. We will probably keep 1 or 2 and rehome the 3rd . They are lovely birds.

We brought  two of our grandchildren  back to the farm  for a week while their mum and dad had to work.
We had ordered a trampoline and  and a pushbike  and Poppy put  them  together, They had a great time playing on them. ( There are only so many times a day you can go and collect eggs).
Collecting eggs was certainly the favourite activity,
but we very quickly found that the little man was not managing top bring all of them safely to the house, so we devised a plan to give him the fake  wooden  eggs  that we leave in the nests to encourage the girls to lay, and after that he never dropped another
We did lot's of craft activities, our daughter had packed a whole bag of things which were fun and interesting.
We made an ant city, and a worm farm.
We did lots of sticker  artworks, had picnics up the hill where we collected lots of stones, We took this photo of us together while  on one of our picnics,
  We had a few trips out to playgrounds and shops, and also  had a big   activity of fireworks  painting using  cut toilet roll  tubes. We especially loved this, it was fun.

We met our daughter in Newcastle to return the children to them, had a night away and a meal out and a bit of shopping. We had a totally exhausting but  truly wonderful time with the kids and are looking forward to their next visit.,
I caught up with my mum last week for a quick meal, she is doing really well considering her age( 93 this year) and she was very proudly showing me her potted plants that she has  at the rear of her small unit she lives in still independently .
And on a very incredibly sad note, we finally   had to say our goodbyes to  our precious ,gorgeous, loving Old Blue Girl Tilly. I am  in tears as I write this, for I never wanted our  time with her to end, but as  with all life, end it must.
She had been my friend and companion for  over 14 years, being my protector  while Brian worked away weeks at a time, we were inseperable until a couple of days ago.
Here are a few pics...there are so many I found it hard to choose.
Brian is feeling her loss  badly as well, she has been his best mate here at the farm, helping  him with every job he undertook, but now he must do them alone.
We miss her terribly, the house feels empty... I know this will pass( we have been  at this point  before and recovered), but we are taking  Tilly's loss hard.
She is resting now, no more pain or struggle,
Sleep well Tilly Girl,
you were the best. !!!!
I will endeavor to update  a few more posts, I just couldn't fit in all that has happened in the last two months ,
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones,
All the best until we meet again.
Jane and Brian.