Friday, 20 January 2017

Viva Las Vegas. !!!

Last weekend  we  planned a road trip to Parkes, two reasons , firstly to catch up with our two daughters and all the grand kids and secondly to attend the  annual Elvis festival.
We arrived in Parkes on Friday in scorching temperatures with the thermometer hitting 45 degrees Celsius.
We had a lovely Chinese banquet dinner out all together and wandered the park where there was free entertainment and many market type  stalls.
This year marked the 25th  anniversary of the annual Elvis Festival in Parkes and  the theme this year was Viva Las Vegas.
On Saturday morning we took up our places in the street, picked a spot recommended by our daughter for a good view of the parade. We arrived an hour early to guarantee a good view for the grandchildren.
Then the parade got under way,
There were the usual  collection of Elvis look alikes, in every shape ,age and size,
And a few that really shouldn't have bothered,
My daughter ,who is a paramedic also took part in the parade,
She always enjoys being  in the parade and it was great to be finally able to attend this year and see her participate.
There were many beautiful old cars both  US left hand drives and Australian old  auto gems.


There were dancing girls,
and boys,
A gorgeous Marilyn Monroe, whose skirt performed beautifully on the day in the  light breeze,
and one of my favourites were these two   clever artists  strutting their stuff on stilts,
There was  a local dance  group,
Plus  some ponies from the local pony club,
and finally the  motorcycle escort concluded the parade,
It was a wonderful parade, lasting over an hour. These photos are just a tiny glimpse of  the parade.
I took well over 400 hundred photographs as each  group passed by.
After the parade was  over we wandered to the local library to wander around  the "Elvis " photograph display and also at that was this beautiful cake, decorated to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Parkes Elvis Festival.
The festival is spread over  a full week, and there are activities every day, many people stay locally for the week and  are entertained by the many concerts and  displays   that  are arranged.
A train  loaded  full of Elvis fans  arrives  from Sydney and combined  with the  masses of tourists the town  comes to life. It is a fun  week,  and I totally lost count in how many Baby Boomer Elvis and Pricilla's I saw wandering the streets , some looked amazing   !, and others.....need I say more.
We had a  wonderful time  at Parkes, and then brought our  eldest grand daughter  back to the farm for a few days. The weather has been atrocious , so hot and no rain, but we got through  it, by setting up a small paddle pool to cool off in and keeping the house dark and cool and  using our fans.
Take care everyone until we meet again,

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Head Cheese and Mini Quiche. !

We have had a huge glut   of zuchini ,both green and yellow,
and eggs,
and as I have already made up a big batch of pickled zuchini I decided to make up some mini quiches
So using a dozen eggs at a time and adding some cartons of sour cream that after Christmas were fast approaching their use by date,
I then added a few grated zuchini,  2 pkts of spring vegetable soup base, some grated cheese, 2 Tablespoons plain flour, salt ,pepper and an onion cut up finely and a little extra milk .
After mixing this altogether I poured them into oiled  muffin trays.
I baked them at about 190 deg c until risen  but set.
I made this amount three times,
When cold I then bagged them and froze for later use, They are handy to pull out as a cold snack or with salads, or can be gently reheated to have hot with veggies.
The other issue we had was freezer space. Before Christmas we had butchered two pigs,
And although all the meat was not  all  for us  I decided to freeze the two pigs head to have a go at Brawn or known else where around the world as Head Cheese or Souse.
I dug out a few recipes  that I found in my overly large collection of old cook books and decided to just wing it taking all of the info that I found on board.
I defrosted my two  heads( and I apologize in advance if the pictures offend  you)
And a view from another angle to show just how meaty they are.
After soaking the heads in salty water for a few hours to clean,  I then decided that I would try cooking them in my big pressure canner as the days are extremely hot here and I didn't fancy having my stove cooking away for up to 5 or 6 hours.
So I added my two heads, and the remains  of the two ham bones that we had devoured over Christmas,
Then I added 3 large chopped onions, 3  carrots,  a few sticks of celery, about a dozen peppercorns, a Tablspoon salt,3 Bay leaves, some garlic, a cup of vinegar and  just covered it with water.
The lid was then locked down on the pressure cooker and  we cooked  it at 15 lbs pressure for 45 minutes.
After the  pressure cooker had  de pressureised , we removed the lid ,
I then removed the meat and bones,( which were practically falling apart) strained the  liquid, discarding the vegetables(to the chooks)
All the usuable, meat, skin and fat was removed and chopped and set aside, tongues peeled and chopped and added to the meat dish and the  non usable parts  also given to the chickens.
The remaining liquid was then simmered  for about another half an hour to reduce a little to concentrate the flavours. I measured about  a litre out of this into a jug(not really knowing how much I would require), and stirred in 4 teaspoons of powdered gelatine.( I did this as a precaution as I was unsure how well it would naturally gel.
This was then mixed into the reserved chopped meat ect until it looked about the right consistency , and I found that this only required a little under 500 mls) This could vary on batch to batch.
The mix was then poured into my tongue press, a beautiful old piece of  kitchen equipment passed on to me about 20 years or so ago by a butcher friend, which had been previously oiled and then had a couple of layers of plastic  wrap  put into it with excess  each side and end.
The ends were then wrapped over the mix to form a package,
and the  press lid was clamped down to put pressure onto the mix.
Once it was locked down it was placed in the fridge overnight to set the gel.

The next morning we  unlocked the press, unwrapped the plastic wrap and  were so pleased with the results of our effort, a glorious log, about 2 kgs( 4 lbs ) of Brawn or Head Cheese.
Of course we couldn't resist slicing it immediately,
I was very happy with the texture of the loaf, the only change I would make would be to include a little less fat in the mix next time.
We have had this several times since  with salads and on crusty sandwiches with pickles, but my favourite is with a good squeeze of my recently made plum sauce...delicious, even if I say so myself. !!!.
I will certainly be making this on a regular basis, quite easy and such a tasty way to use up a lot of otherwise wasted ingredients.
The older generation certainly knew how to make the most of everything, I take my hat off to them.
So , I will try and catch up  with posts more often, but sometimes I just  don't and I apologize in advance.
Until we meet again down the track,
Take care
Jane and Brian.