Saturday, 30 June 2012

Fruits of my labour

OK, so it's the neighbours fruit (thanks Bitch and Mel)...

Bitch and Mel are our neighbours and they have a small orchard of prolificly producing citrus trees - limes, lemons, grapefruit, oranges and cumquats.

I got the call last weekend to come down and help myself. So today, off I went. The donkey's won't mind that I used their feed buckets to fill with citrus and Bitch and Mel just wanted some of it used before the cockatoos come in and strip the trees bare, which is what happened last year. There are literally kilos and kilos of fruit on the trees - awesome.

So, having learnt my lesson last year that one cannot drink several litres of home pressed grapefruit juice in a day without consequences, I held back this time. I think I picked about 15 - 20kg of assorted fruit.

Back to the kitchen and my budding photographer assistant has prepared a step by step collage of my afternoon.

Today I managed to pump out some lemon curd, cumquat jam and have prepared to soak overnight some cumquat marmalade, which will go into the jars tomorrow.

Bad news is I've run out of jars. Thank goodness for ebay - more jars ordered and will be posted first thing Monday.

Next weekend I have planned some 5 fruit marmalade and some - back by popular demand - Margarita marmalade (not for the kiddies).

Now I just need to work out what I'm going to do with about 5kg of limes... any suggestions?

Footnote: Gin and tonic is much much better with fresh lemon juice in it - aaahh

Monday, 25 June 2012

MOTH gets some culture

It was MOTH's birthday the other week. I was at a loss on what to get him. He is incredibly talented musician and has way more musical toys that he could possibly ever use. I love nothing more than listening to his latest recordings... we have our own exclusive Cafe del Mar sounds in our own home! I'll try and post some one day. He even recorded something amazing the other day using his iPad!

Anyway... back to some culture...

So, I went looking for some culture for MOTH for his birthday present. The present ended up included a Cider brewing kit (his preference to beer), a cheese making kit and a Swiss Brown mushroom kit. So now we have cheese in the kitchen, curing cheese in the pantry, the cider kit (still in its boxes) in the laundry and some fungal magic funking it out in a cupboard in the garage!

Am expecting mushies on toast for the weekend...

Must say though that initial cheeses are also very tasty and (with the help of some home grown herbs) are lovely on hot toast or crackers - yum.

Is almost as cool as my Christmas present (a new trailer)...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Another weekend in paradise

These guys were keeping watch of everything happening in our orchard this morning. They were there for ages.

You can definitely tell that winter is here, it's been down to single figures at night. MOTH and I moved the remainder of the firewood stack onto a covered trailer so that it will dry out. Can't light a fire with wet wood. There is absolutely no way I would moved that pile in spring or summer time - snake haven. Now with the wood stack gone from the entrance gate to our house, I took the opportunity to plan three olive trees in a line. They hedge really well and don't mind the full sun. In a few years time, we should have olives to marinate - yum.

Also bought a Kumquat tree this morning and another Kaffar Lime. The other one isn't doing very well and looks like it's on its last legs. I planted the Kumquat in a small circular garden bed surrounded by rocks at the bottom of the stairs outside. I'll style it into a topiary tree as it grows. I surrounded it with a group of deep red geraniums - looks just like a gardening show has popped over for a quick makeover session. I suppose that's the difference between instant, showy gardens and ones like mine - where it simply takes ages to grow. (Am showing my lack of patience with winter and plants slowing their growth. I can't even plant anything in the vege patch cause it will only drown or die.)

Am now trapped inside by more rain and wondering how I'm going to deal with an afternoon in da' house...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Housebound and going crazy

It's raining.

This is the view from the deck over the valley. Behind that ridge you can just see is a view of Redcliffe et al. and across the bay to Moreton Island. Not today [sigh].

The animals who know where their bread is buttered have all found somewhere in the house to snuggle down.

Baillie won't be needing her sunscreen today on our very expensive leather poofie...

Moet just launches into a pose every time someone comes near her with a camera (I swear she was asleep on the bed when I went to take the photo).

Roman has managed to get prime position next to the fire. Pity it's not on but there is no dry firewood today.

TC (tabby cat) is all fluffed up on a chair next to me.

I don't deal very well with being stuck inside, so I had a plan devised before I got out of bed - I would bake.

I've just pulled the last of the biscuits out of the oven and, well, today's baking wasn't without one disaster. Our oven has the quietest timer in the world and I can never hear it. So one batch of biscuits came out charcoal. But besides my momentary lack of attentiveness, all in all, a successful day.

I made some Chocolate chip and lavender biscuits. I love the flavour of lavender and, whilst I admit I did use pure essence this time, I would much prefer to use the flowers themselves. Just need to find somewhere that sells edible lavender.

The other biscuits I made are Orange and Rosemary biscuits. These are more like wafers and are amazingly awesome with cheese on them, especially blue cheese.  I got the recipe from a family member when on holiday in NZ a few years ago - thanks Linley. This, I will share:

Orange & Rosemary Biscuits

8cm spray fresh rosemary (I use way more than that, usually 5 - 8 times more)
125g butter
200g castor sugar
1 large egg (is there any other kind when you have you own chooker moles?)
1 large orange finely grated zest
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Finely chop rosemary (leaves only).
Lightly cream butter and sugar.
Beat egg in a large bowl and add butter mixture and whisk lightly.
Stir in rosemary and grated zest.
Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixture.
Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a soft dough mixture.
Flour hands and board and cut mixture into two. Make each piece of dough into a sausage shape, about 25cm long. The diameter should be a bit bigger than a 50 cent piece.
Roll up in cling wrap and chill in fridge until hard. Once hard, remove cling wrap and cut into tiny slices (the thinner the better, I usually make mine around 2 - 3mm) and place on a baking tray.
Bake at 180 for 6 - 9 minutes until pale gold in colour. WARNING: Do not forget about them like I did, they burn super quick.
You can also put you sausage shaped dough in the freezer and slice it frozen for a quick, tasty home made addition to your cheese platter.

Fresh out of the oven
Not perfect but I know they will taste awesome!