Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beef-Heart & Liver (Experiment 4)

By now, you know I am conducting a few experiments, preparing for when I receive my lovely locally grown, grass fed Pure Angus beef....Yep, I ordered a full beast...But I need to know what; if any of the organs I shall keep. A bit of planning is in order......I have already blogged about the Tongue., and it is delicious...
and I have just blogged about the tail...and that's a keeper...and the Tripe not so flash.......

Next on the list of experiments is the Heart and Liver....... 

Left: Heart    Right: Liver 
Soaking in water with
a tablespoon of salt and a dash of vinegar
to draw some of the blood out of the meat.
Drained after about 10 hours
salt added again
Repeat the soaking process
and into the fridge overnight
I had planned on making this into pies...but hubby is disappointed that I have mixed the two together..as he knows that the liver has a minerally taste. I on the other hand, have no idea what either the heart or the liver taste like.......Seeing Hubby wants to taste the heart on it's own.....I will separate the meats....luckily it is easy to identify the two. So I guess I will make some Hearty Pies...and do something with the liver.....

To be continued......................

What do you suggest I do with this meat? 

Beef-Tripe (Experiment 3)

By now, you would know I am conducting a few experiments, preparing for when I receive my lovely locally grown, grass fed Pure Angus beef....Yep, I ordered a full beast...But I need to know what; if any of the organs I shall keep....I have already blogged about the Tongue., and it is delicious...and I have just blogged about the tail......Next on the list of experiments is the Tripe....... The tongue and tail were a huge success. I'm not so sure of the tripe though......and there would be sooo much of it to store....

I could only find one butcher who had a supply of tripe, and that was in the local shopping centre.  The tripe was very clean, in comparison to the footage I watched on River Cottage one time.  As part of my preparation with all this meat, I have decided not to wear gloves while preparing these meats.....I need to get in touch with the meat, feel it, know it and know that what I am preparing is fresh, good and wholesome....I also need to do this to somewhat remove the mentality of what it actually is....and where it comes from..... 

I cut the tripe into bite sized pieces then placed it into the small crockpot, along with a big bunch of herbs from the garden...some roasted garlic from the freezer, some stock from the ox-tail soup...and 1 1/2 cans of tomatoes......got it cooking...after about 2 1/2 hours, I tasted the tripe.....and it was surprisingly rubbery....Yep...Like chewing rubber.  If you do plan to prepare your own tripe....don't cut it small like I did, as it will shrink heaps.....there are 4 pieces on the spoon below...so you can imagine the shrinkage. After tea, I tried it again....and decided it was cooked and ready for the rest of the family to taste it as well......

the comments I received were interesting....
* It's a texture thing
* It's different
* It's interesting
* This must be what it is like to eat a cooked jellyfish
* There's just no flavour in it on it's own
* It's ok, but No, I don't want another piece
* I had to spit mine out
* Texturally challenging
* That's the wrong colour, it's supposed to be in milk and onions.....(Mum)
* I'm not tasting it, I don't know where it comes from, I'm not trying that or the tongue....How Grosse. (DS19)

Conclusion: I won't be asking for the tripe, but I am very satisfied with tasting it....Would I try it again? Yes, I would. It certainly didn't taste horrible. It just didn't taste like I had eaten anything. Maybe cooking it another way would add more flavour to it, or make it more palatable, but for now; I can't see the benefits of storing it in the freezer, let alone paying for the tripe to be prepared. 
No we won't be asking to keep the tripe. But we can say at least; We have tried it!

Are you a tripe person...do you remember your parents making tripe? Was it like my mum expected, in milk and onions? 

Beef-Tail (Experiment 2)

By now, you would know I am conducting a few experiments, preparing for when I receive my lovely locally grown, grass fed Pure Angus beef....Yep, I ordered a full beast...But I need to know what if any of the organs I shall keep....I have already blogged about the Tongue....and it is delicious......Next on the list of experiments is the Tail....... you read my last post, you will know that we are planning to buy a whole beast which is locally grown, grass fed pure black Angus....It doesn't get much better than that...unless we were able to raise it ourselves.

Ox-Tail soup...... 
I had the ox tails (2) cut up by the butcher....and I braised them on the stove after tossing in herbed flour....I then put them in the crock-pot to slowly cook for a few hours.....

Meat from two ox-tails

Braising the meat

Into the crock-pot
I left the meat in the pot overnight from pure exhaustion on my behalf...(I had turned the crock-pot off at the wall).
Returning to it the following morning....I set to work on removing the meat from the bones, and around the fatty tendons Reserving the stock, I had a good base for the soup.

There was a considerable amount of fat and jelly around the meat once removed, so I poured boiling water over the gathered meat to bring the fat to the top, and strained it...after doing this twice I was satisfied with the amount of fat I had removed....Confident that I had kept the flavour within the stock I had saved, I wasn't concerned about 'rinsing' the meat.
After having so many things on the go yesterday, I never got around to cutting more veg for the soup....but I did add lentils, barley and the carrots from the crock-pot.
This soup is delicious, but I do prefer to have lots of different veg in a soup...just a personal preference....so I will freeze a few serves as a base for making a quick Vegetable & Ox-tail Soup...But most of it will be our soup for the week.

Conclusion: Preparing this meat was no more trouble than separating the meat off a few slow cooked chicken carcass's to go into a soup..and I do that on a regular basis for stocks anyway. I plan to ask the butcher to keep the tail for me as well.......

Would you eat the tail? How would you cook it? 

Beef-Tongue (Experiment 1)

If you read my last post, you will know that we are planning to buy a whole beast which is locally grown, grass fed pure black Angus....It doesn't get much better than that...unless we were able to raise it ourselves.

I am conducting a few experiments....the first....Beef Tongue

"If you haven't tried it, how do you know you won't like it?".....that's what is ringing around here at the moment....The tongue I found at a butcher is corned, so that is an easy cook.....I'll just treat it like my Corned Silverside.

After slow cooking in the crock-pot for 2 1/2 hours, I left the tongue in the cooking liquor to cool overnight.
Then in the morning, I took it out, and peeled it, after the skin, there is another layer that is bit jelly like, so I scraped that away as well..it also removed the back taste-buds or whatever those bumps are on the back end of the tongue...lol ..It still looks like a tongue though.
If it looks like a tongue, it probably is a tongue, and I am having a hard time convincing DS19 to try it...But I have walked in his shoes...I remember my mum waiving tongue under my nose, begging me to try it......OMG, I've just done that same thing to him.....Oh well!
 I remember mum pressing tongues when I was a child...But I was never brave enough to try the meat....I think you have to be ready to try offal...and well....I think I am ready! I want to try that method so here is how I pressed the tongue.......
Pressing the tongue..
It's in there!, between the two plates.
After being in the fridge for just over 12 hours under the press, I have removed it for the almighty first tasting of our experiment.....
Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have so many people tasting it...as there is only half of it left.....This has to be one of the best meats I have ever cooked.....Hubby, myself, mum and DS16 are very impressed with this meat. It has the taste of Silverside, but a lovely smooth texture.....the grain of the meat is by far smoother and finer that that of a silverside.

Conclusion: I will be asking for the tongue to be corned when I make my order and cooking it the exact same way....I told hubby I would like to take a few slices back to the butcher to try, as I know he would be impressed with what I did with it....Hubby said not to let him know how good it was, as he will probably charge me double....It was only $3.
I plan to ask the butcher to keep them aside for me, as this is a real treat..

Would you eat the tongue? 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ordering a full beast - Part 1

After meeting a great butcher and now friend at the cheese course...I found out he does home kills and also breeds his own Angus Beef...and not far down the road from me......at $6.50 kg dressed and packed....I have been slowly saving and emptying my freezers, I have two freezers ....I think they are 500L....one is completely empty now...and the other just has bits and bobs in it........dressed I will get about 170kg of meat...usually about 200kg in full summer....so anyway.......

In about 4 weeks...I need to be more specific with my order....as in how many sausages I want in a bag....what roasts, silversides....how many chops in one bag ....how much mince in each bag....etc.....

For that one low price...I get it all bagged, labelled and ready for the freezer...I have already asked to keep the edible organs...although I have never 'liked or tasted' them..lol...
I want to make the most of the animal and using the organs. Even to make the best darn stock I ever will; would make me happy....But I have always taught my children to at least try something first, then if you don't like it, at least you tried it....so If I order a very local grass fed beast...I think I should at least taste everything I can....or use what I can in other ways......I'll never know If I never try it....

I'm willing to give it a go with such a fresh local source.....I'm keeping all the bones and fat too...I'm not allowed to have the blood...that by law stays at the abattoir ...so I won't be trying blood sausage...which doesn't really worry me...lol....I do have mixed feelings with the tripe...although I have put in the question of whether they prepare it.....I think I will try to find a smaller piece to try first before going down that path...there's just so much of it....what if it actually does taste good...lol.....

The butcher said I can have the organs and bones etc, as they just get tossed otherwise, so I don't think it is a cost I will have to bare...  they get charged 2 cents per kg to have them carted away.....As far as I know they will be free to me, but I will be asking first to be clear.....I may have misunderstood this part......and as for discarding the bones once used...I am decomposing chicken and chop bones with the bokashi method....sprinkling bokashi powder over the bones before burying them in the garden is working, as I found some yesterday when digging too deep....they just crumbled in my hands....

I will be keeping an inventory of what goes in the freezer....
I don't think I will try curing any silversides, I'll leave that to the experts for now...maybe when we retire...lol...I have already decided thin sausages
, not thick sausages......I will also be packing a few smaller meals too.....

It will be a pleasure having locally produced grass fed meat in the freezer
I really need to think about what parts of the beast I want to keep.
So I am conducting another experiment 
So far....I have sourced from a beast the following....
As I blog about each organ, I will link back to this post.....I know that after researching, preparing, cooking and tasting each meat....I will be able to make an informed decision as to what organs to keep....if any.

Have you saved and eaten organs from a beast?    Do you buy your meat in bulk? Would you think about buying your meat in bulk at this price?   Do you think the savings in meat per kg will outdo the cost of storing the meat?     What cuts do you favour more than others? 

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Daffodil Day - 25th Anniversary 2011

Today is Daffodil Day....not only is it Daffodil Day
but this year is also the celebration of 
25 years of Cancer Awareness, 
Research and Fund-raising.

I think every person I know has been touched by Cancer in some way...Have you helped your mother through breast cancer?...maybe you lost an uncle to Prostate Cancer.....or do you have a child battling with Leukaemia......Do you have someone in your life who has had a melanoma removed? Maybe you yourself have suffered through Cancer.........

My Sister-In-Law is recovering from breast cancer...and has one last lot of radiation to go...then she plans to go back to work next month...She is a trooper..and I admire her strength every day.

I also have a cousin who has had many melanoma's removed from his face and arms...having skin grafts to replace most of the skin on his face now.....he too is a trooper to be admired.....

Not all cancer sufferers survive, and it is the fund-raising that provides much needed research into finding cures and medications for the future. 

Below is the range of products selling to help raise funds......

This year's range includes our best-selling pens ($5), enamel pin ($5), diamante brooch ($10), cancer research donation card ($10), new office clips ($6), key rings ($7), football ($7), this year's collectable 'super-hero' Dougal Bear ($10), and of course bunches of fresh daffodils. Coles will be celebrating their 16th year of support for Daffodil Day with a variety of special products, including an exclusive limited edition Daffodil Day environmental bag, a new jute bag and the ever-popular fresh daffodils.

Join in today and help make the country yellow!

For more information
click here to go to 
The Cancer Council Website

On my mind...Christmas Cake - Stage 2

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.

I've never made a Christmas cake..until now!
In the past......each time I have tried a fruit cake, I have found them to be dry, or very strongly flavoured....so I have never thought of making my own.  Over at the Down to Earth Forum, Rose got us thinking about Christmas and being prepared...by making our own Christmas Cake ahead of time....
So why not!.... I'm giving it a go!

On the side of caution, I decided to share the cake mix over two smaller tins...Had they been even smaller, they would have been thicker....but I kind of like the idea that they are thinner...I mean, at Christmas time who needs a big slice of cake anyway?...with all that extra food around...lol...

This way we get to have cake at another time....which is right down my alley.

I soaked my fruit way back over 5 weeks ago...and I have been stirring it every week, saying a quick hello.
I first wrote about soaking the fruit here... and you can also find the rest of the recipe there as well.

Today I need to feed the cakes again with Brandy...I'm not sure I want to do too many feeds though.....

Have you thought about making your own Christmas Cake....This is my first time...Will it be your first time too? Or have you been making them for years? Is it a tradition in your house?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gardening 101 for September

Last weekend I attended my first month of a 12 month Gardening Course which I wrote about a while back....Richard the Practical Gardener is the best teacher. I came home with 6 pages of notes, and lots of homework for the following weeks....until we return for another lesson......
Each month we will cover similar topics, but it will be specific to that particular month...I like this, as we get to learn as each month comes around.....a far better way of learning so much information.

The topics we covered were: 
  • Annuals
  • Bed Preparation
  • Compost
  • Vegetable Gardens
  • Soil Preparation
  • Fertilizer
  • Raised Vegetable Gardens
  • Vegetables for containers
  • Companion plants
  • Plants for shade
  • Types of Propagation and how
  • Lawn
  • Plants of the month
Afternoon tea was Fruit Cake, Lavender Biscuits & Zucchini Slice....(I'm not sure if I am allowed to publish the last two recipes, I will need to ask the teacher...But they were very delicious)

A garden scoop from a plastic soda bottle
Thanks for the reminder

Rundown on compost at all different stages...very hands on display

30 students, a full class.

Leaf Propagation using Rex Begonia

Kathy learning to propagate with Stem Cuttings
Philotheca sp

Emily learning to propagate with Stem Cuttings
Hebe Albicans

learning to propagate using the Dividing method.
Flax and Cordylines

My homework for the month of September is the following:
  • Plant more marigolds from seed for companion planting....(spread through-out the veg garden).
  • Plant more Basil from seed for companion planting....(amongst tomatoes)
  • Plant Pyrethrum from seed for companion planting.....(near Brassica's)
  • Keep working on my compost.....
  • Add ash to the compost bin, not directly onto the garden....ooops
  • Plant bean seeds as well as other seeds........
  • Propagate Rosemary.....
  • Propagate Lavender......
  • Buy seed raising mix for better germination.....
  • Divide Aloe Vera & Bromeliads.....
  • Fertilize every fortnight....(I've been very slack with this)
  • Set up a Liquid Weed Fertilizer instead of putting my weeds in the compost.....
  • Finish the new garden bed in the front yard......(My trees need a home)
  • From Hazelton's Hardware in Albion Park...I need to buy Bales of Straw $8, Wood Shavings & Seed Raising Mix.....
  • Gather all the Curl Grubs from soil by watering soil with a Soapy solution.......

Phew!!! That's a lot of work when you put it on one list...But I'm definitely up for the challenge...

What are you doing in your garden this month?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pizza Night...with EASIEST CRUST EVER

Tonight we have really full bellies...and my boys ask me, "Can we do this another night?".....They say this while rubbing their bellies...saying how stuffed they are...."Don't make another one Mum, I can't eat anymore" ....I just laughed...I guess their saying that the pizza's were really really good, but they just can't fit anymore in.....So I put the last pizza in the freezer to cook another night.

I wish I could take the credit for this pastry dough, but nope...I can't........
TasmanianMimilist at the Down to Earth Forum posted the recipe....saying "This pizza base, calzone, scroll base is the most simple base recipe ever." ......over at her blog, she makes Vegemite & Cheese Scrolls to put in her daughter's lunch box; using the exact same dough base.......and she is right....Oh boy is she right....

Waiting for Pizza Dough's to rise .....is the main reason we hardly ever have a pizza night.....but this recipe holds a whole new vision for Pizza Nights at our house.....and they will be even better when I'm organised with my own Mozzarella.

I suppose with all this blah blah blah...I should share the recipe.....

1 cup of Self Raising Flour and 1 cup of Yoghurt

That gives you enough dough for one large Pizza......I'm even using my own home-made yoghurt....even better, if you don't have Self Raising Flour, it still works by adding Plain Flour and 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder.......I even tried 50:50 with White and Wholemeal flours.

Knead on floured bench for 5 minutes
adding extra flour if needed.

Ok, so the first one I made like a Focaccia, I knew it wouldn't rise much as I had used plain flour, and forgot the baking powder.....I decided to go ahead with this dough, as I don't like waste, AND I was impressed that the dough had risen by half while resting.

The next batch was a double batch of dough......

Pizza #1
Pizza #2
So by now I am way too excited at how these are turning out....so I make a 4 batch...with 50:50 White flour and Wholemeal flour.........
Pizza #3
this one even has julienned Swede
I'm just using whatever we have.

My yummy light crust from Pizza #2
Pizza #4......Goes in the freezer to cook another night...
We are all way to full to cook this one.
 I still have enough dough to make 2 more pizza's or scrolls....I'll pop the left over dough in a lightly greased bowl then into the fridge.....Baking a scroll just might be on my list for tomorrow's baking.....This morning I also baked my Christmas Cake....been a big day in the kitchen today....but it was worth it.

Have you ever heard of this quick Pizza Dough? I certainly hadn't.......will you have a go at it?

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Golden Syrup Dumplings....I always double the recipe, this way, we can have sweets another night.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Self Raising Flour
1 beaten egg
2 3 tablespoons milk
Rub the butter into the flour. Add the beaten egg and most of the milk to form a soft dough....Add more milk if needed.
Place spoonfuls into a baking dish.

1 1/2 cups water
1 tspn lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup

Put syrup ingredients into a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved, and bring to the boil. Pour syrup over dumplings and bake in a moderate oven for 20 -30 minutes.

 I like to turn the dumplings half way through the cooking time, then sprinkle some cinnamon on them.

Golden Syrup Dumplings with Vanilla Ice-cream

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