Thursday, 18 January 2018

Fruitful and fruit season

It's a wonderful time of year for fruit.  We've got bowls of what was termed 'last of the apricots' in two large bowls on the kitchen bench ready for preserving.  I'm not sure that he meant for ever and eternity but we've probably got enough anyhow.  I've been enjoying working my way through the excess that is Christmas food supply shopping in that we have enough food should the Tour De France happen to swing by for a quick bite, but mostly it's just us.  We ended up having two giant hams (one won in a raffle, the other given in a hamper) so I'm happily doing ham many ways.  Ham surprise, ham and everything etc.  Last night was cooked up ham pieces in a basil pesto made with more than a few missing ingredients.  I savaged our little basil pot that had been doing remarkably well out in the courtyard until the first signs of seeds and flowers...and off with their heads I go.  One bowl of pesto and now a pot of severed sticks.  I didn't have pine nuts as the usual guest at a pesto whizz up but used some local walnuts instead.  I didn't even have any Parmesan (is that the sound of Italy sinking I can hear?) so substituted vintage cheddar.  And when I say vintage, it gained an additional vintage bit from being in my fridge.  I suspect it saw the New Year in.  Anyway.  Some tomatoes were wrestled off the bushes that included Roma, Heirloom and Beefsteak varieties that were roasted in the oven until I remembered them.  All got bung in with some imported artisan Penne pasta (sound of Italy rising again).  A joy of ingredients, a simple dish and other than the pasta, most came from very close by.  We're still enjoying the loads of berries still for sale and am stocking up the freezer fast.  Once I've eaten everything else that I've got stashed in there.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Minnie ain't so mini anymore

I've always been a bit concerned about Minnie's weight.  The vet assured us she was a big cat and that she wasn't particularly overweight.  She's been putting it away ever since.  You see, like most cats she loves here food.  Her dear brother Maxwell couldn't be more different. He has a difficult relationship with food and eats only small morsels at a time.  This would be fine but he won't eat anything that's been in his bowl for more than an hour so it gets wasted.  And Minnie scores the leftovers.  I think they may have hatched some kind of arrangement here and whilst I'm not spending more money on cat food, I'm conscious that Minnie is having trouble holding herself upright when attempting to groom her behind.  We were fine with the prospect of an overfed cat which would be our insurance policy that she wouldn't eat the newly hatched chickens.  She's not pursued any chickens in the garden at all but I think this has more to do with good rooster management than her appetite.  Once a swift and great tree climber, and often seen skipping off into the garden, she now limits her exercise to the only necessary and the broken branches on the tree will still remain a mystery.  We'll have to keep an eye on this one.  She might be in for a new year's resolution somehow.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Carson? It's Max...I've rescued you from the tree

Christmas is officially over.  There.  I've declared it.  The tree was rammed back in its box today and the decorations unceremoniously turfed into recycled shopping bags, and out to the shed they go.  Number one son and cocker spaniel Bennie rushes in to see if Santa will sing one more time but the fluffy fat man in the red suit is silent as his batteries are now removed.  Our pets do well at Christmas time which I think the majority must also do with bits of ham, extra toast from Nanny and more cake crumbs on the floor than usual.  The Dyson hits the rug one more time and the last of the glitter and tinsel wrapped disappointments are put away.  New Year's Eve comes and goes without a bang here.  We don't usually make much of an attempt to stay up for the firework.  Just the one.  That usually goes off somewhere over the hill or behind us.  No resolutions as we know they won't be kept and it needs to be a while before I'm seeing another mince pie.  Woolworths have hot cross buns on display today which was noted by a letter to the editor of today's paper stating 'Don't they know what the cross is for?'  According to supermarket scripture, He was born, and then crucified about a week later.  How gruesome.  And so to another year.  Hope yours is a cracker.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Christmas list

You can only be in denial for so long.  There are only so many lists you can write until you realise that the Christmas shopping won't come down the chimney with Santa carrying a bunch of Coles bags.  I do my best to avoid it.  I get myself psyched up for an early morning shop.  That way the car park won't be full and I can get in and out early.  What I'm clearly deluded about is the fact that every other household within a 20km radius of the supermarket is thinking pretty much the same thing.  Get in and get out.  The downside to the early morning shop is that there are no registers open and you've got to unload an abundance of groceries that's toppling over the trolley onto a small square space of express lane counter that is really only suited to a small packet of pre-sliced cheese or a packet of fags.  Both, I can guarantee won't make it onto my shopping list.  The list of things to do is as ugly as the grocery list with only a few days to go and enough jobs to classify you a major employer.  You put it all off until the last minute.  No point scrubbing the shower now.  No point mopping floors now and so on.  So the day before Christmas it's assuming that you'll be baking with one hand and scrubbing with the other.  The tablecloth that doesn't get looked at for 12 months gets a dust off and an iron.  It's usually when you just finished the last once over (on a 35 degree stinker of a day) that you realise the Shiraz didn't come out and the brandy sauce looks like it could be there for the next millennium.  Bugger.  You've done the gift shopping at least you thought, until on the very eve of the day someone presents you with that unexpected small token that leaves you guilt ridden, for a short while anyway.  Well that carpark is filling and I haven't got to the shops yet.  I'm stalling.  I need to get off this computer and face it.  Perhaps I'll start a new list first.

Friday, 24 November 2017

The chicks at the local pool

We've been struggling to stay up with the water demands here in an unusually hot season of consecutive days of 30 degrees.  It's slowed down the egg laying, but not the hatching.  It is Spring, after all.  The sheep and lambs spend their day sitting under a 100 year old Macrocarpa tree in the shade. Bennie and I braved the cool of the morning and went for a walk up the lane.  We walk past the creek and watch out for anything slithering in our path, and then walk up to the old hay shed around the bend.  It's a country lane walk with little finches darting in and out of the prickly hedges and a few horses look up but only briefly.  We saw rabbits this morning.  I'm still yet to know the difference between rabbit and hare, so we'll just refer to these as Super Bunnies.  They were big, and didn't so much hop along away from us as thump off slowly in another direction.  I, personally wouldn't mess with them.  Bennie wasn't that keen either.  We've lost our appetites for slow cook roasts in these warm nights so I've been scouring the freezer for inspiration.  Someone recently gave us about 12 wild ducks (for eating).  I was all keen, getting excited about an opportunity to cook with real, foraged (er., shot) produce that's come off the land.  I searched for wild duck recipes and was all good to go until someone mentioned 'beware of the pellets'.  Having not cooked with food containing bullets before I suddenly lost interest with the thought of running a metal detector over my food.  Am I being a bit precious knowing that my meal wouldn't get through airport security?  My husband laughed at me and asked me if I even knew what these pellets looked like.  I replied "Yes, I've seen James Bond and I've seen bullets.  They are about this big...and gold". Might just cook an omelette instead, less likely to require forensic examination before eating.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The curse of the lilac tree and the loungeroom Starling

I read somewhere, that there is an old wives' tale which says if you put lilac inside the house, it brings death.  Our tree this year has blossomed better than previous years, it's a ripper.  The perfume smacks you in the face when you walk down the driveway.  They keep their fragrance for a little while so I've got bunches and bunches of them in vases and jugs all around the house.  I'm expecting a major massacre any moment now!!  I love to come home to a house filled with fresh flowers.  Particularly now that the garden is offering up new rose buds.  That is, if you can get to them before Possum does.  I've tried putting a net over my favourite rose bush, which unfortunately is also his favourite, but this hasn't been successful.  I can't get the roses out of the netting when I want them and so both me and Possum are denied access.  I just get frustrated with the net and end up pulling their heads off which is not very good at all.  The rose heads that is, not the possums.  Although if he keeps this up, it really will get personal.  People I speak to tell me that at night their gardens are a hub of activity with Quolls, Pademelons (I thought that was some little yellow character from an on line game), Wallabies and Possums, and that eventually they have to fence in and cover everything.  We're lucky not to live that close to bushland or forest because I'd be employing some sort of armed night watch guard if that were the case.  Although we're not prone to any sort of violence here and I was alarmed to come home this week to a dead Starling on the lounge room floor.  With no windows or doors open it's come down from one of our sealed up chimneys where they insist on moving in with their new families.  I couldn't help noticing that it was completely untouched, all feathers intact.  This seemed a bit odd given we had a cat inside at the time.  Then Max appears and without so much of a blink of an eye walks over the dead bird to say hi, nice you're home and feed me now.  He barely even noticed it. We know he's not the predatory kind, but golly, at least pretend you caught it.  Damn those lilacs.

Friday, 20 October 2017


Oh dear!  Fixer upperer anybody?  Not quite.  This is a photo from an historical site in one of Tasmania's former 'female factories' that kept convict women prisoners during the 1800's.  This was a room in what is left of one of the Superintendent's houses which gives a stark look into how hard times were back then (I suddenly don't feel so compelled to wipe down my kitchen bench for a third time today).  This place would have been freezing in winter, being inland with the only source of heating being in this fireplace.  They must have welcomed Spring sunshine even if it didn't belong in such a cold, awful place.  One of the information panels on the walls explains the diet of these women and the rations of food they were given which were mainly bread, gruel and soup, made from meat thickened with vegetables and peas or barley.  I didn't find this at all horrifying.  This prison food whilst not palatable and probably not cooked or prepared with much care was most likely of better nutritional value than a lot of items on our supermarket shelves.  We've got people out there with shopping trolley's full of packaged unknown chemicals, colourings and food additives that if you had put them out on this bench sometime in about 1850, would probably still be ok to eat today.  That's not a good thing by the way.  I worry about where our food comes from and like to have some control over its origins.  Our farm cat Minnie leaves her local catch of dead mice artfully arranged on the back doorstep and whilst I notice this early in the morning, by lunchtime the body has been removed. The chooks love them.  It just scares me a little that this dead mouse has now entered, just slightly into my own food chain..eeewww!!  I'll stop thinking about that now.  Perhaps I need to go and prepare some gruel for dinner.  What is that anyway?