Friday, August 7, 2015

Mid Winter

I've been struggling to upload a new blog post for around a week. Our internet connection has spat the dummy. In fact, it's a problem being experienced right around the district. We don't have broadband. We don't have ADSL. We have to use a Telstra WiFi connection, which costs us dearly for minimal usage. Just one of the joys of living in the country! 

But here's something to be super excited about. This past month I sent two entries to the Royal Melbourne Fine Foods Awards. And what do you know... we won a SILVER medal! We're mightily pleased. I did do a little checking to see who had won gold, but there was no gold medal awarded. So my goal is to improve the intensity of the raspberry flavour and hit the judges right in the middle of their taste buds :-)
I was given this recipe by Anne Woods over in Birregurra. It's from Mrs Jekyll's recipes from 1922. Old things can be new again! Mrs Jekyll suggests that this cordial is an elixir that is perfect when taken after being exhausted by gardening, exasperated by church or tired by tennis. We agree.
We're waiting for our new little silver stickers to arrive so we can adorn our Rapsberry Vinegar Cordial bottles. 

And just a little thrill that came with the award... A retweet by Pip Courtney (Landline Presenter) on our award. Thanks Pip!

I'm still slow cooking garlic to turn it into Black Garlic. Our garlic salts are proving to be very popular. This reminds me that the garlic growing in the paddock needs weeding! Oh joy..

It was one of those days..
The only way I can get through the awful task of plucking feathers from dead birds is to set myself time challenges. I've managed to pluck a chook in 8 minutes. A duck still challenges my skills. The best is around 19 minutes. I do not like plucking ducks. Not at all.
I used to freeze the birds whole and then wait for an occasion when we had a few mouths to feed before cooking them. However, I now cut them up and freeze them in portions. So much easier. There's nothing quite like eating a free range farm bird. It is lean and tasty. Yes, it needs slow cooking, but it tastes pretty amazing.
July was a month that challenged us in many ways. The worst was that Frans and I both got sick. It took me over three weeks to get over it. I still bear the residual cough. It was lovely getting a drop in visit from Chef Simon Stewart from Bespoke Harvest one afternoon. His lovely partner Kara had told him we were sick and to bring soup! Which he did. Thank you Simon and Kara!
It's good to know you have friends!
Soup to make us better.
We've done a bit around the yard. Frans has shovelled loads of chook poo onto the asparagus bed.
We love asparagus. It has such a short window of production and we treasure every spear. Usually I'll made a duck egg frittata with two or three spears freshly cut from the garden. So you can imagine my pleasure when we were gifted three huge boxes of just lifted asparagus plants from a friend. This required immediate action. We cleared up one of our long vegetable beds, dug deep trenches and piled in the compost. The plants were evenly spaced along the trench and the soil put back on top. 
Then on top of that we spread a generous layer of cow poo. We are looking forward to Spring! I'm hoping we can eat from these new plants this year as they were already established when they were lift. Crossing fingers!

We've also added another 17 trees of all descriptions to our little 'food forest'. There are figs, pears, nectarines, cherry, almond (I've been told I say this word with a strange accent... I pronounce the 'l' in almond), grape vines and hazelnuts. There are also an number of citrus trees; grapefruit, cumquat, navel orange, lemon and lime.
Planting trees and mulching is thirsty work!
The garlic was netted to keep the rabbits out, not to mention the parrots!
I'm keeping track of our frosty mornings. So far we've had six. This was the heaviest. It was a winter wonderland! Beautiful to look at. Not that great for some of the soft herbs and leafy greens.
The perennial basil below took a beating.
And just because I love the cows, here's a photo of Eileen and her little heifer Lucky. This is afternoon tea.
Feeding out hay is a combined effort. The chickens love to assist too.
And we said goodbye to Michael Jackson a few weeks ago. So Spike is king pin once again. All is well in the chook yard!
Till next time,
Remember where your food comes from.
Eat well.