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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Yarn Lovers Tour- Northern Tasmanian Trip

It's on again!
We had so much fun last year we are going on another knitting/crochet day tour (or quilting as the places we are visiting also cross-over with quilt shops too).

If you are local in and around the Launceston area or from the south and want to be introduced to the delights of the northern yarn lovers come join us.

We leave Launceston on Saturday
13th June 2015
from the Brickfields Park, Canning St side

We'll be travelling to Deloraine first where we sill stop at the Alpaca Shop and have a talk with producers and spinners about the benefits of alpaca fibre. 
We will also have morning tea here.

Our lunch stop will be in beautiful Ulverstone where there are many cafe choices or you may decide to pack your own lunch and give yourself more time for shopping.
While in Ulverstone we will be visiting 

Cranberry Crafts
Sew and Wool
Under the Oak
for some hand spun and hand dyed yarns and a large range of commercial produced yarn as well.

Along the way we'll be having a charity knit-a-long to make a blanket and lucky door prizes.
We are not for profit. Just a bunch of ladies (most of us don't know each other) getting together with a shared passion and having a day out.

The cost is $30
This covers the hire of the coach and driver for the day and morning tea is provided. Lunch is buy or pack your own. We recommend you bring a bottle of water and a pair of needles or crochet hook suitable for 8ply eg: 4mm. Most of the ladies also bring along their current projects to work on during travel.

Send me an email if you would like to come. The more the merrier (and the plusher the coach!)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hot, Hot Savings

.... in the vicinity of $700 in chilli products alone!
As you know from previous posts, we grow and preserve most of our food for year round eating right here on our ordinary suburban block. In addition to all the varieties this year, the Shearer planted 50 chilli bushes of more than 10 varieties. This might sound excessive, and indeed I thought it was, but when you preserve the harvest and do the sums, it's a very wise and fruitful thing for our household.

Louisiana Style Hot Sauce
So far he has fermented more than 4kg of chillies into a Tabasco style sauce. This makes approx 9lt of sauce, some of which will be given as gifts but much will be gradually consumed over the next 12 months. 

Given that the commercial sauce sells for $6.60/100ml, that means ordinarily if we purchased 9lt it would cost us $594.00.
The total cost of the ingredients was about $12.
A saving for the year of $582.00

Pickled Chillies

In addition to the sauce he also pickled 7 pint jars/ approx 500g each of jalapeno peppers with more to come. We use these on our pizzas every Friday night. The commercially canned ones sell for a unit price of $1.89/100g which works out so far to about $66.00. The cost to make these jars was a mere couple of dollars at most for ingredients and probably the same for rubber rings. So the savings have us way out in front. 
A saving so far for the year of $62.00

Fresh Chilli

Even if you were calculating savings for just harvesting and eating fresh chillies the savings are enormous given that they sell on average for $20-$25/kg. We have even been harvesting the jalapenoes at the mid stage and chopping them into chunks and eating them steamed alongside our other vegetables. They have a slight bite but still a fresh capsicum flavour.
A saving of let's say $25

And I have also made several jars of chilli paste too but I think you get the idea...

While chillies may not be everyone's cup of tea, if you were to add up all the chilli condiments you might purchase over a year you might be surprised.
At a conservative estimate we have saved ourselves $669.00 just in chillies alone. Perhaps the Shearer is not as mad as I thought him to be. By learning to preserve your harvest and value add to create product, you save hundreds with every crop variety that you grow.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sugar Free Sesame Seed Squares

I tend to bake on a Sunday afternoon for the Shearer's lunch box. He takes fruit salad, fresh and seasonal, for lunch and keeps it minimal and light. He finds he can't bend over looking at his feet all day with a full stomach but expending energy like that all day he needs some quick replenishment. He loves to have something more substantial like a sandwich while he is driving home. Baking with dried fruit, oats, nuts and seeds etc are good fuel snacks for him.

Anzacs are a favourite and are unusual because they cook in a slow oven unlike most everything else, but I have found another recipe I can make and cook at the same time taking full advantage of the oven. Sesame seeds are high in calcium, magnesium and iron.

Slice in the tin while hot and turn out when cool.
Don't you just love this tin? My brother Paul made it at school and the thickness of the metal means it cooks really well and I love the shape.
(I think of you every time I use it Paulie. Love you x)

Sesame Seed Squares

1 1/2 cups of sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups of desiccated coconut
1/3 cup peanut paste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup rice malt syrup (or you can use sugar)
1 teas vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients and press evenly into a lamington tin or slice tin and bake in a slow oven (160C) for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares while hot and cool in the tin.

Tip- I place all the ingredients into a metal mixing bowl and pop it into the pre-heating oven for a few seconds to get the honey, syrup and paste warmed and runnier and easier to combine. I also find combining easier done with the hands rather than a spoon too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crunchy or Chewy?

I haven't met an Australian yet who doesn't love an Anzac biscuit, the only thing they'll disagree upon is chewy or crunchy. How about our cousins over the ditch? Are New Zealanders as crazy for them as we are?
On Saturday we commemorate 100 years of the landing on Gallipoli and it seemed fitting that the Shearer take Anzac biscuits in his lunch box this week.

No doubt you'll all have your family recipe but if you go here you'll find two slight variations that Allie Reynolds has researched in a bid to define the "crispy" and the "chewy".
I also believe it comes down to the timing of the cooking and how they are cooled.
Craig likes his crunchy, crispy and with snap. He likes them best when they are over cooked (about 15-20 mins in oven at 160C) . I cool them on the tray and don't shift them till they are cold. 

Anzac Day is an important day for our family and this year we will be going to the Longford dawn service. The RSL is planning a very special day with a live link at 5am with New Zealand as they observe dawn service and then we will hold ours at 6am as dawn breaks here. At 7.15am they will be televising the recorded Anzac Tribute concert that we went to last Saturday night. It was wonderful and it will be shown in many countries on Saturday including France, England, New Zealand and many others. The morning service will then be held at 11am.

So, there is only one question left....
are you crunchy or chewy?
What is your trade secret Anzac biscuit method? 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Elderberry Preparation and Preserving

I have already written before about elderberry tincture and you can easily make it into a cordial, elixir, shrub etc. and benefit from it's wonderful healing and health properties. Remember to follow directions, remove stems and strain the pulp containing the seeds as both stems and seeds have an emetic effect. A number of blogs are failing to advise this important step.

Due to popular demand within the family and friend circle I have harvested three times as much as in previous years. One day this week I spent 5 hours in total removing the berries from the stems and usually the staining washes off but this time the deep purple has remained quite stubborn around my nail areas. I now have about four kilos of berries macerating in vodka.

Pick them at their peak when heads are heavy and full of plump healthy berries. I harvest into woven baskets and let them sit a while somewhere cool, this allows the critters time to escape and find new lodgings. I always give them a good swishing wash in a sink full of water to remove any webs, dust and bird poo. You will have a couple of days window of opportunity to de-stalk but I have found the sooner you do it after harvest the better they pop off the stalks. Some people use a fork to rake the berries from the stems but I'm a bit fussy. 

The rest pictured above are washed and drying. on teatowel covered racks. Once they loose a bit more moisture I will hang them in a calico bag to completely dry off for emergency dry stores in case we run out of tincture. Once dry the stalks are easily rubbed and winnowed away and they can be re-hydrated. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Pee-Wee Pot

Just Look!
I found a half size Fowlers pot to match my big Bertha one.
I ummed and aahhed about buying it, wondering if I was just bringing more "stuff" into the house but it has turned out to be a wonderful buy.
It is perfect for doing small batches at the start of the season, for instance if I only have enough for bottling six #27 of tomatoes instead of the 12-13 that I can fit into the big one.
It is also PERFECT for processing my #10 bottles which I use for tomato paste, chilli sauce and pickled nasturtium seeds.
And for the height of the season like this morning...
I have both of them going at once!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Retro Table Setting

Want to know what was chic and what was not 50 years ago in table settings?
Genevieve Antoine Dariaux writes (1965) - 

Very Chic-

  • Monochrome colour schemes or rather several shades of the same colour, such as pink to burgundy, ciel to dark blue, etc.
  • A combination of fruit and flower, vegetables and flowers, or feathers and fruit in your centrepiece.
  • An unusual flower container in the centre of the table, such as a hunting horn (where can I get one of those I wonder?) or a curious porcelain bibelot ( pronounced "bib-low" I checked because I had never heard of it before! I think she is referring to those little porcelain donkeys pulling carts and plaster cornucopia)
  • Unpretentious rustic settings (with menu to match) (not entirely clear what she means by rustic 50 years ago)
  • At least one set of plates that is different, such as dessert plates with a fruit or floral motif or marine motif plates for the seafood course.
Not Chic At All-

  • A huge floral centrepiece that is overwhelming, pretentious and obviously prepared by a professional florist.
  • Mustard, sauce etc in their original bottles as well as plastic gadgets for pouring honey etc, All of these are useful but they belong in the kitchen.
  • To have absolutely everything match. (I remember Johnson Bros in the 90's going completely overboard and manufacturing patterns like "Eternal Beau" in every conceivable accessory including napkins, placemats, was ghastly en masse.)
  • Napkins folded in an elaborate fashion. (I'm sure I remember napkin folding becoming very grandiose and chic in the 70's and 80's. Now they are just in downright decline!) 
Taken from "Entertaining With Elegance"

What do you think of Genevieve's list?
Do you have any trend additions to make?
What's your hot and not list for today's table-scaping and do you have some favourite table-scaping links/bloggers?

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