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Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Ultimate Coconut Ice Recipe

This was a firm favourite growing up and I have memories of Mum making this recipe in triple batches and more for Christmas giving and for school fetes. It is not the average run of the mill coconut ice recipe, You'll want to pin this one. I know, because Mum lost the recipe about 30 years ago and it has been the subject of regular hunting ever since. She vaguely recalled the ingredients but not the quantities and every likely book she saw in an op-shop had us checking indexes and suffering endless disappointments. 
At last! The recipe is found. In an old school recipe compilation from her old home town in outback Queensland (with contribution credit to a relative of hers) I give you the ultimate Coconut Ice recipe, that it may never be lost again!
Be warned though, it is seriously divine and you will NOT stop at two pieces....

Creamy Coconut Ice

1lb icing sugar
8oz desiccated coconut
1 teas vanilla
2 egg whites
4 oz butter
pink food colouring

Mix sifted icing sugar and coconut in a bowl. Pour on the slightly beaten egg whites and vanilla.
Melt butter over a gentle heat until barely warm, not hot, test temperature with your finger tips. 
Pour onto the ingredients in the bowl and mix thoroughly.
Press half the mixture into a cake tin 7" square or similar.
Add just a couple of drops of pink colouring to make a pretty colour and press this onto the white layer. Pop into the fridge and allow to get quite cool and set before cutting into squares.

Looks perfectly ducky in cellophane bags tied with ribbon and is much more sumptuous than the usual recipes found in old cook books.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Autumn Picnic at Clarendon

During the week, my mother liberated her great-grandson from childcare and I packed a picnic and met them at Clarendon House to enjoy a glorious day of sunshine and falling leaves.

I whipped up some simple tiny, tiny quiches of egg and spring onion and kept them warm in the insulated carrier, along with some bacon wrapped prunes speared with toothpicks and baked for about 15 minutes. A steamed corn on the cob wet with melted butter and baby tomatoes and carrots, from the garden. Slices of watermelon and sparkling elderflower cordial and ice.

My grandson ran and played and scooped up armfuls of dried leaves to dump on our heads and let the wind take my colourful scarf like an exotic streaming banner. He calls Clarendon his castle - oh to have those simple fantasies again. "I'm Mike the Knight" he declares.

Stopping just long enough to take a selfie with Grandma.

Then away again to explore some more.

"No other Knight in all the land
Could do the things which he could do. 
Not only did he understand
The way to polish swords, but knew
What remedy a Knight should seek
Whose armour had begun to squeak."

from "The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak"
by A.A. Milne

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mole Creek District

Our garden club had an excursion to the Mole Creek district so I am going to bore you with lots of garden photos because this little blog is actually a good pictorial reference for me and I find it handy to look back and remember dates, places, inspirations and even future holiday stay options.

After a lovely morning tea at the Deloraine visiting an extraordinary work of art in silk and embroidery and a charming Georgian cottage museum, we travelled northwest into the Mole Creek district and had lunch at Marakoopa Cafe and wandered their gardens admiring autumn colours. We had beautiful music provided by a string three piece, a real treat which added to the unique atmosphere of the cafe.

We admired the raspberry frame.

Their various poultry.

And their various landscaped "rooms"

On to Wychwood and their Glory Vine was a show stopper this year.

I think autumn is the best time to view Wychwood, it never disappoints. 

Next we visited Blackwood Cottages and grounds.
If you are looking for a quiet getaway, this is it! I am definitely ear-marking this for a weekend retreat.

I have glass house envy!

Urn envy...

and iron-work envy!

Stone wall lusting,

And hedging desires.

So easy to picture yourself here....

And more beautiful poultry.
The day was everything I could have wished for.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Consequences and Green Salsa

The consequence of a bigger garden ....
Is more food.....

Piles of it in fact! Everywhere I look!
Many people have asked us in the past why we chose to move the country? Our short answer is "that we wanted to grow more food" 

(Carrot weighed in at 1.2kg and was sweet and tender)

And the shearer hasn't failed me. 
More food takes more time for preserving and that's pretty much what we've been doing the past month since I saw you last.

(Blackberry picking down by the river)

And of course there is the associated time taken by the garden and harvesting itself.

But we are having a ball and nearly every jar is filled for the year ahead.

This is a new to me recipe this year and one I'll be making EVERY year if I get the opportunity with a glut of green tomatoes. It's "Green Tomato Salsa" and the recipe is from The Healthy Canning site here. You'll want to pin this one! It doesn't look real pretty but, oh my, the flavour AND what a brilliant way to use green tomatoes. It's delicious as an accompaniment to corn chips and sour cream or topping for nachos or as a pizza topping or part of a cheese board. Sensational!

And in the midst, the grandson turned three and had a Toy Story party. Can you believe it!
Where does the time go?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Storage Ideas For Bottling Accessories

As you would imagine, at this time of year we are busy harvesting and preserving the bulk of our food for the next twelve months. It takes a bit of time to build a jar collection and along with it comes a lot of accessories. In order to streamline the bottling process it is a good idea to put some thought into your storage as this can streamline the whole process and save you time and frustration.

Over the years I have collected many sizes so that I can bottle food into jar sizes that are practicle for their purpose. It can sound a bit mystifying when you hear bottlers talk about jar sizes and lid sizes.
The Fowlers & Vacola system is quite old and from the time before Australia converted to metric. The jar number relates to the ounces a jar holds and the lid/clip/ring numbers relate to the inches across the mouth of the jar. Therefore a #31 bottle takes a #4 lid. Once you understand this it all becomes a lot easier.

So here is how I have devised a storage solution for all those rings, lids and clips. I have a kitchen cupboard with stacked plastic tubs that fit the space beautifully and I have clearly labelled them. One of the other boxes holds assorted lids from saved and recycled commercial jars. The #1 box contains the seals for the old fashioned pint/juice bottles and has spare clip seals and labels as there is spare room.

And this is typical of what each box contains. I use stainless steel lids and though they cost extra in the beginning, they are far more cost effective than the tin being more resistant to corrosion from acidity. I ALWAYS have a few packets of rubber rings at all times as there is nothing worse than having a glut of food to deal with and the shops being sold out during bottling time which happens EVERY year. I have found the most reliable supplier for me has been the smaller retailers like my local IGA here in Campbell Town and The Log Cabin Nursery in Youngtown are more than happy to order in quickly and more especially they get me the rare #2 and #1 seals.

Keep everything clean and dry and remember to always store your thermometer upright, that's what the handy hole in the top is good for.
So what's your system? Have you got a clever idea for storage? 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Summer Garden

Zinnias have been a "signature" annual for the garden this summer and their bright colours have given me great joy. I found a couple of colourful, strappy plants for the big copper "pots" too.

In fact it's all been a bit of a kaleidoscope of hot colour as I try to fill a once empty paddock with beds of plants on a very limited budget. I'm using lots of self sowers and easy propagators and as the garden plan proper starts to take shape I will shift and sow a little more precisely. Losing the front hedge on the road has left us very exposed to strong winds though thankfully, not as exposed as if we were on the edge of town.

A bit of self expression and character is creeping in....

with the addition of former garden features and favourites.

The funniest development of the summer came from the shearer who emphatically declared that we needed three quarters of the land for the sheep and fenced the house yard off accordingly....
but has now extended the house yard for "more vegetable beds". I still have plans for an autumnal walk over in yonder paddock...never say never hey!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Fence Me In

(entrance to the sheep pen)

We have a little bit over an acre and it was pretty much just one paddock when we arrived. Over the past 18 months there has been quite a bit of fencing to do, creating a garden/house yard, making the boundaries secure and fencing off a paddock for the sheep. Having sheep also means having a penning area in order to be able to catch them for shearing, health inspection and slaughtering. They don't like corners much and this curved fence above is a good visual for them. It was made from "give-away" timber - an old pool fence someone was dismantling. 

The other side of the sheep catching pen is created by this existing foundation wall from the ruined cottage at the bottom of the property. Over many years, quince and plum trees have grown through an abandoned wire fence above the stone wall and created an impenetrable yet natural looking barrier so we are working with what we've got and saving where we can.

A tall pine tree has been chopped down while the Golden Child was home to help his father and they created a "wall" with the cut logs and made a partition for the compost heap by weaving the limbs. Again, natural, effective,cost efficient and it solved the dilemma of getting rid of tree waste.

Both are pretty solid yet temporary. They are easily shifted should needs change.

And since we've been here, needs have changed and our garden is as fluid as it was in our last place. Already the shearer has decided that we need more room for the vegetables and extended the house yard, employing old gates and recycled timber sourced cheaply from someone dismantling an old deck. These sort of projects cost only a few dollars for the gate fittings as we still have wire left over from the boundary fencing.

The Golden Child and I spent a lovely day together while he was here, dividing off some of the fowl yard for the young chicks as they grow through. Again, the posts, rails and even the wire is all recycled from previous applications and the only cost was the screws and staples. This will also give us the flexibility to have guinea fowl or quail if we desire later down the track.

The fowl yard as you know is made entirely from recycled material and I've posted about it here if you would like to see more photos. At the back of this yard is a little drop door that we can leave open for the fowl to access the paddock and free-range all day. Thus they are fenced from the house yard but have access to the paddock.

So many reasons and needs for fencing and many ways to do it. The boundary fences are properly strained and needed to be secure and have cost the most of course but otherwise, it is possible to be quite resourceful. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

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