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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Black Currant and Lemon Myrtle Glazed Turkey

It's snowing again, perfect for stay inside and knit days and dinners by candlelight.
The farm where the shearer is working at the moment has a turkey population problem. With the farmers blessing, the men shot one each at the end of their day and thus I share with you a very fragrant, rich recipe for the breast. 

Roasted Turkey Breast with Black Currant & Lemon Myrtle Glaze

1 turkey breast
1 onion chopped
3/4 cup of black currants
1/4 cup molasses 
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp lemon myrtle leaf powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp of mustard seeds

Pre-heat oven to 160C. I rubbed oil over the entire breast to coat. Place the roughly chopped onion in the bottom of a roasting dish and add a handful of black currants. (I have mine frozen from the summer). Place the turkey breast on top of the onion and currants. 

Place the remaining black currants and all the other ingredients into a small saucepan and heat gently to "pop" the currants so they warm and ooze and make the glaze a lovely baste-able liquid. Brush generously onto the turkey and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake in the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours basting a few times during the cooking. When the breast is cooked, remove from heat and rest while you turn the heat back on under the glaze. Add the pan juices in also. Simmer and reduce to a thicker, syrupy, unctuous sauce to spoon over the slices. 

The molasses is smokey and salty-ish and the maple syrup sweet with the tang of the lemon myrtle and fragrant currants and the turkey can really take the robust flavours. The slow roast helps ensure a tender and moist meat.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Date Slice - soooo EASY

I've had a few requests for the Date Slice that we had at morning tea on the yarn tour.
This is soooo EASY and quite a nostalgic recipe for me too. It was given to me by a fellow classmate at school, we were about 16 yrs old, and that's what she said to me,
"you'll love it and it's sooooo EASY"
so without further ado....

Sharon Ellis' Date Slice Recipe

1 cup of Self Raising flour
1 cup of coconut
1 cup of chopped dates
1/2 cup sugar
250g butter
2 tabs of milk

Pre-heat oven to moderate 180C
Mix all the dry ingredients
Melt the butter and add the milk to it
Mix the wet into the dry and spoon and press into a slice tin.
Bake for about 20-25mins. You'll know when it's ready.

My tin of choice is a long rectangular fluted edge tin with loose bottom.
Always slips right out and is easy to cut into fingers.
I've been baking this for over 30 years now and I think and smile of Sharon whenever I do. 
Lots of love x

Monday, July 18, 2016

Yarn Tour Tasmania 2016

Last Saturday I had the honour once again to crisscross Tasmania's Midlands with 35 yarn lovers. Some came from as far as Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

Picture This....

Two days before

The midlands was covered with snow, winds gusting up to 100km/hr and I was convinced I was going to die with tonsillitis.

The Mill - Oatlands

Happily this is the land of the great changeable weather and Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin so we had a sparkling Tasmanian winter day with only a light breeze and lots of sunny faces.

Our first stop was just a few kilometres outside Ross to see some sheep shearing at the historic property of Beaufront. 

It was a really special opportunity for people to see inside a very large, working and historic shearing shed. To experience the labyrinth of pens and ancient timbers greased by the lanolin of years of sheep.

The long rows of machinery overhead that drives each shearer's stand. The skill and infrastructure required and the complexity of sheep farming. Within the constraints of limited time they touched on animal welfare, stock value, the tight-rope walk of nutrition, pasture, lambing and final product. It's important for consumers to know that the end product they use is a result of a complex process requiring many hands, skill sets and months to accomplish - and that's BEFORE it even gets to the wool processing stage of cleaning spinning dyeing etc.

Time is fleeting and we must push on...
After the shed tour and shearing demo it was a "rustic" morning tea back at the bus with carrot cake, apricot and pumpkin seed cake, date slice and chocolate chip cookies.
A very special thank you to Julian and Annabell Von Bibra for their kind hospitality, their generous spirit and warm welcome at beautiful Beaufront.

Hobart street planters & Lucky Ewe yarns

We now head to Hobart to visit The Stash Cupboard and some of us even stop for lunch.

Stash Cupboard yarns

Along the way we had lots of games like, Greyhounds and Racehorses, Heads and Tails and lucky draws and raffles.

One of our prizes was a special commission piece of textile art made by the very talented Claire from Sweet Birdy Love

Lots of yarn goodness and fabulous embroidered hand towels, washers and other textiles kindly donated by my step-mother in Queensland. XXX And two gift vouchers for the yarn stores up for grabs!

Our next stop is a firm favourite with the tour adventurers, it's The Lucky Ewe in Oatlands. Nestled in this quaint historic Georgian sandstone village is a teeny tiny shop PACKED with all sorts of yarns and associated textile crafting. They stock 18.5 micron superfine merino wool, alpaca, angora, cashmere, silk, possum, wallaby....

She stocks dyes, kits, tools, roving, needles, hooks and miles of unique hand spun, hand dyed goodness. 

It is always exciting and a real treat. Everyone got a gift and Rowena gave us another two special gifts for prize draws on the way home as well.

There are so many people to thank and not the least of those is Jack's Coaches of Longford and our driver Neil on his third tour of duty, always obliging, and patiently waiting with a smile on his face.
I also need to thank the ladies themselves for the continued support, enthusiasm and friendship.
Especially my SIL Leeann and my friend Cindy who chip in at every opportunity and also contribute to our delicious home cooked morning teas.

Big love to Vanessa who takes all the photos and helps record our day in style (because we are all waaayy too busy shopping for anything else).
Having this much fun is seriously simple and requires only a little effort. The only trick is to get the right number to cover your cost. A day spent in camaraderie with like minded people is so good for the soul. Just do it! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Progress In The Front Room

July 2015

The cats had accessed all areas and this front room is one of the worst. We have tried to tamper with the original part of the house as little as possible and hoped that removing the built in cabinetry (a modern addition) would allow us to break the protein molecules of the urine with enzyme washes. Unfortunately the urine had seeped behind all the cabinetry and penetrated into any raw render and especially into the cement bogging that previous owners have done. The blue light also revealed that we were not neutralising the protein in this area. The smell remained and there was nothing for it but to remove the render also.

July 2016

So this is where we are currently at. We have removed the top layers back to the original construction and professional historic home repairers are due any day to start the process of traditional lime rendering. One of the walls is on the external part of the house and it is particularly important to lime render to allow the house to breathe. It is just one of the ways of keeping a house solid, dry and sturdy. You will also note the cedar mantelpiece has been stripped also. (The planking you see stacked over to the left is Tasmanian Oak flooring for the kitchen-another job)

The original wooden corner bead is intact and in good condition. Note the header of sandstone running through giving strength and stability in the construction.

The construction of this house is outstanding and stood the test of time. No cracks or subsidence. 

I have put a high definition filter on this photo so you can see the outer wall construction of blue metal rock and convict bricks and chiselled stone. All the internal walls are brick. The house has good insulating properties and the temperature remains pretty stable. In the middle of winter these unheated front rooms remain at 15-16C.
You can also see in this photo the typical wide Georgian floorboards, pit sawn and fixed with hand made nails. We are keen to keep these as natural as possible and breathing so we are hoping we have neutralised the urine in them so we can finish them with wax and oil rather than a polyurethane finish.

Here is a close up of the anatomy of the wall. Thankfully we don't have to remove all of it. We are trying to carry out the repairs with as little impact to the integrity of the house as possible.
Will keep you updated.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Locavore's Alchemy

Constantly at the fore in my kitchen and captivating visitors for the past couple of months is this book

"The New Wildcrafted Cuisine"
Pascal Baudar

Pascal is a professional forager in the Southern California region where his passion has taken this craft to its highest form. He inspires top chefs and home foodies alike to explore all the senses the local and oft over-looked ingredients, can evoke. Pascal doesn't just live seasonally upon the earth but immerses himself completely and reverently into the very alchemy of his local terrain.

"Oyster mushroom cooked in it's own environment
inspired by the smell of the forest after the rain" PB

Be not under any illusion that this is a foragers hand book and field guide. I suggest that for that purpose you should research and locate a guide book quite specific to your area and for those in Australia I would recommend "The Weed Foragers Handbook" by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland as a good starting place and there are many more of course.
Rather, this book inspires the cook, passionate in seasonal local fare, to take a more personal and profound journey. 

The powerful evocative qualities of aromatics a just as key as the taste sensations.

This book has quite opened my eyes to the tiny, tiny ingredients, like lerp sugar in these cookies. 

Or how about pine pollen and seeds from mustard and dock?

Lots of ferments, shrubs, pickling, brews and extractions.

Seed sensations, powders, rubs, smokes and even goat cheese made with fig sap as rennet.

What I particularly appreciate about this book is the way it is sectioned into seasons.

WINTER; The forest time
SPRING: The green time
SUMMER: The berries and fruits time
FALL/AUTUMN: The seeds time

Each section explores the various ingredients of the time and recipes are included and techniques explained. There is also quite a lot of thumbnail pictures in each section visually identifying what is commonly seen in the landscape (of Southern California of course). While some are area specific I have been delighted to find many cross overs. 

Would I make half of what's in this book? Unlikely, but it's definitely got me excited and thinking further afield and asking myself
"What is a true Tasmanian locavore palate?"
and not just how does it taste, but how does it smell and visualise, how does it integrate our modern acquired species and ancient native bush foods.

What I would love to see is a further exploration of Tasmanian bush tucker along these lines incorporating some of our native ingredients more alchemically. Think of the possibilities!  

I have been following Pascal for years on his facebook page here and I was so excited when he announced he was doing a book. I ordered mine through Amazon and this review is completely voluntary and unsolicited. Pascal Baudar very kindly allowed me to use his magnificent photographs throughout this post, many thanks.

You may also be interested to re-visit this post on Tasmanian Bush Food

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Story From Scrap

This is a scrap blanket made by my paternal grandmother. As a knitter/crocheter of many years I know how yarn scraps retain memories for me of projects past and I so wish I could ask Grandma the individual stories of these squares.

If we look at it from an anthropological view point, the blanket does reveal a story of place, life and times, with a little help from my limited knowledge.
For a start, it's size. It measures 1m x 1,2m and is intended as a "knee rug". In QLD the winters are not bitter and certainly not long, the houses are built primarily for coolness in the longer hotter temperatures, Knee rugs were just the thing for a couple of months of the year sitting in the lounge room watching TV or reading and they were also handy for car travel before heaters were common place.

Although I have no doubt my grandmother acquired some scrap yarn, I can guarantee most of it came from previous projects. The range and amount of colours shows that she was a prolific knitter/crocheter as many had to be in order to clothe family and provide household necessities, like tea cosies and toys etc.
The yarns can be dated by their colours and say a lot about fashions in different decades. I suspect these yarns date from the 1930s to the 1950s. It also shows a consistency of ply and fibre commonly used in that era.

It speaks of an era that wasted nothing and used every scrap.
An era where many garments were home made right down to socks and singlets. Of fishing berets, baby layettes, trendy twin sets and smart toddler play clothes.
Of socks in all sizes and some for the boys at the war front.
It speaks of industriousness even in the down time of sitting. 

This blanket also tells a story of quality dyeing and wool spinning in Australia. The colours still beautiful and unique in every hue and shade, set in individual glory by pure black borders that have not faded with time either.

I'm guessing that the yarn is all 4ply in the old language and she would have used a 2,5mm hook.

When my 2 yr old grandson visits we often sit side by side on the couch under this rug and I tell him proudly of his great great grandma Murray who knit this blanket and I talk about the colours and how the blues of this square are like the beaches at the coast and that square of stormy greys are like clouds....
Stories upon stories.

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