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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Whole Lemon

Today I was invited to do a short talk and demonstration at the Uni Open Day as part of the 
There was a really great turn out and other speakers included seed savers and urban bee keepers.
I chose to talk about lemons because they are at the peak of the season now. I wanted to get people using not just the juice and a bit of zest but also the skin as well.

Previously I've posted about lemon cordial so I won't belabour the post repeating it all here, you can click on the link and read more. 
After juicing your crop and freezing it down into blocks and/or making the cordial, it's a prime time to make a batch of preserved peel.

 Again and again people are surprised to discover how delicious this peel is and it is a great bonus in the pantry. I also encourage people to save the juiced halves in the freezer instead of throwing them out and then using them for preserving at time more convenient.

Here is a quick run through again for making preserved peel
Thick skinned lemons make the best peel, like a Eureka/Lisbon variety
Take the lemon halves and push them flat and roughly slice them into strips about 1-2cm wide, this is just rough and they don't have to look neat or even.

Place them in a large pot with enough cold water to cover and bring to the boil, drain and repeat two more times to remove the bitterness from the pith.
After the third boil drain and weigh the peel. 
Return it to the pot with the same weight of sugar and place on a low heat stir to dissolve and rapid simmer for about 1-2 hrs. You will see the peel turn more translucent and the jewel-like.

Drain again and set out to dry. The best method I have found is to use cake coolers over cookie sheets to catch any drips and to allow air to flow around the peel for faster more even drying.
This may take up to a week.
At this point it will be a bit sticky but definitely drier. Toss in some caster sugar to prevent sticking together and store in air tight jars.

This peel is now ready for your Christmas baking in the next month or so. It makes a beautiful gift in an attractive jar and I also like to serve it on the side of coffee instead of a biscuit...but how to stop at just one!

Another wonderful way to preserve the whole lemon is by packing it in it's own juice and salt and I demonstrated just how quick and simple this method is. The preserved lemon is ready in a month and improved with longer time and is delicious added to any slow cooked dishes upon serving. Try it with chicken casseroles or slow cooked Moroccan Lamb Shanks.
My friend over at "Eat At Dixiebelles" has done a superb visual tutorial, proving how simple this method is. You can see her post here. 

There are so many great recipes for lemons and I hope you will consider using the whole lemon too.

I also had a lot of people asking about my cookbook and where to order it.

as a print version in both hard and soft cover and an e-book is also available to download.

Thanks to everyone who came along today, it was lovely to meet you and share your enthusiasm. I hope the recipe and method briefs here are clear enough for you and if you have any questions please ask in the comments or click on the "email me" up there near my profile pic.

Renae - please email me as you won the meat cookery book and I am still waiting for your address.) 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Do Babes Suddenly Appear...

Strange things have been happening lately and it has me taking a good look at myself.
Babies of the complete stranger kind have been leaving their mothers to come to me.
Just yesterday a small boy of about seven with his mother in a shop looked up at me and wanted to tell me all about his teeth and then he fell silent and laid his head on my belly and gave me the most beautiful quiet embrace. It shocked his mother and left me feeling a bit bewildered....
but then I smiled as it dawned on me how children must see me.
I'm sure I remind them of "grandparents".
In my mind's eye, I still have rich cascading chestnut hair, but children see me as I am all snowy white.
For children, white represents "grandparent" and the natural association most of the time is a good one.
I've spoken about age before and now I am realising a new boon about aging, some parts of it are wonderful. I regret that my eyesight is failing and some sewing tasks must simply wait till daytime now; I feel my joints stiffen,
but I do not regret my natural hair, 
not grey but rather stardust....

(For those of you who don't know what I look like I have just been into the bathroom and taken the obligatory selfie for you; a la naturale, sweat top and no make-up.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Cos It's Raining...

The heavens have opened above us and there is some serious storms about.
Bare paddocks have developed creeks and rivulets.
The sky is shedding a million tears and roads have been cut.

Within my life.....
pretty much the same.
You may think I have been quiet of late but there has been much thinking.
There a two things you can be assured of about my character.
1. My integrity is my most treasured and precious possession. 
2. I don't say something unless I am absolutely sure of it's worth and I only speak if it's worth saying. I don't yap for the sake of it.

Some things eclipse the ordinary like...
 the garlic sitting in bogged soil
The chickens are outraged with the level of wetness
I am thinking and knitting and trying to smile genuinely when Craig shows me for the umpteenth time his layout for the cockpit dashboard....
One things for sure though,
I have some lovely friends who'll share their umbrella.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Smoko View of Shearing

One of our young is overseas at the moment and Craig took the camera to work to snap some "daily life" for him. So I thought that I would share Craig's album of "this is where I am. what I am doing" with you too.

Above is the board where the shearers work. The bare boards are coated in lanolin naturally from the sheep. Looking down the board, there are nine shearers set up along and you can see many have slings as back aids to help take some of the strain of the day. Each shearer has a motor mounted above where he works; long tubes extend from them upon the end of which hand pieces are mounted. 
Down the left hand side are the sheep pens with swinging doors where they get the sheep from and on the right is the drop doors to the shute that they go through into the counting out pen. Each shearer has a shelf and nail where all sorts of vital things are kept to hand like a sweat towel, a bucket for the cutters, a holder of combs and other hand piece tools and sewing needle and thread in case of cut sheep.

Their boots are also hung because on the board each shearer wears moccasins made from wool that grip better on the greasy boards and allow better bending and ankle and leg flexibility, I guess they also absorb sweat...there is always a lot of sweat. Very hard to tell in the top photo, but they are all wearing moccasins. 

This is a shot of the sheep in their counting out pens. Shearers get paid per sheep so counting is very important. 

We've had inches and inches of rain this month but a beautiful day this day and a lovely view from their pen.

It's lunchtime and this motley crew of workers are also waiting for more to do.

Inside the other workers are lined up for masses of veggies.
(Oh look, you can see a pair of moccies in this shot and a typical pair of cut dungarees)

After smoko it's back to the office...

Glossary of Terms
The Board - the floor along the shed where the sheep are shorn
Hand piece - the main part of the shearing piece weighs 1.5kg/3lb $750-$1000
Cutters - three toothed blades that attach to the hand piece, several used in a day
Combs - many toothed piece that assists the wool lift and feed towards the cutters.
Counting out pen - each shearers pen of shorn sheep to tally with the count
Moccasins - (Moccies) soft soleless shoes made from felted wool
Dungarees - (Dungas) refers to specially cut shearers trousers made from sturdy denim, cut high in the back and split at the ankle.
Smoko - usually the short break like morning tea but also used for lunchtime too.

(ps still waiting to hear from Renae who won the cook book)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How To Clean a Standard Vacuum Head

Why bother?
Read on and check out the pictures to see why....
Vacuum cleaners are a wonderful time saving invention and to get the most out of them from time to time we need to do a little maintenance. You probably regularly change the filters and give it a wipe over and use the nozzle to suck the head bristles but do you ever overhaul the head? It's a good idea every 12 months or so to pull the head apart and give it a good clean, and I'll show you why.....

The picture on the left is before and the one on the right is after....
Take a good look at the head before you start taking it apart, note the angles and the way it sits, it's a point of reference when you are getting it back together.
Unscrew the plate from the head, there are usually four screws, put them in a safe place....

carefully lift off the plate and locate the springs that sit within, there are usually two, put those safely with the screws. 

Just look at that great compacted gob of lint and dirt! You may have noticed that the presser foot that raises the bristles from smooth floor to carpet mode has been getting a bit tetchy and temperamental of late - that's why, it's FULL up!

 That mess of impacted filth is also severely hampering the suction at head level and the flow of dirt to the bag, meaning your vacuum is not working efficiently, the motor is working harder and you're worker harder.
But wait...there's more!
Now lift off the inner plate from the outer head housing....

Yep! Even more fluff and dirt, it's a bit hard for you to see but there is also great layers of it clinging to the metal plate above in the picture. Is it any wonder your machine doesn't seem like the wonder you bought some years ago.

Once you have removed all the loose dirt and grime, give it a good soak in warm soapy water. No need for harsh chemicals, just some plain washing up detergent. The plate with the bristles will probably need the most soaking and picking at to remove caked grime.

While the bristle plate is soaking, dry off the bottom plate and get to work with some metal polish. This will remove some of the surface rust and bring it back to (almost) show room shine and be gliding over your carpets again like when you first bought it.

Can you see the difference on the right where I have hit it with some polish? Ideally your floors should be absolutely dry when you vacuum but inevitably you will see some moisture damage on the head. I am not going to get this back to pristine but it's much better.

Let all the parts dry thoroughly and take your time putting it back together, don't force anything, feel your way and look at it logically how the pieces go back again. Make sure you have placed the screws back where they were and screw the cover plate in place. 
Your clean head should be working like a dream again.
If worse comes to worse and you can't take the head apart or get it back together, just take it to your service agent.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ripe Near Me - A Free Food Network

is a free site that allows you map food in your area; for sale or free or foraging.
It is a way for communities to network and make use of local produce and though this is an Australian initiative, it's available globally, so you too in your country can map your produce for locals.
Not just for backyarders either, local food producers can also list for local sales. Producers can really take it to the people, skip the big companies, reduce food miles and get paid a fair price.

Being able to tap into local produce means finding fresher food and real taste and flavour.
Even now when in the depths of winter and you think nothing is growing there is still plenty of food available. I have listed several things.

You have a much greater opportunity to try one of the thousands of diverse edibles including heirloom varieties not normally available in supermarkets.
Mostly the food will be organic, especially from back yard growers because there is no need for poisons or sprays in a poly-cropping environment.

You can support local growers and connect with community.
More importantly you'll connect with nature and buy seasonally reducing packaging and food miles drastically. Instead of being disappointed with tasteless tomatoes in winter, get excited about root vegetables and flowering edibles.

are some great reasons to get involved.
Where ever you live in the world, go to the site and map your food and spread the word. Lets work together and eat 100
Find them also on facebook here

P.S. The winner of the draw for the Meat Cookery Book was Africanaussie and she has very kindly entered saying that if she won she would like the book to go to Renae and she would love the Microplane as a consolation. So Renae and Africanaussie please email me with your mailing address details and I'll pop them in the post.

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