Thursday, April 30, 2009

A little harvest

Just a few little things I gathered from around the farm this morning.
A couple of passion fruit, a handful of small feijoas, a few jalapeno chillies, a few cayenne peppers and a small number of tomatoes.
With the tomatoes I've been using them to make a pizza sauce, really easy to do, just wash and slice in half lengthways (I don't bother skinning them), then fry in a little olive oil, with some salt and pepper, a couple of crushed garlic cloves and some fresh basil leaves torn up. Cook on low heat stirring and mushing up the tomatoes until they are all quite squishy and there is a little liquid in the pan (I don't add more as I want a thick sauce for spreading on the base of pizzas). Turn off heat and then whizz or blend to a paste. Freezes well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Roast chicken

G butchered one of our chickens yesterday and today I cooked it up. It was a young cockarel, 20 wks old, and weighed in at just over 1.5 kgs.
After trussing it, I put the chook in the slow cooker with a lemon in its cavity, a little olive oil on its skin and a dash of stock in the pot, covered it with tin foil and then the lid of the slow cooker. I left it to cook for about 6 hours.
Then I roasted it in the oven for a couple of hours (covering it with tin foil after it had browned so that it didn't dry out) with some additional lemon thyme scattered on top, and some sea salt and pepper. We ate it with some roast potatoes and parsnips and some boiled veg on the side, plus of course gravy. The meat was quite tender and very tasty. Will try this method (slow cooking first) again with an older chook (we have a couple of mature hens to cull) to see what the results are.
Sorry no photos, we were in too much of a rush to eat!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tropical water lillies

A shot of some of the tropical water lillies in our pond. The variety is 'Black Prince'. I cut a few to put in a vase, as well as looking pretty they have a nice scent.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rangpur lime marmalade

Yesterday I collected just on 1kg of limes from one of our rangpur lime trees. This is the most fruit we've harvested as yet from any of our citrus trees so quite exciting! Since I read that rangpur makes excellent marmalade, I was keen to try making some.

The recipe I used was from the ever useful "A NZ Country Harvest Cookbook" by Gilian Painter. I highly recommend this book, especially for those of you out there with your own orchard, it contains lots of old-fashioned recipes for preserves, pickles, sauces, drinks, wine, cakes etc using various types of fruit and veg. I'd also like to try out the quince marmalade sometime. Anyway, I digress..back to the rangpur marmalade.

I sliced the fruit finely and placed in the preserving pan, adding 2 litres of water to soak overnight. Then this morning I boiled up the fruit for about 1/4 hour until the peel was soft. Then I measured it and added 3/4 cup of sugar to each cup. After dissolving the sugar, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon, I increased the heat (on the wok part of the hob as this is hottest) until the marmalade came to a rolling boil. It was set (test a bit on a cold saucer until wrinkles appear) after about 25-30 mins.

I'm very pleased with the results, the quantity made 13 medium sized jars. Can't wait to try it out on some toast in the morning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The beginnings of a wall around the veg garden

Well we now have some of the poles in place along the driveway and the top side of the veg garden. The fencing contractor rammed them in with his tractor a few days ago. The wall will be highest along the back of the garden (southeast side by driveway), lower along the east side, and lower still along the northwest facing front (poles still to go in, by hand). We've allowed for a couple of access gates.

We have loads of old corrugated iron laying around the farm which we acquired some time ago to use as solid fencing at some point. Trimmed of any rust and holes and then painted it should look fine.

Will post more photos as the project progresses!

Monday, April 20, 2009

First attempt at a novelty cake!

This is my first attempt at a kid's novelty cake! Not the greatest photo as white on white doesn't show the shape very well, but at least Dylan recognised it was meant to be a tractor!! I made 2 carrot cake loaves and cut them to shape, and I used standard cream cheese icing, as I prefer to avoid using artificial colours. The front wheels were chocolate coated doughnuts and rear were chocolate cookies, which I secured to the cake using tooth picks with a bit of licorice on the end of each one. The seat was also made from licorice and the exhaust was a chocolate licorice log.
There was one happy boy when he saw it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A short stint down in Rotorua

Yes I've been away on hol for a few days, once again sorry for lack of posts there folks! We were down in lovely Rotorua with my reli's from the UK. The weather was great, no rain and pretty sunny for most of the time. We stayed in the Regal Geyserland hotel which overlooks the Te Puia (aka Whakarewarewa) thermal park, which wasn't all that flash but we had a spectacular view of the geyser and boiling mud pools. At night the geyser was lit up (until about 9pm) so we had a bit of a show going on for a while. Not a lot of activity with the mud pools, I think because everywhere has been so dry, they need lots of water to really do their thing. Anyway we had a great time.

Consequently, not much to report from around the farm. We haven't had the vege garden fenced yet, should be soon. It really needs a blitz to get everything under way for winter crops, have been a bit slack on that front. Still, I picked some chillies and tomatoes earlier and we ate one of the last zucchini (yes I know...........) Pretty much everything else has finished now. Waiting on the kumara, won't be long until they are ready.

Chooks are laying, not that many but enough. We need to cull about 8 for the freezer, they are eating heaps as there are so many of them now! Plus we want roast chicken!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eggs again and cake disaster

Those eggs I found the other day ended up in the compost, I cracked open 3 or 4 and they weren't at all fresh so out they all went. The girls are now being considerate and laying in the nesting boxes again and I got 3 today, so no shortage of supply.

Yesterday I made an orange and lemon poppy seed cake, but it was a slight disaster (no photo!) as I stupidly didn't realise I had the oven set on grill................. doh! Once I realised I turned it to bake and although I chopped the over browned (aka burnt) top off, the texture wasn't the greatest, quite crumbly and it also didn't come out of the pan well. Yikes what a muck up, just as well it wasn't an important little boys birthday cake!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Why we haven't been getting any eggs..

Our egg supply of late has been rather sad. Nothing for days on end, then a few days ago G discovered several on the floor of the coop. Yesterday 3 were sitting neatly in the nesting boxes. Thanks girls. But today nothing.

In the large fenced-off chook run we have 2 small broody boxes/runs that have been lying around empty for a while. I was moving these to fresh pasture when I disturbed one of the grey Araucana hens inside one of them, and guess what? There were all of 14 eggs in a cluster.... My fault really as I hadn't closed the door to the broody boxes.

Rather than waste them, I've gathered the eggs up and given them the dunk test in a jug of cold water to see if they are still fresh to eat (cooked only). All sunk to the bottom so hopefully they are still OK. They've been out of the sunlight. I won't know for sure until I crack them open of course and this I will do outside, just in case I strike an off one because gee can they stink! But even if they look slightly odd they'll be for the compost.