Sunday, June 29, 2008

Roast duck again

Success on the hunting front, another 2 ducks. So last night we enjoyed a roast duck with roast potatoes, kumara, peas and gravy. Yum.
I think today is the last day of the game season, not sure if Graham will go out and try his luck again, it is still quite wet and windy, but apparently this is good news for duck hunters as it means the ducks fly inland for shelter.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The wild weather continues..

Well last evening we had torrential rain, hail, thunder and lightning and then a power cut. Luckily we have a good strong generator, so Graham started that up and we had lights and could power our water pump for water out of the taps. I went to bed early but I think the generator also powered the computer for a while. The power came back on for a while then out again for another while.

This morning there were a few things blown about the place, covers off things and water gushing over the drive from the dam, washing the gravel off. Also we had a river running through our apple orchard! Here's a picture taken at the bottom of our land (it's wetland but usually just a trickle runs through).

I don't think we've ever had so much heavy rain in one hit since we've been here. And I've yet to plant the garlic, the ground is now well and truely saturated.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wild weather

We're getting some wild weather here on the West coast of Northland. Probably the most dramatic thunder storms I've ever seen, and some heavy showers. Yesterday we had some hail too. The ground is soggy, the limestone drive has been washed away in places and a few things have blown about the farm (bags and buckets etc). But the cows just keep munching the grass!
The water tank is getting topped up too which is great as we were down to about 3000 L again as it had been quite dry for a while.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chocolate lavender friands

I've been wanting to make this recipe for a while but I didn't have a friand tin and while it could be made in a muffin tray, they look a bit special in the oval friand tins.
The recipe is courtesy of NZ House & Garden Magazine. Sorry the picture isn't the greatest.

125g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk or natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp fresh English lavender buds
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease 9 friand pans.*

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks. Sift over flour, cocoa and baking powder. Add buttermilk/yoghurt, and vanilla, fold together until combined.
In separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture with lavender buds and chocolate chips.
Spoon into prepared tins. Bake until springy to touch, about 25 mins. Cool in tin for a bit before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Serve upturned with a dusting of icing sugar and decorate with lavender flowers.

* Recipe says it makes 9 but I found my mixture rose quite a bit so next time I think I'll try making a few more (ie less in each pan).

Modem blew up!

Well I'm back online again after a few days without being able to connect to the net. Very frustrating, and I realise how much I (and Graham) value being able to access the net on a daily basis. After a few calls to our ISP, it transpired that it was our modem that was at fault, and on inspection it had in fact blown up!
So now we have a new modem and everything is working just fine again, hoorah.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gingerbread men

I made up some gingerbread men today. Apparently, according to my recipe (courtesy of Cuisine magazine) the name gingerbread comes from the French word gingebras, which is from the Latin for ginger, zingebar.

Anyway, here is the recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground gloves
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
125g unsalted butter, cubed
1 packed cup of soft brown sugar
4 tbspns golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sift flour, baking soda and spices into bowl. Add butter, rub in. Then add sugar, golden syrup, and egg. Mix to a soft dough. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1/2 hr. Roll out to 5mm thickness and cut out ginger bread men shapes. I didn't bother decorating them but I guess you could put currants for the eyes etc. Bake on tray lined with baking paper, 190degs C for about 10mins or until golden brown.

Another option is to add 1 cup crystallised ginger to the mix, then roll into a log. Chill for 1hr, then slice carefully into 5mm slices. Bake as above.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Roast duck

Well we have just eaten the first of the ducks. I roasted it in the oven. The recipe I followed (Jo Seagar) was to brush the skin with melted butter and oil first and baste frequently during cooking. It was a 700g bird, and took about 1hr.
Was very tasty. We gave it 3/5.

Progress in the vege garden

Thought I should mention how things are going in the vege garden now that Winter is upon us. Well we have a few broccoli and cauliflower seedlings coming along. The onions are getting bigger (they are slow growers). I've also put in some Welsh onions (to use as spring onions) and will have some leeks in due course although they are tiny at the moment. The artichokes are doing OK, it will be a couple of years before we can harvest those however. I have some asparagus peas coming up, they will be a new crop for us to try. The carrots are all coming up well too.
I've prepared the beds for some new strawberry plants, they should arrive next week so will plant those. 15 plants to fill 2 beds 3m long each. Might get some more as the fruit wouldn't get wasted. So long as we can keep the bunnies under control and that means finishing the fence and probably a few night patrols with the rifle for Graham. Last time we grew strawberries the bunnies came along and ate them all just when they were all ripening up :-(

Also soon to be planted is garlic. I've got about 75 cloves to go in, although that seems a lot, they don't need a lot of space, so will take up just one bed (3m by 1m). Got to thinking it might be a good idea to grow a lot more garlic, as we've got the space and also I've a notion of selling it at market, or even at the gate too. It's hard to find good NZ grown (plus spray free) garlic in the shops, as most of the garlic is imported from China these days. So who knows it could be a good seller. If not, well then we can store some, give some away and also feed it to the chooks as it is prevents worms and keeps them healthy.

I'm quite keen to set up a gate stall for summer to sell any excess produce. There's nobody else doing this on our street at present and although we don't get all that much passing traffic, we still get some, and I think possibly the weekender people might stop if we can provide fresh produce/herbs. Here's hoping anyhow. Every little bit (of money) counts these days.

Ducks at last!

Well more hunting success to report. Yesterday Graham came home with 2 ducks that he shot on a friends farm. Hoorah!
So it's time to dig out those duck recipes. I think we'll try just plain roast duck tonight. I have another recipe for duck with cider with apples and a little cream which sounds delicious, but don't have any cider. Will need to find out where I can buy good quality cider, not the pseudo cider that's sold in the stores.
Might do a bit of web searching hopefully someone in NZ makes good cider, or else imports it from England.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Reasons for our lifestyle

I've been thinking about this post for a little while.

What made us move to the country in the first place?

Well here are some reasons that spring to mind:

* Above all to grow our own food - fresh, chemical-/GMO-free, plus different varieties from what's available in shops (i.e. heritage vegetables and fruit - better tasting, better nutritional value)

* In doing the above, saving a bit of money

* To be able to plant more native trees to restore the land to it's previous state (before it was cleared for farming a few decades ago)

* For the peace and quiet

* For the fabulous night skies (no light pollution)

* To have some space

* To get away from the rat race

* For a simpler way of life

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Goose for dinner!

What a surprise when after setting off for a bit of duck hunting, Graham came home with 2 geese!

Neither of us has eaten goose before and I quickly surfed the net to find out what would be the best way to prepare and cook it.

Turns out that geese, while being quite large birds, actually do not have all that much meat on them. After reading some instructions on one web site, we decided that 'we' (aka Graham) would remove just the breasts and also save the legs. Besides as we only have the small benchtop oven at this point in time, there'd be no way I could cook a whole goose!

So the breasts and legs are all packaged up ready to freeze, after I let them "hang" - aka sit in the fridge for a couple of days. This apparently improves the flavour of game, without letting it get too high.

I haven't decided on a recipe yet, although one with red wine, garlic, herbs sounds the right idea. Will post it when I do.