Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Winter's still here..

You know how I said a couple of weeks ago that the winter hadn't been too wet?  Well we had 30 mm of rain two weekends ago....
The creek flooded and we had to rescue some horses and move them to a drier paddock:

which they were very happy about.
An old elm tree split in half and fell over...
The new pup is settling in well..she enjoyed her first paddock picnic:
Her companion was wary to begin with, but it was only a matter of time..
Lots of cooking has been going on, it's just finding the uninterrupted time to tell you about it.  I made my own celery salt the other day, which I saw on 101 Cookbooks.  It is so easy...I have loads of celery in the garden so it is a great way to use some up.  You just wash and dry the leaves, dehydrate them on a tray in the oven (180c for about 5-8 minutes, don't let them burn), cool and crumble the leaves and mix with an equal quantity of your favourite sea salt.
It is wonderful on a poached egg, and I am finding myself adding it to all sorts of dishes.
I made chocolate afghans for the picnic the other day...these definitely fall into the oldie but goodie category.
This is Mum's recipe.  These biscuits have a lovely light crumb, thanks to the addition of cornflakes.


200g butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teasp vanilla essence
1 cup SR flour
1/2 cup plain flour
2 level tblsp cocoa 
3 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
2 tblsp desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180c.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla till light.
Sift flours and cocoa and add to butter with the cornflakes and coconut.  This is how I crushed the cornflakes:
and this is how crushed they need to be:
Mix thoroughly, roll into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  They may seem a bit crumbly, but they hold when baked.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the tray and leave to cool.


1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tblsp cocoa
30g melted butter
Mix the above together and add about a tablespoon of boiling water and stir till you have a nice icing consistency.  Ice the afghans and if you want them to last more than five minutes, you can freeze them in a bag.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Out of season

We have had some glorious afternoons lately...
Lambs are arriving thick and fast..
The garden is in the final throes of winter..
So it does seem like an odd time to be thinking about strawberry ice cream.

We were given three large punnets of strawberries by some visitors recently and although I probably should have made jam, for some reason the ice cream gods were speaking.  I've never made strawberry ice cream before so I did a bit of research and this is what I came up with.


For the strawbs:
About 3 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half
1 tblsp castor sugar
2 tblsp vinocotto, to taste
a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the berries into a frying pan with the sugar and the vinocotto and cook over a gentle heat, stirring, until the strawberries have softened and the juices released.   
Squeeze over some lemon juice to taste.  You can add more vinocotto if you wish. Allow to cool.  Keep about 1/2 cup aside and chop into smaller pieces (only if you would like some strawberry bombs throughout the ice cream) and puree the rest.  I did this in a jug with my stick blender, but they can go in a food processor or blender.  Refrigerate.

For the ice cream:

2 eggs and 3 egg yolks
3/4 cup castor sugar
a vanilla bean, cut in half
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cream

Put the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla bean and bring to the boil.  Remove from heat and allow vanilla to infuse for a few minutes.  Scape out seeds and add to the milk.
Beat the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until pale, then gently pour in the milk whisking.  Return the mix to a clean saucepan and stir continuously until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Do not allow it to boil.  Cool slightly then refrigerate until cold.
Add the cream, strawberry puree and strawberry bits and churn in an ice cream machine.

Other things to come out of the kitchen lately include these yummy lamb ribs, marinated with garlic, mint and rosemary with a yoghurt dipping sauce. 
For the dipping sauce, combine the zest and juice of one lemon, 1 tblsp chopped mint, 1 tblsp honey, 1 tblsp olive oil and 1/2 cup yoghurt.
An oldie but a goodie...parsnip puree with breadcrumbs..
Mum used to make this and it is great for winter:  boil some parsnips, mash (best done with the stick blender) with butter, a tablespoon of cream and salt and pepper and put in an ovenproof dish.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and dot with butter, then cook in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.  This photo does it no justice at all.

And finally, the newest member of the family...Twiggy...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Winter drinks

There's some interesting fungii in the garden at the moment...

and lots of lambs are being born out on the farm..
The winter so far has been fairly mild, there have been few frosts and not too much rain: this time last year the flats were flooded.  The conditions are ideal for the ewes and lambs and there is plenty of feed.   I say mild, but it is still winter and there are times when a fortifying hot drink is called for.

There is a teacher at our local school who makes his own cider.  At an old farmhouse on our property there is a cider orchard and he comes every year to collect some of the fallen fruit to add to his brew.  Here are a couple of bottles from last year's crop:
It is very dry, not at all like the commercially produced "dry" ciders and I thought it would lend itself to a bit of spicing up.  If you are using a commercial cider, it is probably not necessary to add sugar, up to you, and just add spices to your liking.  This would be great to take out on a winter's picnic.

I tipped a bottle into a saucepan and added:
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon quill
a few gratings of nutmeg
2 star anise
5 cloves
2 strips of orange zest
the juice of half the orange (you can add the rest if you fancy)

Boil for about 5 minutes then take off the heat and leave for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.  Strain and reheat gently then pour into glasses.
Hot spiced cider, by the fire, good book....what more could you ask for?