Tuesday, 12 December 2017

An Update of Kitchen Happenings

After last month's farm update I put a mark in my dairy as a reminder to write another update a month later, and whoosh... here we are again. It would be a very long post to include most things, indoors and outside, so today is focusing on what's been happening in that room we call 'the heart of the home'.
Summer is with us, but we have had a couple of heavy rainfall events and no days above 35C degrees, so it's most agreeable living weather. Unfortunately the rain was not so good for the farmers who grow cereal crops that were almost ready for harvesting. Most of that grain will be downgraded.
The days have been good for being outside in the garden, catching up with some of the weeding, and spreading compost and mulch.
 The rhubarb patch got a serious thinning and cleaning up. I tried to give it away, but at the end of the weekend a few stalks remained.

 I tried really hard to put it into the compost heap, but old frugal was looking over my shoulder again, so..... it got chopped up and added to some raspberries that have been in the freezer since last season's glut.

Raspberry and rhubarb jam. Who knew that the two flavours would go together so well?
I made it the conventional way, with sugar, but cut the amount right back so the flavours of the fruit are dominant without the cloying sweetness.
Just as I finished labeling the jars, there was a knock on the door. A woman from Victoria requesting some rhubarb jam! I was able to invite her in to taste the new jam, of which she bought three jars to take back with her.

My old gas cooker finally had to be replaced when the oven door would no longer stay closed without wedging a chair up against it!
We are on bottled gas here, so there were not a lot of LPG stoves to choose from. In fact, this was the only one we found. I first looked in our local electrical and gas store but they had none, so a forty minute trip to our nearest Harvey Norman store and two weeks later this basic stove was installed.
It got me thinking that the lack of choice could be frustrating for many folks, but I'm not particularly fussy about the stove. It does the job and I'm grateful to have a stove at all, to use during the hot summer months when it's too hot for the wood stove.
However, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, if we were doing our renovations now, instead of twelve years ago, I would know that we probably should have put in an electric point at the stove.
I have discovered that most gas cookers come with an electric oven.
Lesson learned!

I'm having a go at making mead with some of our second grade honey that we use for cooking. Starting off with just a bit of honey and water in a jar, the ants found it sitting on the kitchen bench, so placing the jar into a large flat container of water soon foiled their attempts at sabotaging my newest trial.
After searching Google for Mead recipes and becoming daunted with all the complicated instructions and equipment required, I finally found this simple method. Honey and water!

When it started to taste less sweet, and the fermenting slowed down I bottled it and kept it on the kitchen bench so I would remember to burp it each day to release some of the gas.  I learned an important lesson that it must be bottled in thick bottles if using glass.
Yes, you guessed it.!
The small square shaped bottle on the right, was made for sauce, not volatile fizzy stuff!
After hearing a noise during the night, the kitchen wore a layer of sticky mead, from the floor to almost the ceiling, and thin shards of glass were everywhere.
Another lesson learned.!

The bubbles are about right, and the honey flavour is delicious, but still a bit too sweet for my palate. The remaining bottle will continue to ferment until more of the sugars have converted to alcohol. A larger quantity in a bucket is fermenting nicely and will soon be ready for bottling.
When I finally have a finished product that I'm 100% happy with I'll post a blog with instructions of how I did it.

I won the wager on the demise of the hail affected cherries. They ripened beautifully, and I picked them at this lighter colour as they were surprisingly sweet. Heavy rain was forecast (and arrived) so there was a chance of splitting if they were left on the tree. It appears this variety of cherry is known as the 'white cherry' and is ripe when it reaches this light colour.

 I thought I might have to preserve some of them, but we have been enjoying eating them just as they are.

Remember those two rows of cabbages growing in the vegetable garden? There are only three left!
I've filled every one of my large glass jars with sauerkraut and am also experimenting by adding other flavouring ingredients. The above picture is sauerkraut containing cabbage as the main ingredient, with carrot, apple and ginger added. Some of the jars have cumin or caraway seeds added to plain cabbage, and salt of course.
We're also eating cabbage every day, fried in butter, in coleslaw, in casseroles and stews. I will never tire of eating the versatile cabbage even though I hated it as a youngster. It was boiled cabbage in those days...boiled and boiled until the whole family finally all came in for the evening meal. No wonder I found it hard to stomach!

When I was out and about, living the life of a part time working person, as well as trying to do all of the things that I really wanted to do here in our home and farm, I saw people walking and felt envious of them. Just walking for fun, fitness or relaxation. They had time in their days to do such a thing.
I wanted that.
And now I have it.
Life is good.!
I hope yours is too.
Thanks for reading.
:-) XX


  1. Sally we had a mead making workshop at our simple living group earlier in the year. It was very interesting. I wonder if cherries grow around here. I don't know anyone who grows them but perhaps they do and never mention the fact. If the fruit fly is attracted to them they probably don't as it is fairly rampant around here.

    1. Chel we are fortunate not to have fruit fly here in SA, and I think cherries would be very susceptible to them. Also cherries need a certain amount of frosty nights during winter to allow fruit set to happen, so I guess you'll just have to stick to mangoes!! Poor thing! ;-) BTW our local Aldi just had a special on mangoes for 99c each!! Ahhh, we pigged out on them all week. I'd swap you mangoes for cherries any day.

    2. I've been looking for what I call the mango men -
      those people selling mangoes at the big service
      station on Main North Road and elsewhere. Where
      are they this year?!

    3. Barbara I so rarely get to the City, but I sometimes call into the fruit and veg at Virginia on the way home and have seen mangoes there.

  2. mead, that's keen, hope it turns out okay for you.
    blahhh cabbages, i grew up with coleslaw & soggy cabbages so now i don't bother with them, never really liked the flavour anyway but when i was young there wasn't a lot of different vegies back then.
    have you seen those Flow systems for retrieving the honey from? i would love to get one but don't know of anyone who has tried them. they are expensive, it's the reason i haven't got one yet. but it would be so good to do my own honey.
    great post
    thanx for sharing

    1. I hated cabbage at a youngster, (your comment prompted me to edit that part of the post)blaahhh indeed.:-) The Flow hives have become popular, but I reckon if you asked serious bee keepers their opinion they would tell you the negative side to them. They do work, but it's important to do a bee keeping course to learn the basics first, only then should you decide which type of hives to buy.

  3. My stove is about 6 years old and it is probably going to need a chair soon lol. Your walk with your buddies looks invigorating.

    1. They don't make appliances to last these days Brigie. Our old gas cooker was purchased 2nd hand thirteen years ago, and apart from the door hinge, which probably could have been fixed, it was in good running order.

  4. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing! If I was getting
    another new kitchen I wouldn't have all built ins.
    Appliances are obviously larger now than they were 25
    years ago and over the years finding replacements for
    the the fridge (again soon, I suspect - its making that
    death rattle) and the dishwasher have been a real pain.
    Hope you and the garden are surviving this feral heat. I'm
    checking the BOM website hourly for the promised change!

    1. Barbara we're in the same position with our fridge, soon it will need replacing and a large fridge is not going to fit into the narrow space we allowed. I have two small bar fridges as back up, one in the laundry which is running year round (dogs meat, beer and wine)and another fridge in one of the sheds which is only turned on at Christmas and during stone-fruit harvest. The running between them all to fetch stuff keeps me moving so I guess that's an advantage. ;-)

  5. I have an electric free standing cooker about the same size as yours. In the summer it heats the house up terribly. We do most of our cooking on the barby and the gas burner on the veranda. Yesterday I steamed up the last of the Christmas Puddings outside. The electric stove was in the house when we bought it. The house had tenants in it for ten years previous to our purchase. The oven has seen a lot of action and not a lot of love. I would dearly love a new one but this one still works and does what we need it to do, even if it isn't very pretty.

    1. I'm a bit the same Jane, if something is still in working order I tend not to fuss about replacing it. We also use a variety of outside cooking options during summer to avoid heating up the house. I saw your outdoor cooking on Instagram during the week and could see that we were of similar minds. :-)

  6. Very nice post really ! I apperciate your blog Thanks for sharing,keep sharing more blogs.



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