gardening, News

Goodbye summer

Autumn has blown in for sure! Although the season official started weeks ago I have been enjoying the warm weather and extended growing season but two days ago a heavy frost was predicted and since it has been chilly indeed.

We decided rather than risk losing the tomatoes we would pick them all green to ripen inside.

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We picked around 50kg which I plan to chop and pressure can to use in soups, stews and sauces in winter.

We have also been continuing with our Apple preserves canning more for pies , fermenting some that we will sell at market and making bucket loads of cider! The favorite we bottled last night was Maple and cinnamon Apple cider. I have found a great way of making it without the use of a juicer or press and will share the recipe in the comments if anyone would like to try it.

The zucchinis have been hit with blight. Another sign summer has ended so they have mostly been pulled up and the cauliflowers popped in to replace them.

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Now it’s time to get our winter seedlings going and we have lots of new vegetables to try out. I’m looking forward to lots of Kale and I will be making lots of organic Kale powder to sell at markets this year as well as the fermented Kale pesto which is a definite favorite.

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In other gardening pursuits I have managed to grow a eggplant! We were really doubtful about it due to having such a cold climate and short growing season but now I’m covering it at night and watching my little baby grow. Now one else in the family like eggplants so I don’t even have to share!

Easter is fast approaching and we will be at Tarana farmers market I’m looking forward to making delicious Easter bread at home to start our day and sharing more products with our friends and followers.

Now I’m off to snuggle up , drink a chai and enjoy grass roots magazine while I procrastinate over the housework!

gardening, Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Small surprises

It’s hot. It’s too Hot. I don’t deal well with the heat it’s part of the reason we chose somewhere that snows. The temperatures have hit the mid to high 30s (that’s Celsius) the chickens are panting, the kids are cranky, the cats and puppy are doing lots of sleeping and I’m finding it hard to motivate myself but still there is work to be done. It’s days like this I question what the hell we are doing. Maybe I should just get a conventional job in a air conditioned office and make money in a “normal” way. Then I am reminded by something about why we chose this lifestyle and why we love it so much. Today it was in the form of a small amphibian hiding in a squash flower and enjoying the cool pool of water.

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It was a beautiful reminder of the wonders of nature and the simple pleasures we enjoy each day.

In other news our visitors have all left us it’s been wonderful having the company of old friends and sharing new experiences but it’s also nice to unwind and go back to our life of hermitude. We are still kept busy looking after a friends animals on their farm while they are away. One of our jobs at their place has been to milk their one uddered goat Dolly. It has been great to experience as diary goats has always been high on our list but our unfortunate goat experience we had early in our journey meant we never got to the milking stage. If you’ve never had goats milk fresh you really must try it. The bad rap goats milk has is all lies and I really would put it at the same level as our jersey cows milk it’s that creamy and delicious. I have certainly had my desire for goats reinforced but I’m sensible enough to know that we need to wait until we buy or are on a more suitable property. In the meantime I will keep drooling over cute pictures of baby goats and researching.

All the extra work we’ve been doing has set me a little behind on preserving. One of our guests very generously gifted us about 10kg of plums!!

 Our plum tree is a bit pathetic at the moment it’s a beautiful towering ancient tree that gives generous shade but is very hit and miss with fruit. Our first year we had bountiful plums that were disgusting and bitter! The second we had zero plums thanks to the plague of white cockatoos happily munching then and pooping on my washing line. This year we had about 5 of the most sweet and juicy plums I have ever eaten but not enough to preserve with so you can imagine my joy at such a gift.

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So far I have made 6 bottles of Plum Cordial (Which I will share the recipe for in my next post), Rosemary and Plum butter (Non dairy this is a smoother jam), Plum Chutney, Chinese Plum Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and  Plum Wine which is smelling VERY alcoholic and reminds me of sangria. I’ve got enough in the fridge for some Vanilla Bean and plum jam and then 6KG in the overflowing deep freeze for processing later in the year.

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On top of this we still have our regular Kombucha and JUN bottling as well as animal chores and child education. Life if certainly not boring and despite my small “What are we doing” moments now and again I really wouldn’t have it any other way!

Fermenting, gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving, Uncategorized

Here we go round the Raspberry Bush!

We have been busy here harvesting and preserving our raspberries. Our predictions of a bumper crop this year are ringing true as we Harvest around a 1kg a day. We pick in the early morning and late afternoon to avoid the hot parts of the day. I love our time picking as we go out as a whole family. The novelty has worn off for miss N but she sits in the shade of the bush playing with our cat Whiskie (Who spends her day in the bush) and sings us songs. Banjo still needs to be carried in the baby carrier on my back as the other young plants in the patch will not survive his brute strength!

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As the weather warms and we are harvesting and preserving more I’m finding less and less time for posting but if you would like to keep up to date with our antics I have recently started a facebook page. This is mainly to keep people up to date and advertise products for the market stall but I also like to post nice events and things happening in and around the homestead so please Like the page https://www.facebook.com/Hunter-Gatherer-416223725239665/

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This last week there has been lots of experimentation of raspberry based products. Today at the end of the post (After I finish my ramblings) I will share my recipe for Sparkling Raspberry Wine this is a new one for me and a adaptation of the Raspberry soda I made last year. I am yet to see the results as I want to wait a few months for extra fermentation but I will share with you anyway.

My Other Raspberry pursuits have included Raspberry Jam , Raspberry Chilli Jam, Peach and Raspberry Jam (YUM YUM), Raspberry cordial, Raspberry sauce and a raspberry BBQ sauce which I’m very excited about as this is one of the first recipes I have developed all by myself ( with Danes imput of course) It feels wonderful to have reached this point in my journey with food. I have always “altered” recipes to suit me but I’ve only just started writing things down so they become MY recipe and I can do it exactly the same next time.

In other Garden adventures I have FINALLY manged to grow the perfect carrot! I’ve always felt a bit of a failure when it came to carrots they were either to much top and no carrot or weird unpeelable mutants and usually ended up as snack food for our jersey. This time Nyah and I loaded up the soil with lots of buckets of Sand and it made a huge difference lovely straight perfect delicious carrots!! I love the joy Nyah gets from her carrot garden these are her favorites to grow and pull up and I always make sure we plant the new seeds together.

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Anyway onto the recipe

Raspberry Sparkling Wine

Ingredients

  • 300g Fresh or frozen Raspberries
  • 1 packet sparkling wine or cider yeast
  • 5 litres of water
  • 4 Cups sugar
  • 1 lemon cut up

Method

In a 5 litre bucket/Container dump in all ingredients except yeast and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Pour in Yeast and give it another stir. Cover in cloth with rubber band and leave to ferment for 3 days stirring daily to avoid mold

Strain off fruit and pour liquid into bottles leave to ferment for as little (at least one week)or as long as you want for example we will enjoy a bottle at Christmas after a 2 week ferment but will try another after 2 months and another in a year.

Enjoy 🙂

Fermenting, Foraging, gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend Work and Foraging Fun

We had a wonderful day at our stall at our local Oberon Farmers market we nearly sold out of Kombucha and met so many lovely people who were new to the area and had lots of great chats about foraging and preserving. One of these chats revealed the whereabouts of a wild elder flower tree not far from our place.

This morning after our regular chores of watering the garden, chickens and animals I spent some time bottling Tepache which is a mexican beer recipe made by fermenting pineapple skins, brown sugar and spices. I will leave one bottle to do a second and maybe another to do a third ferment to be alcoholic and I can’t wait to try it at Christmas time!

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After the Tepache is was time to bottle more Kombucha I decided this time to try out a new flavor of Hibiscus, Honey and Jasmine. It will be a real struggle to wait another week to try this one as it smells heavenly.

While I kept bottling Dane went out to collect the seeds from our Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale. We have huge amount of seeds much more than we will need but I hope we can use them to Barter with other growers to get some more varieties of seeds later on.

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Kombucha bottled we discussed our plans for the day and decided we would go on a adventure to try and find this elder tree to forage some more flowers for cordials. I didn’t have high hopes as generally when we go on adventures to try and find things we don’t have the greatest success but this tree was exactly where we were told it was the only problem was all the best flowers we would need a cherry picker to get too!!

We collected enough to make 7 litres of cordial and 5 litres of Sparkling wine

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I had already been making fermented soft drinks last year and I discovered the process is very similar to country wine so the only thing I did differently is add the wine yeast IMG_4846

I will let everything sit for a few days in the container stirring it everyday and then I will bottle it and give it a few months where I will open a bottle in winter to enjoy the tastes of summer.

it is now getting cool enough outside that we can venture back out and collect some raspberries. I haven’t managed to get enough for my products yet as the kids keep hoovering them up as soon as they come off the bush!

Until next post enjoy the rest of your weekend

Fermenting, gardening, Preserving, Uncategorized

Fermented Horseradish Mustard

I am always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to preserve what we have growing in the garden and we had been talking a while about making mustard. Combine this with our new love of fermenting and voila we have Fermented Horseradish Mustard.

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This mustard is absolutely delicious! On it’s own it’s hot and healthy clearing those sinuses and loaded with all those gut helping probiotics not to mention all the great health benefits of the mustard and turmeric as well! When you put this on meat or in a salad dressing (Or even pasta sauce) you get a lovely little kick and it’s no longer overpowering.

Fermented Horseradish Mustard
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1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup shredded horseradish root
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tbs Kombucha, Keffir or extra apple cider vinegar with the mother
1/2 Tbs sea salt
2 tsp turmeric powder
Pulse mustard seeds in blender or food processor until roughly ground. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to adjust texture if you like a thicker, grainy-er mustard.
Pour into glass jar and cover. Let sit at room temperature 3-4 days to ferment.
Refrigerate until ready to use this will keep in the fridge for around 4 months but I think you will use it up VERY quickly!
*Tip use a small or mini processor as the bigger ones don’t pulse up the seeds as well and your mustard ends up more watery.
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gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Elder Flower cordial

It’s been too long since I’ve posted and I do apologize. My only excuse is that we have been spending lots and lots of time outside and my inside free time is dedicated to making preserves and getting ready for the market tomorrow.

Lots of beautiful things coming up in the garden and I’m stating to get excited about summer produce!

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We had a very sad event a few weeks ago with the loss of the quails we were quite devastated as they had just started laying and I love the gorgeous spotted eggs. Originally we thought a fox had got into the cages they were flipped and holes dug but now we think it was more likely a dog. We will be looking into getting a dog next year for protection of the flock. We may get quails again one day but not for a while. The last eggs I have blown out for keepsakes.

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Last week we visited a friend on their stunning property and spent some time touring the garden and right at the end was the biggest Elder tree I have ever seen. We talked about the berries and I asked if she had ever made cordial from the flowers. We mentioned we had tried the cordial at BOOMTOWN festival when we were in the UK sold to us by a troupe of children pulling a cart. It was the most beautiful thing I had tasted and I have been wanting to make it ever since but alas before I got the chance our chickens devoured our free and I had been mourning the chance until now. We were gifted a nice big bag of flowers and I got to work.

This is my recipe for elderflower cordial I have made it up from my experience experimenting making lots of cordial syrups recently and this is the best method I have found that works for me.

ElderFlower Cordial Syrup

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  1. Wash your elderflowers to remove bugs and then pop in your bowl ( I use a 5 Litre food grade bucket but I like to make HUGE amounts) pour boiling water over the flowers and leave overnight.
  2. Using a muslin cloth over a colander strain the liquid to remove the flowers plus any bugs you might have missed washing.
  3. Measure the Liquid and place in a saucepan for very cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
  4. Over medium heat stir to dissolve sugar and bring to boil
  5. Once boiling add 1 teaspoon Tantaric acid and boil for another 2 minutes.
  6. Bottle in sterilized bottles and can with preferred method or store in the fridge.

Easy!!

You can follow these instructions for basically any herb syrup so get out in the garden and get experimenting!!!

gardening, Homesteading, News

In the Garden

In the garden my stresses melt away. When the kids or I are feeling grumpy and start snapping at each other some time out in our oasis feeling the soil is always soothing. There is so much happening in our garden at the moment and I hope I don’t fall behind and miss out on this amazing weather we have been having. I’ve been watching the weather predictions and I fear another long drought may be on the way with El nino so I am even more conscious of preserving this seasons harvest in case next year we have more difficult times.

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I am doing a trial Ferment with the purple sprouting broccoli these will be used in salads as the weather gets warmer. I think I will also try and do some jars of Broccoli pickle as I’ve already frozen a bunch and I’m not sure we would really use it dehydrated.

I’ve decided for the rest of this post I’ll take you for a walk through our front garden. I’ve had a lot of friends say they are interested in gardening but aren’t sure where to start or always manage to kill everything. I’m by no means a expert in gardening but I have come a long way in the last 3 and a 1/2 years. I too used to kill things but a big factor in successful gardening it learning from mistakes and of course growing and nourishing!

Our first successful gardening attempt was with seedlings bought at the local market. This was a good starting point because really we just had to stick them in the ground in a sunny spot and water them everyday. We now grow everything from seed unless we want something established like a fruit or berry plant.

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^ These are my Nasturtium plants. These were planted by seed which I raised in mini greenhouses last summer they self seed and Miss N has been taking great care of them. They are by our front door and look lovely when full and flowered.

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On the other side of the path next to the Nasturtium I have a huge crop of apple mint (and some nettles) I’m planning on making some cordial with this Apple mint (Actually I’ve been planning this for 2 years!) In the next few weeks I will make a batch. We brought these roots with us from our old house in the Mountains and when we buy I will do the same and spread the seed!. Next to them I have some daisy and marigolds which I have just transplanted.

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^ As we don’t have recycling collection in our town we recycle our milk bottles  as mini green houses or clotches when I first transplant into the bigger beds or pots I pop one of these on for a few weeks to help the seedling survive the elements.

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Beans and Peas coming up we have some old fencing posts a friend gave us to help them climb.

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^This is my ” Transition house” a old bird cage partially covered in builders plastic but still so the plants get partially exposed to the outdoor temperature.

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Our Greenhouses the old covers got lost and damaged when we moved a few years ago. I have recently re-covered them in plastic and they are working wonderfully for raising our babies.

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Lilac flowers I am about to make a cordial out of these flowers and I can’t wait to taste it!

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^Radishes, Baby spinach, Borage and Daisy

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^Beetroot and silverbeet seedlings, Lemon Balm and Beetroots

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^Chammomile and Marigolds^

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^ Parsley, Chives and chard – Lettuce and rocket^

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^carrots and the beginning of my accidental chamomile lawn!^

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^Old storage boxes make great mini greenhouses for baby beet^

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The “Berry orchard” Blueberries, Logan, Black and red currants and a peach tree.

Well I hoped you enjoyed looking at our garden there’s plenty more happening out there I haven’t mentioned. Now I’m off to re-pot some seedlings 🙂

Foraging, gardening, Homesteading, Preserving

Kale catch up!

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Spring is such a busy and beautiful time! We’ve had lots of lovely visitors and have been so so busy in the garden. I recently had a friend say to me “Do you ever get bored at home with the kids?” I had to giggle to myself! We always have so much to do that some days I long to be having a rest. At the moment our Kale is starting to go to seed and we need to get our patch ready for the Spring/Summer Vegie crop. I’m only just going to start sowing these today as frost is still a risk here until November!

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So back to the Kale wow do we ever have a lot! I really didn’t want it to go to waste (not that it ever does as the animals get our “waste”) So I’ve been googling and experimenting to develop some more products for market. I’ve nearly sold out of last seasons preserves and the freezer is now empty of fruit but I want to still be able to sell products where the base ingredient is either home grown or sourced locally from friends and local farms. I think it’s important to show case the wonderful area we live and also show people the variety of things you can do with a simple base ingredient.

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This brings me to Experiment 1. Fermented Kale Pesto at first I was thinking of just making a regular kale Pesto and canning it but the information on Canning pesto is a little vague some say it’s safe while others warn against due to the garlic content so I thought to be safe bottling and refrigeration as the best option. I stumbled across a recipe for fermented kale pesto and then had a chat with my fermenting guru Zoe from Warinyan farm and off I went with my experiment. One 5L bucket of Processed kale, local apples,balsamic caramelized onions, vinegar,orange, lemon balm, garlic and rosemary infused olive oil plus 5 days and YUM the experiment was a success! We ate ours with home made pasta and bottled the rest for sale. I’ve now started another batch of Garden Pesto and added some brassica leaves for a different depth of flavor.

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The other thing I am experimenting with is Kale powder. The kale is dehydrated and then crushed to a powder which can be added to smoothies, sauces or whatever takes your fancy. I used a Dehydrator at  55 degrees but you could also do it in a oven at a low temperature. I added a teaspoon to our pasta sauce the other day and YUM intense kale flavor so I think this is how I will process the remaining plants (we still haven’t managed to harvest it all!) I’m not yet sure if I will sell this but through my research i have actually discovered you can buy kale powder from health food shops so It’s something I will definitely consider.

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In Other news Our lovely mother of the year Straighty One eighty (aptly named as she is a Wyandotte with a straight comb) has hatched our 9 beautiful French wheaten maran chicks I am especially happy about this as this is the 4th lot of eggs we have had posted and the ONLY lot we have ever had success with. These ones came all the way across country from W.A so I’m very happy indeed! We have another lovely mumma due next week with our own Araucana and have set another 17 Gold laced Wyandotte eggs under our Black Brahma so we will have lots of new additions soon.

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On Friday Miss Nyah, Mr Banjo, Myself and the cats went for a walk around our garden and paddocks and collected Dandelions. Since last year I have been wanting to make Dandelion Syrup and Jelly. We foraged a big basket of Dandelions and made the Syrup which I have included the recipe for below. It is a little tedious but the result was surprisingly delicious and tasted just like Honey!!! I’m eager to try some on Pancakes and can’t wait to see peoples reactions to trying it at the market.

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Dandelion Syrup 

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Ingredients
  • As many dandelion flowers as you can pick (I had 3 cups)
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 – 3 cups sugar (or stevia or anything you prefer)
  • juice of half a lemon
Instructions
  1. Wash flowers then cup green bits off with scissors, cut off as close to the base as you can.
  2. Boil the kettle and pour all the water over the petals leave over night then strain with a muslin cloth
  3. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep overnight in a cool place. A cool counter or the fridge is ideal. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out and extract as much liquid as possible.
  4. Return water to pot (or save in fridge/freezer until you get time for the next step), add sugar and lemon, and simmer on low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Check for desired consistency by dipping spoon into syrup, letting it cool a bit, then testing it with your finger.
  6. Bottle and store as desired -Canned in jars, pressure, waterbath or in plastic containers (3 months for plastic)

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Now I’m off outside to start our vegie seedlings and convert our old chook dome into a extra green house. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and gets a chance to get out into the garden 🙂

gardening, Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

We’re still here!

I must apologize as I have been a bit lazy with the blog. We had no internet for a week after a big lightening storm. This is the third time we’ve had this problem in this house as is common in old cottages.  It has been at the back of my mind to post since it got switched back on but I have not found the motivation. Instead I have been focusing my time on Miss N who has just turned 3 and getting ready for my winter hibernation period.

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I have also been reflecting on how lucky we are in our particular patch. Many people would love to be in a rental such as this. Recently Miss N , B and I went for a walk around our street and I really took in the beauty of our area.

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At the moment we are harvesting our big beautiful purple Cauliflower this is our first one but we are getting some nice tight heads on the others which is great.

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Some I am planning on freezing but mostly we are harvesting as we eat which is what I prefer to do.

We are also getting lots of chinese , savoy and mini cabbages that I have been sharing with the animals as we have far far too much.

The kale is also thriving which is great as Miss N LOVES kale.

Presently I am sitting with the fire roaring waiting for the predicted snow to fall and listening to Kisses Moo moo mooing as we are starting to “dry her off” I am very sad that we will no longer be getting her delicious milk and making cheese but as the winter sets in and we don’t have a milking area it’s getting harder for D to go out and Milk her and we would like to give her a decent break.

I will be back with some recipes soon and I promise to make a bit more effort to post weekly.

Bye for now!

Baking, Foody things, gardening, Homesteading, News

Brunswick Stew, Ginger Snaps and seed raising

We’ve had a lovely grey day here and though we didn’t get much rain it gave a good excuse to hermit inside and do whole wholesome cooking.

I wanted to try a few more recipes from Marie W Lawrences farmers kitchen handbook that I had mentioned in a earlier post so today after getting some of our seeds in there mini greenhouses old strawberry and tomato punnets. I have found these to be excellent for raising seeds.

IMG_3466We also cooked a delicious Brunswick stew a recipe I had never tried. Traditionally it is cooked with squirrel but as we seem to be lacking these in Australia we used the suggested substitute of home grown chicken (well cockeral in our case) but I am keen to try it with rabbit.

Here is the recipe – I cooked it in a pressure cooker but I will write it up as is from the book with conversions.

Brunswick Stew

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  • 1.5KG Chicken (coat in the salt and pepper)
  • 3 slices Bacon
  • 1 large Onion chopped
  • 6-8 Peeled diced tomatoes (I just chopped I never bother peeling)
  • 11/2 C corn
  • 1/1/2C lima beans ( I used 1 tin 5 bean mix)
  • 1T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1t salt
  • 1/2teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2tsp marjoram
  • 2T Brown sugar ( I used 1)
  • 2T cider vinegar
  • 1/4t tobasco
  • 2C diced peeled potatoes

Recipe

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In a large pan cook diced bacon until the fat is rendered – remove bacon then brown the chicken pieces in the fat.

Once one side is browned turn over and throw in the onions to cook while the other side browns.

Stir in tomatoes, Marojam, brown sug, cider vinegar, worcestershire and Tobasco sauce bring to boil then simmer covered over medium heat for 20mins

Stir then add potatoes and beans, stir again then cover and cook for another 20 mins.

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Serve with homemade dinner rolls or buttermilk biscuits

and

GingerSnaps

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  • 2Cflour
  • 2t ginger
  • 1tcinnamon
  • 2t bi carb
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 3/4C butter
  • 1C sugar
  • 1egg
  • 1/4c molasses
  • extra sugar to roll dough in

Recipe

  1. Cream butter and sugar
  2. beat in egg and molasses
  3. blend in dry ingredients
  4. roll teaspoon sized balls then toss in sugar place on greased tray 2″ apart

Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes the longer you bake the crunchier the cookie

I loved the flavour in these cookies they reminded me of dutch speculaars.