Monday, 20 July 2020

More preserves... Lime & Ginger Butter

So having made Rosella jam, a childhood favourite for many (and now our daughter too). I thought I would revisit some jams or preserves from my own childhood. 
Now, I do not remember having homemade lemon curd, as a child. But it was certainly one of my favourites.  I first looked up the recipe for lemon curd (or lemon butter as they call it here in Queensland) and was pleasantly surprised to find out how simple it was to make.

So whilst we didn't have a supply of lemons to use, I thought I'd investigate using some of our limes. As here they make a number of curds or fruit butters- mango, passionfruit as well as lemon. So why not limes?
Then I found a recipe for lime and ginger curd!
This makes a 400g jar. However it will only last 7-10 days in the fridge (so best not too make too much in one go anyway. Unless your going to give it away.
For lime and ginger butter/curd you will need
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I used some jar stuff)
40ml water
1 lime juiced and grated rind
60g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
Place ginger and water into a cup and stir.
Use a fine strainer and a spoon to push the juice through, collecting it into a small bowl/container. (Ginger pulp can be saved and used for something else requiring fresh ginger)
Add ginger juice and remaining ingredients to a blender, or our case my Bellini/ thermo-cheap (mix 20 sec / speed 3)
If using a thermo or similar cook 10 mins / 80°C / speed 2. Scrape down. Cook a further 1 min / 80°C / speed 2
If not, transfer to pan on low-med heat and stir slowly for 10-15 mins, once the mixture thickens and smooths removed from the heat.
Transfer to sterile jar or container. Curd will thicken some more once refrigerated.
Eat within approx 7-10 days.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

So excited for Rosella jam!

So having bought some locally grown rosella seedlings earlier this year, we are so excited to see them fruit.

As we love Rosella jam. 
We had a shrub some years ago, so made it then. Rosella jam appears to have been a common recipe here in Queensland, however everyone comments that they miss it, or that thier Gran or Nona made it for them as a child.
As someone who didn't grow up with it, I can appreciate how it would be a childhood favourite. We used to await September to pick blackberries with my Nan, and loved helping her make blackberry jam (and a few apple and blackberry tarts, if we had enough).
Though rosella has quite a unique flavour, its rich like blackberry but more like a cross between strawberry and cranberry. It has a tartness but is definitely more child friendly.

So as we had enough for a jar or two. I thought we'd make a batch straight away. It's not so labour intensive.
(You can freeze the fruit until you have more if you wish... However we did not want to wait!)

So we only picked the larger fruit. Ideally you want a little space between the flower looking outer fruit and the inner seedpod.
I believe you can eat/use them earlier. But I wait for this point- you can check by gently pressing on the sides, as the bloom opens allowing you to see inside.
Once picked, wash. Then peel back the fruit (yes the flower looking head is the fruity flesh). You peel it away from the seed pod and can also use the back of the fruit, the flesh is the same.
Once you've removed the seedpod, collect separately, you need these.
Place the seedpods in a pan, or in our case, the Bellini (thermo-cheap). 
Cover with water and simmer until the pods are soft. As this is where the pectin is (the stuff that makes jam set).
Once soft strain, saving the liquid
In the mean time weigh the flesh. As you will want equal amounts of your saved liquid to fruit flesh.

Return these to the pan, add equal amount of combined fruit and liquid to sugar.
Simmer and stir until sugar and flesh has 'desolved'.
Transfer to sterilised and cooled jars.
The liquid does appear quite watery, but solidifies as it cools. So find cooled jars help to judge if it's set.
Once cooled enjoy!
We collected about 200g of fruit flesh which made a 500g jar plus some. So was easily enough for two good sized jars. And this makes a fantastic gift or crowd pleaser.
Jam and curd tarts...more childhood memories!

Monday, 20 April 2020

Autumn Veggie Garden

It appears, as there has been a clear shortage of seeds and seedlings that many people have been using the extra time at home to set up veggie gardens.
Which is something we can definitely relate too. Hopefully the uptake in gardening, amongst other skills and activities will continue after these "uncertain times". And that for all the fear and negative aspects of our current reality that the positive legacy would be a resurgence in basic living skills; the home garden and home produce, cooking, forgotten crafts and up-cycling rather than purchase of new.

For us establishing, or our case 're-establishing' our veggie patch was not a product of our forced time at home; though the dedicated time has helped. But had been planned for the autumn, following the decommission of our previous veggie beds in late spring last year. 

Unfortunately decommissioning the existing garden bed was a requirement when installing the new sewerage system (as our old one literally went to poop); a requirement for our family home! The 'geo tech' report for the new system specified the location for the treated water dispersion was exactly where the old beds were located. So unfortunately they had to go. Therefore we planned to re-establish some new raised beds, in a new location in autumn. 

Autumn may seem like a strange time of year to many. Having grown up in Wales I always associated spring with fresh planting and new starts. However here in the tropics, summer is our wet season. And the hot, humid conditions and torrential rains are not great for growing much other than weeds. So starting out then did not seem like a great idea. Also trucking in soil would do a fair amount of damage to the ground.

So this week we finally got the beds prepped and formed. Lining the ground with weed matting and up-cycling strips from where we finally replaced the old water tank. The large poly-tank split during cyclone Debbie- though we hadn’t done anything with it, or replaced it until last year.

The ground work and new water tanks we installed around the same time as the plumbers installed the sewerage system. 

So knowing the veg bed had to go, we decided 600mm strips from the old poly tank would make good raised beds in the future.
And 6 ton of soil delivered and shoveled into the new beds.
We didn't make her move it all!

So for our veggie beds we have started with some basic vegetable that we use frequently and that are fast producing. We tried not to get too carried away with too many varieties or produce options;
Lettuce, bok choy, spinach, rocket, mustard greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, capsicum, corn, fennel, sweet potato, carrots, radishes, snowpeas, beans

We also used a combination of seedlings and seeds. This is so that a) we see some results sooner, but also by planting seeds along seedlings we have succession planting. So more coming behind the established plants.

Now I am not one for conventional straight lines, as my partner would agree. So I have divided the beds up into sections for the larger items, and then planted smaller, companion plants as under planting. Which we have used to plant into. Hopefully creating some attractive and productive gardens.

Monday, 13 April 2020

It's going to be a very different Easter

It is funny, as it has been quite some time (prior to our most recent post) since we blogged. Though I has drafted a number, that were never complete, or I had not published (for one reason or another). 
The most recent was a discussion about Christmas, and how we balance traditions we grew up with and associate with the season. To that of a ‘hot Christmas’ in mid-summer. And how we have adapted, others embraced and even created a few of our own. How it maybe the detail that is important and is about creating and sharing memories. Well a quarter of the yer has past… and I had not published that post. And we find ourselves approaching another significant holiday.

Now we are not religious, so am not wanting to preach to anyone. So, for myself as a child Easter was a few weeks break from school; two terms down with one to go. Was spring and full of hope and hope for good weather. Time spent with my family and some chocolate too. 
Again, here in Oz it is still around school holidays, so we usually try and fit in some camping (as here in Qld the weather is cooling but still stunning- hopefully wet season has dissipated).
Lent seems to be followed a little more, and fish (or seafood of some description) is the highlight for Good Friday. As it's the southern hemisphere we are move into autumn (not spring) so the children’s gifts are focussed upon rugging up for cooler nights (pyjamas and slippers) and books for the night-time stories. The Easter feast, decorations and festivities are more elaborate. Even the Easter bunny seems more significant, even magical.
However, this year we all find ourselves adapting, embracing and maybe even creating a few new traditions. With most of the world affected (on some level) by this pandemic; there will be no camping trip and no visitors. We will remain connected, digitally but be physically distanced and settled here at Maes-y-Delyn.

So what are your Easter plan's for this year?

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Loss of a true mate

Firstly, I wish to apologise. I did not realise how long it has been since I posted a blog. I had written a few but had either not finished or not published them.

I have remained a little more active via our Instagram (maes_y_delyn.qld) and Facebook (@maesydelyn.qld) pages. But that is no excuse.

Given all the craziness going on around the world at the moment. I felt that we should be blogging. And that this may provide some hope, tips and an outlet for us.

However, before we go into any of that we have had a few changes here at Maes-y-Delyn. The most recent being the passing of our (not so farm) dog Ffion. And whilst the chickens are roaming a little more confidently. We are definitely feeling her absence.

This beautiful girl had provided companionship that grounded us not just here at the farm, but in our lives here in Oz.

Ffion joined us, after living in Australia for just over a year. As we had acknowledged that there was something missing. This beautiful girl made Australia home. Little did we know she would become the best, most loyal, loving and tough little pup we could have wished for. She was an awesome little best mate to the whole family especially our daughter and will be truly missed. Rest easy girl thanks for 12 wonderful years.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

More than just honey… A sweet alternative to Clingflim (gladwrap)

So after almost 6 months of intending to, I finally attempted beeswax wraps.

Having only raided the bee hives a few time this year the supply of honey has been quite ‘exclusive’. Though this had not been my primary reason for venturing in; mostly it had been to inspect their progress, particularly after cyclone Debbie. Which may have been some 9 months ago now, however with the vegetation being ripped up, cut down or stripped as a result of the cyclone, there hadn’t been a lot of blossom, and therefore pollen for bees to feed on. Many local apiarists (beekeepers) had resorted to   their hives sugar water; only having the two hives and there not being too many around us, plus we hadn’t harvested prior to the event meant we didn’t have to do this. So we were fortunate (and it is a positive sign of a strong colony that) just four months on we were able to harvest some surplus, only 3.5kg but still. Followed by another 7-8 kg, three months on again. So whilst 10-12kg may not be a lot (given that a single hive may produce in excess of 50kg in a year) that was not the only product we extract.

I apologise for the lack of images taken during bee keeping- only it takes one  of us to entertain our toddler indoors or out of the way (just in case), whilst the other tends/raids the hive. Not that the bees are overly aggressive, but they are defending their home/queen/food supply; so this is just precautionary.
Sometime ago I purchased these wonderful versatile products- bees wax cotton wraps. They replace the need for cling film (or glad wrap, depending on where you are) for a lot of things; as they are mouldable, strong, water-resistant and re-usable… They’re not suitable for covering hot foods (as the heat melts the wax) or meat, but most other things (storing/covering/wrapping fruit, veg, garden produce, nuts, sandwiches, cheese, bread, crackers and fermented foods in your lunchbox, fridge or pantry…) they are fantastic!

So I am not going to lecture about the use of plastic, as if you were to look in my fridge, freezer or pantry you would immediately note (amongst the recycled jars etc) are Tupperware containers, silicon moulds and plastic ziplock bags, along with a vac-pac kit. Predominantly these items are reusable, other than the latter which I am yet to find an equal alternative for meats… especially on the scale we produce it (a beast at a time), which I am not willing to lose to freezer burn or anything else or that matter. On the other hand we live by using the most of what we produce and reducing what we purchase, so the idea of making our own beeswax wraps is really no different.
So according to commercial promos, depending on use and with good care they can last up to a year. My original (commercially purchased one) had lasted a fair bit onger than that.  And once you’re finished their supposedly completely compostable (as their all natural product)… but better still now I know they can be re-waxed. 

Now most of what I have read suggested that whilst melting wax onto cotton would work, it can crack when chilled. So I used coconut oil in my mix to assist with pliability. Another addition often used (particularly in commercial ones) was pine tree rosin… this took some sourcing, especially for food grade. I suppose it isn’t a necessity, but it does provide that tackiness that helps when moulding to items, or itself. The rosin is also supposed to have anti-fungal properties; which is helpful, especially given that beeswax is supposedly antiseptic too.

Now I had read a few posts about making these, some heat the ‘ingredients’ on a baking sheet in the oven, others use a double boiler method- combining the ‘ingredients’ in a “bowl” first; heated by sitting the “bowl” on top of  pan of boiling water (much like heating chocolate). 
 Either way I would not recommend using your best utensils or crockery when attempting any of these processes. In fact the bowl, tray and brush I used will be kept solely for this purpose.

So how much beeswax do you need?- Some specified quantities for varying sizes, others were a little vague about how the shavings were spread. (e.g an 8"x"8 piece requires 2.5 tbsp of beeswax & rosin and 1 tbsp of oil.) Personally I found this to be too much rosin, as it stained the cloth, was difficult to melt and made the resulting mixture quite (unnecessarily) thick. 

I must admit the idea of a double boiler seemed like more work to me, and dirtying (or destroying) additional equipment. So I tried placing a piece of cotton on baking paper in a tray and then scattering wax pieces, rosin dust and drizzling coconut oil over it; then heating in an oven at 60⁰c. The result was not the best. The ‘ingredients’ appear to melt at different points, so the kitchen was a little smokey and the coverage was poor… and the pattern run and cotton even burnt a little.
Melt wax and oil first, then add rosin
So I got over my laziness and attempted the double boiler method. Again the ‘ingredients’ did melt at different points; so I would highly recommend melting your beeswax and oil together and then adding the rosin once the other ‘ingredients’ have melted. This seems far more effective. Otherwise the rosin clogs to the brush (or whatever you are using to mix) and not mix with in.
Third time lucky

This effort resulted in a claggy and uneven finish. So I combined both methods- omitting the baking paper which was burning by now.

Most important point is that you are only trying to warm the mixture. So only put the oven on in between batches to maintain the heat- same for the hob.

(Again I need to apologise here for the lack of images, only you need to work quickly) 

It was at this point I gauged my mixture as equal parts coconut oil and beeswax, then half the amount of rosin. I then placed a prepared cotton piece in the tray, brush with the mixture over the bowl. Then place in the oven as necessary to keep melted. Repeat until all the cloth is covered, then peel when the mixture is wet (if solidified it will not peel evenly) and then place out to dry (which will not take long) and set.
Once dry they are ready to use.  Whilst these may not be perfect, they’re not a bad start- I must admit bright colours look the best, though not if they have white patterns, as the mixture stains it.

 I'll get back to you on how much a piece needs when I have played with the quantities a little more. 
 To use; 
Simply mould the wrap to the top of the dish by using the warmth and pressure of your hands to create a seal. Or place item (here cheese) in the middle and wrap over and mould the ends back on itself. 

                                                                              To clean;
Wash using a mild detergent and cold water; you can pick off dried on foods or soak in cool water until it softens and washes away. Once rinsed lay flat or on dish rack/ clothes horse to dry, then simply fold away and store til next use. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

EOI- Berkshire weaners and day old chicks

This week has been productive so far. 

We saw the arrival of Sage and Smokey's most recent, and most likely last litter of piglets. (As we have a replacement boar, and other bloodline waiting). 

She delivered 10 healthy little porkers, and so far we have counted at least 5 girls, so will be taking expressions of interest, as they should be ready for re-homing early October.

We have also begun hatching so chicks. Our initial hatchlings will form part of our next generation. However we should hopefully have day old chicks available for both 
Sussex- Light, Silver & Platinum (potential splits) and Ross 308 broilers from September.

We are based within the Mackay region (Queensland) and maybe contacted via email 
maesydelyn.qld or  Facebook

Please note we are not a commercial entity, we are a hobby farm and only occasionally offer excess livestock for sale.