Friday, 7 November 2014

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off to New Zealand We Go

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off to New Zealand We Go - well for a working holiday at least.

We are spending the next 2 weeks in NZ visiting friends and family and spending some more time at our property planting trees and making plans.

I hope to have time to blog a few times while we are there but it will depend on how wrapped up we get so I make no promises.

The main thing I am hoping for is weather like this time last year when I was there.

This was me last year - Check out the weather

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Making And Using Master Stock

Master Stock is a key ingredient in Chinese cooking and this simple braising liquid adds an immense depth of flavour to meals and best of all it is an extremely frugal way of adding flavour.

Master Stock is basically a rich flavoursome stock used for poaching meat and poultry and is widely used across China.  The spices add a distinctive flavour and the soy sauce adds a deep colour.  The additional  benefit of this stock is that you use it over and over again and every time you use it the flavour will develop and improve.

It is best to use a different stock for different types of meat to avoid contamination but I mainly use mine for chicken so it is not an issue.  After you use the stock all you do is bring it back to the boil skim the surface, strain it through a fine sieve in to a clean freezer safe container.  Cool ad then freeze until you need it again.

Making Master Stock

8 Cups of Water
1 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Cup Shaoxing Wine (Chinese cooking wine)
125 gm Palm Sugar
4 Cloves f Garlic
1/2 Cup Sliced Ginger
1 Carrot roughly chopped
1 Stick of celery roughly chopped
6 Green Shallots/Spring Onions roots trimmed off
4 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick

Place all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.  
You can either cool and store until you are ready to use it or use it straight away.

The other day I used mine to poach the last of our home killed roosters and the meat was lovely, tender and moist and not at all tough and stringy.

I did mine in the slow cooker and I added another carrot, an onion and some extra ginger along with the chicken.

It was very tasty and I am sure it has added a whole lot more flavour to the stock.

Have you ever used master stock?  How do you use it?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Slow Living October 2014

Linking up with Linda who is now our gracious host having taken over from Christine in hosting the Slow Living Nine.  I love joining in each month and reflecting on what I have achieved, it is also great to hear what everyone is up to and share in their achievements.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
This past month has been really busy for us and we have made good use of meals that I stockpiled in the past few months.  We have also been eating lots of egg based meals like omelettes, quiche and fritatas to make use of all the eggs, silverbeet, zucchini, and herbs in the garden.

There have also been a few sweet treats like carrot cake during the month.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
I made one last batch of orange marmalade with a second lot of gifted oranges and I think we will have enough to last us through until next citrus season.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
This month I turned some jeans I got from the op shop for hubby that were too small into some chicken saddles.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
Just the usual happening on this front.  

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The garden is producing lots of Silverbeet and herbs, we are inundated with zucchini, we are harvesting asparagus daily and there are spring onions, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber and eggplant.  I have dill and coriander going to seed which I collecting for replanting and for use in cooking.

The zucchini are smothering the lettuce plants around them but that is ok because we
will be harvesting the lettuce over the next week
This is what we are picking every day.... so many zucchini

Bush basil, eggplant, dill, tomatoes, lettuce I am letting go to seed, zucchini and other herbs

Beefsteak tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers

Coriander going to seed

The mulberry is fruiting and I am trying to beat the birds to them.

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
The past month has been way too busy for anything creative but hopefully I will have some time over the next month.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I am still trying to get through a couple of books I started last month and at the end of the week we are going on holiday so hopefully by the time we get back they will be finished.

Enhance Community
The car show that I am involved is over for another year and was a great success, however I am relieved it is over and I can stop thinking about it for a while.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
October was full of get together's with family and friends and my brother and his wife welcomed baby number 3 (another girl, baby Alice Rae) into the world and my other brother and his girlfriend headed off to Korea for the next 2 years.
November sees us heading over to New Zealand to catch up with my family and meet our new neice and we are really looking forward to seeing everyone.

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Storm Season Begins With A Mini Tornado

Well storm season has kicked off with a bang with 3 very hot days (37 - 40 degrees Celsius) followed by storms in the evening.
On Saturday night there was lots of wind, thunder and lightning but very little rain.  Monday night there was lots of everything including rain which was such a blessing. But Sunday night we had a storm with lots of thunder and lightning and a burst of storm activity that I can only describe as a mini tornado.

We had all the doors and windows open and the cool breeze was cooling things down and the rain was pattering on the roof.  But then I heard the wind pick up and I could hear it roaring through the trees that line the creek nearby.  
I started rushing about shutting doors and windows and called for Hubby to come and help (he was already in bed) and within about 30 seconds it hit the house.  The wind was so strong that I could barely pull the door closed against it and as Hubby was closing  one of the windows the wind slammed it on his finger (enter a few choice four letter words at this stage).
The wind slammed against the house for about 3 minutes and then died back down again.  A little while later just as I was going to bed the rain stopped.

The next morning I was astonished to see that our garden shed has been demolished with a few panels in the neighbors place.

The roof off Jessie's kennel had been blown off (we had her inside with us because of the storm thankfully) and it takes the two of us to lift it as it weighs about 40kg.  The tree branches above her kennel had been torn off and flipped over the fence.

The tree at our neighbors gateway lost a huge branch and locked them in.

The main reason that I think it was a mini tornado and not just a wind gust is the randomness of the things that were affected and where some items ended up.
The roof on Jessie's kennel was only 6 meters from the front porch yet the cane furniture on the porch was still there the next day.
The peg bucket from the back yard was found around the corner of the house and almost in the front yard (so at 90 degrees from where it should have been) about 40 meters away.
One of the flower bushes was blown over but the tomatoes that were staked nearby were still standing.
Our shed was blown to bits but the lid on my worm farm right beside the she was still on the worm farm in the morning.
So many random occurrences.

We spent Monday morning gently removing items from what was left of the shed and having a good old throw out before dismantling the shed and taking it to the dump.  I was a good excuse for a clean out and we had it on the cards for the near future but now it has been done.  It was great to get rid of a whole lot of junk and I hope to get rid of a bit more in the weeks to come.

Hubby pulling the shed apart and loading the trailer
My next job is to deal with all the empty garden pots that were stored behind the shed.  We can't take them with us to NZ so I plan on washing them all and giving them away.

Te cleared shed slab

Today we headed out to buy a new shed but I am not sure when it will be assembled.  I know one thing for sure and than is that noting is going back into the shed without first being scrutinized.
Hopefully the heat wave is over for a bit as it is too early in the season to be getting 40 degree days, it's still supposed to be spring for heavens sake!

How's the weather been at your place? 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Classic Car Show Success

For the last 4 years I have been the event director for a classic car show and this years event was held on the 19th of October.
It is a huge job and the committee and I spend most of the year planning and promoting the event an then the day itself starts at 5 am and by the time we clean up it is getting dark so hence thing have been a bit quite on the blogging front.

The car and bike owners, stall holders and viewing public were treated to great music provided by our roving entertainers the Memphis Moovers.

The stall holders all reported that they had a great day with plenty of interest.

This year we expanded the event to include replicas and kit cars and we had a great turn out form the Cobra Club, some drivers travelling from as far away the mid NSW coast, and the GT40 Club where we had 4 of the 7 GT40's in QLD turn up on the day.

We had one man bring along some amazing pedal bikes which you pedal to get going and then they run on the smallest amount of fuel.  Just what we need as we head in to a future of oil descent.

I might have to invest in one of these.  I think it would be the ideal mode of transport for short trips into town.

Overall it was a great day and although vehicle numbers were slightly down on last year we had large numbers of spectators and the ones I spoke to were having a great day out.