Thursday, 30 April 2015

Oyster Blade Steak - A Versatile Cut

As part of my series on nose to tail eating I am sharing with you some of the different cuts of meat we have from the whole cow we had butchered and ideas for using them.

Oyster Blade steak comes from the shoulder bone of the cow and has a thin line of gristle running through the middle.  It is a juicy and full of flavour cut which has a variety of uses.

It is often used as a stewing meat which allows the gristle to break down during the long slow cooking and on the other hand it works great in a stir-fry when cooked really quickly.  It also makes a very tasty steak but you need to either score the gristle to prevent it curling or trim the steak into two long strips but cutting along each side of the gristle.
The other way I have used it is to trim the gristle out of the middle and then slice it as thin as I can.  I then add it raw to a bowl of cooked rice noodles, bean sprouts and Asian herbs then top with a hot beef broth which cooks the thin slices of stakes and creates a delicious soup.

The oyster blade is a fairly cheap cut of meat that has a variety of uses and is really tasty so speak to your local butcher about getting some.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Simple And Delicious - Good Old Sponge Cake

Sometime the best recipes and the tried and tested ones that are handed down through generations.
This is one of those recipes.  It is just a simple sponge cake but it is easy to make and always impresses those I serve it to.  I like it plain so that how we mostly have it as it is not too sweet but every so often (or when we have guests) I add jam and cream.

Sponge Cake

3 eggs
Pinch of Salt
3/4 Cup of Castor Sugar
1 Cup Plain Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
50 g Cooled Melted Butter

Grease and line a 20 cm round spring form tin and heat your oven to 190 degrees,
Beat the eggs and salt  then add the sugar and beat until thick and pale.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture.  When the flour is 90% combined fold in the melted butter until just combined.  Pour into your cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back in the middle when touched lightly.  Leave in the tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Once cool the cake can be cut in half and spread with jam and filled with cream or just eat plain.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Preserving Autumn Produce

While we were away over Easter we picked up a couple of boxes of apples as the area where we were staying is renowned for it's fruit growing.

We came home with 8 kg of granny smiths for cooking and preserving and 8 kg of royal gala for eating.

Hubby likes to take dried fruit for lunch a few day a week so we decided some dried apples would be nice.  We have now done a coupe of batches and are pleased with the results.  When we are doing it we set up a little production line.  I peel the apples and slice them and then hubby cores the slices and puts them in a bowl of water that has the juice of 2 lemons squeezed into it.  Once we have done enough to fill 2 trays we lay them out on the trays and repeat the process to fill the the remaining 2 trays.
Once I think they are getting close I turn the dehydrator off and let the slices cool completley.  It is then much easier to tell if they are dry enough to store.

The other thing I have been preserving are the late planted cucumbers that I have turned into lacto fermented dill pickles.
I used the method from Nourishing Traditions which is so easy and the pickles are ready to eat in just a few days.  You can also use this method for other types of veggies too and if you want to give it a go the recipe is posted here.  I was all out of whey from cheese making so for this batch I strained some yogurt and collected the whey for use.  I suspect that since yogurt bacteria ferment at a higher temperature the pickles will not be as 'fermented' as if I was using whey from cheese making which ferment at lower temperatures.  I  just use Lebanese cucumbers and pick them when they are small.  I stuff as many into jars along with layers of dill and dill seeds.  I do not even bother to chop the dill I just stuff it in there.  Once all the cucumbers are in I pour over the whey and salt water mix and put the lids on the jars.  I burp my clip top jars and just sit the lids of screw top jars on tops so that they can release any gas build up.  Hubby opened the first jar today and declared them delicious and from the bite I had I agree.

I think my cucumbers might hang on just a little longer and I might get another batch done but it will all depend on the weather.

What have you been preserving?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Weekend Celebrations And Rememberance

Over the weekend we spent the weekend in Brisbane and remembered Hubby's grandfather who served in WW1, and mine who served in WW2, spent quality time as a family and celebrated the birthday of a good friend.

Hubby, his dad and brother attended the dawn ceremony in Brisbane and later we had a BBQ lunch and toasted the diggers.  Yesterday Hubby and I had a few jobs to do in the city so we returned to the Shrine of Remembrance and it was nice to get to read some of the notes left with the wreaths.

The that night we celebrated a friends birthday and I made him a Chocolate Silk Cake which is not for the faint hearted.  It is a chocolate almond cake with a chocolate mouse filling covered in chocolate ganache.  It is the kind of cake to be enjoyed as a small slice with a good coffee.  I am from New Zealand and Hubby is from Australia and our friends girlfriend is Turkish so we really did have the full ANZAC contingent in attendance.

It was a great weekend and it was lovely to spend it with family.  We are making the most of these opportunities as we know that once we move to New Zealand we will really miss these family moments.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

An Easter Holiday

Over the Easter break we headed off for 10 days camping at Girraween National Park just north of the Queensland New South Wales border in an area know as the Granite Belt.

It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, amazing wines, bountiful fresh fruit and veg and artisan foods.

We had been to stay about 7 years ago and at the time did a few bush walks but this time we planned to do a lot more of the walking tracks.

The first walk we tackled was 'the pyramid' which is a climb up a granite rock (pictured on the left in the photo below) and is one of the steepest walks.  We started all of our walks really early (about 6 am) and took our breakfast with us to eat at our destination each day.

The walk starts off with a gradual climb up through the bush before climbing up the granite face to the top.  In the photo below you can see a row of granite going up the rock face on an angle and just to the right of this you can make out a pale mark running parallel which is the wear mark of everyone treking up there.

On the way way to the top we stopped off to test our strength, but as much as these boulders look like they are just balancing there, they are really quite rooted in place.

The walks up these granite mountians can only be done when the weather is dry as the granite become incredibly slippery and dangerous with moisture and even a heavy dew could prove trecherous.
Thankfully the weather was dry so we had no dramas on our early morning climb.

It is hard to show in the photos exactly how steep this top of this climb is but let me just say it is scary steep.  Going up is ok but coming down had my nerves on edge as there are no hand rails, no steps and nothing to stop you rolling off the edge if you fall.

But the climb to the top is worth the effort and the nerves on edge.

Even up on the top of the mountian there are giant boulders left behind after the soil and rock around them has washed away over millions of years.

The view from the top was amazing and even though it was misty and the weather did not clear while we were up there we were glad we made the effort and got up early.  We had the walk to ourselves (we were half way down before we encountered other people going up and they were a noisy bunch so we were glad we missed them) and got to enjoy the peace and quite as the sun rose up and shone through the mist.

 On the way back to camp we walked to the granite arch which is exactly that.

There are amazing vistas where ever you go and these are a few of my favourites.

W walked between 5 and 9km for 7 days out of the 10 we were there and spend the other 3 days visiting wineries and local artisan producers or resting at camp.

Hubby at 'The Sphinx'

We spent our afternoons chilling by the fire and I read a stack of books and magazines.

A while back I posted about recycling soft plastics and I discovered that the sign posts around the park are all made of this recycled plastic

And just because here is a camping selfie.

How was your Easter/school holidays?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Monthly 9 - March 2015

Ok so this is really really late but we were away for a few weeks and have been busy since being back.

Anyway here is what we have been up to.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
When I look back at the month I noticed that there are a lot of food posts so it is easy to feel confident in this category.  There were lots of tasty meals and I even made another batch of Haloumi.

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.
Other than preparing for our camping trip there was not a lot of stockpiling going on during the month of March.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
Every week or two another bag leaves our house destined for the op shop.  I now find myself looking around the house for items that can be added to that weeks bag.  Just when you think you have cleaned everything out you find a few more things that are no longer needed.

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.
Not much to report in this area for March.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The garden is producing hedges of basil and the latest round of cucumbers are producing well and I hope to make some lactofermented dill pickles in April. There are spring onions, capsicum, as well as lettuce and silverbeet.

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
There was no creating in March which is a bit sad but that is what happens when you are busy.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
March was a great month for reading and I got through a number of books and magazines including 'Inferno' by Dan Brown, the latest 'Grass Roots' magazine and a few 'North and South' magazines that I borrowed from a friend.

Enhance Community
Nothing happening on this front.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
We had an amazing trip away camping.  Were were staying on the 'Granite Belt' in Southern Queensland and along with all of the bush walking we did we visited wineries and artisan food producers.  It was a lovely break and I will tell you more about it in tomorrows post.

What have you been up to?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Sign The Petition To Ban Glyphosate

This petition landed in my inbox today and I think it just supports what many of us have believed for a long time.

Top scientists warn the most commonly used herbicide in the world probably causes cancer! 

Monsanto is demanding the World Health Organisation retract their ground-breaking report. And experts say the only way to ensure the science is not silenced is if the public demands action, now. 

The regulatory system is renowned for being secretive and captured by the agro-chemical industry. But we have a unique moment right now -- glyphosate is officially being reassessed in the EU, the US, Canada, and Brazil, and the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador are all looking at a ban. 

The threat is clear -- this poison is used on our food, our fields, our playgrounds, and our streets. Let's get it suspended.

Please Click Here to sign the petition

For more information the sources are listed at this link.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Transmission Will Resume Shortly

We had a great break away over Easter and are getting back into the swing of things here.  The house is still on the market and the weather is cooling off .

Next week I hope to be back in this space more often but I have a few more things to take care of.  Till Then.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Tea - My Drink Of Choice

Did you know that every day Australians consume more than 22 million cups of tea?

Some days I feel like I drink enough to justify buying shares in a tea plantation, between 4-8 cups a day, and I have to admit that I love it.  In our house you will find between 20 - 30 different types of tea, I suspect that almost makes me a tea addict.

Tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis bush which is an evergreen shrub which can live for over 100 years.  The tea comes from the top two leaves and the bud which are usually picked by hand and skilled tea pickers can pick between 30 - 35 kg of tea a day.

Tea comes in 4 main types:

Black - Black tea is the most common type of tea and is made by withering the leaf then it is cut, torn or curled then fully fermented followed by drying.
White - White tea the least processed and is a selection of the youngest freshest leaves and buds that are dried. White tea has a mellow subtle flavour.
Green - Green Tea is an un-fermented tea where the oxidation has been stopped with the application of heat.  It is made from the fresh leaf which is steamed or baked  then cut, curled or torn before drying.Green tea is pale in colour  and has a light astringent taste.
Oolong - Oolong is somewhere between Green and Black tea.  It is withered then tumbled or rolled  then is partly fermented and dried.  Oolong has a distinct coppery colour and a delicate flavour that is sweet and fruity.

Then there are all the other teas made from herbs, spices, seeds berries and other plants like Rooibos and Yerba Mate.

Around the world different cultures enjoy their tea in different ways.  In India Chai is a very strong black tea flavoured with spices, milk and sugar.  In Tibet tea is churned with yak butter and in Russia tea is flavoured with lemon and in Morocco tea is often flavoured with mint.

Both Black and Green Teas are rich in natural flavonoides and when served without milk or sugar has virtually no calories.  Tea should be stored in a cool dark place in tightly sealed containers so that it does not pick up up odours from other foods.

Did you know tea bags were created by accident?  Apparently in the early 1900's an American tea merchant decided to send out his tea in silk bags and one of his customers just dunked the whole bag in hot water and a new concept was born.

This is how I like to brew tea for one.
The leaves get to float around and it is easier than a teapot.

So how do you make the perfect brew?  Well I am sure everyone has their own method but here is what I recommend.

Make sure the water is cold and fresh never water in the kettle that has already been boiled or your tea will taste flat.
Use a teapot or one of the little mesh inserts for you cup or a tea ball.  The more your tea leaves can move about the better.
Heat your cup or tea pot then add your tea leaves/tea bag and pour the boiling water straight from the kettle as soon as it boils.
Leave your tea to brew for 3 - 5 minutes (longer and it gets bitter, less and you will miss out on some flavour)
Add milk, lemon or sweetener as you like and enjoy.

I love the tea that comes from The Tea Centre and my favourite teas are some of the blended black teas.  My 3 favourites are Ritz Carlton, Sir John and Stockholm blend but there are others that I also enjoy on a regular basis.

How do you like your tea?
Do you have a favourite flavour or brand?