Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ox Tail Curry - Nose To Tail Eating

More than 12 months on we are still eating our way through our home raised and killed cow and there is still quite a bit to go.  It was all vacuum packed so it will last another year if we need it to.

Ox Tail is not something that appears on the average dinning table these days but it is something I remember eating as a kid, probably because like us back then my family raised our own meat.  
Oxtail is full of gelatin (so is extremely good for you) which cook out during a long slow cooking leaving a delicious, tender and unctuous (yes that is a word - my favorite word to describe food that is delicious, succulent, luscious, rich, decadent and has slightly oily mouth feel).

You can buy oxtail from most supermarkets where it is likely to already be cut into segments but if it comes from the butcher it might only be partially segmented like in the picture below, or they might only sell the bits from the thick end.  It is very easy to cut through as you can feel where the tail naturally segment.  Oxtail is not an expensive cut but since some of what you pay for is bone it is not the cheapest either but I think it is worth having every so often for all of the health benefits.

This is a Burmese style curry, that like a vindaloo contains vinegar, and is really very easy as it is a one pot wonder when it comes to the cooking.  Marinate the meat for at least 3 hours, I like to do this bit at breakfast and it takes 3 hours to cook so don't forget to get it on at afternoon tea time.

Ox Tail Curry

2 whole oxtails or 1.2 kg approx (cut into 4- 6 cm pieces)
2 1/2 Tsp Mustard Powder
3 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric
125 ml White Vinegar
1 Tbs Castor Sugar
2 Tbs oil, tallow or lard (I use beef tallow as we have lots of it)
3 Large Onions diced
6 Cloves of crushed garlic
2 Tbs Grated Fresh Ginger
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 Litre of Beef Stock

Mix together the mustard powder, cumin, turmeric and vinegar add the oxtail and toss to coat then set aside in the fridge to marinate.
In a large heavy based pot heat the oil/tallow over a medium heat and add your diced onions and cook stirring regularly until they are soft and translucent but not browned too much and then add the ginger and chilli powder and stir for 1 minute before removing the onion mix from the pan and place in a bowl.  Add your crushed garlic to the hot onions and leave to the side.
Place the oxtail into the pot and brown the pieces all over saving the marinade.
Once the oxtail is browned add left over marinade and bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Then add all of the onion mix back into the pot along with the beef stock cover and cook for 3 hours at a gentle simmer.
Remove the lid and cook over a high heat for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3.
Serve with plain rice and a garnish of fresh chilli if you like it hot.

What unusual cuts do you like to eat?
Do you like ox tail?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Happy Australia Day

We will be spending the day with Hubby's family having a BBQ and enjoying each others company.  

I hope you get to spend the day doing something relaxing with those you love.

Image result for australia day

Monday, 25 January 2016

For The Love Of Reading - Another Visit To The Bookfest

Well it was a very successful visit to the Lifeline Bookfest this year.

I managed to pick up 13 fiction books, 12 cook books, 2 reference books and 5 text books.

One of the text books alone was $2.50 and new it is $105, and the others were no more than $10 an they each sell for nearly $100.
Another book "Holistic Management" by Allan Savoury was $7 and I paid $39 for my copy but I knew I could resell it if my friend Liz from Eight Acres did not want it as it is brand new.  She did want it and I am sure she will put it to good use on their farm.

My brother in law and sister in law are having dramas getting my nephew to eat veggies and I found Jessica Seinfelds book "Deceptively Delicious" which I hope it helps them as she has all sorts of ways to hide veggies in food.  The book is not just about cooking and has some great tips for meal times and dealing with the general fussiness of kids.  
One section I really liked was "Saying no artfully" : Saying no teaches children that the world is full of necessary limits and it builds a trusting relationship between you and your child.  When my children complain that their friends get to eat things that I consider junk I try to answer honestly but firmly and sympathetically eg I see that you are disappointing about the cereal in our house, but eating cereal that is full of sugar is not good for your teeth or your body.  
My rules are 1. Try not to be ambivalent or apologetic about your rules, 2.  Always explain your reasons 3. Point out that all families are different and have different rules, some rules make kids sad, some make kids happy but they are made to keep kids safe and healthy 4. Empathize with their feelings but don't give in, this reassures them and confirms your credibility and consistency.
I think that these rules could be adapted by many of us when explaining our own food and life style choices to others who seem less than understanding or accepting.

My book haul from this year

I love reading and I get through at least one book a week plus a few magazines (non gossip ones such as food, travel, gardening, environmental, science and national geographic).  This is quite a lot of reading (when I am studying this amount normally halves) but this is the way I fit it in.

Every weekday I start my day reading.  I get up at about 5am  and I make a cup of tea, let Jessie inside and go back to bed with a book where Jessie joins me.  I then read for an hour or so before I get up do some house work and have breakfast with more reading before starting work (I work from home).  I also take time during the day to read like when I sit outside throwing toys for Jessie or having a cup of tea and when having lunch.  Hubby and I go for a walk with Jessie most evenings before dinner then since we do not watch that much TVso I read and then I read in bed again at night. 
On the weekends we go bike riding or walking in the mornings instead of the evenings but then I find other opportunities to read as I have so much time now that we are not on the farm.  
I also take a book with me where ever we go and make to most of any moment that comes up.

I know all this reading will not last though as university starts again soon and there are big plans in the wind and the cogs are in motion (albeit moving slowly) for our move to New Zealand.  I also need to spend more time in this space as I have really missed it.

Are you a veracious reader like me?
How do you fit it into your day?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Anyone in QLD Got Rosellas?

Hi Everyone

The other day I received an email from a lady wanting to find out if I had spare rosellas as she would like to make her grandmothers rosella jam as wedding favours.
Because of our move to the suburbs I did not grow any this year but I told her I would ask around.

If you have spare rosellas that you would be willing to part with please let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Everything At The Kitchen Sink - Link Up

My friend Liz from Eight Acres was visiting the other day and she commented on my kitchen sink set up and suggested it would be a interesting topic for a post and I agreed.  Everyone has their own little set up that works for them, their routine and family make up and I think it gives us a glimpse into the way other people live and maybe we will all pick up some tips along the way so feel free to link back to here at the bottom of the post

In our rental property our sink backs onto the dinning area and has no splash back but quite a wide bit of bench.  We have 2 sinks but only one draining area (2 - one each side would be more practical)
At my kitchen sink you will always find a cotton dish cloth (mostly hand made knitted or crocheted) and these are changed ever 2 or three days to ensure they are not bacteria spreaders.

I like having things at hand  (and not having to dig into a cupboard to get things especially when you have grubby kitchen hands) but not looking too messy so I have a few vintage cups and a long oblong plastic dish that cost me $2 holding all the bits and pieces together in one place and keeping them tidy.
The oblong dish holds home made soap, scrubbing brushes (one for the kitchen and one for veggies). the plug and dishwashing liquid.  I have an vintage milkshake glass with dish brushes and bottle brushes, an old mug with a scourer and steel wool and a vintage coffee glass of pegs.
I try and use mainly timber and natural bristle brushes but I do have one plastic dish brush that I use specifically for greasy dishes and then it goes in the dishwasher.  The pegs get used instead of twist ties as they last much longer when your are in and out of the bag all the time, unlike bread bag ties they do not make holes in the bag, if they get grubby they can be washed  and they can go in the freezer and function from frozen without breaking.

We use our home made soap in the bathrooms and at the kitchen sink.  It is important to be able to wash you hands at the sink between handling different ingredients so you do not cross contaminate your food.  Our soap sits on a home made soap rack that Hubby made.  It is just a piece if timber with some old screws screwed in part of the way so that there is good air circulation and the soap does not turn to mush.

The only other cleaning products that we use in the kitchen are the home made cream cleanser and citrus vinegar.  I use these on the kitchen sink about every second day giving the stainless steel a rub down with the cream cleanser followed by a spray of the citrus vinegar leaving it to fizz a little then a good rinse.

So what does your kitchen sink look like?
What products and systems do you use?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Animals From Our Travels

While we traveled around NSW for two weeks last year we were lucky enough to encounter some amazing wildlife.
Australia is blessed with the most amazing wildlife.  The birds come in all shapes, sizes and colours and because Australia is so big one region can have completely different species to another.  These are just some of the animals we saw.

Eastern Rosella

Some sort of Skink

Crimson Rosella

Grey Kangaroos

Immature Male Gang Gang Cockatoo

Immature female Gang Gang Cockatoo

Superb Fairy Wren

Crimson Rosella

Juvenile Crimson Rosellas, they have not developed their full colours and still have green feathers on their backs not just red and blue.


Male Satin Bower Bird

Female Satin Bower Bird

Giant Meat Ant

A Giraffe

A Crocodile

We will really miss all these amazing animals (except for the snakes) when we move to New Zealand.  While New Zealand is a land of birds they are not as brightly coloured as the ones in Australia and the most interesting ones are not seen on a day to day basis.

What interesting animals have you seen lately?

Thursday, 7 January 2016

A 2 Week NSW Road Trip - Part 4

Opps. Better late than never.  Some how this and another post did not get scheduled correctly so they are a bit late but oh well.

On our final leg of our trip we camped at one more free stop and one paid camp ground.

Our free stop was at Uralla Fosicking Area.  It was a popular stop beside the creek and on the day we arrived was almost at capacity unless you really didn't mind sleeping on a slope and in the long grass. We managed to find a nice secluded spot that was hard to spot unless you got out and looked which is why I think it was still free.
If we wanted we could have hired gold panning equipment from the local information center but we decided to give this a miss in favour looking at some of the other local attractions.

Uralla is not a very big town but it has an amazing little museum that is well worth visiting.  The McCrosinn Mill Museum  is run by volunteers from the local historical society and has some amazing artifacts and art on display.  I really enjoyed learning about the gold mining in the area and they have a Joss House (Chinese Temple) set up with original artifacts on display.

Sadly for Hubby the New England Brewing Co was closed on the day we were there so he could not sample their wares but one of the brewers saw him peering in the window and allowed him to come in and purchase some to take away which was very nice of him.

While we were at the camp ground Jessie found a huge bone someone else's dog had left behind.  Clearly it was too big fo a dog to break into and while we had a sledge hammer with us we were unsure how long the bone might have been sitting in the sun ripening the marrow in side (pewwwww no thanks) so we just let her chew on it for a bit.

Until she decided that she also needed to roll on it for the next 5 minutes and get that nice smell all over her.  Time for another swim little dog.

Our final spot was at Gordon Country right neat the Main Range National Park.  Prior to Having Jessie we used to stay at the national park but now we stay at Gordon Country when we head in this direction.  It is a huge operating cattle property and because we were there off peak we had an entire camping area to ourselves.

During our stay we had thunderstorms roll in in the afternoon but we have a big tarp that we can sit under when it is really hot or wet so we were fine.  On the day we left it was fine in the morning but there were already clouds on the horizon so we left not long after the dew had dried and headed for home.  It turned out to be a good thing as that afternoon the town nearby Warwick was hit by severe storms where roofs were torn off houses and trees were knocked over.

During our entire 2 weeks away we covered 3000 km and spent $500 on fuel, about $100 on eating out and attractions and $80 on accommodation. We took most of our food from home and just topped up supplies as we went.  So we are quite pleased about the cost of the trip.  
All of the places we stayed had clean amenities and were well looked after but one thing I did notice were that there are some lazy people out there.  Even when large skip bins were provided some people still decided that beer bottles and cans should go into the fire pits and at most places we collected rubbish that was not ours from around our campsite.  Strangely it was worse in the places where you had to pay to stay, perhaps people feel they are paying to be picked up after (grrrr).  We spoke to the caretaker at Gordon Country and he said that some people just do not think of the impacts on other people and animals (farm and domestic) and do not consider how much effort it takes to keep a large property clean.  Apparently after Easter each year they hire 2 - 3 backpackers for a week and all they do is pick up rubbish for 8 hours a day.  Sigh.... 

Before we move to New Zealand this year we are hoping to do another road trip right down to Victoria and South Australia but there are a few things that have to fall into place before that can happen.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Happy New Year To You All - Welcome To 2016

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you are all well, have had a lovely festive season however you chose to spend it and have made it to 2016 safely and without incident or bushfire.

We spent 10 days in New Zealand with my family which was an extra trip for us as we were just back there in September.  But my youngest brother and his partner were coming back from Korea so it was an opportunity for us all to be together which may not happen for a while.  While they were in New Zealand my brother proposed and now we have a wedding to look forward in early 2017.

We booked 2 holiday houses at the beach and hubby and I were lucky enough to have one to ourselves while the other 6 adults and 3 kids stayed in the other. Guess who got the most sleep.  Our house did come with play equipment which my nieces loved and they even got me in the little cubby house for a while with the 2 of them which was a little squeezy.

Our holiday house

2 of my nieces on the play equipment

"Yes Aunty Fee there is room for you too", Mmmm yes well there was but crouching in there for 15 minutes
 was more of a thigh workout than I had planned
The beach where we stayed has a river that spills into the ocean so we had the ability to spend time in the sheltered beaches of the river or out on the main beach.

This area of New Zealand has black sand which I think is very beautiful.

There was lots of excitement opening presents and my youngest niece did as most 1 year olds do and enjoyed the wrapping most of all.

Helping nana with her present
 My grandparents came up to visit on boxing day and the girls were delighted with the gift of bubbles that they received.

My dad (now known as naughty poppa) introduced my youngest niece to marshmallow santas.  Well you can see from the look on her face how much she loved them.

There was fun in the sand.

We fished most days and were lucky enough to catch enough to have a few meals which was such a treat.  I only caught little fish that got used for bait but it was still a nice way to spend time with the family.

I got a chicken for Christmas to replace the ones we gave a way after moving from the farm to the suburbs.

My bother brought me a kimchi pot from Korea.  It holds a few litres and was the smallest one they could find as most Koreans make 25 kg or more at a time.

Hubby got me a sugar free cook book which I wanted.  We have been cutting back on sugar for a while now but more about that in another post.

Every year the city in New Zealand I grew up near has a festival of the lights.  The park which is a series of lakes and gardens if lit up and host outdoor movies and concerts every night for most of December and all of January.  We took my Nan along to listen to a concert followed by a stroll around the lake to admire the lights and find the giant sleeping in the tree (check out the link).

Enjoying the concert

Lights on the lake and in the fountian

Selfie in front of the waterfall

Lights around the lake along the pathways and across the bridge in the distance

The mirror balls over the bridge and the rowboats that you can hire all lit up 

The glow zone where the black lights come into their own
 We spent New Years with my cousin, her husband and kids who I refer to as my niece and nephew as my cousin is more like my sister since she is the daughter of my mums identical twin and only 6 months older than me.  Our dads have also been friends since high school so you can understand why we are a close family.
There was another trip to the beach, more fishing and a evening of fun, drinks and action at the pool table.

Christmas and New Year were fun, noisy family affairs and it was great to see all of the rellies.  But it has also been nice to come home to some peace and quiet.

How did you spend your Christmas?