Last Saturday night we were sitting in front of the open fire warming ourselves from the chilly return to winter we were experiencing. This week has been a complete turn around with temperatures for the last three days going between high 30’s c to low 40’s c, this level of heat combined with the most horrendous winds has caused stress on every living thing. It is at times like this we all tense up in fear of what bushfires will hit where and hope against all the odds that no one, or their property will become a victim of fire. I can only imagine how it must feel for those who have lost loved ones and property in previous bushfires when these appalling conditions present.
Despite deep soak watering, wicking beds being filled and shade protection put up, there have ben some casualties already from this very early heat and wind attack. Two seasons ago I lost the complete corn crop at pollination stage when temperatures soared to 45 degrees and we were away. I planted early this season and think we will get a reasonable crop but there are cautionary signs showing. I have increased the covering of shade cloth so it also acts as a windbreak as well as protecting the crop from harsh sun.
The rhubarb is scorched and the comfrey looks as if Autumn is nearly over, causing it to die down.
The raspberries and tomatoes are on the droop
We have made sure the bird baths, water feature and some extra buckets have plenty of fresh water for any birds, bees and any other hot and thirsty creatures that may like a pit stop to escape the heat. Mr ATMT refilled one of the pots and by the time he walked to the tap to turn it off a magpie appeared. He managed to snap a pic of it on his phone.
We are concerned about the chooks. For a couple of weeks we have been worried about Hilda, the oldest one and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she (despite all the frozen treats) just finds it too much and falls off the perch. We are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the heat on them so with luck they will be ok. There is only so much we can do and taking them to the pictures where it is air conditioned isn’t part of that plan.
These days, Christmas tends to be a very low key affair. With shift workers, kids having to share time between families and a very conscious decision not to get bogged down by consumerism and hype, we focus on making sure we spend time with those we love, enjoy good food, relax and laugh a lot. Gift giving has almost disappeared apart from a few little bits and pieces that I make which are usually for thank-yous and to offer as a token if we visit people. I haven’t even made a pudding this year as I still had one from last year in the fridge. It will be fine!
I’ve got a bit of a reputation for making some pretty good pickled onions and I usually make a batch about now. I posted about these quite a while ago, the recipe is here Grandma’s Pickled Onions recipe – Best Recipes. I also add some ginger and mustard seed to the spice blend.
I am also having a go at making some finishing salt or flavoured salt. I have heard that this is great for a whole range of uses, in particular putting on barbecue meats before cooking and adding to salads.
The flavour base I am trying on this first one is red wine, lemon zest and thyme. The bottle of red wine is simmered until reduced to just about nothing, added with other flavourings to the salt (I’m using sea salt) and then allowed to dry. You can zap the blend to the required fineness but I’m leaving mine pretty much normal size and letting the recipient zap it to whatever they need to use it for.
Once the salt blend is dry I will bottle it into pretty little jars, label and tag. I hope it works well as it’s lovely finding easy to make food gifts that are easy to do with my limited kitchen facilities.
We have some respite from the heat tonight and tomorrow, so I’ll make the most of it and do as much prepatory work as I can for the Christmas Eve gathering we are having here. I love making food for that night as everyone is always in fine fettle indeed. Just the way we like Christmas, good people, good food and good cheer.