We have our son’s engagement party coming up next weekend so I’ve been madly baking savoury goodies whenever I get the opportunity to use an oven. There are lots of family staying locally so we have extended an invitation to come to our place for a BBQ lunch on Sunday. Keeping it simple, as I probably will be quite tired from the party the night before. Just planning on some home made sausages, some nice steak, a vegetarian option and some fresh salads and potato salad (I make a mean potato salad I’m told!). First batch of sausages since we did our sausage making class at Tarraleah last month. Very nervous but I reckon a couple of shots and it will be quite easy. I chose a pork, caramelised onion and apple recipe as a first trial. Cut the pork into chunks and removed all the scrappy bits.
Calculated 15% of pork weight and measured that amount in pork fat. Got Mr ATMT onto caramelising the onions in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar while I peeled and grated some granny smith apples. Picked some parsley and oregano and chopped finely. Put the pork and fat through the meat grinder using the large size cutting plate.Added the caramelised onions, apple and herbs and garlic, mixed really well then put it back through the grinder with the medium size cutting plate this time. Ready to stuff, so far so good. At this point I did cook up a couple of small patties to check flavour for seasoning and taste. I had called into the Yarragon market just before it closed and they were selling the last of Cannibal Creek’s Sour dough at half price. Couldn’t resist buying a loaf so I could compare how mine stacked up. Cannibal Creek is a bakery I must get to visit, fully renovated Scotch wood fired oven and I really like their philosophy on how they do things. My bread’s on the left, CC’s on the right and mine is a week old – looking mighty fine I think. I will concede though that the Cannibal Creek had a much more complex flavour to it and was a better crust. Bet if I had a big wood fired oven instead of a Sunbeam bake N grill it would help a bit! The sample sausage patties cooked up beautifully and were eaten on toast for lunch with my pickled cucumbers and the wonderful Thorpdale Organics lettuce and some home made tomato sauce. Beats a Bunnings snag anyday!All ok to proceed with this sausage mix so here it gets exciting! We bought a sausage stuffer machine while sitting around the campfire in Tasmania and it was on the verandah on our return. Love shopping like that! Now, how to manage the natural sausage casings?They come packed in salt, You need to soak them in water to reconstitute and soften before using. Mr ATMT on the job! This was actually the hardest past of the whole process.Success! Couple of little air pockets and only one burst casing. A few twists, left overnight to dry out and settle and they went into the freezer. It’s a great feeling knowing we can serve these up and I know exactly what has gone into them.Sealing drafts
While working on the hall I was quite aware of the breeze coming up from under the house through some rather large gaps. We will eventually be insulating under the house but I didn’t want the skirtings put back in place with such massive entry points for breezes. Cut some insulation bats into strips and ‘caulked’ up the gaps. Every little bit counts!
A Serene Spot to Sit.
Mr ATMT is working on paving a nice little spot out the back under the mulberry tree. We find we tend to naturally gather ion this spot on a hot day. It will also fit my hammock beautifully, that’s important!
A before and after.
The work we have been doing in the hall is starting to come together. We have removed wall mounted strip heaters, replaced plaster on the ceiling, painted, had the timber floor boards replaced where necessary and polished. Removed swing doors from the entry foyer and also the glass window that was above them replacing it with some simple fretwork. A large 1960’s boring cupboard has been removed from the small alcove section which is now a highlight of the passage. All the channels in the old timber panelling have been filled, sanded and smoothed. Anaglypta wallpaper has been hung and painted. Jobs still to do are, finish rejuvenating the timber on the architraves and front door, design and install a leadlight window for the front door and choose and install light fittings.
Golly, lots of things achieved this weekend. Had a lovely start to the weekend by heading off to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on the great, local produce that is presented at this market. I came home with some of Thorpdale Organics sensational Produce. This business goes to great lengths to ensure their produce is at its absolute prime when presented for sale. I bought some kohl rabi, potatoes and some of the nicest lettuce I’ve had in a long time (apart from my own of course!) I used the lettuce in some chicken wraps I made for lunch. I also bought some goats cheese, apples and the most stunning bunch of waratah flowers. They are massive and look great in the lounge under the bay window. The lettuce I bought from Wendy & Tony went into some ATMT’s Chicken Wraps we had for lunch. It was a beautiful day, kids had come home and we had other friends here as well. These chicken wraps are one of our favourite camping meals as they are so easy to prepare, tasty and don’t create many dishes. This time I added some Middle Eastern Spice mix I made to the chicken and it gave it a little extra zing. I’ve added the spice blend to the bottom of the recipe. After our leisurely lunch I continued working on getting the hall reno moving along more. The Anaglypta wall paper has been a little difficult in a few spots, I think because of the amount of fill and work done to the panelling underneath. It’s is coming together though, can’t wait to see it finished. The pattern we have chosen is one of the original heritage styles which is in keeping with the house. Work continues out in the yard with Mr ATMT having nearly completed the fence around the vegetable area. Need to oil the timber, design and make a gate and it a tick off the list. Yay, haven’t had many ticks recently! The cherry tee is really booming. It caused some difficulty for Mr ATMT to access what he needed to for the fence but it coped well. Look at those baby cherries! I am really happy with the progress I’m making with my sourdough bread. Since investing in Chad Robertson’s book, Tartine Bread I have learned loads of new tricks. Last night was the first time I have done an overnight proofing in the fridge and it worked well. Makes it great for time management. I have also been a little concerned that the hole in the lid of the DO (Dutch Oven) where I have to remove the knob so it fits in my ‘toy oven’ has been letting the valuable steam escape. This time I removed the knob and plugged the hole with a bit of bread dough. Loaf looks good. I only bake once a week so wont be able to see the crumb until it is cut later in the week. I also made a double batch of Lemon Cordial Recipe tonight. This had proven to be an absolute winner! My son and his fiancé are now enjoying it and even want to make some for their upcoming engagement party! A win I think.
With the school term break upon me, once I recuperate from the incredibly heavy-duty term and the massive task its been getting through the EOFY (End of Financial Year) this year, I will have time to get a few jobs done both inside and outside. Although, if the weather stays like this it may be mostly inside I think!
I made a start at the weekend mainly because I had a lot of seedlings I started a while ago that should have been tended to. They were looking a bit sad and in dire need to spread their roots, I was determined they would not be wasted so spent a fair amount of time planting. There is a mix of coneflower, various poppies and other cottage garden plants in this lot. It’s not the planting that takes the time, it’s all the other jobs you find along the way, such as trimming back perennial clumps (the hedge trimmer is great for this), dividing and thinning out plants, weeding, trimming suckers off the magnolia and feeding and adding compost to the bed.Hopefully, this bed will be full of cheery, bee loving flowers in spring and summer.
Time to check through the seed packets and plan what I need to use and what needs to be started at this time of year. Any old seed will go in, might only work as green manure, micro greens or chook food. Nothing goes to waste-it’s better to try to get some sort of return from it than to throw it away! All my attempts to be really organised and systematic with seed just seems to head out the window when I see something I like or someone offers to share!
Our neighbours demolished an old garage and generously offered all the old red bricks to us. They’ve been stacked out the front for a while and needed cleaning, a job Mr ATMT started at the weekend. They are still stacked in the front yard, but mostly ready for using in various landscaping projects we have planned.
A few of the other jobs I have planned for the break are:
Put new wire on the chook house-small enough so sparrows don’t treat it like a smorgasbord fly through restaurant!
Set the greenhouse up so I have much better growing space. Thinking of putting a couple of wicking beds in there.
Clearly mark out fence line around veggie patch-Design gate and fence
Plan fruit tree planting sites and plant
Set up new bench in berry house for the strawberries
Clean up the strawberry pots, plant up runners and top up with good compost etc
Clean out the old stables/shed
Sort out back corner of yard where old timber and building stuff is stored
Build some potato planting boxes
Succession planting in the veggie patch beds.
Put more support wire over broad beans
Give the worm farm a service-take out castings and generally refresh it.
Clean up the garden shed and give the tools an oil, sharpen and sort out.
Gee, getting tired just thinking about it. Haven’t covered much in the way of inside reno jobs have I! If it’s too crappy outside I will endeavour to get the hallway wallpaper finished ready for painting and work out a colour scheme for the front ‘snug’. Piece of cake really!
Bit more success this week! One of the recipes I found in my quest for learning about Jerusalem Artichokes was this kale and JA gratin recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, it seemed good as I had kale ready to harvest as well. I had bought a 2kg forequarter of lamb from Wayne The Great intentionally unstuffed as I had something I wanted to try in the back of my mind. Because we are now ’empty nesters’ I cut the meat in half and put 1/2 in the freezer for another day. I unrolled the joint, made a stuffing of sour dough bread crumbs, lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper and some mushrooms. Stuffing in, re-rolled the lamb and prepared the remaining accompaniments.
The harvest today included kale, beetroot, parsley, rosemary, the first oranges of the season, jerusalem artichokes, lemons and eggs.Dinner was roast lamb forequarter (shoulder) with lemon, rosemary and mushroom stuffing, kale and jerusalem artichoke gratin, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, roast beetroot and snow peas. The gratin ended up with some mushrooms in it as well because they fell out of the fridge and I couldn’t be bothered putting them back in. It was a real juggle tonight trying to manage cooking everything. Put the roast and veggies into the cast iron casserole but had to leave the lid off so it fitted into the ‘toy oven’. Of course my bread dough then decided it was ready (after a 24 hour slow rise) to be cooked, so I had to take the cast iron cooker out, put it in the BBQ along with the gratin and put the bread in the oven to bake. Twas time for me to sit and relax!
Made a gravy from the pan scrapings, blanched the snow peas and served. Not the prettiest plating up but it is Sunday night TV dinner! Mr ATMT actually said it was the nicest roast he’s ever had. Now that’s saying something!
The Reno Update.
After some serious issues with paint blistering and peeling, we are finally getting somewhere with the original fly wire doors. Sensible people would probably have had replicas made to match the design but us no, have had them rebuilt, but painting has proved to be an issue taking far longer than it should have. Getting there now though!
The Anaglypta wallpaper we are putting in the hallway has arrived so now I have to take a deep breathe and ‘man up’ to applying it. Decision was that it should be me due to Mr ATMT’s more heavy handed approach! Stay tuned for updates.