Monday, 23 November 2015

Breaking Bread


I don’t travel much these days, but this week the editor and I hit the road in our trusty Suzuki and travelled to Canberra which is the nation’s capital city. The location of Canberra is a funny place to construct a city, least of all any nation’s capital city, because it is in the middle of nowhere.

The road trip took about 9 hours each way (including stops) so it was a big drive. Believe it or not there is no rail access between Melbourne and Canberra either as I would have enjoyed a rail journey. The freeway has only recently bypassed every single town on that long journey making the drive even more boring, so suckers for punishment can simply drive all day long without stopping. I don’t revel in long distance car journeys so we stopped at many of the now bypassed and sleepy towns along the way.

I mean how could anyone not want to stop off and check out the Dog on the Tuckerbox memorial?. Or visit the inland town that managed to half bury the HMAS Otway (S 59) Oberon class submarine in its main park as a tourist attraction which you can climb all over? Or what about the disused timber Road and rail bridge over the Murrumbidgee River, New South Wales which is also very impressive. Incidentally, those bridges are the only structure that I have ever seen in this country described as a managed ruin, whatever that means?

So we took our time on the journey and visited many out of the way towns and the trip was thus made more enjoyable.

For the past seven years I’ve baked bread from scratch most days of the week. However, because of the road trip, I was unable to bake any bread at all, so we stopped off at a random town along the way that had a functioning bakery and picked up a couple of bread rolls to eat for lunch the following day.

At lunch the next day, I tucked into the purchased bread roll and recoiled with absolute horror. The roll certainly looked like bread, but I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t like any bread that I make. The bread roll was full of air, dry and tasted like… well, nothing at all! What was this bread-like product that I’d just half consumed? Who knows what it was, but it certainly wasn’t bread from my perspective.

I then later recalled a strange incident from about half a year ago when I was gifted a huge bag of commercially baked bread for the chickens to eat. However, both the chickens and the dogs refused to eat that bread and after a few days I had to throw all of the – still soft – but uneaten loaves into the worm farm for composting. Fortunately, the worms are not too fussy and they quickly consumed the bread that nothing else on the farm dared eat!

In order to improve the quality of bread consumed around the world, I have decided to produce a short video showing just how easy it is to bake not just one, but two loaves of bread:

Spare a thought for people in the southern corner of Western Australia (which is on the other side of the continent from here) as they have had record soaring temperatures and a huge bush fire in Esperance over the past week. The smoke from that fire on the other side of the continent has turned the sun a baleful smoky red colour as it sets each day over the farm this week:
The smoke from the Esperance, Western Australia, bushfires produces a baleful red sunset over the farm
As a confession, I admit that I am notoriously tight with money and am always on the hunt for a bargain. Fortunately for my predilections, there are bargains to be found! However, the editor totally out did me this week as she stumbled across a total bargain of a second hand hardwood table. The table was locally made from reclaimed rubber plantation timber which would otherwise have been burnt. The hardwood table cost less than $33, but was perhaps unappealing for other people because it had been seriously scratched and had been stained in an unusual walnut colour in an acrylic (i.e. plastic) coating.
The acrylic coating was sanded off the new-to-me second hand hardwood table
Observant readers will note that Toothy is in the top left hand corner of the photo, supervising the work! It took several hours for the plastic surface coat to be completely removed from the timber table using sand paper, but eventually the job was completed.
The new second hand table was completely stripped back to bare hardwood timber
I find it strange that people coat any timber at all with acrylic (i.e. plastic and water based) coatings as they rarely protect the raw timber. On the other hand oil based coatings usually penetrate the surface and protect the timber. Oil based coatings often have the advantage of highlighting the natural markings in timber and they can produce beautiful rich and complex finishes. I am writing this entry this evening on that new-to-me second hand table!
The oil finish displays all of the complexity of the beautiful hardwood timber in the new second hand table
Regular readers may be surprised to know that there are even more flowers this week as the poppies have suddenly produced large red and pink flowers adding to the riot of colour:
There are even more flowers this week as the poppies have produced a stunning display
The UV rating however has hit extreme this week for the first time this season which is quite frightening because it means that if you do not wear sunscreen when outside between about 12pm and 4pm, your skin will be burnt by the sun. However, despite it all the farm is still looking very green for this time of year:
Scritchy the boss dog instructs Poopy to investigate some goings on downhill of the farm whilst the herbage still looks quite green
The strong sunlight has killed many of the tomato seedlings, but even still, a whole lot of them have survived and thrived. As various the tomato seedlings die, I have been replacing them with new seedlings which I still have an abundance of.
The tomatoes and berries are growing strongly in the early heat
The first raspberry was picked today and the editor tells me that it was quite tasty for an early raspberry! We haven’t had much success with raspberries in previous years because the wallabies ate the entire canes (despite the thorns) and the photo below was the first of any of that fruit here!
The first of any raspberry fruit on the farm was harvested today
It is an exciting time for berry production, and the blueberries are just starting to swell and ripen:
The first of the blueberries are starting to swell and ripen this week
However, the winner is… Strawberries – the first of which ripened this week and for those readers in the now cold Northern Hemisphere, please don’t be too jealous at the photo below which was the first of many strawberry harvests over the next few months!
The first harvest of strawberries was picked today along with some rhubarb stalks
Generally, I’m pretty cool with the wildlife enjoying the benefits of the gardens and orchard at the farm. I’m not cool about deer though, as they have previously stripped the bark off some of my apple trees for no apparent reason at all and so on Saturday evening, I spotted the varmints skulking through the nearby forest about 2km (1.25 miles) from the farm. Unfortunately, I only had my phone on me at the time which has a very low resolution camera, but there are at least two deer in the photo below.
Two deer with designs on my apple trees skulk through the nearby forest
Most of the other wildlife is beneficial to the farm and the frogs perform many useful services for me by consuming all manner of insects that would otherwise be eating my produce and I spotted this little fella a couple of nights back.
A small frog wonders whether she should jump onto the nearby borage leaf
And there are other insect predators which are just downright weird looking and I spotted this bright green stick insect enjoying the protection of a well-oiled Jarrah (a timber from southern Western Australia) round table top. As a fun fact, the steel base for that table was recovered from the local tip shop, whilst the Jarrah top was purchased from an old dude whom sells beautiful hand-made reclaimed timber table tops at the local hippy market. It is a pleasure to see that the stick insect enjoys such excellent craftsmanship!
A bright green stick insect enjoys the craftsmanship in a Jarrah timber table top
The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is 10.5’C degrees Celsius (50.9’F). So far this year there has been 688.8mm (27.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 686.0mm (27.0 inches).

74 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello all

Did anyone else have trouble viewing the bread making beyond the point of turning it out onto the bench, or is it just my problem?

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Not to worry. I left, came back and picked up okay from the point where it stopped before.

No time for anything else at this moment.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A balmy 32F ( -0- C), last night. Snow still in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening. AND, we're going to have an arctic outbreak, from Canada. That's when it gets in the teens, F, here. That's when we usually get snow, here. The change over from slightly warmer temperatures to frigid cold. But, once it's in the teens, it's "Too cold to snow." :-)

Your trip sounds really nice ... all things considered. Bryson spent some time in your capital and also thought the placement was weird. I loved the Dog on the Tuckerbox! Managed ruin = folly. Like the 18th century ones, so popular in England. I see Switzerland is advertising for a decorative hermit ... somewhere in the St. Verena Gorge. :-).

Your table looks very beautiful. Nice job! Furniture refinishing seems to follow fancies and fads. Just like how to roast a turkey, I'm finding out. I've done a fair amount of furniture refinishing, in my life. So, I have a bit of an overview. In the mid 60s, it was all varathane bar top finish. A plastic thing. You'd put on a coat and then rub it down with auto polish. Keep doing that through 4 o 5 coats. The trick was to get just enough friction going to melt the coats together ... but not break through. Similar to a French polish, I guess. There was a craze for "antiquing" furniture. A basic color, and then tone it down with a wash of ochre. Then a coat or two of varnish. And, who can forget the French Provincial craze? There seems to be a craze, here, now for taking old beat to hell furniture and painting it in really bright colors ... a South American or Mexican pallet. Or, just primary school colors.

Don't turn your back on those tomatoes. Doesn't UV cause mutations? Attack of the killer tomatoes! :-) They WILL get their revenge.

Well, you're berries are all very nice, and all that (yes, a certain amount of envy). But, WE have cranberries! This time of year. There are several bogs out on the Washington coast, and it's quit a commercial enterprise. I used to know a librarian who had a family cranberry bog. I'd buy a 25 pound box of dried cranberries from her, every year, repackage them in small coffee tins and give them away for the holidays. She retired and they closed their bog. Driven out by cheap foreign imports.

Sad to hear about the freeways bypassing all the little towns. Same thing happened here, starting in the 50s. They'll all eventually die. Big box stores will be built out on the freeway and they'll suck the life out of those little towns. So sad.

Well, I slaughtered, baked, skinned and cubed up the pumpkin. It turned out quit nice and I couldn't resist having a few bites. Just straight pumpkin. It was really good. "The Girls" will have pumpkin innards and seeds, for a few days. Cleaned out the fridge and the compost bin was quit happy. Moved a bucket of worms from the worm box, to the bin. Saw a mouse, in the bin. Hope it doesn't go after the worms. I may set a trap or two, inside. It would be safe from the chooks.

Heading for town to pick up those last minute items. Will jelly the cranberries, tonight. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I didn't know that you were a regular bread baker, though you had mentioned baking it before. Good for you! Yay! Video! What is "yeast food"? Is baking paper a sort of parchment paper, or maybe a wax paper? I really like your bench top; what is it made of? What beautiful loaves! You are such an inspiration! Sorry - all of the explanation marks are entirely necessary!

I am a pushover for any kind of dog statue - thanks. And - oh,boy! - would my sons have enjoyed that submarine. Smart idea of those townspeople. I reckon Chris enjoyed it, too . . . I think that the bridge is a "managed ruin" because it is about to fall down. I'm surprised that they would so frankly call it that. Perhaps there is some funding or tax advantage to naming it so?

An interesting interruption: A pack of foxhounds just came through, after something that I didn't see (probably a deer; it is deer hunting season). Looks like they've gotten away from their master. We occasionally have to take a stray one in until someone comes to pick it up. You know, they still have fox hunting here, too.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

So we're still playing "Where's Toothy"? Found him this time, though your clue helped out a lot . . .

That table has lovely, clean lines. Did you sand it by hand? What kind of timber is it? I am assuming not actually rubber because you said hardwood, though maybe rubber is a hardwood?

How green it is! I am sorry to hear about the extra-strong UV rays this early in the season and especially about the sad plight of the tomato seedlings. Smart you to have sprouted so many. I'm pondering how all of the seasons here this year, starting with last spring, have been 2 weeks early. Is that happening at your place? Or just a lot of shifting back and forth? I am certainly going to start the vegetable plants 2 weeks early next spring.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Let us have an ode to Chris, taken from the unofficial, and varying, motto of the United States Postal Service:

"Neither rain nor snow nor UV rays nor dark of modem stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

In others words, thank you Chris for being our virtual postman and keeping us connected!

Pam

Damo said...

The bread video looks great. Will give it a crack in the near future and report back with the results!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

How did the predicted snow end up? It is very exciting. Most likely Cliff Mass is quite right. What does your barometer say about the impending storm? It is warm here this evening, but the barometer here is predicting a storm tomorrow - as is the bureau of meteorology so it is in good company.

cont...

Damo said...

It is the last day of my break today (I work a 9-5 roster, 9 days on, 5 days off) and I did have plans to try and catch a trout at a nearby dam. Strong winds and rain turned me off that a bit though. So, using your video as inspiration I had another crack at some bread today. The results can be found here:
http://zeehanmanse.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/the-bread-of-life.html

I now feel ready to have another shot at some sourdough! I might start a culture tonight and feed him through my 'week'. In 10 days it might be ready to use as a starter....

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Apologies, the comment was interrupted. Also spare a thought for the poor editor who had to endure a massive and truly classic whinge on my part. You see this morning, I dropped into my favourite cafe - as I've done for over a decade now - and enjoyed a delightful coffee and muffin. This is no ordinary cafe as they roast the beans at the back of the shop and the muffins aren't actually muffins, they are much drier and tastier mini cakes which differ with the fruit available during each of the seasons. Did I mention that the parents of the owner of the cafe run a coffee plantation in northern New South Wales and they source a lot of their beans from within the country? Anyway, I think you get the picture - it's outstanding locally produced coffee! As an interesting and fun to the side fact, the area used to have a rather large pub which I'd been too long ago, but has since been converted to housing so many years ago that I forget when. That meant that the area had historically restricted parking, but because the pub was no longer there, that restricted parking was never enforced. So after 10 minutes in the cafe enjoying a coffee before heading off to see a client, I got fined for parking in that restricted parking area. $91 mind you, and I was livid. I said to the guy issuing the fine: Mate, don't you know that I'm parking here, where there are dozens of car parks and spending money at a local business which pays rates which keeps you employed and he pointed at the sign saying "Permit parking". I suspect a new era - of the profit seeking contractor - has arisen! Anyway, they only get the chance to fool me once and that is it. Never again. There is more to this story than meets the eye too.

Please go ahead and stuff the bird. Stuffing is awesome stuff and makes up for any possible deficiency in the size of the bird. Personally, I always enjoyed the stuffing more than the meat. I reckon only very wealthy societies decide not to stuff a roast bird. Hmmm, don't waste the juices! :-)! Betty Crocker knows her business anfd in this case you have to go with your gut instinct! Hehe!

Apologies, I did not understand that that was his first name. When I was younger, people sometimes used to refer to other people by their second name - apparently it is a very English thing to do - and I had the unfortunate problem of having a second name which also matched a classic US television show. I'd never even seen the show, but I heard so much about it... I'll give you a hint, the guy was owner building his own home out in the desert somewhere...

Of course, and it is not good that they were being rude to miners. Thanks for that one. Top Stuff. Did your Grandpa enjoy the joke? Back in the day, miners did it way tough as they do today too.

Yes, I recall your drafting table. Patience wins out in the end. We'd been looking for a table for quite a while. The solid European beech locally made table ($80) which I mentioned a long time ago upped the ante. It would go for quite a song these days, what with peoples obsession about all things mid century, it is just that it looks like an Ikea veneer replication, but is actually solid timber... Go figure, tastes change, but quality remains (should I trademark that?)

Good luck with the freezer clean!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No stress, I try to not include many videos because they eat up a huge quantity of Internet bandwidth - not just at your place either. And it always surprises me that YouTube is a free service because the data storage must be phenomenal!

I do hope that there wasn't much in the way of clean up after the recent wind storm?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The dreaded Arctic vortex! Brrr. Do you ever get any thunder storms when the cold and hot weather collide? That happens here all of the time and throughout most of the year, but especially the warmer conditions. I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by the words: "too cold to snow"?

Dr Bryson is totally correct because the whole capital was designed around loop roads so everything turns back and around on itself and I lost my sense of direction (no GPS mind you, only maps) so many times. Seriously, even Conan the Barbarian who has an outstanding sense of direction would have been lost there. Honestly, who came up with that idea?

Glad to read that you liked the dog on the tuckerbox. Dogs have a strong place in our history (as you would know from the companionship of the most excellent Beau) and you may be interested in the story: The Loaded Dog. Incidentally, in a strange meeting of coincedence, The loaded dog was the name of the old pub that I referred to in the previous comment... Hope you enjoy the story.

Haha! Too funny. Folly is probably about right... until they need the decript bridge again one day! No way, I've got a job for you Lewis? Does colourful hermit include Internet access and all expenses paid? It is surprising that what is old becomes new again.

Thank you and French polishing does sound very similar to that sort of a finish. Yes, I've noted the gaudy finishes down here too and was wondering what was the sort of story you have to tell yourself to believe that that would look good?

Attack of the killer tomatoes... Yes, have you actually watched that film? It is so bad that it is almost good. Didn't they do the Toxic Avenger too? :-)!

Nice! Well cranberries are good, but bogs are hard to come by. On a serious note, I grew them here and they did really well and then died... Do they taste nice?

Ahh, that is an interesting difference. My mate that is in Ohio tells me that towns are bigger in the US and more regularly spaced. Here you can drive for hours and only see the occasional farm. Those towns just reverted back to servicing the local population and box stores will never turn up there. The population here sticks very much to the coastline in only a few cities, outside of those it is pretty quiet.

How did both the drive into the little smoke and the cranberry jellying go (I assume they are chock full of pectin)?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Ah yes, I am the baker of bread, biscuits and toasted muesli! Have you baked bread before - or do you regularly bake bread now?

The yeast food is all about how the oils are removed from the wheat when flour is produced. In the old days, the flour used to go rancid because it contained oils plus the weevils used to enjoy a free lunch, so flour no longer has much nutritional content because otherwise it wouldn't last long and the weevils would go feral. The yeast food which is technically called "Bread Improver" gives the yeast something to eat so as to make the bread loaf rise otherwise the yeast may die or starve. There may be a bit of history behind all of that and maybe someone else here knows more about it than I. It would be really interesting to make a bread loaf with an old school home ground grain. I'll bet it is totally yummy too. One day, I'll get around to growing grains, but easier plants are calling for my attention and time is short... I've got a book on the subject though so it is quite accessible.

I reckon it may be some sort of wax paper. I reuse it multiple times until it is almost dead, but didn't want to scare people in the video so I chucked in some new sheets. The purpose of the wax paper is to stop the whole lot sticking to the tin and don't believe the hype about silicone trays either as bread dough sticks to that as well. Usually, I prefer steel bread tins as they are hardier.

yeah, it was a good statute and a good tale too. I put a reference in Lewis's comment about another old Aussie dog tale which you may enjoy too! The submarine was amazing and it appeared to have been made from fibreglass and was operational until 1994. How they got that submarine so far inland is well beyond me, but your sons would have seriously enjoyed it - they also had a submarine museum too.

Absolutely correct! Yeah, it looks pretty dodgy and I would be a bit uncomfortable walking across it let alone driving or taking a train across it. It is closed to access and no one seems to have the funds to restore it. Both bridges were replaced by two steel and concrete bridges... I think that was to hide their embarrassment that they couldn't afford to repair it.

Foxes were introduced to this country too so that the well to do could hunt them - the deer were introduced for the same reason. There are rumours that foxes have been introduced into the island of Tasmania for the same reason (which is meant to be fox and dingo free)...

Haha! Toothy does a lot of supervising, as you can tell. If you have any suggestions as to harvesting that energy, I'd appreciate them?

Thank you. The majority was removed with an orbital sander and then a hand powered sander with a flat handle was used to give the table a final flat finish. The timber is plantation rubber timber, which is apparently a hardwood and the trees are usually felled after 25 years of production and they have only recently started milling the timber instead of burning it off. The grain looks like a tropical timber to me and the local brand specialises in producing furniture from that timber.

Yeah, I'm enjoying the green too - despite how hot it has been this early in the season. Exactly, everything is between two and four weeks early. Honestly, I'm very worried about that and don't know what to say about it as it seems a taboo topic to most people...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you, you're the best! We can't let little hiccups in the road deviate us from our destination, can we? Hehe! Thanks again.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks mate. Give it a go and let me know what you think of it? It is very good tasting stuff. Is my memory failing me or doesn't Strahan have a very good bakery - still it has been a while?

Incidentally, the baking supplier I go to can supply to you via mail order but only up to 19kg (which is heaps): Marg and Maree’s in Melbourne. I've been shopping with Marg and Maree for so many years now and they sell good quality stuff. I usually stick to the Pasta Dura flour and buy 10kg sacks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

5 days off is just about the right amount of time to relax properly! Sorry to hear about the rain and winds, but that is the west coast for you. I won't tell you that today was 25'C sunny and the wind was still which is an almost perfect spring day. Do you catch much trout? I've fly fished for it in the Jamieson River way up in the high country here and it is a great tasting fish.

Hey, I'd be really interested to hear how the starter culture goes and hope that you share your results and photos?

I'll check out your bread story at: The bread of life . Exactly, some questions do not have answers! Top work!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Last weeks comments first:

Yes, it was a wind storm in this area.

Dividing up farms: Farming seems to be dying out in this country. The aristocracy kept there huge estates intact because the eldest son received the lot. Further sons had to make do with a military career or the church. I believe that France ran into trouble because they divided their farms up equally between their children (sons?). The plots became smaller and smaller until virtually useless.

From my one viewing of the video here are my remembered questions. I also wondered what yeast food is. Do you just use white flour? I use at least 2 thirds wholewheat flour which does make it heavier to knead. I also put a tiny bit of oil into the mix; none on the top of the loaves and they still brown just fine. You just had one rising and I wanted to see a subsequent cut slice of the bread. I rise the dough twice. I oil and flour the bread tins and have never had anything stick. I admired the relaxed and laconic way in which you made the video.

Lovely table, that was well done.

We have had 2 mornings of white frost but now it is warming up again

@Lew
Stuffing: the reason that people have been told not to put it in the bird is that it may not get sufficiently cooked and people were getting ill. Just another part of the loss of common sense. No problem so long as one does make sure that it is properly cooked.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I used to bake a lot of our bread when my sons were growing up. Got busier, got out of the habit. I bake yeast/loaf bread every 4 or 5 days. Pizza crust is the only other yeast bread I do. You just reminded me that I have "wheat berries" - the whole, unground wheat seeds. I'll have to grind some to add to the dough. Right now I make one loaf of half whole wheat (spelt)/half white wheat flour and one loaf of all white flour when I bake. Family members like different things.

My bread tins are glass ones and Teflon (silicon?) ones. I don't like the Teflon ones, but they are the only really small ones I have. My muffin tins are steel.

I'd never heard of rubber timber being used for anything at all. The rubber reference reminds me that I finally bought something that I'd wanted all my life - a hot water bottle! I came across one so inexpensive ($6.00) that I finally gave in. I love it! It smells somewhat like a new tire, but I think that is wearing off.

I just learned that our police chief is retiring next spring. He has done a phenomenal job for 15 years and I am rather uneasy about who they might get to replace him. We may end up with more experiences like you just had with your car. Time will tell.

You know, if the climate just settles down into seasons coming 2 weeks early, I can adjust. It's hard to find one's footing when the weather is so shifty, though. But, then, weather has never been known to be very predictable.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

Your loaves look entirely delicious! You know, sometimes it seems like the less I worry about the dough and the less I fuss, the better it turns out. Have you found that that works with a lot of things?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Are you using your pumpkin for pie? I have yet to use any of our butternut squash in a pie. Going to do pumpkin out of a can for Thanksgiving. I have improved my pie crust, though, with (refined) coconut oil. Used butter for years. That was good, but I think this is better; lighter, flakier.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I have just reviewed your photos of flowers and berries as it has been pretty cold here this week and they are so cheery. So interesting to be able to see the other side of the world, almost in real time, and know that my spot on it will in due time get back to the same place. Meanwhile, enjoying the great things that the chilly season has to offer! I am thankful for the contrast.

Pam

John Lee said...

What oil(s) do you use to finish your woods? Do you purchase or manufacture at home said oils?

Do you have room and need for a farmhand/growing buddy?! My winter is just gearing up (in Colorado, U.S.A.) and I'm already going mad for lack of live plant interaction outdoors :) I need a property in temperate US and sub-tropical Australia so I can switch back and forth and always be tending land. Fresh berries sound pretty great right now!

margfh said...

Enjoyed the description of your trip. Always have wanted to go on a road trip with no plans but having farm animals makes it difficult to get away for too long.

We had 18 inches of snow here Friday night through late Saturday afternoon. Early in the year for a storm like that but at least it wasn't too windy. I was taking the train into Chicago on Saturday afternoon and the snow amount diminished the closer I got to the city and by the time I got downtown near the lake there was practically nothing. We're about 75 miles northwest of Chicago and it's often about 10 degrees (F) colder here. Saturday morning was below 0 but mid 50'sF are expected by Thursday along with over an inch of rain.

One of our barn cats decided that it was a good night for one of his jaunts right before it started snowing. He does this with regularity but not when it's cold or snowy. He didn't return for 2 1/2 days and we feared we wouldn't be seeing him again as it would have been difficult for him to get through snow that deep but by Monday morning he was back hungry and demanding attention but no worse for wear.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The snow is off the menu, now. After several clear days, the rain is back. It was 37F (2.77C), last night. Tonight, it's supposed to get down to 27F (-2.77C). Polar vortex is mostly a midwest thing. Here, it's "arctic outbreak". Don't know why. But when we get really cold weather, it usually pours out of the Fraser River valley, up in BC, and into Washington State. That's about what's going to happen. At least, rain and warmer temps will be back by this week-end. Sometimes, it hangs on for a couple of weeks. "To cold to snow." Hmmm. How to explain this. It seems like, most of the time ... enough of the time to get a phrase like that, when are temperatures get into the teens and mid 20s, it's clear and cold. Very dry. To get snow, here, what they call lowland snow, is a delicate balancing act between temperatures that hover right around freezing ... and moisture.

But, I'm still glad I went to town yesterday, for the last minute stuff. It was pretty busy. The holiday madness is gearing up.

Oh, that's awful about the parking. In our two little towns, it's usually not an issue. There is, in theory, two hour parking. But, the city, in it's infinite wisdom :-) , rarely enforces it, as, they're afraid they'll tick off one tourist. But, every once in awhile, I suppose when the city coffers get empty, they do issue parking tickets. But, it's rare.

When people used to ask me why I moved to such a small place, I used to say "It's less stressful, I never have to look for a parking space and my dentist takes payments." :-).

Well, I've decided to not stuff the turkey. Maybe an apple or onion to keep it moist. But that's it. When I started looking around the Net, as to the whys and wherefores, it's that ... any bacteria our mums had to contend with are stronger, now. And , there's new stuff out there ... new bugs. I suppose it's like you can't drink from a stream, anymore, because of the giardia. Not much of that around when I was a kid.

Oh, calling someone by their last name was very much in evidence when I was growing up. It was all part of that hyped up, sportiness of adolescent males :-).

Well, I don't know about an internet connection, but the article about the ad for a hermit thought it was pretty funny that part of the job description said the hermit must be personable, and a good "people" person. I suppose to put up with the tourists, day trippers and punters. :-).

Will read the article about the dog, later. Off to Chef John's to load up on water. He's got a 4 day week-end, because of the holiday ... so, I probably won't go over on Friday. Not that I wouldn't be welcome ... it's just my neurotic sensitivity about being "under foot." Didn't get around to the cranberries, yet. Maybe, tonight. Lew

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

Rhubarb and strawberries? Might I recommend Rødgrød Med Fløde, my favorite (Danish) dessert. It's received accolades whenever I've made it, it once being called "Angel's Piss" by a Dutch woman when I made it for a few people in Melbourne a few years ago. (As I was told, to call something "Angel's Piss" in the Netherlands is the highest compliment, since something so tasty could only be the piss of, well, angels.)

Put an equal amount of chopped up rhubarb and strawberries in a large pot. Add water until it reaches the top of the strawberries and rhubarb. Boil until it all turns into a mush. Drain the juice through a sieve. (I haven't found a use for the leftover mush. Poopy?) Add sugar to the juice until it tastes sweet enough, which is generally a lot of sugar. (I did it with honey once, which didn't make it taste too funny, and I intend to try it with stevia eventually). Then comes the tricky part. To thicken it up you need potato flour. Which you do not put directly into the juice since it'll get all lumpy. You put some potato flour (a couple of tablespoons or so) into a cup, and slowly add and mix in water until it gets beyond being a weird chunkyness. Then, with the juice re-heated in the pot, and with the juice being vigorously stirred, you slowly add in the potato flour / water mixture. The juice will thicken up, and turn into Rødgrød Med Fløde. (Don't thicken it up too much as the Rødgrød Med Fløde will thicken up more once it cools down.) Once that's done sprinkle some more (!) sugar over the whole thing so that it doesn't get a nasty skin on top. Let it cool on the counter, then in the fridge. Once it's cold, you ladle some into shallow, wide dishes, so that there's about 1.5 cm worth of Rødgrød Med Fløde in them. Then you pour milk and/or cream over top. And eat. YUM!

A write-up and photos here.

p.s. If you know somebody who speaks Danish, have them pronounce Rødgrød Med Fløde for you. It's a hoot!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hope you and the forest survived the recent wind storm intact. The wind has been blowing strongly here today and there have even been some out of control bushfires in South Australia (the state to the west of here) as it was quite hot as well. Winds are natures great pruning tool in a forest.

Thanks for the info about inheritance. There is no easy choice in any of those decisions, little wonder that such things aren't discussed down here - but they probably should be.

Yeast food is also called bread improver and it provides food for the yeast and is more or less necessary because today's flour has so little nutrition in it and you have to feed the yeast. You'll also note that vitamins are often added to white flour too. There are a lot of different flours available for purchase down here and I buy "Pasta Dura flour" which is a more or less white flour of a particular wheat strain.

Adding oil into the mix is what I do with a foccacia bread or a pizza base, you can add it either on top or into the mix - it gives a similar result.

I didn't think of adding that photo. I may add a photo to the blog over the next day or so and let you know. It is a good idea.

Ah, of course, I don't oil the bread tin and that oil on your tin helps stop it from sticking as well as browning the loaf.

Thanks for saying that about both the table and the video, I really appreciate that. You may be surprised to know that I didn't prepare notes for the audio and just sort of winged it! Hehe! Laconic is a lovely word.

Nice to hear that you are getting a bit of warmth. Out of interest, what was the last tree that hung onto its leaves? Down here it is the snow pear.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Sometimes it is hard to find time for all of the little chores that are required to live more consciously. By the way the ingredients for a bread loaf costs about $0.30 all up and fortunately I don't have to pay for the electricity because that would cost about $0.22 for each loaf.

Nice to hear that you still make some bread and yummy pizza base! How good is home made pizza base? That recipe is also the exact same one used for foccacia bread - except foccacia bread is allowed to rise whereas pizza base gets flattened out onto a pizza tray. Wood oven pizza is really, very yummy and poor Poopy gets beside himself when pizza is cooking - honestly if he got any more excited about pizza he'd blow up! Seriously.

Oh yeah, those wheat berries sound like a great idea to add. Have you ever used them before that way? They'd be full of all sorts of good oils and nutrients too.

I haven't seen a glass bread tin before, but it would be a good idea. The silicone ones are OK, but they break down over time and get brittle and they are very much stick, despite the product claims as to non stick. Is your glass pyrex?

No, I hadn't either, but the local company that makes this furniture has started sourcing the rubber timber because otherwise it was just being burnt off. Being a tropical timber it has lovely grain.

Good for you! How good are a hot water bottle for those cold nights? Yeah, perhaps the smell will go, after a while anyway.

Good luck with that. The whole incident was just weird, but there are a lot of crims in that area - it is known for it - I just don't quite fit the profile and what sort of self respecting crim would drive a Suzuki - honestly, don't they know nuffin! Hehe!

Forgot to mention yesterday the benchtop is a man made stone of some sort. I've had both laminate and hardwood timber benches before and this stone stuff is good. I'd steer clear of the natural stones as they are always quite porous and stain easily. I'm just sort of hoping that no one decides to sit on the bench, it may be OK, but I wouldn't want to test it...

It would be nice if that was the case, but it is all over the shop but overall it feels about 2 to 4 weeks early to me. I'm having to water the vegetables most days now.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Glad to bring a bit of warm cheer into your chilly part of the world. Exactly, everything goes around in circles and your spring will be back before you know it. A mate who is originally from Queensland which is in the far north and he reckons the distinct seasons down here in the south provide a bit of relief from the otherwise incessant insects up north.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi John Lee,

Welcome to the discussion.

Mate the scenery in Colorado is dramatic as and I reckon you are living in a pretty nice corner of the world.

Generally, I use tung oils (the real deal, not the acrylic substitute product which I spotted the other day to my horror). You know what? It never even occurred to me to grow a tree for its possible oil. Don't laugh, I do grow sugar maples - but they're still not quite big enough to tap for the syrup. The tung oil comes from the Vernicia fordii tree nuts so I may have a look at whether it is possible to grow that here or or whether it is even available or not and maybe there are some other substitutes that you may be aware of?

It's a long way, but I could use the help! The winters here would be less brutal, but the summers may surprise you - it is rare, but in 2009, the temperature in the shade topped 114'F - fortunately there are only about 2 to 10 days above 40'C (104'F) each summer here - the rest is mostly reasonable.

Not to make you jealous, but the strawberries are the first of the edible berries and hopefully as the years go on there will be more, but I should be eating fresh berries until about February - March.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

The animals do make it hard don't they? I sort of set them up with food, water and shelter so they can last a day or so without any tending, but it is hard to go far and I'm not sure I want to either. Dunno.

18 inches is almost half a metre! Oh my that's a lot of snow. Exactly, the wind can make things far worse. Out of interest with such heavy snow falls possible at your place, do you have guttering on the roof and does it get weighed down in such snowfall?

Great to hear of your train service. Isn't Chicago destined for some sort of interesting tale in the Retrotopia story? The cities here suffer from the heat island effect and they don't cool down on summer nights and it can be up to 15'C cooler up here in the forest than what the city is having to deal with. It makes for an unpleasant nights sleep and perhaps that is what you are seeing - thermal inertia at work!

Great to hear that you barn cat returned - that is one hardy cat and also of the Toothy school of disappearing off and into the forest on a far distant adventure only to arrive back home again looking nonplussed! They are very cheeky, but it is nice that your cat returned.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Unfortunately, Strahan only has one of those awful 'Banjos' franchise bakeries. A shame, as moving from Hobart I am used to having a choice of several excellent bakeries. I fondly remember a good lunch near your way at the Beechworth Bakery when I was passing through. I also sent a telegram for $2!

Good reminder on the oven temperature - I can't remember where I got 150 degrees from... What sort of size difference do you get from rising (twice / three times the original size?).

RE: trout, lets just say that I am more a student of that noble fish...

@Pam, thankyou - I will keep at it. Bread seems to be so simple yet so tricky at the same time.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, 27'F is shorts and t shirt weather! Hehe! ;-)! Seriously, I'm feeling cold just reading the description of your weather. I hope that you, Beau and Nell keep out of the cold weather for a few days. Have you ever been snowed in?

Thanks for the correction and explanation too. That sort of makes sense as the old timers used to say around these parts that cold years were dry years so it is very interesting to read that that is part of your local weather lore too.

It was quite warm here today 33'C (91.4'F) and the wind was blowing strongly. In the state to the west of here (South Australia), they've had some large fires too: Mallala bushfire burns out of control; Barossa Valley warned blaze could impact towns. The smoke has blown all the way from there to here and it is really hazy outside with all of the smoke. You can see that the wind is driving the fire in the photos. This continent is so fragile.

When you write: holiday madness, do you mean the Christmas holidays? I've noticed that people get quite fixated on must be done before Christmas. Honestly, sometimes I'm tempted to ask why? Is Bad Santa with the elves in da hood turning up this year? It is madness. Much nicer to sit back and let it all pass by. How did the turkey end up speaking of such things?

The city is wise not to enforce those restrictions. Local legend has it that one of the local council employees caused a bit of a fuss up this way for a local land owner and had their car window shot out as thanks. Softly, softly is always wise in such emotionally heated circumstances, but some people have difficulty reading a situation. I faced an angry mob once and it was an unpleasant experience. Whilst I was reading the Conan Chronicles recently, I came across a good quote the gist of which was: "Barbarians have to be polite to others because they don't know when one of those others are going to smash their brains out, only in civilised towns are people impolite to one another". A fair call. It is usually rare here too, but I suspect the coffers are empty. A lot of councils lost a lot of rate payers money purchasing complex derivatives before the housing crash in the US in 2008 and their obligations in turn didn't disappear when the money did...

Exactly. There is something to be said about quietitude.

Really? I'd never heard of that but will ask a foodie mate over the next few months about the situation here. Yes, I'd read that about Gardia over in the US, it is endemic. It is in a few rivers and streams here, but I've never heard of it being up in the high country (there is virtually no one living up there). My understanding is that it is spread by infected people and untreated (i.e. unburied) human manure washing into streams. Everything old is new again really. The very old timers used to add apple cider into their water to make it safe to drink and you wouldn't do that lightly.

It is a bit Fight Club isn't it? I think down here it was a sort of an English thing - which I never quite understood.

It does make you wonder why a hermit would have to be personable in the first place? I'm starting to get mental recollections of the hermit in Monty Python and the life of Brian when the priest wanted to stone the old hermit to death for saying: My, those juniper berries were good enough for Jehovah!

Henry Lawson was a poet, so hopefully you enjoy the tale about the dog. I hear you. It is best not to over stay a welcome - it can become uncomfortable. It is common sense really. Are you still without water? Is that four weeks now?

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Allan,

Very nice! Go on, you've got us all in suspense! My gut feeling is that it sounds something like (forgive my rotten accent): Ro grow me flo... Honestly, the pronunciation sounds dubious, but wow does that desert sound good or what? Thanks for the explanation about the colloquialism as that makes more sense.

Thanks for the recipe too. Incidentally, as to the issue of the rhubarb and strawberry mash, either the chickens would love it or you could chuck it on your breakfast muesli - or add a bit of custard to it and that would be good too. I get a similar mash from the strawberry and rhubarb wine and I can assure you that it is quite tasty.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Fair enough, they can be very variable and you never quite know who is doing the baking. That happened to me down in Melbourne when there was an excellent baker in a chain bakery and after he left, I avoided the place. That was what started me baking my own bread by the way.

Yeah, the Beechworth bakery is a classic, but best visited on quiet days when they can put a bit more care and attention into the product, but when it is genius it is total genius. Did you know the guy that started that bakery is illiterate - he's a pretty clever bloke.

In the video I said 150'C for an electric oven, 110'C for a wood oven and 190'C for a gas oven. Don't ask me why, someone with a better brain for physics than I can probably explain the why of it. Incidentally, with the wood oven, to slow the baking down I keep the door slightly ajar too. The whole thing is an art and practice gives you a feel for it. I still stuff loaves up even now.

If I left the loaf for another hour, it would probably rise about 25% higher, but no more than that. It all depends on how active your yeast is too, because the bakery yeast is far superior to the stuff you will find on sale at the local supermarket. It really does make a difference as does air temperature and humidity too.

Good luck and may the oven be with you!

Hey, aren't we all - they're smart fish.

Hope you are getting some of that rain down your way too?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

A number of the trees still have a few leaves. The hazel (below the top canopy) is still very thoroughly in leaf and this can remain for quite a while.

Bread: I admit that I don't use the cheapest flour. One does need strong bread flour. Temperature certainly makes a difference to the rate of rise. I do have the water at blood temperature.

@Damo
The first rise gets punched down and then a second small knead. Only then does it go into the tins. I understand that the second rise prevents any large air holes.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have just spotted a deluded primrose flowering. Indicative of our warm November with the exception of about 3 days.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 27F (-2.77C), last night. My thermometer on the porch said 25F. Clear, sunny and cold today. I can tell it's getting dryer. Not much frost. My lips. :-) Cliff Mass had an explanation as to why we got no snow. "The upper trough associated with the cold front moved southward too quickly and with the wrong trajectory to give us snow." OK. :-)

A tip on Alan's recipe ... no matter if it's flour or corn starch into any liquid, I keep a few small empty jars around. I put the dry stuff and liquid in and give it a good shake, til all is dissolved. No lumps. Make sure the lid is tight! I've had a disaster, or two.

Did my cranberries, last night. 2 1/2 pints. Going to keep a pint out for use and the rest is freezer jam. The cranberries make a nice sound when they're on the boil and pop. A sound somewhere between popcorn and popping bubble wrap :-). I sampled a bit ... quit tasty with none of the dreaded corn syrup ... or, anything else. Just berries and good cane sugar. The turkey is softening up, quit nicely, in the fridge. Will make a pumpkin pie or two, tonight.

I think I figured out the tv show. Actually, he built that house in the desert in real life. I did see a vid on that. Earth Ships. But, the show itself was "western sheriff cast adrift in New York City .... with horse." Culture shock, ensues. Lots of chasing bad guys on horseback down 5th avenue and through Central Park. I quit enjoyed it, as I remember. There was also an "interesting" clan by the same name, around the corner from where I lived when I first moved away from home at 18.

Oh, I can't say I've ever been "snowed in" for any great length of time. Mostly, it's a choice to stay in and avoid the bad roads. There's been a few times when I had to go to work, or some such. Two trips stand out in memory. A trip down from Olympia in a white out ... and in from Yelm. Both cases of I was somewhere else when the weather moved in. But, I try and stay stocked up, just in case. Dog food, cat food, chicken scratch. My larder is pretty full, so I don't worry.

Holiday madness. It just seems that from about now, to New Years, anything you want to do takes twice as much time because everyone else is crazy and disorganized. And, thoughtless.

Well, yesterday there was quit a bit of activity around the new well, a crane with pipe dangling from it. A lot of activity, this morning. Water by Thanksgiving? Fingers crossed. Used a lot of water for the clean up, from the cranberries. Yes, it's been 4 weeks without water, today. I gave it a lot of thought, and decided if you say "a month" people think your exaggerating. If you say four weeks, it sounds like you were actually counting :-).

I was filling up jugs at John's, yesterday, and out the kitchen window saw a bird I've never seen, before. About the size of a jay. Bright orange and black. I got on line and I think it's a Bullock's Oriole. Really pretty. Lew



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Calling men by their surname: a feature of the British upper classes. It begins in school. So 3 brothers at the same public school, with the name Jones, would be Jones major, Jones minor and Jones minimus.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We do have gutters and haven't had an issue. Luckily snow amounts that high aren't that frequent though we've had some pretty bad storms in the last few years. There are times that there is so much snow on some roofs that they have to be shoveled before they cave in. We had to do that with my mother's barn roof about 35 years ago. People could just walk off the roof into the piles of snow - no ladders necessary.

One of the reasons we moved to the area we did was because it's on the train line (last stop). My husband was working in Chicago at the time. It was a long commute but better than driving. They have a deal on the weekend - $8 weekend pass for any train as many times as you want. A normal round trip is about double that price during the week and if you transfer to another train there is an additional fare.

Holiday madness starts at Thanksgiving and goes through New Years. We keep doing less all the time but kids even though they are adults get bent out of shape if everything isn't the same each year. Speaking of holidays we are hosting 16 for Thanksgiving so I better sign off now and continue the prep.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

I remember those earthships; kind of crazy looking, but they seem mostly practical. There were a lot of articles and at least one documentary about them around the time of the 2012 End of Days, the one that didn't happen (I have that Archdruid book). New Mexico is a popular place for them.

I've never heard of a Bullock's oriole. We have Baltimore orioles, though I think their name has been changed (the bird's, not the baseball team's).

That is a brilliant idea of yours about shaking the cornstarch/whatever and liquid in a jar instead of trying to stir it smoothly together.

@ Inge:

I wondered what happened if you had more than one fellow with the same surname at school. If they had the same name, but weren't brothers, did they pick out a feature of one, like red hair and he became Red Jones?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Allan:

I looked at your Roda Groda Mead Floda. It looks divine! I am finally going to plant some rhubarb this year. I am not used to working with it - does it have a fairly strong taste? Because when I use potato flour in a recipe I can usually taste it a bit. Does the rhubarb (and everything else) hide the potato flavor?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Poopy Pizza - my does that sound appetizing . . .

One glass bread pan is Pyrex, the other is made by Anchor Hocking, an American company. It looks exactly the same. They are both very heavy glass. My pie tins are Pyrex (not tin!). I cook bread in my electric oven at 350'F (177'C).

It is bad news that you are already having to water so often. I guess we'll hope for a change there, but ,then again, it might not be wise to second guess Mother Nature. You might get Nature's version of a Poopy Pizza Explosion.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for that and I wouldn't have guessed that the hazel was still in leaf, but they are very dense plants so perhaps they keep warmer than a more open tree (or shrub). Incidentally, have you ever harvested any of the nuts? I've got a few of the hazelnut shrubs here but have seen no signs of the nuts yet. They like a drink over the hot weather...

That is a good thing. The cheapest flour is probably quite dodgy and has very little nutrition at all. Plus different flours hold the shape of the loaf together differently, so flour is definitely not flour!

How good are the evening primroses? They are escaping down and into the orchard and are very lovely plants and seem to be good food for the local wildlife + they are very hardy indeed.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is so cold. Brrr! Yes, my skin dries out here over the winter too - you'd think it would be the other way around, but summer doesn't seem to have that impact on me. I accept Cliff Mass's explanation without actually understanding what you just wrote! ;-)!

It was 5'C (41'F)here this morning after the hot day yesterday and I went into the big smoke to visit the market and the rainfall was torrential - but not a drop at all here. Fortunately they reckon a big rain is due mid next week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The recent winds have started to dry the place out and it is not looking quite so green anymore.

Haven't we all had a disaster ot two? Doesn't it usually happen when we are skipping an instruction or in a hurry?

Are the cranberries sweet? My recollection was that they tasted a bit like black or red currants which are strangely savoury tasting for a berry. You rarely see them for sale down here - either the berries or the plants - perhaps because it is so dry and bogs are hard to come by. Most swamps here were drained so that the early settlers could plant vegetables in them. Koo Wee Rup swamp comes to mind and they still plant asparagus there - it is a major local producer of that plant.

You are good. You know I'd never seen it before people started saying that to me. In fact before I went to the toffy school (straight from a hippy dippy school mind you) no one had ever called me by my second name. Actually the culutre shock between the two extreme cultures was an interesting experience and has helped me adapt to new situations and people. I used to be quite shy as a young child, but now I'm very comofortable in social settings - Don't they call that aversion therapy? Mind you, I still live in the middle of nowhere with the neighbours a distant memory so perhaps old habits are hard to break? Dunno, but I suspect you'd have some thoughts on that subject?

Fair enough, keeping the pantry stocked up on basics is good practice. Isn't it strange how people don't do that - and then on the other extreme I read an article once about a lady that fed her family for $7 a week (it was spruiking a book) and I thought this would be interesting and I might get some useful tips. Basically she used up all of the stuff stored in her kitchen which was a bit deflating. Go figure that one out. It is a good description of using up your infrastructure to pay for today. :-)!

I hear you man, they do get crazy down here too. It is an ugly business, but then I avoid shopping centres like the plague. I much prefer the rough and tumble and interesting characters in the old fresh fruit and vegetable markets. You get to know them over the years and they're an interesting bunch with the most amazing diversity of personalities.

Hey, I reckon you are onto something with that observation about the water month vs number of weeks. Top observation and you get the elephant stamp today for that one! I'd never have thought of it that way before. Very insightful.

Hey, nice looking bird. That one would stand out for sure. Was it heading south and just passing through?

I picked up another coffee plant today because it was on the get rid of these plants table down at CERES in Melbourne. I like the throw out table and have scored some real bargains there - they do need a bit of TLC and this one looked a little bit frost damaged to me. The guy in the nursery - they usually employ ladies - was very negative about me buying it and I had to hold my sharp tongue in check. They're usually very perky and polite in that nursery and I'm guessing he wont have much of a future there. Anyway, the coffee shrub is now in the ground alongside the tea camellia and the tropical babaco fruit tree. Time will tell.

Enjoy your snow!

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Absolutely, that was sort of what I was saying that school was trying to be more English upper class than the English would be. We have a wide streak of inferiority complex in our culture down here. We're talking quadrangles with oak trees, prefects, after school sports, rowing blah, blah, blah. Incidentally, that school was fascinating to have attended following the very hippy dippy previous school I attended. The culture shock was an interesting and formative experience.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@Pam

That thought occurred to me also and I don't know. Picking out a distinctive feature does seem to be the answer.

Inge

YCS said...

Hi Cherokee,
How you enjoyed Canberra! It may be in the middle of nowhere, but the location is very picturesque. Also handy to keep them NSWesians and Victorians out. ;)
I went to Melbourne for the first time this year and absolutely hated the bus ride. The scenery was boring and repetitive, which is not what I'm used to on a long drive having grown up in NZ.
Why a country like Australia can't even link up the capital and the second largest city with a direct train line beats me. It just stops half way. I'd rather take a train any day.

YCS

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

My goodness - 16 for dinner; that's a lot of turkey! Good luck to you! I do less for the holidays each year because, thankfully, my family doesn't mind and isn't into making a big deal about Thanksgiving or Christmas. At Christmas time we mostly make donations in each other's names (besides a few homemade gifts) to favorite charities. This is because we are, all of us, adults - no grandkids, grand nieces/nephews, etc. It's rather strange. We are a very small family; perhaps that accounts for a lot of it. At least now we know what to get JMG for Christmas - peanuts!

You live in an interesting climate; that's a lot of snow!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The eagle has landed! (the turkey is in the oven.) :-)

Was 23F (-5C) last night. I don't understand Cliff Mass, half the time, either. But it sounds good. :-). Clear and sunny, today.

Cranberries have a sharp, sour flavor. But, like rhubarb, put enough sugar in it and it's quite palatable. I think there are also something called "high bush cranberries", that you can grow outside a bog. Nice score on the coffee bush. A shot of worm juice is always good for sad plants. Perks them right up.

Ohhh! An elephant stamp! I'm going to put it in the album and have it buried with me! :-).

Oh, yes. I know high school culture shock, quite well. My first two years I went to an urban high school. Over 2,000 students, 1/3 African-American. It was the 60s. Sat around the cafeteria talking about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. The principal was a small distant figure on the stage, at assemblies. Then we moved to a rural area, for my last two years. Less than 500 students. The principal was very much in evidence and knew every student by name. Conversation in the cafeteria was about hunting season and the price of cabbage. A few Native American kids, and that was it for diversity. Yup. Culture shock. On the other hand, I got to do a lot of things at the smaller school, that I never would have gotten to do at the larger school. Year book staff ... directed the senior class play. Etc..

Well, the Bullock's Oriel is here, very late. And, it's the very edge of his range. There must be something the birds like about John's place. I saw a hummingbird, there, a couple of weeks ago. REALLY late for them to be about. He says he sees a few all winter.

The mules have arrived and they are handsome beasts. One is blind. Don't know the story on that. My landlord stopped by this morning and said we should have water, tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

I need more practice at pies. It's been a long time. The crust just didn't want to "come together" and I ended up adding about twice as much water as called for. So, it was probably overworked. But, it rolled out like a dream and was easy to handle. So, then it's pinto beans for a crust weight ... and they all stuck to the bottom of the pan. Scrapped those out, while fighting the foil edge guards, that kept falling off. Didn't help. There was still a lot of shrinkage at the edge. Beau was barking his head off (coyotes) and I was about on my last nerve. Nell had been exiled to the bathroom, for the duration. So, it's not a pretty pie, but I think it will taste all right and not have a soggy crust.

Best Thanksgiving memory? When I was in high school. 8 for dinner and we lost the power due to a storm. Luckily, the turkey was far enough along that it coasted to a perfect finish. We ate by kerosene lamp light.

While my turkey is cooking I'm going to take down all the Halloween tat, and start putting up the Christmas tat. Pulling out all the stops, this year. Get out all that stuff I've been collecting for years and dragging around. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for that as I was wondering whether the load from the snow and wind would be that extreme. Out of interest, do they engineer the roofs to withstand that sort of loading or do some houses in your area have collapsed roofs occasionally? Walking off the roof is so much snow that mind is struggling to understand that.

The roof design and construction here was quite unusual and it certainly can take a lot of wind load - as the fires produce cyclonic winds as well as all of the rest.

Being on the train line is quite wise especially if it is an active service that you can commute on. That's not bad value either. It costs me about $7 one way per trip into the city on the train and it gets there in about 45 minutes which is faster than driving.

Ah, tradition rules. My you are an excellent host to be able to cope with that many people!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! It is a bit dodgy sounding isn't it? No one really wants Poopy Pizza! :-)! You can't hold back from sharing (actually giving over completely) the pizza crust to Poopy - he is very excited by pizza crust and I'm not sure why.

Thanks for explaining that and you've inspired to keep an eye out for pyrex bread tins. I find that cooking stuff still sticks to pyrex and was wondering whether you find that with your bread? Nothing is really non-stick. That temperature sounds about right for bread. The different temperatures I use are 110'C (230'F) for the wood oven, 150'C (302'F) for the electric oven and 190'C (374'F) for the gas oven. It is only a feel thing as each oven is very different.

Yeah, it really is bad news. Fortunately the tanks are about 95% full at this stage of the year which is pretty good going into summer, but my gut feeling says that this one is going to be a hot one. I'm slowly knocking flat all of the vegetation so that it lays on the ground as mulch which works better at retaining soil moisture than up in the air and dead which is a fire hazard.

On a positive note, hot summers are good for producing smaller but sweeter fruit so it will be interesting as things move closer to ripening over the next few months.

Nature can be very variable and I reckon this season is about 4 weeks early - and I was 2 weeks late getting the tomatoes in the ground because the stick fence berry enclosure wasn't completed at that stage. Oh well... I hope your winter is pleasant and not too extreme.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi YCS,

I did enjoy Canberra although I was there for a funeral. Incidentally, in Kingston I had a supberb Italian meal - it was better than what you would get at most places in Carlton restaurant strip in inner Melbourne and I was quite surprised. Yeah, well they've got a good botanical gardens too, yeah it's pretty good.

Well them thar Victorians probably need to be kept out - can't speak for them thar N S Welsh lot! Hehe!

I hear you, Australia is big... massive... and those broad acre farms and rolling hills of the Great Dividing Range do just go on and on and on. There are so few people out there it is not funny. Even the road from Melbourne to Canberra was really quiet. Yeah, well NZ is a lot smaller and more densely settled. I like NZ it is a beautiful country.

It is crazy. The Melbourne to Sydney XPT train stops at Yass I think, but it's still a long way from Yass to Canberra. A train goes Sydney to Canberra, but there is no way I was going to travel to Sydney by train and then back to Canberra - that is just getting silly. I wouldn't mind doing the overnight train Melbourne to Sydney though as that would be fun.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

You are naughty about the peanuts! I'd love to grow them here, but it is just a little bit too cold for them... Do you grow them up your way?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Please tell me that mission control didn't report any problems with the eagle - err, sorry, turkey? :-)! How did it end up tasting?

I'm glad to hear that you don't understand Cliff Mass, because the explanations sounded very impressive but I couldn't quite get my head around the explanations. It is nice to know that someone knows though and can provide an explanation if necessary! ;-)!

Is the sun providing any warmth at all at this time of year? The May here is pretty cold and the sun is a bit feeble by that stage.

Thanks and do you know what is really strange. I spotted a jar of cranberry sauce this morning - that is just too much of a coincidence. I may keep my eye out for one of those high bush cranberries. Incidentally I've heard people describe other berry plants that way (I think blueberries - but I could be wrong in that recollection). Rhubarb really does need a bit of sugar.

Well it was an excellent observation on your part. All right just for that you get another one. Take that! Hehe! :-)! Very amusing.

I've killed a few coffee bushes but given the tea camellia survived outside, maybe this one might have a chance, but I'm seriously going to give up on them if this new plant dies. I didn't tell the editor I'm giving the plant another go as she thinks I'm a bit delusional about the plant. You have to be in it to win it is my take on the matter.

Thanks for your story and it looks as though you have the same sorts of benefits and pitfalls. It is weird going from a very culturally diverse area to a very culturally homogeneous area and the contrasts can be quite striking. The school I went to had a very sharp divide between the obscenely well off and everyone else - that was quite interesting to see. Being from a single parent family put me on other end of that divide. Schools down under don't have cafeteria's either which is an interesting contrast. Sometimes you may get a tuck shop which sells food to the kids and that is usually staffed by volunteer parents, but most kids took their lunches.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Wow, that is really interesting about the birds. You know I reckon the entire ecosystem slowly adapts to a warmer climate. It would be tough for the birds over winter, but they'd get the best nesting spots and have their territory sorted at the start of spring - so there are advantages to not migrating. Chef John's truck garden is probably a good incentive to the birds and animals!

There is a definitely a story behind why someone would have a blind mule? Are they gentle creatures - I have no experience with mules, but they are rather large.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for your water too. Any word on it?

Sorry to hear about your kitchen disaster. Was anything rescued from that experience. Yes, Beau barking his head off at coyotes probably wouldn't have helped soothe the nerves either. Good to read that the pie may be mostly OK. It may end up being the tastiest pie you've ever made - stranger things have happened. You just never know how food is going to turn out, commercial kitchens would be a tough school. By the way Cooking Dirty is a real hoot and I reckon you will thoroughly enjoy it when it arrives at the library.

Man, that would have been so much fun eating a well cooked turkey by kero light. My mates who live in the monster shed (they really live in a greenhouse) have dinners like that - we sit around the wood oven - trying to keep warm - talking rubbish and eating outstanding food whilst the only lights are the garden lights - it is a lot of fun. They have a rooster now which I'm not so excited by as roosters crow a lot all hours of the day and night.

Go hard or go home - as they say here! The Christmas lights on the hill below should be up again over the next few days. I'll make sure to take some photos again - that post has been one of the most widely read of all. My favourite photo was of the lights of the drunken kangaroo falling onto the upright emu (which is a large bird like an ostrich) - very hard to explain, but once you see the photo all is clear!

I've been learning how to operate a new toy today - a stump grinder, it is a lethal machine and I have total respect for it. I'm trying to save my back and shoulders from physical damage so I have this beast of a machine for the next month or three.

Cheers

Chris

Jo said...

Long time, no comment, but here I am having very much enjoyed your chicken video the other week, by the way. I LOVE making bread. I knead it though, and find it very calming and meditative, but have been gluten free for a few months which seems to have resolved some eczema issues in the family, so we will be bread free for a while yet.

Here is a tip for cooking rhubarb - add a quarter teaspoon of bicarb soda (baking soda) to the cooking liquid, which neutralises the acidity of the rhubarb and means MUCH less sugar needed - I find only a couple of teaspoons of sugar are necessary.

Your garden is looking magnificent, and the flowers are glorious. Enjoy berry and flower season:)

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Because of this: "Ohhh! An elephant stamp! I'm going to put it in the album and have it buried with me! :-)." and your pie story, I can't stop laughing. (Hope that's o.k.?!)

I am putting up my outside Christmas lights today before the weather turns. That is, I am if they still work.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I had missed your account of the councillors assaulted at the Melbourne meeting. Thanks for mentioning it again at ADR. I really don't know what to make of it.

I oil my bread pans. The bread does stick to them, but if I let the bread cool in the pans for about 10 minutes when taken out of the oven, it pulls away some from the pan and then I run a knife around the inside and it comes loose. Then I dump the bread out to cool.The pans are not clean, though, and need a little bit of soaking before they are washed.

Which plants do you mean by "knocking flat all of the vegetation", etc. Tomatoes? Berries? It is just the opposite here. We have to keep everything as far off of the ground as possible because of mold and mildew.

Peanuts are one of Virginia's biggest crops. I love them! I grew a few years ago. It's not worth the trouble where I am since I can buy them cheaply and they like the sandy soils closer to the coast rather our mountains.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ All:

I recommend that everyone go to Chris' post of December 22, 2014: "Christmas Down Under Style" (which is what he referred to above). It will certainly get you in the holiday mood!

Loved seeing your tool shed again, too, Chris.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The turkey turned out just about perfect. I'll be picking at the carcass, over the week-end, and popping bits into the freezer as I go along. The pie wasn't bad. Crust a bit tough and like biting into a cracker ... but it was thin enough it could almost pass for flakey. So, well the bird was baking, I took down the Halloween tat and put up a bit of the Christmas tat. Set the table. And even though it was only 4 courses, I sat down at 3 and had a nice, long, leisurely meal.

I really tried to keep things as simple as possible. I'd thought about doing mashed potatoes and Mum's crab salad ... but just decided I can do that over the next couple of weeks. Sometimes, I go a bit overboard, mixing too many flavors together. The dressing turned out well. As the turkey was "resting" I threw together packaged bread cubes and the season packet that came with them. Mostly, sage ... a bit of thyme. Mushrooms, an onion, celery and some plumped up dried cranberries. Poured butter, water and pan drippings over the top. Zapped it in the microwave. A little wet, but, a tour under the broiler should take care of that. I'm looking forward to turkey and cranberry, or dressing and cranberry sandwiches.

Chef John stopped by on his way home and pronounced everything good. But, as he was very ... shall we say impaired, I don't know how much stock to put in that :-). He probably won't even remember he was here. He declared the turkey seasoning exceptional and wondered what I'd used. Mmmm. Olive oil and a little sea salt? The pie, by the way, tasted different from the canned stuff. Not better, just different. Maybe a bit more of a squash flavor. Warmed a bit with vanilla ice cream on top.

It was 25F here, last night. And, they've extended the cold as far as next Tuesday night. Brrr. The guys are beavering away on the well, this morning. I saw my landlord, yesterday, and he thought we might have water, today. Can't drink it til it gets tested ... but, fine for washing.

Well, if you stand in the sunlight, it can get a bit warm. Our daytime highs are in the upper 40s.

Mules ... well, they can be mulish. Or, stubborn as a mule :-). As with horses, you got to be careful walking behind them. And, some will nip. Sooner or later I'll wander down the road and feed them a few carrots.

Only in America. There's some new extravaganza on the food front. An apple pie, baked into a chocolate cake, on top of a blueberry pie baked into a vanilla cake ... covered in cream cheese frosting. A "piecaken." Sounds like something out of the feast in the "Satyricon." :-) . Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you that is very nice to hear and I enjoy your blog too. Making bread is really nice plus the smell of fresh baking bread is so good in the kitchen, however I do hear you about the eczema as I have suffered from that on and off over the years too – especially on the hands which is a bit of a curse.

You may be interested to know that sometimes in the far distant past stress has triggered the eczema, other times it has been too much dairy, sometimes it is the soap. I mentioned to you a long while ago that I use olive oil soap which I make myself and that is very gentle and not drying of the skin like a lot of the strong detergent soaps that are on the shelves these days. I should write about that one day: I've got the title for the soap making blog too: Soap - it's basic. Yes, that is poor humour, but it made me laugh. It is very easy and not at all complex or difficult - much like the bread baking here. I do buy reasonable quality flour and that has helped a great deal with eczema - not all white flours are the same, you know?

Thanks for the rhubarb tip and I'll try that over the next few weeks.

Thanks as well for writing that. Lovely! It is a pleasure to live amongst those.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I do hope that your Christmas lights still work and that you put on a good Christmas show? The wiring on the ones here seems to break well before the LED's fail which is a bit sad. Even the garden LED's are a nuisance and over the next year, I'll put in some reliable cable in proper conduit which should sort the whole mess out for the long term.

No worries, I wasn't sure either as it was unprecedented in recent times. Being an ex-penal colony, we have a culture of being law abiding citizens so it was unusual enough to point out to JMG. My gut feeling is that the traders are having difficulties making ends meet and the councillors are squeezing them so that they cover the costs of their own currently unfunded liabilities for defined benefit pensions. As an interesting side note, I used to live within walking distance of that particular strip shopping district and it was very nice but very quiet back in the day. After I left that area, a company restored the old theatre for use as a production space for theatre curtains (which they sold and repaired) and they also showed films on weekends - it totally reinvigorated the area. They used to close all of the roads off to vehicle traffic and show an outdoor screening of a film on summer nights. It was good fun.

Thanks for sharing your baking experience. A mate of mine who grew up in Hong Kong told me that the woks that were used for cooking rarely used to be cleaned other than a rough and cursory clean out. He described the process as seasoning the steel and who are we to argue with that?

Fair enough about the mould and mildew, that makes sense. They're not a problem here because it is drier. I meant the herbage which I chop and drop so that it forms a dry mulch protecting the growth and soil below it during high summer from completely drying out - plus it gives the soil a good feed. I might show some photos of what goes on here in next week’s blog and try to explain the why of it.

I love peanuts and peanut butter. Yum! I'm totally jealous that you can grow them there. How do they go with the frosts as I read that locally they don't recover from the frosts and that sounded odd to me? I would totally love to grow them here, but I will tell you that the last time I tried, Poopy dug them all up and ate them (I caught him in the act too) - he was in the dog house after that little episode...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Great to hear that the turkey turned out perfectly – I never doubted it for a second (well maybe a little bit! Hehe!). Whilst we are on that subject, turkey is a notoriously hard meat to retain the moisture during the cooking process, but when it is perfectly cooked it is a divine meat - and I'm a vegetarian too! Out of interest, how did you retain the moisture in the meat during the cooking process? People generally roast chicken, lamb (although I suspect a lot of mutton gets substituted by the butchers and no one notices) and pork down here. I've noticed that people are cooking more turkey nowadays for Christmas and festive feasts here in more recent times though. It is a good meat, although I reckon pork is may absolute favourite and my friend that moved to Ohio raised and butchered his own pork and it was superb - the best I'd eaten by a long margin - slow cooked on a closed barbeque wrapped in aluminium foil for a couple of hours. He later confessed that the cooking was a total fluke and a last minute change due to some sort of cooking disaster problem. Go figure that one out!

Excellent to read that the pie turned out nicely too as the preparation process was starting to go off the rails a bit from your earlier comment. Did you make your own pastry or buy it ready made? I haven't noticed any difference at all between homemade shortcrust or homemade puff pastry either and was wondering about that? It is a lot of work.

Go the leisurely meal! There is much to be said about enjoying a good feed and taking your time about it - such respect only increases the enjoyment and pleasure of food. Holidays and festivals are good because you can take the time to savour each and every bite.

Crab salad sounds good. Out of interest what is the origin of that crab salad (east or west coast, south or north?) as I was just trying to get a feel for that salad as it sounds intriguing?

Hmmm, less is definitely more when it comes to spicing! Did I tell you about the recent Kitchari experimental vegetarian dish were we actually added all of the real deal spices to the mix and found that it was - way overboard. Who would have thought that fennel seeds (which I have plenty of from the plants here) could be so over powering! It has taken a fair bit of experimentation to make that dish edible - the dogs liked it though and they come in handy when it comes to cleaning up kitchen disasters...

Reading about your stuffing is making my mouth salivate. Yum! I grow most of those herbs fresh here, although I'm unsure how many people would enjoy fresh sage or thyme? I assume you used the dried leaves? I've been training my palate for years to enjoy them fresh, but it does take work.

Fair enough, it is nice to hear that Chef John had been celebrating the holidays in true style! :-)! That pumpkin pie sounds very nice indeed too - yum!

Brrr! It is exciting about the well though. Hopefully, testing doesn't take too long?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Upper 40's, is about the same here during warm winter days too. It is the nights that the cold really starts to bite and you feel it in your bones.

Attitude in large animals seems to be a common thing. The Indians have a nice road law in India which I experienced firsthand on many occasions: Might is right! Nothing focuses the attention like facing a Tata truck the front of which is covered in tinsel bearing down on your bus on the wrong side of the road! I had heard of the stubborn as a mule, but never really thought about the practicalities of the matter which could be awkward. The carrots are an excellent idea. One of the local food suppliers sells huge bags of seconds (most likely thirds or fourths) carrots for horses for quit a reasonable price. Carrots are like weeds here as I let a few go to seed and they are everywhere now.

Thanks for the reference to the Satyricon as I would never have come across that elsewhere. It does make you wonder what our literature will look like in the distant future? I appreciate you putting in a bit of learning into your replies - thanks!

The Green Wizards meet up was good fun today. I really enjoyed it and it was excellent to meet up with like minded people just to have a bit of good food and great chat. Plus that place makes an excellent tiramisu and that is always a good sign.

Today was almost the perfect spring day. Sunny skies, 20'C (68'F) and a nice cool and gentle breeze. Hopefully the weather produces some rain over the next week though.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Go ahead and laugh. I laugh my ... off, at my self, all the time. As I've grown older, and gotten my act more together, It's gotten easier and easier. When I moved out here, I told my landlord if I wasn't doing something I should be doing, or, doing something I shouldn't be doing, to not hesitate to let me know. And that my life in the boonies would probably provide an never ending source of amusement :-).

Yo, Chris - Water! I've got water! Only 4 1/2 weeks. My landlord came over this morning and took me on a valve tour, up at his place. Then we went back to my place to check, and, I had water. It will be tested, next week. In the meantime, we can use it for washing, animals, etc.. Once the RV park gets back on-line, we'll use their water. About the only reason I've heard for that is that the untreated well water turns your washed whites, gray. Big deal. Sounds like a small price to pay for a steady supply of water.

It was 21F (-6.11C) here, last night. I'll be leaving the taps dripping, a bit, tonight, so they don't freeze up.

The turkey was pretty moist. It was suggested to put a loose tent of foil, over the bird, for the last 1/3 of the cooking time. I was also going to put, either an apple or an onion in the bird, which is also supposed to help keep them moist, but, I forgot. Last night I had two sandwiches for dinner. One was turkey, cranberry, lettuce and plane yogurt. The other was dressing, cranberry, lettuce and plane yogurt. Yummm! Put up 5 packets of turkey meat in the freezer for salads, sandwiches or soup, later.

Oh, yeah. I made my own pastry. Needs more work. My goal is to get a flakey perfect crust. To quote an old joke "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." :-). Chef John had plenty of tips, but I'll have him go over it again when he's less impaired and makes more sense. :-)

Mum's crab salad was crab, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, and green onions. She had to make two as my brother wouldn't touch tomatoes. It had some kind of thin white sauce. Might have just been mayo.

Herbs and spices are funny stuff. My Dad used to visit Nebraska and bring back a suitcase full of German sausage ... that the old German ladies made. He'd hoard most of it, all to himself. I always tried to find a commercial substitute, but it never quit measured up. The closest I came was when I added a lot of sage to the commercial stuff. Which made sense. In Nebraska, all the old German ladies had to do was wander out on the prairie and harvest the sage. Thousands of square miles of the stuff grow wild there. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Of course, given this time of the year, I've been thinking a lot about food, lately. An older woman, Julia, from the Club (my other Chicken Goddess) is just blown away that I did so much of my Thanksgiving from "scratch." But, I couldn't help but think that I didn't grow the pumpkins, cranberries or raise the turkey. And, the bread cubes for the stuffing came out of a package with a spice packet, included.

Sally Tisdale (the acorn flour experimenter) in "The Best Thing I Ever Tasted," raised some interesting points. When we get all nostalgic for Grandma's pumpkin pie or Aunt Emilie's chocolate cake, they were probably using packaged ingredients. My pie doesn't taste like grandma's, because she was using canned pumpkin. Aunt Emilie's cake was probably a Betty Crocker mix.

You'd have to go way back to get to authentic food. In the 1880s, grocery stores, as we think of grocery stores, began to appear. With lots of prepackaged food. By 1920, after WWI, the flood gates were opened. Brands developed. It was all pushed as time saving, nutritious and more hygienic. Long shelf life.

The last blip on the radar, to get us where we are today, was WWII. Rationing, more making from scratch, Victory Gardens. Canning. Then came the prosperous 50's, the whole push to be "modern" and advertising refined to a black art.

Thinking about my pumpkin pie, I know where the pumpkin and eggs came from. The spices and cream? Not so much.

I see food resiliency as a scale. Your WAY up the scale as to what you get off of your place. I'm way down the scale ... but getting there :-).

If I were a gambling man, I'd bet two Elephant Stamps and raise you an ADR Gold Star. :-). But, I don't gamble and don't know what I'm talking about :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Just a few tiny comments. I was always taught not to wash a frying pan, just rub a cloth around it. Works wonders with an old cheap frying pan; so, the same as the wok.

I don't believe that one can sell mutton in place of lamb, they taste very different. I have never seen mutton for sale here and I love it. I get it from an old man who runs a flock of sheep.

Am about to be without my laptop for a few days.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That makes sense as all of this non stick stuff doesn't seem to want to last for a very long time, but the old time cast iron pans used to last forever. Years ago, I had a very old cast iron cooking pot which I used to stew food in on a low heat and nothing stuck to that surface at all.

You know the only time that I've seen mutton for sale was in India and it was delicious and in fact I've often wondered why people preferred lamb instead. I guess lamb is sort of a sweet tasting meat, but mutton has a complex flavour. Still, I've often wondered what they do with all of that mutton? I've never enjoyed veal either and find beef to not have any great flavour of its own at all.

Sorry to hear that you are without your laptop and thanks for letting me know as I probably would have wondered whether you were OK or whether I had somehow offended you? Enjoy your time over the next few days without technology!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Laptop still here over the week-end.

Never worry, I don't go in for getting offended.

I think that it is the very hard fat that people don't like dealing with after cooking mutton. Once it was used for making tallow candles. I wonder if it goes for pet food now?

@Lew
Only roll out your pastry in one direction and do it as little as possible. Use lard. If you want real flaky pastry instead of short crust, that is an entirely different ball game. You would need to research a recipe and I don't think that it is worth the effort.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yay for water! And you are totally correct about how valuable a steady supply of water actually is. I do hope that you understood all of the valves and wouldn't be in the least bit surprised that it may take a couple of visits and explanations to wrap your mind around it all. Don't stress if it doesn't because when the people in the local fire brigade ran through all of the different valves on the back of the fire truck I was like a rabbit in the headlights looking at all of them and hoping that no one would ask me to operate them in an emergency! It did take quite a few explanations and practice. :-)! I've got my fingers crossed for you that the tests turn out OK?

Mate that is colder than I have experienced! Brr! Hopefully, Beau and Nell are snuggled up inside the house (and not fighting for position closest to the heater) and that the tea camellia is safely in the kitchen?

The foil tent over the turkey is a good method to retain moisture and we do that here too for lamb and chicken. It does work and you only have to eat a dry roast to appreciate the care that goes into preparation. That is interesting about the moisture because I've found that when I add apples to the dogs toasted muesli mix, they do provide a lot of moisture to the mix and it becomes harder to dry it out in the oven. As it is now warmer here the dogs are fed rice with beef stock cubes and tomato chutney plus a bit of commercial biscuit mix and raw egg. They seem pretty happy about it, but I have to make sure that the larger dogs don't shark the food of the smaller dogs.

Your dinner sandwiches sound awesome. Yum! And also nice to read that you put some turkey away for later in the year. Just out of interest, do you use a vacuum pack arrangement or are they in plastic containers? A mate of mine uses some sort of cryovac machine and it looks quite impressive, but I don't generally use freezing as a preserving method because of the ongoing energy requirements which means the solar power system probably wouldn't cope with.

Very impressive stuff making your own pastry. I can do shortcrust but not puff pastry and I hear you about how difficult it is to make the pastry flaky. Really tough. Respect for your cooking skills. I had to look up what Carnegie Hall was to understand that saying and it makes perfect sense. Everything is practice really isn't it? It just takes so long to learn though. But as they say, life is a journey.

Yeah, having Chef John repeat those tips when he is less merry would be a very sensible idea! Hehe! ;-)! Too funny. Hopefully he wasn't pontificating on the subject - and I mean that in an amusing way given the speakers condition at the time? Too funny, I'm sure you had a good time as did Chef John!

Thanks for the crab salad. That sounds very nice. If the dressing was white it probably would be mayo - maybe. Seafood salad dressings can often be slightly orange too. Life would be tough without tomatoes. I'm planting out the rest of the tomato seedlings over the next few days and I'm hoping to get that dehydrator working overtime early next year and then put the dried tomatoes in olive oil in a large glass jar that I've got specifically for that purpose.

Actually, speaking of which, the preserved olives from last year are superb and I'm looking at all of the flowers on the olive trees at the moment and hoping for a good crop. More on olives later. With a degree or two of global warming, which is not a good thing, however, I reckon olives would be within your reach.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

German sausages are awesome and as you say absolutely full of flavour. Yum, it's almost 10.30pm here and I haven't had dinner yet and all this talk of food is making me very hungry indeed! Hey, by the way add in sauerkraut and fried onions to those sausages and you are onto a winner. Wow, I didn't know that about the sage, but it does make sense as Salvia species grow really well here too and I reckon they may be very dry and heat adapted species which is about what you would expect in a prairie.

You are very lucky to have two chicken Goddesses, let alone one! Sorry, I'm chowing down on a very nice homemade pizza right now so distraction reigns supreme. No worries, my thinking on the subject is don't let the perfect be the enemy of the perfectly good! ;-)!

Wow, that is quite a surprise because industrial food didn't become big here until about the 1970's and some of Grandma's cooking - lets be truly honest - wasn't that good. She always used to add too much bi-carb to the chocolate cake and whilst I enjoy a good chocolate cake, you can seriously taste too much sodium bi-carb. That sounds a bit ungrateful doesn't it? In other ways she was a very good cook.

Did you know that back in the 1970's here it wasn't unusual for houses to have a room set aside near the kitchen to store all of the bulk foods in - and I can still recall them now - purpose built tubs - all built in - full of potatoes, flour, onions and other such produce.

Ha! Long shelf life = preservatives and possibly low nutritional content. If the products had a high nutritional content, every yeast, bacteria and fungi would eat it before you and I got to it.

The funny thing is that the people that I know that are actually interested in food here seem to be from the upper middle class as it is perhaps seen as a mildly eccentric hobby. I'm not in that social station, but I reckon interest in food is part of the widening gap between the haves and have nots in this country and I sort of hang around on the fringe - which is no bad place to be.

Slowly, slowly, my friend. All in good time. Every item that gets consumed from this place has a long story to tell and it is a long process - like everything that is worthwhile really.

I always appreciate an elephant stamp or even better the allusive ADR Gold Star! On a serious note, I'm on total tenterhooks as to the outcome of the last comment over there! I reckon it was my best insight in at least the last year or two - but I could be talking total rubbish too so who knows? It's all good anyway to add to that fascinating and useful dialogue and I always learn something.

Oh yeah, olive trees. When I was on the train, I happened to look at the window near the outer town of Sunbury to see an olive grove on the grounds of an exclusive school. I said to myself that that was unfortunate because the olive grove was infected with sooty mould which is a fungal infection spread by ants who are harvesting the sugars in the trees. It is easily treated by a bit of soapy water and a gentle washing of the leaves plus give the trees a bit of a feed and some water. Olive trees are low care, but they are not no-care. Anyway, I was thinking to myself that they could put the children of that school to work and would probably clean up the entire orchard and have it fed and watered within a couple of hours and everyone would benefit - the trees because they would be free of the sooty mould and the kids would have learned something. That is when I started thinking about how people are fixated on abstractions when there is so much life out there. You, Inge, Pam, Jo, Margaret, Damo etc. are all winning because we're living lives exposed to the natural world. Dunno, really, but there you go anyway. We lit a brazier here in the courtyard tonight and burnt off some collected newspaper (the ash goes into the orchard) whilst we watched the sun go down over the horizon. It was very nice.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you and I appreciate you writing that.

Haha! Good to see that the laptop is still going full steam ahead!

I'd never thought of that, but you are probably correct about the animal feed. I used to work many years ago near a factory that produced blood and bone. Also near that factory was another set of sheds that dried sheep skins and the smell over high summer from those two places was unforgettable.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Regarding roofs I suppose some are engineered to withstand heavy snow loads but whenever there is an unusually large snow some roofs do collapse - often flat, warehouse roofs. There are some long handled tools to take snow of the roof too but many just make do with a ladder - a dangerous practice overall.

Your bread video is great. I discovered some years ago my digestive system is much happier when I eliminate gluten so I no longer eat much bread. A loaf of a gluten free bread lasts me over a month. I always laugh when people go on a gluten free diet because it's "healthier" and eat all the gluten free processed goodies they want. I had always struggled with weight before but without all the bread, pretzels etc it's no longer an issue.

A note about my Gator perpetual spinach - it survived the zero degree temps we had a week ago even better than the kale.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - It was 23F, last night. Left the taps dripping, a bit. Nice to have a drippy tap! :-) Heading to John's, today, to get some drinking water. Have to watch the road. It's awful frosty.

Yes, like you, I always really think hard about electric gizmos. And, generally steer clear of them. I inherited all kinds of electrical tat from my landlord's Mum's place. A blender, food processor, hot air popcorn popper and a juicer. That was over a year ago, and the only one I've used is the blender. That came in handy when I was rendering the pumpkin. It was a little underdone after baking. I've thought about the sealer ... my landlord recommended a good brand. It sucks the air out and seals. But, with the turkey, I just put it in smallish plastic bags and squeezed as much air out, as I could. Seems to work, fine.

Those extra small rooms are very much in evidence here, in older homes. Usually called a larder or pantry. And, of course people used to have what was called fruit or root cellars. I'm lucky. In the inner hallway there's a quit large bit of built in cabinets with doors. Quit deep. I suppose it was for towels and sheets, and such. Since I have very little of that and my huge old Empire dresser holds all of that, I use it for my pantry. It's got quit a bit of canned stuff, both commercial and homemade. As soon as I get home from the store, I date the tops. And, the cupboards are roomy enough that it's easy to keep a rotation going.

I always bring Nell in around sunset. When it's time to bring Beau in, I pop her in the bathroom for the transfer. I don't know if he'd hurt Nell, but I'd rather not find out. The big news is, Beau was barking at something when I went to bring him in last night. I saw "something" on the deck rail, got my flashlight ... it was a raccoon! The first I've seen, here. It popped over the edge and then Beau and it really mixed it up. It finally ran up the fence and onto the shed roof. I thought Beau had been going through a lot of food. But, I figured it was just the cold weather. Once I got Beau in, I brought his food in, too.

So now I'm worried about the raccoon getting at my chickens, or Nell. I'm going to bring Beau in, earlier, tonight, and set the live trap. Hope I can catch him. Raccoons are a lot smarter than possums. Will call my landlord and see if he's got any raccoon trapping tips. Lew

PS: Simple explanation for the guy going back into Plato's cave ... he was returning for his wife, kiddies, aged Mum and maybe a mate or two. :-). That's the way it always works in the movies and books. The hero doubles back into a bad situation to save the screaming child or whining adolescent.