Sunday, 19 August 2012

Mammoth Marmalading Moment

Marvellous Marmalade!
A wonderful balanced weekend!  Plenty outdoor gardening activities, as well as indoor preserving tasks completed!  A sense of completion and satisfaction!

While Mike dissembled our rickety wood store, halving it's size, I was able to make the most of the drier weather and do some weeding tasks, planting out of a few flowering perennials and change the chook bedding.  They can be little buggers at times!  Like this morning, waking me at 6.30am with squarking and shrieking!  I hastily ran downstairs in a Sunday-sleep-fog, still in my pj's, grabbing food for them and rushing outdoors with no regard for the icey cold or my warm feet.  My main mission, "shut them up" before the neighbours complain.  Chucking the food inside, I rushed back inside, rubbed my wet feet dry and jumped back into bed.  Thank goodness for warm-morning hotwater bottles...... As I thankfully started to drift off to sleep again, they started up outside again. 
 "Not good enough" they skrarked!  We want more fresh greens!"
At that point, if I were not a confirmed vegetarian, I could gladly have wrung their scrawny little necks and put them in the crock pot for dinner!!
Mike, the early riser, headed off to collect fresh farm milk this morning, kindly went out and fed them handsful of greens to keep them quiet.  We happen to be in the very odd situation of having not 3 but 5 neighbours!  So keeping them all happy is of paramount importance!  One disgruntled neighbour has already complained that our chooks are attracting hungry little house sparrows, which then come over to his porch and poop all over his chairs, forcing him to have to hose down his porch!  Oh dear!

Chook treats: snails, problem is, they want constant treats!!
Back to kitchen activities on Saturday, I managed to make 9 bottles of beautiful marmalade (how do I know?  Coz' we taste-tested it this morning, on home-made toasted bread!).  Half-way through marmalade making, I had a "Northern Lights" experience, which may be the fore-runner of a migraine, though it never really comes to that, but my vision blurs and I get flashing lights in my eyes.  First time it happened was after a dentist appointment and I thought I was tripping out on the injection used to deaden a tooth!!  Anyway, Mike was called on to stir the rapidly boiling marmalade till it reached setting point.  I retreated to have a Zen Chi machine moment and hoped that the "trippy moment" would pass.  From the kitchen, there erupted many a fine French expletive and yelling, as Mike discovered the dangers of hot marmalade which sputs and spurts everywhere!
Luckily my Northern Lights diminished and I was able to take over the bottling part!  Mike was nursing several burns from scalding fruity larva!

3 grapefruits and lemons, and one small orange and lime

Small cotton bag to hold seeds - pectin to bind marmalade.

Boiling the citrus, with seed bag to the side.

3 large firm grapefruits, cubed, seeds reserved
3 large, firm lemons, sliced thinly, seeds reserved
6 cups water
about 6 cups sugar

Put all fruit and juice in a bowl and cover with water.  Place seeds in small cotton bag and add to bowl.  Leave to stand, covered overnight.  Transfer to jam pan and cook over medium heat until grapefruit skin is soft and half the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour.  Remove and discard the cotton bag.  Measure the pulp and return it to pot.  Add 1 cup sugar per cup pulp.  Boil till sugar dissolves, turn up heat and boil rapidly until setting point it reached, about 30 mins.  
Remove from heat, stir to distribute fruit and ladle into warm sterile jars and seal.
Makes about 8 cups.

(I added one lime and 1 orange, and used 2 cups less sugar than required.  I also buzzed the marmalade with my hand-held blender to create a smoother texture, with some course peel in it.)


1. Take one 800ml yoghurt, add 1 tsp salt and stir.

2.  Pour into a muslin/cotton lined sieve, over a bowl to catch the whey.  Leave to drain overnight.

3.  Next morning, turf out the collected solids into a bowl.

4.  Add extra salt if required, and herbs of choice.  Mix together
 and enjoy.

In my Mammoth Kitchen Session, I managed to make bread (in the bread maker) and pumpkin, cauli and cashew nut soup (an experiment which would be good to repeat) for our evening meal.  I also made Dijon Mustard and cream cheese which needs to sit overnight, so this morning, I could bottle the mustard and add chopped herbs to the cream cheese, which we shall enjoy for lunch, with freshly made bread.  I googled a recipe for eggless coconut macaroons, which I rustled up for morning tea this morning, however, the recipe called for stevia and I only have the green leaf variety, so they came out resembling dope cookies.  Not a recipe I shall repeat again.

Preparing to bottle the mustard, with a cut-off plastic bottle
top to perform as an easy-filling funnel.

Mustard, bottled, labelled and ready to sit and mature for one month.
 250g white mustard seeds (I added a mix of white and black)
1 1/4 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbspn honey
1 Tbspn salt

Grind mustard seeds in a coffee grinder, place in bowl and stir in vinegar.  Stir in remaining honey and salt.  Cover bowl with a dishcloth and leave overnight.  Check consistency in morning, adding more vinegar if needed.  (I added 1 Tbspn ground linseeds to thicken)   Spoon into clean jars and seal.  The mustard will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months.  It is ready to use after one month.  
Makes about 2 cups.

Trusty coffee grinder was bought in a second hand store for $10.

My dope-looking coconut macaroons!!  Not pretty!
Finding this choko in the back of my kitchen cupboard, it was an obvious
choice to plant it out in the garden. Choko-pickle, here we come!
My very own organic fertiliser.
The planting window begins on Tuesday, so in anticipation, I shall spend this rainy day preparing some seed trays with potting mix, so I can fly with my seed sowing next weekend.  I love this lunar window!  I have been experimenting with making a "solid" organic fertiliser.  I used the 1,2,3 method.  1 cup rock dust, to 2 cups of ash from the fire, and 3 cups coffee grounds.  I massage it all together and then distribute handsful under trees and around the veggies.  I think it will work, let's wait and see...