Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’

An early start to curing

Last year’s bresaola was sufficiently successful that I was determined to get an early start to curing this year.

First to be finished is a pork belly. I did a half salt, half sugar cure with instacure #2, black pepper and garlic powder for two weeks in the fridge, changing the cure half way through. This was a cure-in-the-bag arrangement, so it started dry and became wet with the extracted moisture.

This was followed by two months under the house wrapped in muslin. The finished product was inedibly salty but a day in fresh water fixes that. I think the extra salt was probably what let me get away with curing while the temperatures were a bit too high.

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The finished product! Now that it’s winter we’re not getting any eggs from our hens, so it’s nice to have something else home made on the plate.

Note that this is not a “how to cure”. I don’t have enough experience to help someone else do this: it’s just a record of my own experiments. If you intend to cure at home, I’d recommend getting a good book or doing a lot of googling.

Autumn 2014

It’s autumn again; almost winter. New baby is 6 months. We lost a cat to a snake bite but we have a new cat now. All of the summer veg is out and winter crops are in, hopefully not too late to germinate.

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The basil is under a makeshift cloche: Jerusalem artichoke stems tied together to make a frame, with a plastic bag over them.

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This is the kids genuinely helping to harvest said artichokes! Miss 5 even helped to scrub them.

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In another bed, we have silver beet and rainbow chard just starting again, self seeded from last year’s crop. Silver beet is our most reliable winter veg, but it’s hard to get the kids to eat it.

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Miss 5 gave me a sticker for my hard work.

An autumnal cake

Until we set an orchard, we’re reliant on the shops for fruit. If like us you’re not lucky enough to have fruit trees, you can usually tell that a fruit is in season because it’s cheap in the shops.

Right now it seems to be pear season. These are going into Miss soon-to-be-4’s birthday cake. The great thing about pears is that if you slightly overdo it, they don’t make the cake taste weird.

So the recipe was 6 pears, halved and roasted until soft, then cooled, cored, skinned and pureed. Into that went 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon if baking powder and about 1 cup of cocoa, plus some ground cinnamon and clove. Miss stb4 proclaimed that it “smelled gorgeous!” Mixed it till smooth, then beat in 4 big eggs. After that, in went about 250g melted butter and half a block of melted chocolate. Again, we mixed till smooth. Then we folded in about 2 cups plain flour. If you overbeat cake mixture that contains flour, it sets the gluten off and makes the cake tough. The advantage of adding the flour at the end is that you can beat the hell out of it to get the mix smooth at first, and you only need to ease off at the end when the flour goes in.

That went into an oven preheated to 160 for about 50 minutes. I put a tall baking paper collar around to stop it burning, which seemed to work.

This makes heaps of batter. You might want to halve it actually:

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It made 1 big cake and 3 small ones.

I think this is the best cake I’ve ever made: moist, spongy and chocolatey. Miss stb4 was much more interested in the batter though, and completely rejected the cake in favor of licking the bowl! 

Edit: once you decorate a cake for a four year old, all traces of the seasons are lost:
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Green tomato sauce

A while back we cleaned out our tomatoes to make way for broad beans.

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We also picked out remaining people beans and olives.

Most of the tomatoes didn’t ripen so I made some green tomato sauce with them. Step 1 was smoking them, but I missed getting a picture of that. Then, in the pan with about a kilo of browned onions and some apples:

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Had to do the onion in batches.

Then I boil up cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, while black pepper, caraway, coriander, cumin, cayenne and anything else that takes my fancy in some vinegar, strain through a cloth into the tomatoes, tie off and drop the “bag” in.

Plenty of sugar goes in, a bit of salt, and then it boils away for a while.

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Six jars, some of them whoppers! This is great on roast beef.

First broad bean sprout

Our first broad bean of the season has just poked its head out of the soil!

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We have a row planted where the bean curtain was over summer, a spot that’s roasting in summer but might not be sunny enough in winter. Time will tell.

[edit: a sprout, not a spirit!]

Autumn rabbits?

This was meant to be an Easter post but circumstances conspired.

This shouldn’t be overly surprising: we don’t celebrate Easter. At least not at the same time as most of the world.

It’s autumn here in Canberra. The days are getting shorter and cooler, and the ground is looking forward to its leafy blanket. It’s harvest time too and we’re enjoying tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, figs, berries and stone fruit.

With chickens moulting, there are few eggs to be found, and I’ve not seen a rabbit in a while. The imagery of spring, so relevant in the northern hemisphere, is seriously out of place here.

But what’s a parent to do when the shops are full of chocolate bunnies and eggs? Even though we can tell our kids that the festivals of the northern hemisphere are six months out of phase here, I wouldn’t want them to miss out on anything tasty! And the point of celebrating the sessions as they happen is not about privation.

Here’s what we’ve done this year. While chocolate spring is in season, we’ve stockpiled it’s gooey bounty for the real, southern hemisphere spring: September. And for right now, we’re celebrating the abundance of autumn with something slightly more seasonal.

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Punnet of raspberries, melted chocolate, and some sticks

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Drizzle a little chocolate into each raspberry and insert the stick. Pop them in a tin.

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It’s fiddly but goes faster than you’d think. Pop them the fridge to set.

Once set, dip in the remaining molten chocolate.

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Three-year-old had great fun with this.

I call them “raspberry pops”, but three year old thinks “chocolate raspberries”is more appropriate.

We bought our raspberries this year but hopefully our canes will be established enough next year that we have our own to use.

Cooking with silver beet

Silver beet and rainbow chard were our best performers this year. They seem to be pest resistant and they are nutritious and quick to prepare.

This seasonal sage and pumpkin pasta dish exemplifies it:
Fry a small onion in a knob of butter with about a tablespoon of chopped sage. Keep the heat reasonably high so it all browns nicely. Once brown, throw in about a cup of finely diced pumpkin. Butternut works really well. Let it cook for about 5 mins, stirring so it browns evenly. Add a small pinch of nutmeg and half a cup of white wine.

As this is reducing on a lowered heat, either slice your washed silver beet into ribbons, or just hack at it with scissors. Pop it into your colander.

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Cook the usual quantity of your preferred pasta. When it’s done, simply drain the pasta through the silver beet in the colander. This is enough to cook it. Mix through, and dress with olive oil

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To finish the sauce, stir 2 tablespoons of sour cream and another 2 tablespoons of chopped sage through, thin to the desired sauciness and pop it on the pasta. 

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Top with parmesan, crumbled feta, and/or pine nuts.

I hope you enjoy this with your home grown silver beet!

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