Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Wrap-Up

There is such a big build up to Christmas, that when it is all over, you can see the kids coming down from their high, but we have settled into an easy pace here at the farm. I have hardly seen the boys without their iphones in their hands, catching up with their friends and playing games. Paul has been busy chrome plating with Cole, mosaic-ing with Georgie and today is tye-dying with can imagine the state of my house, but it is all so much fun and good to do some interactive things with the kids.

The boys and I have been chilling out watching Revolution and Lauren has been spending most of the time with her new boyfriend, Luke. I cook large meals (most times there are nine of us here) late in the day when the house gets a little cooler, and I have got back into the habit of making bread...and avoiding the shops.

My hampers turned out well , although I ran out of time to cook everything I wanted to ... and it has been way too hot to use the oven. So next year, I will start a little earlier with the baked goods. The family loved them, especially the preserves and chutneys sourced with ingredients from our farm. You can't beat that.

Paul was really thoughtful and bought me a Fowlers Vacola which I am really keen to try. It is basically a large water bath and the beauty is that the temperature is relatively controlled. I can now preserve fruits and pickled vegetables. It comes with special jars (which are very expensive and well sought after secondhand) but I have done research and can use others. I will report back on my results.

He also bought me a box of these jars with screw on lids. When you make a jam or relish you make sure the jar and the filling are hot and then tip upside down for fifteen minutes. When you turn it back the right way a vacuum is created and the lid pops in, just like a commercial jar. This probably works for all jars but is something I never knew until I read the instructions. I am making a list of yummy things to make and ingredients to shop for at the markets tomorrow.

Green Living Australia

I always love how one thing leads to another. I have been saving my glass jars for the past six months and now have large collection, but with preserving it is important to use new lids. I had no idea that you could buy lids for supermarket jars...until I read someone mention it. A few Google searches later and I discovered my ultimate online shop -  Green Living Australia. I had a gift of $100 from my dad for Christmas so I lashed out and bought something which will help me do something I have had my heart set on for a while:

Hard Cheese Kit - Green Living Australia

I bought a Hard Cheese Kit! Sounds weird huh? But I get everything I need (except for the milk) to make twenty kilos of cheese including:

Large Curd Cottage Cheese
Farmhouse Cheddar
Monterey Jack

Lauren's boss makes her own cheeses. including camembert, so I will be able to get some pointers from her. Apparently this kit suits beginners who have never made cheese before. I have always wanted to make cheddar as we use 1-2 kilos per week with hungry teenage boys. I can probably source the ingredients individually but a kit to start with will do me just fine...including the instructions. Green Living Australia also have amazing tutorials...yoghurt is next on my list.

I can see that some of the things on my holiday list will not get attended to...oh well, holidays are to be enjoyed and plans can always be changed.

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas at your place. I would love to hear about it.

Have you ever made cheese before or used a Vacola?
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