Snow again!

Snow again this morning! Third time this year after 30 years of none settling in this little nook in the valley.  What a wonderful winter! This is the sight from the bedroom window when I opened the curtains.

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Our Tom

When you once were a feral, bliss is the warmth of a house to call home and a basket you’ve commandeered from the other two resident cats. The look on Tom’s face says it all.

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But wait, there’s more

OK, can’t resist it, here are some more photos from this morning, taken by Robert and Stephanie. The snow has almost melted now unfortunately, but we’ve been especially lucky to have two days of winter wonderland here this year, most unexpected as we were told that snow wouldn’t settle here.

Can you spot Poppy the puppy? Hard to see her in the snow. She spent about an hour outside romping with old gingerTom, then came back inside with icicles clinging to her tummy. She then spent 2 hours snuggled up to a warmed wheat pillow.

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Snow again!

It’s snowing here even more than last time. Absolutely beautiful!  I’m told that it’s quite a rare occurrence that snow actually settles in this little corner of the valley, so this is really special.

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Sad Day indeed

People who have come here might recall our dear old beagle Della, always a happy face to greet a visitor (especially if there was a hint of food).

Sadly today, just a few minutes ago, she passed away. She was such a faithful, gentle old thing and certainly an integral part of our family for a very long time. We will miss her terribly and the property here just won’t be the same without her.

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The War of the Cats

Young Truffles believes in being comfortable, especially if it’s in a basket stolen from under the nose of Rosie cat, who considers it to be hers by rights. Often a terrible battle ensues – these girls are certainly not the best of friends.

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The only way to end it before serious injury occurs is to wake up puppy Poppy and she sorts them out by the mere distraction of her presence. This place in a madhouse sometimes…..

Complete Preserves – another word

To be more specific about the contents of this new book – it has a preserving times and temperatures chart (for bottling fruit – this hasn’t been given before), recipes for jams, jellies, cordials, liqueurs, marmalades, sparkling fruit drinks, pickled vegetables (like onions), chutneys, sauces, mustard, pesto and relishes. Oh yes, curds as well.

That’s aside from all the other info about preserving of course.

The reason I’m so pleased about this particular book is that it is the culmination of four and a half decades of my (somewhat obsessive) preserving.

Complete Preserves – my new book arrives today

VERY excited.  I am one happy person right now. I have just received my advance copies of “Complete Preserves”. This is a combination of “A Year in a Bottle” and “Out of the Bottle”. After a few months of work, the information has been updated with new extra principles and tips for preserving, and the trouble shooting charts have also been upgraded.

It contains everything you ever wanted and needed to know about how to make your own preserves, and then how to incorporate them into your everyday cooking.

Having a pantry stocked with preserves is akin to having a toolbox of flavours at your fingertips.  They can be added to all manner of dishes so that each and every household can have their own signature recipes from those deletable preserves that have captured the essence of the seasons in a bottle.

Of course the book will be so very useful over summer months, the time of abundance, but even now there are onions, apples, lemons, cabbages, limes and so much more to preserve.  I have never had a month when there is not something to ‘put down’ (as the old saying goes) in a jar.

Oh yes – it will be available from September 1st and will retail for $29.99 per copy. That’s great value – it’s a really thick book, 465 pages.

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The lemon cake that did

I have a lovely lot of lemons here at the moment, and limes – gifts from friends and family. I decided to trial a recipe for a lemon cake that would incorporate leftover sour cream. I wanted especially to use a recipe of New Zealand chef Annabel White. I’d met her during the Restaurant Australia event last year. She is an amazing lady – full of fun, calls herself the cuddly cook – how cool is that!

I followed her instructions, messing only slightly with the content, changing light sour cream for regular sour cream, adding a bit of lemon juice. However, I decided to bake it in my old Bundt tin instead of her recommended 24cm springform round. Bad idea. It stuck like glue, so I had to scrape it out, in bits, with a knife.

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I hate defeat, so piled it into a cling-wrap lined bowl, made a triple batch of the glaze she recommended (lemon juice and sugar), poured it over and then weighted it down. I hoped the glaze would bind it together.

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IMG_2447IMG_2448IMG_2450Did it work? Oh yes indeed. (I love it when a plan comes together). Just as well, because I needed to serve it to guests for dessert at dinner. It was said to be very good, though so rich that you could only eat a small portion. I think it would serve about 12 people quite adequately. With vanilla ice cream I think.
That richness might have been the duck eggs I’d used in it – there were 8 in all, along with a couple of chook eggs.

If anyone would like to try it, I could put the recipe together. I could leave out the steps where the cake stuck to the tin mind you, and give an alternative of a lemon curd meringue cake…. a slightly smaller version.

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Working in a Winter Wonderland

How about this? Have the bread oven fired up and ready to do some baking for the photo shoot here today. Roast beef and lamb aromas floating down the valley in the midst of the snow – sounds go to me.IMG_1068IMG_1071IMG_1070