Another book on the way

Let the games begin – or rather the photo shoot. Tomorrow we start a 4 day photo shoot of recipes for my new cookbook, to be released in March 2017.

No prizes for guessing the subject matter of this one, the picture tells it all – it’s another slow cooker book!


There are more than a hundred completely new recipes that I’ve tried and tested and re-tested over the past few months.  I’ve twisted and tweaked them until I am certain all the dishes are really delicious.

As you can see, there are plenty of slow cookers standing at the ready.

Some are scraped, battered and worn, a couple even dating back decades to when our older children were babies. They were my lifesavers, enabling me to get dinner on the table with comparative ease each day.

There was one casualty from all the recent testing, so sad – it was one of my favourites. It slipped from my clumsy fingers and landed upside down on the floor. It deserved a better end, it had done a lot of work in its time.


And so to bed. To say it’s an early start tomorrow is a bit of an understatement – the first dish needs to be ready for photography by 9am.

More than ten recipes a day for the next four days …. hmmm. Should be a lot of fun though, a little hectic perhaps…..

Spring on the Way in the Valley

Almost another busy week passed by on the ‘farm’ with a hint of spring int he air.

One eyed Jack the possum has settled in well, becoming quite accustomed to his changed circumstances. Each afternoon he saunters up to his cubby house and waits patiently for his dinner to arrive – a mixture of fruit and vegetables with a little something protein.

I think he’s learned to tell the time, he’s very punctual and waits patiently, in good company with the dozens of chooks and ducks waiting for their afternoon wheat.

A neighbour has filled in a little extra detail of Jack’s back-history. As I think I mentioned, Jack was often seen, day and night, wandering down the middle of the road.

Our neighbour one afternoon found him asleep standing up, on the verge near our gate. He got out of the car to check he was alright. He nudged him gently just to be sure. Jack opened his one eye and looked up at him blearily, then went straight back to sleep, same spot, same stance.

It’s becoming very obvious that the fortified lamb and ewe pellets that Robert has been feeding the sheep to supplement their diet have done wonders for Ramekin also. This week Doris gave birth to twins. Oh dear – but despite the intense cold, frost and rain, they are thriving. She’s a good mum, even though she’s very old now.


Today, after a big shop for a photo shoot here next week, Robert is back at his bottling – cider this time. Don’t think anyone is going to go thirsty here in a hurry.


The indoor pets of course spend their days at leisure, Truffles unfailingly asleep beside me on the desk where I work; old Tom in his bean bag, and Rosie and Poppy following Robert wherever he goes.


It’s just another lovely week in the Valley……

A Little Book News

Here’s a little news coming up. Anyone who listened to ABC radio Jams and Preserves talkback a week or two ago would have heard us mention that I have a book and a half being released early next year. A little curious…..

Here is the link to the book that I’ve had the privilege to write with ABC Tasmania’s delightful and talented Paul McIntyre.


The cover picture will be up on the HarperCollins website soon, so watch for that because we think it’s absolutely perfect, all credit to our publisher.

“The Little Book of Slow” will be released in early February.

(The other book of mine will be released in March, but more about that another time).

Paul and I really hope you enjoy this book we have written together, something just a little different.


The Bottling of the Wine

Monumental day today – the time has come for bottling off the white wine. It’s been sitting in the shed quietly doing its thing for months. Thirty five was the final bottle count, a real treasure.

So far so good, tastes amazing.

We never plan to sell any wine, just make enough for us to share with friends and family at some very special dinners.


One-Eyed Jack

You might remember a week or two ago that I spoke about one-eyed Jack, the old possum that lives here on the property. Because he is so aged and almost blind, he forages night or day, digging for corbi grubs in the grass and smelling out anything remotely edible.

He seemed quite happy but we were sure he could do with a little help.

Last week we pulled apart the ‘cat gym’ in the lounge room to make way for more book cases.

In the centre of the gym was a lovely furry cubbyhole, just the right size for a possum. Robert decided to take it over to a sheltered spot quite near the house. I doubted Jack would like it, seeing as cats had spent a fair amount of time in there.

I was wrong. Jack took to it like the proverbial duck to water, grateful it seemed for a warm, dry spot.

Each afternoon now he gets free home delivery of a small snack of fruits and vegetables.

At first he would not come out – you could just hear an appreciative crunching of apple or carrot in the back corner of his new ‘den’. However, slowly but surely he has been losing his fear of us.

Now just this afternoon he came just a little out the front opening to welcome his afternoon tidbits, poor darling.

It may sound corny I know, but it’s really special to have such a lovely old fellow like Jack enjoying a little creature comfort towards the end of his days.

However we’re hoping that his improved diet will ensure that he has quite a while to live here yet.


Raspberry Jam in excess

I’ve been a bit carried away making jams from the fruit in the freezer. I’d thought I was short on raspberry jam, so have made several batches over the last couple of weeks.

This morning however, I discovered a whole boxful that was made about three months ago.

So…. I have just put a dozen or so jars out on the stall at our gate.

There’s nothing at all wrong with the jam, perfect for cooking or even toast or scones. It’s just that it was not made within the last couple of weeks and is excess to what I need.

This jam, to differentiate it from the other fresher made batches, it is marked as “raspberry jam for cooking”, and is on the bottom shelf of the stall – $2.00 per jar.

Banana Fritters

We had some friends drop in this morning and, having been away for a few days, had no cakes or biscuits baked to serve with their cuppa.

An all-time quick and easy remedy for this is always pikelets. However, this morning I happened to have bananas at hand, and so made banana fritters instead. I even had the last remnants of a bottle of lemonade a friend had brought a few days ago, and so added a little of that as well.

Anyway, the fritters were so well received that I thought I’d share the recipe. I kind of made it up on the spur of the moment, but it’s similar to one I used to make for the children when they arrived home from school starving hungry each afternoon.

Topped with a drizzling of a lovely Tasmanian honey and maybe a dollop of yoghurt, they are a pretty healthy afternoon snack to tide hungry tummies over till dinner time.

If you leave off serving them with yoghurt (or use a coconut milk yoghurt), they are dairy free as well.

Banana Fritters

3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 teaspoons sugar
2 cups self raising flour
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemonade (or water or fruit juice)
3 teaspoon rice bran oil
3 teaspoons lemon juice
4 bananas
Rice bran oil, extra – for cooking the fritters

Whisk together the eggs and sugar, then all at once, whisk in the remaining ingredients, except bananas and extra rice bran oil.

Cut the bananas in half lengthways and them cut into 8mm slices. Fold into the batter. (if the mixture appears a little thick, just add a bit extra water).

Meanwhile, heat rice bran oil (to a depth of 8mm) in a frying pan over medium heat.

Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook on one side till golden brown, then turn over and cook on the other side similarly. (they will need about 3 minutes each side).

Check that they are cooked through with the tip of a sharp knife inserted in the centre. If they are still a little wet, reduce heat and cook a couple of minutes more.

Drain on paper towel briefly before serving, drizzled with honey and topped with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.


Recipes for Jams and Preserves Segment

As promised, recipe to follow for recipes discussed on ABC radio yesterday morning.

First, the pineapple cordial, then the batter for fish and that easy sauce for battered seafood.

I was also asked about a recipe for Kimchi.  The recipe I use is actually one of Sandor Katz’s, so not able to post this.  It should be available online.

If I’ve forgotten any that were discussed, feel free to email me and I will post it immediately..

Pineapple Cordial Syrup

Recipe from “A Year on the Farm”, ABC Books

1.5kg pineapple cores, peels or a whole pineapple

2 cups water

Juice and rind 1 large lemon


3 teaspoons tartaric or citric acid

Chop the pineapple roughly and place in food processor.  Process until the pieces are quite fine.  Pour into a saucepan with the water.  Bring to the boil and barely simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain though a colander, then the resulting liquid through a finer sieve, pressing down to extract maximum juice.  To each cup of liquid (there will probably be about 3 cups) add 1 cup of sugar.  Bring up to the boil and simmer one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and rind, along with the tartaric acid.  Leave to cool.  Strain through a fine kitchen sieve, then pour into bottles.

To serve use one part syrup to 4 parts water.

In warmer climates or in summer keep in the fridge.

Light and Airy Batter

This recipe, like the one to follow for the sauce, is from  “Out of the Bottle” or “Complete Preserves”, ABC Books

1 cup self raising flour

¼ to ½ teaspoon salt

Good pinch of bi-carbonate of soda

Cold water to mix.

Sift the flour, salt and bi-carbonate of soda into a bowl.

Mix with enough cold water to a coating consistency.

Ginger Seafood Sauce

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons grated fresh green ginger root

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons cornflour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup white or cider vinegar

½ cup water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 dessertspoon white wine (optional)

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

½ teaspoon salt

Heat oil over medium heat, then sauté garlic and ginger in this for one minute. Combine the rest of the ingredients and add to garlic and ginger.

Stir quickly over heat until the sauce begins to thicken.

Simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.



Strange Things on the Farm

There are strange things that happen here at times. You might recall that we were given an old ram; Ramekin I named him. His owner said he was no longer any good for breeding, but as I had been so fond of him when he’d visited on occasion, he could now come to us for his forever home, to live out his days.

Now this suited me perfectly. I loathe lambing season, and am devastated when one lamb occasionally doesn’t make it.

And so Ramekin was perfect. No lambs last year at all. Generally, he has been looking better. His limp is almost gone, his wool much improved and he has become quite fat.

HOWEVER, on the coldest, frostiest morning yesterday, this is the sight that greeted us – a ewe with a brand new lamb. I feared that it would die from the cold, but it looks in good condition and feeding well.

IMG_1943It’s been interesting to watch in a way. Puppy Poppy was puzzled and stood on the rock wall (behind the electric fence) and barked and barked at the new arrival. There’s no way she can get near it.  The sheep, with the notable exception of Ramekin, instantly huddled around the lamb as if to protect it.

In the paddock keeping the sheep company is an old brown possum. We caught him once when we borrowed a (humane) possum trap from a friend, when we were trying to ascertain who was the marauder of the rhubarb. He just sat there in the trap, quite unperturbed. He has only one eye and the other is failing, though not infected.

What can you do? We let him out, down by one of our trees. I asked the vet about him and they said he is ok, and will just fend for himself in this safe environment here. He must be almost blind, because he comes out in the daytime, digging corbi grubs from the paddocks. At night he feeds on the rhubarb patch or shrubs.


I love to watch the animals here, and getting back to the sheep – I am now wondering if the other ewes are just fat as I had assumed, or are there more babies on the way?

Meantime, I’m having fun with my ‘freezer garden’, next best thing to making jams from fresh produce in summer. Gooseberry jam now made, apricot so far today, then blackberry in a few minutes, and redcurrant with raspberry later this afternoon.

IMG_1945IMG_1947Not a bad place to be on a cold wintry day, though Poppy and Rose are not too keen on getting their feet wet in the sodden paddocks. They would rather watch Robert pruning the trees in the orchard from the front verandah poor babies.


Pet Treats recipe

Now, speaking of pets as I was earlier, you might recall that I posted about the little biscuity treats I make for ours. Although this will be coming out in a book early next year, I now have permission to share it anyway.


Dogs, cats and even people like them, truly. After all, they contain all good ingredients, supposing you like liverwurst, which I most certainly don’t.

A final word on pets – naturally ours are all inside dozing in their spot of choice for a rainy day. In the top of some shelves we have placed two cat beds, and a carpeted post for them to climb up to reach there.

It’s old Tom’s favourite spot, but he won’t sleep inside the bed, only on top of it- he’s pushed it down to suit. Here he is laid out in style, on his back with only back feet and tip of tail visible. Should either of the other cats try to climb up there, woe betide them – they get a hook claw come over the edge to welcome them, a pretty effective deterrent.


And so to that recipe…

Pet Treats (for dogs or cats)

1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable or rice bran oil
1¼ cups plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
¾ cup cornmeal (polenta)
½ cup chicken stock
100g liverwurst
60g finely grated pumpkin

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 biscuit baking trays with baking paper.

Mix all ingredients together well, adding a little water if need be to bring the mixture together.

Turn the dough out on lightly floured surface & knead briefly. Roll out to 8mm thickness.

With a small cookie cutter, stamp out biscuit shapes. Place on prepared trays.

Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

Store the treats in an airtight container in the fridge.