Bean Bag capers

Obviously Truffles is unaware of the rules of the BEAN BAG, Tom’s prize possession and a no go zone for anything or anyone else. To merely touch it means risking a nasty hook claw placed painfully on your person. Strangely, he allowed the kitten’s presence, though he has spent the last few days hissing at the very sight of her.

Other observations today – bread oven complete, except for the final two thin coats of waterproofing = 2 days before it can be used for baking.


Green day

Bit of a focus on green today it seems. Spinach from the garden (silver beet actually) to make spinach and feta pies, pea and ham soup in the slow cooker and I’m about to go and plant rows and rows of dwarf beans.

Fresh broad beans picked from the garden for dinner, yum.

Whoever said it wasn’t easy being green?  It’s going to be great.

See what I mean?

Here she is, a better photo, content as always when on some-one’s lap, in this case Robert’s.

More about Truffles the kitten

She’s a funny little thing, this kitten we adopted last week.  She was one of a litter of five – the mother was run over by a car, the kittens instantly orphaned.  Daughter Courtney fostered them for the Hobart Feline Rescue Centre, bottle feeding them every two hours for weeks.

Truffles had trouble sucking, and did not want to eat at all.  It was doubtful that the poor little mite would survive.  She did though, largely due to Courtney’s perseverance with her.  Still very underweight when I first saw her, she was the one I wanted to adopt.  Well actually, I hadn’t planned to adopt any.  However, so tiny and so helpless is a winning combination, especially when she climbed on my lap, and so here she has come to live.

She eats with impressive voracity now and is starting to put on weight quite rapidly.  She loves to be cuddled and between smooches, has taken a fancy to the cat gym in the lounge room for her naps.

No-one could ever say she was pretty as such.  She looks like a Dr Seuss character – all lanky, long legs and skinny short tail, tiny pointed face, rounded little belly.  She has stripes that go nowhere, interrupted by short tufts of fur that stick up above the rest fro no apparent reason.  She looks like she’s been put together with leftover bits that weren’t wanted by others.

She is I’m told, a tabby-torty – meaning that she has ginger in her coat, seemingly randomly placed in her case.

For all that she is, we love her to bits.  She is so sweet natured and full of confidence.  On her first short spell outside today, she was captivated by the pansies that fluttered in the gentle breeze.

I heard some-one say recently that two cats is a party; three, as we have now, means you qualify as a crazy cat lady.  So be it – happy for it to be that way.

Goat’s cheese at last

Finally the goats cheeses are finished, with the exception of the yoghurt which still needs to be made into Labna. Marinated feta and herbed chèvre frais now ready for use.

Truffles the kitten

Meet the new addition to the family. This is Truffles the kitten.

She originated from the Feline Rescue Centre, and was fostered with her 4 siblings for several weeks by our Courtney. What a beautiful little thing she is, so affectionate. The other cats are not very impressed, but they will get used to her I expect. She’s too cute to send back, so they will have to, no choice.

Making goats cheese

Well today I decided to make cheese with a kit that our Courtney gave me a little while ago. Being lucky enough to have 7 litres of goats milk on hand, I’d decided upon making goat feta, chèvre frais and finally ricotta from the whey.

I didn’t quite realise that the feta would take so long, in the sense that it has to be held at 37 degrees C for at least 3 hours in total. That meant I had to stay with it, boring! Never mind, filled the time with baking a double batch of Anzacs as nibbles for the class here tomorrow. The elderflowers have finally broken their buds and so was able to start off a bucketful of sparkling elderflower.

The ricotta was a revelation – I used the whey from the cow’s milk labna that is hanging in the cooking school, as well as the whey from the goats feta. Robert tok over the stirring while it came up to temperature. No-one could say the yield of ricotta was huge, but it’s the real deal, looks and tastes amazing. The whey I will use in breads tomorrow.

Miss Rosie the kitten was well pleased too – she loved the goats milk, whereas she won’t touch cow’s milk unless it’s the very expensive lactose free kitten milk.

All in all, a very satisfying experimental day in the kitchen. I’ll admit it is a bit of a pity about the beans that didn’t get planted as I’d planned. Also a shame about the washing that is now drenched on the line – I was too engrossed in what I was doing before the thunderstorm struck. Oh well, as my Nan used to say, housework will always wait for you….

Flummery

There was much discussion during the Jams and Preserves talkback on ABC radio let Saturday regarding flummery.  Goodness, it’s decades since I made it – I’d quite forgotten about this, though I regularly made it back in the 70s.  Children generally love this dessert and it can be made quite nutritious if you use fruit juice and fold through fruit after beating the milk.

Anyway, I decided to come home and revisit the recipe, which I did, using mulberries as a flavouring.  I simply simmered some frozen mulberries and then strained off the juice.  Any berry fruit could be used.

Well, the flummery was a success, which was just as well seeing as there were several visitors for dinner last night. I topped each serving with a spoonful of mixed berry jelly.

At serving time I placed on top of each dish, a small scoop of lemon ice cream.

So here is the recipe for the flummery.

1 tin evaporated milk
1 packet jelly crystals
1 cup fruit juice or boiling water

Place the tin of milk in the fridge overnight.

Next day, mix the jelly crystals with either 1 cup of boiling water or 1 cup of fruit juice, heated to boiling point and stir until the crystals are fully dissolved. Leave to cool and just begin to thicken, but not set.

Beat the evaporated milk until thick and creamy and soft peaks form, then beat in the jelly mixture. Spoon into serving glasses.

For optional berry topping, dissolve 1 packet raspberry or port wine jelly crystals in 1 cup of boiling water or boiling fruit juice, then mix in ½ cup mixed berries. Chill until beginning to thicken, then spoon onto the set flummery.

If liked, top with a tiny scoop of ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Variation – you can also fold fresh berries through the flummery once the milk and jelly mixture have been beaten together.

ABC yesterday – listener recipe for rum balls

Lots of requests on ABC radio yesterday morning for the rum balls that a listener from Plenty rang in. To save anyone listening to the audio, I’ve just typed it up. There were strong reminders also about a dish I used to make back in the 70s – flummery (very chic in those days). I’m revisiting the recipe for visitors this evening – mulberry flavour made from my very last container of frozen mulberries. If it turns out anyways decent, I will post a recipe and photo tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the recipe for those “Plenty” rum balls:

500g dried mixed fruit
3 tablespoons rum (or more)
12 Weetbix, crushed
395g tin condensed milk
3 tablespoons cocoa

Soak the fruit with the rum overnight.

Next day, mix in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Roll into balls and roll in coconut.

The firing

Don’t want to labour the point about the bread oven, but yesterday it was lit for the first time, just a small fire to help dry out the external layers of vermiculite, also to burn the inner wooden frame that guided the oven dome. This was watched as always by various members of the menagerie – curious kitten Rosie and ever-faithful Snow.

Just a coat of render now and we are all set for the first trial baking.