Saturday, December 31, 2011

Organic Raspberry Curd

I came across raspberry butter on Pinterest whilst pinning preserves ideas.  I love lemon butter and raspberries (which we have plenty of) and decided to give it a go.  I also had some serious enthusiasm and offer of help from the Big Bowerbird.  There are a lot of different techniques for making raspberry curd, after some deliberation we decided to use a fairly involved one.  Not so simple, but very tasty.

Here is our own take on the recipe

  1. Mash 580gm of raspberries (what we picked yesterday - they're starting to wane)
  2. Pass berries through metal sieve to remove seeds (some recipes don't do this)
  3. Cream 1and 1/4 cups castor sugar with 170gm butter in large glass bowl
  4. Gradually add 8 egg yolks to mixer and combine
  5. Add pinch of salt then gradually add raspberry juice until well combined.  Our mix looked split but this doesn't matter.
  6. Transfer bowl to sit on a saucepan of water. Cook on low.  Butter will melt then mixture will gradually thicken.  This process took around 30mins, we were whisking to keep mixture combined. I used my mostly neglected kitchen thermometer and brought the mix to 80 degrees Celsius.
  7. Take off heat and whisk whilst cooling
  8. Place in sterilised jars
  9. Will keep for 1-2 weeks or you can freeze


I liked the pre mixing in this recipe which meant there was little chance of getting curdled egg in the curd.

We added 3 whole eggs, and a dash of cream to the remaining egg whites and had a tasty dish of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives for dinner.

The raspberry curd is silken and has an intense raspberry flavour, my eldest said it looks like a strawberry milkshake.  She was an amazing helper through the process, stirring, pulping and sterilising. Middle one was also a great helper playing a lengthy game of hide and seek with the little Bowerbird to keep her out of our hair.  They were all busting to lick the bowl. I think the curd is screaming pancakes, or a wonderful filling for a macaroon or sponge with cream.

A Happy New Year to you all.  
I hope you have a beautiful evening with family and friends.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pip's Potato Curry and Slowing Down

 I made this last week and can highly recommend it
 Pip's Potato Curry.  
For the recipe visit
 Goes very well with this on a warm summer's evening. The recipe was quite generous and I enjoyed sharing it with my parents the following day for lunch. I would put more onion in next time, we have plenty drying by the back door at the moment.

 The only problem with sitting outdoors on warm summer evenings.

Middle Bowerbird showing us his self portrait.
 Growing his first adult tooth.
 Check out those last day of school black rings under his eyes. Utterly exhausted.
The Big Bowerbird cried in the supermarket getting icy poles after her last day of school, it was hot and she was so tired and recovering from a nasty cold, bless her little heart.

Loving the holidays, sleep ins (thanks mum) and slower pace of life.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I hate Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Hate is a strong word I know, and those Cocky crests are very cool.
I awoke to this sight last week and must confess that tears welled in my eyes.  I am getting just a little too attached to  my vegie patch.

Tags lay scattered on the ground marking the graves of melons that might have been. Each little melon snipped at the base for no apparent reason. Pure evil cockatoo behaviour, it's not food, it's fun. I would love to have seen them pulling out the tags, why I ask, why?????
This patch was once filled with beautifully spaced heritage corn grown from seed. Only a few of the 30 odd plants remain. The cucumbers I placed in between them using the three sisters approach are also snipped and kaput.The second lot of corn has also emerged and been trimmed.

What was verdant and lovingly tended is now brown and lifeless.  They even snipped all the flower heads off my marigolds just to add insult to injury.

Now every time I hear their wicked screech I wonder what they're up to. They're into the apples as well, but at least they're eating them, which is entirely justifiable bird behaviour. They're welcome to the pines that surround our house too.

Such strong beaks are capable of so much damage so quickly, especially when they turn up in big numbers.

They have found these pumpkins since I photographed them and have done a thorough job of thinning them. ughhh.  Now I have ugly plastic guards on everything in the hope the little seedlings can get big enough to face the Cockies wrath.

Now the autumn maize is growing,
Now the corn-cob fills,
Where the Little River flowing
Winds among the hills.
Over mountain peaks outlying
Clear against the blue
Comes a scout in silence flying,
One white cockatoo.
Back he goes to where the meeting
Waits among the trees.
Says, “The corn is fit for eating;
Hurry, if you please.”
Skirmishers, their line extendiing,
Shout the joyful news;
Down they drop like snow descending,
Clouds of cockatoos.

At their husking competition
Hear them screech and yell.
On a gum tree’s high position
Sits a sentinel.
Soon the boss goes boundary riding;
But the wise old bird,
Mute among the branches hiding,
Never says a word.

— excerpt from poem by  A B Banjo Paterson 1930s

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - Cacatua galerita
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848

Don't be fooled by their good looks. Last year they were snipping off my Giant Russian Sunflowers before they had even flowered. Any suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Xmas Post

7am,  not unreasonable, just a little early, especially as I had been given a nasty cold for Christmas.

Squeals of delight as presents were opened. Lovely to share the morning excitement with mum and dad. That is hair clips she's grinning maniacally about, you should have heard the screams about new undies and play-dough. Sad to say, it seems I've shared that nasty cold with mum as well.
Mum brought Indonesian delights like this hand carved mushroom and vanilla beans and palm sugar, yum. 

Croissants with home made jam for breakfast then off to Nannas for lunch.

More presents and a traditional roast lunch for 20 family members.  Not so many pictures as I was feeling too tired and snotty but the Cold tablets got me through the day. I'm not usually a big fan but if you can't lie down and rest, these are a real saviour.  I even forgot to get a picture of the beautifully laid table, complete with the little Bowerbirds hand made pine cone place cards.
 Off to my brothers for dinner and a white Christmas. A mega hail storm pounded down and damaged houses and cars nearby.  
 Prawn cocktails and left over roast.
A long day with a double feast, especially for the little Bowerbirds and then the day was over.  

We drove by the neighbourhood Xmas lights at the end of the day, and I'm ashamed to say I tried to wake our small children so they could see them, they were that impressive.  Fortunately they were way too out of it and slept through my own crazy squeals of delight, perhaps too many cold tablets at this stage. I know those mega house lights are bad in their consumerism and power use but I do love them in all their bright kitschy goodness. I had a great chat with the owners of a house about the spirit of Christmas and all the joy the lights bring - I just adored their enthusiasm.

Merry Xmas to you all.
from the Bowerbirds

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Preserves for Reserves

Merry Christmas 
with lots of love from the Bowerbirds

The big Bowerbird can now whip up a jar of raspberry jam with her eyes closed.  This one is Raspberry and Alpine strawberry jam. Place 1/2 the amount of sugar to the weight of berries in the microwave with a slice of lemon and cook for around 30 mins, checking every 5mins or so until set. This is a wonderful flavoursome and reliable recipe. Sadly the raspberries are starting to slow down, perhaps another week of berry bliss before we talk about the halcyon crop of a long lost summer. We think at least 12kg of berries have been happily picked from sprawling canes. 

Have my mum and dad with me at the moment for Xmas.  Mum helped me make some vanilla bean and apricot jam and some black currant, rhubarb and apple jam.  So much jammy goodness and the shelves are heaving and looking beautiful in all their glorious shades. Warms the heart to see them filled. We also had a session sorting jars into smelly/non smelly (those chutneys really leave their mark), cleaning off sticky labels, fitting on the correct lids, and throwing away any jars missing lids.  I am all set for a summer of preserving.

Apricot jam
Cook 3kg apricots and 1/2 a cut vanilla bean in 1 cup of home made pectin until well stewed. Add 2.5kg sugar and cook until set.

Black Currant, Apple and Rhubarb Jam
Cup black currants (all we had on our bush)
2 apples
600g rhubarb
1/2 cup home made pectin
600g sugar
Cook without sugar until soft, add sugar and cook until set.  It's amazing how dominant the black currants are - this jam tastes like lollies.

Raspberry, Apple and Rhubarb Jam
2kg raspberries
600g chopped apples
600g chopped rhubarb
1 jar home made pectin
2kg sugar
cook rhubarb and apples until soft (add a little extra water if required - only enough to help cook and stop sticking), add berries and sugar, cook until set.

Set test.  Put saucer in freezer.  Place teaspoon of jam on saucer when it seem to be thickening. If the jam stays separate after you run your finger through it then it's ready.

Home Made Pectin -
I made this before I started blogging, with Christine at Slow Living Essentials.  You can use the bought stuff as a substitute but it's been great to have masses of the free stuff made out of apple peel and cores in jars ready to go. It has been taking up room in my cupboard for quite a while, however has been proving it's worth of late. Great for low pectin jams like berry and apricot.  For instructions and more about the wonderful apple day we had follow this link:
or these directions from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial