Friday, January 29, 2010

Another glorious Dunedin summer day.

And another pair of jandally sort of sandals.

Black leather, quite old. I wish I'd bought more pairs of these, they're really comfy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Summer shoes

We have been having actual summery weather the past two days. Time to break out the jandals:

These ones are made of black suede.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My first salami

My Spanish chorizo was so successful I decided to try making a salami. My brother's father-in-law put me onto the place where butchers buy their sausage-making supplies, so I checked out their website, rang them up with a list and my credit card number, and the next day I got a box at work.

For some unknown reason New Zealand butchers cannot access any natural sausage casings bigger than ~38mm. That's a pigs intestine. What we do with our beef intestines I have no idea - maybe we export them. This meant I had to get fibre casings for my salami, and I got some synthetic casings so I can have a go at making luncheon sausage (aka polony or fritz in Australia, or boloney in America) for my grandkids when they visit after Easter.

I also ordered 100 yards of 38mm pig intestine which arrived in a big hank, a bit like knitting wool, packed in salt. I decided to sort it into lengths so I don't need to untangle it every time I make sausages, and boy, what a task that was. Salted pig intestines smell extraordinarily like wet dog!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I recently bought both The Art of Making Fermented Sausages and Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing from Amazon, and the salami I decided to make is a sort of a cross between several of the recipes in each.

I minced about 1.5kg pork leg and 300g beef blade steak (both almost frozen) through the large plate in my mincer, then added about 4 cloves of minced garlic, some ginger, some white pepper and 60g of salt (including some nitrite and nitrate, the equivalent of 1 tsp Prague Powder #2 except home-made by me with lab chemicals). I used much less fat than any of the recipes said (trying to be a bit healthy), so I hope it doesn't come out too hard.

After mixing it well and nearly freezing my hands off I re-minced it through the small plate …

… packed it firmly into a bowl, covered it with plastic, and let it cure in the fridge for three days as per the instructions in Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing . I think the purpose of this is to select for the bacteria that can multiply in a cold salty nitrite-y environment, i.e. the good ones, as I'm not adding any culture to the mix and have to rely on what comes naturally on the meat. The recipes in The Art of Making Fermented Sausages all have added culture, and don't have this curing process.

Tonight I started shovelling the sausage meat …

… into the fibrous casings, using a jam funnel …

… and the poker-downerer from my juicer to pack it tightly and get rid of as much air as possible:

The finished (wet) product is one large tube of meat, and another which has been tied in the middle to shape two smaller ones. One to taste, and one to gift if the taster is good.

The string tied around is as per the instructions in one of the books, which says to tie several loops of string around it to produce "that stuffed look". We'll see what it looks like when it's dried. If it dries properly. I'm a bit concerned that I can't get enough moisture in the air for it to dry at the proper slow and even pace; I have it hanging over the guest shower with water in the bath underneath, but I think I might have to mist it a bit for the first few days.

On a less carnivorous note, I thinned some of my carrots:

They're those multicoloured heirloom ones, it's quite interesting seeing what comes out of the ground.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Adelaide shoes 2

The not-summer we've been having continues after a two-day break of sun. I'm wearing these little leather flats I bought in Adelaide:

They're not actually supposed to have laces in them, but I'm a wee bit old to be blindly following trends such as laceless laceup shoes so I put some in. I got them from a shop in Harbourtown, can't remember which, but they were only $25 and very comfy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Leftover boiled new potatoes, boiled and mashed kabocha squash, and broccoli and feta soup

… half the squash at the bottom of a small casserole dish, then slices of potato layered with some of last year's frozen broad beans (need to make room for this year's in the freezer) …

… then the soup …

… covered with the rest of the squash and a bit of butter …

… baked for an hour or so at 160°C (to make sure the beans were cooked) …

… makes a delicious and nutritious vegetarian dinner …

… with enough left over for another night too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shoes from Adelaide 1

Today I'm wearing these shoes I bought in Adelaide in the post-Christmas sales:

$19.95, down from $95.95. I rather like them, but I had to bring some comfy shoes to work so I could go for my lunchtime walk.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend chores

We've been having such a rotten summer so far that my broad beans, which I usually pick and freeze before Christmas, are only just ready. The crop is fairly small too, because about half of the plants got amputated at ground level in a storm in September.

I picked what was there and ready yesterday, then podded them and froze them. It's always a bit dishertening when you start with a reasonably big pile of beans and end up with a reasonably big pile of pods:

and a couple of quite small bags of beans to freeze:

Pitting cherries is a bit better.

Mind you a fair number of them disappear into one's interior parts instead of into the freezer bag:

I think I pitted about 1.2 kg, and froze 900g.

The Spanish chorizo I started before I went to Adelaide did its thing happily while I was away, and I have these four sausages to take to Yoshio at work:

as well as another three for me to eat. Yoshio has been home to Japan with his wife and four kids for Christmas and is looking for some nice bento boxes for me while he's there. He's due back at work tomorrow, but has left the family in Japan for a few more weeks - how Mutsuko copes travelling with four small children plus the luggage they must require is beyond me.

Adelaide, post-Xmas '09

Milford says "Hello". He's my son and daughter-in-law's dog, and has the heart of a lion, though he is only small. He is usually pretty hairy, but had his summer haircut recently and it was quite an extreme one. He's not fond of children …

… except for his own, whom he adores. Here they are, my granddaughters Caitlin and Emily, eating their breakfast:

Emily is the big one, although she is not really very big. She is four, and weighs only a kilo and a half more than her sister, who is one and a half. She was a tiny baby, and is tiny still - she complained to me that the people at kindy "keep giving me cuddles and picking me up, and I don't like it". She's off to "new kindy" (the state-run preschool as opposed to private daycare) in a couple of weeks, and is greatly looking forward to being treated more like a big kid. Getting bigger is one of her major topics of conversation; "When I'm bigger I can have tablets when I'm sick"; "When I'm bigger I can do the dishes"; and, to the waiter at a café we went to for lunch, "I can have beer now because I'm getting bigger", which is not true at all!

Caitlin is still pretty much pre-verbal, although she chatters away a lot, and puts a great deal of expression into what she says - you know she is telling you something of great import, but you just don't know what it is.

The girls have both recently started swimming lessons, and they adore it. Caity is by far the more confident in the water, she's perfectly happy having her head dunked and is like a wee tadpole. She's not so hot at floating on her back though - keeps wanting to sit up and see what's happening.

Emily got her certificate for putting her face under the water while I was visiting. She loves swimming lessons too, but is not so comfortable with her head under the water. She does lots of practice with her goggles on in the bath though, and she IS Australian - she'll be swimming like a fish before she leaves primary school.

Emily, her father and I left the others at home and went to the World's Biggest Rocking Horse on the coolest day I was there (26°C). This is a wooden toy factory with a monster rocking horse you can climb up. It doesn't actually rock, and you climb up through it by means of ladders. I was too chicken - I hate ladders - but Jonathan and Emily climbed up to the top.

The toy factory includes a sort of wildlife park, where you can walk amongst the friendlier varieties of Australian animals, feed them (if they're hungry, which they mostly don't seem to be), and pat them (if you can get close enough). I could have patted this emu, but I didn't like the look of his beak:

Here is Emily patting some goats, and trying to feed them some pellets:

And here she is going for a pony ride:

That was very "beciting". Not as exciting as the St Kilda Adventure Playground where we went on the second coolest day (~30°C), but I was so busy sliding and see-sawing and climbing that I didn't take any photos. The rest of the time is was hot - between 35° and 40°C, and all you wanted to do was stay inside where it was air-conditioned. That was fine though, I played with the girls, and went shopping a couple of times. Bought a few things from IKEA, which we don't have in New Zealand yet, and some shoes. Nothing too exciting though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Needs must

Well I had a lovely time in Adelaide for the first week and a half, then I came down with a stinking rotten headcold. Which meant I had to fly home all stuffed up (and drugged up, to dry out my sinuses) and woozy-feeling. I managed to buy some milk on my way in from the airport, but that was it. And I was supposed to go back to work on Monday - maybe tomorrow!

There's not a lot of fresh food in the house. OK, there's Christmas cake and fudge and frozen aliquots of casseroles, but I don't feel much like eating those - I'm sick! I need soup.

So, a hunt through the fridge brought this nasty looking mess to my attention.

It was supposed to be feta, but I didn't drain it long enough so as it matured in its brine it lost what integrity it had started with, and became somewhat mooshy. It still tastes great though.

I also had a head of broccoli that somehow still looked OK after two weeks in the fridge, and some other small bits of broccoli in the garden. Broccoli and feta soup anyone?

I cooked up the broccoli for ten minutes or so …

… made a roux with some of the cooking water and some milk, added the feta and broccoli and whizzed it up with my stick blender:

Nothing else, no onion or garlic, just broccoli and lots of feta. Just what the doctor ordered.

I have heaps of photos from Adelaide, will do a post when I feel a bit healthier.