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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Dehydrator

Yesterday I picked up my new 5 tray food dehydrator. I am looking  forward to drying all sorts of excess fruits and vegetables as they come into season so nothing is wasted.

The first of my little fruity friends to find their way into the dehydrator are the figs.  I have been having a competition with the local parrots and I think I am winning... (which will be no surprise to those who are aware of my competitive nature and love of food!)..... in regards to who can eat the most figs.  However believe it or not even I have my limits so into the food dehydrator some of them go.  I just washed and sliced them into rounds and spread them out over a tray.  I then intend to harvest the walnuts in a couple of months and make some fig and walnut rolls (which I experimented with over the New Year using commercially purchased walnuts and dried figs).  This roll is wonderfully delicious thinly sliced and served with cheese, bread/crackers and wine (my favourite combination of foods as known to those who have read my previous blogs).  If you are interested in finding out more about the Fig and Walnut Roll keep checking back and I will post a recipe once I have my walnuts sorted out.

There are only so many cumquats that I can either candy or peel and whack into a bottle of vodka so I am going to experiment with these as well.  Again, not a lot of preparation needed, these were washed and sliced thinly.  I then used some paper towel to try to take the excess juice off them before laying them over the remaining 4 trays of the food dehydrator, removing the pips as I went.  For those of you that can suggest some uses for dried cumquats I would appreciate your thoughts.  These are a fruit which I have not had a lot of previous experience with so I am a bit dumbfounded as to what to do with them all. In the absence of any suitable ideas they will find their way into the family Christmas pudding (recipe to be supplied by my sister who had the privilege of receiving this from our Grandmother).  Other than that, not sure where they will have their second life but I am sure that it will be a very exciting time for them!

Thank you again for your attention and any comments or thoughts are always very much appreciated.

Until next week,

Ciao for now

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cleaning out the Pantry

Hello and welcome/welcome back readers!  I know you are out there - I can see what country you are in and how many visits this blog has had so THANK YOU ALL for your encouragement. As I live in Australia this blog will  tend to follow the produce that is currently in season here.  For those of you in other parts of the world the same fresh produce may not be readily available locally but hopefully you will still be amused by my silly stories.
Over the Christmas holidays I decided that it was time to have a bit of a clean up in the pantry.  I found heaps of jars of home made olives that we preserved in April 2009.  Once again, these were obtained free of charge (from over the fence thanks to my friendly neighbour).  We did several varieties, some infused with red chilli, others with garlic and then a few with both garlic and red chilli.  They are the little skinny olives which have more seed than flesh.  I decided that they were taking up way too much room and we probably wouldn't eat them anyway so I had to convert them into something more compact.  I toyed with the idea of making olive and rosemary bread (both delicious and fattening) but that still needs to either be eaten within a few days or frozen (which takes up room in my freezer).  Back to square one. After much humming and haaing (is that a word?) I decided to make some black olive tapenade.  I unfortunately can't eat garlic as my body has a huge problem with digesting it (which for a foodie like myself poses a multitude of problems when dining out) so the garlic version was served to some visitors (which is another related story but not really the topic of this blog).  I distributed most of the tapenade to family members according to their tastes in chilli/garlic.  It is really easy to make so if you have an olive tree at your disposal you might like to harvest the olives at the appropriate time for where you live and follow the instructions on how to preserve olives and how to make a quick and easy tapenade.

Ciao for now

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Quinces are nearly ready

I am getting very excited as we have just purchased a house with MATURE FRUIT TREES!

On a sad note we had to remove a mature grape vine as it was holding up an unsafe structure that needed to be pulled down.  I don't like destroying something like this, but I salvaged the situation by cutting all the unripe grapes off and making verjuice.  This preservative free verjuice is now in my freezer waiting for me to use it.  It won't go to waste.

There are loquat and apricot trees (seasons already finished but I did manage to eat a few loquats and make some spicy apricot chutney with the apricots the parrots didn't get to first), pear, fig, walnut, orange, grapefruit and cumquat trees (currently infusing the rinds of some of these little babies in a bottle of vodka) and one of my personal favourites a QUINCE TREE.

Last year I was fortunate enough to receive a very large bag of quinces from an aunt of Himself who has a quince tree in her garden.  With these quinces I made a substantial quantity of home made quince paste which I distributed amongst friends, family, neighbours, workmates and other various people who crossed my path ("hello how are you, perhaps you would like some home made quince paste?").  Well, this year with an ENTIRE tree at my disposal, I am going to be up to my armpits in that beautiful sticky quince paste.  I am thinking that I may need to make some Sunday morning trips to a Farmers Market or something similar.  My motto of waste not want not will not allow me to let any of these precious golden fruits go to waste, so be warned people - there will be quince paste aplenty in the upcoming months.

I recently made some plum paste with the plums hanging over the fence from our neighbours tree - I am not as fond of plum paste as I am of quince paste so that is another experiment that is lurking in my Fisher and Paykel for now.

I have attached my versions of recipes for making Verjuice, Spicy Apricot Chutney and Plum Paste.  I would love to receive your comments on these especially if you make them and enjoy them.

Ciao for now

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Blog

Welcome to my blog.  I have been meaning to do this for quite a while now, but have never got around to it. 

This is a random set of thoughts that I want to record before I forget them - I am a very busy person with a lot to fit in to my waking hours.  I will apologise in advance to anyone who has a need for structure in a blog posting, this is being typed as my brain flits from one idea to another - so if you have trouble following this imagine trying to converse with me!

The Blog title - "Need to Feed" comes from my undiagnosed medical/mental condition that my husband (we will refer to him as "Himself") lovingly explains to bewildered guests to our home as my "need to feed".  No one escapes from our place without:

(1) having a platter of food placed in front of them
(2) being force fed something that I have created in the kitchen if they politely refuse whatever is offered
(3) a take home pack of some home cooked delights or
(4) a combination of the above. 

This extends to family, friends, casual acquaintances, tradesmen (who all love a piece of home cooked cake with their standard tradie coffee of white with two) and anyone else I can get within my grasp to taste my "experiments".

This total preoccupation I have with food and everything edible has had me described as "Australias answer to Nigella" (as well as other less complimentary terms such as "a bit crazy").  I hate to see food wasted and try to use all edible things as follows:

1. Eaten
2. Converted into something else if not eaten as it is (the "experiments")
3. Fed to the rabbits (or chooks if you have them which I hope to do soon) or meat products to dog
4. Composted if not able to be eaten by man or beast

So I can confidently say that I use all food that I purchase in feeding my family and do not contribute any food scraps to landfill.

If you are reading this and want to make a positive comment, please do so.  If you hate what you are reading just exit and never come back here / erase it from your memory / forget you read it (nobody likes negative comments).

Ciao for now