Sick Day Blues – Day 5 NaBloPoMo 2017

Well, best laid plans and all that jazz……..

I was supposed to go out to the wonderful MONA today for a special lunch with a whole bunch of female musician friends but no such luck ūüė¶

Last week, I got a Whooping Cough and Tetanus booster shot from my GP because there’s a very small and extremely precious brand new member of our tribe I want to hang out with. My doctor warned me I might have some pain from the Tetanus part of the deal and it would hang around for a few days. Yep, he was right on all counts – but I’m sure it will be worth it!

When I got up this morning I had trouble lifting my arm above my shoulder, so hanging the washing out was pretty hilarious – not! Combined with very little sleep last night, I feel utterly wrecked today, so I’ve decided to rest up so I can make music tomorrow with my friends at Oak Tasmania.

Meanwhile, after wrestling with the clothes, I found some lovely bits around the yard that made me smile. I live in a fairly moist climate and there’s always water in the garden for bees and native birds. But because I breed rabbits, I try and avoid mosquitoes as they carry some truly awful diseases. So, I got some tadpoles from my friends Josie and David and was really pleased that they’re thriving in a tub I eventually plan to turn into a wicking barrel. I spotted some fat little chappies this morning, feasting on mosquito larvae ūüėÄ

And over near the chook house (aka as Frankenhutch) I drank in the heady perfume of lemon and lime flowers ‚̧

The lime in particular is thriving, after surviving the Tasmanian winter and after the flowers have gone, I plan to leave a couple of flowers and see if we can have a few fresh limes next year.

I’m resting up now, dinner’s in the slow cooker (Beef and Bean Curry) and I’ve movies to watch and uni work to do.

See you all tomorrow!

Smoke and Lemons

I’ve had a stomach bug since the weekend and today was the first time I felt safe to move more than a few steps away from the bathroom. I haven’t done any gardening since Saturday afternoon¬†and had to cancel a gig on Sunday, which I hate doing. But I’m definitely on the mend, as I got into “making mode” this afternoon. Most of Tasmania has been wreathed in smoke for the last few days and that in itself makes me a little restless.

As I write, it’s hazy in Hobart and there’s a distinct smell of bush smoke through the open window. There are at present, approximately 80 fires burning across Tasmania, mostly started by lightning strikes last week on the¬†less populated west coast. Nevertheless, this afternoon, it spread up into the north west, putting property, livestock and potentially lives at risk. My thoughts and best wishes go out, not only to friends who live in the areas affected, but also to state fire services, who are pretty much at their limit right now.

Yesterday, my lovely neighbour traded a box of lemons from her boss for a dozen of my eggs – I love bartering! After moping around the house yesterday, I decided to get creating some healthy lemon-based goodies that wouldn’t be too harsh on my tender tummy right now and pickles¬†that will be ready in the months ahead.

First, I decided I needed the sweet, comforting tang of old fashioned Lemon Curd, something I haven’t made in years. This versatile cream¬†doesn’t keep very long but I understand it freezes quite well so I’ve got half (about 250 ml) in a plastic container, ready to freeze. The recipe is very simple.

 

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Old Fashioned Lemon Curd (Makes approximately 500 ml)

Ingredients:

zest of 4 lemons    3/4 cup lemon juice     3/4 cup white sugar   4 fresh eggs     125g butter, cubed

Method:

In a heat proof bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar over a simmering pot of water. When the sugar is dissolved, add the lemon zest, juice and continue whisking until the mixture becomes creamy. Add the cubed butter and continue mixing until it’s thoroughly absorbed.

This tangy delight is wonderful as a base for lemon mousse, spread over a pie base for simple lemon tart, mixed with whipped cream and a little home made yogurt for Lemon Fool or just used as spread on toast. Tonight, I’m having it on pancakes as a treat.

The other thing I made was another jar of Pickled Lemons. I don’t think you can ever have too many jars or variations of this most wonderful condiment. For this batch I reverted back to my old recipe I’ve been making for nearly 30 years. Measurements are fairly arbitrary – it depends on how big a jar you’ve got handy and how many lemons you want (or need) to pickle! Also, experiment with adding different spices throughout the jar. I particularly like bay leaves and chillies – something I’ve got plenty of at the moment.

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Deb’s Pickled Lemons¬†

Ingredients:

Lemons    preserving salt   Optional spices Рbay leaves, chillies, cinnamon quills, mustard seed

Method:

Start with a scrupulously clean jar, preferably a sterilised preserving jar. I used one with a swing top lid and a good rubber seal. Put a tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the jar and a little of the spices and put it to one side while preparing the lemons.

Wash the lemons in plain hot water and remove any diseased fruit, stem pieces and cut out any blemishes that might spoil the finished pickles. With a sharp paring knife carefully quarter each lemon almost to the base. (See the photo above). I recommend cutting them over a bowl to catch any juice that can be poured over the finished pickle.

Put a generous spoon of salt into each cut. Again, do this over the bowl, it can get a bit messy!

Now, put the salted lemons into the jar, layering with more salt and any spices you want to use. In this jar I used a cinnamon quill broken into pieces, a few bay leaves and two fresh cayenne chillies that I poked a few holes in to let the lemon juice and salt in. Use a wooden spoon (even the handle) to really cram the lemons in and release their juice. This, combined with the salt preserves the fruit. Close the lid and leave the jar on a shelf for a month, shaking it every day.

Use a little as a condiment with curries, chopped up very fine in marinades or stuffing and in recipes such as Lemon Chicken.

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More Lemons!

Things have been really busy around here!

Besides the constants of¬†plants to water and harvest in summer, there’s animals to care for and ensure they’re protected from the heat of the day and ongoing development work in the garden. And then there’s the excess – mostly eggs, raspberries and basil at this house – and what to do with them. Lots of quiche, raspberry cheesecake, cordial, basil oil and pesto for the freezer at the moment. On top of that I’ve been writing a short story for my latest university unit (yes, Griffith Uni Online know no summer holidays!) which has been really quite demanding.

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Just when I thought it was safe to go back to the kitchen, I caught up with my friend Sara last week and she gave me a bag full of lemons. I was able to trade a bottle of Raspberry Vinegar Cordial, which has been threatening to take over my pantry cupboards!

Well, I had a think about what works in my household. We’re not jam or marmalade eaters but dried fruit, cordials and syrups for drinks and ice cream are very popular. So I spent the afternoon peeling lemon zest for the dehydrator and making a simple Lemon Syrup with the juice.

I confess I lost count of the lemons but it was at least 20. After peeling the zest I put it in a non-metallic bowl overnight while I dealt with the poor denuded lemons – they look awful without their beautiful skins! Here’s my recipe, it’s really easy!

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Simple Lemon Syrup (makes about 6 cups)

3 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice       3 cups white sugar

Before beginning, sterilise glass jars in the oven and put their lids in a saucepan of boiling water on the back of the stove.

Next put the juice in a clean pan on medium heat with the white sugar. (I removed the pips but left some pulp in the juice Рwe like pulp). Keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved and simmer for about 10 minutes. Once the syrup is ready, take a couple of jars from the oven and carefully put them on a board or heatproof mat next to the syrup pan. Ladle it into the hot jars and seal immediately.

If you want to keep the syrup for a longer period of time, I recommend processing them in a water bath (canning method) for 10 minutes so they’ll be good on the pantry shelf for about a year – if it lasts that long!

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Dried Lemon Zest

This is really very simple and one of the best bonus uses for lemons you know have come from a chemical free garden. I have a dehydrator and my peelings were enough to put over three trays, lined with baking paper. In total it took about 10-12 hours to dry it all properly without cooking it. It it possible to do this in a conventional oven but it needs to be very cool.

My three large trays reduced down to a jar of wonderfully dry, aromatic peel. I’ll use this in baking, marinades and plan to crush some up fine for mixing with salt, and some with dried chillies as a herb rub.

Personally, I think it’s worth doing this just for the smell – it was heavenly!

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I’ll probably put another post up in the next few days about my favourite summer herb – shiso. Meanwhile, have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Debra ‚̧