Just Desserts…

This week, we received our first real hint that winter was approaching – the result of a final flick-of-the-tail of that hell-raiser Cyclone Pam. For us it meant a week of predominantly inside jobs; our hearts go out to the people of Vanuatu who stood directly in her path.

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An aerial view of a community on the outskirts of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Photo / supplied / CARE

Along with rain, wind and the need to keep an extra blanket handy, we also experienced first hand some rather spectacular wave action. As part of our saving regime, we dangle a great many carrots and one of these was reached and munched on with relish on Tuesday evening: coffee and dessert night at Salt on the Pier. Afterwards, a quick dessert-laden waddle up the pier had us oohing and aahing at the majesty of our portion of agitated Pacific. Awe inspiring and invigorating, and just a little scary. 

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So, for the first time this year, the woodburner was used in earnest and, because we’re not folks to waste an opportunity, you can rest assured we double parked a great many bubbling cauldrons on it’s cast iron top. Apart from the usual stock (this lot made from the Christmas ham bone and trimmings), we’ve also created a bit of freezer space by turning the strawberry harvest into barter fodder. Homestead strawberry cultivation is a bit of a head-scratcher for those who know that 50 percent of the Homestead population is allergic to them, but as they love our soil we go with the flow. A jar of Homestead strawberry jam can fetch up to a bagful of lemons on a good day – who can argue with that?!

Also jostling for hotplate space was the first experiment of the preserving season – Quince Paste or Dulce de Membrillo. As luck would have it, whilst daubing a few “watch out, Farm Girl” markings around the Kingdom of Nova last Saturday in an effort to minimise the crashes, smashes and stubbings of toes (with the blessing of all concerned, of course – we’re not a lawless bunch), the school’s overladen quince tree called out to us.

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The Bean Counter removed the masking tape from the Nova play hut deck…

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and we congratulate ourselves on a job well done

The four resulting quince were combined with sugar and lemon peel and subjected to a rigorous boiling down and then dried in silicon muffin tins  in a cool oven in the hope of turning it into a wonderful fruit puree to grace the Homestead cheeseboard. Alas, it went the way of a great many Homestead experiments and refused to look gorgeous; why we continue to strive towards aesthetics is anyone’s guess. Rammed into sterilised jam jars, however, it has now set solid and tastes sublime so our cheeseboard will have to make do with pried out membrillo dollops instead.

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A selection of the fruits of our labours.

Of course, we couldn’t hide inside all week and the morning feed out/goat milking/chicken and duck tending round was made just that little more challenging by the Coronation Sussex rooster. He who is not crowing (unlike his other two cohorts), finally signed his death warrant this week after discovering how easy it was to corner humans wearing raincoat hoods. Then, once cornered, who could resist a little farmyard bullying in the form of flapping, flying and pecking: not he. After a week of long drawn-out chore times in rain as one of us has to be on sentry duty, broom at the ready, we are more than ready to overlook his beautiful plumage and consign this bloke to the freezer.

Don't look at me like that...

Don’t look at me like that…

Next week’s forecast is a a typical autumn ragbag. Hopefully some of that sun will ripen the pears and Granny Smith apples so we can utilise the promised rainy days turning them into upcoming fruit crumbles, pies and spongy puds – the perfect compliment to a roast chicken dinner.

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9 thoughts on “Just Desserts…

    • We never quite reach the mark with preserving: some looks wonderful but tastes indifferent, but usually we end up with a somewhat slap dash appearance to a very delicious treat…

  1. Best place for cranky roosters, especially when you have spares. And you had cleverly made room in the freezer, too. I remember quince jelly from my childhood, but have never tried making it – I see them occasionally at the farmer market, but seem to remember them being hard as a rock for peeling/cutting,etc, so have withstood the suggestions from hubby to try out. I have access to a crabapple tree that makes up into lovely jelly that we use with cheese/chicken etc, and it’s a whole lot easier to make.

    Brilliant idea to paint the edges of things at the school, and after all the house painting, you were all trained up, too. I am finding as my depth perception changes at night these days, that painted edges on stairs are really helpful, so I can only imagine what that sort of thing is like for FG

    Cyclone Pam was pretty vicious – poor Vanuatu. A group of doctors from here on Vancouver Island have been taking turns providing the medical expertise in a hospital down there for the last 25 years. This was their last year, as the country has now been able to train and educate their own doctors, and the last Canadian doctors came back about 2 months ago. My local clinic is run by one of those doctors, and he is just heartbroken by all that “his” community down there has lost – basically everything, as well as some loved ones. The hospital too, took quite a hit, and it looks like assistance will be needed again for a while. I’m glad NZ didn’t sustain much from the storm – I remember Auckland took a bit of a hit in last year’s cyclone season. We don’t get cyclones/hurricanes here – our patch of ocean is colder, and the way the wind circles takes most storms away from land apparently. Not to say it will never happen, but it hasn’t yet. We get some pretty fierce gales, but not something like Pam.

    • The rooster has had a reprieve, mainly because we’ve been too busy pareparing the third side of the house for painting before the weather packs up. Next weekend for sure!
      Hope all is well and your weekend is trundling along nicely 🙂

  2. What a delectable post…while you guys are filling up woodstoves, larders, piepans and roasting pans with cranky roosters..we are opening doors and windows jubilant and are doing the first garden clean up: Spring has Sprung, woohoo. I am so envious of that quince jelly…it has been ages since I had some. Cute Growing Farm Girl and the apple tree is priceless!!! So now I am of to the kitchen..making a big breakfast, your writing has made me hungry. Sharon, you must write a cookbook!!! Have a great Sunday, Johanna

    ps:Poor people of Vanuatu indeed, a shocking reminder that Red Cross always needs support!

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