Sunday, September 01, 2013

Puppies, Poultry, Pigs and Prizes

Well, it's been a pretty big week here on the station. It started with the arrival of two gorgeous little black and tan kelpie puppies. Meet Meg (in the front of the picture) and Larry, so named because when we decided we needed a couple more dogs we rang our 'go to' man Larry, and in a matter of hours he and his daughter Megan had found us some puppies. Larry and Meg will be outside dogs but they are still babies and need a bit of smooching, so here they are having a cuddle in the lounge room. Already in just a week they have 'grown legs' and are much more adventurous, confident and independent. No doubt they will soon start digging and wont be quite so cute!

The next big event was the discovery of the first eggs from our new chooks in the laying box. This was a huge surprise because we bought these girls at 12 weeks old (or so we were told) which means they are now only 16 weeks and to be laying so early is very unusual in my experience. I've never had chooks lay before 19 or 20 weeks before....maybe, like humans, chooks are maturing earlier these days?

The asparagus is really taking off now which is great timing because asparagus and egg are a classic combination, whether it be freshly steamed spears dipped in soft boiled egg or a more sophisticated dish of steamed or grilled asparagus dressed with a combination of finely chopped hardboiled egg, chopped parsley, finely grated lemon rind and crispy fried breadcrumbs (right).

Our pigs are getting bigger everyday, enjoying the weeds in my garden, and this week the time had come to thank and say goodbye to two of them.  This week I am planning to make bacon....not the kind of bacon you find in packets at the supermarket, it will be salt cured and made without nitrates and therefore wont be pale pink but a pinky brown colour and it will be delicious! I haven't yet decided if it will be smoked in our homemade, 44 gallon drum smoker or left as is. This will be the subject of my next post. 

The week ended in a frenzy of baking in preparation for the local Agricultural Show. Apart from the fact that I enjoy baking, my main motivation is that without contributions from locals there wouldn't be much to look at in the main pavillion.  Sadly the number of exhibits was a bit low this year but on the up side this meant it was fairly easy to bag a few prizes :) The highlight of my day was that my scones seemed to really impress the judge. At the risk of giving away my secret, the recipe I use comes from one of my food heroes, Stephanie Alexander in her 'Cook's Companion.'

Stephanie Alexander's Prize Winning Scones


500 g self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100 g butter
300 ml milk soured with a squeeze of lemon


Preheat oven to 220 deg C and grease a baking tray. Mix flour, baking powder and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk and pulse until just combined. Turn out on floured bench or pastry mat and bring mixture together, quickly and gently kneading with your hands. Pat dough out to about 3cm thick. Cut into rounds and put close together on the tray. Brush tops with milk or dust with flour. Bake for about 15 mins, then cool on a wire rack. 


  1. Hi Em. I've really enjoyed reading your posts so far! I did comment on your one about bread the other day, but then accidentally deleted it. Sorry you never got it.

    Classic way to hang the pigs - is that a forklift? I bet that bacon is going to be great - I always groan when I go to the shops and look at all the preservatives that are put into meat products - it just doesn't seem possible to buy them without it. How long does it last without the nitrate?

    Meg and Larry are gorgeous!

    We were just recently given some asparagus seedlings which we've planted out. It's going to be a couple of years but well worth the wait for our own spears.


    1. Hi Ki, thanks for your comments and encouragement.

      Pigs are hanging on the forks of the loader. I've never had homemade bacon last long enough to go off however I've made quite a bit this time so will cut it in to chunks and freeze I think. Having said that they keep salted meat a long time in European countries!

      Good luck with your asparagus but it's pretty tough so I'm sure you wont need luck for it to grow. The fact that it only shoots in autumn and spring makes it more special and even more delicious....soooo worth waiting for! xx

  2. Congratulations on the scones Emma. I am going to try making some without rolling out to compare with my usuals. My grandmother always told me not to twist the cutter, just to push straight down, and I suppose just pressing out the dough is an extension of that. I'll be interested to compare.

    I want to make the crumpets. We went to Cumulus in Melbourne last week end for breakfast and they were on the menu, but they had run out. So disappointed. What type of flour do you use? Strong or cake plain four?



  3. Thank you Jane. Stephanie Alexander recommends twisting the cutter also.

    Have read great things about Cumulus, did it live up to it's reputation? I use wholemeal spelt flour but you can use ordinary white flour. I would use strong flour. Did you plan to make sourdough crumpets Jane? I could bring you some started at the beginning of October if you are keen. Otherwise just look for a recipe for the yeasted version on the net maybe.


    1. Hi Emma,

      'Cumulus' was fantastic for brunch. Very, very busy but very well organised and very interesting to stand about and watch the action while you wait. You should see their fridge, stacks and stacks of plastic boxes with all the ingredients sorted and measured. The style of food is more trusted favourites with high quality ingredients, and excellent cooking rather than haute cuisine. Just our cup of tea.

      I made some scones last weekend and when I got out my Margaret Fulton recipe, circa 1980, I found that she just presses out the dough too. I probably haven't read that recipe properly for years, but I should.

      I have bought some Spelt flour for the Turkish bread but haven't made it yet. I want to make some of Ottolenghi's hummus that I saw on one of his TV programs. He bought it at a specialist take away in Morocco or somewhere and it was served as a wonderful meal with fresh spring onions and chillis etc

      Thanks, I would love some starter for crumpets please.

      Thanks too for the lovely picture of the pigs (live).

      Looking forward to the next instalment.