Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Making the most of meat

Hidden in my collection of cookbooks is one called 'Making the most of meat'. Most of the recipes feature heavy use of lard. Another gem in my collection is a Woman's Day publication called 'The Meat Lover's Cookbook'. Many of the recipes involve using fruit in meat dishes, a pet hate of mine. Especially apricot chicken, urgh. However, the book also contains useful diagrams of animals showing where the different cuts of pork, beef and lamb come from, along with suggestions for how to cook them and how to carve them. I used it last week when slicing up some magnificent pieces of beef for the freezer.

Cradoc Hill Abattoir is open for retail sales on Friday afternoons from 2-5pm. There you can buy good quality, locally grown and butchered meat, in bulk, at good prices. I had been meaning to go for ages, and finally made the trip during a week off work earlier this month. We can see the large white abattoir building from our house, so it's quite close as the crow flies, but about a 25 minute drive to reach the other side of the river. On our recent visit, we bought a huge rump, some scotch and about 6 kilos of fresh silverside (not corned, as most Australians know it) which I wanted to marinate and turn into a lovely German roast called Sauerbraten. It all needed another couple of weeks aging in the fridge before I divided it up for the freezer and cooking.

Then we had the offer of a 'quarter of beef' from friends in our village. The offal from the beast is already in the freezer and the dogs have been happily eating hearts and tongues and things for their dinner. Then this week, we took delivery of many kilos of beautiful aged beef. There are several things I love about this. The animal was on pasture just down the road from us, we drove past them most days. They had a good life. No chemicals or added hormones in sight. It's well-aged and lovely quality meat. But most of all, having a variety of cuts that I might not normally cook with means we try yummy new things. Generally, we eat less meat these days, but when we do, why not make it special. And local.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A good dusting

Yesterday morning we woke to a good dusting of snow - for the second time in a week - and it isn't even mid-May yet. David drove (carefully) down the hill towards Grove for a business breakfast meeting. I played with the dogs in the snow (fun), then butchered two roosters destined for the pot (much less fun) before hitting the desk for work by 8.30am. Not exactly a typical morning, it must be said. By midday, the rain was back and the snow was gone. It's so wet here, we had a temporary creek running past the vegetable garden.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Five years in Tassie

Five years ago today we moved into our new home in Tasmania. Every day I am grateful we did. I am grateful for the clean air, the beautiful landscapes, the wildlife, the great food, the opportunities we have had and the many, many wonderful people we have met, who have made us welcome and added so much to our lives. We thought we would be getting the 'quiet life'. Instead, we found a welcoming community and so much to do, it's far from quiet. And then there is the view that I never tire of. Rain, sun, snow or all three at once, I love Tasmania.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What fungus is that?

In my last post, you can see just a few of the amazing fungi to be seen in Tasmania, particularly in autumn. Then there are many others we have seen at home, such as the bizarre white jelly lettuce that grows on felled trees and logs. Well, now I can identify them, thanks to this terrific book I picked up at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart today.

The man who sold it to me mentioned that there are not many copies left and he's not sure that it will be reprinted, so if you are interested in knowing what all these amazing growing things are, get in quick. You might also like to join the Tasmanian Fungi group on Facebook.

P.S. The white jelly lettuce is tremella fuciformus. A Chinese friend tells me it is nice in soup.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Growling Swallet

I could not resist a day trip to a place called Growling Swallet. A friend in our walking group had told me about it several times before, so when it was added to the walks schedule for April, I had to go. It is a beautiful rainforest walk, especially in autumn, with abundant colourful fungi along the track, moss-covered logs and some huge trees including my favourite, the Myrtle Beech. It's only a short walk - a little more than 4km return - but worth the drive to see this unusual feature. A 'swallet' is a place where a river disappears underground. At Growling Swallet, the water plunges down into a cave, to reappear more than 30km later as the Junee River at Junee Cave, a short distance from Maydena. To visit Growling Swallet, you first need to stop at the visitors' centre at Mt Field National Park to collect a key for the gate (deposit required) to the F8 East Road off the Florentine Road. On the way back, a stop at the Possum Shed in Westerway for scones and tea is a must.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mourning the loss of another beautiful hen

I lost another poor girl to a grey goshawk today and feel very sad about it. There was squawking from the direction of the chook shed and I looked out the window to see something white in the driveway... oh no. By the time I ran downstairs and down the driveway, it was too late. The goshawk flew off, but the hen was dead. Now I'll need to keep the chooks locked up in their yard, as no doubt the bird will return tomorrow. Nature sucks sometimes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Drink your way around Tasmania

... without leaving the centre of Hobart.

The lovely old Gasworks building, next to the bottleshop on the corner of Macquarie and Davey Streets in Hobart, has been converted into a cellar door. For a very reasonable price per person, you can have a tasting of beautiful Tasmanian wines, including some rarities. Each room on the ground floor represents a different region of Tasmania, with a wall map and information and display cases of wines from the area. You start in the north of Tasmania, tasting wines from the north west,
the Tamar and Pipers River area, then move to the East Coast and finally the south, including the Coal River and Huon Valley regions. I went there for a small industry Christmas function, and would highly recommend it if you have interstate or overseas visitors or even if you are just keen to learn more about Tasmanian wine.