Friday, March 30, 2012

Piscatory Delights

Boy oh boy it's been a good fishing week.  The freezer is stocked with many meals, we are getting more than our fair share of Omega 3 oil and the dog is blissfully happy with her dinner.
First expedition was at the "Secret Spot".... don't ask where it is or I would have to kill you.  A nice haul of herring, skippy, KG whiting and a wrass for the dog.  We are not overly keen on herring but we love smoked fish so that was the intent for these five herring.  And they were magnificent smoked.  The KH whiting and skippy are magnificent just as is, a quick fry and that's it.  Next batch of herring we are going to pickle aka rollmops.

The next expedition was Steve and his mate out in a tinny.  Sort of makes expedition number 1 look a little insignificant!  These Australian Salmon are probably about 6 kg each and 1.2 metres long.  Along with those was a haul of KG whiting, pike, southern black fish, wirrah, leather jacket and skippy.  It's interesting that the Australian Salmon is considered a nothing fish, used for lobster bait or pet food, we really like it, it's a very meaty fish, I suppose a bit like tuna texture-wise.
This is Steve's share, 5 1/2 kilos of fish fillets!!  We've bagged them up into meal-size portions and frozen them.  Now this is self sufficiency!! :-)  Those enormous fillets at the front are the salmon.
Aussie salmon (sambos) are brilliant smoked too, so that was lunch yesterday.  They turn a rather odd colour but trust me, it doesn't change the fact that they taste wonderful.
In the midst of our protein surge, a side salad was in order.  See the white flowers at the front of this garden bed? They are garlic chives, and the flowers are lovely sprinkled into a salad, they impart a subtle garlic flavour as well as being just plain pretty.
 We are the end of our tomatoes, so I cut them up and then skipped around with a basket and gathered various herbs.... parsley, rosemary, lemon balm, garlic chive flowers and thyme.  I chopped the herbs and added them to the tomatoes with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a wee sprinkle of salt, pepper and brown sugar.
Freshly made bread, smoked fish, herbed tomatoes and ( bought - OMG!) lettuce was a meal to die for.  YUM.
The other thing I have to tell you is that we bravely tried something very different.  Our friends who eat salmon regularly, often partake of salmon livers.  Okay, not something I'd have thought to eat, but the liver in these fish are a darn fair size.  We were presented with salmon liver to try and I have to say it is rather nice, like fish flavoured liver.  The other thing we were offered was this...
Any idea what it is?  We tried it.  It was okay.  Not much taste and very very soft, like marshmallow.  It's one of those things that we can say we've tried and leave it at that.  As to what it is, let me say that there was much smirking and ribald commenting and laughing made at the time.  It's called milt in Europe, shirako in Japan, or soft roe.  Basically it's the boy bits of a salmon that has yet to spawn.  How about that eh.  Are we brave or what!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hic

I am quite fond of cider.  I am also quite fond of wine too.  Steve is fond of beer and wine.  But we are trying to economise which means not buying so much wine.  So the home brew kit has had a resurgence.  Steve busied himself some months ago brewing batches of different varieties of beer... there's lager, stout, Corona, wheat beer, English Bitter and pilsner (!!).  There are plastic crates galore stacked in the shed with bottles of this wide variety of the amber liquid.  And they are rather good according to Steve. 

But where does this leave me, girl that does not like beer?  Luckily Steve was given a cider for brewing for Xmas and finally he has concocted it.  See this container here, inside is 18 litres of apple cider, yeehar!  
 
It has been bubbling away for about 5 days now, making all sorts of bizarre noises.  One night I woke up and thought I heard the dog about to chuck, but no, twas just the cider burping away :-)  It bubbles through this dohicky thing on top and when it stops bubbling then it's time to bottle it.  Then it's a minimum 2 week wait til tasting time.  It's gonna be a long 2 weeks.
 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Aaahm A Lumberjack And I'm Okay, I Sleep All Night And I Work Half The Day

We are creaking around like a couple of geriatrics at present, bits aching that we didn't even know existed.  For the last 4 days we have been chainsawing, carting wood and mulching branches and leaves.  I think our work is starting to show at long last. 
This is Monday...
And this is Friday...
Here are some of the byproducts of our labours, fresh mulch, medium logs and flippin' heavy logs! 
Some of next year's firewood which will hopefully sit there, dry out and split in just the right places so Steve can get his block splitter onto them.  Winter 2013 will be in our new house with its own solid fuel heater and I can't wait to use our very own cut firewood in it.  :-)
We've created 3 big piles of mulch.  One is specifically Peppermint tree mulch which we are using as pathways around the vegie beds.  It will be interesting to see if it impedes weed and grass growth in the paths as often not much grows under Peppermint trees.  Regardless, I like the idea of a mulch pathway, it gives you something to walk on and at the same time it will slowly rot down and then later can be dug out and used.
Remember the raised bed I planted out with seeds a few weeks back?  Well have a look at what's happening - exciting eh!  Everything has sprouted and is growing strongly, in fact I've had to thin things out.  The spinach was the only thing that didn't germinate in abundance, but that didn't surprise me as the seeds were very old.  From the left is spring onion, red lettuce, beetroot, spinach, coriander, green lettuce, carrot and dill, with marigolds in each corner to hopefully deter pests.  The trillion rogue things that came up that I thought were weeds were in fact tomato plants!  Probably from the earthworm castings I used in the soil mix.  Anyway, I pulled them all out and potted up half a dozen for Steve to plant in his vegie area that he's just digging over.
There was a nice sunset tonight as we sat on the verandah and ate dinner.... cheese and fruit and bickies, yum.  No wine today, what a shock to my system!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This Goes With This Goes With That

Decisions, decisions. 
 We are in the midst of contract signing and fine tuning plans to have our house built.  There are always more things to consider than you realise, I've decided.  We've added power points and outside lights, swapped the draining board position over (I was like a stunned mullet when the guy asked me which side of the sink I drain the dishes), faffed around with door positions and finally we think we are happy.  Awaiting the final adjustments for us to give the okay on, then the final drawings will be done.
 In the meantime we had to choose tiles and laminate.  We thought it would be easy, one shop, choose, go home.  Ha!  Nine tile shops later, the very last tile shop had what we wanted.  We were trying very hard to keep within the tile allowance given and thus has only simple choices in mind.  As it turned out we came in under budget (imagine that!) so were able to add some accent borders.

We decided to tile the bathroom and the ensuite exactly the same, required less brain power we thought.  We had in mind glossy white wall tiles and we chose some that have a sort of ripple to the surface rather than dead flat.  The floor tiles took some debating, we were close in our choices but not quite the same.  Steve wanted grey while I wanted a slightly warmer colour, more mushroom.  Steve got his way...so I got to have my way with the kitchen instead.
I've come to the conclusion that tiles are very very hard to photograph, none of these are quite right, but no amount of tweaking in Photoshop would correct it.  Above is the grey floor tile for the bathroom, ensuite, wc and laundry.  It's not as dark as this and is a little warmer.  White wall tile with a lovely stone mosaic accent border.  The mosaic has some warm bits in it too that wont come out in the photo but you get the idea.  We wanted simple colours in the bathrooms so we can jazz them up with towels and mats.  Cheaper to change the towel colours than change the tiles eh! :-)
The kitchen.  I wanted to do something rather different with the kitchen wall tiles.  We had already decided to keep the laminex colours for the cupboards nice and light and I was well pleased when we found this bench top laminex, it's called Lunar Stone and is a lovely beach sand colour.  Cupboard doors are in Classic Beige which is a bit lighter than the bench top. 

You know when you read a novel and it talks about an old bleached, whitewashed beach cottage with scrubbed timbers and a sparkling ocean and warm, soft sand? That's where I was headed, kitchen colours to be something like the beach, sand colour and sea colour, so have thrown caution to the wind and chosen these gorgeous blue wall tiles with a matching border tile.  My first choice was actually a very glossy, very bright greeny aqua.... you should have seen the look on Steve's face when I called him over to see :-) - he ran off to find something a little less shocking and he found these, they are actually a floor tile so are not glossy.  They are rustic and beautiful and I love them!
 And finally, we had to choose the colorbond roof colour.  After mulling over about 4 colours, we chose a greyish one called Bushland.
 Hopefully it will all look okay.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Carnage

Wade the earth moving guy was back today.  My goodness, the things that can happen in three hours!  Flattened trees everywhere, thankfully we have hundreds more.  But we now have a good sized treeless area where the house is going to be built.
 
Here is Steve surveying the carnage.  We are doing the cleanup ourselves, Steve will be manning the chainsaw and I will be manning the mulching machine for the smaller upper branches and leaves.  No worries about firewood for the next 10 years eh!

Wade also started preparing the ground for our house water tank.  There is no mains water out here so we will be relying on rainwater.  Our shed tank is 25000 litres but we are planning on putting in a 130000 litre tank for the house.  The sand pad for that is about 11 metres square!  He is cutting into the hillside a bit and levelling the ground and later this week he will be back with some clean sand and a compacter.
Psst, come closer....I had an embarrassing moment today, let me share it with you.  I was trying to break a big branch off a felled tree limb, pulling it with my hands whilst steadying the limb with my foot, when it suddenly snapped.  I shot backwards, lost my footing and landed straight onto my arse.  But the momentum gathered plus the roundness of said arse meant that I kept on going and rolled right onto my back with my polkadotted wellie boots waving in the air.  How ungainly.  I furtively peeped to see if anyone saw - no, good.  So I got up, dusted myself off and continued on as if nothing had happened but secretly nursing my pride and my bum.  I know my secret is safe with you.
On a final note, I have to tell you that we feel so blessed to share our land with many of these beautiful butterflies.  They are Monarch butterflies and in summer there are lots of them, dancing around like fairies.  Darn tricky to photograph though!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Look what's parked at our place this weekend.  Considering the not insubstantial size of me, this boy's toy is making me look very small.  Wade the earthmover will be here tomorrow to knock over half a dozen trees and level some ground.  I feel a bit uncomfortable about the trees, I love trees and don't like to be responsible for their demise, but they are in the way of our intended house plus there is fire safety to consider.... we need a decent clear margin around the house in case of bushfire. We will plant many more trees further away from the house to make up for it.
When Wade dropped off his machinery on Friday, he offered to knock one tree over then and there so we could have something to get started with.  There be lots of chain sawing and mulching up to be done!  First step, dig around the base of the tree...


  Second step, push!

"Timmmber!

Last step, crunching up the big limbs so they are not all sticking up in the air.  All ready for Steve and his chain saw.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We had a day out recently and visited Anvil Beach, so named because of this rock.  
 Steve did some casting practice....

To get to Anvil Beach which is on the way to Denmark, you have to drive through an area called Nullaki, a strange place.  The entrance to the bush area is protected by a vermin fence and the gate across the road you have to activate by pressing a button.  I swear it looks like Jurassic Park and we were waiting for the roar of a tyrannosaurus rex!

As I was walking along the path to the beach, I idly wondered what this line was...

Look at that, a cute little head to bum line of caterpillars....
We have been craving biscuits so I had a try at making Anzac biscuits and cooking them under the hood of the barbeque.  Ingredients first and the Country Womens Cookbook recipe...
 Mix everything up in a bowl, so far so good. 
Put the barbeque on, burners blazing, with no idea what temperature to aim for.  I propped the baking trays up on a couple of upturned cake tins to try and stop the biscuits burning with the roaring heat from below.  I confess to a few hissy fits during the cooking of these, they started to burn really fast and I ended up flipping them all over to try and stop it getting worse.
 But in the end they turned out okay, some were slightly charcoaled though!  They tasted pretty good.  :-)
 Bet even better than biscuits was the long awaited delivery of composted pig poo!  :-)  The truck came all the way from an organic piggery in the Porongurups.  I have heard great things about this concoction.... pig poo and straw from the shed floor, weed free and composted.

There will be no stopping us now, expect gigantic vegetables from this yummy stuff!
 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Following on from my last blog post, here is the police line-up.  Which one is the sneaky sweet potato leaf eater do you think?  They seem to be defeated by the fence around the sweet potato bed - for now at least!
And speaking of thieves, our tomatoes are nearly at an end and we are enjoying the last, very red, super sweet cherry tomatoes.  Our little green feathered friend is enjoying them too.  Now if it remained at one little  feathered friend with a small appetite then that would be hunky dory, but you know there is no such thing as ONE parrot, hence why nearly every property that has fruit and vegies growing have them protected with bird netting! 
 We had a different sort of visitor in the shed today.  We breed insects big down here in the sticks.  Giant hornets (actually I found out that she is called a 'solitary wasp'), giant flying beetles and today's example - a stick insect.  He is rather sweet actually.  When I put my finger under him to try and get him to walk on my hand he backed of and sort of reared up and put his front legs in the air, trying to look all fierce.  Cute :-)
 I discovered that Steve had a photo of Tony's thumper whiting on his camera.  It is very impressive!  Apparently it made a very nice fish pie.
 As it was hot today (well, not as hot as Perth!) we decided to head for the water in the morning.  We visited an area called the Quarantine Station down Frenchman Bay Road, a place we used to visit regularly years ago.  It has lovely flat rocks for fishing, and a white, pristine beach alongside. That is one of the huge ships that you regularly see anchored in King George Sound.
 Here is Steve, catching our dinner practising his fishing techniques. :-)
Meanwhile, I wandered around the rocks and paddled in the water.  I came across this weird thing underwater in a big rock pool.  Does anyone know what it is?  It's quite big, the size of a man's hand.  It looks like some sort of mollusc thing but needs to be in a shell I'd have thought.  It wasn't obvious whether it was alive or not, but it looks very fresh and certainly wasn't stinky.
 It has cooled off wonderfully this evening with lots of cloud cover.  Crossing fingers that we get some rain.  Off to Perth again over the next few days to get the house building contracts signed and tile, laminex and colorbond colour choices done.  Exciting!