3 Pikelets and possums

Hi All,

We are just about to run out of apples from the last 20kg bag that we bought for $3 from an orchard up the road from here. We don’t eat the apples; we feed them to the possums as a form of bribery in a vain attempt to stop them from eating our plants. I am going to renegotiate our position with the possums as they are not only eating the tender new growth from our potted plants as well as the new shoots on every European deciduous tree on the property, but they are also eating all of the fruit from the trees. We have been feeding these possums for over a year now. At first they got peanut butter sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and fruit (every day thank you!). We dropped it down to apples alone when we took up chicken farming in a big way because apples were cheaper. It is starting to get to the time of year when stone fruit is cheaper than apples and they will most probably start getting seconds cherries and peaches if I decide to continue feeding the fat little gits that is. I am tossing out some pikelets with wild berry jam on tonight. I am still deciding whether or not to keep honouring our arrangement when the possums gave up on it about a month after we initiated it. What are the benefits? Well, I know how much the possums scoff…would the result be a massive increase in the amount of tooth marks in our potted plants? I don’t think that there are many more potted plants that they haven’t sampled over the past year so I am leaning on the side of ceasing to feed the possums. There is one other consideration to think about with this issue. The boys both LOVE possum feeding time. All I have to do it pick up my vegetable peeling knife after 6pm and Bezial is singing to be let out of the door to chase his little furry mates. Do we deprive the boys of their evening’s entertainment? I dare say they would have quite a bit of entertainment over the first few weeks when the possums came hunting for their grub. At the moment there is plenty of food out there for the possums and perhaps I might reach a compromise and only feed them when times get tough and over winter. I will just have to ruminate on that for a while…

I have just finished making another shell hangermajig for out on the deck. I used some shell and bead strands that once hung on the end of our bed that Steve made for us. I hated curtains and so collected shells for ages on the beaches in Albany Western Australia with a long suffering Steve towing behind me to use as a sort of point of delineation between the bed and the other side of the bed. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours we spent collecting these shells but every one was collected with care and for a specific purpose. Most of them have made it all the way to Tasmania with minimal breakages and now they are hanging out in the sun making little tinkling noises in the lovely soft breeze. I love collecting memories. How do you remember things? I remember predominately through my sense of smell. That might sound decidedly weird but it is most probably the reason why I am overweight as well. My sense of smell is much keener than my sense of sight and seems to have a direct link to my brain in a way that my other senses don’t. The scent of honeysuckle can take me to my grandmother’s garden in the heat of a summers day back in the 1970’s when I was little. Certain foods do the same thing. They activate memories rather than just ‘smell’. It’s bordering on Synesthesia. I don’t see music dancing in the air but I get a very clear perception of what I was doing and a sense of purpose. The salty smell of the sea or the river bank around here (we are close to the sea and so this part of the river is salt water) propels me back to the banks of the Inlet in Denmark where my sister and I used to catch mini shrimp in stocking nets. Wading up to our knees in the thick dark fecund mud to reach them and cooking them up on our grandmother’s wood stove to eat with salt, pepper and vinegar. All of that from a whiff of salty air.

It’s interesting what people do to save their sanity and to keep a modicum of order in their lives. I believe I collected these shells to give me a sense of connection with Albany and to take something of these lovely beaches back to our home and tie it up in a memory. Most people collect something that reminds them of something else. A friend that we met through Nat has a most amazing garden. I am going to attempt to visit him and see if I can’t get some photos of his most creative and beautiful of gardens to share with you. I collect glass that has been rumbled by the sea and given an opaque natural beauty. It has to be battle scared for me to collect it. I don’t like broken glass, only sea tumbled. Nat’s friend had battled depression and after moving to a property by the river, spent his early mornings collecting all manner of flotsam and jetsam that the tide had propelled onto the shore nearby. The act of collecting was soothing and gave him a sense of purpose when he felt like the world was nothing but chaos. The collected articles got woven into his garden and the healing process of collecting and collating have been translated into the most marvellous visual art. No doubt he remembers various moments of his past from these pieces of garden art and like me with my ever quivering nose, he uses his predominate sense to wrest memories out of his collected and organised flotsam. It’s amazing what we humans can do when faced with chaos, in our attempts to regain some order isn’t it?

We have some spare chocolate and some open cream in the fridge. I have been hunting for a fudge recipe to make with these ingredients and have spent most of the afternoon looking. I can find recipes for corn syrup, marshmallow fluff, mini marshmallows and condensed milk but do you think I can find a recipe using chocolate and cream? I know that when you combine these delectable ingredients in the right magical equation you get ganache which is a hop-step and jump from fudge so why can’t I find a recipe for ganache fudge? I think I am going to have to mess about and see if I can’t manipulate ganache to turn it into fudge. Methinks that more chocolate and less cream would be the way to go so I am going to mess about and see what happens. If it doesn’t turn out, who cares…how wrong can you go with chocolate and cream? Too liquid, drink it…too hard…melt it and then drink it…whatever you do with it, it’s tasty so I am not worried about screwing up. There is always something tasty to be gained from any combination of these 2 ingredients. On the off chance that I manage to drastically reformulate the molecular structure and end up with something less than stellar, Earl will eat it. Problem solved.

Guess what this is…It’s a “tuit”. Why did I make it? Because I remember seeing one that someone had given my Aunty Alice back in a past life and thinking that it was very clever. Clever you say? Why is a “tuit” clever? Because if you, like me, are a bit of a procrastinator, you will have uttered the words “don’t worry about it, I will get around to it”…so here I have a round tuit :o). Stop groaning!

I made those fish cakes and they were a triumph! I have always had a blind spot for making fish cakes and they usually ended up being squashed into a tin and called “fishloaf” to which a very polite Steve (you raised him properly Pat :o) would eat without complaining but concurrently, without much enjoyment. Today I broke the fishcake curse. I think my potato mash mix was too wet previously. Today I was trying to manipulate everything that I normally did to ensure that my mix wasn’t too wet and I used my potato ricer to make sure that the mash was nice and dry. It worked and the fish cakes were double dipped in egg and panko crumbs and Steve loved them. He is already talking about his next fishcake meal and perhaps adding chilli and parsley to them. The boys had one each and their bowls are empty to so I am a happy little vegemite. I have now mastered scones and fishcakes and actually made (under Steve’s close tutelage) a sponge cake that turned out alright so I think that my blind spot recipes are slowly being removed from my failure list. Now I just have mayonnaise and crème patissiere to follow and I can get my 1st Michelin Star…

Here’s todays first batch of bread dough. This will make 2 loaves and it’s just about to be knocked down and shaped into 2 loaves and then proved again. There are 3 trays of meringues in the oven that appear to be baking nicely (never tried meringues in this oven before today) and I have a nice new “easy meringue recipe” gleened from the net for the next time I need a recipe for said meringues. Next we have some spongecakes to bake and we are going ok so far. Life throws you curve balls sometimes. I guess you just have to learn how to either avoid them or catch them before they knock you over! :o) I hope your Christmas preparations are all going well, see you all tomorrow…

I just have something to add to this blog. We were walking the dogs this morning just before spending the rest of the day slaving over a hot stove. I say ‘hot’ because apart from the obvious heat that comes from a stove, its going to be 25C today. That’s the hottest day we have had so far this summer and we have chosen to cook on it…we have bread, spongecakes (1 each laden with jam and cream for our neighbours, 1 for tiramisu and 1 for Steve’s amazing Christmas dessert creation “triffecta”) and meringues . We had just rounded the corner on the hair pin bend just up from the house and a tiny little black and white kitten ran out meowing loudly purring like crazy. Someone must have dumped the poor little thing and it was so glad to see a human. We picked it up brought it home and have just taken it to the Launceston R.S.P.C.A. to attempt to rehouse it despite them having a billion kittens dumped on them so far. Why don’t people take responsibility for their pets? If someone is having trouble paying for having their pets neutered, the R.S.P.C.A. have cheap and even free desexing for people having problems. I find it so hard to believe that people refuse to get their pets desexed and are irresponsible about letting them out to procreate. Earl isn’t desexed yet, but he isn’t out there ranging free. This poor little kitten was left to starve. If people are going to take on ownership of a pet, they have to take on the responsibility of everything that goes with it. We just discovered that Felix has 3 little kittens living in the large conifer just opposite our deck. We now have our own conundrum to deal with because we are going to have to work out what we are going to do about someone elses irresponsibility. Felix was most probably dumped and is now feral. We are going to leave thinking about this till after Christmas. We have options and we will weigh them up and come to a decision. For now, we have way too much to do to think about a cat population explosion! See you all tomorrow when we will probably still be baking! :o)

How could you just throw this little kitten out like it was rubbish? Hopefully someone out there falls in love with it and adopts it this Christmas and it finds a forever home

This was taken just after easter this year. Take note of that scarf…

This was taken the other day. See where the scarf is now? (apart from in Earl’s mouth!)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mum
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 14:07:28

    Let the possums forage for themselves Pen. You have spoilt them long enough, & now there are plenty of fruits etc. They managed before you started feeding them, & what thanks have you had? Maybe in the dead cold of winter give them a bit of something, but try smearing a bit of vicks vapourub around your plant pots,apparently they don’t like it. Some sharp bits of tin asround the fruit trees like Nick has may make them try the neighbours too. Another is they abhor the scent of geraniums & pelargoniums too. I wonder if vaseline smeared a fair way will make them slide off? Just had a vision of pole dancing possums getting so far up the trunk, & sliding off ! Mix it with vicks to make it stretch! The only other thing I can think of, is to put netting over each tree. That “round tuit” is going to make a lot of people laugh Pen. Earl has filled out in ther face since I last saw him too. I was surprised to see the scarf still pretty well intact, what happened? He is a handsome young man now isn’t he? How could anyone dump that lovely little kitten? In think the dogs would love to be allowed out around the house for a run before bedtime too. By the way, I use cream & chocolate in the rum balls, so if you are still procrastinating about it, I can use them in the rum balls I am making when I get there. I have the “spirits” packed to add too. Just need cream & chocolate, both black & white, as the white ones have grand marnier in them-got that too ! Thyere is a lovely sniff through the house from just rescuing the fruit mince pies in time! I’ll make yours when I get there. Plain & self raising flour & butter on hand, or I’ll get it Friday. One more sleep here !


    • narf77
      Dec 20, 2011 @ 15:18:20

      Are you allowed to bring spirits on the plane in your hand luggage mum? The girls have every booze under the sun at their place so I dare say you could pinch a bit of theirs for what you need. I would unpack that booze right about now, before they stop you at customs and you lose it! :o) Just made the bread, the meringues worked out and we are onto the second sponge cake now. Have a safe trip up with Cathy and Jason mum and see you thursday afternoon :o)


  2. Kreebard
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:00:39

    Ma, you’re crazy. Of course you can bring alcohol between states! It’s not plant matter, and it’s not honey. Bethany even brought back a 180mL bottle of saké IN HER HAND LUGGAGE from Melbourne. Which was probably illegal, since liquids in hand luggage can’t be over 50mL… Of course, they let us through with about ten bottles of ginseng drink and other assorted liquid odities, so I don’t think they really care all that much. Also, wouldn’t Grandma have underboard luggage?


    • narf77
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:45:17

      I was confused as I thought mum had only hand luggage. It appears she has a large suitcase and NO hand luggage. That’s where all the confusion has come from. Can she use a bit of your booze if she chooses not to bring it?


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