Another days’ worth of edibles slides down our throats and got me thinking about how differently we humans eat from one country to another. What is standard fare for me is freaky food for other people and what people in India eat may be out of someone in Russia’s comfort zone. Apart from using the ingredients that are locally available which up until this point has been the wisest way for a country to survive, what makes us eat what we do? Here on Serendipity Farm we tend to work out what we are going to eat on the day that we eat it. Sometimes we utilise our leftovers into a meal because we don’t waste food here. If it’s not eaten it gets put into the compost (where the feral cats and possums fight over it long into the night) but we want to make sure to use every last bit so that we are minimising our carbon footprint. I have been taking some surreptitious photos of what we have been cooking and preparing for a few days now and thought that a post about grub on Serendipity Farm might be something that you might be interested in.
Interesting…some sort of meat and veg…correct! This is some diced cooked steak, carrots and toasted rolled oats…
All mixed together to make up what our dogs have every second day. On the other days they have raw meat. Not a bad life for a dog eh?
A wonderful thing happens to cornflour at 60C. It’s much like what happens when you install a Flux capacitor into a Delorean and put pedal to the metal and hit 88 miles per hour…magic! It’s one of those moments where the act of cooking transcends its boundaries and bleeds over into the strange mystical world of science and chemistry where you can find mythical creatures cavorting about with lab coats on with beakers and test tubes of bubbling multi coloured liquids doing strange things that defy the laws of gravity (oops…strayed into the Physics department… “Sorry guys”…). It’s those sort of moments when I could almost see myself hitting the books and getting excited about chemistry again but despite Heston Blumenthal making the BEST thrice cooked chips and some amazing chemical combinations that pass as Michelin star food, this little black duck is quite selective about where she will let her brain be manipulated and a department full of mad scientists is NOT for me! So when confronted with half a chocolate cake that we are ONLY talking about because I have only just stopped seething about it since I baked it last Friday. Words like “Perfect cake”…”Never EVER Fail” and “Easy Recipe” were bandied about by the author of this recipe and I launched myself into baking a “Chocolate Sponge Cake”… first, NEVER believe it when someone says “Never Fail” because there is always a first time and its highly likely to be yours… second, there is no such thing as a perfect cake, just a cake that you can slap enough accoutrement’s on to give you a degree of salvageable dignity. This cake was dense, rich, dark and…flat…not so good :o(. I was going to use it along with one of Steve’s close to perfect sponge cakes to take in for morning tea at our meeting with our lecturer. Not bribery per se, but let’s call it mutual degustory satisfaction and be done with it. Our lecturer provides the fresh brewed coffee and we provide the cake. Anyhoo…I have a smidgen of pride and couldn’t be presenting the chocolate equivalent of a pancake to my lecturer with any degree of satisfaction so it was crumbled into a bowl and set aside for “later”. I decided that today was “later” and as we no longer waste food, I had to find a way to make this chocolate pancake suitable not only to eat, but to have for desert tonight. I decided to make a chocolate trifle and put the crumbled (pan) cake into a decorative bowl. I made some chocolate custard and poured it over. I then realised that I had a significant lack of any sort of cream on the premises and no incentive to drive 8km to the nearest town to buy some. Given this mini conundrum I often think “What would mum do?”…mum was a cook who worked as a shearers cook, a hotel cook and as a caterer for most of her life and often had to fix some mini disaster or other at short notice on the cookery front line and the answer came right back at me “Mock Cream”. Cheers mum…I don’t mind you acting as my cooking muse if you want to :o). Mock Cream, for those of you born closer to the end of last century than the beginning of it is a substance developed to cater for rationing in and after WW2 and there are various recipes for it, most of them involving some sort of solid fat and sugar blended into each other and tempered with flour, cornflour, boiling water etc. None of this sounds in the least bit appetising and so I went hunting further afield to see if I couldn’t find a Mock Cream that was more luxurious in its ingredient quotient yet contained no actual cream (the missing link). I came up with this recipe and after making it have tucked it safely away for future use. No cream…no worries…I gots me a GOOD Mock Cream recipe ;)
I would just like to point out that this website is a really awesome site for recipes of all kinds. I have found so many foundation recipes here and tweaks for recipes so that I can turn them from regular to vegan that I subscribed to get newsletters from them. This recipe allows you to choose regular Mock Cream or Chocolate Mock Cream. I dare say you could come up with some variants should you feel so inclined. I am just happy to be able to make something to top that mass of chocolaty goodness.
This is what I started with…crumbled chocolate NOT spongecake…
This is what happens when you mix some home made icing sugar with a bit of water to make “a consistency where it will just slide into the mix”…
Whipped butter and icing sugar (that was “slid into the mix”), you can see the change from regular (uscraped from the side of the bowl) butter to whipped butter that the beaters could actually reach
Starting to look a fair bit like the cream that it is supposed to be mocking…
This is the point where you have to start adding alternating boiling and cold water…not too sure why apart from tempering the sugary flavour in the mix
Unlike Nigella you will notice that my pans and oven slides are most definitely used more than once before they are donated to charity! I actively seek out the darker older pans whenever I am scouring thrift shops and garage sales for a bargain. As a cook I know that these are the well-seasoned vehicles for happy cooking and the best results.
The initial ingredients needed for making the chocolate custard
my trusty whisk being used to ensure that the custard isn’t lumpy
Chocolate custard poured onto the chocolate NOT spongecake, cooled and ready to be decorated with the mock cream
Doesn’t this look lovely? How could you tell the difference between this and regular cream? Well the consistency when it was removed from the fridge might be a bit of a dead giveaway! This cream could have been rolled down our rather steep driveway and would have looked virtually identical to this picture when it rolled to a standstill…sigh…it was solid as a rock! We had to put it over the warmth of the wood fire to soften it a bit, re-whip it and add more boiling and cold water before it stopped looking like a curdled mess and started to look like “cream” again…honesty is the best policy folks and I would HATE to have any of you try this recipe without being aware that you are going to have to store it at room temperature before using…
Aside from that little hicup, here the cream is, rebeaten into submission and doing what a good mock cream representation should!
And this is the finished product. A few shaves of chocolate and voila! Desert.
When we dispatch our roosters it isn’t with their tasty meaty goodness in mind. If the roosters could learn to live in a utopian harmony with the rest of the natives on Serendipity Farm they could live out their lives in full but like most males of the species, roosters are prone to strutting about and trying to take over from each other. They are also prone to random acts of sexual molestation that startle the hens out of their laying routine thus making them seed scoffing menaces to our egg futures and when they start to crow all through the night, its them or us. Little red rooster was the last of our roosters to bite the dust in a line of 5 before him. I am collecting their wishbones so that they are not forgotten and they will all go into an artistic display of life on Serendipity Farm (or perhaps death on Serendipity Farm would be more to the point!) somewhere in the future when I find the time to contemplate my navel, my inner artistic muse and my ability to find something to adhere the wishbones to. 2 of the wishbones are still clinging tenaciously to their hosts in the freezer in the garage as roast chicken futures. I had thought that little red would be tough because unlike his more tame brothers, he was wholly feral and had been crowing since he was only 3 months old. Crowing is associated with the onset of maturity and thus, at almost 5 months old I had imagined that he would be tough…stringy and fit only for mincing. Minced he was, along with being turned into delicious stock and his stock meaty portions and skin were fed to the dogs. The skin was first turned into chook scratching’s in a hot oven and even the feral cats got the intestines to squabble over. We don’t waste much here. If I could bring myself to do something with the feet I would but beak, feet and feathers are disposed of. If we could dig the soil we would bury the head but we are going to have to work out what to do with them other than surreptitiously depositing them into the bin (bad I know but whatchagonnado?) and the feathers languish in the compost bin until they blow all over the place in a gale…
This was an interesting spice that my daughters bought for me when they were buying some products from an Australia based seller of U.S.A. foods, curiously called “U.S.A. Foods”. To all of you living in the U.S.A. it might make you curious why I would be showing my dear constant readers this spice mix that is readily available to you all. In Australia we have a fraction of the variety of foodstuffs that you are able to purchase on a day to day basis. We often have a really hard time replicating recipes because we have to find a local substitute for some of the ingredients in your recipes. This is one such ingredient and I use it for making potato wedges and to add a bit of spicy flavour to anything that needs it.
I removed a package of past rooster mince from the freezer tonight to make something for Steve’s dinner. I decided to make small rooster meatballs to go with some rich tomato pasta sauce and some spaghetti and cheese. I used 250g of ex rooster and mixed it with fresh breadcrumbs, Italian mixed herbs (dried), some yellow American mild squeezy mustard (one of Steve’s personal favourites), some smoked paprika, some good old tomato sauce, a shake of Massell vegetable stock powder, a bit of minced garlic, a shake of Emeril’s All Natural Rib Rub (a gift from my daughters from an online American wholesale outlet in Australia) and a shake of Worcestershire sauce all formed into a mass and made into small balls. I then placed them on a baking paper lined oven tray and baked them. I used the remaining 250g to make into Thai chicken patties tomorrow night to be served with some kefir lime scented rice from the freezer and a left over portion of a veggie mix that I invented because Steve said “I NEED vegetables!” (in addition to his normal veggies that is…) where I cut the kernels from a fresh corn cob, and cooked them with some frozen peas and garlic in some butter and tossed in some sliced mushrooms and a carrot shaved with the potato peeler. Apparently delicious (what ISN’T delicious when cooked in garlic butter eh? ;) ). I mixed the remaining portion of ex rooster with some smooth peanut butter. I normally wouldn’t have this in the house but SOMEONE told me that dogs LOVE peanut butter and that I should buy some to put into Earl’s Kong for when we go for our lectures and the boys get left here. I allowed the boys to sniff the specially purchased jar of peanut butter expecting the equivalent of dog raptures (remembering that I was promised that they LOVE peanut butter and can’t resist it…) and despite putting a bit on Earl’s nose that he promptly wiped off in disgust, their love of peanut butter was decidedly underwhelming to say the least! I have to find ways to use it up and biscuits, Thai noodles and adding it surreptitiously to just about everything I can get away with is how I am going to discontinue its shelf hovering career in the pantry. I then added some Korean chilli paste, some minced ginger, and some minced garlic, more fresh breadcrumbs, and some Massell vegetable stock powder and mixed it all up. It’s marinating in the fridge overnight for me to make into small patties tomorrow night and serve. I love thinking up frugal and deliciously inventive ways to make leftovers into something tasty. The rooster meat has come in handy and is totally different than supermarket chicken. Its darker, it’s more flavourful and it goes further than regular chicken does.
Here’s the ex-rooster turned into meatballs ready for Steve’s spaghetti and meatballs…
And here’s the finished dish. He had already grabbed the plate and started it when I insisted that he stop eating to take this photo!
Tomorrow we will be using one of our roosters past to see if they are tender enough to roast. The rooster selected was huge, fat, lazy and just on the point of crow. We know that because the rooster in question was called “Big Bertha” right up until 3 days before it’s demise and so it should be tender enough to roast. We have been doing experiments with our rooster meat. Its something akin to male calves in a dairy herd, not something desirable and so we let our roosters live happily on Serendipity Farm until they start to cause the girls problems and then its time for a culinary adventure. Big Bertha/Bert is going to be celebrated by stuffing under the skin with herb/garlic butter, roasting, and accompanying with roasted goose fat potatoes, yorkshire puddings, peas, carrots, stuffing and pan gravy. I will let you know how it all goes. We will only be roasting half of Big Bertha/Bert because only Steve eats meat and we can use the remaining half to make a chicken casserole that can be used in a future pie. When you start to look at what it takes to produce your food, it gives you a lot more respect for the process. Its not easy to kill a rooster when you have raised it from a chick and its important to make sure that you respect that roasted chicken on your plate. Still not too sure what we are going to do with all those wishbones…Steve suggested something along the lines of making a necklace out of them like Predator…hmmm perhaps not! Ok, I know I have a lot of photos to put into this post and so I am going to finish up here. I hope you liked the change of pace in this post and things will be back to normal on Wednesday (if I can be dragged from my newfound love of Amanita games to type a post that is! ;) )