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Makin’ Bacon

Bacon

Bacon

My youngest son Daniel and I share a love of cooking, buying from farm gates, game meats, and making whatever we can, from what we buy, from scratch. I guess of all the people in our family, we are the ones who really like to know where our food comes from!

Our pig

Our pig

Right now with our house let out in Warrnambool, we are based here in Traralgon with Daniel for an unknown length of time.

Before we arrived with our freezer full of fish fillets, crab, squid and rabbits, Daniel filled his with organic grass fed beef from the Glengarry Free Range Egg lady he deals with at work, and a 5 month old pig  that he arranged to have butchered for us. Both lots of meat are proving to be amazing which is always good when you have a lot of it to eat.

Daniel has just started getting interested in the home curing of meats so the first thing he and I did when Russ and I arrived was to cure some of the pork belly to make bacon.  He (Daniel) organised the cure for it, I turned it daily for 5 days, then yesterday, I washed it and oven baked it at 120 c for about 2.5 hours until it had reached 64c internally.

Home made bacon

Home made bacon

This morning, Russell cut off a few slices (well small slabs maybe) and we cooked it for our brunch. It’s amazing to say the least.

Daniel’s Bacon

  • 1.2 kg pork belly
  • 30 g salt
  • 15 g sugar
  • 5 g pepper
  • about a teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • good sprinkling dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1 g curing salt #2

Method

  1. Rub the pork belly with the combined remaining ingredients. Place in a non-reactive container or zip lock bag and refrigerate. Turn every day for 5 days. Can leave it for longer but it’ll get saltier by the day.
  2. On day 5, wash and pat dry, then bake in an oven preheated to 120 c for about two hours or until the internal temp reaches 64 c when tested with a thermometre.
  3. Cool then refrigerate. Use as you would any commercial bacon.

My attempt at Corned Silverside (under instruction)

  • 2 kg fresh silverside, trimmed of most of its fat
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 180 g salt
  • 4 g curing salt #2
  • Pickling spice mix (ingredients below)
  • 1 litre very hot water
  • 2 litres very cold water

Pickling Spice Mix

  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 dried crushed chillies

Method

  1. Place the meat in a non reactive food grade container (garbage bags and bins are not food grade) or zip lock bag.
  2. Mix the salt, sugar, curing salt and pickling spices together with the hot water, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Add the cold water, stir then pour over the meat in the container.
  4. Submerge the meat in the brine in the brine with a weight (I used a plate)  placed on it to keep it under. It needs to stay under for about at least a week.
  5. I’ve read that it can stay longer so it might work well to cook one, then remove the next one a week or so later and cook it?

 

 

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Things that go BUMP in the day!

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay

It took us a couple of weeks to travel from the farm at New Norcia in Western Australia, to Traralgon in Victoria where we plan to base ourselves for a few months.

After leaving the farm, we spent a night at Coolgardie caravan park, a night at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, another at Nundroo Roadhouse, then six at Streaky Bay.

We did a bit of fishing and crabbing at Streaky but really didn’t do too well until the second to last day when we caught 10 tommy ruff and 8 whiting and missed a few good sized crabs that came in on our fishing lines. No matter, it was a nice stop in a really nice park that we’ve always enjoyed.

Our next night was spent at a caravan park at Crystal Brook (not far from Port Pirie). It was a lovely surprise to have a long-time family friend Chris Daley and his partner Miriam pull up outside the van and stay the night in a tent near by. Always fun to catch up with Chris and all the gossip, share a meal and a few drinks.

On our way to Keith the next day, we stopped at a red light on a pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately, the woman in the car behind us didn’t! We heard a dull thud as we were pushed forward by her car. Jumping out of the ute, we hurried to check the damage. At first glance it didn’t look too bad so we pulled off the crossing and swapped details.

The harder we looked though, the more damage we could see. The van’s rear bumper weld had split, she’d pushed the whole bumper back into the van and bent the spare tyre mount. We could see where she’d hit the boat trailer too. Russ managed to pull the bumper out and we took off the spare tyre and put it in the back of the ute to travel on.

We contacted our insurance company and drove on.

We spent 2 nights in Portland with friends, a night in Port Fairy with our son and daughter-in-law, another with friends then arrived here in Traralgon. On the way, Ian Grant Caravans (who we nominated to do the repair) called so we dropped in there on the way past and they quoted the repair.

Caravans are super expensive to work on so I was expecting a few thousand dollars. The quote was reaching $7000 when he asked if there was any interior damage. We hadn’t actually checked, so it was a bit of a surprise to lift the bed and find the inner wall of the van is cracked as well. To fix it, the bed and wardrobe and all side panels have to be removed and the inner wall and outer panels replaced. Ka-ching!!!!! The quote just skyrocketed to around $14,000. If that bit gets accepted, an old dent Russ did dropping the boat on the van will be fixed too!

At home here in Traralgon, Russ tried to get the boat trailer built so he could take the boat off the ute. The trailer axle has been bent so he had to take to it with a hammer to just get the boat on. We’re not sure if the wheels go round properly, but the van repairers have added the trailer into the quote!

The repairers are also going to fix the van for us while we are in Bali for 10 days in January.

It’s so lovely just being here with my son and our grandchildren, I’m really not worrying about the van. No one was hurt so that’s the main thing!

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Roman Bridge, Richmond Castle and the Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales


We took a big drive out of Leeds to Richmond yesterday stopping for a look at the 2000 year old remains of a Roman bridge before arriving in Richmond itself.

Our car is parked down in the car park at the centre of the photo

Our car is parked down in the car park at the centre of the photo

An historic market town set on a hill, it was very hard to find parking. We eventually found a pay and display place at the bottom of the hill by the River Swale, parked and went for lunch at the Bishop Blaize Hotel. I have to say, it was one of the best pub meals I’ve had in years. Russ had the chef’s chill, and I had a sundried tomato, salami, mozzarella stuffed chicken breast, wrapped in bacon and cooked to perfection! Hand cut fluffy, crunchy chips and veg were excellent too! The only time I’ve tasted better chiili, it was cooked by ME!
Best pub lunch here so far

Best pub lunch here so far

Lunch over, we headed up the last of the hill to the Richmond Castle. With it’s amazing views of the town and countryside around it, you can well imagine why it was built here all those centuries ago. we’ve been to quite a few castles by now, but the views from this one take the cake!

view from the castle keep

view from the castle keep

Climbing the 140 plus stairs to the very top of the keep give even better views and is so worth doing! There’s an excellent exhibition telling the history from the time the land was granted in 11th century, to the conscientious objectors imprisoned here during the first world war. Informative with not too much reading to do.
We walked back to the car along the river stopping to view the not-so-impressive Swale Falls. Really pretty but not very spectacular.

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

Our trip home took us through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, along much of the route travelled by the tour de France riders recently. Plenty of towns and villages along the route still had yellow bunting, ribbons and yellow painted bikes out. The roads are narrow, winding and steep in most places, so I was pretty happy to be seeing it from the car rather than a bike! We saw lots of people on bikes out there though and I can only imagine they were imagining they were competing! I loved the dales with its stone walls, stone cottages, stone barns, stone bridges-all the same brownish, greyish, moss covered stone. It’s gorgeous and green out there right now, but I can imagine it looking quite grim at times, but somehow it’s still beautiful!
Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

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Brodsworth Hall and Gardens and a braised bunny

Braised British Bunny

Braised British Bunny

Before we left home, we bought ourselves a year’s English Heritage Membership for 72 pounds. Last time we were here, we bought one for a week and had a great time using it so figured we’d get our money’s worth this time over our 10 week stay.

Today is the start of our 4th week here, and yesterdays visit to the magnificent Brodsworth Hall and Gardens saw our membership more than paid for!

It’s not just the visiting of various abbeys, churches castles and homes like Brodsworth, it’s the getting to them that makes it all fun. I can’t count how many times we’ve got ourselves slightly lost before arriving at our destination!

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Of all the properties visited so far-Brodsworth Hall is maybe the best. It’s an old Victorian mansion that was last lived in in about 1990. The one remaining woman living there just found it too big and too lonely so moved out. It has enough original furnishings to make it feel comfy but not overstuffed, and they are in the same condition (but preserved in various ways) as when she left.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

The gardens are stunning with a number of separate gardens (rose garden, fern grove, annual planting etc.)

Russ and I took a guided tour then spent 1.5 hours walking around the gardens, then ate a way overpriced lunch from the tea rooms on site. We finished our visit with a look around the bedrooms upstairs and the servants quarters before driving on to Leeds.

We’re staying with friends Iona and Simon for a few days and I was so pleased to finally get here after the drive from Brodsworth Hall. Leeds has a ring road around it with a roundabout approximately every 1/4 of a mile along it. We missed a few turns as our GPS dropped out at critical times so I was quite rattled by the time we finally arrived.

It was so nice to see Iona (we haven’t seen her since Todd and Deb were married well over a year ago) and great to meet Simon and his daughter Lucy finally too. Iona and Simon cooked us a lovely roast chicken dinner which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Today they’ve all gone camping leaving us to house-sit for the next couple of days. Tonight I’m cooking the rabbit we brought at Brigg farmer’s market on Saturday morning. I made stock out of last nights roasted chicken carcass and will add in the leftover roast potatoes and some fresh peas to my braised rabbit towards the end. What an easy dinner!

 Braised British Bunny

  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 rabbit, jointed into 6 pieces
  • plain flour
  • black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • chopped fresh parsley
Braised British Bunny

Braised British Bunny

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a baking pan and saute the onion, garlic and bacon until the onion is softened.
  2. Toss the rabbit in flour seasoned with plenty of pepper then add to the pan and brown all over.
  3. Stir in the mustard, tomato paste and pour in the stock.
  4. Cook, covered in an oven heated to 160c for about 2 hours or until the rabbit is really tender.
  5. Stir through the creme fraiche and parsley and serve.*we had leftover roast potatoes from last night, so I added them and some green peas to the dish about 10 minutes before I served.

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UK continued

Flamborough Cliffs

Flamborough Cliffs

After a night back in Manchester with Phil and Pauline, Deb and Harry, we headed north east to Filey on the coast 6 miles from Scarborough.

I booked the accommodation before we left home in a complex a couple of miles out of town and while it was 10 pound cheaper for the week than the cottage in Wales, the two weren’t at all related. Enough to say, while some things were fine (a good cooker, dishwasher and washing machine) other things were dreadful. I wouldn’t recommend it to an enemy let alone a friend! Never mind, we used it as a base to get ourselves out and about and see heaps. Once again, our membership with English Heritage got a good work out.

UK's oldest surviving lighthouse

UK’s oldest surviving lighthouse

On our first day out around Filey, we visited the Bempton Cliffs to see the Gannet rookery. So many birds and chicks, it was amazing. We went to Flamborough where we saw Britain’s oldest standing lighthouses and the beautiful white chalk cliffs. It was a huge day of walking up and down but well worth it.

The next day, we went to Scarborough, just 6 miles from Filey to see their castle. It was good, but a mock battle (2 knights on horseback and about 10 soldiers a side) meant we couldn’t have an audio tour thingy so we really didn’t know what we were looking at. After that we went on to visit a Shire Horse centre. It turned out to be run by a man who fancied himself a cowboy so we got a lengthy display from him and his palomino all decked out in their western gear, followed by the shetland parade. After the parade, all the kids in the audience got to groom the shetlands, sit on them and have photos taken. We went for a look at the lovely big shire horses we’d actually come to see, then left. Go if you’ve never seen a horse up close, but give it a miss if you are at all a horse person lol.

Big boys playing silly games Scarborough Castle

Big boys playing silly games Scarborough Castle

Finally, we took a drive through the Dalby forest before heading home. A really pretty drive.

Monolith in the grounds Rudston Parish Church

Monolith in the grounds Rudston Parish Church

On our third day in Filey after a sleep in a cooked breakfast, we took a shortish drive out through the country side stopping at Agnes Burton house, Rushton Church with it’s ancint monolith (the tallest single standing stone in Britain) and the medieval village ruins at Wharran Percy (quite a walk in and out).

Day 4 was our biggest, and probably my favourite, day out. We drove about 180 miles (about 300ks) to visit Pickering Castle (maybe my favourite English Heritage Castle so far) and the Yorkshire Moors. The heather is in bloom right now, so the moors are a stunning green and pink in most parts. They are vast and really quite stark looking. Just beautiful!

Yorkshire Moors

Yorkshire Moors

The following day (our 5th) I suggested to Russ it would be a shame not to have a good look around Filey before we left so we walked about 5 ks around town-along the foreshore and promenade, up through the cliff gardens and out to the south cliffs for various views of town. It was really good and fun to watch the English tourists rugged up in their warm clothes trying to enjoy the beach.

Rotunda Filey Cliff Gardens

Rotunda Filey Cliff Gardens

Day 6 we went back to Scarborough to do the same-have a proper look around at there too. The town was crazy with tourists especially down at the harbour. We bought some new warm clothes as summer is well and truly gone but we aren’t prepared, had some lunch, then did heaps of walking down around the harbour. When my legs finally wouldn’t walk another step, we took the tram from the foreshore back up to the shops and back in the car to Filey. On the way back, we called in

Filey

Filey

to the very pretty Caytons Bay for view back to the Scarborough Castle and on to Filey. There was a surf school out on the waves, and a nice local stopped and explained what the huge concrete blocks we’d seen in a couple of places were. They were left overs from the 2nd world war but the land had eroded away from under them leaving them on the beach-just as it did to a few houses behind us (or they had been once upon a time).

Skidby Mill

Skidby Mill

Yesterday we headed to our B&B at Scunthorpe stopping at Skidby Mill on the way. The mill is a working one with a great little musuem that we both really enjoyed. It also has a cafe looking out onto the old farm yard, but we decided on fish and chips in Barton on Humber instead.

Scunthorpe is grim, but this being a long weekend (Bank Holiday weekend) we didn’t have a lot of choice.

It’s really industrial with power stations everywhere you look it seems. We walked past boarded up houses and a pub, past sad rows of houses to go out to dinner last night. Our Indian meal was great and it was so funny when the man taking our money at the end asked had we travelled far. We ended up with a few waiters crowded around us asking questions when the found out we’d come from Melbourne.

Detail Thornton Abbey Gatehouse built 1377

Detail Thornton Abbey Gatehouse built 1377

Today, we drove out of town and discovered the “good side” of Scunthorpe. Not great but so much nicer than here. We went to a farmer’s market at Brigg where we bought a frozen rabbit. It’s in the fridge here at the B&B and will be our dinner Monday night! After that we visited Thornton Gatehouse and Abbey, and St Peter’s Church in Barton on Humber. Both are English Heritage properties so I think that membership is well paid for now!

St Peters Barton on Humber

St Peters Barton on Humber

Tomorrow we head to friend Iona and Simon’s where we’ll spend the night with them, then house sit for them for a couple of nights before moving on. Next Friday, we go to the Lakes district for a week!

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UK

Garden Cottage Trefeglwys

Garden Cottage Trefeglwys


After a 23 hour flight, the 4 of us arrived in Manchester. I have to say, Harry was amazing to fly with. He really didn’t sleep much, but remained cheerful most of the way. Deb on the other hand…..

Our first 5 nights were spent in Manchester with our daughter-in-law Deb and Grandson Harry at Deb’s parents Pauline and Phil’s place. It was great to catch up with them at home instead of in Perth where we normally get together. The 5 days allowed us to recover from the long flight and get our bearings before picking up our hire car on the Thursday and heading to Wales on the Friday. We overnighted on the way there at a B&B in the town of Much Wenlock.

wales

wales

I booked us a cottage in a very rural part of north Wales. It (the cottage) was between two tiny villages with unpronounceable names along a narrow hedged road, up a hill. It was beautiful-really well well equipped, and really well priced at 50 pounds a night. It’s the cottage all others will be judged by I think.

On the way to the cottage, we gave our English Heritage membership a good hiding visiting the Wroxter Roman Village, Wenlock Priory, Buildwas Abbey and The Iron Bridge. From the cottage, we visited the Welsh coast at Aberystwyth and Aberdovey/Fairbourne on two different days, Stokesay Castle and the Llyn Clywedog Reservoir and it’s lead mine ruins.

Llyn Clywedog Reservoir

Llyn Clywedog Reservoir

I was really sad to leave the cottage but it was lovely to spend a night back in Manchester with our family before heading to Filey on the East coast by Scarborough.

Road side stall

Road side stall

In the three weeks we’ve been here, we’ve eaten the odd lunch and even odder dinner out. It was always our plan to shop and cook for ourselves. As we’ve driven around, we’ve occasionally passed a roadside stall selling fresh veg or free range eggs, but have usually had some other driver up our behind and not been able to stop however, we’ve managed to buy some lovely veg and eggs a couple of times.

We have been loving the huge supermarkets with their amazing variety of food at really reasonable prices compared to home. We’ve tried to buy British wherever possible and have so far been really happy with the quality.

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