Archive for December, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Pump House Cottage

The Brand!Merry christmas to all!

The folks here at the pump house cottage are celebrating by decorating the flegling pine growing in the jungle (a mere baby pinus radiata at only 4 metres!) with fairy lights and are planning to eat a christmas dinner of roast lamb, potatoes and kumara (thanks Prestons and Pak n Save) with sides of peas and brocolli and a salad of lettuce, spring onion and radish all (from the jungle/garden).

A small crop of strawberries will be harvested and served with cream and trifle – little will be remembered after this point as the rest of the day will pass in a sherry induced haze. 

I hope the rellies/friends/neighbours enjoy the newly branded pump house cottage elderflower cordial and marmalade.

So, the first festive beer has already been consumed, and pak n save has been cleaned out of $8.99 Lindaur rose. Auntie ann is coming around and the festivities will roll on into the new year if the Lindaur supply holds out.

My recipe for a great christmas – family & good friends, good food, happy smiling bubs, sunshine and bubbly.

Cheers! And have a great christmas!

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Funny Thing About Strawberries

I could have sworn my strawberries just weren’t ready yet – but unless bird netting has magical maturing qualities it is odds on that the birds or perhaps my children have been plundering the strawberry patch – both don’t wait for them to get red and jucy .

To explain – All of a sudden, since putting on the bird netting – I have a bumper crop of strawberries… Hey I’m not really complaining – I got around to the netting task just in time for strawberries to double in price at the supermarket for christmas.

Yes – Cupcakes and Champagne Can Sustain Life – As I Know It.

Crazy weekend. Laurie had the whole shabang around for a birthday bash – a great time was had by all (or so they say!) and we are still eating left overs – Yum – I love left overs! Here is my recipe for a fun filled 2 year old party:

1 Treasure hunt – Chocolate coins and ladybugs look lovely in amongst the leaves and branches(I am still finding them in the garden) and glinting in the sunlight they are easy for the kids to find – gets them out and about too!

1 Pass the parcel  – Chocolate in the layers is VERY popular, keeps the kids happy, and you can tell who has had a turn by the full gob and/or chocolate moosh. If you get the number of layers right, by the last layer everyone is chocolated up and some have moved on leaving only the dedicated, making the choice for the final pressie easy!

1 Pinata – Our scarey spider pinata was thoroughly bashed (my mistake was putting fragile items inside – not one piece of candy cane that made it out was bigger then 5mm!) The kids loved the finger laser lights – fights broke out! Sometimes it is just really really really hard to share!

1 CD of kids music – they love to boogie!

Mix all of these ingredients thoroughly with

Cupcakes, chocolate crackles, ham and cheese rolls, fresh fruit, sugary drinks, lollies and Birthday cake!

Make sure to keep the parents topped up with sugary treats too, and alcohol (if necessary). 

Try not to let the neighbours kids kidnap all the partygoers and you have party central!!

And at the end of the day, after everyone has left, and the bubs are in bed – my recommendation for dinner is:

The pump house cottage cupcakes can not be beat! Especially washed down with a glass of Lindaurs finest Rose – Boy is the tea lady a classy chick!

How Does Your Garden Grow

Well mine grows, and grows and grows – oh the pleasure obtained from watching the little cerubs scoffing peas, straight from pods, not 10 seconds picked. This is the life! If only my precious peas could be used to barter for stuff – then I wouldn’t need to do any work! Dreams……

To confirm – Yes – the ever expanding (check out the latest photo!) pump house cottage garden has yeilded some produce! The stocktake found – three raspberries, 5 pea pods and a lump of dirt. Ok the dirt doesn’t really count – but it came out of the garden and was consumed – so maybe a little leyway is required….

Elderflower Cordial & Marmalade!

Hey man! I have turned all domesticated! I have made elderflower cordial and marmalade. It was easy! Any Ex Engineer turned domestic goddess could do it.

We have 10 elder trees at the pump house cottage (and counting) so it seemed appropriate to make use of the produce. Apparently elderflower season is a mere 6 weeks so I took advantage of this transient time and sent the IT guy up a ladder picking flowers – lovely!

Pump House Cottage Elderflower Cordial

40 Elderflower heads – beautiful fresh ones, not a hint of brown, smelling intensely like a cats toilet, collected on a sunny day at midday, turn around three times and touch your toes before plucking, rinse off bugs and place in a big bucket.

Acquire 2 Oranges & 5 Lemons, pare off zest,  cut up the remainder and add all to the elderflowers.

Combine 2.5 kg of sugar with 2 Litres of boiling water – Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble until dissolved.

Using the appropriate face of intense concentration pour the boiling sugar solution over the unsuspecting elderflowers, zest etc.

Quickly whip 100g of citric acid together with a cup of boiling water to dissolve and add to the elderflower party.

Stir, stir, stir… a good 10 seconds of industrious stirring should do it.

Cover the bucket with a tea towel – and leave for 5 days.

At this point the elderflower aroma was quite intense and got me a little bit scared of the potential product – but over night the smell matured and became quite a pleasant background for activities at the pump house cottage. To the left is the mix brewing…

After the 5 days of steeping, sieve through muslin. Keep the elderflower/citrus mulch to the side and bottle the cordial in sterilised bottles – Dilute to taste with water, lemonade – or my favourite – soda water – and enjoy!

The elderflower cordial has been popular – even Auntie Ann took home a bottle – watch out tea lady rellies – there is going to be elderflower cordial all round for christmas presents.

Now for the Marmalade:

Elderflower Marmalade – The Pump House Cottage Recipe.

Now before we begin – a few disclaimers – I am not a jam maker and kinda played this one by ear – but the result was not bad….

Take the elderflower/citrus mulch leftover from the cordial straining and remove the elderflowers (thanks but we don’t need you anymore!) 

Cut the zest and pulp up (I don’t like to have great lumps in my marmalade so I cut it up as finely as I could).

Place the pulverised mess in a saucepan & cover the mixture with elderflower cordial. Cook gently until a test piece of zest is tender to bite.

Weigh the mixture and add the same weight of sugar. Cook until suitably jammy – picking out stray bugs and lemon pips as you go. My setting test was pure guess work  (i.e. hey man it looks like jam now!) You may want to use a more scientific method.

Pour the hot marmalade into jars and ta da! Elderflower marmalade – Yum!

Now the IT guy has caught the bug – and has been brewing elderflower champagne – watch this space to see if he is a fermenting success or all ends in a bomb squad call out.