Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PAFTs Christmas Outing

Today 20 mums and 20 or so little 'uns visited our place for the Parents as First Teachers Christmas outing. They watched Mindy the goat being milked, with some of the mums being "brave" enough to try it, they hand fed two kids (of the goat variety) and two lambs, they fed the geese, the hens and the ducks, and cuddled Benjamin, one of the rabbits. They fed the sheep and gave hay to the cows. The weather was perfect and they all sat outside on the lawn and under the gazebo for scones and jam for morning tea, (tea or coffee or one of our new range of cordials, Tayberry). I imagine there will be some very tired little people this aftenoon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guests this weekend will be treated to a strawberry sponge for afternoon tea, and if the weather improves, we'll be able to serve it with flowers and a white tablecloth, on the verandah.

Strawberry Sponge

You can easily use a bought sponge to create this but the ability to create a light as a feather sponge will improve your chances of getting into Masterchef. You can have this ready in 45 minutes, plus a little cooling time.

3 eggs, separated, lightly beat the yolks

¾ cups caster sugar

¾ cup cornflour

1 T plain flour

1 t baking powder

1 t melted butter

2 t golden syrup, dissolved in 1 T boiling water

You will also need

strawberries – from the garden (about 250g) or a punnet

200 mls cream

1 T icing sugar

extra icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 C, and grease and line with baking paper, 2 x 20cm round cake times. I use a spray for this. Grease the paper lining and dust with a little flour – this gives the cake a lovely crust.

Beat the egg whites until they are firm, but not dry. If you beat them too long, you will find it hard to mix in the other ingredients. Gradually add the sugar, whilst the beater is still on.

With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the egg yolks, then fold through the cornflour, flour and baking powder. Fold in the melted butter and the golden syrup and water mix, but only until the ingredients are just incorporated.

Divide between the two tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. When the cake is cooked, it will spring back when you touch it. Cool the sponges in their tins for a few minutes. Use a metal spatula to run round the edges of the tins and gently place the sponges on a wire rack, that you have covered with a clean tea towel. Peel the baking paper off the cakes, turn them over and cool completely.

Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form, and spread over one cake. Place sliced strawberries on the cream, and then carefully position the other cake on top. Arrange the rest of the whole strawberries on the top of the sponge, sieve a little icing sugar over the top and serve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

First of the season's Broad Beans

We have had so much rain recently that walking to the vegetable garden is a seriously squelchy exercise. However, it was worth it when I got there to find the first of the season's broad beans. This year the broadies have had a rough time. The planting in the strawberry patch was all but wiped out by the escaping pig. To be fair, he didn't do it directly, but whilst he was being chased and caught again, a great deal of damage was done (to the beans). Earlier I had transplanted some broad bean plants that were self sown in the raised garden. There is still not a great deal ready in the garden so one has to take what there is and create something rather than have a plan in mind and look for the makings. Tonight I picked baby broad beans, still in their pods and some mint, and with some Kingsmeade Feta cheese still in the fridge, made another delicious Spring salad.

225 g fresh baby broad beans, still in their pods, roughly chopped

60 g Feta cheese, cubed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon Martinborough Manner Boysenberry vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Put the beans in boiling water for 3–4 minutes until tender, or cook in a tiny amount of water in the microwave. Drain well and put into a bowl. Mix together the oil, vinegar and mint and stir into the hot beans. Cool the beans to room temperature and mix in the cubed Feta. Salad, ready to serve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spring is bustin' out all over!

Everywhere you look there are signs of real Spring. One of our hens is sitting on four eggs, the two Pilgrim geese are sitting on at least a dozen eggs, the apple trees and pear trees are covered in beautiful blossom and the asparagus is up and doing.  As my mind wandered whilst working this morning (as it does from time to time) I wondered if we could have something a little different for dinner tonight that would use some of our seasonal goodies.  Suddenly there is food in the garden again.  I will leave the asparagus in the garden until nearer dinner time, so that it is as fresh as possible, but the eggs are already collected - thanks girls.

Caramelized Onion and Asparagus Frittata

                     1 jar Onion Marmalade

12 fresh asparagus spears,  
4 large eggs
3 large egg whites
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
1.             Preheat the grill in your oven.
2.             In a bowl, whisk the whole eggs, egg whites and 1 tablespoon of water until frothy, then season with salt and pepper.
3.             In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain and set aside.
4.             Add the onion marmalade to a skillet or oven proof frying pan and heat over a moderate heat until the onions are hot
5.             Pour the eggs over the hot onions in the skillet and let set for 1 minute. Cover and cook until the eggs are set  around the edges but still soft in the centre, 2 to 3 minutes.
6.             Arrange the asparagus on top of the frittata, then slip the pan under the grill and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the omelette puffs up and lightly browns. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Cut the frittata into 6 wedges and serve.  Serves 6.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Twice planted potatoes

Caught in the act!
We have now officially planted our potatoes twice!  Yes, the same potatoes, before you suggest that of course we need to plant more than one lot.  For four years our hens have stayed happily in the orchard.  They have a house to go to at night and approximately half an acre to play in during the day.  There are bugs and worms to eat, dirt to scratch in and dust to bathe in - what more could a hen require.  Freedom seems to be the answer to that question.  Every morning for about the last month, seven of them and one of the roosters would race to the end of the orchard as soon as they were let out in the morning.  Some weeks ago I had clipped a wing of each hen in order to interfere with their lift-off ability. But, undaunted by this, one by one, led by Clayton (the rooster you have when you're not having a rooster) they would jump onto the fence, jump off it and then run to wherever they wanted.  They would run into the barn and help themselves to the grain in the sacks.  They started to lay eggs in the barn (barn laid eggs for those who want the technical term). They would run into the strawberry patch and dig for worms.   Yesterday they ran into the area of newly planted spuds and dug up almost every single one.  They did not eat them, they simply did it for the sheer pleasure of doing so. There were a few words spoken, not conducive to long life of said hens.  When the hens ran into the neighbour's property rather than back into the orchard when we chased them, there were several more words spoken, some of which were signalling instant demise of said hens.  To allow the hens to remain in the egg-laying force, and to encourage them to stay in the orchard I built a palisade of bamboo canes, linked with binder twine.  The binder twine simply allowed for take-off balance.  I then attached a ripped up sheet to the twine so that it would flap in the wind and frighten the hens.  Our hens are brave, so this was no threat.  After that, we took some bird netting and stretched it tight, attaching it above the fence and gate, so that any hen making a bolt for it, would be ricocheted back into the orchard or caught as evidence in the netting.  Three hours after their daily release from their house the hens appear to be still in the orchard.  Two of the slower-learning, perhaps more bird-brained ones are still pacing up and down below the fence and netting wall, perhaps waiting for it to magically open and allow them an escape route.

If we have managed to contain them, we can continue planting the garden for the coming months.  Unless one plans very carefully, and we didn't, there is not much left in the garden at this time of the year, and much of the new season's vegetables are not yet ready.  However, over the weekend, we did harvest enough corn salad, asparagus, baby silver beet and fennel to be able to serve garden greens for dinner.

Early Spring salad

Use what ever baby greens you can find.  If using asparagus, lightly cook it in salted water and cool it, everything else can be simply rinsed, dried and served.  Don't put fennel in this salad, but slice it finely,  lightly fry it and serve along side the salad.

To dress your salad, mix half a cup of Martinborough Manner Boysenberry Vinegar and half a cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil, crush a clove of garlic, and add this with a teaspoon of honey.  Either mix it up in the blender, or put all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake long and hard.  Drizzle this over the salad at the table, or allow diners to do their own.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2 scrummy treats made with Tayberry Jam

Baked Brie with Tayberries and Almonds


250g Brie

1/2 Cup Martinborough Manner Tayberry Jam

1 T Martinborough Manner Raspberry Vinegar

1/4 Cup Sliced Toasted Almonds


1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

2. Place brie in a foil lined baking dish.

3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until brie is soft in the centre.

4. Stir the tayberry jam and the vinegar together to make a sauce.

5. Place brie in serving dish, cover with the sauce, and then sprinkle with almonds.

6. Serve with sliced fruit and a sliced baguette.

The best Brie to use in these two recipes is Kingsmeade Brie made in Masterton

Tayberry Brie En Croute


250g Brie (in a wheel if you can otherwise, a piece is fine)

1/2 Cup Martinborough Manner Tayberry Jam

1 T Martinborough Manner Raspberry and Basil Vinegar

1/4 Cup Sliced Toasted Almonds

1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry

1 Egg, Beaten


1. Defrost pastry sheet for 15 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

3. Slice the brie wheel in half longwise, so you end up with two circles, (or else just cut horizontally whatever shape you have).

4. Place pastry sheet on an ungreased baking tray, and place half of the brie in the centre, rind side down.

5. Stir the tayberry jam and the vinegar together.

6. Pour over the brie half, sprinkle with almonds, and then place other brie half on top, rind side up.

7. Bring all four corners of the pastry sheet together above the brie, and twist slightly to enclose the brie.

8. Seal the seams by pinching together.

9. Brush the entire outside with the beaten egg.

10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

11. Serve with sliced fruit and good crackers.

Tip: If you don’t have toasted almond, just use blanched sliced almonds and bake in the oven for 5 minutes at 190 degrees C, shaking the pan once or twice to stop them from burning.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bird Scarers and Old Age

Martinborough is a very special place to live but it does have some "special characteristics*" - it makes living here a little more like living in an industrial zone, rather than a rural zone. I have heard it described as like living in a war zone! People move here forgetting that much of what gives it the special character is the growing of grapes and olives. At the moment, the olives are almost ripe and there are birds everywhere. Our neighbour is protecting his crop (he doesn't have 7 cats like we do) and while we (the humans) understand, Jack our elderly Border Collie doesn't. The bird scarer goes off three times about every 20 minutes.

This is what it sounds like, with Jack's reaction to it.
Boom - woof woof (in his very deep voice)
Boom - woof woof woof woof (in his very deep voice)
Boom - woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof (in his very deep voice). He is reassured that it is OK and he settles down. I guess he must be getting old and forgetful though, because 20 minutes later it is
Boom - woof woof (in his very deep voice)
Boom - woof woof woof woof (in his very deep voice)
Boom - woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof (in his very deep voice) all over again. Poor old dog. It won't be long until the olives are picked, and all will be peaceful in his world again.

* From the SWDC web site:
Noise levels associated with permitted or consented rural land uses such as: frost
protection machines, bird scaring devices, orchard sprayers, use of working dogs, aircraft
for rural management and farm machinery will, in the majority of situations, not be
considered as excessive

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quick and easy nibble recipe Caramelised Onion Tarts

Caramelised Onion Tarts

Quick and easy pre-dinner nibbles, or make them larger for lunch - 24 mini tatlets or 8 larger, depending on the size of your muffin tins. Keep them in an airtight container and have them on hand for unexpected guests. You will be able to taste these at the Wairarapa Farmers Market at Queens Birthday Weekend (Saturday)

1 jar Martinborough Manner Onion Marmalade

2 sheets pastry, puff or savoury or home-made

2 eggs

5T cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, Cut rounds of pastry to fit your mini (or larger) muffin tins. Grease the tins and then push the pastry into the tins neatly. Place a teaspoonful (or more for larger muffin tins) of onion marmalade in the raw pastry cases. Beat together briefly the cream and the eggs, season to taste, and pour a small amount into each tartlet shell. You need to fill almost to the top of the pastry. Bake for 10 minutes for the mini-tartlets, longer for larger ones, or until they are golden brown. Remove the tartlets from the tins and cool on a wire rack. Garnish with sprigs of thyme if you have some (the onion marmalade has thyme in it).

Friday, May 20, 2011

I battled a buck today and won!

Today I had a battle with Basil the buck (he's the little cutie in the right of the triple goat picture.) His hooves needed trimming, as goats hooves often do. He was not happy. Normally, he is happy to stand for cuddles as long as I am happy to stand giving him cuddles, buck smell not withstanding. I had a pocket full of barley to tempt him, but no, not today thanks! He was so adamant that I wasn't to do it, that he even managed to stand on just his two front feet in an attempt to avoid the clippers. He has a lovely set of horns, so doing it the way often advised - stand astride facing towards his tail - is not my preferred way of doing it. I decided that I was the grown up and that he needed his hooves trimmed today. As he is small, I decided to put him on his side and do it that way. He is easy to drop to the ground. One just has to reach through his legs, take hold of the two outside legs pull them inwards, and he will fall to the ground. He did. But he got up again. I repeated the process, and he fell to the ground again. He got up (again). I repeated the process (again) and he fell to the ground. This time, I managed to grab the last hoof, and quick as a flash, did the deed. Phew, I let him go, four hooves done. Basil is one of our small herd of Rawhiti goats. The two does (Obsidian, Abby to her friends) and Sapphire are pregnant to Basil and will hopefully produce two kids each in early Spring. We are aware that many breeds of some animals are disappearing or becoming rare, and it is of some concern to us. Our decision to raise Rawhiti goats was a made so that in a small way we can contribute to their preservation. They are small goats - even Basil is only the size of a small Labrador - and are a special part of local history.

"These particular English type goats are known as the Rawhiti goat (pronounced RAH-fee-tee) in honour of David Tuart, the man responsible for their rescue from the Pongakawa Valley area in the North Island of New Zealand. About 1999 or thereabouts, Mr. Tuart and the group helping him were able to capture a small number of these goats before the rest were removed by the Department of Conservation, due to the goats’ destructiveness in the native bush.

In the case of the English goats from the Pongakawa bush, they were subjected to average yearly rainfall amounts of about 1300mm (51 inches). The goats in my herd seem quite impervious to foot troubles, and in 7 months haven’t even needed their hooves trimmed, despite confinement to small paddocks.

The Rawhiti goats were purportedly used as dairy and meat animals by the Kauri gum miners in the middle of the 19th Century. When the mining was abandoned in approximately 1865, many of the goats were left behind as well. Over the last 140 years, and at least as many generations, the Rawhiti goats became a compact, hardy breed, retaining some of its dairyness. They are very fine-boned, so I don’t believe they would have been a very productive source of meat, but they may have become more fine-boned over the years as part of their adaptation (perhaps due to nutrition -- natural selection favouring smaller bones due to the quality of their food sources or available calcium?). They retain some of the dairyness of the milch goat, as some of the does exhibit well-attached udders, larger teats (for ease of hand-milking), the wedge-shaped body of the good dairy goat, and volume of milk production for such a small animal.

The Rawhiti goat is half the size of the standard sized dairy goat, the adult does standing at about 58 - 61 cms (23-24 inches) at the withers, and the bucks somewhat larger (and still quite fine-boned). At birth, the kids stand at about 18 - 23 cms (7-9 inches) at the wither, and are just as vigourous, if not more so, than their standard dairy breed counterpart." - thanks to Te Hua Farm for this info

Ours are very tame, and come running when called, especially if there is a treat involved. We will milk the two does once they have kidded, sharing the milk with the kids - looking forward to goats milk cheese.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poor Sad Gen

Our poor Little Miss Gentle was so sad yesterday - at one stage she looked as if she was crying. She spent much of the day running up and down the fence-line calling to her beautiful boy, Finn, and hopefully running to the gate anytime either of us went outside, in case we might be ready to take her back. Before we are accused of any cruelty here, Finn is as big as his mother and at 8 months old is well able to do without his mother's milk for 5 or 6 hours a day. Little Miss Gentle, (Gen to her friends) is an ideal house cow in that she is a pig in cow clothing - she will do anything to get her snout (sorry nose) into a bucket of food. Gen, a polled Jersey giving, we think, A2 milk is almost bullet proof - she is happy for strangers to try milking her, she poses for flash photos, she lets one brush her tail and polish her feet with a broom. Yesterday was the first day that we have milked her this season, having given Finn the best possible start in life. The first milking gave us about 1 litre of beautiful, creamy milk. You can visit Gen and try your hand at milking or just have your photo taken with her - come and be a farmer for a few hours, details on our website.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No more free ranging ducks!

Yay, no more duck poops on the drive, no more smelly puddles where they have been swimming! No more early morning quacking near the house. Finally, they are confined to the orchard where they are supposed to be! The 17 ducks have delighted in their freedom for the last five months, ranging from the house, out to the gate, and back again, and frequently passing through the vegetable patch. After a period of intensive refencing yesterday, they are back on task, which is to eat the bugs from around the orchard trees, and to fertilise the general orchard area. They eat quite a lot of grass as well. The geese only managed to get out once, so they have not been so much of a problem. Apparently one can train geese to eat certain weeds, thus allowing one to graze them in strawberry beds etc. However, since all the animals and birds that live here appear not to know any rules, we haven't risked it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Feijoa flavoured milk anyone? New idea for Fonterra!

It's feijoa time of the year so one of the daily tasks is to pick feijoas as they come ripe. This year, much of the fruit is too small to bother with, so after picking, I wander over to the paddock where our two house cows reside to give them the rubbishy ones. Little Miss Gentle is House cow #1, chosen for her gluttony, a necessary trait in a house cow. When she sees me she runs, sometimes the length of the paddock, udder swinging, skinny legs working hard. Often she already has grass or hay hanging out of her mouth. In one mouthful, she can eat as many feijoas as I can hold in my hand. She scoffs the lot. Any of the other cows are shouldered out of the way and do not get so much as a taste. Any that are dropped on the ground are neatly picked up. Even the ones that fall through the fence in her hurry to eat them are retrieved with a long and very slimy tongue. Her display of pure lust for feijoas had me wondering if feeding her a diet of only feijoas would enable us to make feijoa flavoured milk or ice-cream. Perhaps not! Still, another batch of chutney can be started this morning with today's pickings. If we have excess, I may try a repeat of last year's dismally failed experiment - that of making feijoa jelly. It still hasn't set, so I'm thinking perhaps it won't!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How things change - or the story of our mueslis

We have been making mueslis for over a year. They sell well and have been very popular in the lower North Island and the top of the South. We were making three varieties, to our own taste - Toasted, Swiss and Swiss* (which is Swiss without coconut). However, sometimes you have to go with the flow and move with the times. A customer asked if we made Gluten Free Muesli - of course was the answer!!!! After much research and testing we now make Gluten Free Toasted Muesli as well as a Gluten Free Swiss Muesli. In researching recipes, I also did a bit of research into the muesli itself. I found that muesli was introduced around 1900 by Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss physician. He made it for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. He and his wife had been served a similar dish on a hike in the Swiss Alps. Muesli in the way we know it now, became popular in Western countries in the 1960s when people began taking an increased interest in health food and vegetarian type diets. Traditionally, muesli was eaten with orange juice and not milk. As a teenager I recall making occasionally, and for a treat, the new and very trendy (then) Bircher Muesli where one soaked rolled oats over night in a mix of condensed milk and grated apple, and then added fresh milk in the morning. I suspect it would be too sweet for my tastes now, though I will confess to the odd sneaky taste of condensed milk straight from the can!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pears, apples and cooler mornings

It is definitely autumn when the pears are ready. A crate and a half still await my attention. The pear ginger I made last week, with its old fashioned aromas was popular at the weekend markets. This week I'll be making Pear and Ginger Chutney - imagine it with Blue cheese. At the Wairarapa Farmers Market on Sunday Kingsmeade Cheese was tasting beautiful locally grown pears with their Tinui Blue - a superb match! Mushrooms abound on our farm at the moment - I've made Mushrooms preserved in Oil - a wonderful nibble to serve before dinner. I've also dried some (home use only) for the first time this year.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Autumn is here already

Our farm is blooming - well animal-wise anyway. Summer has left us with lots of lambs, two calves, one chicken and three goats. Next spring we'll have lots of milk to continue making our delicious cheeses (home consumption only I'm afraid), and yogurt. The ram is in with his girls, the last of the fencing is done and all is well outside. Autumn is definitely in the air though with cooler mornings and earlier evenings. We're picking the last of our blackberries and our quinces, so I'll be making lots of jellies this week.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Summer at the Manor

From wet winter to summer drought in double quick time! The lawns and paddocks look as though we have harvested hay (which we didn't get a chance to). The cows are fine, as they are on the leased paddock, but the sheep are having to graze back in the orchard, not ideal, but they need to eat. The birds not withstanding, it has been a good year for apricots, so this year we should be able to supply apricot jam all year round. In a new (kind of) venture, we are now selling free flow frozen berries (tayberries, raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries (check out our website for contact details).

The autumn and winter vegetables are in, and should grow, providing the ducks, the cows and the sheep keep their noses, beaks and feet out! I've covered the newly planted brassicas with wire netting cloches to try to keep the ducks out.