Limoncello Part 2

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Lemon peel and vodka after one month sitting in the dark. End of phase one of making limoncello.

My limoncello jars have been sitting patiently in the dark beside the radiogram. They have been noticed. Today I fed them with sugar water. Limoncello has a sweet tooth. I have two large jars in the process. I made up 2:2.5 sugar to water ratio and heated up the sugar and water on the stove to a slow boil for 5-7 minutes. Let the pot cool right down. I then added the sugar water to the limoncello. Do not stir. Lids on again and banished to the dark corner of the room for another month. Poor limoncello. :(

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Sugar syrup BEFORE heating.

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Sugar syrup AFTER heating.

Just so I’m clear, I used two jars so I doubled the mix and in total used four cups of sugar and five cups of water. Use filtered water.
Patience comes to those who wait. Watching the brew does not make it work it’s magic faster. Go and do something else. Distraction is the best medicine.

For the actual recipe in my earlier posting see Limoncello.

Woolly Nightshade

Common Names: Woolly Nightshade, Tobacco Weed, Flannel Weed, Kerosene Plant, Tobacco Bush Weed, Ear-leaf Tobacco, Wild Tobacco,
Latin Name: Solanum mauritianum
Characteristics: Purple flowers with a yellow centre, felt like grey green leaves, leaves smell like kerosene when crushed, can grow up to 10m tree.

A native plant of South America. Present in New Zealand north of Taupo. This plant was pointed out to me. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it looked quite nice until I was told it was a pest plant. Out it went. It is banished from our land. I will watch out for it just in case it tries to creep back in.

For more details on this invasive pest plant see Waikato Regional Council.

Kahili Ginger

Common Names: Kahili Ginger, Wild Ginger
Latin Name: Hedychium gardnerianum
Characteristics:  Stems up to 2m high. Large scented flower head (25-45cm long). Lemon-yellow flowers with red stamens ( January-March). Large waxy leaves, arranged alternately on stem.

The root systems of the wild ginger spread out and send up new shoots. Very invasive pest plant. I am trying to get rid of the wild ginger. Have removed half of the plants on the land. The rest have been cut back. Will remove each clump until all are gone. This plant is nice to look at but it is invasive and a threat to native forests and plants. Grows anywhere even in the shade. Labelled as a weed in New Zealand.

For more details on this invasive pest plant see NZ Department of Conservation.

Chinese Privet

Common Name: Chinese Privet, Privet
Latin Name: Ligustrum sinense
Characteristics: flowering evergreen shrub that is used as hedging. Shiny green leaves, leaves are opposite each other on the stem. Small white flowers.

Another unwelcome uninvited guest that is in our garden. This plant will keep coming back if cut back to the stump. Immediately paint herbicide over the entire stump surface. Dig out if small.

For more details on this invasive pest plant see Waikato Regional Council.

Chicken, Brandy and Thyme Pate

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Chicken, Brandy and Thyme Pate ready for the fridge ©throve 2014

I was looking for pate because I read that chicken liver was very good for you. I looked at the small print on the back of the container and it said chicken and pork livers. I think it also said about 22% chicken/pork. That made me wonder what the rest of it was. Also I didn’t like the sound of pork liver. The chicken liver only pate was slightly better at 33% liver content but it was twice the price. I thought I could do better than that. I went to the meat section and asked if they had chicken livers. They did. Chicken livers were slightly more expensive than the cheaper pate but at least I knew what it contained. Factoring in quantity, the ready made was much more expensive than the raw product.  I bought raw chicken livers. My homemade pate will be maybe at least 85% chicken liver. I like the percentages better with mine.

So what’s in chicken liver that makes me dash to the supermarket?
“Chicken livers are high in protein and a rich store of folate… Livers are also loaded with iron to give you energy and a treasure trove of certain B vitamins, most notably B12… Chicken livers are also one of the top sources of vitamin A.”*

You know when your body is telling you to buy something, you feel like the water diviner, you loiter over a certain food and you get a compulsion to pick it up. No I’m not talking about impulse buying of red wine or potato chips I mean food that is good for you. Sure red wine in moderation is supposedly good for you but you know what I mean. You may hover over avocados when your body is in need of potassium or other nutrients, antioxidants for the eyes, fibre to name just a few of the benefits of this super food.

Chicken, Brandy and Thyme Pate

Ingredients:
3-4t butter
1 onion finely chopped
2-4 cloves garlic
1 tub of chicken livers, 350g
2T brandy
1t dry thyme, or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 T sour cream
Salt and pepper

Method:
Melt the butter in a fry pan. On a low heat add the onions and cook until translucent. (About 20 minutes.)  At about 15 minutes in add the garlic.
Cut the chicken livers and add them to the pan, cook for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat.
Stir well so the liver is evenly cooked.
Stir in brandy, sour cream and thyme with the stems.
Cook for a minute.
Cool.
Purée mixture well in a blender.
Press into small dishes, cover and chill for 3 hours.
Serve with crackers or toast.
Keep refrigerated.

How long does pate last?
Keeps refrigerated for up to 3 days. It will probably be fine for longer but its best to er on the side of caution.  If you have any left over, freeze it. Pate freezes well, stores frozen up to 2 months.

Notes:
I sneaked the good brandy into this recipe. Cooking brandy was out of stock. Only the good brandy was left. What is a girl to do? :)
I used 2 cloves of garlic and would double that for next time.
I was pleased with the texture of the pate, it was smooth. There was no smell. Store bought pate has a smell to it, homemade is void of smell. The taste on the other hand was delicate yet flavourful.
The recipe is forgiving of measurements, you don’t have to be accurate. The steps are the more important point.
The recipe makes approximately 4 average muffin tins in quantity.
This recipe was a big hit.

*the guardian.com

Wheel on barrow

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Sounds like an English pub name, Wheel on Barrow, a drinking establishment in Barrow-in-Furness harking back to the days of wooden carts and straw on the floor. A runaway cart carrying ale could have crashed into the pub beginning the name Wheel on Barrow. I digress. No wonder I don’t get into the garden.  Blame the barrow!

The warmer weather is beckoning me outside. The hurdle that has stopped me from getting outside earlier was the wheel on the wheel barrow. It was flat. As flat as could be. It made me feel flat. Today I got out the bicycle pump and tackled the annoying job. Did it take hours to fix? Was the tyre punctured? No and no. It took five minutes at most. Boy do I feel satisfied. It really is the small things that matter.

On with the garden tidy up so I can get the vegetable garden ready, the outdoor seating area comfortable and the weeds under control.

Now that I’m on an active streak, I will try and do a little something each day. I have a very daring female blackbird that stalks me closely when I’m pulling out weeds and sweeping up leaves. I can almost touch her, she gets so close. She is a welcome garden companion.

Did you know: Female blackbirds aren’t black!

Limoncello Recipe

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It started with lemons. Washed lemons from the tree in the garden.lemon2
The peeling began. Leaving the white pith behind.lemonpeel
The peel became a mound.  limoncello1
The peel and the vodka met in the jug. They wandered off to a quiet dark corner to get to know each other better.

This recipe is very easy to make. There are few steps. However it is a recipe of patience. The longer you leave the lemon peel in the alcohol, the better the taste. So advanced planning is required if you want to make it in time for Christmas or for a special occasion.
I am storing my limoncello in the corner of the library away from sunlight.

LIMONCELLO

Ingredients:
10-14    lemons, organic, peeled
1 1/2 – 2 bottles of vodka
2 1/2 c  water, filtered
2 c   sugar

Step 1: The peeling
Wash the lemons.
Peel lemons with a potato peeler. Don’t go too deep. We don’t want the pith, the white part.
Add the lemon peel to a large jug.
Pour the vodka over the lemon peel.
Cover.
Let it rest in a dark corner for 14 – 40 days.

Step 2: The syrup addition
After the end of step 1, make the sweet syrup.
In a large saucepan add the water and sugar. Gently bring to the boil.
Boil for 5 -7 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Once cool add the syrup to the lemon peel and vodka.
Do not stir.
Cover.
Let it rest in a dark corner for another 14 – 40 days.

Step 3: The straining and bottling
Strain the peel from the liquid.
Stir.
Bottle the limoncello into nice bottles.
Label and seal.
Store limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve.
Serve straight from the freezer.
Buon appetito!