Saturday, 31 January 2015

Pilfered Plum Preserve!

We've been eyeing off the local plum trees for a few weeks. You might remember last year we scored about a kilo of red plums for a Pilfered Plum Pie and then gained another kilo of mainly yellow plums to make plum chutney? 

We did even better yesterday!  Erin and I stopped by the yellow plum tree and easily picked a kilo or so. In the late afternoon we returned with Vaughan and our combined total was 4.5kg!

I washed all the plums this morning and then set about making plum jam.  I did some quick research first.  Although I'm fairly comfortable making chutney and relish, I have less experience making jam.

Lovely Annabel at "The BlueBirds are Nesting" blog posted a method for making microwave jam, so I tried that.  The plums are softer this year and it was easy to squeeze the pips from the flesh, which is far quicker than trying to cut the fruit from the stones as I did last time!  When I had a kilo of fruit, I tipped it into a microwave-safe container and added sugar and lemon juice.

Our microwave doesn't have a working light.  It's not usually an issue but would have been handy for watching jam come to the boil - or boil over!  I lost a bit of my first batch.  Even so, it made two full jars.  I did better with my second batch (after cleaning the microwave) because I used a lower power setting.  It yielded two and three quarter jars. 

Of course, taste-testing is an important part of the process so I made a quick batch of lemonade scones and whipped some cream.  I think it's an indication of the jam-making success that there is no photographic evidence of the Devonshire scones!

I expect I have a bit over two kilo of plums left to make more jam or perhaps chutney but that's a mission for tomorrow - and once I've finished, I'll need to wash the sticky kitchen floor!

Edited to add - I went out today to buy lemons for the jam-making.  They were $9.99 a kilo!  Lucky the plums were free, eh?!  I checked the price of plums while I was in the shop.  They were $3.99 a kilo, admittedly a lot larger than our freebies but we even so, our haul was quite a saving.

I've just now calculated the cost of ingredients for today's two batches of jam - $2.90 for nearly five jars.  Gotta be happy with that!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Bags the bags!

I've been saving our feed bags for quite a while, fully intending to convert some into sturdy tote bags.  (I actually started the conversion process of one just before Christmas but was a bit too busy to complete the project).

Our chookies recently swapped to a different brand of feed.  It is the same price but a better quality than what we were using - and has this great image!

I made two bags this afternoon, using these instructions as a guide.  Rather than use bag offcuts for handles, I substituted ANZAC ribbon bought at a liquidation warehouse.  The colours work quite well with the rooster graphic and the fabric will be much nicer to hold.  Their is a slight size difference in the bags but overall I'm pretty impressed with my first efforts.

Why the tags?  Well, these bags are destined for use as laundry bags in our caravan.  I'm hoping my family will separate dark and light items according to the labels - therefore streamlining the washing missions once home again!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Like living in an ... aquarium?!

I have previously mentioned the limited shelter available at Hamby Home(in)stead.  There is a large shaded area adjacent to the house but it is not waterproof, so we struggle a bit in wet weather - keeping us, our firewood and chook-feed etc dry. 

Nick's been thinking of a solution and spoke this morning of acquiring some second-hand roofing iron (or similar). 

We were on our way to the tip shop and once there, I spotted a trolley full of folded and rolled white plastic canvas pieces.  I showed them to Nick and when we investigated further, we found they were large advertising signs. 

On checking the price, we could have the "smaller" pieces for $5.00 each and the larger one for $10.00. 

Initially we thought two smaller signs would work for our undercover area.  As we checked they were intact, Nick mentioned one might be good to provide shade in Tea's paddock.  It also occurred to us that one might make a fabulous screen for our outdoor movies!  In the end we bought the four that were available - for $25.00!

On the way home, we called in at Bunnings to buy some grommets and other fasteners.  Once home, Nick rolled out the fourth sign.  We hadn't checked it before purchase and assumed it was the same size as the smaller two, given it's weight.  It's actually a bit larger, so Nick decided to use half of it on the roof.  The installation is not quite finished but is looking good at this stage!

Cost of project:-  $3.13 for half a sign and $7.50 for fasteners!  Much better than the estimated $200.00 for a more permanent solution, requiring a lot greater effort!