The perfect gift for me

My son gave me the perfect gift for my birthday.  A cheese making kit.

cheese making kit
I mentioned in the previous post that we had been busy recently so I have only just made my first batch of cheese – my birthday was in December.

The kit comes with instructions for making Marinated Feta and Queso Fresco.  I decided to give marinated feta a try as it stores for longer than the queso fresco.  There are only the two of us at home and we can only eat a certain amount of cheese and I don’t want to waste it.

The process was a bit fiddly but I need to keep in mind that this was my first try.  I felt a bit unsure of myself but when the product was bottled I was delighted with the result.

You start with 4 litres of milk which is a lot.  The pot I started off with was too small

cheese making1and I transferred the milk to another pot before continuing.

You add rennet and citric acid when the milk reaches 95degrees, this produces the curds.

cheese making 2After resting for a period the curds are then drained in muslin over the sink.

cheese making 3the drained curds are then put in the mould in the cheese container.  A weight is put on top.  I had to improvise with the weight and will use a different weight next time.

cheese making 4After resting for a period the cheese is taken out and cut into half inch cubes.

cheese making 5You can see from that picture that the edges of the mould are a bit crumbly as it was not compacted sufficiently.  I will fix that with the next batch I do.

The cut cheese is then returned to the cheese container which has a brine solution in it. After resting for a period in the brine the cheese is then drained and dried and packed into a sterilised jar.

cheese makingChopped fresh herbs were added and then canola oil which will give the final result of marinated feta after one week.

IMG_2742

Can’t wait to try it. 

Get back on your bike!

I have recently had issues with mobility of a knee followed by issues with an ankle.  I jiggered my knee somehow, now quite sure how, and it took quite some time for it to get right again.  A couple of weeks later I then stepped in a small hole in the asphalt in a carpark and sprained my ankle, luckily I was on my way to the doctor’s at the time and she was able to check the ankle out to make sure it was indeed a sprain and nothing was chipped or broken.

As a result of these two mishaps it has been quite some time since I was last on my bike.  In fact it was January that I last went for a ride so I was delighted that yesterday I was able to finally get back on my bike and go for a decent ride.  I drove to Bairnsdale and then rode from there to the Mitchell River silt jetties.

Mitchell River silt jetties

It wasn’t a long ride, being only 18 kms in total but it was good to be able to do it. I hope I am now able to continue riding weekly.

Mitchell River silt jetties 2

When I was typing the heading for this post it got me to thinking how this expression “Get back on your bike” had come about.  A quick look on the internet reveals the origin of “on your bike” but not “get back on your bike”. On your bike originated apparently in the Margaret Thatcher era and is a way of telling someone to get lost or more politely to go away.

I haven’t been blogging recently as I have been away from home and we have also had visitors.  I should now be back to normal. (I think I have said that before.):-)

A monster sporting weekend coming up.

This weekend sees the opening games of the Cricket World Cup and the Super 15 Rugby Union Competition.  Seventh heaven for me!

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 7.43.27 AM

The Super 15 Rugby starts tonight with The Melbourne Rebels playing the Canterbury Crusaders in New Zealand and the Brumbies play the Queensland Reds in Australia.  Later the NSW Waratahs play the Western Force.

My team is the Melbourne Rebels, with my old team being The Brumbies.  I changed when we moved house.  The team I don’t mind being beaten, not very sporting I know, is the NSW Waratahs.  They gave the ACT Brumbies a hard time when the Brumbies first started in the competition.  The good thing was that the Brumbies won the competition twice before the Waratahs won it at all.  The Waratahs won last year.

 

Tomorrow Australia plays England in the Cricket World Cup.  I don’t think you need to guess who I want to win that game. :-)

Cricket-World-Cup-2015-700x525Here is a link to some of the records of the World Cup.

A veritable feast of sport for me and more knitting will get done.  Mind you not much else will get done.

At the opening of play – Cricket World Cup

I have been watching a lot of cricket lately and will be watching more soon with the World Cup about to commence this weekend.  This book certainly ties in well with that – Ponting – At the Close of Play

Ponting700 pages in length but at no time did it prove to be a chore to read.  Obviously if you are not a cricket fan it is not a book you would choose to read.

This is my first non-fiction book for my 2015 reading challenge.  It wasn’t one from my to-be-read shelves it was one from the library.

From the book cover:

On August 17, 2013, Ricky Ponting walked off the field in Antigua for the last time as a professional cricketer.  It was the end of a very public career and a very private journey – that began almost 30 years before, when a young Ricky, in the Under 13s, scored four centuries in a week at a schoolboys’ cricket carnival in Tasmania, to earn himself a bat contract with Kookaburra and the reputation of “a kid to watch”.

From childhood prodigy to the highs and lows of an extraordinary international career, At the Close of Play is the remarkable autobiography of one of the game’s greats.  But beyond the triumphs and scandals, records and retirement, this is the story of a life lived in cricket and of a life shaped by extraordinary talent and the people who believed in that talent.

The book covers all aspects of this cricketer’s career and gives an insight into the Aussie culture.  The book is divided into four sections:

The First Innings, At the Crease, At the Helm, At the Close of Play followed by his Career Record.

Some of the statistics from the previous World Cups show just what a successful cricketer Ricky Ponting was.

A great book for all cricket lovers.

A garlic garland, well it is really a plait.

We have grown garlic a couple of times but only ever one or two bulbs.  This year my husband planted lots of garlic and we have gathered a bumper crop.

garlicThis is just some of the garlic we produced.

My parents were keen gardeners.  I should say my father was a keen gardener as my mother had no spare time left to enjoy gardening.

mum dad tomatoes 69As children we were encouraged to help in the garden.  I’m not sure if at all times it was helpful.

Gardening BonavistaThat early encouragement from my parents ensured that I became a keen gardener too.  That’s me with my bottom in the air.

I have spent many happy hours in the garden and it is always special when there is produce to show at the end of your hard work.

garlic

I’ve been in the Spotlight recently.

I should just stop going into Spotlight.  I get trapped every time.  For those of you not in Australia, Spotlight is the shop where you can buy all things associated with sewing and craft but also bedding and household goods.  I tend to just go to the sewing and craft section most of the time.

I was well and truly trapped the last time I visited as I passed the sewing pattern table and noticed that you could buy three patterns for $10 with a further discount if you were a VIP member.  Naturally I couldn’t pass up a bargain such as that.  I was sure I would be able to find three patterns that I could use at some stage.

Well of course once I had purchased my three patterns I then had to find some fabric.  I knew I didn’t have any stretch fabric at home and I had chosen a stretch fabric pattern as one of the patterns.

IMG_2644I was prompted to buy a stretch fabric pattern after all my work in sorting the overlocker.  I haven’t done any stretch sewing for many years and I thought it would be good to give it a try again.

hoodieI produced these two items and I am happy with the result.

hoodie 2

 

We are experiencing technical difficulties! Read the manual.

overlockerI have been the proud owner of an overlocker for six years now and sewing is now a great deal easier.  I was given the overlocker as a gift from my children.  I do have incredibly loving and thoughtful children.

The overlocker was a bit daunting at first but after a couple of lessons from the owners of the shop where the overlocker was purchased I was good to go.  I have used the machine many times and it was only recently that I had a problem.

I was sewing and some material got caught between the needle and the throat plate.  I tried to remove it but only succeeded in bending the needle.  Well that was the beginning of my woes.  Those of you who sew will know that a machine doesn’t work if the needle is bent so a needle replacement was necessary.  I am embarrassed to say that in the six years I have owned the overlocker I haven’t changed the needles.  Apparently they should be changed after a particular number of hours of sewing.  I will need to remember that in future.

My woes increased as I was taking out the first needle I dropped it and it fell into the innards of the overlocker.  After many attempts to locate the needle I gave up.  There was no way to find it.  I even asked my husband to have a go and he got out a special tool with a magnet on the end and that didn’t work either.  I decided to work on the premise that the needle would have dropped to the bottom of the machine and I tentatively turned the wheel to see if the mechanism rotated ok and it did.

I then had to insert the new needles and I thought I ought to look at the manual before doing so.  You should read your manual before you attempt things on your overlocker. :-)

I hadn’t read the manual carefully and I would have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had read the manual.

inside coverThere is a little gadget on the inside of the cover of the overlocker and I thought it was just a needle threader but it is much more than that.  It is a gadget that holds the needle in the correct way so you can insert it without dropping it into your machine!

needle holder and threader

Now why didn’t I know that!

how to use the holder

I was able to insert the needle and thread the overlocker without too much difficulty once I had read the manual. I discovered that there was a lever I could press that made the threading of the underlooper much easier.  I had struggled with this previously and now it is so much easier to thread.  I feel totally confident now in threading the overlocker.  It is a great machine and I will make sure I change the needles regularly in future.

Do you always read the manual thoroughly before you operate a new machine?