We enjoyed the Honey- Baked Bertie so much last week I had to make it again just to make sure it was as delicious as we remembered.... and it was! πŸ˜„
We had the oozy, gooey honeyed cheese on Birch Beer Soda Bread for lunch after a busy morning in the vegetable garden. This time I got a bit fancy and added lemonthyme to the top before baking the cheese. It was a good addition!

More festive baking for the Sinterklaas celebration (St Nicholas).
This is Taai Taai ( 'tough tough') probably because it is hard as rock when freshly baked! However a couple of days in an airtight tin will mellow it. They don't contain any butter or eggs and are just a mixture of wheat and rye flour, honey and golden syrup, flavoured with aniseed. It is originally a Friesian recipe but has become a traditional cake/biscuit all over the Netherlands to enjoy at the St Nicholas celebrations. It is often made in the shape of St Nicholas or other figures. I had intended to use a large speculaas mold in the shape of a lady holding a hawk on her shoulder but it was too long to fit in my oven! I then had a brainwave... I could use one of my collection of Chinese mooncake molds! They are the perfect size for taai taai.
I suppose those taai taai made using a Chinese mooncake mold reflect the multicultural mix of our family; Friesian, Australian, New Zealander and Chinese, and Christian, Muslim and Buddhist. The Australia of today!πŸ˜„!

We didn't celebrate Sinterklaas because there were no children here this year and it's all about the kids really, but I still made the traditional speculaas to have with our coffee.πŸ˜„ I love food traditions!

Early morning sun shining on the fruit beer, elderflower champagne and elderflower syrup. This old French oak bench has become my favourite place in the kitchen for rising bread, fermenting wine and beer, and the kefir also loves it. (I put a lid on the elderflower syrup after the photo)
#fermentation#fruitbeer#homegrownhops#homegrownfruit#organic#plonk#beer#wine#summerdrinks#elderflowerchampagne #summerwine #smallscalefarming#busykitchen#Fairyglenfarm#Tasmania

Big Tomme (3.3kg) the Alpine cheese, is posing with his smaller cousins in the cheesecave. He'll be placed in a special plastic bin to increase the humidity for the first few weeks of ripening and will have a daily wash of salted whey to create a lovely yellow rind and Gruyere pungency.
Most of our cheeses weigh about 1.5kg, and our press can only cope with cheeses that size. However, we made a large mold out of a stainless steel steaming basket from the op shop, made a follower out of a piece of Tasmanian oak, and used a bucket of whey to press the cheese and it worked! πŸ˜€
We're looking forward to a midwinter fondue party! ( bought 2 fondue sets from the op shop in anticipation πŸ˜„) #sheepsmilkcheese#rawmilk#boerenkaas #alpine#Gruyerestyle#bigtomme#farmcheese#smallscalefarming#handmilked#Tasmaniansheep#Elliottdales#Fairyglenfarm#Tasmania

It wasn't a good day for baking! There was no time to bake a new cake, and we had to leave for the picnic in ten minutes so I prised the firmly stuck bits out of the tin and patched the top of the cake but it looked so ugly. No way was the dusting of icing sugar going to cover up the damage so rosewater buttercream and fresh flowers from the garden to the rescue! Swipe left to see the fastest cake makeover in the west! πŸ˜„

What do you mean??? These Ricotta & Herb pastries are meant to be spewing their guts out! Okay?! This is what happens when I'm trying to rush and do too many things at once! These were meant for a family Christmas picnic 😐 The next tray looks perfect, thank goodness!

I'm making my own wrapping paper for Christmas presents this year out of discarded paintings and sheets of paper I on which I paint simple patterns. I usually wrap presents in new tea towels because at least they're useful! It's sad when people buy beautiful, expensive wrapping paper only for it to be ripped off hastily and then thrown out.

The best bread we've tasted for ages and it was just a loaf chucked together quickly using wholemeal flour, self-raising flour, rolled oats and whey from the cheese-making that morning. It was chewy, and savoury from the whey. Usually my husband isn't too keen on soda bread or damper, but this one has been requested again! πŸ˜€
We had been clearing the garden of fallen branches and prunings and using the large outside bread oven to burn them. I never like to waste an hot oven so quickly mixed up this dough and threw it into a cast iron pot to bake. The intense heat and smoke gave it a fabulous crust and flavour!

The cloth-bound Fairyglendale is ready for its ripening period in the cheesecave.
After wrapping the cheese (see previous post) it went back into the press for few hours so that the cheesecloth was pressed into the curd, making a neat finish without wrinkles or loose cloth.

Come in! You're very welcome!

Baked ricotta this time! Every time I make cheese I have to decide how to use the ricotta I make from the whey. This week we had Ricotta & Silverbeet Tart, Ricotta Pancakes with Cherry Jam, a Ricotta & Marmalade Cake and toast with ricotta and banana. We're still not ricotta'd out πŸ˜ƒ
Baked ricotta is so very easy to prepare; I sprinkled the ricotta wirh fennel seeds, chilli powder, garlic, smoked paprika, freshly ground pepper, fresh thyme leaves and grated parmesan, poured a generous drizze of oive oil over it and baked it in a hot oven until the top was golden (about 15 minutes).
#ricotta#rawmilk#organic#sheepmilk# cheesemaker#smallscalefarming#fairyglenfarm#tasmania

An hasty lunch; some @bakerscreekbakery rye with sheep's cream butter slapped onto it and topped with slices of fresh sheep's cheese. Simple and quick, but so good on a busy weeding day!
It also brought back happy memories of the lunches we would have at my grandparents' house in Friesland. My grandmother would hand me a soup plate tied up in a red handkerchief to fetch the freshly-made cheese from the farm down the road. I walked back so carefully with that wobbly, soft cheese! It was an important responsibility for a 5-year old! πŸ˜„
#sheepsmilkcheese#ryebread#@bakerscreekbakery#Friesland#childhoodmemory#nostalgia#pewter plate#grandmothersknife#smallscalefarming#fairyglenfarm#Tasmania

These 1950s stacking tins are so useful. The three tins are labelled Cake, Biscuits and Pastry and it gives me a real feeling of achievement and satisfaction when all are filled! The tins are airtight and keep the contents nicely fresh. (In case you're wondering what is in the cake tin; it's a Ricotta & Marmalade Ciambella)

Four pretty cheeses all in a row... I inspect each waxed cheese regularly to make sure there are no cracks or other problems and then they go back on the shelf.
All the other cheeses are checked, turned, wiped or rubbed every day. When they're all done, they go back on their shelves, and the shutters are closed to keep the cave cool. The temperature ranges between 6C-10 C. Last week it was below 10C every day so I left the shutters open for a couple of days. If we get a run of hot weather and the temperature goes up to 15C I place freezer blocks on the shelves to keep it cool. It works well πŸ˜„

Waxing our Saffy and Fairyglendale cheeses. We do this outside on the verandah because the fumes are unpleasant and unhealthy. Waxing is my least favourite part of cheesemaking; it smells, it's messy and it is quite difficult to get a really professional look. We just have to be satisfied with a 'rustic' drippy look! πŸ˜€ However, the main benefit of waxing is that it makes the cheese so easy to look after; all I have to do is turn it regularly, check for cracks, or bulging, and of course keep it at the right temperature. We only wax a few of our cheeses, most have a natural rind or are cloth -bound. The natural- rind cheeses require more attention during their time in the cheesecave; regular turning, brushing or even washing, wiping off mold, and are also at greater risk of drying out or cracking.
But I enjoy looking after my cheeses and making sure they develop their desired characteristics.

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