Inspired by the example of our good friends Paul from Possum Valley (His real name is Paul Tredgett but we know so many Paul's we have to give them a tag other than their surname) and Ricky and Graham from Financial3 in Innisfail, We are finally attempting our own Blog for Wagtail House.
Now that we have your attention.....
Welcome to the Wagtail House Life, a place to find information about what's happening around Wagtail House, Beltane Farm and the Tablelands in general!
We'll have a monthly recipe or two to tantalize your taste buds and a monthly book or movie/series review to provide you with inspiration on what to read or watch next (or not).
From time to time we'll also provide some short articles or stories highlighting some of the things we're interested in or passionate about.
Around Wagtail House
Wedge tail Eagles
This week we had the joy (and concern) of seeing 2 wedge tail Eagles flying around the property. They certainly put the turkeys, chickens and ducks in a fluster and had them running for cover. Cinta the cat, on the other hand, was seen looking up at them with an "If only they would come a bit lower I might have a go at catching one" look on her face.... We have often seen her looking at the turkey with a wistful and calculating look on her face but thankfully the Wedge Tails didn't come low enough for her to give it a try!
Wedge tails can have a wingspan of up to 2.7 metres and are the largest raptor in Australia.
Previously thought to be a menace to sheep, up until five decades ago they were hunted for a bounty with 10,000 bounties being paid out in Qld in one year alone. They are now protected. Wedge Tails are both hunters and carrion eaters with their main prey being rabbits, wallabies, kangaroos and reptiles (and sometimes young or sickly sheep).
As some of you may know my mother, Patricia, has been cooking for over 60 years. Most of the recipes we will be featuring are from her or are some of her favourites. Both Lilia and I use Mum as our "guru" and those of you who have tasted mum's cooking will understand why!
Lilia’s Scotch Eggs
Serves 4 to 8 persons
8 med. eggs
8-10 Pork or Beef Sausages, skins removed.
Handful flat leafed Parsley, finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Coriander
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Oregano
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Basil
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
50g plain flour, sifted
2 lge eggs, lightly beaten for dipping
150g fine white breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for deep frying.
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil, lower the eggs into the water and simmer for 8 mins. Drain and cool under cold running water until the eggs no longer feel hot. Peel and set aside
2. Bring a large pan of water (sufficient to take 4 eggs wrapped in sausage meat) to the boil Set aside in preparation for step 4.
3. Put the sausage-meat into a bowl; add the chopped herbs, lemon zest and some seasoning. Mix thoroughly. Divide into 8 equal sized balls. One at a time, flatten each sausage-meat ball on a cutting board to a circle large enough to wrap around an egg. Place an egg in the middle, then lift up the ends of the sausage meat and massage the sausage-meat to cover the egg evenly. Repeat with the rest of the eggs and sausage-meat.
4. Bring large pan of water back to the boil and carefully slide the eggs wrapped in sausage meat into the pan being careful not to splash the hot water onto yourself or anyone watching.
5. Boil the meaty eggs until the water is ready to over-top the pan and then remove the eggs and allow them to drain. Repeat for the next batch until all are done.
6. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
7. Have the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs ready in three separate bowls. One at a time, roll each egg in the flour, then dip into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs to coat. Dip into the egg and breadcrumbs one again for really thorough coatings.
8. Heat 4 to 6cm oil in a deep fryer or heavy based saucepan to 150º.
9. Deep fry the eggs two at a time and fry for 4-5 mins turning once or twice to ensure they brown evenly.
10. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Keep warm while you fry the rest.
Serve hot or cold with Chips, fresh bread, cheese, pickled onions, chutney and pickililly.
Patricia's Pavlova Recipe
First rules of Pavs: Bowl and whisk must be absolutely free from grease and any moisture or the egg whites won’t work, and there cannot be even a speck of yellow yolk in the whites.
I always drench my Kenwood bowl and whisk in boiling water and dry it well before I start on the pavlova. That way I know I won’t have a problem.
Another point to watch also is that oven temperatures vary so much. My fan forced oven takes much less time than as in the recipe, something to watch for!
8 egg whites
1⅔ cups of caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 pinches salt
2 teaspoons sifted cornflour
1large cream, firmly whipped
1 punnet strawberries, hulled and halved
1 banana, sliced
⅓ cup Passionfruit pulp
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line an oven tray with baking paper and mark a 23cm circle as a guide for spreading the mixture.
Beat the egg whites on high speed in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, beating continuously until the mixture is firm and glossy and all the sugar has dissolved. Beat in the vanilla extract, then the vinegar and salt and then fold in the cornflour.
Using a spatula, spread the meringue mixture over the marked circle. Straighten the sides and make them higher than the centre.
Bake for 10 minutes in the centre of the oven, then reduce the temperature to 120ºC and bake for a further hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Just before serving, top the Pavlova with the whipped cream and decorate with the Strawberries and Banana and drizzle with the Passion-fruit pulp.
Alternatively, decorate the Pavlova with 3 peeled and sliced Kiwi fruit and drizzle with the Passionfruit pulp.
Book Review Section
- by Sir Walter Scott
Merry old England four generations after the Norman Conquest of ad 1066.
Ivanhoe is a disinherited knight who is newly returned from the first crusade of King Richard Cour de Leon. In a blaze of glory, he fights against all comers to regain the prestige of the conquered saxons who suffer under the tyranny of their Norman masters. In true knightly fashion he stands up for the downtrodden, protects the honour of ladies, and spurns the proffered hand of corrupt and immoral Prince John who has stolen the throne.
The deadly Brian de Bois Guilbert, a famous knight templer with more than 300 saracen deaths to his credit, is also returned from the crusades and is Ivanhoe's murderous rival and, in conjunction with Prince John and other faithless knights and barons, is set to deny the throne to King Richard who they fear is returning to England after a long absence.
It's been many years since I last picked up this book and I'd forgotten what a ripping yarn it is. Full of intrigue and violence in the true spirit of the times, it would be unlikely to make the reading list of any school in our politically correct era. Sir Walter portrays his characters as pretty much black and white with the odd pang of conscience peeping out from time to time; as in the instance when Isaac the Jew provides Ivanhoe with the means to buy armour for the upcoming tournament; despite the lack of profit to be had from the venture...
The two ladies who are vying for Ivanhoe's attention are the beautiful and exotic Jewess, Rebecca; and the wholesome and eminently more desirable (for the politically correct of the time) Lady Rowena who is of direct descent from King Alfred himself. Both are, of course, of peerless beauty and character as only befits such a true champion as Ivanhoe.
It's a pity that this book is not included on the reading lists for school because it teaches as desirable the traits of honour, bravery and pity for those less fortunate than ourselves. These are held up as the ideals of the period and we could all go a long way to find better examples of how best to live our lives. If you can look past the obvious racism and bigotry of the writing it provides for good reading and is best described as a romantic depiction of medieval life after the conquest. The writing style can be difficult to puzzle through on occasions but well worth the effort.
All in all I give it 3 stars out of 5