The emphasis around here during winter is on the "Spoons" bit of "Spades and Spoons". The vegie garden goes into a bit of a hiatus in winter, apart from growing garlic, potatoes and a few lettuces due to the aspect and layout of our land. Our vegie patch is shaded by our rather large shed for much of the day during winter, so not much grows.
Anyway, here's what's been going on lately...
Vegetarians, feel free to scroll quickly through the next few pictures!
We had a family sausage making day a few weeks ago, at my uncle's place. We've been doing this for about 15 years, with our parents taking charge. This year, though, I noticed that my generation, my brothers and cousins, took the running. The oldies looked over our shoulders, sure, but were content to let us go to it.
The mixture for blood sausage. Believe me, everything was used. Everything, but the oink.
My brother and cousin mincing meat for salami. The mixture for fresh sausages in the foreground.
My brother Laurence manned the sausage stuffing machine.
Natural casings (read, sheep intestines) steeping in water, garlic cloves and lemon halves prior to stuffing.
Mark ties another round of sausages onto the rack. That day we made sausages, cotechino, salami and blood sausage.
We do this yearly as a bit of family bonding and because the resulting sausages are damn fine, but my mother told me a story which underlines how important sausage making and pig raising was to my grandparents in Italy. Mum told me she remembers that as a little girl just after WW2, the pig they had been raising fell sick and had to be put down. My grandmother apparently cried for a week, unsure what and how she was going to feed the family that winter, so important was sausage making to how they sustained themselves. (My grandfather was already in Australia, and eventually was able to send a bit of money to her, so she could buy in meat, something highly unusual.)
Although things are quiet in the vegie patch, it's been full-on with the citrus trees. We've been juicing tons of lemons. This rubbish photo is of lemon cordial in the saucepan, and a batch of tomato chutney (using frozen tomatoes from last summer) in the jars.
This batch of lemon and lime marmalade is the best I've ever made. Even if I say so myself.
And now, for the weird wildlife section of this post. We have a wood stove for heating in this place, so wood-gathering and chopping is one of our regular chores. We often come across these fellas - witchetty grubs. The chickens make a beeline for the woodpile whenever we head there, because they know they are in for a good feed. Anyway, in this particular block of wood we found these guys, and hidden in the corner you can just make out what was the biggest witchetty grub we've EVER seen.
He was hard to coax out, but here he is in all his mammoth glory.
And to put it in perspective, here he is next to a 20cent coin. Yep, he made me feel a bit squirmy. He's still living in the same block of wood just outside the back door. Erk.
And now, to bring us back to things more pleasant - a batch of oat and raisin cookies :) Baking always makes me feel better!