Wednesday 21 November 2007

Happy Birthday to the Machinist!

Happy Birthday to the Machinist!

20th November 2007

What a pity the Machinist had such a lot of work to finish on his birthday! Sweat on his brow, and determination on the rest of his face, he laboured on....and on, knowing that the project would very soon be finished. Each time the Machinist works on a large project, he has a saying; "I think I've found it. I've been looking for it, but I think I've found it", meaning that he has just finished manufacturing the last product for any particular customer's order.

The Machinist's birthday dinner was a braai with roast potatoes accompanied by a scrumptious side salad made from mixed lettuce, tomatoes, spanish onions and sliced apple - mostly from the garden, topped with 'Paul Newman's' salad dressing and hand made by the young ladies. A rhubarb, apple and custard tart followed this, but not straight after the main meal; oh no. The Machinist enjoys this type of treat later in the evening, and his birthday night was no different as he watched '300' on Box Office.

This is the way the Machinist and his family celebrate their special days; quiet and simple, yet more importantly - together.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Busy Punkin' Heads...

The past few weeks have been long and tedious, and the manufacture of linen skips and their delivery to a local hospital has been gruelling for the Machinist and his family. 35 degree heat and working in a non-insulated workshop makes a lady ...ahem... more than glow; It gives her delicate skin the appearance of embers. Fortunately, there has been relief from the heat, as after lunch each day, the swimming pool (now perfectly 'chemicalised' with the right ph, sunfilter, chlorination etc) has had a delightful workout. The Machinist says that the daily dip cools down his 'core' and encourages his family to cool their cores, too.

During the course of hard labours borne in the workshop, the planning and organising of our Village's annual pumpkin festival has also been consuming time which we knew not that we had. Taking bookings for the Pumpkin Lovers' Christmas Bash, writing to prospective stallholders, meeting with prospective sponsors is extremely overwhelming, yet oh so necessary at this time, so that all is in place and working like a well-watered-and-manured pumpkin by Festival weekend in May 2008.

The Pumpkin Festival Blog is a sheer delight to update and is done so regularly, with a dash of quirkiness and a twist of pumpkin. Click here for the latest developments.....

Sunday 18 November 2007

The Brocante Home Puttery Treats Challenge

Alison May of Brocante Home has put out a challenge to her readers! How can we resist? She wants us to select one (sigh...) of her "Puttery Treats" from a generously vast collection and... well... blog about it. The difficulty is; how can we select just one? They are all so tantalising and seducing....
I have chosen a few of Alison's Puttery Treats, because I couldn't make my mind up about just one. It is late spring here in Australia, but because I ADORE harvest time, I simply could not refrain from reminiscing Autumns past... 

Thanks for the memories, Alison!

"Spend baking day this week filling your freezer with warming soups. Nothing is more homely than having a big vat of chunky vegetable soup on the go: the smell alone is enough to make you never want to leave the house. Serve with heavy multigrained homemade bread and lunch in the glow of candlelight".
 This is where the ladies do all their cooking and baking. The Machinist made the stainless steel benches and they are wonderful to use. He bought the steel from a local second hand dealer, and was absolutely thrilled at the price! (Much less than he would have had to pay from a stainless steel supplier). The stove you can see holds at least five massive pots and the whole kitchen starts to look like a Turkish sauna when the soups and stews are bubbling away. In fact, it is quite risky business when any attempts to stir the soups are made, as the juices sometimes erupt up and onto the ladies' faces.
All scraps from the peeled and tipped veg-a-buls go into the galvanised chicken bucket under the bench, and the hens love to peck and scratch these offerings (we're careful not to put any garlic / onion skins in there, as they are not good for hens). The puppies just know they're in for a treat when they smell the aroma of smoked bacon, and don't seem to mind a few appendages of burned mushy pea clumps stuck to the bones. Nothing goes to waste.
The Machinist and Favourite Son often comment that they can detect the smell of the soups from the workshop, and that it calls them home....
If a large portion of time has been spent on preparing and cooking the soups and stews, home-made bread is mixed and allowed to rise in the trusty bread making machine. is one of life's simple pleasures, and so satisfying to hand knead and drop the raw, stretchy dough into old and somewhat rusty bread tins and watch the (oddly shaped) loaves rise in the oven.

"Harvest the apples on your trees and spend an afternoon making puree, chutneys and pies. Leave a basket in the garden for collecting the fruit". 

When mam comes over to visit, she insists on taking a basket of apples home with her. She seldom takes the unblemished apples, but prefers those with nodules or tiny cankers, as they are "more tart" for her concoctions. It's the same with the plums, as she has her 'favourite' plum tree and persists that although it's branches are sparsely endowed, the tiny fruits still reign as palate champions.
This picture shows jars of apple sauce (for pork), cinnamon apple butter (for custard or when we fancy something sweet, straight from the pot), spicy apple chutney (delicious with bread and cheese) and curried apple chutney (no particular partner/s needed - it goes with everything). There's also jars of locally grown honey, transferred from huge tubs; ~ gifts from the Village Bee Keeper.
The fruit and vegetables are always collected in baskets, as we have many, and there is something so very 'country' about collecting a harvest in a basket. Sometimes, in really busy periods, we leave the fresh produce in the baskets, but later regret it when we discover that some of the fruits have matured too quickly and spread their aging juices - liberally - on the other varieties.

"Start squirrelling away some groceries for the times later on in the season when it is just too cosy to leave your house and face the flourescent horror of the supermarket. Add gingham tops to jars full of homemade jams and display on your counter tops. Autumn is all about abundance..."

"Come ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest-home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin; God our maker doth provide, For our wants to be supplied; Come to God's own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest-home" 

It seems that the Autumn harvest and gathering of food is synonymous with this poem by Henry Alford. The ripened produce. The Housekeeper stocking the larder with non perishable foods. The preparation of the house for winter.....

These jars were about to be sent to the tip, but we salvaged them. (They once contained sun-dried tomatoes, olives and artichokes). In cooler months, country mice tend to visit the kitchen and are always destructively hungry. The jars prove most effective in keeping dried foods uncontaminated from mousy antics! The ladies made green gingham toppers for the jars, but because they are used so often, the ties for the toppers became a mennace. Not only the ties, but the toppers themselves tended to become grotty very quickly. Fortunately, the lids to the jars are all the same colour - green, so they look uniform, but the ladies are still 'thinking' about grinding the paint off the lids and polishing them, so that they will have the appearance of stainless steel.

"To match the rest of the kitchen..." declare the young ladies

At the moment, this is just a 'thought' - along with many others....

Friday 9 November 2007

Manufacturing Skips

The whole family have been working in the workshop for the whole week this week (What a mouthful!).

The Machinist received a large order for Ergo Skips (designed, patented and manufactured by the Machinist - you can read about our Ergo Skips here if you have the time or inclination).

The Ladies of the House often have a chuckle and ponder how vastly different their roles in life are. One day it's glorious housework and homemaking. The next, planting, weeding and general gardening. Some days are all about cooking (and sometimes, even baking). And then, when the Machinist is extremely snowed under (ha! It's currently snowing in our Village in late spring. Delightful!) the Ladies don their worst attire and help out in the workshop and fearlessly, they brave dust, grease and metal chips. Here are a couple of pics which show part of the manufacturing process:

The Machinist and Favourite Son weld these frames together. The Ladies buff and polish the welds on the frames.

Then, the whole family work together on the folding machine to make several folds on what will become the base of the skip.

Tomorrow, there will be more folding (and buffing and polishing). We're all looking forward to the weekend, when hopefully, a touch of household normality may return.

Monday 5 November 2007

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November...

Glancing at the date on my last post, I was immediately transported to memories of my childhood in England. The Fifth of November: Bonfire night and Bonfire Toffee. 'Penny for the Guy, sir?'

"Guy" was a home-made and always unique looking dummy, and days before Bonfire night, Guy was transported around the neighbourhood in an old pram, and was doomed to be burned on the bonfire, while excited children watched with glee.

Bonfire night was traditional, in remembrance of Guy Fawkes ~ a rebel character in British history who plotted, unsuccessfully, to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

"Remember remember
The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot"

Sweet, sweet memories!

The Shoe Rack

The Machinist made this rack for our deck wall at the back of the house. The ladies of the house do not enjoy the experience of faint flutterings or shuffling of any live, abeit tiny ~ creature on their delicate feet. Hence the need to suspend said footwear upside down. It's not that the ladies think that little beatles or Hairy Marys can't crawl up the wellies; they can. But turning them upside down gives a somewhat sense of peace.

On the rack are a pair of trusty Colorado shoes, that got drenched on the day of the downpour. The green wellies are apparently posher than the hard-wearing clumsy black ones. The red Crocks were bought for the Machinist's wife. All pairs of footwear are interchangeable between the ladies, and are easy to slip on when a sudden dash to the washing line is required. Or when the hens need feeding first thing in the morning (the Machinist insists that 'his' hens are as regular as clockwork and love to be fed at the same time each day. "Breakfast at 7, eggs by 11").

Another reason for the shoe rack is that if ever any sandals or shoes or wellies are left on the back deck, or the pool deck, or elsewhere in the garden, the Puppies will tear them apart.

Oh, and we simply couldn't resist the leopard-print umbrella. Looks so foxy in a rainstorm....

Wives and Mothers

"Being good parents is, in my opinion, a rewarding if difficult career. Women who are bored with homemaking and being a wife and mother should take a long look at themselves. Being bored comes from within themselves. Boredom is, in fact, easily cultivated if you work at it, and it is a kind of blindness.

There is enough drama in any family to provide a challenge, and whatever intelligence a woman has gets full exercise. As for rewards, they cannot be counted. nobody in any so-called career is indispensable, but when a wife and mother so much as goes off for a change and rest, a replacement is impossible. And I believe it is basic in the feminine termperament to long to be important, to be needed. I think we are more personal than most men, because nature has made us that way. "

Country Chronicle by Gladys Taber


 Table talk amongst our children is and always has been, -  a rabbit warren . We start off in one hole and end up in another -  quick smart....