JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

I am fifty something and I love my family and the life I live. I'm an optimistic person by nature and I try to find a positive for every negative. I'm not a vegetarian, but the animal I eat is. I enjoy cooking, photography and scrapbooking. Since living here I have become a gardener and take immense joy in the beauty of my garden. My husband and I feel that we are the caretakers of the land rather than land owners. We run a grass fed Droughtmaster Stud on our little piece of Paradise and the cattle are a never ending supply of photo opportunities.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Do you like Pork Belly?

We love it.  It is not, however, something you would eat every day.  There is a lot of fat in a pork belly and we are trying to watch our waistline.  I have cooked this recipe several times and it has always been delicious so I thought I would share it with you.  I served this with Cauliflower Puree (much lighter than mashed potato) and 2 bunches of Asparagus that I tossed with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp grated parmesan and 2 tsp lemon zest.

ROLLED PORK BELLY WITH ALMOND AND CRANBERRY STUFFING
(recipe from Tom Niall on Everyday Gourmet)

Ingredients:
1.1kg Pork Belly, scored
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper
1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries roughly chopped
2 tbsps orange juice
2 tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
25g butter, cubed

Directions:
Season pork belly skin liberally with salt.  Put into fridge for an hour or two, uncovered, or ideally up to 24 hours.  
Meanwhile mix together almond meal, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, parsley, butter, juice, salt and pepper to form a dough like consistency and refrigerate till needed.
Preheat over to 230 degrees.
Remove pork belly from fridge and wipe off any excess moisture.  Stuff and roll pork belly and tie off every inch.
Place pork onto trivet in roasting pan and roast for 30 mins or until rind is browning and starting to crackle.
Reduce heat to 160 degrees and roast for a further 1 hour.  Turn oven back up to 230 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the crackling is crispy.
Remove the pork belly from the oven and rest for 10-15 mins before serving.


Straight out of the oven

Leftovers for tomorrows lunch

The cauliflower simmering(uncovered) in milk before blitzing the whole lot.

Asparagus ready for plunging into boiling water for 2 minutes only and then tossed in the olive oil mixture

I really must take some lessons in food styling.  Fortunately it tasted better than this photo looks!



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Valentines Day

We don't really celebrate Valentines Day as we think it is more important to do something nice for our wedding anniversary.  We will be married 36 years next month and we are thinking about booking into Thala Beach Lodge for a night.  We will see how things are in the west first.
I am pleased to report that we had 47mls of rain last week.  It is not drought breaking but buys us a little more time to find markets for our cattle.  We sent cows to the meat works last week and the price we received for some of the cows barely covered the cost of freighting them to Townsville.  It is very disheartening.
Back to Valentines Day.  We had cattle work to do.
We have cull cows that needed to have their calves taken away from them in order to be sold.  The calves are about 7 months old and they are well and truly big enough to be taken away from mum.  We leave the weaners in the yards for up to ten days.  After  five days we start tailing them out into a nearby paddock.  "Tailing out" means letting them out into the paddock and staying with them, so that they don't run amok, and then bringing them back into the yards each night.  We tail out for about 5 days or until the weaners are quiet enough to be left in a paddock.
Last night we had hardly any sleep as the cattle yards are close to the house and the calves called to mum all night long.  The cows also do their bit and call back to the calves.  It really is quite noisy for the first couple of days until the calves settle into their new routine of eating hay and weaner meal. We still have another weaning to do as some of the calves are too young to be taken away from mum.  That will be in another couple of months time.  Over here we like to leave them on mum as long as possible.  The cows make a lot of milk on the lush pasture so it is all good for the calves.

We leave the cows in a paddock beside the yards.  We find that if we take them to a paddock away from the yards they find their way back to the yards anyway and we are left with a lot of fences to repair!

The black nose on 430 means that it will be culled.  Don't want black noses in a droughtmaster herd!  Also anything with horns will also be culled.  We are trying to breed a poll herd.

The male portion of these weaners will be taken to our western properties for growing out and joining to the females when they reach adequate size.

We are happy with this crop of weaners both in size and conformation.



Monday, 10 February 2014

Rain!….Go west!

We have measured 502mls of rain in the past week.  That is a lot even for here and more than we need. There must be a way to send if from the coast, across the ranges to where it is needed most….I wish.  I look at the BOM radar for our properties at Julia Creek, at least 50 times a day, just hoping for some sort of indication that the drought is going to break in a big way.  Maybe I should make a trip out west as the last time I did we had a fall of 80ml!
Hubby has been out west selling cattle.  Twelve deck left last week with another six this week.  We have another 800 heifers drafted off to sell, but there is no market.  It's heartbreaking.  We have been slowly building our herd fertility over the past ten years and now all that hard work and perseverance will be lost.
I read yesterday that 5% of Australians live remotely in 85% of country producing 70% of our trade-able wealth and that farm debt has risen from $700,000 to $2m in just 12 years.  How do you repay the interest on $2m when you haven't had any income for 18 months.
"Drought upon drought, hope upon hope, loan upon loan, the hand that is feeding urban Australia is heading for calamity and soon city folk will wake up with one enormous headache, like it or not, in the form of depleted food security". (Extract from connectiontocountry.com)
On a lighter note, hubby arrived home Friday evening so I cooked up a "welcome home" dinner last night.  Duck Breast is one of my favourite meats but it is usually so expensive that I rarely buy it.  Fortunately this week I picked up some on special so that is what we ate last night.  I served it with a Cauliflower Puree,  Green Beans and roasted Cherry tomatoes topped with a herb vinaigrette and toasted almonds.  It was really delicious and such an easy meal to cook and prepare.





Saturday, 1 February 2014

Two very different nights of culture.

On Thursday evening we took ourselves along to Geraghty Park Hall at Julatten for a production of SHAZ AND NICK'S BIG FAT GREEK  ITALIAN WEDDING.  The Mareeba Theatre Group extended its season to bring this wonderful play to the lucky residents of Julatten and surrounds.  The audience were the "guests" at Shaz and Nick's wedding and we were treated to a three course dinner catered for by the Mount Molloy State School.
It is hard to put into words just how great this play was.  It was certainly raunchy, but not so much that you were embarrassed, and it was extremely well acted out by the cast of 19.

The Director wrote, "Traditions!  Some of us are okay with them, others will question them.  But love them or hate them, you have to admit some of them are pretty darn crazy!  The script, which was supposedly meant to be about a Greek guy who marries an Aussie girl, just did not have the same flavour compared to an Italian wedding so we adapted it to suit our actors and it felt right!"

If you ever get a chance to see a production of this play I would highly recommend it!



Last night we had tickets to "Phantom of the Opera" produced by the Cairns Choral Society.  Phantom has been proclaimed as the World's Greatest Musical and it would be hard to refute the claim.  Not being great aficiandos of opera or musicals we went along with our friends with no preconceived ideas of what to expect and I can honestly say that we are now converts.  This production was so well done.  I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the final scene when Christine would make the decision as to who she would choose, Raoul or the Phantom.
We ran into friends at interval who had seen Phantom in London and they said that they could not tell the difference between the two shows.  The sets were amazingly realistic and when Christine and Phantom make the trip via boat into the Labyrinth Underground you could swear that they were on water.
The Cairns Choral Society put on a performance each year and it usually runs for 2-3 weeks.  Phantom was a sell-out and we are now very much looking forward to their next production.