It’s Soup and Stew Time Again

seafood-for-stockOne thing I do love about winter time is that it gives me the opportunity to make wholesome soups and stews. There is nothing quite like the taste of Pea and Ham soup with chunks of ham to give it some body or even chicken and corn soup or our favorite home made vegetable soup.


None of these are particularly challenging to make, simply add some ham or beef bones or chicken carcass to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and let the bones continue at a slow rolling boil until the meat has fallen from the bones, usually around and hour will suffice. I usually throw in an onion and whatever herbs I have on hand. Cool the liquid and strain it so that all the bones and bouquet garni is removed.

Chop up any meat and add to the liquid with a fresh chopped up onion, a couple of cups of washed lentils, yellow for pea and ham soup, mixed for vegetable soup. Add fresh herbs for flavoring, chopped carrot, celery, capsicum. In fact add anything that your family likes. The beauty of home made soup is that you can just about add anything to it and it will just add to the flavor.

I am a fan of fish soup, although the smell of boiling fish isn’t all that pleasant. Simply boil up fish heads and carcasses to make a fish stock you can also throw in prawn casings, for about an hour at a rolling boil. Cool and drain the liquid and discard the bones.

To 8 cups of fish stock add:

2 large peeled potatoes
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 stalks of celery finely chopped
1/2 cup rice
1 tsp basil
4 drops of tabasco sauce
1-2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup plain flour ( or 3-4 tbls of cornflour)
approx 1 cup milk
2 tsps curry powder (optional)
2 tsps anchovy sauce
lots of chopped parsley

I love adding heaps of parsley and my fish soup is often a greeny color but add only a couple of stalks if you’re not fond of parsley.

Heat the fish stock, add the potatios, onion, celery, rice. basil, tabasco, bayleaves, salt and pepper and cook for about 30 minutes.

Thicken with plain flour mixed to a smooth paste with the milk and the curry powder (remember its optional).

Stir the flour mixture into the stock and allow it to cook through and thicken. Add anchovy sauce, stirring it in well.

Add the parsley a few minutes before serving, saving a few sprigs to decorate the soup.

If you don’t wish to thicken the soup with flour simply add more vegetables such as potatoes or even cauliflower which does an excellent job of thickening if left to cook until it disintegrates into the soup.

Soup stock can be frozen for use in a number of fish recipes. It’s not difficult to make and it is very tasty.

I am a haphazard cook so I tend to add any ingredients I think will add to the flavor or texture of a dish. And this recipe is no different from anything else I cook. Throw in some cauliflower or broccoli, extra potatoes if you want the soup to extend around more people. If it starts to get to thick, simply add some more milk or milk and water combined. Don’t be afraid to experiment it’s all part of the joy of cooking.

The Delightful – Delectable Nashi Pear

Nashi PearThe Nashi pear, Pyrus pyrifolia, are widely grown for their refreshingly sweet fruit and they are a popular food in Asia.

Nashi are sometimes called the Asian pear, however it has many names and is also know as a Japanese pear, Korean pear or Taiwan Pear, sand pear, apple pear, bapple, papple, and bae. In India is it called nashipati.

Imagine if you will, the crispness of a Granny Smith apple combined with the juicy ripe taste of a pear and this will give you some idea of what these delicious fruit are like. Actually they are not as sweet as pears but have a light refreshing taste. I keep mine in the fridge so the flesh is cool to eat.

Because of their high water content and grainy texture, Nashi pears are generally not baked in pies or made into jams, however, they can successfully be added to salads, cheese platters, meat dishes, juiced or made into a very tasty fruity chutney. Why not add some to your next Waldorf Salad instead of apples, they are crisp, crunchy and don’t turn brown.

Nashi Pears are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C and folate. One medium sized (130gm) raw unpeeled Nashi Pear has 14 carbs, 4.5 gms fiber, 0 fat and 230 kjs

Nashi Pear Bruschetta
(as featured in Burkes Backyard)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Nashis, peeled and diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50ml walnut oil or olive oil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lettuce or rocket leaves, roughly chopped
  • Italian bread, sliced
  • 200g cheese, soft blue is nice but any soft cheese works equally as well

Method

1. Slice the bread and grill the slices.
2. Spread with the cheese and top with the Nashi mix.

The Life of a Musthroom Picker – Part 2

mushroom-saladIt’s now time to check out the second part of the article provided by Nia of Cooking with Nia and Survival Wytch about her days as a mushroom picker. Click here to read Part 1.

The Picking Process

Picking mushrooms is incredibly tedious, mind numbingly boring, dirty, and with extremes of temperature to work in. Sometimes it is way too hot to work comfortably; especially when the harvest is finishing (after the 8 week cycle), the last day of the last flush or last harvest, where the temperatures are raised to be almost unbearable and other times the rooms are cooled to slow a harvest down.

Just picture this: – wielding a knife and climbing up and down ladders, to reach a platform. So here you are standing on a platform 4 meters in the air, using a winch to move up and down the platforms. To move along the face of the frames you pull yourself and your platform along by grabbing the frames supports and pulling. The whole platform is on runners hanging off the top of the frame. The winch allows you to lift your own weight and the weight of boxes of mushrooms.

On one side there are seven 4 kilo boxes on a stand connected to the platform, balancing one on top of the other and empty boxes underneath them.

Once a box is full and presented nicely with all the buttons sitting carefully in the boxes with no marks or dirt on them, the picker lifts the box turns and places the box on the floor of the platform to be taken away by floor staff that collect full boxes and return with empty boxes. The floor staff also empty and fill buckets as well.

A 20 kilo bucket is held in between the pickers legs in which to place the stalks of the mushrooms into and that is how one spends the day. Straddling a bucket, cutting stalks, reaching arms length across the mushroom beds and twisting, to place full boxes to the left side on top of each other.

This is a revolting job that is more soul destroying than being in a production line of chicken boners or apple packers, and where you are working in semi darkness from 7am to sometimes 6 in the evening. In my view, the sooner this job is automated the better.

My comments relate to the mushroom farm where I was employed and may be different at other farms. The workers are segregated so that men and women don’t work together, men and women don’t have breaks together either, they are taken at separate times.

The rooms are artificially lit but there are glimpses of daylight and of course there is the ten minute morning break and half an hour for lunch where you can sit outside and enjoy eating your lunch away from the smell of the mushroom compost, which is made of pig poo, chicken poo and straw. The smell is gut wrenching and the truck with this vile concoction arrives every Wednesday. The management calls it the money truck and its arrival brings the smell of money.

Unfortunately there isn’t much scope for learning at this mushroom farm and ear phones are banned, as one girl learnt her university lessons while working at the farm, so the management decided they would not pay for someone to better themselves so that they could leave and banned all personal players.

It is with the greatest relief and excitement that I now embark on an affiliate marketing business. I have witnessed the transformation in thinking of others who are taking this opportunity and the same vision has become my reality too.

I leave mushroom picking behind, and embark on a journey to independence and learning. I just signed up for an internet connection. Now I am working from home, I am my own boss but I am not going to stop myself learning growing and achieving and having fun working from home.

Affiliate marketing offers the flexibility and scope for any possibility that you can imagine work life can be. I am turning that imagining into reality. I am enjoying a lifestyle I once only dreamt of and this success is for everyone and anyone who wants to live their lives differently.

The Life of a Mushroom Picker -Part 1

MushroomsMost people like mushrooms with their steak, mushroom soup and entrees such as stuffed mushrooms. And as they come nicely packaged we don’t need to think too much about how they are gathered. So here is an article about the day in the life of someone who has picked mushrooms for a living.

Article courtesy of Guest Author Nia from Survival Wytch and Cooking with Nia

In a previous life I was employed as a mushroom picker. Read my account on the life of a mushroom picker and understand why I have changed direction into Affiliate Marketing and completing online Surveys.

The Life Cycle of a Mushroom

To be able to pick mushrooms you need to know all about mushrooms and how they grow. Each room at the mushroom farm has two platforms that stretch from the front of the room to the back for 100 meters. The platforms are raised off the ground on frames, with a space of 1 meter between the top of one platform and the base of the next. The frames are made of 6 platforms each with a depth of 20 centimeters and lined with a mesh to hold the compost. The compost is mixed with wheat seeds that contain a mushroom starter spore. A layer of casing peat is placed on top of the compost.

The mushroom plant or mycelium grows from those spores like a spider web across the compost and when conditions are right sends the first mushrooms or pins through the peat.

The pins are thinned to create growing space for each mushroom as they breach the surface of the peat or casing. The mushrooms grow to become buttons, then cups, then flats.

A cup is when the mushroom veil breaks away from the stalk and begins to open.

The eight week cycle is made up of flushes. And each flush is approximately 7 days duration. The first pins emerge and over the seven days the buttons are picked at a medium size until all mushrooms are removed. The beds rest and the cycle starts again.

In ideal conditions a mushroom will double its size in twenty four hours.

Depending on how heavily the first crop is thinned determines the size of the mushrooms and the size of the crop of mushrooms. If too few pins or first mushrooms are taken the temperature on the beds gets too warm due to crowding and the small flowers open, making a crop of small flats. This isn’t ideal for the growers as the flats are light and it takes a long time to fill a 4 kilo box with light product. Buttons on the other hand are full of water and very heavy.

Growing mushrooms is a technical process and the temperature, water, co2, the mixture of compost, and how they are harvested, all determine the rate at which mushrooms grow and the quality of the produce.

So the growing conditions determine whether the mushrooms are heavy or light, have good color or are stained, are large or small even shaped or crazy organic art that sometimes resembles motor car parts or animals.

Sometimes disease will ruin a whole room full of mushrooms as they are susceptible to all manner of blights spots and bubbles. There are ten trichoderma species that inhabit mushroom farms and can cause problems.

Being fungi it is competing with other yeasts and fungi to break down the compost and sometimes the competing fungi is more virulent so great they ruin a crop….to be continued


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