Do not store your Potatoes too well !

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I harvested about 80 kg of potatoes from my garden three months ago and was very chuffed because I would have had enough potatoes to keep my grandson, who is an absolute potato fiend in great organic potatoes for a very long time as well as having a bit over for the rest of the family.  I  very carefully stored the potatoes in plastic drums – one layer of potatoes followed by a layer of hay repeatedly until full. I filled about 5 X 25 liter drums, tightly sealed them and stored them in a cool dry place out of the sun – at the southern side of the house. The unforeseen, by me, has happened and the potatoes which were VERY GOOD for some months have gone sweet. Grandson does not eat sweet potatoes so he has refused my lovely baked offerings for the last few meals and reproached me for planting sweet potatoes instead of the real stuff. Knowing that I did not plant sweet potatoes I decided to read up. Apparently the place where I stored my precious harvest was too cold. Easy mistake to make in Dunedin, especially during the end of winter. Here is a link to the article explaining why cold potatoes become sweet https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/cold-potatoes-black-bananas/

The next crop would be stored in a warmer space with a north facing window and wall! Never too old to learn. I now have a lot of sweet potatoes to eat myself, but there is hope as you presumably could partially reverse the sweetening process – next experiment!

Pasta con la Rucola

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We had lemons from the tree of a friend of a friend and lots of flowering rocket that we had to use or lose. Mrs BYF came up with this delicious pasta using the ingredients at hand, while I was busy making cheese.

Lemon and Rocket Pasta

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 chilli or some flakes, as much as you prefer, but at least a bit is essential

2 handfuls of fresh rocket + 1 handful of fresh rocket

zest of 2 lemons + zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

cracked black pepper

1/2 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano

Add the pasta to salted, fast boiling water. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce.
Heat the olive oil and add the garlic and chilli in a pan that can hold everything including the cooked pasta. When the garlic is translucent add the 2 handfuls of fresh rocket to the pan. When the rocket has wilted slightly add the zest of 2 lemons and the lemon juice. When the pasta has cooked, add a few tablespoons of boiling pasta water to the sauce. When al dente, remove the hot pasta from the pasta pot, drain the water and add the hot pasta to the sauce in the pan. Stir the sauce through the pasta. Portion out the pasta into the plates and scatter a few of the fresh rocket leaves, a bit of the lemon zest and cracked black pepper over the pasta. Add liberal amounts of parmigiano reggiano and serve immediately.

Do not forget a glass of home made red to finish it all!!

ENJOY!!!

 

Multi Purpose Rocket

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Yet another crop with many uses! This time it is rocket which is in abundance in our garden at this time of the year, sowing itself all the time.. Apart from great salads and pesto, the flowers make a really nice display for the kitchen window sill. Also enjoy the pesto as a pasta sauce, with fish or on fresh bread or toast

Pesto Recipe

100 g Pesto Leaves

25 g roasted Pine Nuts

20 g fresh Garlic

150 g Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 g Salt

Blend all the above ingredients well in a blender, or if you have the energy, mash it up in a mortar and pestle

50 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padana cheese

20 g grated Pecorino cheese

40 g melted Butter

Fold the above indigents into the blended product

 

It will last up to a week in the fridge, but is better fresh (after resting for about an hour from making it – the pesto not you)

ENJOY and do not forget a glass of the home made red!!!

 

 

 

Quails and Plastic Bottles

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During the Dunedin Science Festival my eye caught a title while briefing through the program “Quails and Plastic Bottles”. I obviously was immediately interested and booked my ticket for the 1 hour lecture. The talk was a big disappointment as it discussed quails for about 10 seconds, in which some very inaccurate and irrelevant information was conveyed. The talk about plastic bottles, which was not quail related at all, lasted for another 10 seconds. With this in mind, I am giving you another look at Quails and Plastic Bottles. Needless to say that recycling old plastic bottles is the correct thing to do and it makes me tremendously happy to do my bit in limiting the carbon footprint and plastic pollution of our dysfunctional world. The alternative is to purchase some poultry feeders. at exorbitant prices, from companies here in New Zealand that import vast quantities of more Chinese plastics and the irony is that these purchased feeders are by no means so effective as the home made ones.

I use 2 liter used plastic milk bottles to make my quail water drinkers and feeders. Once the quail chicks reach another stage of maturity and size I introduce a new drinker and feeder to suite their needs until fully grown.

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I start off by giving them open feed and water covered by a wire mesh to teach them to eat and drink.

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At 7 days of age I introduce the next drinkers and feeders. The water drinker with the 25 mm openings, 50 mm of the ground, on two sides of the bottle (it stands in a corner) allows them to investigate and mostly by accident have their first drink. For the first few hours I drip water in the drinkers from above so the little quails come and investigate the noise and water sound and find themselves drinking by surprise. It only takes them a few hours to be master the water drinkers. It is however important to not have these drinkers before 7 days of age as the little quails are too small and fit through the hole and drown. If the hole is exactly 25 mm and round , not oval, the chicks will not fit through at 7 days of age and you will have 100% success. The feeders have 50 mm holes and the quails can eat from the outside, or get themselves into the bottle and eat inside. This teaches them where the food is and soon enough they will be too big to fit through the hole and only eat from the outside, like the mature quails do.

I cut the tops of the bottles in the beginning stages so they can fit into the brooders which is only 200 mm high. It is important to cut the height such that their is very little space between the top of the drinker and the roof of the brooder so the little quails cannot jump into them, which is a trick they learn early in life.

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At 14 days of age, I change the water drinkers to a 35 mm hole and 60 mm of the ground as their heads are getting too large for the 25 mm hole. I now also switch to only one water hole which makes it easier to fill to the rim without water flowing out of one of the other holes. Use the 35 mm 70 mm off the ground if the bedding becomes too high. The feeder remains the same.

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At 28 days of age I change to adult feeders and drinkers with 40 mm holes and 70 mm off the ground.

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At 49 days of age when I take them from the brooders to the breeding pens outside, they stay on 40 mm holes and 70 mm off the ground, but have a section at the top cut out to make feeding and washing of the feeders easier. I do not top up the feeders, but dump and refill. The water feeders are without the opening to prevent birds landing in the water as my cages are 600 mm high and they can fly and land in the water if open. These feeders hold about two days of feed and water for a breeding group of 5 females and a male which make it easy to go away for a weekend without having to feed.

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All the water drinkers you will require

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All the feeders you would require

 

 

 

Never too old to learn

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I have been breeding quails for many a year now and was absolutely sure that I know the birds and can colour sex the Pharoah Breed of Coturnix coturnix at the age of four weeks, 100 % successfully. Today I was selecting breeding hens out of a pen of 29 four week old female quails which were all very well marked with black spots and no red / brown feathers on the chests, as I have already separated them in male and female groups at three weeks of age. It is normal procedure for me to handle the birds and on feel and visual appearance select a few more than what I would require and then weigh them as well to assist my final selections. I selected 8 birds as I only needed one group of 6 females for a pen. There was this one female that caught my attention every time I handled or looked at her and when I weighed them, she was, at 220 grams, 24 grams heavier than the next best weighted bird of the selected group.  I was overjoyed with this wonderful specimen and ringed her for future identification purposes. I worked through the rest of the birds and ended up with a very handsome group of 6 females. As I was clearing the workbench for the next task I heard a crow from the pen of selected hens and on closer inspection found my prized hen crowing.

This is very confusing as she has perfect hen markings and above all the males are always much lighter than the females. I am going to keep a close look at her / him and whichever way it goes, it will be a special bird. Either a VERY HEAVY male or a CROWING female.

 

Rombo

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My neighbour caught some flounder (Rombo in Italian) locally. He generously gave me two lovely firm, fresh fish caught that day. We cooked them as soon as we could manage, being chronically over fed, we had to wait until the next day. Mrs BYF decided to fry the fish in pig fat that I rendered from the organic Kunekune last year. The fish looked fantastic and was delicious.  The fat contributed to the taste as well as the appearance, not sure why, but things fried in fat look more golden brown to me. The side was spinach and smashed potatoes, and roast pumpkin.
Flounder (Rombo)
1 cup of flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper
6 tablespoons of pig fat or vegetable oil about 10 mm deep for frying

Heat the oil in a pan big enough to hold the entire fish lying on its side. The oil must be hot enough to sizzle when the fish goes in. Use kitchen paper to dry the fish very well. Drench the fish in flour, make sure every bit of it is covered. Shake off excess flour and slide the fish into the pan, skin down. After about 5 minutes, when the skin is crispy and brown, turn over and fry for 5 minutes more.

Serve immediately with some cut lemon and a vegetable of your choice.

Love living in New Zealand!

Sentinal

26EA79BC-9F8C-4A90-B494-998393390A0B.jpegWhenever Mrs BYF goes to Africa she brings me an artwork depicting an animal that is special to me. This year she brought me a carving of a meerkat. A small sentinel that now stands on the window sill beside my desk, keeping a keen lookout for danger. The little figure is on high alert and I almost expect him to squeak in warning any minute.

I had a meerkat as a pet when I was a boy, and I still cherish the memory of him sleeping in my lap like a cat, exempting me from any random chores lest it be woken and disturbed.

Mayhem happened one night when a fat, drunken guest slept over. Unbeknownst to him, the meerkat had snuggled up against his back under the blanket. The sleeping arrangement worked well until he rolled over on top of the meerkat, squeezing an amazing amount of poop from the frightened animal.  There was a lot of loud, alarming noise from man and beast, and some members of the family spent a lot of time cleaning floors, walls, and bedding. The rest tried to calm  the meerkat and the horrified and now stone cold sober guest. That was the hard part,  and if my memory serves, guest and meerkat  never shared a bed again.