I am a keen mushroom hunter and would frequently collect what is available. Every so often a new type shows up and today I bumped into Potato Earth Balls, which I did not know, but they looked delicious and I brought them home. Luckily, before I could cook and taste, I identified them as Scleroderma bovista which are poisonous. I had a suspicion that they were probably not good when I cut them and the inside was a dark purple.
I have amalgamated all my quail breeds for very good reasons. As a result of the very small gene pool in NZ and no importations aloud, all quails in NZ are inbred and related. I am in NZ for 6 years now and made great progress breeding four different breeds of Coturnix, but progress has flattened off as I have to have limited numbers and equally good genetic material is not available in NZ. My solution was to amalgamate all the breeds and only breed a Back Yard Special, resulting in 4 times as many birds to select from and one less selection parameter – colour. This allowed me to make some progress again. I am retired and do this as a hobby – my working background is in animal genetics
Housing for quails is fairly simple, but there are a few rules that would make there lives much more pleasant and productive
1. The housing must be 100 % dry AT ALL TIMES (100 % roof coverage with adequate overhang). Open on two sides with two solid walls protecting birds from prevailing wind and rain. The open sides need mesh of about 13 mm X 13 mm aperture as cats would put their claws through the holes if it is larger and kill the quail. As much sun as possible with shady spots if they want to get away from the sun. The cage roof must be a maximum of 500 mm high, otherwise the quails may injure themselves if frightened and take off hitting their heads on the roof
2. Quails need an area where they can hide from prevailing winds and drafts. Nooks and crannies and / or thick vegetation is required
3. Coturnix Quails are ground dwellers and would not roost and would very seldom use a second level upstairs – so all their food and water requirements need to be at ground level. They can be taught to go up, but it is not natural for them
4. Coturnix quail need a sand bath to keep them healthy, happy and clean – so if their cage is on the ground and DRY, it is all good as they would create their own sandpit
5. Clean water and feed of the correct type all the time (ad lib). They would eat greens and table scraps (love meat) and it can be fed to them all the time as long as it does not make up too much of the diet (maximum about 20%)
6. A floor area of at least 2 meter square per group of 4 – 5 females and 1 male for the ideal cage (meeting all the above specifications) or more if the cage is deficient
7. If you want the quails to lay eggs all year round, you need to provide light for 16 hours per day, alternatively they will molt when the days are getting shorter and stop laying until the next season.
Cut the meat (Silverside, Topside or Rump) into strips of about 25 mm thick. Remove excess fat, but not all. Also clean meat up by removing connective tissue, lumps, glands and non solid pieces of meat.
Mix enough 25 : 75 :: Worcestershire Sauce : Brown Vinegar to quickly dip and rinse the meat in and then put in a flat container, layer by layer. Sprinkle Biltong Spice Mix to start with in the container, then follow with a layer of meat. Repeat until all the spice and meat has been used. Put in fridge for 12 hours, turn and put back in fridge for 12 hours.
Meat can be hanged as is, or washed with a 10% brown vinegar water solution (boiled and cooled) and then hanged. Make sure the hanging area is about 12 C and well ventilated.
We still have a lot of green tomatoes. They have kept well in a dark spot with the potatoes, but we do need to use them before they start spoiling. We have been eyeing this recipe from Abbruzzo for a while, and today Mrs BYF decided to give it a try. Because this is lockdown cooking she did not have all the ingredients the real recipe required, so here is the make do one. It was a very nice, fresh tasting pasta sauce, almost spring like.
4 or 5 medium sized green tomatoes, diced
1 onion chopped
1 big pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup marjoram
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 hot chilli. We like hot food so use less if you want
6 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rigatoni or other cut pasta
Soften the onions in the cooking oil. Add the garlic and the chilli, cook until garlic browns a bit. Add the tomatoes and cook covered to release the juices. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. When the tomatoes have softened, add the marjoram and nutmeg. When the pasta is cooked ladle a soup spoon full of pasta water on to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix and serve with plenty of grated parmigiano.