Jelly roll

Not the fabric kind, just for a change!

On Wednesday, I picked over and halved 2 kilos (nearly 4½ pounds) of cumquats, covered them with water, and simmered them for 2 hours till tender. I then put them in a muslin cloth, first in a colander over a bowl, and then tied into a bag, hanging over the bowl, for the juice to drip out. I didn’t get a whole lot, as these cumquats are tiny and not very juicy, but what there was had a powerful zing and perfume.

Thursday morning I weighed the juice and did the pectin test. Plenty of pectin from the pith and pips in the fruit. Then I added an equal weight of white sugar (no need for jam sugar with extra pectin), put it in a pan and slowly brought it to the boil. I then simmered it slowly, skimming the froth that came to the surface, until the temperature reached 105°C/221°F. Then I tested for set, dropping a blob onto a saucer I’d had in the freezer. That went back into the fridge for a couple of minutes. Once it was cool, I pushed a finger through the blob. If it wrinkles and leaves a clear track, the jelly is ready. I had to give it another 5 minutes, but then it was done, and I decanted the jelly with a ladle and wide-neck preserving funnel into two hot, sterilised jars and quickly screwed on the lids. After about 15 minutes, the ‘button’ on the lids sucked down, and I knew I had a good vacuum.

And that was it. From 2kg/4½ pounds fruit and about 700g/25 ounces sugar I got 800g/28 ounces jelly, one full 500g jar and one three quarters full.

It’s not a large return on the investment of time, but the jelly is delicious, beautifully set, and the fruit was free, so I’ll probably do it again some time.

Many thanks to Elizabeth for her friend Elgar’s recipe, which was simple and very clear.

I only have about 300g fruit left – I had to pick out ones which were squishy or going mouldy. I’m tempted to get a bottle of vodka and steep the remaining fruit in it. It worked a treat with the limoncello I made a few months ago, and the flavour will be very different.

Cumquat jelly on hot toast this morning for breakfast. Yummmmmm!


Orange and black

No, I’m not planning a Halloween quilt. Bear with me.

First, the orange. I’ve been given a shopping bag full of beautiful cumquats (or kumquats, if you prefer). The neighbours have a tree full of these tiny orange jewels, and the smell of them is intoxicating. I’ve always loved cumquat marmalade, about the only marmalade I do love, and I’d like to make some. But oh, the labour of cutting up and de-pithing and -pipping these tiny things.

They really are very, very, very small. So my question is, does any-one have a recipe for cumquat marmalade that doesn’t involve picking all that stuff out? Can I just cut up the fruit, leave in the pips and skim them off at the end? I’ll do it ‘properly’ if I have to, but the idea of standing at the bench for what will probably be hours is not enticing.

And now for a bit of black. His Lordship the Mouse is settling in nicely. We have the routine established, and it involves me getting up sharpish at 6am to give him breakfast.

I’d sleep in if I could, but a cold wet nose in the ear is a marvellous alarm clock. After he’s engulfed his breakfast, I let him out to, um, commune with nature for a minute or two, after which he comes screeching back up the back yard at greyhound slow gallop, and then he goes back to bed (his bed) for another hour or so while I catch up with emails and the blog. At 7am, I shower, dress, make the Husband’s sandwich with ‘help’ from Mouse, and around 8am I get a call to say the Husband is 20 minutes away, so it’s time to clip on Mouse’s harness and lead, pocket some treats and the zapper for the garage door, and off we go. Mouse is now used to Big Girl the truck, so we hand over the sandwich when the Husband pulls up at the bottom of the hill, and then go for a walk so he can check out all the smells and disdainfully ignore all the dogs stuck in houses and yards who bark at him as we pass.

And then he spends most of the rest of the day sleeping. And yes, he does ‘roach’, or sleep with all his legs in the air…

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Figs, Fries and Sunny Skies

We’re heading homewards.

After a final delicious meal in Cairns at the Botanic Gardens – which are, by the way, magnificent – it was time to up sticks and wagons roll, turning our faces reluctantly southwards again.

We have the process of breaking camp by heart now, and once the alarm goes off at 7am, we slip into well-oiled routines, each with our own jobs to do. By lunchtime we were back in Cardwell. This time, I’d opted to forego a crab sandwich in favour of visiting the Pie Cart (anyone seeing a pattern here?).

We ate our steaming hot beefy lovelies at a picnic bench under the old candlenut trees in the park. The trees are beautiful, very old and bent, with deeply fissured bark, glossy oval leaves and hundreds of green candlenuts hanging on stalks. They’re amazing fruit, providing all sorts of uses, and the trees themselves are magnificent.

Onwards through the rain, though we came into Townsville dry, to find they’d allocated us the powered site with the best en suite shower in the entire park. Yeah, baby, power showers! Today we met fellow blogger Manic Mum for lunch at The Ville Resort-Casino at the Marina in Townsville to sample a delicacy whose fame has spread far and wide.

No. Not fries.

Doughnut Fries!!

That’s not potato, it’s cinnamon-spiced doughnut dough, cut into sticks and deep fried. It’s then laid on a bed of chocolate sauce (not tomato sauce as you might have thought), and sprinkled with white chocolate flakes (not shaved Parmesan) and a couple of slices of strawberry. Yup, that last item might have thrown you a bit.

I have to say, they were absolutely, gobsmackingly delicious.

And this is where they were being served.

And yes, that’s Magnetic Island in the background. Just out of idle curiosity, we asked how much it would cost to stay there for a night. Oh, only $260…? We’ll stick to the caravan park. Anyway, I’d call that a pretty good send-off on the last full day of our holiday. We tootled back to Miz Lizzie along The Strand, prime beachfront real estate lined with massive old Moreton Bay Figs. The one below had a multiple trunk about 7 metres across.

Tomorrow the alarm will go off at 7am again, and we’ll swing into action for the last leg, Townsville to home. Yes, lunch will be at Jochheim’s in Bowen again. I’ll be going on a pie and chocolate exclusion diet when I get home, so I need to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves!

Signing off till we’re back. It’s been a blast having y’all along 🙂

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Lovely Lavish Loot!

As promised, then, here are the acquisitions of the past two days.

Firstly, the chocolate. I think we’ve been quite modest, really, when you consider that two of those packages are for the kind neighbours who are keeping an eye on the house and taking in our mail.

From top left to bottom right, we have milk chocolate coated coffee beans, latte flavoured milk chocolate, dark chocolate gingers, more milk chocolate coated coffee beans, dark chocolate cranberry & pistacho bar, milk chocolate salted caramel bar, and milk chocolate cranberry & pistachio bar.

Here is a current portrait of Miz Lizzie.

And here is her Mini-Me, a totally gorgeous clock with extremely funky hands and a swinging pendulum. It now hangs on the locker door above the sink, and ticks very quietly, not loud enough to be annoying while we’re trying to sleep. We saw it in the Coffee Works gift shop, where (despite the fairly substantial price ticket) buying it was a no-brainer. It’s made by a US company called Allen Designs, and they make a fair range of clock designs, something to suit everyone, I’d say.

To the point, in fact, that the Husband has ordered me a second one.

Well, no prizes for guessing where it’ll hang when it arrives. (They’re not paying me anything for this link, I’m telling you about them because you’ve got to share a good thing. Go ahead and browse. I’ll be here when you get back in an hour or two…)

And finally, I got my toes titivated. The previous pedi was getting a bit weatherbeaten, and I like to do the Husband credit when we’re prancing eagerly into a shop to Buy Stuff. I don’t normally indulge, and my toenails are habitually bare, but in holiday season you have to make a bit of an effort, don’t you?

I’ve told the Husband that in return for the clock loveliness, a holiday present for him is called for.

He initially pretended he wanted for nothing, but his eyes lit up like anything when, working on information previously received as they say in the detective stories, I suggested a rattle-gun (aka a cordless torque wrench) might be acceptable.

So there’ll be a trip to the DIY store soon. That’s a promise.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: up one hill and down another

We did a LOT today.

To the point where I can’t fit it all in one post without being tedious. So there will be more tomorrow, mainly the Loot. We started out driving past the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, the Skyrail cable car and the Kuranda Scenic Railway to head up the Kuranda Range to the Tablelands. I’ve written about all 3 of those before, so if you’re interested, do a search for those posts, as otherwise this one will turn into War & Peace!

Once at the top of the range, we drove to Mareeba, location of our lunch destination and Coffee Works. Lunch first: a plateful of beefy goodness for us both in one of the nicest foodie pubs in the area.

The Gateway Hotel in Mareeba has been Done Up in a big way, but my word, it’s worth it. This is a corner of the pub garden. See what I mean? Pretty lush, isn’t it?

After lunch, it was time for Coffee Works, also in Mareeba. They bring together local and imported coffees from around the world, roast them and blend them. You can tour the works and see this in action. They also have a huge collection of antique coffee brewing implements and vessels, and the world’s best gift shop. The photo below shows one small corner of the huge barn that houses the gift and coffee shops.

We scored there, but more of that tomorrow. They also have a chocolaterie on site, and make their own dark, milk and white chocolate, flavoured with chilli, ginger, coffee, lemon myrtle, orange, lime & pepper, cranberry & pistachio, etc, etc. We scored heavily there too, but again, more tomorrow.

The debate was then whether to return home the way we’d come, via Kuranda, go down the Gillies Range or down the Mt Molloy-Mossman Range. We’ve done the Gillies Range a lot, so we opted for the Mt Molloy-Mossman Range via the Mulligan Highway. It’s incidentally the direction you’d start out on if you were planning to take your 4WD up to the Top End; north of Cooktown (another day’s drive away)  it’s where the roads begin to get interestingly rough and challenging!

En route to the range, we passed Quaid’s Dam (aka Lake Mitchell) beside the Mulligan Highway, an artificial lake that takes you by surprise: it’s huge, deserted, miles from everything and doesn’t really have any function, not being for irrigation, or leisure, or drinking water, despite the fact that it holds 190,000 megalitres at full capacity. I believe there was a plan at one time to build a housing development in that location, but as far as I can see, there’s nothing there to justify or support housing in that area.

The Mt Molloy-Mossman range is lovely, passing through rainforest much of the way, with a couple of outstanding lookout spots for photos. It’s interestingly wiggly and huge fun on a motorbike, to the point that on a previous trip on the motorbike we’ve turned round at the bottom so we could ride back up and then down again!

This one shows the view over Mossman to the sea; the light-coloured fields are canefields, which appear light because of the flower plumes on the tall cane.

And then from Mossman, we turned down the Rex Highway south to Cairns, passing Port Douglas and Palm Cove. We passed this sea-eagle nest on top of a power pole – how the birds are not electrocuted is beyond me, but it’s a pretty substantial nest, and it’s right beside the road.

An eagle coming in to land on that must have given a driver or two a bit of a start, wouldn’t you say?

Last stop of the day was Ellis Beach, reliably deserted and peaceful, with Double Island in the background. The sun was getting low in the sky, the sea was calm, the sky a bit patchy (the rain started later), and I got to feel the sand between my toes, always a very calming experience for me.

Home again to Miz Lizzie, cool and comfortable, for cups of tea and a bit of planning for tomorrow’s expeditions. Oh, and tomorrow I’ll show you what we bought at Coffee Works!

Till then…

Miz Lizzie Adventures: restraint, and a lack of it.

I can resist anything except temptation…

Well, that’s what Oscar Wilde said, anyway. I can resist some temptations, especially when I know the Husband is tapping his foot outside the fabric shop. So this time, I only bought one piece of fabric (she said with an air of spurious virtue). The shop is a treasure trove of not just fabrics, but flosses, fixings, findings, fleece, and everything the avid crocheter or knitter could wish for. Oh, and paints, dyes, stains, crayons, pencils, papers, canvases. So you see, buying only one piece of fabric from the sale bin really was quite restrained.

I made up for it once outside, though.

A luscious caramel chocolate slice from the Vietnamese bakery. Not a pastry base, but made of compressed fresh coconut shreds. I don’t pretend it made this delectable treat more virtuous, but it did make it slightly less heavy and filling. Slightly…

We didn’t do much yesterday; some laundry, some grocery shopping, a little reading (Husband) and sewing (me). This is, after all, a holiday. Today, we’re going up to the Tableland to visit Coffee Works and pay homage to the chocolatiers by carting away as much chocolate as we can without people pointing and whispering. We’ll probably also buy some cheeses at Gallo’s Dairyland. The weather’s looking a bit overcast, so I don’t know if I’ll get many landscapey-type photos. Depending on time and weather, I may visit some of my favourite waterfalls, too.

After all, I have to pretend the day’s trip isn’t totally about food….

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Crackling, Copperlode and Caution!

Another day of mixed gastronomy and sightseeing.

Well, aren’t the best holidays like that? Yesterday we went into Cairns city to try and get a few errands done. Things on order which we couldn’t get at home, a fruitless attempt to get some clip-on sunglasses for me (nuh-uh, frames too large. The search continues…), some groceries, a book and of course, lunch.

Apologies in advance to the vegetarians, who may wish to cover their eyes and ears and sing lalalalala while I wax lyrical about the lavish and luscious roast pork, crackling, gravy and apple sauce subs with a side of sweet potato fries dusted with smoked paprika, salt and oregano.

Moaning noises ensued. They were really thickly stuffed, fresh, hot and delicious.

OK, it’s safe to look again.

After our shopping and nosh-fest, we decided a bit of scenery and fresh air was called for, so we headed out of the city northwards, and turned off up towards Copperlode Dam. They’re still carrying Natural Disaster Repairs up there after the last cyclone, so we couldn’t go all the way to the top and the dam itself (Lake Morris), but did manage to capture some good photos of the view southeast over Cairns and out to sea from the various lookout spots on the way up. It was hazy so you don’t get a tremendous amount of detail, but the city lies in a bowl of rainforested mountains, and the forest really does stretch all the way down to the sea except at the city centre.

Some obligatory nature shots. Well, it is beautiful round here… I love how the fig fruits grow directly out of the trunk of the tree in this species.





And finally, confirmation that Australia has some of the grumpiest trees in the world, never mind the snakes, spiders, sharks crocodiles, jellyfish and cone shells. Click on the photo for more detail…

Welcome to Australia. The country’s beaut, if you can survive the flora and fauna!