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Just when I should have dug the garlic this year the rain came down and the mature cloves sat in wet, sticky mud. Two weeks later than they should have been dug, there came a fine few days to dig it. There was so much mud still sticking to them that I went against the rules and blasted all the mud off with the hose. To help it dry quickly I pegged each garlic onto the clothes line and let them wind dry for a few days until the rain came again. For a month they sat in the garage, spread out on chicken wire laid over the top of my clothes drier frames. After a month of hot, hot days they were all dry and today I plaited them ready for storage following this guy’s youtube clip. His was simple to follow so long as you got the first three garlics positioned right.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqqgLJx_1rQ

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A few had rot spots that I rubbed off

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Getting a trim and a quick tidy

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If you start right it will be fine!

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From the back

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63 garlics plaited up

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Last year I preserved my tomatoes by baking them but this year it is way too hot to have the oven on. I wanted a method I didn’t have to stay in attendance with and that wouldn’t heat up the house! The solution was to rough chop the tomatoes, green chillies and garlic then put them in a slow cooker in the garage for two hours. Another hour without the lid got rid of the excess tomato liquid. I don’t have a mouli so it was into a colander then mash the tomato pulp through the holes with a bowl. It was very fast and worked rather well, some of the seeds got through but it kept back nearly all the skins. From here it will be into snaplock bags and into the freezer.

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Years ago Stan salvaged pieces of sound rimu from borer ridden chapel pews that were destined for the bonfire. Since his younger sister was having a special birthday those stored pieces became a pair of trays. The bases are rimu plywood, also salvaged from old screens and Stan thinks the darker red sides might be totara because of the colour. Coated with Danish oil the wood looks beautiful.

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I love to grow berry fruit and eat it but the task of processing needs to be quick and painless! Kudos to those that top and tail their blackcurrants, your commitment to the task is beyond my level of dedication. For me, it is just as good to leave the odd little green stalk on and totally ignore the little dried flower end. The end product when you use a blender stick on your simmered fruit is a smooth jam with a dense texture and a strong, rich flavour.

Blackcurrant Jam

  • Weigh then wash your blackcurrants and put in a deep saucepan
  • Add a cup of water per kilo of fruit
  • Gently simmer until the fruit is soft and cooked.
  • Blend in the pot with your whizz stick
  • Add the same blackcurrant weight of sugar and stir in until dissolved
  • Now bring to a rapid boil and continue to boil for 20 mins, stirring often to stop it burning on the bottom.
  • Take off the element and stir for another 20 mins
  • Have your jam jars heated and your lids boiling in a small pot, fill your jars and cover with the hot lids.

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It was a cool challenge figuring out how to make spider legs for a tarantula cake and then add a few hairs to give a hairy impression. The body was easy enough, cakes baked in a big and small mixing bowl then covered with black fondant. RJ’s  chocolate filled licorice and pineapple logs ended up being perfect for the legs. Cut into segments and threaded onto fairly thick wire they had black fondant in between the segments to hide the wire. I bent the wire into shape as I went. For the hairs, thread vermicelli shaken in a plastic container with a few drops of black food colouring made stiff hairs. It was time consuming ‘gluing’ them on with gum Arabic so they didn’t make it all over the body!

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Not well done but I’ve let the raspberry canes engulf the electric fence. In spite of a kill switch to disconnect the power, I keep getting cracks across the back or anywhere else when I daydream picking raspberries. Since they’ve upped the power unit supplying the farm this year it’s been a particularly shocking start to the season! At last Stan took pity and had a look at why the kill switch wasn’t working… took him two seconds to work out I had both ends connected to the power.

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While looking for a girl’s skirt I came across this tutorial from Dana. It was a little more layered than I was looking for, but Dana’s instructions were so clear to follow that I was easily able to adapt her pattern to just two layers of ruffles and a deeper top waist section to still give the correct length. Thanks Dana.  http://www.madeeveryday.com/2012/03/tutorial-the-layered-skirt.html/

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