Bitter Turnip Tears


So – I’ve had some success with my new garden so far this year, but the outright winner in the ‘I can grow in crap soil’ category has been the turnips.

Now, I’m not sure I actually knew what a turnip was when I planted them. Much beloved of Baldrick from Blackadder, I think I confused it with swede, to be honest. Yellow, watery, boring. So when I asked Mr Chopsticks what seeds he would choose to go in our garden, and his pick was turnip, I didn’t altogether panic. How wrong I was.

For turnip is Nasty. Bitter, gross & bleagh. I have a hundredweight of the stuff, and for the life of me I can’t make it palatable. We’ve tried peeling, boiling & mashing with butter, salt & pepper. For any decent respectable vegetable, this would produce a nice side to a lovely salt bush lamb. Not so the turnip. Quite spoilt my chops. The normally sanguine Mr C  left his in a guilty pile. Continue reading


Blessed are the Cheese Makers

I was delighted to see these guys were at the Brisbane Water Oyster festival recently, as I’ve been thinking about making cheese for quite some time. Their website was one I’d looked at buying a starter kit from before, but typically I just hadn’t gotten around to it. We’d previously done a one day course with Zigi’s Cooking School a while back but there’s no substitute for giving it a go on your own. Buying all the kit though is a big investment and after all, there’s only so much cheese the 2 of us can eat. Plus, I don’t really have anywhere I can mature a bunch of fromage. So I’d parked it in the too hard bucket – up until now.

I spent a long time chatting to the very patient Juan and John (above) of Home Cheesemaking Co during a rare moment of quiet on their stall. (Everyone else off eating oysters and drinking Hunter Valley wine no doubt). They were selling their cheese making starter kits for a discounted $175; quite a saving when you factor in the obvious lack of postage/delivery costs. I already had a couple of the items in the kit, such as the Home Cheese Making book by Ricki Carroll, and to my delight they were even happy to swap out items for me – for instance, a curd cutting knife instead of the book.

The kits contain everything needed to make soft cheeses, including rennet, moulds, plastic forms with drainage for the curds, perforated skimming ladles, plus plastic tubs for milk, for curds, for everything! All you could possibly need down to the thermometers and even hair nets to keep all that bodily stuff away from the cheese. They were able to reassure me about spoilage of the perishable bits like the rennet & calcium chloride, because these are stored in the fridge, while the moulds will last a year in the freezer. Just as well, since you only need about 0.5ml of rennet per 2 litres of milk. It’s possible to buy the different moulds for the different types of cheeses later on, as the basic set up is roughly the same for all cheese at the beginning of the process.

The guys were an absolute mine of information and were more than happy to share; I found myself scrawling down loads of notes. For soft cheeses, apparently it’s ok to mature these for a  couple of weeks in the bottom of the fridge, but I’m probably not going to be able to make hard cheeses such as cheddar until I can find somewhere of the correct humidity and temperature to store them while they age.

Home Cheesemaking Company also run day and weekend courses in the Hunter, in Balmain, and Kariong on the Central Coast, so I will be adding that to my wish list for my birthday (strong hint to Mr Chopsticks!).

Now to find a source of fresh from the cow, homogenised milk and give it all a go!