Defrosting Meat

It’s a topic that many people ask about and I must admit I can do it well or not. I know people that defrost using the old method, i.e. get the meat out of the freezer and put it in the fridge overnight or a couple of days (depending upon size). I’m the modern housewife,  I have so many more things to do with my time, I dislike housework so I grab out of the fridge and freezer  daily to cook and I (most times) incorporate leftovers from the night before in the next main meal.

I am talking about red meat here, chicken is another set of rules altogether. I’ll do a post on that tomorrow (if we have power). Living in a rural area with poor electrical infrastructure and in stormy weather we can lose power so fingers crossed we don’t.

Thawing Meat

Thaw meat and other foods in the bottom of the fridge whenever possible (as hot air rises so every time the door is opened the warmth coming in goes to the top shelves). The safest method is to place the frozen meat in the refrigerator for a day or two ahead of time. Larger items such as roasts may take longer, about one day for every 5 pounds of meat. Thawing meat slowly in the refrigerator minimizes damage from ice crystals, which helps maintain the food’s quality.

If you need to thaw food immediately, this is best done in the microwave. If you use a microwave to thaw meat, cook it immediately afterward as some parts of the meat may have already started to cook. All microwaves have a defrost button or setting, some like you to weigh it and others like you to tell it what meat type it is. All these have different settings so stick with the manufacturers settings and rules to minimize cooking whilst defrosting (my trick) if on too high or to long or under defrosting, done on the outside but still frozen in the centre.

Thaw under cool running water (with the food wrapped or packaged). Place meat in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, changing the water at least every 30 minutes to keep it cold.

It is advised that you do not leave frozen food to thaw on a bench at room temperature. This will allow the outside of the food to warm above 5ºC which will allow food poisoning bacteria to grow.

Make sure food is defrosted all the way through before cooking to ensure it reaches hot enough temperatures through to the centre.

Freezing food is a convenient method of preservation, yet it can cause the quality of the food to deteriorate. However, losing taste and texture is not the biggest danger of thawing and refreezing meat. If performed in an unsafe manner, bacteria may develop in the meat, which could cause severe illness. To ensure that your meat is free from trichinella and other parasites, always cook meat thoroughly. (Australia has had NO reported Cases of Trichinella due to our clean premium grass fed meat.) But always cook meat as soon as practical after bringing home from a butcher or defrosting.

Warning

Freezing microbes suspends their life cycle, but it does not kill them. When you thaw meat, the microbes can become active and multiply at the same rate as in fresh meat. Under the right conditions, they can multiply enough to cause illness. Freeze leftovers within three to four days, and don’t refreeze any food left out of refrigerator for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 28 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If meat develops or has an odour, discard it.

Do not feed off meat to dogs or cats is can make them as sick as it does humans. next blog will be on this practice, something we do not do at the farm.

defrosting-meat

picture by rodalesorganiclife.com

 

Monday Meal Time

sausages

Monday time to be thinking of dinner? How about something simple one to end the first day of the week?

if you have kids, get them to assist. Look at having a “hotdog” or sausage in bread or even a wrap for those that don’t like bread. Get the size rolls you want and break them open, use butter if you like, it depends on your preference, if you use wraps open them.

Cut some onions, push them apart to be rings,  if you are not about to cook them put them in a bowl with some oil until you are ready to place them on the fry pan or BBQ.

Salad is great in any weather, make sure you have one ready, wash the items, like tomato, lettuce, cucumber, pickle and anything else. Pick your own dressing

Nothing like ketchup or home made tomato sauce and or mustard to give it flavour.

Quick and easy We have gluten free, real lamb or beef sausages.

Nothing is bad if eaten in moderation.

image by”: fr.fanpop.com

Animals in real life

My day starts and ends with feeding 3 orphaned animals and I watch them and pat them as I do it (as best I can holding two bottles)  We currently have Coco, Johnny the merino lambs and Turnbull the Angus bull and they live in our now animal nursery and I watch them for signs of disease, growth and any other conditions that may affect them.I noted this morning Turnbull is without his identifiable red collar, we know who he is and he isn’t likely to get out of the nursery for sometime, he is thriving and doing better since the lambs have arrived.

Coco is still in her coat as she is little and Johnny has taken to finishing his bottle and pushing Coco away to get more milk. This is farming in real life Turnbull will also push his way past both lambs if he finishes drinking first to get more milk, it’s a game of balance and quick sucking by the lambs now, other than this they have become good friends. Even the Golden Retriever makes friends with baby animals, the lambs think he is their mum, I can hear when he heads up to the chicken coup as the lambs run up the fence calling him.

goldie-meets-lambs-14-09-2016

Giving Johnny a lick whilst turnbull and Coco look on.

I know we see the pictures from the Royal Shows where all the animals look clean and are beautifully kept, they are for shows, that is what they are bred for. They are cared for, washed and in some cases blow driers are used to fluff up or down hair, so that you will find them attractive and see the breeder and either buy it or look for the progeny.

They are the show case of that farmers annual work, so you will buy the semen to impregnate your females with or the animal itself. They are also the show case of agriculture teachers who work with students and animals in schools to get them to understand farming, animal husbandry and farming enterprises. They pick the best of the best ways to show these animals and understand how upset students can be when it is taken off to have it’s carcass scored.

Animals in real life though, are always well cared for on most farms are not like that in real life, they live in grass so on some days the sheep can look green in the colour of their wool, they live on red dirt in other districts and throughout Australia so their wool can take on a red look. If it’s muddy they take on the colour of that dirt and mud, that is why wool is a widely sort after textile, as it’s washable, absorbs dyes and is easily cleaned.

I know who knew farmers were not roaming around paddocks making sure that animals were washed, dried and groomed? We are out in the farm (mostly the farmer is) checking on mis-mothering of animals, helping to birth animals and in the worst of cases having to euthanase them. He will sit with binoculars watching the rears of cows checking for size of birthing, to make sure that it happens as well as it should. He can tell the difference between a front or rear foot presentation and knows instinctively whether or not he will be required to pull. He is mostly successful with live births but sometimes stillborns are delivered.

We also have chooks with a rooster, which I don’t like, they become protective of the hens and can fly at you. The one we have currently jumps on a tin as soon as he sees me and I have gone into the pen waving a shovel at it, on one occasion I threw the scrap bucket at it as he flew at me and attacked me. I was lucky I was wearing jeans that day or he would have scratched my legs, stupidly I had to then walk back into the coup and collect the bucket, now I keep the shovel handy, my Melbourne niece and nephew were a bit horrified at this.

This is farming, this is animals and we are all part of the kingdom that needs to share and get along, be it with or without a shovel in my case with the rooster or shoving past 2 little lambs to get more milk. Life is not always about looking the best, thinnest or being the smartest, it is about existing with each other to enjoy the opportunities in front of you with others.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been cold in Australia, despite it being spring, we are only 1.25mm off our annual average rainfall. We have had rains that have filled dams, flood causeways, uprooted trees and I have lambs in coats as it is cold. They also have a shelter home but they walk and eat outside and will sit where they find warmth. I can see the sun shinning through my office window today and it’s been a while.

I was really hungry at lunch and wanted a quick and easy lunch, couldn’t be bothered with a sandwich, I wanted something hot and fulfilling.

I got out a wrap, placed it on an oven tray, used some locally made South Australian grated cheese, poured a little homemade (not by me) tomato sauce on it, put some salami and pepperoni on it and baked it in the oven for 15 minutes at about 180 degrees Celsius.

pizza-wrap

Coco, Johnny & Turnbull

I collected these two very cared for lambs on Saturday and drove them back to the farm with me, they had been very much looked after. They were twins and their mothers rejected them so the place that was breeding them took them in and gave them to families that didn’t want to see them die. Three feeds a day and warmth and company is what they got until it became too much and the beauty of caring for things is also knowing that you have reached a point where someone else needs take over and they get to move to a farm.

They have settled in well with Turnbull, so we are happy to announce the arrival of Johnny and Coco (in the coat). Turnbull would be 4 weeks old the same as Johnny but Coco (originally named chops) is only about 2 weeks old and as it’s cold, I noticed her shivering the other day so she gets to wear a designer old dog coat, till she gets bigger.

This is the animal nursery yard – which was my vegetable garden and they have a shelter which was built by the farmer which they curl up together and sleep in at night and can get out of the rain during the day. Coco baas a lot and I can imagine it would have driven neighbours mad, any sound of human means food, they are far enough away from the house that it isn’t a bothering noise, but close enough to assist should they be in danger. They will be living together for always now and they will be bottle fed till they are about 3 months old, I have changed them from 3 feeds a day to 2, which is easier to manage whilst doing everything else.

When an animal dies or mis-mothered, like in a twin birth, the mother may only accept one,the farmer will bring me the baby calf or lamb to hand rear, most people find this fun. Tt is not fun when they are hungry and they kick you, cattle are known to kick behind when scared. I have had some good leg bruises and the farmer probably has more than he could count. They get scared and kick out. Teaching a young calf to suckle can start with getting them to suck your fingers and them introducing a bottle then moving them onto a fixed feeding bin so that you can limit touch so they can be re-introduced to the mob once they are over 3 months old.

Lambs are a bit more difficult, they are beautiful when they are a couple of days old, much like puppies where they will bond immediately with you, but after about a week, they then baa whenever they see you, not only because they think they are hungry but because they like company. Rearing lambs in the city is difficult, they make a lot of noise and they are smelly (they wee and pooh a lot). Dogs will also eat their droppings and it’s awful, but mostly it’s a commitment that many are prepared for but are unable to commit to due to work and home pressures.

We welcome Johnny & Coco to the every growing, changing and challenging Caloundra Farm here in the Upper South East. You bring with you the gift of life given to you by the families that cared for you both. We thank them very much for thinking of us and asking us if we could have them. Yes, standing in the rain feeding them for me isn’t an issue, it’s called farming.

new-life

 

Hazards and risks

Working and living on a farm brings with it many hazards, bee swarms, walking in animal pooh, charging bulls, fires, barbed wire fencing, sand and farmers. The greatest of all is farmers and sand, farmers take risks none of us would dream about, the stories I have had about the farmer as a lad climbing the windmill, stopping the rotating blades with his foot and fixing it without a harness. This is not something he wouldn’t do these days, not only is he too old and we are changing them to solar, he is aware of the high risk of death should he fall off.

Can you imagine putting your young boys to climb up without a ladder and then stopping the spin with your foot, he tells me he wore many a heel off boots doing this.

windmill 15 4 2016

The other hazard here is the sand, our soil is sand over clay and there has been large amounts of money spent digging up the clay to incorporate it into the sand. This helps crops grow better and sets seeds. It is also kind on animal feet, they don’t walk on hard services and this is good for grass fed animals, “gentle on feet helps make tender meat”. (I just made this up as I wrote)

We also put in clay roads, which are great in summer to drive on but in winter are very slippery and all caution is needed to drive on them when wet. One of the things that is another risk is the sand, it comes in on everything, I see the cats roll in it and come inside and sleep on our bed. I see the dogs, go in and out of the dam roll in the grass and sand and bring it inside, it comes in on the farmers jeans after he has been working all day on the farm, in the cattle and sheep yards.

He takes his boots off, a small mercy as they would (like mine ) also bring in animal droppings. The sand gets into everything, in fact I think it is the main reason why the vacuum cleaner blew it’s bearings the other day, the washing machine empties the sand with each spin and collects in the lint bag, but it also finds it’s way into our bed. Most nights I have to shake my quilt and brush out my bed so as sand doesn’t get into places it shouldn’t. It drives me mad, I changed the sheets today and emptied all of the sand onto the carpet forgetting I have no vacuum to pick it up with.

It’s crazy I know, but some days with all the cats coming inside equal 16 feet, all the dogs, 12 feet and 2 people  means 30 feet carrying sand into the house, on the tiles, floor boards and in the bed. My husband encourages the cats to sleep on the bed and most nights there is a minimum of 1 maximum of 3. Thank god the house dog doesn’t attempt to get up.

How many pets and people do you clean up after? what’s your sand to feet ratio? I suspect we have a cup of sand per day I clean out of the house.

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Leaving the Cattle yards

Leaving the cattle yards can sometimes be akin to leaving home, not all animals that come to a farm, leave the farm for the markets, become food  or to breed on other peoples farm. I have hand reared many an animal over the last few years and these ones have brought more satisfaction than most. It was at a time when I was struggling to understand why I was still here.

If it were not for the fact I was asked to help preserve these beautiful creatures, bottle feed them and care for them during drought and a very cold winter I couldn’t justify mentally why I was here. They will still come up and give me a lick when they see me or come within smelling distance.

I helped the farmer today separate them from the mobs they went to and they re met up with Annie and baby Jeremy, it was a sight to see and unfortunately I did not have my camera. When Annie smelt them she rubbed her head on each of them in recognition and they back, much like cousins or sisters do when they haven’t seen each other for a while. It was Annie and Jeremy’s fault they wander off and joined with the big girls now they are back with each other with a bull to start the breeding process, they are all 18 months old now. Jeremy would be almost 12 months and had a ring placed on his testicles so that he can not breed, he will become a steer and join the big boys later down the track.

No: 11 is Abby born on my birthday and our cousin Abby’s birthday, No 15 is Hope, No 6 is Delilah. Josie is the lamb and No2 is Rosie. This was when we were moving them to separate them.

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