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Food , Fire and Fun

July 13, 2016



Food , fire and fun- now that just about sums up winter really. Not so much fun outdoors at the moment but there’s a lot to be said for good food, a roaring fire and a rousing bout of Settlers of Catan board game. When the cold sets in we all seek comfort in different things, for us it is food, a warm fire and some much needed rest and family time. Life gets so busy over the spring and summer and even into the autumn with farm chores that we are all out till late at night with different activities. Winter is that time to slow down, the garden is quiet and resting for the spring season, the cows are quietly waiting to calve and night closes in quickly.


Food during the winter often consists of warming stews and soups and puddings made with the preserves put away during the spring and summer. Mr Butler loves anything with the preserved Black Doris Plums. One of his favourites is Plum Clafouti, I use Donna Hays recipe:

Plum Clafouti, Donna Hay, “Modern Classic 2”

  • Butter, softened for greasing
  • Caster sugar for dusting
  • 7 Blood plums about 700g,halved and stoned ( I use preserved plums)
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Cream
  • 3 eggs
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease an 8 cup ovenproof dish with butter and dust with sugar. Place the plums in the dish, cut-side up. Place the flour, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Add the cream and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture around the plums in the dish and bake for 35-40min or until the pudding is puffed and golden. Serve hot with more cream or ice cream.

Golden Clafouti fresh out of the oven.

I think food is so important for both nourishing the body and feeding the soul. Winter can be a dreary, depressing and miserable time of year and food can both warm our bodies and cheer our souls. I love to feed my family both nourishing food and things that make them smile. A plate full of cookies , their favourite cake or a warming tasty stew.

What are some of your favourite things to do to see the winter out?

Now I realise that is has been quite some time since my last post. Unfortunately rural technology is not all that reliable and we have been without internet for nearly a year. But hooray for advancement, we have just been able to connect again.



In My Kitchen July.

July 9, 2015

July already , June just seems to have slipped by unnoticed and suddenly we are in the second half of the year.

Winter in the Homestead kitchen is a bit slower and more relaxed with lots of soup and bread. The preserves are in the pantry and there is some cheese in the fridge and not a lot growing in the vegetable garden so there is  time to relax a bit and keep warm till the spring rolls round again. Time to recharge the batteries ready for when the garden bursts to live and the farm bursts to life.

In my kitchen at the moment are as I said lots of soup, this one was a spicy lentil one from Arabia, I am enjoying trying soups from a wide range of countries.


As usual there is bottles of bubbling beverages in our home. And to take the guess work out of identifying which type it is I diligently label them.
On a day trip away I found this little string holder to make labelling just that bit easier and it’s so cute to boot.

On that same trip to a little historic village I manage to pick up a bag of new season walnuts. I have visions of chocolate banana loaf in our homestead future. With lashings of chocolate icing.

On a recent trip to a farmers market we picked up this lovely little bottle of coffee liquor , organic coffee with cinnamon. Such a treat on a rainy cold winters evening.

Hope your all keeping warm in this wintery weather. If you lucky enough to be in the warmth of summer, enjoy.
Thanks to Celia at  Fig jam and Lime Cordial. . Check out Celia’s fabulous blog and all the great blogs that contribute to the monthly In My Kitchen.

In My Kitchen-May 2015

May 9, 2015

Well the days are getting shorter and the weather cooler, time to wind down and relax? Sounds like a great idea, but even in the shorter darker days of winter there are things to do.

With the garden mostly asleep now is a great time to get out the sewing or knitting that has all lain neglected during the long, warm productive days of summer. I don’t know about you but I always look to winter with dread, I am a warm blooded person who thrives in warmer, sunnier days. Every winter I need to think of new projects to do and gather new recipes to try to keep myself warm and busy.  I like to create bright coloured things in winter to add colour and warmth to the house. So all the fabric comes out to choose some bright colours for new tablecloths, tea-towels and bright cheery clothes. Do you have any projects or special things you do during winter to bring some cheer to the dark cold days of winter? So this winter I plan on redoing all the hand towels in the kitchen.

As usual there is so much going on it’s hard to decide what to share, something i can’t help but post is my new serving board my amazing husband made me it is from recycled native NZ wood, Rimu.

On the board that day was Gluten free Sourdough with homemade Almond-Sunflower butter with our own honey drizzled over it.


There has been more preserving and this pot of rhubarb and quince was cooked into the most amazing fruit puree that I love having on my morning porridge.


As I posted last month there is sourdough happenings in my kitchen- gluten free sourdough to be exact. A few people asked about the recipe so as promised here it is. Now I can’t take credit for the recipe it is from the talented Nicola at Homegrown Kitchen

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

1 cup brown rice flour ( I grind the rice flour fresh, from organic brown rice)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon whey or water kefir (not absolutely necessary but assists the fermentation)

(Note: do not use glutinous white rice flour, from experience this makes the starter very gluggy).

Put the ingredients into a clean ceramic or glass bowl and whisk well to aerate (the purpose here is to incorporate natural yeasts found in the air into the mix). Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place. For the next 4 days feed every 8 hours with 1/3 cup flour (as above) and a 1/4 cup water. Whisk to combine, you want a consistency similar to a pancake batter. After about 4 days the mix will start to ‘breathe” with bubbles on the surface and smell sweetly sour and yeasty (not offensive). In cooler weather or if you haven’t used whey or water kefir to activate the starter it may take 7-10 days to start bubbling. Once you have bubbles you are ready to bake.

Looking after your starter:

Continue to feed the starter with the same quantity of flour (1/3 cup) and water (1/4 cup) once a day. Keep covered lightly with a clean tea towel. If using less than twice a week keep the starter ‘dormant’ in the fridge. Bring it out to room temperature a day before making bread to ‘awaken’ the yeasts, feeding with 1/2 cup flour and approx. 1/3 cup water to make a pancake like batter. See above for what I do if the starter gets too sour (it will have a strong offensive sour smell).  Keep the starter in a place where the temperature is relatively consistent and not too warm. I always keep my starter in the corner of my kitchen bench away from the oven and direct sunlight.

In my kitchen there is bottles of vanilla steeping (not ready for another few weeks) and a large jar of preserved lemons. These lemons get put in casseroles and in Couscous, they add such intense flavour to food, I am enjoying finding new dishes just to put the preserved lemons in.


In my kitchen at the moment I am cooking a lot of Granola, paticularly Chocolate Granola. I am tweaking the recipe all the time to my older teenage daughters delight. It is a grain free, no refined sugar antioxidant rich mix that I have just about got right. My daughter is happy to keep recipe testing.


Do you have any favourite flavours to add to dishes in your kitchen?

Thanks to  the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen. Take a few moments to head on over to her site to check out lots of other kitchens.

In My Kitchen

April 8, 2015

I’m so excited to be doing my very first IMK link up post.
Our kitchen in the homestead is always a pretty busy place.  Aside from the normal day-to-day meals there is usually some kind of fermenting going on,  maybe some preserving or even some cheese making.
Fermenting is such a rewarding thing to do, making something different and oh so good for you. Turning sweet tea into a fizzy tonic (kombucha), flour and water into a bowl of wild yeast starter, even milk into a drink packed with probiotic goodness or just good old yogurt.

You can have all sorts of tools to help with these things or just the kitchen basics.  My new tool this month is a Komo grain mill , perfect for grinding fresh organic grains for the sourdough starter.


Such a beautiful machine it is and such a pleasure to use.  Below is a very bubbly bowl of gluten-free sourdough starter using freshly ground brown rice flour.


Our pantry is filling up nicely this month with preserves. Family favourites include these gorgeous bottles of black doris plums. And this year I have the pleasure of trying out Quinces for the first time, picked from the gnarly ancient tree behind our house. My favourite way to eat them so far, is to lightly poach them in syrup then to top them with fresh homemade yogurt. One word, yummy.

Autumn is also a time to harvest honey, so this last week we visited our lovely bees. We only take a little leaving plenty for the bees over winter. We use the crush and strain method from our naturally drawn combs, which gets us a bit of propolis and pollen too.
Well that’s a snap shot of some of what’s going on in our kitchen this month.
Thanks to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial  for the link up.

Where does the time go?

April 3, 2015


I realize it  has been extremely quiet on the blog. But believe me it’s not so quiet elsewhere.  The Homestead is buzzing and that’s not just because of the royal family in the beehive.
There has been 7 kid goats born,  2 lambs raised and many baby chicks born.


The kid goats seem to think the farm truck is a great jungle gym.  Whenever they escape the paddock ( which is often) the little monkeys go straight for the truck.  Fortunately the lambs are a lot more occupied with eating grass to be naughty.


The view as always spectacular,  even in the rain.  But rain, hail, snow or sun the cows need to be milked.  This was taken as I was bringing the girls in to be milked in the afternoon.

As Autumn starts  and all our baby animals grow and the garden starts to wind down to sleep for the winter, I ponder what I will do to keep busy in the cooler, darker months of winter at the bottom of New Zealand here. I find I crave bright colors and creativeness during winter.

Knitting comes to mind as does that patchwork bed quilt that has not been started yet. Or even the quilt to finish for my youngest homesteader. I think of warm cooking, slow cooked casseroles, warm fudgy cakes and puddings and hearty thick soups with fresh homemade bread. Like this tasty spelt sourdough loaf.wpid-img_20140811_165521.jpg

All these things conjure up images of quiet nights by the fire with a warm soup and something crafty to do. Knitting is great because as you knit you can create a warm blanket on your knee. I usually don’t knit all that much, dish cloths and scarves so far have been as adventurous as I have gotten, maybe this winter it is time to expand my skill set and create something just a little bit more substantial, say a blanket.

Tell me what do you do to ward of any winter blue feelings? Maybe you live somewhere warm and don’t get the short, cold winter days of southern New Zealand.

How do you keep warm and busy during the slower winter months?

Baking calving and other stuff.

August 12, 2014


I think if  everybody had views like this outside their house we would all be a lot happier . A view like this brightens even a dark day. 


Even a day like this hold its own beauty and magic. 

Well calving on the farm has started and it is busy and muddy but such a great time of year welcoming the next generation of cows to the herd. 


I seem to be doing an extraordinary amount of baking lately,  trawling blogs and cookbooks for new, fun and yummy things to feed to the hungry farmer. 
He is very appreciative and encourages more trawling for new recipes and ideas. 
I’m so excited to start using more raw cream and milk in my cooking and make more cheese. 

This cake may not have any milk or cream but teamed with fresh Greek yogurt and it’s amazing.  Mr Butler’s  verdict “perfect “.


This is Petite Kitchen’s  recipe for

Boiled orange chocolate cake. 

2 oranges
2 cups ground almonds
4  heaped tbsp good quality cocoa
5  heaped tbsp honey
5 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Place whole oranges in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 hour. Drain and then allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a cake tin with butter or coconut oil. Cut oranges in half and place in to a food processor (skin pith, flesh and all). Blitz until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blitz again until smooth.

Pour in to the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from tin or it may break. 

Once the cake has cooled down completely, dust with cocoa if desired.

*gluten free
*grain free
*wheat free
*dairy free
*refined sugar free – See more at:

So many other cakes and cookies that I won’t bore you with this time. 
Till next time happy cooking and enjoy each day what ever the weather. 

Easter break.

April 24, 2014

A valid excuse to eat chocolate till you feel sick, isn’t that what Easter is about? Some seem to think so. For us it is the most important time of the year, a time to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made to save us. A time to spend with family and rejoice in the Risen Lord. A time for both reflection and joy. 

Don’t get me wrong an excuse to eat chocolate who doesn’t love that. 

It just so happened that this year Mr Butlers birthday was the day before Good Friday. In family tradition we had birthday persons choice for tea, well  very glad that is a once a year thing, he chose Kentucky Fried chicken. Very happy not to eat that again for another 12 months. First bite is nice but then the fat sets in and you feel a bit sickly.  But I did manage to bake a French Chocolate Sliver Cake for his birthday cake so that made up for all the KFC. It a deliciously rich dense cake with chocolate ganache smothered on top. Yummy. Fabulous for a special birthday.

I have been cooking loads of Mediterranean food and yummy curries, this one is a couscous and spicy lamb dish.

With homemade yogurt on top. Image

Isn’t it funny as you get older your tastes change and you appreciate so many more flavors, I think 20 years ago if I had tried to feed this to Mr Butler he may of thought me mad. Now he requests food like this all the time, no longer content to be just a meat and 3 veg man. I love the opportunity that gives me to experiment with all sorts of different cultures foods. For lunch today we had a home corned beef and pickles, sourdough and sauerkraut, topped of with some dutch mustard and you have a very happy hubby.


Lovely corned beef we did at home from local pasture feed meat. Just the right amount of fat in it to stay moist and tasty.


With so much to do lately I decided it was time to make a big batch of granola to have for a quick breakfast, what I didn’t count on was that the recipe I used would nearly fill my 5 litre jar. This lovely crunchy looking granola ended up being about 3 litres. I think that should keep me going for a while, even with the inevitable snacking that has been going on. It is quite irresistible just sitting atop the fridge there. The crunch of almonds, puffed quinoa  and oats all toasted with some of our very own honey who can blame me for the odd handful during the day.

I do hope your Easter time was enjoyable and full of chocolate.