Our eldest doing the mincing, no electrics here!

Our eldest doing the mincing, no electrics here!

During a recent “cool spell “we went and got a killer.  By this I mean the freezer was nearly empty and so we drove out into the paddock, selected a fat little Hereford heifer who wasn’t a particularly good sort, shot her and cut the meat off her. The Hereford’s eat so much better than anything with Bos Indicus in it.  In our opinion!!!!  Probably got a lot to do with what they are eating themselves. We then loaded the meat onto old shearers stretchers on the back of the Toyota and brought it home and hung it all up in the coldroom.  Very satisfying to see the shoulders and the back legs, the rumps, sirloins, rib fillets, neck, briskets and the rib bones all hanging up waiting to age a little, then to be cut up a little more and bagged and then into the freezer.  It also occurs to one that one is going to be doing a lot of butchering in the next week or so.   With those blunt knives.  The magpie family is happy as there are lots of scraps for them and the 2 little dogs are beside themselves with the smell of all that divine beef. They are heartily sick of Chum and My Dog!  The big dogs can also expect some delicious bones and scraps.  It really hurts the hip pocket when we have to buy meat and sometimes we do for various reasons.

We make up a big tub of brine to corn the meat in ( silverside, sometimes some rib bones, brisket etc) this lives in the coldroom for about 10 days, long enough to cure the meat.  We mince certain cuts (with an electric mincer) and also make sausages and rolled roasts.  The shin is diced for stewing meat, some cuts are used for crumbed steak and so we are right for meat for about the next 6 months.

It’s a far cry from when Greg was a boy and all they had was a meathouse to store the meat in while it cooled down and a couple of Kerosene fridges.  Then if they killed a beast it was only ever in the winter and after about a week of having fresh meat they had to salt the rest as the only method of preservation.  The meat was cut into chunks of about 1 or 2 kilos rolled in salt and kept in corn bags in the coolest place they could find. Sometimes hung up in trees.   It also had to be inspected every day to make sure that the flies or ants hadn’t found it, sometimes they would wash the meat and resalt it.  I reckon you would get fairly sick of eating corned meat all the time!  Occasionally they would buy a sheep off a neighbour and kill it for a change in their diet – nice leg of roast mutton would have been a real treat!

Back then meat was the staple in the diet; veg consisted of potatoes, pumpkin and cabbage and maybe some carrots.  Salads were a bit suspect – the ingredients for them were very hard to obtain anyway.  With the exception of tomatoes and onions the rest of the “Salad” usually came out of a tin:  beetroot, peas, corn, bread and butter cucumbers, and for special occasions – asparagus.  Oh, potato salad was also very popular!  Sometimes there were fresh vegies if they had a vegetable garden going, but back in the 50’s and 60’s Australians were a very conservative bunch – there was no multi cultural stuff happening in the food department out here and not much in the cities either unless you happened to have a Greek, Italian or Lebanese for a friend.  So what did they grow in the garden?  Tomatoes were prized as was lettuce and cucumber and then there were the old staples – pumpkin, carrots, silverbeet, beans, peas and beetroot.

It was still very much like this when I came out here in the late 70’s, but we did have a large gas freezer that we checked twice a day to make sure it was still a goer and there were no bits of fluff around the naked flame underneath it.  At least we were now able to freeze the beef instead of salting it.  And we did have a great vegetable garden too when we lived in the Shearers Quarters and also when we first built our house and now I have another one.  Back at that the Shearers Quarters!

We probably still eat more meat than the urban population but it is about 35 % of our diet now not the 70% that was once common.  That’s in my household anyway!  Not the same everywhere I’m sure.

 

Our little old meathouse at the Shearers Quarters.

Our little old meathouse at the Shearers Quarters.

His knives, her knives.

December 6, 2013

His butchering knives.

His butchering knives.

I grew up with a mother who was a fabulous cook, working in restaurants and pub kitchens as THE cook, so aways knew the value and worth of good appliances.  But it seems not everyone does.  We had a volunteer here who carelessly handled my big chef’s knife.  Seriously – she was washing up and I was wiping, I picked up my big knife to put it back in the knife block and it’s got a massive big chip out of the cutting edge – so big that it will take years to eventually be ground away.  Somewhere in the washing up she has banged it on something and caused it big damage.  I’m usually pretty laid back, but I freaked out about it.  So now, they get told as soon as they enter the kitchen about proper respect for my knives or sometimes I just hide them.  AND to never touch Greg’s!!  Heaven forbid.  Even though I might pinch one if mine are too blunt to cut the meat up.  But only for meat.

It makes me cringe to see the way knives are used, cutting stuff on the sink, on the counters, on the plates, sometimes even in saucepans.  Or rattling around in a drawer with all the other utensils.  A knife should be very well cared for – after all it’s pretty dam difficult to get the MOTH to sharpen them.  I try but it’s just not the same!  And when they do become blunt there is only so much you can do with a steel.

Couple of weeks ago we had a nice lady bring us out a carton of wine, she wanted to check the condition of the bottles within the carton.  So plonking the carton down on the counter she grabs my big Swibo  and aims it at the carton.  “No you don’t,” I said, lunging for the knife, before handing her a grotty old serrated one from Kmart.  “Go for your life with that one.”  I must admit when it comes to those type of knives, I have absolutely no respect at all.  They are tools.

But right at the moment all our knives are not too sharp at all.  It’s been sooo long since it rained that they haven’t been sharpened for something like a year!  You see it’s a rainy day job.

My kitchen knives.

My kitchen knives.