raoul's blog

Tucsonm AZ

Yes, you read that right, we are moving to Tucson, Arizona. This might come as a surprise to many of you, in fact, it comes as a surprise to us too. We had never really intended moving to the USA, but in the last few months a number of things have happened that have prompted us to re-evaluate where we live, and this has resulted in us making the decision to move to the USA. Read more about We're Moving to Arizona, USA!...

Cola Gammon with Maple and Mustard Glaze

This blog post is long overdue. In fact, I meant to write this post shortly after Easter this year. It's been sitting in my to-do list since then. Oh well, rather late than never!

For our family Christmas last year I made roast gammon, but Hannah and I wanted to make it a little more like the gammon she grew up with. Then I heard a weird story: instead of boiling your gammon in water, boil it in cola. Apparently the acid in the cola helps to break down the gammon a little and make it that much more tender. We loved the Christmas gammon so much, we decided to make it for Easter again.

Hannah found two recipes online which I used as the base of mine. One was a normal maple and mustard glaze recipe, the other included the cola.

Another reason for writing this recipe (other than the gammon comes out amazingly awesome) is because I'm tired of reading recipes where the writer assumes that you know everything there is to know about this subject. Hello, I wouldn't be using your recipe if I knew how to make gammon.

Often recipes call for exact amounts or weights, and with the gammon we get in the shops, that is unlikely to happen. Hannah found instructions on how long you need to cook the gammon according to its weight, and I've included it below.

Read more about Coke Gammon with Maple and Mustard Glaze...

Making Apple Cider

A while back I decided I wanted to try my hand at making hard apple cider. I've been talking about it for quite a few months now, and I finally got the opportunity to go and get my first piece of equipment, a glass carboy fermenter.

Glass Carboy FermenterThis is the first cement step toward actually doing what I said, so this means I need to commit to see it through to the end.

Fermenting Apples and Making Cider

At this stage, I have a fair idea of what I need to do, but I'm going to be doing a whole lot more reading up on the actual process of crushing, pressing, fermenting and bottling the cider. I know I'm going to need to make a cider press if I really want to get as much juice out of the apples as possible, so I've been researching how to make a cheap but effective cider press. I've come across a couple of blog posts of seemingly easy-to-make presses, and some actual instructions supposedly by Jamie Oliver. I also found a nice video of a fairly simple press.

I also need to figure out how to crush the apples. In one of the above blog posts, they use a sledge hammer (!!), but another site that details the process suggests using a juicer or other more commercial tools. I'm pretty sure Hannah would love a juicer, so I think that's probably going to be my best bet.

Of course, the cider forums on Homebrewtalk.com is a mine of information and advice, which I aim to make extensive use of.

For now, however, I have lots of reading to do. And a cider press to build.


[ apples image credit: Apples by Steve P2008 ]

Read more about Making Apple Cider: The Beginning...

Today's #5MFW is a guest post by none other than me! (aka Raoul)

What are you expecting?

It's a question every parent and parent-to-be is asked when there is a baby on the way. Unlike the bad old days, everyone wants to find out the gender of their new addition to the family. Personally, I don't. As Hannah has explained to numerous friends (over and over again), for me finding out the gender is the only thing that makes the pregnancy exciting. And so we get this question time and time again until baby is born. Read more about 31 Days of Parenting Littles: Expect...

This afternoon I got home to find a Hadeda Ibis in our back yard. Some friends came round to clean up the garden yesterday, and the birds seem to love the shorter grass.

Surprise Visit Read more about A Surprise Visit...

I've just installed and set up a new commenting system on our blog. We're now using a commenting system called "Disqus" (pronounced "discuss"), which enables visitors to log in using Facebook, Twitter or Google, rather than having to actually register on the site.

Happy commenting! Read more about New Commenting System!...

Demon Hunter

As we've previously noted, Zak enjoys listening to music as much as I do. Almost every time we get in the car I turn the music on, and with this Zak expects to hear music.

The other day he and I went shopping, and as I pulled off Zak said to me, "Music please Daddy!"

So I obliged and pulled out the radio face. As I plugged it in, I asked Zak, "What do you want to listen to?" Read more about Daddy's Little Metal-Head...

Zak, like any other toddler, is learning anatomy as he grows up. We have many notable moments of hilarity when Zak announces certain anatomical and medical "facts" to us.

When Zak was sick a little while back, Hannah taught him about how the "white blood cells fight yucky germs" and so he often announces that to anyone who will hear him, including little old ladies in the grocery store.

The one day, Zak proudly announced to me, when I was kissing him goodnight in his bed, that "white blood cells fight yucky germs in the nipples!" Read more about Anatomy Lessons from a Toddler...

My father-in-law, Howard, is big into fair trade goods. This means that goods are generally bought directly from the farmer, labourer or artisan, at a fair price, before being sold to you.

I can understand completely why he likes to support fair trade, and I have decided to see if I can do similar. Unfortunately, I can't always, as money is tight and generally the cheapest option wins for us (especially at the moment).

Recently, however, Cadbury's in South Africa had some huge news as far as fair trade is concerned. Their milk chocolate bars (the plain chocolate ones) are certified fair trade, and proudly display the Fair Trade logo on their wrappers. I was even more delighted to see that I could buy them at my local grocery store, and at the same price its always been. How awesome is that?

Below is a photo of the bars with their green and blue logo:

Fair Trade Cadbury's Chocolate Read more about Fair Trade Chocolate!...