Rural round-up

October 6, 2012

No chance government will legislate to restrict meat capacity – Allan Barber

After the announcement last week of Alliance Group’s intention to close sheepmeat processing at its Mataura plant, union representative Gary Davis called for the government to intervene. This was no doubt caused more by frustration over the loss of jobs than any realistic expectation that the government would interfere in a commercial situation.

Alliance has made a business decision based on declining sheep numbers, brought about largely by land use change to dairy. The South Island’s share of national dairy production continues to increase every year with the result that more beef processing is needed at the expense of sheep chains. Hence Alliance took the logical decision to retain beef processing at Mataura and to transfer sheepmeat to Lorneville. . .

Oilseed rape industry a goer!

Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Industry Group welcomes the news that Solid Energy has received a bid to buy its Agribusiness division as a going concern.

“After hearing a few weeks ago there was a possibility that Solid Energy could simply shut the doors at Biodiesel New Zealand, this is the news that oilseed rape growers have been waiting for,” says Federated Farmers South Canterbury Grain & Seed Chairman and oilseed rape grower, Colin Hurst.

“Growing oilseed rape requires a significant commitment because the seeds can stay in the ground and stop you growing any other brassica for as long as ten years. . .

Swiss cows send texts to announce they’re in heat – John Tagliabue:

When Christian Oesch was a boy on his family’s hog farm, cellphones were a thing of the future. Now, Mr. Oesch tends a herd of dairy cattle and carries a smartphone wherever he goes. Occasionally he gets an SMS from one of his cows.

That is because Mr. Oesch, 60, who cares for a herd of 44 Red Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, is helping to test a device that implants sensors in cows to let farmers know when they are in heat. When that is the case, the device sends an SMS to the farmer’s phone. The Swiss do not settle for half measures: the SMS can be in any one of Switzerland’s three main languages — German, French and Italian — plus English or Spanish. . .

Should we bother trying to get consumers closer to farmers? – Pasture Harmonies:

It is often said that farmers need to get closer to consumers.

And while it is possible, and some marketers have set up the facility to, for a bar code (or QR code) to show exactly where a piece of meat came from, even though that’s good it’s not really the point.

Sure, often the marketer will be telling a story associated with the meat’s provenance.

However, my argument is that within the huge quantity of meat sold around the world, the brave battle of such tiny efforts is worthy but not enough. . .

God’s country -Charmian Smith:

Central Otago is “God’s country when it comes to pinot    noir”, Australian wine writer James Halliday wrote in Panorama    in 2000. At the region’s 25th anniversary celebration at the    weekend, Charmian Smith asked him if he thinks it still    applies.

In 1990, James Halliday, elder statesman of Australian wine,  opened Gibbston Valley Wines, the region’s first  purpose-built winery and restaurant. He was privately      thinking that there was no way good wine was going to be made there, he says, and he warned Alan Brady and his investors that wineries had an inexhaustible appetite for funds – something many have found since.

Halliday has been to Central many times since, obviously revising his opinion about the quality of the wine. Last weekend he was back for the 25th anniversary celebrations of  the region’s first wine produced for sale, a 1987 Rhine Riesling made from the few grapes the half-dozen pioneers could get together from their little plots of vines. . .


Ladies A Plate wins PANZ design award

September 5, 2009

 Ladies A Plate, the 21st century tribute to 20th century baking, won the PANZ design award.

It’s a lovely book – so good that mine has gone north for a while with a student who uses it for stress release.

Charmian Smith from the ODT interviewed its author, Alexa Johnston, when the book was published last year:

In the 1970s, as a feminist, she believed political and social change were necessary for women to have control of their own lives, but she still chose to bake as a hobby.

“Feminism is about choice and baking was a choice. For some women it was a huge relief not to have to bake.

“Now where feminism is, it is still possible to make a choice, and I think baking is a better way of spending your time and money than going out and buying stuff – and you end up with a better result, too,” she said.

“When you bake for other people it gives them pleasure as well. It’s a bit of a win-win situation.”

I used to bake several times a week but when I stopped feeding our staff I stopped baking too.

However, now I don’t have to do it I sometimes choose to do it and have come to enjoy baking again.

A gift from the home kitchen is a gift from the heart which, as Alexa says, brings pleasure to the baker and the recipient.


Ladies a plate

November 2, 2008

The smell of baking always takes me back to my childhood and the delight of coming home from school to the warmth of the kitchen and Mum’s freshly baked biscuits and cakes. 

My brothers and I liked to help her although, just how helpful we were is a moot point when much of our assitance involved testing the raw mixture in spite of her warnings it would give us worms.

Bought biscuits made very rare appearances in our home and ironically were regarded as treats because familiarity blunted our appreciation of Mum’s baking which was far better.

When I left home Mum’s recipes went with me and baking was a regular work avoidance activity when I was a student.

My mother-in-law was a champion baker, renowned for both the quality and quantity of what she produced. One or her nephews recounts the story of sitting in her kitchen, enjoying her baking as she tipped the contents of a cake tin into the hen bucket to make room for the fresh biscuits.

When I moved to the farm it went without saying that I was expected to bake too so there would always be something in the tins for workers, stock agents and anyone else who dropped in.

And I did for several years then both my farmer and I decided we’d be better off without baking so I stopped.

Our daughter was still at primary school at the time so I said I’d buy biscuits for her lunch. She enjoyed the novelty of that for a while, but then started baking herself because real biscuits were much nicer than bought ones.

While I’ve never gone back to baking at least once a week as I used to, I haven’t given it up completely.

Every now and then when the mood, or work avoidance, takes me; a special occasion calls for something sweet or a treat from the kitchen is required I get back in to baking, and doing it irregularly makes it much more enjoyable.

And I’m not alone in finding this domestic art can be fun because I read that home baking is back in vogue and Alexa Johnston has written a book about it, called Ladies A Plate.

Charmian Smith interviewed her and found:

In the 1970s, as a feminist, she believed political and social change were necessary for women to have control of their own lives, but she still chose to bake as a hobby.

“Feminism is about choice and baking was a choice. For some women it was a huge relief not to have to bake.

“Now where feminism is, it is still possible to make a choice, and I think baking is a better way of spending your time and money than going out and buying stuff – and you end up with a better result, too,” she said.

“When you bake for other people it gives them pleasure as well. It’s a bit of a win-win situation.”

The rest of Charmian’s interview of Alexa is here.


Kai moana

September 17, 2008

Charmian Smith interviews Moeraki’s queen of cuisine Fleur Sullivan as a preview to the launch of the book Fleurs Place by Graham Warman and Paul Sorrell here.

At risk of trespassing on Roarprawn’s territory, I can recommend the kai moana platter to which Fleur refers. It’s a tasting selection of whatever’s fresh that day  which is mana for seafood fans and a great way to introduce less adventurous diners to a wide variety of fish and seafood.


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