A New Year on the Plantation

A New Year on the Plantation

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A New Year on the Plantation

Hello, again:

In these Blue Mountains, the climate is somewhat warmer than you, my esteemed readers, will probably have been experiencing over the last few months.

We have been planning for the Christmas holidays, for almost 10 minutes, now: working out the menu, and some special treats for the dogs: probably get them a nice big, meaty bone, each; that should keep them occupied for a while, until they each decide that one of the other dogs, has got a "better" one, and then the "bone swapping" starts; always done very gently, they just stare each other out, until one gives up, and they exchange the bones!

Christmas shopping is a real hassle; the shops get very crowded, the traffic in Kingston, gets really bad, and then for the 10 days ( until the middle of the first week of the New Year ) holiday, the shops are almost empty of any fresh produce, or meat. So we have to stock up with everything, just like preparing for a hurricane!

Certainly no worries about having to dress up in all the winter gear, Kingston will be in high 80'sF, on even the coldest day, over the holiday period!

This year, I think a real traditional English meal ( a turkey, even a very small one, is far more than I can possibly eat!! even with guests ) so I will go for the Roast Beef, and Yorkshire pudding, with roast potatoes, ( always put a whole clove of garlic, in the oil, that you roast the potatoes, in; gives them a real good flavour, and you can hardly taste the actual garlic ) and what ever fresh vegetable are available: one of my favourites is a mixture of vegetables:-

Fry a large sliced onion, with a couple of cloves of chopped garlic; add 2 large chopped tomatoes, and a chopped green pepper; add salt and pepper, to taste. when cooked, add a little water, and some Chinese style stir fry sauce ( my favourite is a Hoi Sin sauce ), stir well, and add a large handful of chopped Callaloo ( spinach may be the best substitute available for you ) stir well, and allow the "greens" to cook in the steam from the water: serve when the liquid water, has almost all evaporated. Takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and cook. Hardly the "traditional" Christmas fare, but well suited to the climate!!

Shopping, the last time before the holiday, and stock up on everything, all those special treats that one would never buy at any other time of year! 3 weeks worth of food, and the freezer ( only a small one, on top of the fridge ) is packed solid, plenty of bones and meats, for the dogs ( they get a full 2 pounds of meat, over 2 days, between them: cooked with rice, and served with "complete" dog food biscuits ). Depending on what is available, they get pig tongue, chicken gizzards, and beef liver, with the occasional serving of goat lights ( lungs ) and beef kidneys; and they all look VERY healthy on it all!! Once a fortnight they get a large tin of Mackerel, instead of the meat, they are not overly keen on it, but always eat it, and the natural fish oils keep their coats wonderfully "shiny", and healthy looking.

As a special treat, I made some chicken liver Pate ( recipe at end of page ) made an excellent starter for my Christmas dinner. Followed by the roast beef, and Yorkshire pudding: a bottle of 2009 Chilean red wine ( a nice soft wine, full bodied, balanced nicely by the acidity, and excellent value for money, at about US$6.50 ).

Finished the meal with a couple of slices of our local "spice bun", much lighter than a traditional Christmas pudding, but not dissimilar in taste; covered in fresh ( and I mean really, fresh, like a few minutes off the tree! ) sliced banana, and smothered in fresh, pouring, cream.

As it was a "special" occasion, lunch was served ( with a table cloth!! as there are certain "standards" one has to maintain, even 6,000 miles from England!! ) outside, on the balcony: the timing was just right, and we caught the last of the sunshine, before the afternoon mists engulfed us: by which time it was back inside, for the coffee: some specially roasted beans from last seasons "special reserve": superb!!!!!

For supper, some cold roast beef sandwiches, with a generous smear of hot, horseradish sauce, and a few bottles of Di 'Stripe.

This year, we were extremely lucky to find, in one supermarket, some small packs of the "king" of cheeses; a well matured, Stilton: which we saved for Boxing day: and after the selection of cheeses usually available in our supermarkets, it was a reminder to the taste buds, as to what REAL cheese, ought to taste like!!

There is a local cheese ( or that is what they call it!! ) processed from New Zealand cheddar, and fit only for use as "cooking" cheese, or the reward the dogs receive in exchange for the corpse of a rat, when they kill it.

new_year_plantation_1Mid winter, and looking across the valley towards the plantation. What looks like snow on John Crow peak, is just the sun catching the mist around the peak!

So as not to confuse the dogs, both rats and mice, are called "rats"; and do they love a good "rat hunt", with a reward for getting it!!

Have totally lost all count of the mice they have caught, but, to date, the score in rats, is 53, almost one a month, on average, since they got their first one: for most of the year, the rats ( they are the local "wood" rats, smaller than the urban rats, and a silver/grey in colour ) they live in the trees, where they often make a nest inside a bunch of bananas, which is their favourite food, and the bait used in the rat-traps. They only come in or around the house, during "inclement" weather, or at "breeding time": any stupid enough to come near the house, have a very short life expectancy!! with sets of sharp teeth, attached to a hunting, dog pack: once spotted, very few escape!!

It is fascinating to watch them hunting a rat, once they have partially cornered it ( in one room, with the door shut to prevent it escaping ) I have to flush it out with a machete, and top dog ( Mutley ) is in there first, closely followed by number 2 dog ( D'Arcy ) and the baby ( Becky: hardly a baby any more, at just over 2 years old ) stands a few feet behind the others, covering the escape routes, in case the first two dogs miss it.

The dead rat, is a great "prize", and they all get the reward ( a piece of cheese ) regardless of which one of them actually killed it: I do not want them eating the rats, so the cheese in always given in "exchange" for it!

The rats up here, are real "country" wild rats, they carry no diseases, and the dogs have caught fleas from them, only once: if one has to have rats around, these rats would be the preference!!

Recently there have been quite a few farms, raided by wild pigs ( anyone know the name for a "pack" of pigs?? a "snortery", seems quite adequate! ) they raid the farms, dig up almost everything, and eat the root vegetables, and all the stuff they don't actually eat ( most of what they dig up ) is ruined. There are a couple of locals who hunt them, one with an ancient shotgun, which he loads with ( or replaces the shot with ) a solid lump of lead, hammered around a large iron nail! He uses a pack of dogs to locate the pigs ( they are always referred to as "hogs", over here ) and sells the meat.

The only thing that anyone has found to use as a "hog repellent", is a burning car tyre, they keep well away from the stink of the burning rubber!!

We have been fortunate, so far, and have not been raided, which may be something to do with the dogs barking ( apparently at nothing ) when they can sense the snortery, nearby: the leader is a large black hog, which we have seen digging up a plantation, across the gully. We phoned the farmer ( Chris's half brother ) but he was away working on a road repair job, and suffered a lot of damage to his newly planted crops, all his ganga plants were destroyed ( not sure how I feel about that: ganga is illegal, but I have no objection to people using it, only the vast profits of the big dealers! my belief is that it should by put in the same classification as alcohol, and tobacco: legal, freely available, but heavily taxed ).

They will never be able to eradicate the problem, as it grows wild around here, and I have found several wild bushes growing amongst my coffee, I just tell Chris to destroy the bush, which he does ( in truth, after he has picked the "crop"!! and the unwritten "arrangement" is that he can do this, as long as he does not sell any of it, and just keeps it for his own, personal, use ).

We are getting a real treat from the TV tonight, "Last of the Mohicans", have seen the film many times before, but the sound track is superb, as writing I can listen to the haunting melody, without the need to watch the film, for the umpteenth time!

January and February, are the busiest months of the year for us; the peak of the coffee picking season, and we have already picked more coffee than for the whole of last year. The cherries are looking excellent, all big and heavy, which promises some really top quality coffee: the coffee already "in processing" supports this promise, with a large proportion of very big beans, and very few "floaters".

We ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago, running out of drying space under the plastic tents.

Now that we are processing the coffee fruit husks ( which contain some 4 times the amount of polyphenols ( antioxidants ) than any other known plant ) as well as the coffee beans, we had to rebuild the drying tents. Changing the design, we managed to almost double the amount of available space, under the same plastic sheet, as well as making the whole "tent" much stronger and more wind resistant.

The main frame is made from bamboo stems, cut from the plantation, the roof struts are made from the thin stems of a Hibiscus bush which had to be severely pruned, before it "took over" the garden!!


The new drying tent, with a background of "sunlit mist", not a forest fire!!

Today's recipe: Chicken Liver Pate:


Gently fry, in the minimum amount of oil ( preferably some Virgin coconut oil ), about a pound of chicken livers with onion and garlic, salt, pepper, herbs and spices: when the liver is cooked, add a very little water, and stir in some tomato paste: allow to partially cool, before mincing ( this can done in a hand mincer for a coarse texture, or a food processor, for a fine, texture ) and then stir in some fresh, double cream, leave in the 'fridge until fully cold: serve on very thinly sliced toast, butter, salsa, etc; as optional extras.

Until next time

Robin Plough, friend of www.coffee4dummies.com

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A Visit to Paradise
A year in the life..What makes JBM, the 'legend' of coffee?
Assessing your coffee (part 1)
Assessing your coffee (part 2)
Assessing your coffee (part 3)
Economics of JBM. Part 1
Economics of JBM. Part 2
Everything you wanted to know about the Coffee Board
Growing a coffee plant at home
Growing Coffee. Part 1
Growing Coffee. Part 2
Growing Coffee. Part 3
Growing Coffee. Part 4
Growing Coffee. Part 5
Growing: Part 1
Growing: Part 2
Jamaican food (part 1)
Jamaican food (part 2)
Jamaican food (part 3)
Jamaican newsletter
Living in Paradise: Part I
Living in Paradise: Part II
Living in Paradise: Part III
Processing our coffee (part 1)
Processing our coffee (part 2)
Random thoughts on the end of the world
Random thoughts on the end of the world (II)
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 1
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 2
SPECIAL: Coffee borer beetle in Hawaii
Trivia and other ramblings: part 1
Trivia and other ramblings: part 2
Tropical Storm Nichole
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