Monday, March 21, 2011

A moth invasion (and red wine reduction)

Life has been busy, and I haven't had a weekend free to sit at home and do whatever I want to in ages. That is, until the weekend just gone. I'd had plans to read my new book (The Paleo Solution, a book I bought on the recommendation of someone who responded to my post about doing intensive exercise on SCD and what to eat), write a blog post, and just generally relax and unwind. It didn't happen - it very rarely does, I suppose - life always gets in the way. But it was a good weekend all the same, apart from the moth invasion.

It's been going on for a couple of weeks now, these tiny little moths, fluttering around the kitchen and hallway, and occasionally in the cupboards. The kitten loves them - she watches them with the intensity of a hunter, with concentration that she doesn't have for anything else. And when they sit on the ceiling or high up on the walls and she can't reach them, she runs back and forth, making this little "aackaackaack" noise. Then when they come within her reach, they are pounced and devoured, and she looks around forlornly, wanting to know where the fun went.

Mid Sunday afternoon, I discovered the source of much kitten-fun in my pantry, in packets of nut meal, jars of nuts, cocoons in corners and under shelves. So Sunday afternoon turned into kitchen spring (or more technically correctly, autumn) cleaning. Those nuts that could be salvaged have now been soaked and dried, packets have been removed and cleaned, shelves and walls have been washed, and contents have been restored, to reveal much more space in my cupboards than I knew I had. So not all bad really.

The other exciting event of the weekend was making a red wine reduction that a friend of ours served at dinner last year, delicious with blue cheese and dried pear, or brie and dried peach, or I'm sure any other cheese you care to think of. I've been meaning to try it since then, and a 10% voucher, and discovering the same bottle shop had some $2.99 bottles of red (ghastly stuff, but it doesn't matter for present purposes) finally instigated action. So 6 bottles of cheap, nasty red in had (plus a dozen good drinking bottles!), we headed home.

The directions we had were to add some spices (we went with 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cloves and 6 allspice) and to steam, not simmer, the wine over a low heat until it reduces. The consistency is like a thick molasses, and took almost 8 hours to achieve. We started out in a huge thick bottomed pot, keeping the temperature at around 80C, and when we got down to about 1L of liquid (still quite liquidy at this stage) transferred it to a smaller pot. We took the spices out after maybe 4 hours. Once it started to thicken, a quick taste made mouths pucker, so we started adding some honey. Then some more, and a bit of salt, then some more honey. In the end, we had about 300mls of syrup, containing maybe 150mls of honey (though that would have reduced somewhat too) and about a tsp of rock salt. 

There were several test pieces of cheese over the course of the afternoon, and when the reduction was transferred loving to a storage container and the fridge, a trip to the supermarket yielded some Tasmanian brie. The verdict: quite delicious, if somewhat pricey. If you can find some really cheap red, it is well worth the effort, and I expect the 6 bottles of wine to last much longer than the 12 bottles for drinking!

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