Sunday, 20 December 2015

Brumbies

As many of you will know, the ancient and fragile Australian natural environment is now plagued by feral and introduced animals which cause damage ranging from extirpating native species to erosion and desertification. What you may not be fully aware of is just how many different types of animals have gone feral in Australia. There are goats, cattle, camels, cats, horses, donkeys, buffaloes, pigs and dogs all roaming freely in National Parks or other public lands, and on large farming properties.  Quite apart from the non-domesticated introduced wild animals such as foxes, rabbits and deer.

In many places feral horses, known as brumbies, are a big problem. Whilst the public is willing to accept government programmes to shoot feral donkeys, buffaloes and goats, horses are seen as special. As a result, in the Northern Territory, the control of buffalo and donkeys is well established and adequate. Horses are another matter. The mob (as herds are called in Australia) in the photo above were enjoying the grass at a visitor centre in Kakadu National Park. The Aboriginal woman who runs the centre told me they were a pain, leaving manure where she has to sweep it up and being a danger to tourists who want to go up to them and pat them. These horses are not tame, and although habituated to people, the stallion will get aggressive if he feels people are getting too close to his harem. On a more serious environmental level, these are hard hoofed animals in a landscape evolved for soft footed kangaroos, and Australian native dung beetles don't know what to do with horse manure.

Much as I like horses myself, and despite being an avid reader of Elyne Mitchell's Silver Brumby stories as a child, these horses have to go. I spent my childhood on the fringes of the Victorian high country, where there is also a significant brumby problem. To read more about it, see this article in the Guardian from last year.
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A la cuisine hier: Fingers crossed for some kimchi I laid down yesterday. Simon developed a taste for the spicy Korean fermented cabbage and vegetables dish when he was in Korea ten years ago. We bought a Korean book translated into English on how to make the stuff, but the recipes are all a bit off and my one and only attempt was way too salty. This time I'm using a recipe from French food writer Clotilde Dusoulier, so hopefully any lack of authenticity is made up for in good practical kitchen common sense.

I took off the outer leaves of the cabbage and blanched them for use stuffed with the boring leftover picadillo. Jazzed up with a good strong tomato sauce they ought to be alright.

11 comments:

  1. I remember when I did kimchi years ago I did one batch with a salt cure, and another with vinegar. I thought both were pretty good, but then I like vinegar. I don't supposed the authentic kimchi has any vinegar in it.

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    1. Simon likes vinegar too. I'm not a fan. The kimchi book says that by law a certain amount of lactic, acetic or citric acid may be present or added to commercial kimchi, but none of the recipes contain vinegar as an ingredient for homemade kimchi.

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    2. I just went down to our cellier and located a final jar of kimchi that I must have made in January 2010. I opened it — not an easy task as it was really sealed — and dumped the contents into a bowl to inspect the cabbage. It smells delicious and looks beautiful. Do you think I dare eat it? Walt and I have both tasted it already. The cabbage pieces are slightly crunchy and it has a lot of carrot in it. Vinegar too. David Lebovitz's kimchi has vinegar in it too.

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    3. I just added a photo of my 6-year-old home-made kimchi to my post that went up this morning. As I said, it looks and smells good.

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    4. It looks like the real thing to me. I'd go for it.

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    5. Kimchi fried rice, with diced smoked sausage and marinated shrimp, for lunch tomorrow. Wish us well.

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  2. Good luck with the kimchi. Don't think one can achieve proper fermentation with
    the use of vinegar.
    Culling of wild horses is very controversial in the States too. There are thousands of them in the Western ranching areas.

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    1. The US has legislation protecting the feral horses in some cases, on the grounds that they are heritage. At least there the large native grazers are hoofed so horses aren't quite so problematic from that point of view.

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  3. Great to read this Susan. Attempts to rid parts of Australia from feral animals have brought international criticism from the likes of Brigitte Bardot. The feral problem is massive and has led to the extinction of many native animal species.

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    1. Yes, it simply isn't possible to allow all the animals to live there, and it's a question of which are culled, by whatever method (actively removed or passively allowed to starve, for example). I don't think BB understands that.

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