Monday 26 October 2015

This Years Squash Harvest

These are some of the squashes that I've grown this year. 
Not a massive harvest but it should see us through some meals during the winter. It seems to be a bit hit or miss as to how many squashes I can grow. Some varieties produce loads (like last year) but don't taste that good. This year I concentrated on a couple that I know taste good, Turks Turban and Crown Prince, these are true winter squashes and so store well, the hundreds that I grew last year were only really any good to bulk out meals and tasted of very little, a disappointment really. 
What variety of squash do you grow and if you're going for self sufficiency how big of an area do you grow with them?

Friday 23 October 2015

Future Sunday Roasts

The boys that hatched out in the summer are pretty much ready to eat I think and look pretty good. They fight a lot so I think it will be time soon to put them in the oven! 
What age do other peopel kill their young cockerels at?

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Harvesting Chillies

I just love the colours of the chillies I've been harvesting lately. The harvest hasn't been as big as I hoped but nothing as done as well in the greenhouse this year. The cayennes have been great on my pizzas for the  last few months though! 
I'm thinking about drying most of these as I haven't got enough to pickle this year. Although I am tempted to make some spicy chutney if anyone has a good recipe for me to try? 
How does everyone else preserve their chilli harvest? I also like the idea I saw on Jamie Oliver where he keeps some in the freezer and just grates it on his food! 

Saturday 17 October 2015

A Scene From The Past - Almost!

If it wasn't for the tractor and quad bike then it could have been a timeless scene from the English countryside. 
 Sorry the pictures aren't very good!
As I was drenching the ewes the hunt came trotting by, exercising the dogs and taking the horses for a ride. We heard them long before we saw them, with horns blowing and dogs being called by name, luckily I already had the sheep penned in. 
Made me smile as they shouted good morning in their suits from the top of their horses, to the peasant tending to his flock, back bent! 

Thursday 15 October 2015

Routine Work With Sheep - Drench

There's a lot of repeat work with animals although no two jobs are ever the same. 
At the weekend I drenched the lambs and then yesterday I drench the ewes. This flushes the worms out of their stomach and keeps them growing well
Marking a lamb I've just drenched
 It's a job I've always found easy to do but I suppose that's because I was shown the right way and I've been doing it so long I can't remember when I started drenching them instead of dad (when I lived on the farm).
I simple try to get them where they can't run away (a tight pen for something like this is important otherwise you'll be chasing sheep all day), then I pull their heads back, push the nossel in their mouth and give them the drench. I mark each one as I do it so there are no repeat dosages. I try to keep the mark as small as possible as dad always hated to see sheep with lots of marks on them so I was nagged not to paint the sheep when I was younger! 
This is a job where I started out just being in the pen with dad when I was a child and when I was big enough I used to mark the ewes for him (which makes the job a lot faster), then as I became a larger teenager we used to interchange who did it.
And then encase this job didn't take enough time you have to go fill in the medicine book and right down who had what. I love that bit...

Monday 12 October 2015

Outdoor Cooking

I know that this is the wrong time of year to be talking about this, but with the garden wall nearing completion it's made me think about what I can use this area for. 

Ideally I'd love a nice outdoor cooking area which would include a brick BBQ and some worktop area to prepare and keep food. Whilst I have my brick layer coming on odd days I might get him to put a few brick piers up so I can make this and cut some large slat slabs for a worktop. 
I'm also toying with the idea of building a tandoor, which in essence is a rocket stove. I've got an old chimney pot I can use to be the cooking chimney, I'll just need to build a base with some fire bricks to allow a fire under it then the chimney up the middle with a slab around the top. I might even make a metal plate to fit on top of the chimney so it can be used as a hot plate as well. 
The third and final thing I'd like to build is a pizza oven, although I've no plans of doing that now as it's a big project. I've been looking at different designs and can see that you can roughly choose between a brick one or a clay one, although it seems the clay one needs a roof of some description as you need to keep it covered when it's not in use. 

Who has experience of building an outdoor cooking area and what would you recommend I take into account?
Has anyone else reading this built either a tandoor or a pizza oven, and how successful were they? Any good links I might have missed?

Thursday 8 October 2015

Baked Apples

Sometimes it's the most simple foods that are the best. At the moment I've been cooking lots of baked apples. 
Simple pud.
These apples are Howgate Wonder windfalls.
 I'm sure there couldn't be an easier pudding. Simply core an apple and stuff it with your filling of choice, above I've stuffed it with raspberries and a little golden syrup but I quite often stuff them with mince meat. Score round your apple with a knife so it has more chance of holding it's shape instead of splitting the skin at a random place when it heats up. a bit of brown sugar sprinkled on top goes nicely as well. 
I had planned on taking a picture of a perfect baked apple but the last lot I did were a different variety and didn't need quite so long in the oven! They were tasty but not exactly nouveau cuisine. 
These fluffed up far too much! It was still tasty though! 
Good healthy pudding for my girls and me! 
Who else has a really simple pudding for me to try?

Monday 5 October 2015

Bread Seed Poppy

I grew some poppies this year that are bred for their seeds, for use in breads and baking.
The clever thing about them is that they don't open up and spill their seed. They stay closed up so you can pick them when you want.
Not too many grew but I did have a line of them down by a patch of beetroot. Once I harvested them I let them dry in the greenhouse for a while before collecting their seeds by breaking open the seed heads, a strangely satisfying job! 

I didn't get huge numbers but each seed head contained lots (just not many seed heads!). I won't use these for baking but instead sow most of them next year and see how many I get, I'm planning on dedicating a bed (10ft by 4ft) to them next year as they're really pretty as well. 

Does anyone else grow poppies for baking with?

Friday 2 October 2015

Food Drying

Last year I dried a few raspberries when we had a glut, every time I've used them in my baking they've tasted amazing so this year I've decided to dry a lot more. My little old food dryer is going flat out to try to dry these juicy berries. 

 A full punnet (about what I'm picking a day at the moment) dries down to about 3/4 of a kilner jar.

 While I was at it I also dried some bananas that had gone past their best (and a few apples on the top layer to fill up space), they make great snacks for the kids and I wouldn't have used them for much else (I didn't fancy banana cake today).

My food drier is very basic, just one setting and it's pretty noisy. I was wondering just how good are the more professional models and are they worth their big price tag?
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