Friday 30 August 2013

Strawberry Spinach

Each year I grow the "Three Sisters". That is, Sweetcorn  with squash growing underneath and climbing french beans climbing up the corn stalks. This is an efficient use of space, though you need to ensure that the ground is well manured early on. Last year I grew some Strawberry Spinach from seed, which didn't do too well, with only a couple of poor plants growing to maturity. One of them must have self seeded however as there is a rich crop of strawberry spinach growing under the sweetcorn this year. The young plant can be used as spinach and the stalks with fruit on serves as an unusual salad decoration. The fruits are quite juicy and have a refreshing, not too sweet, taste. The picture shows a small part of the patch and you can see how much there is.
So my question is... Does anyone else grow it and if so what do THEY do with it ?
 This second picture is of a fruiting stem
The runner beans are finally getting into their stride! here is a picture of the two of the types I grow. The red flowers are Firestorm and the white flowers are Moonlight.  What we need now is some rain!!! D. had to put the sprinkler on tonight to help them out, as the beans should be growing more quickly which will ensure that they are tender.
 And finally, this has been an unusual year in the garden and the surrounding countryside. Each year we have swallows in the wood shed and the barn and each year they bring off two broods. This year they have both bought off THREE broods!
 Here is a picture of the latest from the barn (the two babies are on the right) on their second flight outdoors. We are willing them to be strong enough for their journey to Africa soon.
That's all for now, frugal friends, Back soon
Sleep tight

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Yesterdays Chutney

Hiya Fellow Frugellers
 Yesterday's chutney turned out pretty well. Tried a new method as suggested by D. who said that he saw no reason why I couldn't use the slow cooker to cook the chutney, which I have never thought of before.
Below is a picture of the ingredients, which are all "seconds" from the garden

Here are the ingredients...

I kilo Overgrown Rondo courgette
Half kilo windfall apples
1 kilo mixture of green tomatoes, red (split) tomatoes and mixed plums
The above can be any combination of fruit and vegetables weighing two and a half kilos
half kilo red and white onions
Half kilo sultanas
Half kilo brown sugar
600 ml vinegar
2 green chillis
5 cloves garlic
Crushed in a pestle and then placed in a muslin bag ( hankie actually!) -  teaspoon  peppercorns; teaspoon coriander seeds; teaspoon cloves; teaspoon ginger.
All veg and fruit were chopped and placed in a saucepan with all the other ingredients.

When the mixture came to the boil I placed it in the slow cooker with the spice bag, turned the cooker to high and left the lid off.
It took 6 hours to get the chutney to the right consistency (gloopy!) Which was twice as long as when done in a saucepan, BUT I didn't have to stir it as often as usual as it showed no sign of sticking.

As you see it made just over 5 lb of chutney. The chutney in the pot we had with our homity pie, vegetables and salad tonight.
I bought the sugar, sultanas and vinegar from Lidl, the cost being  £1.93 All the other ingredients were from the garden, with the dry spices from my store cupboard.

Looks as though we are in for a bumper crop of damsons.. Hurrah!! The sale of damsons helps towards  winter food for our chickens. We have about eight damson trees and they are laden. The big tree in the front garden is so heavy with fruit that D. has had to put a large stake under one of the branches to hold it up.

The egg totals are very poor at  the moment and we still have broody hens. However, we have several of this years chicks coming up to point of lay so hopefully things will improve soon. I was hoping to make some Lemon curd as there were some cheap unwaxed lemons at the greengrocers, but I don't really have enough eggs to spare.
 YGD is here for the next couple of days and it is now her bed time so I had better get up there and read a story. Now she is an excellent reader, but she loves me to read a story I have read to her for the last three years. She knows it is babyish, but who cares?! She can then read to herself  if she wants but she is usually too tired  and goes straight to sleep. Bless her.
Goodnight All

Tuesday 27 August 2013

The day ahead

Back to  "Normality" here!
 Lots to do, with the garden giving out its' bounty and me desperately trying not to waste anything. It's beginning to look like a "Glutney Chutney" day. We have quite a few marrows (overgrown courgettes actually!) and I picked up a bucket of cooker windfalls yesterday. I'm pleased to say that very few onions have bolted, probably because I grow from seed not sets, but there are a few, from which I can salvage something. The garlic is now dried  Soooooooooooo. Chutney it is then !
 The words "Glutney Chutney" are not mine, but Hugh F-W's. I adjust the recipe with whatever I have to hand, which is of course what Hugh intended. I will measure stuff as I do it and give you the recipe tomorrow.
Firstly though, I must go and fetch my EGD. We are picking up our supplies for cooking and then she is coming back here to try out a pattern she has found for Christmas presents for some of the family. I shan't say what it is now obviously, as some of our family read this blog!
I have bought down an old electric sewing machine from the loft. It has been there since we moved here in 1981!!! Between us D. and I have got it going again and I was going to use it to set up for a project I am doing (Christmas secret again), so that I could leave it set up and use my treadle as usual for everything else. However EGD should be able to use the electric machine with a little practice, so we'll see how we go.
 As it is tuesday it is likely that there will be a few folk around the table this lunchtime. If I get chance I shall make some leek and potato soup, from the bolted leeks and rogue potato plant that was strangling my Gladioli. If I don't get time it will be egg on toast !!

Still can't load any pics Grrrrr
Back soon

Sunday 25 August 2013

Back from our Jollys

Hellooooooo Frugal Land!
Back late last night (23.30 hrs) from our Jolly's in Cornwall.
 The weather was brilliant and we are quite scorched from being on the beach each day. With an eight year old who is quite a water babe, body boards and a blow up dingy was all we really needed.  My daughter is threatening to put a pic of me falling out of the dingy on this blog! Hope she doesn't work out how to do it as it is not a pretty sight!
My eldest daughter's mother-in-law (keep up!) who was with us, and I, went to Eden one day and Heligan another, as she has never been to either. I have been many times, but never tire of either.
D. went fishing on tuesday and saturday. So I was processing fish on the tuesday night, some of which we had for tea and the rest I froze and have left it with my friend in Callington. Today I processed the fish he caught yesterday. There was 30lb of fish, which made 10 and a half lbs of ready to eat fish. I cooked about 4 lb of it in milk towards fish pies and fishcakes and the rest is divided between fillets and cougons. The heads, bones and skins I have cooked in the BIG saucepan for the chickens and D. had a mackerel for his lunch and will have the other mackerel cold in a sandwich tomorrow.
After processing I went into the garden ...I have been picking all afternoon and haven't really scratched the surface, but wanted to get some produce out for sale tomorrow. I will carry on picking the beans, plums and blackberries, of which there are MANY, tomorrow. I have taken a photo of the stuff I picked today and the fish, but the blessed card-thingy that goes from my phone to the ST slotty- thingy won't work, so I shall have to wait on those who sort these things before I can load the pics.
Am off to a wedding reception tonight with YD and EGD and her BF. D. is going to meet a friend who he has arranged to see before he realised we were already booked. So he will have to get a taxi to where he is going as I will be elsewhere, boogying on down in Derby.
 I reckon I should get in the shower now as I am pretty grimey. Back with more tomorrow.
A very warm welcome to Wren, Joy, Judy and Trudie. I am looking forward to getting to know you. Thanks ever so much for following.

Friday 16 August 2013

Just about to set off for Cornwall, so little time to blog
Firstly, welcome Katy, great to see you here
A friend of ours who collects antiques has recently bought a couple of rare 17th century, handwritten cookery books. The recipes look REALLY interesting and many are frugal. he has lent me the books for a while ( Better be careful not to spill anything on them!!) So when I get back I shall share some with you and we can all  have a go at cooking some simple old fashioned dishes. I can't wait to try "Excellent Buns" for example. It is interesting that oyster pie is no longer frugal as is was then!
My EGD works in the village up the hill from us and told me last week, with no little excitement, that an empty shop was opening as a sewing/fabric shop!! So obviously we couldn't wait to have a look. I was very pleased to see that she will be offering knitting, crochet and sewing classes from September. EGD says she is going to sign up for the sewing classes ( I could show her, but she isn't keen on my treadle!) So if you live in the Amber Valley District of Derbyshire and can get to Crich she is Alison Baker at Love Hector on Crich Market Place. 
Thanks for the kind comments on my last blog.
Off to Cornwall now (in the rain!)
Back next week

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Blogging, a casserole and freecyle

       Hiya ! I'm rubbish at doing this blog regulary aren't I?
 My daughter says " you really need to post everyday to keep people interested and maybe get more followers too" So I gave that some thought. Is that why I started this blog, to have people read it and "collect" followers?  Well no I didn't see it that way. I had been reading blogs for some while on frugality, smallholding and make do and mend and was picking up lots of ideas. But I also knew that as a self-sufficientist smallholder of some years I had some tips of my own to share. That was why I started this blog. NOT to collect followers or see how many people would read my blog...
HOWEVER, I find myself looking at the stats (aren't they fascinating?) to see how many people have visited my blog each day. I love it that they are from all over the world and yet it's as though they are from next door. I Like to see how they found my blog.. another blogger? googling a keyword? .The info is all there and SO interesting. I also get so excited when I get a new follower and I didn't think I would.
 I am surprised at how I feel I actually know someone I can't possibly know! Is that sweet, vegetarian, home schooling crafter really who she says she is? I DO hope so as I admire her. Is that self-suffficient, uber-frugal, bread making every day knitter the paragon she seems? or does she actually sit watching day-time television all day while eating crisps and drinking lager from the can? I'm sure she doesn't
And.........are those husbands really so wonderful?  (hmmm not too sure on this one!)
So yes, I should be more regular with my posts because I DO like it when people take the trouble to read and comment  - and I hope that blog friends may find any hints, tips and recipes useful  and they wont mind my burbling diary-type stuff too!
So back to the burbling diary-type stuff !!
The phone rings " Grandma, can I have your recipe for sausage casserole please?" It's EGD. I ask her when she wants it for and she wants it now, over the phone. Okaaayyy! crikey, have I got an actual recipe? Fortunately she understands the dollop of this, a tin of that and as much of that as you have got, sort of recipe. She has been given a bag full of sausages and has four rashers of bacon in her fridge.She also has carrots, onions, potatoes and tins of tomatoes and baked beans. So all she really wanted was an idea of method. So we had a bit of a chat and she felt confident to have a go. She had bought a small slow cooker herself when she was "bottom-drawing" and I was given a larger one to give to her just before she moved. Well by the time she had finished ( she and the BF went to the shops and bought a few mushrooms and a leek to go in it too) she had filled BOTH cookers! She sent me a picture on facebook of them before cooking and here it is below....                                                                                                                                                        
Several hours later, they had put several servings down in the freezer for easy meals to come home to after work. They bought a generous serving for us to try on sunday when they came for tea..( we had Toad in the hole) and very nice it was too - the casserole that is!
I am always being given jars for my jam and chutney making. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by them ! Last week I found myself wondering if I ought to put some in the recycling bin to make some room. Then I remembered the times I have been desperate for a few jars and so on monday I put them on freecycle. I'm so glad I did. They have been snapped up! One young woman said she hoped to make chutney with her courgette surplus. She told me that she had fetched some fruit bushes from me last year and that she had so enjoyed growing them that this year she has branched into veg! We had a great chat about chutney and cooking and  sewing. Another young man will pick up the remainder tomorrow and says he will bring me a bag of plums in exchange.
I realised that I haven't recorded my egg totals (well SOME people are interested!) So I must do that.

We are going away this weekend for a week to Cornwall with ED,YGD, SiL and his Mother. YD YET AGAIN will be looking after the place. She'll pack up her stuff and Foster Dog and decamp to ours, bless her. ED will have her little laptop thingy (I can't remember what it is called) so I may be able to do a crafty blog during the week.
Today I found out the crabbing bucket and lines for YGD. These were once used by the older grandchildren and are still going strong. You just HAVE to go crabbing off the harbour wall when you are eight years old!
All for now
Back soon

Saturday 10 August 2013

Shaun the bully, butterflies and a bonfire

It's been a few days since I wrote something here. I have been so busy and the time has flown !
Youngest granddaughter was staying with us for a day or two and we had much planned. I'd like to say that  we did all we planned, but of course we didn't! Life gets in the way sometimes doesn't it?
In the morning we usually take a stroll round the paddock after we have fed all the animals. On thursday morning the sheep joined as is usual for our constitutional. They have a bit of a fuss and then get on with their grazing. Except on this occasion Shaun decided he was going to butt YGD !!! Nothing we could do would stop him and he became quite nasty. YGD climbed on my back and with me giving him a good shove now and then we exited the field. She was frightened (rightly) and heartbroken because Shaun had turned on her (goodness knows she has given him enough love and bottles).  I can only assume that he is becoming a bit "male" and exerting himself. Shaun was entire when we bought him and as we were unsure of his age we didn't feel we could castrate him as we would usually do with a lamb a few days old. Not being castrated does't really matter too much if they are going for meat (which they are) as they are tend to be big enough for the butchers before they become a problem. HOWEVER, these three lambs.. Shaun, Suzie and Sky, are the smallest  lambs we have ever had.. they are positively Bonzai and we despair of them ever being big enough. It looks as though Shaun may have to go long before he will be any decent weight and goodness knows what the butcher (sweet man) will think!
Meanwhile YGD cannot be encouraged to go back in the field without us AND a big stick !
On a lighter note, we had a splendid butterfly hunt. We were equipped with the Butterfly Book, pen and pencil, magnifying glass and a camera (and a bottle of water as it was so hot) We went into the next field where recent movement of the soil had encouraged the growth of some interesting weed flowers which were covered with butterflies. I am sure you in the UK will have noticed the explosion of these beauties over the past couple of weeks. We spent a good part of the afternoon here and it was lovely to be helping another generation to appreciate the countryside and simple pleasures.
 I am always so happy that we get to see our grandchildren so often and have some input into their growth.

Had a really good weed today and can now actually see how well the veg are doing! Adam is staying with us this weekend and his favouriate meal is chicken pie. knowing this I made a pie with the chicken, stuffing and veg leftover from last sundays' meal. I froze this for today and served it up with fresh beans and peas from the garden. Though I make a mean chicken pie I don't actually like it!! So I used some some of the bits and bobs that I (or the chickens) had mistakedly dug up/broke and made pretty mean stirfry - leek/onion/potato/mizuna/spinach, I added some grated cheese and very nice it was too.
D. has saved a large pile of rotten and rubbish shrub clearing for a bonfire in the field. Fires are Adam's favourite activity in the whole world, so he is extremely happy !! Chicken Pie and a bonfire.. his cup runneth over! They will be in for a cup of cocoa soon. Meanwhile I'm having crafty look at Harry Potter "Goblet of Fire" When these films were first released we used to go en famile+friends- two rows of us, to watch them. My grandson was a particular fan and now YGD has discovered it and is huge fan too!

Enough for now. Thanks for joining me here. I am always so pleased to see that people read my scribblings. Gillx
PS Still no photos, hopefully YD will call tomorrow and have a look at it for me.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Bee moving..not!

Hello All
We still haven't managed to move the bees because of the torrential rain at the time allocated to move them.
When moving bees you have to wait until most are in the hive i.e just before dark, so that you have as many as possible (otherwise many bees will have no home when they return to the site of the (moved) hive. We will try again tomorrow,as we will be out tonight at dusk.
We need to move a hive of bees from a table in the middle of the lawn..not the most convenient place for a hive!. This swarm settled in a tall damson tree over the lawn. Using tall ladders, we swept the bees into an empty hive and lowered it onto a table. We then left it until all the bees collected in the box.. and that is where they have remained. We now have to move them to the bottom of the garden a few feet away. If we were to just move them there, the bees would return to the first site, as the scouts would not have realised that the site had changed. If  we move them a couple of miles away or more, the scouts realise the site has changed and tell the others about the new surroundings and way back to the hive. (Yes, I know all those beekeepers out there are saying "It's not quite like that" but I don't want to bore you all too much so have simplified the process and terms- that sounds a bit patronising...sorry!)
 I was going to put a picture of  table-top hive and of the new stand D. has made for it, but for some reason they won't load. Tomorrow maybe!
 Last night's meal was mostly leftovers (really?!) I took some poached white fish from the freezer, and goodness knows I have plenty of that! I covered this with some leftover cheese sauce from sunday and then mashed potato, ditto, and put this fish pie in the oven. I then picked a few french beans and some peas to go with this. I then chopped the last, VERY ripe bananas into the left-over cold custard from sunday.. banana custard for pud.
Have to go now as we are expecting a visit re. a Health and Safety Assessment for here . Now THAT should be interesting!
Bye For Now
 Take care All

Sunday 4 August 2013

Update on Blogchick

Well little "blogchick" is nicely settled with her new mother. The only problem is that mother is just a tad over-protective and won't let baby out to play. I have just managed to get a pic of blogchick getting ready to make a run for a bit of freedom, before mother tucked it back under her! Sorry that the pic is of an even poorer standard than usual, but I had to strike while the iron was hot and take my chances. Just take a look at mum's face  -  If looks could kill........
Now if you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that there are ginger chicks with black mums, grey chicks with ginger mums, black chicks with white mums etc. It is safe to say that any breeding programme we had for this year is up the creek.They have been so manically broody, stealing eggs, swapping nests and joint rearing chicks this year that the only thing I can say to a potential buyer of the pullets I will have for sale soon is.."They are definitely chickens!" Hey Ho! not everyone wants a particular breed, just laying hens  ( I hope)
 The cabbage and bacon dish I made last night was really nice. I will definitely make it again, especially as a side dish. (recipe in blog " Don't you love a google search")
Had a really nice time last night when we went to join our grandson at the pub he works at, for his 21st birthday. His mum YD took a huge tray bake chocolate cake to share around, which went down well. Yesterday I said that I didn't know how they got a group into such a small pub, which has no garden as it is in the hillside on a narrow country lane.
Here's how ! Half sits inside and half camp outside and the rest stand in the road! And what a friendly lot they were, the music was extremely good and I'm told the ale wasn't bad either ! I wouldn''t know as I am not a beer drinker, and even if I was I was the driver! (no surprises there!)
Off to get the dinner (well tea actually) on, as the girls are on their way. Out tonight with friends, but we will move a couple of our bee hives to our friend's garden first, as we need to move them 12 foot within our garden, which cannot be done without them moving a couple of miles away first and then bringing them back to where we want them (I wish I hadn't started that about the bees as it doesn't seem to make sense. I will explain better tomorrow)
Take Care All and thanks for reading

Saturday 3 August 2013

Doorstep sales and orphan chick

Good growing weather ! sunshine, warmth, thunderstorms and rain. I don't understand how the weeds grow quicker than the vegetables, but that seems to be the way!
 Produce starting to come in thick and fast now, which means time to start 1) Selling some 2) Eating some and 3) preserving some for leaner times. So, the signs are out, the jars are out for pickling and there is room in the freezer for any glut, after us living out of the cupboards and freezer over the last two weeks.
 We still have broody hens all over the place. Tree house hen bought off two chicks and then left the rest of the eggs up in the tree house. I went to clear them away and found one was chipped, even though it was stone cold, there was some movement to be seen. The shell was VERY thick as was the membrane and the poor little mite had no chance of getting out. So D. did some careful peeling (not really advised but the poor little blighter was going to die anyway) and with the aid of a hair dryer and his cupped hands, helped it perk up a bit. It was so cold, goodness knows how long it had been trying to be born. It is now in the incubator all on its own. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem too steady on its feet and can oldy walk backwards with any ease,. If it can walk properly I shall sneak it under a white hen that has been sitting well over  her time, but won't get off the obviously infertile eggs. Yesterday afternoon when she heard treehouse hen's new chicks she raced out of the goat house to try to steal them. TH hen duffed her up for her cheek and she swiftly went back to her eggs. Soooo watch this space.
Here is a picture of TH Hen with her chicks.
 And here is Manny-mummy with her three older chicks, who have found their way into the greenhouse and are on  the look out for tomatoes!! I wish ! I was very late planting this year. (notice I grow basil and french marigolds too in the greenhouse. I believe it deters whitefly and flies away.)
I wrote that first couple of paragraphs this morning. It is now after lunch (Pilchards on toast) and here  is an update on disabled chick... it isn't!!! I opened the incubator and it jumped out and raced across the working surface. I only just managed to catch it before it threw itself off the surface and onto the floor - now that would have been ironic after all it has gone through, for it to have leaped to it's death ! So I went into the goat house and put  clean extra bedding mixed with some herbs under white hen and while I was doing this I stole her eggs. I then ran to the house and picked up chicky, which I sneaked under the hen. It promptly cheeped very loudly and pushed it's way out. WH firmly pushed it back under her and swore ( no lady) at me. Job done !
Post script. JUST as I had put the eggs from under WH in a bag, one of them exploded !! I was lucky there, the smell is horrendous and if you get the yuk on you it stays for days.
 I put a couple of bunches of flowers outside this morning at £2 per bunch. also put out beetroot, cabbage, herbs and rhubarb. I set off to cut some chard to go with this lot and thought "when I get back I will take a picture of the flowers for my blog" As I got back to the gate a woman is standing there with the flowers and her £4. She then asked how to cook the chard and bought that too. So I don't have a picture to go on here
but I have made a sale!
 Out tonight to see our Grandson, who is 21 today. He is working at a small olde pub in an olde village. (you get the idea - genuinely so, few improvements made and real ale sold) he doesn't mind working on his birthday as he needs the money. They will be busy today as it is the day of the village's Hen Race and tonight there will be a group playing, though goodness knows where they put them as the pub seats less than 30!
Off to Aldi now. Both daughters will be here tomorrow for tea and D. has asked for a chicken dinner (good leftovers from chicken dinners ) This evening D. and I will have left over cheese onion and potato pie with the cabbage and bacon thingy recipe I found earlier this week.
That's all for now, must shop!!!
A warm welcome to Lesley, thank you so much for reading my blog