Saturday 30 August 2014

Youngest Granddaughter, Cookies and another Scrumper

YGD has been staying over this week and last week and I'm delighted to say she will be back for a couple of days next week
She is now 9 and pretty independent and really enjoying the freedom that a couple of acres gives an active child.
 Here she is whizzing around on an old bike that grandad has dragged out of the loft. He has highered the seat and handlebars, oiled the odd nut and away she goes up and down the drive and between the buildings.

And here she is on the "swing" that grandad has made for her in a damson tree. Shy isn't she?!
 And with the doll she bought with her birthday money. She has combed and plaited the dolls hair time and time again. There seems to be quite a lot of hair on the brush and I have to keep reminding her that it won't grow again!

   Something else she has enjoyed doing is baking. What child doesn't ?! Our favourite thing to make at the moment are biscuit/cookies from a recipe I found on Beth's blog..."Twenty tiny toes and a button nose" (still don't know how to do a link) These are called "hob nobs" we have made them slighter bigger than she suggests and this means that they are soft in the middle and are little like a cross between a hobnob and flapjack. they are DELICIOUS. We also made some with honey instead of golden syrup and they were just as good. As I have plenty of honey I shall always use that in future. Pop over to Beth's blog to get the recipe.

 We noticed that the Charles Ross Cookers were being pecked by the birds. We thought probably blackbirds,who have also been pecking at the windfalls. We were wrong ! Here is the culprit...
I suppose it IS a black bird!

All for now

Thursday 28 August 2014

Using the Tomatoes part II

Hello All
 A warm Derbyshire welcome to Julie on the follower bar and Beth and Peggy on Bog lovin, lovely to see you here!
 I said in my last post that I would share a few favourite recipes using tomatoes. These recipes are quite seasonal and include veggies at their best and most prolific right now.

Tomato with green beans 
 Put 1lb halved french beans or some sliced runners in boiling water for three minutes. Strain the hot water over a basin holding a couple of pounds of tomatoes. Cool the beans and put aside. Drain the tomatoes,which can now be skinned, chopped and put aside.
In a frying pan gently fry one large chopped onion and a crushed garlic clove until soft. Add a spoonful of sugar or honey and stir for a couple of minutes to caremalise the onions.
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar (red wine is good, but any will do really) and cook all for a minute.
 Now add the tomatoes with their juice, some chopped (fresh if you have it) basil, pepper and salt to taste and cook for a further 5 mins.
Add the beans and warm through to eat straight away or put into containers for the freezer.

I'm not a fan of frozen green beans but this recipe does freeze well

Shallots in tomato sauce
This is is a bit Greeky in flavour.
 Peel a couple of pounds of shallots and simmer gently in a red wine and apple juice - enough to barely cover the shallots - and simmer until beginning to soften. I use these two ingredients because I make them myself, but others might use white wine. Now add two tablespoons of sugar or honey, half a cup of tomato puree a bay leaf and salt and pepper. I have given my method for making tomato puree in my post "Using the Tomatoes part I"
Gently cook for a further five minutes, remove the bay leaf and serve or freeze for another day.
This dish freezes well.

Tomatoes with courgette "Spaghetti"
 Make a passatta using whatever method you choose. I have given mine in the "Using the Tomatoes part I" post.
 Cut a couple of large courgettes lengthways into long strips, either ribbon or matchstick shape and put aside.
  In a shallow pan gently cook a finely chopped onion and a crushed clove of garlic in olive oil. Add the passatta and simmer until the liquid thickens. Now add a spoonful of sugar or honey, salt and pepper and chopped basil and heat together on a low heat.
Meanwhile fill a saucepan with boiling water from the kettle. Drop the courgette strips into the boiling water and cook for a bare minute. Strain, put the strips in a bowl, toss in a teaspoon of olive oil and pour the sauce over.
You can ring the changes with this recipe by omitting the basil and adding paprika instead and adding chilli flakes to the courgette strips.

Garden Glut Chutney.
You will need a large saucepan or jam kettle. As you prepare and weigh each ingredient, place them into this pan.
Weigh two and a half kilos of prepared (chopped) fruit and vegetables - a mixture of -
Summer squash,Marrow or overgrown courgettes; Windfall Apples; Green and/or red tomatoes;
Plums; windfall pears.
 To these vegetables add -
Half a kilo of chopped onions
Half a kilo of sugar (brown or white)
Half a kilo of sultanas, raisins or chopped dates ( or a combination of) If you don't like dried fruit or want a less sweet chutney, you can omit this.
600ml Vinegar
Two Teaspoons Chilli flakes, fresh or dried
Three cloves crushed garlic.
 An inch of ginger, grated, or a teaspoon ground ginger if you haven't got this.
In a small piece of muslin (hankie?) put 12 cloves, 12 peppercorns, 12 coriander seeds that you have cracked in morter and pestle or with  a rolling pin. Tie this muslin up with string.
 You now have all the ingredients together. Cook for two to three hours, stirring often. When you draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan you should see the bottom of the pan for a second or two.
 Pot into warm jars,
 This should make about eight jars.

Hope these recipes work for you.
Until next time
love Gillx

Saturday 23 August 2014

Potato Blight

Potato Blight
   Last week I noticed that our Pink Fir Apple Potatoes were showing signs of blight. I cut the haulms off half the bed (I ran out of time and energy to do it all at once) and bagged them up, in an attempt to stop the disease spreading to the tubers. I tied up the bag and put them aside ready to go to the tip. The next day I dug these potatoes up and dried them in the house away from all the tomatoes. Two days later I returned to the remainder, by now the all the leaves were affected. I dealt with these in the same way. as the first half. Just goes to show how quickly blight can take hold though.  Planted next to (touching)  the PFA are two rows of Sarpo Miras  potatoes. This is a blight resistant variety which I have been growing for four years now. This year for the first time I have taken a chance and grown them from my own seed. ( I will buy new seed next year) These potatoes, which are a late crop - ready around October, show no signs of blight and are going strong. We dug one plant up to see how they were doing and there was 2.5 kilos of potatoes.
Here is a picture of Sarpo Miras (on the right obviously) next to the Pink Fir Apple on the day I spotted it.

  Sarpo Miras is a non- GM potato I am pleased to say. However, I read that millions is being spent to develop a GM blight -resistant variety, using the Sarpo line. What is that about then, as if I didn't know?! The GM giants are working towards making another killing I guess, with the accompanying restrictions, that demand dependency, placed on unfortunate farmers across the globe. Grrrr.

 So far the tomatoes are clear, unlike Cro who at least has his winter preserves in, though I am keeping my eye on them.
At the mo I'm more concerned about the frost that is forecast for tonight ! I have bought in a number of squash and courgettes and any outdoor tomatoes that are beginning to ripen, before covering the plants with any mesh and plastic that I can lay my hands on. Fingers crossed.

 It has been over a week since my last post as we have been very busy in the garden and have had lots of visitors and a grandchild stopping. so this post is a bit of a quickie.
  My next post will definitely include my tomato recipes and I will tell you about a great recipe I have gleaned from a new follower on Blog Lovin.
 Until then dear frugal and self-sufficient friends.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Using the Tomatoes part I

 Kev at An English Homestead... (check him out if you haven't done so already) asks how I make tomato paste. This has inspired me to do a "Tomato Post"
 I sow my first tomato seed in January, the same time that I sow my maincrop onion seed. These tomatoes are Shirleys. We used to grow Triton tomatoes, but can no longer get these seed.. Over the next few weeks I sow more Shirley, a plum tomato, a beefsteak and outdoor girl as a minimum . I try a new variety each year as well, there are so many to choose from nowadays, which I find interesting. I grow 50 to 60 plants in greenhouses and others dotted around the garden, at some distance from the potatoes and not where potatoes were grown last year.
 The staggered sowing ensures a continuous crop from mid July until October and with luck the odd one in November
As you can see we plan for a glut!
 I pick every couple of days. I put a few bags outside for sale, plan for meals that star tomatoes and process any left. These will include small, misshapen, split, overripe... rejects.

Tomato paste
Wash tomatoes, place in a glass or plastic bowl and put in microwave until soft. Push the tomatoes through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Put this on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the water is cooked out. When it gets thick keep your eye on it, stirring more often so that it doesn't burn. Pour into containers and freeze (or into the fridge and use within the week)
 The process for making this is the same as for the paste until the reduction process. Just a quick boil is needed to ensure any spores are killed and it is ready to go. Sometimes I just skin tomatoes and blitz in the Willy Wizzer, seeds and all, boil and freeze when cold. You can add peppers, courgettes, garlic, onions, herbs -  whatever you want to really to the mix.
Tomato Soup
Pour boiling water over the toms to help remove the skins. (if you want to you can remove the seeds at this stage, but I don't bother) Put the tomatoes in the slow cooker (or saucepan if you haven't got a slow cooker) with onion, celery, carrot and garlic as a minimum. This is where I also add pumpkin , squash or marrow, swede or sweet potato if I have them. pour over a couple of pints of veggie stock (oxo in my case) pepper, salt and a spoonfull of sugar. Cook all until soft and then liquidise, taste and re-season . Adding basil to this soup is good and for a heartier one I add red lentils to the veg at the onset.
Dried tomates in oil
 Halve your tomatoes, plum and beefsteak ones are particularly good for this. place on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. I use coarse sea salt, but that is just a preference. Place in a cool oven or if you are lucky enough to have a Rayburn in the slow part and leave for as long as it takes for them to feel rubbery (not crisp). When this is achieved, place on a wire rack to cool . Pack into  jars and cover with olive oil (Aldi and Lidl both do reasonably priced Oil). At this stage you could place a couple of garlic cloves or  a sprig of thyme or rosemary to the jar if you wish.

 Later in the year (or when the dreaded blight strikes) I use up the green tomatoes in chutney.
In my next post I will give my recipe for chutney - NOT Green tomato chutney! using other gluts and misshapes.
I thought you might also be interested in a couple of my favourite recipes using tomatoes.
 Until next time


Friday 8 August 2014

More Wild Life Problems and more pleasant things

Hello All
A warm Derbyshire welcome to Knittynutter and Leisha on Blog lovin
   Here I am again, after another week of not blogging. Though I have been reading other folk's blogs.
 I had a post sort of organised in my mind for today. Then this morning I went to feed the chickens and found that we had had another visit from the fox !! He had managed to move a slat in the orchard fence and squeeze  through. He had had to eat the birds in the orchard as the gap was so small that he couldn't get them out, So four hens and two chicks slaughtered, After going back in for a cup of tea and a little sniffle. I went out into the paddock with my daughter's dog, who is  currently on holiday with us, in time to see  a fully grown rabbit coming out of the paddock garden. More peas gone I suppose. I sat on a bench to "looker" the sheep. I noticed that Adam was rubbing against a wall... You guessed it ...Fly strike!!! So today has been about firming up fences and tending to Adam ( fortunately we have caught it early)
 Our honey and tomato sales have been pretty good this week, which is good. We have made enough money to buy the Apisan we need to treat the bees over winter for the dreadful varroa mite that causes them distress and death.
 We have had many courgettes, windfall and misshapen tomatoes... time for a chutney !!!! That's the first few jars down for the winter. woo hoo. Anybody else making chutney ?
  Our eldest granddaughter has not been at work this week and has spent a couple of days with me, cooking and sewing. As the blackberries are so prolific and there are many windfalls on the lawn, she has made smooth apple and blackberry jam. These jars are the first items she has made towards the hampers she makes for Christmas presents. We had a go at pineapple jam too as pineapples are so cheap at the moment. So far we have struggled to get a set that we are happy with so we will re-boil it this weekend.
As for the sewing. her partner "tidied" (put in the bin) away the pattern instructions and a couple of pattern pieces! So I've been helping her to cobble something together to make sense of what she has. We made great inroads today and she is feeling as though progress has been made.

 On two sides of our house and across the front of the barn we have a couple of beautiful wisteria. They flower just as the leaves are bursting and are magnificent. Later in the year we have a second bloom which is a generous term for a few little blooms among the heavily leaved branches. Here is a picture of the end of the house early in the year. The other plants are climbing roses, not in bloom yet.
Here is the front of the house last week, with the wisteria (sorry about the apple tree in the way) in its' second bloom.
And a close up of a bedroom window.. Look at those blooms. The best second bloom we have ever had.

When it has finished flowering we will cut it hard back, to ensure blooms next year. (and to let light into the room!)

  I have just re-read this and it really is  a random post even for me!
  Oh well.. To bed...

Friday 1 August 2014

A peek at the garden

Hello All !
 And a warm English welcome to Dolly Sarrio from Hibiscus House and Gaynor Hodson on Blog Lovin.

We continue to be busy with he gardens and the bees. We took a super of honey off hive No 7  last night,   it yielded 24 lb of honey...not bad for a hive that was a small swarm in late April of this year. So far we have 97 lb f honey and three more hives to go. We have sold a few jars this week which has given us enough money to go to the "Bee Shop" for a gross of new jars with lids.
 Even though it is only August I am thinking of winter as I start to put stores away. Buckets of honey and frozen processed tomatoes are the start, We are hopeful of the potatoes and I will soon be making jam and chutney with the misshapen or overgrown marrows, windfalls, tomatoes and onions.
I thought you might like to see a few of the corners of our garden and some of the veg we are growing this year.
Indoor Tomatoes - that is not a huge slug at the top, it is my finger!
 Chillis - several plants dotted amongst other veg around the greenhouses and gardens
 This doesn't actually show too many veg,  just a peek at some beans, potatoes and courgettes but does highlight my favourite Dahlia -- Bishop of Landaff
 Onions, leeks, parsnips, corn salad, courgettes and herbs
 The Pumpkin patch
 Some winter Brassicas - January King cabbage, Black Kale and Cauliflower
 Sunburst squash, Florence fennel, herbs, with Moonlight Runner beans at the back
 Hops - Fuggle, an old English hop
 Sweet Corn, Lark with Butternut squash running underneath Outdoor Girl Tomatoes at the back and Castandel French Beans to the fore (out if shot!)

  I will post some more next time. If nothing else these pictures will give heart to those who think their gardens are untidy! We grow some fine weeds here and I used to worry about them as I saw the wonderful tidy gardens on the TV or in books. But we don't have half a dozen gardeners helping and we are also pushing 70 and have to decide what to beat ourselves up about.

  The next three days will be a bit of  social whirl for us. Friday sees our granddaughter's actual 9th birthday. Unusually for us we are heading for the city of Derby to meet her and a few friends at a Grill no-less. We will call in at the local beekeeping shop for the new jars and lids while we are at the Great metropolis that is Derby!
  On Saturday we go to a wedding for much of the day, though we will have to run home half way through to put the chickens to bed as our YD is away  for the day and can't step in for us. We will then go to pick up our grandson from his job as bartender in a small Derbyshire village. I suppose we will be forced to stay for a drink before we come home!. On Sunday we have the said Grandson's birthday meal at the pub he works in. This will be for close family, last year when he was 21 he had to work so he was determined to celebrate his 22 birthday this year. Everyone but me seems to have chosen steak. I will be having Homity pie.
I am trying to feel positive about this weekend, but I'm not too keen on eating out in restaurants !

  Back Soon dear Frugellers.