Monday, 15 September 2014

Hay bag

We bought a couple of hay net bags recently and tried one out today. Instead of hay however we filled it with grass from the back garden. The goats seemed to be interested for a while but then gave up. I think they were unimpressed by the grass. I'll change it for hay in the morning.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Plum, blackberry and apple jam

This is a jam I invented on Friday: plum, blackberry and apple. I had a glut of plums that desperately needed to be used up and a small amount of blackberries to which I added a few more I found growing in the hedge beside the path leading to the allotment. The apples were added to provide pectin.

My recipe was 1.6kg plums, 1.4kg blackberries, 1kg apple. Peel, core and chop the apples. Stone and chop the plums. Ass all the fruit to the preserving pan with a small amount of water to stop it catching on. Bring to the boil and then simmer until all the fruit has pulped. Then add 4kg sugar (same weight as fruit), bring back to the boil and keep on a rolling boil until setting point is reached. Then add to hot, sterilised jars.

Another big swap

The New Sands Allotment Society in Swalwell (about 4km down the round from us) agreed to do a big food swap with us today. I headed down to the site at midday with a large box of jams and some duck eggs. These were used to buy a load of surplus vegetables (especially marrows and courgettes!) which filled our car. The exchange helps to secure our veg supply for the winter and give us lots of ingredients for our monthly community cafe at Marley Hill Community Centre (the next is on Sunday 28th September). We now have a race against time to get everything stored and preserved.

Roast veg and toad in the hole

Dinner tonight - we had toad in the hole again to use up some of the vast milk supply from Pinkie our goat. With it we had roast carrots, onions and beetroot and some sliced, fried courgettes. Very nice. We are too full to have pudding - we have some of the blackberry pie we put into the Bowes Show yesterday to use up. It will last until tomorrow.

Two firsts and a second

We did quite well at the Bowes Agricultural Show yesterday. We got first prize for lemon curd, first for bramble jelly and 2nd for orange and lemon marmalade. The lemon curd was the toughest competition as there were lots and lots of entries. That was the sweetest taste of success.

Last year we did not do so well in the Bowes Show. No first or second prizes. So yesterday was a good reversal of our misfortune. Alas, our bread, pies and scones won no prizes.

You can see my other photos of the Bowes Show on this link.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Near disaster in the oven

I started preparing for tomorrow's Bowes Show late this morning when I made the dough for the bread. I used milk from our goat rather than water. There was enough dough to make 4 loaves. They had been in the oven for 10 minutes when the power failed. This was not a case of our being cut off because of not paying the bill! No, this was a case of the whole area going through a 6 hour power outage. Two blackberry and apple pies were waiting to go into the oven as well.

The power company suggested the electricity would be back on in two hours. Having waited nearly 5 hours for the supply to resume, I took the loaves and pies down to Dad's bungalow. His area was not suffering from the power failure. The loaves went into his oven though I slightly miscalculated the timing and a couple of them got slightly burnt at one end. The other two were okay. One of them will go into the bread baking competition, one went into Dad's pantry, one will be sliced for tomorrow's picnic and the final one will come back home tomorrow. One of the pies will go into the pie baking competition, the other will form part of the picnic.

The pastry for the pies was made using our goats milk rather than water.

The incubator has its final batch of eggs in it at the moment. 17 duck eggs are due to hatch this weekend. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the power failure will not result in any losses but the power company could not have turned off the electricity at a worse time.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Getting ready for the Bowes Agricultural Show

Tomorrow is the Bowes Show in southern County Durham. We first went to the show in 2012 and beginners luck helped us to win a couple of first prizes in the jam and eggs competition sections. Sadly, last year we did not do so well. No first prizes despite increasing the number of entries. I have scaled back the number we are entering this time but today we need to prepare them. So today we will bake bread, fruit and cheese scones, make a blackberry and apple pie, decide which eggs to take and sort the preserves that are going.

Wish us luck!