Friday, 30 January 2015

Digging the Marley Hill allotment

We spent Sunday at Dad's small allotment in Marley Hill. The aim was to get as much digging done as possible in preparation for spring planting. Reasonable progress was made.

More cheese making

We are not getting much milk at the moment from Pinkie and as she goes further through her pregnancy, the amount will continue to reduce. However, we have some milk to use up recently so we have made more soft cheese. This one turned out very soft so I'll probably use it in a flan.

Using up game - squirrels and rabbits

Last year we swapped preserves for a sackful of squirrels and rabbits. This game arrived on our doorstep frozen ready frozen and largely unprepared. It went straight into our chest freezer.

We are trying to use up the big stock of food that we have in the freezers and create some space. The game took up quite a bit of space. Our plan therefore was to make some game pies. The first part of the process was to prepare the squirrels and rabbits.

It turned out that the rabbits had already been gutted, making the job of preparing them easier. The squirrels needed to have their innards removed however. All the pelts were retained. They went into a bag in the freezer and at some point in the future I'm going to have a go at using them.

The game was put in a pan, brought to the boil and then simmered for half an hour.

Once it had cooled, the meat was stripped from the bone.

The liquid in which the game was simmered was kept in the pan. The bones were then returned to it. More water and onions were added and the bones were simmered for a couple of hours to make stock.

Both meat and stock would find their way into the game pies. More about the next stages in forthcoming posts.

Sausage sandwich

The butcher who slaughtered our last pig made some of the meat into sausages.  They are superb. We had some of them for dinner a couple of evenings ago. I suspect his recipe is secret but he added some ingredients that made top quality meat into the best bangers we've had in quite some time.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Roast venison

In a further attempt to use up our stocks of food, we got this leg of venison out of the freezer last week and marinated it in our own home made wine for a day. The venison was part of a swap last year. We paid for it with a couple of joints of Tamworth pork. The venison was then roasted. We had it for main course when a couple of friends came over for dinner last week.

There was far too much meat for one meal. Venison sandwiches were on the menu for a couple of days afterwards but that only used a small amount of meat. I stripped it from the bone which was then used to make stock.

The stock is pink because we put into it the red wine in which the venison was marinated. Nothing wasted. Some of the venison has now found its way into 4 game pies made yesterday (more about that later) though we still have some of the meat to use up.

Our first duck egg of the year

Much to my surprise this morning, I found an egg in the duck run. We haven't had any duck eggs laid since early November and I wasn't expecting any until March. Once of the ducks has started laying early though we wait to see if it is a one off or not. My suspicion is that it was laid by one of the ducks we hatched in the summer. She is making an early start to earning her keep.

Battle of the Bulge

This is Pinkie, our Golden Guernsey milking goat. She was mated on Boxing Day. We are reasonably certain she is pregnant as she did not come into heat earlier this month, three weeks after the mating. This photo was taken a couple of days ago. Her abdomen has started to swell. At this point we don't know if this is down to her getting fat (she is producing far less milk but still eats well) or to her pregnancy. We are still on the learning curve but the abdomen is certainly expanding. We haven't measured it but we do put a coat on her at night and there is clearly more abdomen to get the straps around. If all goes well, the birth will be late May.