Friday, 17 November 2017

Interesting bottles from Il Gusto

Star fish bottle Nov 17

I was sent this rather interesting glass bottle filled with amaretto by Il Gusto who have a couple of pop up shops in the Metrocentre in Gateshead and Eldon Square in Newcastle. I'm on the hunt for interesting shaped bottles for my fruit liqueurs, syrups and vinegars so this star is going to be useful. However, if you would like to pop in to the pop up shops, buy yourself various liqueurs in glass bottles shaped into stilettos, stars and gingerbread men and when you've drunk the contents, pass on the empty bottles to me! I often find people have left empty jam jars and bottles for me on my doorstep. This will give a new twist to my recycling and reusing activities!

You can if you wish take the bottle back to Il Gusto and pay to have it refilled. As I've been banging on for years about the need to avoid single use packaging, this fits the bill.

Making sauerkraut

making saurkraut Oct 17 (1)

We have used some of this huge cabbage to make sauerkraut. This is the first time we have made it and it is currently fermenting in a couple of kilner jars. We will let you know how it turns out.

making saurkraut Oct 17 (2)

saurkraut Nov 17

Elderberry wine

elderberry wine brewing Nov 17

We tried to make some elderberry jelly recently but it refused to set. Instead of trying to pump more pectin in, we decided to use it to make elderberry wine instead. It's brewing quite nicely in a demijon at the moment.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

First frosts

frost Nov 17 (2)

We have had our first frosts of the autumn. The roof of the main henhouse was frosted over recently and on one day, all the water bowls were frozen. Today has been the reverse. It's been so warm this morning that the bees were out in force.

Lamb toad-in-the-hole

lamb toad in the hole Nov 17

The leftovers from the lamb joint we had recently was put to good use. We made it into toad-in-the-hole. The vegetables with it were runner beans in a tomato sauce.

Eating Ivy

goats eating ivy Nov 17 1

We are into the time of year when greenery for the goats is in short supply. However, they do like ivy and there is a reasonable amount of it around. So we have started to feed them a barrow load a day, along with apples, carrots and hay. They seem to be quite happy with this menu.

goats eating ivy Nov 17 3

Ivy Nov 17 1

The chicks are growing

chicks Nov 17 2

The 8 chicks being raised by a mother hen in the quail house are all growing well. They are over 2 months old now and their adult plumage is developing well. We will keep them in the quail house for a couple of months yet and then release them into the flock.

Pregnant goats

pregnant goat Nov 17 2

After a false start in September it now looks like both Spot and Georgina are pregnant. Assuming I'm right, and I haven't repeated the same mistake in September when I thought they were both pregnant when they weren't, I reckon they are about 3 months in and therefore babies should be due in the early new year.

pregnant goat Nov 17 1

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Roast lamb again

roast lamb and vegetables Nov 17

We had another joint from the lamb we acquired through a swap recently. Roasted with vegetables, the meat fell away from the bone. Very nice!

Meat balls

meatballs Nov 17

We found a pack of pork sausagemeat in one of our freezers from about 3 years ago, when we last bought a pig. As are still on a drive to use up the older contents of the freezer, we made  meatballs. They went with a rather nice tomato sauce. Sadly, the pasta was not homemade.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Collecting the hay

goats and hay Nov 17 2

We returned to High Spen yesterday to collect the hay - 10 bale in total. We would have loved to have produced the hay ourselves but we have had some major distractions this year which made fulfilling all our plans impossible. So buying in the hay was a necessity. At least we can now rest assured that we have secured the goats' feed supply until the spring.

goats and hay Nov 17 1

Bonfire Night

bonfire Nov 17

We had a large pile of branches from which the goats had eaten the leaves and twigs. It had built up over the past couple of months and was now getting in the way. So, to mark Guy Fawkes Night, we had a bonfire of the branches which I am delighted to report are no longer getting in the way!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Sausages at High Spen

The Hop Garden in High Spen had a not-Bonfire-Night event tonight which I attended. Lots of people there I know from my self-sufficiency activities. A local farm was running a barbeque selling pork sausages from their own rare breed pigs. I guess after the evening that they were even rarer pigs! I discovered the farmer was, like me, a goat keeper. She also had hay for sale. A useful purchase was made. We need to go back for the hay on Sunday as we had turned up in our little Polo which would barely hold half a bale, never mind the 9 we bought! The land rover will therefore not be having Sunday off.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Elderberry vinegar

elderberry vinegar Oct 17

Last month I picked a late crop of elderberries with the intention of using them to make red champagne. What I got was not what I planned. I left the elderberries in the fermenting bucket for too long. I now have 4 bottles of a very pleasant elderberry vinegar. Perfect in salad dressings or pickling red cabbage.

Pickling the waste cucumbers

cucumbers Oct 17

I wrote recently about how someone had put lots of perfectly good greenhouse produce into the compost bin on the Whinnies Community Garden. Having rescued as much as I could, I've now pickled all the cucumbers in a sweet pickling vinegar which I make for pickling gherkins etc. I will let them mature for a few weeks before using them but they are looking rather good!

pickled cucumber Oct 17

Sweet mince

sweet mince Oct 17

A bit later than I planned but I've now made a significant quantity of sweet mince. This was the opportunity to use up old jams and marmalades as well as pickled soft fruit, left over from making fruit liqueurs. I will leave the jars to stand for a few weeks before using the sweet mince but we will be making plenty of pies over the winter.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Video - how to make homity pie

Homity pie is made from ingredients largely grown on allotments and it was popular during the 2nd World War in Britain, especially with the land girls. That meant it was ideal for us to try in our world of self-sufficiency. I will post up the recipe later this week.

Freezing the peppers and chillis

chillis Oct 17

Recently we rescued a large number of chillis and peppers (all in good condition) from the Whinnies Community Garden compost bin. As we had so many, we decided to freeze some of them. I will be using some soon in chutneys (hot marrow) and sauces. It's quite shocking how much good quality food is thrown away.

chillis and peppers Oct 17

Supersize cabbage

cabbage supersize Oct 17

This enormous cabbage was grown by my friend Steve who donated it to the Whinnies Community Garden to sell in the garden shop to raise funds. It was however too big to sell so I bought it (it cost me a jar of chutney which itself can be sold for money). We have used half of the cabbage so far to make sauerkraut (more about that on another day). We have not yet decided what to do with the rest of it but it will have to be used up soon. Watch this space!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Cheese pudding

Cheese pudding Oct 17

This was dinner recently - cheese pudding with tomato sauce, home grown potatoes roasted and home grown cabbage. The cheese pudding was a useful way to use up surplus eggs and breadcrumbs. My confession is that the cheese was mass produced and bought from a supermarket. Hopefully our cheese production will pick up next year.

Tomato sauce

tomato sauce Oct 17

We have used some of the ripe tomatoes rescued from the Whinnies compost bin for soup but we have also made tomato sauce. Some of this has already been used but most has been frozen for use later in the year. That means that all of this year's tomatoes have now been used or frozen (including the green ones).

Friday, 27 October 2017

Tomato soup

tomato soup Oct 17

The best use for slightly over-ripe tomatoes is to make them into soup, as I did a couple of days ago. I added a few potatoes and onions and well as the water in which some potatoes had been boiled the day before. Vegetable water can contain lots of nutrients that most people throw away. Don't waste them! Use them to make soup!

Anyway, the tomato soup was a success. Sadly, it was my last meal before I left Sunniside to come down to London for a few days. I'm having to rediscover the art of buying food from supermarkets.

Reusing egg boxes

egg boxes Oct 17

People give us lots of things that they don't need any more, from jam jars to unused hay, from old margarine tubs to broken paving stones. We find a use for them all. We often receive egg boxes. We can't sell eggs in someone else's branded egg boxes but they have a rather useful alternative use as mini plant pots. Cardboard ones can be planted directly into the ground or into bigger pots once seeds have germinated and grown sufficiently. Plastic ones have a small drainage hole punched in the bottom but have to be thrown away after one use. But at least we do get an extra use out of them rather than having them going straight into the waste stream.

Lamb chops

lamb chops Oct 17

We ate a bit more of our lamb a few days ago. Grilled lamb chops with lots of home grown vegetables. The bones weren't wasted. They went into the freezer and will be joined by more lamb bones in the future which will then be made into stock (and then bonemeal.)

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Video - how to make stuffed peppers

A good crop of peppers and some ricotta cheese made from our goats' milk brought together to make stuffed peppers. The goats also have a starring role in this video.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Clearing out the greenhouse - helped by the goats

greenhouse Oct 17

We have harvested all that we can from our greenhouse so today I stripped out the pepper and chilly plants. The goats decided to help themselves to them from the wheelbarrow. What was left went into the compost bin.

goats Oct 17 2

Rescued from the compost bin

compost bin Oct 17

Someone in the Whinnies Community Garden had stripped out a greenhouse recently and put all the plants in the compost bin. However, they had left on them all the tomatoes, peppers and chillies. They were in perfectly good shape. In what must be the strangest scavenging session I've carried out, I sifted through the plants and recovered a few kilo of produce. I think someone must have forgotten the golden rule of growing your own - you are meant to eat it, not throw it out!

tomatoes peppers chillies Oct 17

Self-Sufficient omelette

omelette Oct 17

Everything in this omelette was produced by us: eggs, tomatoes, onions and the potatoes for the chips. Who needs supermarkets!?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Apple and green tomato chutney

Apple and green tomato chutney Oct 17 (1)

This was meant to be another batch of green tomato chutney but I made the mistake of making it from memory. Only after I had added in an equal quantity of apple to green tomatoes that I realised I had overdone the apples. In the end it came out fine but I felt obliged to add "apple" into the name of the preserve!

Apple and green tomato chutney Oct 17 (2)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Drying off the potatoes

potatoes Oct 17

We are still bringing in our potato crop and we've also traded for potatoes as well (see photo above). Potatoes are a key crop for us and an important source of carbohydrates. So we need to have enough to last us until spring. That means drying them off to get rid of the soil on them before putting them into paper sacks (which are reused sacks for our poultry feed). The spare room comes into its own at this point. The potatoes are spread out on the bed. At least the room is earning its keep!

Quail egg mountain

quail eggs Oct 17

Quail eggs keep a surprisingly long time but we still have a large amount to use up. All the ones laid from April to June were put into the above box and shipped over to the feed shed on the allotment. They will be gradually added to the hens' mash. The remaining quail eggs are gradually being used to make salads. Sadly, if I see another such salad, I will probably scream!

Ricotta loaf

ricotta loaf Oct 17

We had lots of ricotta stuffing left over from making the stuffed peppers so I put it into a baking tin and roasted it for an hour at 160C. It went well as a side dish.

Stuffed peppers

peppers Oct 17 1

We picked our crop of peppers recently and decided to have some of them stuffed and roasted. The stuffing was made from ricotta cheese made from our goat's milk,  bread crumbs, onions and tomatoes. The peppers were then stuffed and roasted in the oven for 45 minutes at 160C.

peppers Oct 17 2

ricotta stuffing for peppers  Oct 17

stuffed peppers Oct 17

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Harvesting the chillies

chillies Oct 17 (1)

We have had a good crop of chillies this year and we have also got extra chillies in food swaps as well. So while we work out what to do with them all, we have preserved some in cooking oil and the rest have gone into bags and have now gone into the freezer.

chillies Oct 17 (2)

It has just occurred to me, though it is too late now, that I could have dried some of the chillies. I will try that next year instead.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Video - chick update

We had a broody hen in September so we gave her some eggs to hatch. We also put some eggs in an incubator. The result was 9 chicks, all now adopted by the mother hen.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Corn off the cobb

corn off the cobb Oct 17

We were given a sack of corn on the cobb recently so we sliced the corn off today. We now have three bags in the freezer. My first thought was to turn it into relish but I decided we will just used it as a vegetable or ingredient in meals. We now have a vegetarian living with us so having a stock of something that is both non-meat and high in protein is useful.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Duck soup

duck soup Oct 17

The leftover pot roasted ducks were stripped and the bones were made into stock. Meat and stock, along with some small cabbages which needed to be used up, were made into soup. We had it for dinner tonight (the non-vegetarians that is).

The bones will now be dried and made into bonemeal. No waste.

fish cakes

fish cake Oct 17

The leftover trout from last night's meal was made into fish cakes today. We used our rooster potatoes but found they were not the best texture for mashing. Fortunately we have some maris pier and King Edwards waiting to be harvested which will be much better for boiling and mashing. Nevertheless, the fish cakes went down well with our veggie friend who is staying with us.


rooster potatoes Oct 17

We have had a good crop of rooster potatoes which we have just harvested. They are red skinned and are good for both baking and roasting. We've had some already - with the pot roast duck and the grilled trout.