Wednesday 24 November 2010

Breadcrumbs and using up the sausage meat

We found some pork sausages in the freezer recently and used some of them to make toad in the hole. Alas, the sausages were awful. We were about to throw them out but my hatred of food waste kicked in and I came up with an alternative. I made a meat loaf with them.

To do this, I removed the skins and put the meat into the food mixer along with three leeks, garlic, fresh herbs, bread crumbs, an onion and a couple of eggs. I also added in some left over gravy and cheese source from a previous meal.I then mixed them all together and baked them at 180C for 90 minutes. We ate a slice with some fried up potatoes and runner beans left over from a previous meal. It wasn't the best meal I have made but it wasn't bad.

Most of the meal therefore consisted of ingredients that most people would throw out. Admittedly we had to buy the eggs and the onion (our crop of onions is close to being used up) but the rest were either leftovers or came from the allotment. The loaf will do us for about three meals.

We keep a box of breadcrumbs in the pantry and I advise everyone else to do the same. Breadcrumbs are a useful ingredient and can be made easily from stale ends of loaves that would otherwise be thrown out, fed to the birds or put on the compost heap.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

How to make sweet mince

It's autumn so thoughts turn to mince pies. And also to how I can use up the pears and apples that I picked in the early autumn but which won't survive storage over the winter. Using them to make sweet mince was the solution. So, in this video, I show you how to make sweet mince using apples and pears.

Making leaf mould

leaf mould Nov 10

November may be the time when most of the crops are harvested but there is one resouce that is abundant at this time of the year and should be harvested in large quantities: tree leaves. They make an excellent compost and soil conditioner. The problem is they take at least a year to rot down.

To make leaf mould, rake up fallen leaves in an area away from main roads and put them into large, bin-liner bags. Store the bags for a year in the corner of the garden or allotment. During the year, the leaves should rot down and their volume considerably reduced. You will then have a good quality compost ready for use. (If you feel the leaves have not rotted sufficiently, leave them in the bags until the following spring).

Thursday 18 November 2010

Newsletter now ready

At last, I have got round to writing the first edition of our newsletter about our attempts to become self-sufficient. So here it is. If you want to receive future editions by email, send a message titled "garden subscribe" to

Self_sufficient Newsletter No 1 November 10 (Email)

Monday 15 November 2010

Rosehip jelly

I wish I had made a video about this and I may well do so as I still have plenty of crab apples left and there are still rosehips to pick. Today I made rosehip jelly. On Saturday I got an unexpected supply of crab apples. My mother had spotted them whilst out walking the dog so she phoned me to tell me where they were. When I went to pick them I decided they were not crabs but small eating apples, though they are a bit tart. I also found a load of rosehips so I picked them as well.

So, how to make rosehip jelly:

half fill the jam pan with apples (chop the larger ones) and rosehips. The ratio to each other is up to you but I suggest to get sufficient rosehip taste, the weight of rosehips should be at least 40% of that of the apples.

Cover completely with water and apply heat to boil the mix. When you have reached boiling point, turn down the heat to simmer the contents for about 2 hours, so that the apples have pulped. Add a bit more water if needed.

Strain through a jelly bag and measure the liquid. Put the pulp to one side.

Put the liquid into the jam pan and boil it. When it has reached boiling point, add sugar - 1kg for every litre of liquid. Bring the liquid back to the boil and keep boiling (and stirring) until the setting point is reach. (To test, put a spoonful on a plate and leave to stand for a couple of minutes - if a skin forms, it is ready.)

Pour into warm, sterilised jars.

The jelly is a lovely red colour.

You can use the pulp to make fruit butter rather than throw it onto the compost heap. Put it back in the jam pan and add water, sufficient to ensure it is a wet pulp. Reheat the pulp and boil it for about 5 minutes.

Allow to cool and then press it through a sieve. Return the resulting puree to the jam pan (measure it first), then boil it. As soon as it boils, add a kg of sugar for every litre of puree.

Bring it back to the boil and keep boiling until the setting point is reach (check in the same way as above). Then add to warm, sterilised jars.

I may have a go at making more rosehip jelly. I've still got a pile of apples left to use up so it may be that I'll do a video about it as well. Watch this space.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Use leftover lemon skins to make marmalade

If you use lemons in jam making (they are a good source of pectin for jams and jellies for those soft fruit that are low in pectin) don't throw out the lemon skins. Use them instead to make lemon marmalade. We put lemon skins into a bag in the freezer and keep adding to it until the bag is full when we boil them all up to make marmalade. This video shows you how.

Saturday 13 November 2010

How to make a sweet cucumber and gerkin relish

The greenhouse gave us a huge crop of cucumbers this year and the allotment provided a seemingly endless supply of gerkins. So we made them into a sweet relish. The video shows how you how to make it.

How to make blackberry jam

Another late video from me so apologies! Blackberry jam is very easy to make and blackberries are abundant in the late summer and early autumn. So I recommend this one for those starting out in jam making.

Here's the video on how to make it.

How to make cauliflower cheese

We had a glut of cauliflowers on the allotment this year and during August we filmed a few videos about cooking cauliflower recipes. Alas, we've been a bit busy recently and have only managed to edit the videos slowly. This one is about how to make cauliflower cheese, always a great Brotish classic dish.

I've already posted up how to make aloo gobi but coming up are cauliflower and stilton soup, piccalilli and summer green leaf soup (which contains cauliflower leaves).

Friday 5 November 2010

The smells of an autumn kitchen

Our kitchen has a lovely autumn smell at the moment. Berries and apples, sweet mincemeat and homemade bread. Wonderful!

The berries and apples are in the jam pan at the moment, simmering away as I make another batch of hedgerow jelly. And I am making a vast quantity of sweet mincemeat. I am using a bag load of wild pears I picked recently along with some of the wild apples I picked a couple of months ago. The mix will stand overnight and tomorrow it will spend a bit of time in the oven before the brandy is added.

Bread baking was also done today for the next week. Finally, I am about to have a large jam tart with cream. I made it a couple of days ago with some of last years jam (bramble butter). We need to use up the old stocks to make room (and I am also running out of jam jars).

And finally, another of my bottles of elderflower champagne blew its cork in the garage today. I'm down to 15 now.
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Monday 1 November 2010

How to make hedgerow jelly - the video

Autumn brings a great crop of wild berries and fruit from hedgerows. I've been out recently picking blackberries, sloes, elderberries, hawberries, crab apples and rosehips. One of my favourite autumn preserves is hedgerow jelly (and its by-product hedgerow butter). In this video I show you how to make them.