Sunday 30 November 2014

Apple jelly

We had a few bruised apples to use up, and some peel and cores left over from some baking recently. They weren't going to be wasted. I boiled them up to make jelly. Some are likely to be swapped for other people's produce and I have a lingering suspicion some may find their way into hampers which may be used as Christmas presents.

More cheese making

I've been making more cheese again. It is made in the simplest of ways. Milk was left to stand in a bowl for a couple of days. I was able to spoon off the cream for butter making. The milk itself had divided into curds and whey. The curds were put into cheese molds and left for a day to drain. The whey will be used to make soup. The cheese is soft and spreadable. I am now looking for recipes for cheese flans.

Friday 28 November 2014

Using scotch hands to make butter

We are continuing to make butter from our goats milk but we recently invested in a pair of scotch hands, wooden paddles used for squeezing out buttermilk and shaping blocks of butter. They were easier to use than I expected.

How to make Yorkshire pudding

We have lots of milk from our goat and eggs from our hens. Time to make Yorkshire pudding, which we had with the beef on Sunday.

Adding whey to the soup

We still had some of our beef and vegetable soup left over but a recent cheese making episode left us with some whey to use up. As an experiment I added it to the soup and reheated it. End result - a success.

CAE tests done

Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) is, I understand, quite a rare disease in goats in the UK. However it is a notifiable condition and goatkeepers are recommended to have their animals tested each year. The vet arrived yesterday afternoon to collect blood samples from each of our three animals. This was a job which turned out to be easier than I expected. The samples will be sent off to be tested.

One reason for doing this now is that I want to get the goats mated this winter and other goatkeepers will want to know that they are clear of the disease when their billies have their brief encounters with our nannies.

Thursday 27 November 2014

How to make quail scotch eggs - the video

I've now edited the video on how to make scotch eggs using quail eggs. We still have lots of quail eggs to use up so watch out for more quail eggs recipes in the near future.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Beef sandwich

We used some of the beef left over from Sunday to make sandwiches for lunch. Not just any old sandwiches! The bread was buttered with our own goats butter. The relish we added was made by us from our own horseradish and beetroot. Sadly, the bread was purchased from a supermarket. We must crack this problem of relying on bought in flour and bread.

Waste nothing! - beef and vegetable soup

On Sunday we pot boiled a top side joint of beef. The liquid left over was not going to be wasted. Last night I used it as stock to make soup. I simply added in some vegetables from the allotment. The result is a lovely broth that will provide us with our main meals for two days.

Beef toad in the hole

What to do with all that lovely beef left over from Sunday's dinner? And how can we reduce our egg mountain. The partial solution was to make beef toad int he hole. Instead of sausages, we used slices of beef from the joint. A very successful experiment!

Monday 24 November 2014

Goats milk porridge

Our milk surplus continues, courtesy of our goat Pinkie. So I made some porridge using the milk. Okay, the oats aren't grown by us so it's not a fully self-sufficient meal but it made a good start to the day.

Quail eggs on toast

Time is running out to use up the quail eggs we still have so we hard boiled some of them, chopped them up, added some tomatoes, pepper and mayonnaise and put them on toast. A simple meal but very tasty. But we still have lots of eggs to use up.

Jam roly poly pudding

This was pudding last night - jam roly poly. I made some marrow, plum and apple jam recently and half a jar of it went into this dessert. I'm pleased to say we still have half of it to eat up.

Pot boiled beef

In the summer we swapped some of our Tamworth pork for some beef with a local farm. Last night we pot boiled a top side joint: the joint was browned in some pork fat then we added in 3 cloves of garlic, some chopped onions and a sprig of fresh sage and one of thyme. To this we added a bottle of beer and topped up the pan with water to ensure the joint was three quarters covered with liquid. The lid went onto the pan and which was then brought to the boil and then simmered for 3 hours.

We also had Yorkshire puddings made from our eggs and goats milk. Sadly we are not able to produce our own flour so the plain flour used in the recipe came from the supermarket.

We used some of the liquid in which the joint was boiled to make the gravy - we simply added some cornflour (cornstarch for my American readers).

The end result was fantastic: beautiful tender meat and a lovely dinner. We still have a large amount of meat to use up and the rest of the liquid in which it was boiled. Looks like soup is on the menu tonight.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Self-Sufficient in Suburbia Spring 2014

This is a bit of a blast from the past but in spring I did not get round to editing all the video material we shot into a single programme. Yesterday I got round to pulling it all together. It focuses mainly on hatching hens, quails and ducks but we also rescue three feral honey bee colonies and do some food swapping at the High Spen Hop Garden.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Cream legbar cockerel

We have 7 cream legbar cockerels which we hatched in the spring and summer. We are keeping the one in the photo above. We have given him the name Long Tail. Not very original I know! Another cockerel is to go to a friend. Of the 7, only 3 are fully grown. Once the others have matured, they will either be found new homes or will end up on the dinner table.

Quail scotch eggs

We still have quite a few quail eggs still to use up, though our birds have stopped laying for the winter. Today I used some of them to make quail scotch eggs. The sausage meat came from our tamworth pig. I added some nutmeg, paprika and dried sage. Usually, I bake scotch eggs but this time I decided to deep fry them in some of the pig fat we rendered from recent joints. I was very pleased with the results.

Monday 17 November 2014

Making lemon curd and marmalade

We make lots of lemon curd and much of it is swapped with friends for their produce. A useful by-product of lemon curd is lemon marmalade. Our philosophy of zero waste means we have to find another use for anything that could otherwise be dumped in the bin. We freeze the lemon peel after taking off the zest and squeezing the juice for making the curd. When we have built up enough, the peel comes back out of the freezer and is boiled up.

Our latest batch of lemon marmalade was made at the end of last week. Sadly, we don't grow the lemons ourselves. We don't quite have the right climate here in the North East of England! We buy them from a wholesaler in Newcastle instead. The marmalade I made last week was thick cut rather than fine shred.

Cutting the hedge

Mick, on the neighbouring allotment to ours, said he was going to take the top metre off our dividing hedge. I suggested he simply leave the trimmings in the goat paddock. Most of what would be cut would be hawthorn which doesn't have a great deal of greenery on it. The goats however like to eat the twigs. There was also some ivy. Mick did the work yesterday, the goats are happily browsing and the branches that are left once they've finished will be chopped up and used as fuel. Nothing wasted.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Winter greens for the goats

Our search for fodder for our goats continues. There is a large amount of privet on the hedge next to the allotment site car park and it is very overgrown. Someone needs to manage and maintain it. I stepped forward to take on the task. The resulting food supply is being appreciated by our goats who can enjoy winter greens. They like privet and eat the leaves and twigs and nibble the bark off the branches.

It will take a couple of weeks to cut back the privet to supply the goats with a daily quantity of feed. Once the privet there has been cut down to size, I have found a privet hedge around a local bowling green that is desperate for some trimming and management. So everyone benefits. The bowling club has its hedge cut, the council saves money by not having to maintain the hedge themselves (not that any maintenance was taking place), the council doesn't need to pay to dispose of the trimmings, and my goats get well fed.

Moulting hens

Our older hens are going through a moult. Previously we have seen our hens moult in spring. Our younger birds are unaffected by those over two and a half years old seem to be happily losing their feathers and growing new ones. Houdini, one of our copper blacks, in the photos above and below, is our 2nd oldest hen and is over three and a half years old. We got her in October 2011. Like others of a similar age to her, the moult has been quite heavy. Hopefully she has fully grown her new feathers before the cold of winter sets in.

Mud, mud, glorious mud

We have had quite a bit of rain over the past couple of weeks. The result is that we are deep in mud. The ducks are loving it but the hens are not too happy. Nor is Pinkie, our golden guernsey goat, who shares the same land with our ducks and hens. Our two other goats have a separate paddock which is much drier.

Today, the weather has been dry and the mud has receded a bit. Sadly, tonight we are expecting more rain. At some point we are going to have to sort the paths on the allotment. The rivers of mud we have at the moment are not helpful.

Apple chutney

I had a number of apples that would not last much longer. So, a couple of days ago, I made them into chutney. 9 jars to be precise. This has left us with a large quantity of cores, peel and bashed apples to use up so tomorrow, I'll be using them to make spiced apple jelly.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Pinkie in heat

This photo was taken yesterday by my brother Andrew. My golden guernsey goat Pinkie is very friendly and affectionate and follows me around the allotment. She likes fuss and attention as well. It appears however that she is in heat. She is exhibiting the symptoms - rapid tail wagging, lots of bleating and pink, swollen vagina. We will have to move fast to get her mated.

Chicken soup

Sadly, I have to report that one of our 4-month-old cream legbar hen chicks was killed by a dog recently. She had managed to find her way out of the allotment and onto the path where she encountered her killer. As we have invested a great deal of time, effort and resources in our poultry, I was not going to let the bird go to waste. I took her home and plucked and gutted her.

I then boiled up the bird to make stock and when ready, the stock was strained and the carcass was stripped. The meat was chopped and went back in to the stock and some chopped potatoes and courgettes were added. Half an hour later and we had some rather nice chicken soup which was enough to provide wus with a mail meal for 2 days.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Hatching cream legbar chicks

I filmed this video in May but only edited it yesterday. So here's the catch up. We put 8 cream legbar chicken eggs into our incubator and before they were due to hatch, our area had a power failure. The incubator was without power for over two hours. We did not know if the eggs had survived and only found out when 7 chicks hatched.

Of the 7 chicks, 6 have survived though 2 of the hen chicks have been rehoused with our friend Johnnie, who gave us the eggs in the first place. Of the 4 we kept ourselves, annoyingly, 3 are cockerels, two of which are magnificent birds. We will keep one, the 2nd cockerel will go to a friend who is starting out on hen keeping (we will give her a hen as well) and the 3rd, which is smaller than the others, will be fattened up for the table.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

How to make goats milk butter - the video

I filmed this yesterday and have already used up all the butter I made!

Monday 10 November 2014

Toad in the hole again

We had toad in the hole a few weeks ago but decided yesterday to have it again. Our own eggs and milk went into the batter. Our own Tamworth pork sausages were used as well. Only the flour in the batter was bought from a shop.

Pasta carbonara

Another attempt to use up some of our surplus eggs was made on Saturday when we had pasta carbonara, made using a couple of small hen eggs which were laid a few weeks ago (and therefore needed using up) and some bacon from our Tamworth pig. Sadly, we are not in a position to grow the ingredients to make the pasta so that came from the supermarket instead. So was the cheese. At the moment we make soft cheeses from out goats milk. We have not yet made hard cheeses. That is still to come.

Bread and butter issues

Butter making continues, helping to make a small dent in the huge surplus of milk produced for us by our golden guernsey goat, Pinkie. Sadly, we have gone for a number of weeks recently in which we relied on commercially produced bread. This problem was addressed on Friday when I started bread-making again. To make the dough, instead of adding water to the flour and yeast, I added goats milk instead.

So, for the first time ever, we were able to have our own homemade bread, with our own homemade butter, and our own homemade cheese and jam.

Chillies in oil

Someone left a bag of fresh chillies for us hanging on our allotment gate. There was a pumpkin in the bag as well. No one has yet come forward to admit to their generosity though it is fair to say on our allotment site we often give each other surplus produce, preserves and eggs. Anyway, we decided that the best way to preserve the chillies was to put them in oil. This gives us the bonus of some chilly oil.

A surprise on opening the polytunnel

Everything that was in the polytunnel that needed to be cropped, had been cropped some weeks ago. I hadn't been into it since until I took a look inside over the weekend. I was rather surprised to find it full of thriving nasturtiums and nettles. This unexpected bonus will be used to make soups and salads over the next few weeks. Any nasturtium seeds will be pickled. They are quite peppery and make a good alternative to capers.

Bread and butter pudding

Waste nothing - it's one of the underlying principle by which we live our self-sufficient lives. So what to do when we are faced with a large amount of bread which needs to be used up? Normally we would turn it into breadcrumbs, of which we currently have a large quantity. So instead, we decided to make bread and butter pudding. This had the bonus of being able to use up some of our excess milk and eggs. The end result was very enjoyable and did us for 2 puddings over the weekend.

How to bottle rhubarb

In the past I have frozen rhubarb or made it into jam or chutney. In this video I show you how to bottle it instead.

Friday 7 November 2014

French fried toast and hawberry ketchup

When I was a kid, we often had French fried toast. Others may know it as eggie bread or egg fried bread. It is simply a slice of bread soaked in beaten egg and fried. I hadn't eaten it for years until yesterday. We have a number of duck eggs that need to be used up so I suggested French fried toast for dinner. As a child I loved tomato ketchup on my French fried toast. Last night, I had some of our hawberry ketchup. Lovely!

More cheesemaking

On Tuesday I put a day's supply of milk from Pinkie, our Golden Guernsey goat, into a bowl to allow the cream to rise to the top and be spooned off for butter making. Having taken off the cream, I decided to let the milk continue to stand as I thought I may get off even more. After a few hours I noticed the milk was starting to separate into curds and whey. I didn't get any more cream but I left the milk to continue separating and today there was a solid layer of curds. I spooned it off into a cheese mold this morning and left it to drain.

This is the result, a reasonably firm cheese but with a mild flavour. My plan tomorrow is to sprinkle salt crystals over it and role it in dried sage and chopped spring onions (I have some growing in the greenhouse). Watch out for an update soon.

Thursday 6 November 2014

A new layer?

We have 19 chicks that we hatched this year and some of the hens in this group are now old enough to start laying. Yesterday I found an egg in one of the henhouses that may have been laid by one of the cream legbar chicks. It is greener than the other green eggs laid by our columbines. It may be an egg from one of the chicks or one of the columbines may just have laid an egg greener than usual. It has a slightly lumpy shell, which I find sometimes with eggs laid by birds that have just started laying. You can see the egg on the left above. As a contrast I put the only other green eggs laid yesterday next to it. You can see the difference. Hopefully therefore one of the cream legbar chicks has matured and started to lay, though there was no sign of any eggs from her today.

Using the milking machine

The hand powered milking machine that arrived from the US last week was used for the first time over the weekend by David whilst I was away in London. I used it when I got back earlier this week. It works fine but I prefer hand milking, even though that requires filtering the milk.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Pickled onions done

Before leaving for London on Friday, I pickled the onions and shallots I peeled on Thursday. They had had salt sprinkled over them to draw out as much liquid from them as possible. The vinegar (I made a sweet, spiced vinegar for onions) replaces the liquid during the pickling. They should be ready for eating in about a month.