Tuesday 29 December 2015

Christmas dinner: roast wild goose

goose for roasting Dec 15

Main course for our Christmas dinner was a roast wild goose. We got the goose from a friend who swapped it for some jars of jam.

apple and potato stuffing Dec 15 2

Stuffing was made from apple softened by simmering which is then added to mashed potato.

goose giblet stock Dec 15

Gravy was made by boiling the giblets with some vegetables.

roast goose Dec 15 1

And the final versin on the plate with vegetables we have produced ourselves or by other locals with whom we swapped:

roast goose dinner Dec 15 1

Christmas dinner: quail scotch eggs

quail scotch eggs Dec 15 1

A bit late but here is the first post about our self-sufficient Christmas dinner. Starter was vegetarian scotch eggs. I made 2 different casings, one from broad beans and one from ricotta cheese.

quail scotch eggs Dec 15 2

The broad beans were boiled up and then put into a food mixer with an onion, a teaspoonful of curry powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 2 cloves of garlic.

The ricotta coating is made from ricotta cheese from our goats milk and an onion, mixed together.

quail scotch eggs Dec 15 3

Both versions were rolled in breadcrumbs and then deep fried.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Video: how to make strawberry and apple jam

This is the video I filmed earlier this month of strawberry and apple jam making. The apples provided the pectin to make the jam set. People usually use lemon juice rather than apples but we had a good crop of apples this year. The apples also padded out the strawberries - that crop had not been so good.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Collecting Geraldine

On Christmas Eve, Geraldine, the older of our goats, came into heat, so we took her to a local farm to meet a billy and she stayed there for 2 days. We collected her this morning. That makes 2 Boxing Days in a row where we have been taking or collecting goats for mating.

Thursday 24 December 2015

How we make horseradish sauce using our goats milk and cream

Lots of horseradish growing on our allotment so we used some of it with milk and cream from Pinkie to make horseradish sauce. We still have loads of horseradish to use up.

Monday 21 December 2015

Adopting the goathouse

goats Dec 15 (3)

When we built the new goathouse for Geraldine and Georgina recently, they didn't seem too keen to move in, despite taking away their old shed. A couple of nights were spent out in the rain. More recently, I'm pleased to report, they have finally moved in. It is much bigger than their previous shed and hopefully they won't knock it to bits.

goats Dec 15 (6)

Sunday 20 December 2015

Weird Weather

snow on allotment Dec 15

We have had some weird and changeable weather over thee past week. Last weekend, we were hit by snow. It remained on the ground for 2 days and as a result, Pinkie's appearance at a local fair was cancelled. She was due to make an appearance cunningly disguised as a reindeer.

goats Dec 15 (10)

goats Dec 15 (7)

Since then we have had, what is for December, a mini heatwave with temperatures normally expected in May. All our bee hives were active on Wednesday, though there wasn't much for the bees to forage. The heat continues though so does the mud on the allotment.

Friday 18 December 2015

Blackberry vinegar

blackberry vinegar Dec 15 1

A few weeks ago, I set out to make some bramble jelly. I got past the first stage - boiling up the blackberries and apples and then straining the resulting pulp. And then other things got in the way. The bowl of liquid was left standing for days. I decided on a change of plan. It would be made into red champagne instead. I added sugar to the bowl and let it stand a few days to allow fermentation to start. At that point it should go into bottles and be corked (which are wired down.) Except it was left too long in the bowl. Sure enough it started to ferment. But as it was left too long exposed to the air, the alcohol started to turn to vinegar. So I decided to let the fermentation and conversion to vinegar continue. A couple of days ago, I added the liquid to some cider vinegar and a small amount of sugar, boiled it for a couple of minutes and then bottled it.

blackberry vinegar Dec 15 2

The end result was 9 bottles of blackberry vinegar, great for use in salad dressings.

Chillies in oil

chillies in oil Dec 15

We had lots of hot chillies. How best to preserve them? In olive oil. Sadly, the oil is something we can't produce ourselves. We don't quite have the climate for growing olives so we had to make a trip to the supermarket. Nevertheless, we now have lots of chillies preserved for the year ahead.

Vegetable soup with chicken stock

vegetable soup with chicken stock Dec 15

Two cockerels were slaughtered recently. We roasted them, stripped off the meat (which is temporarily in the freezer awaiting conversion into potted meats) and we used the bones to make stock. This was then used to make soup with some vegetables that needed to be used up. So, not quite entirely vegetarian but not bad anyway.

Strawberry and apple jam

strawberry and apple jam Dec 15 (1)

We didn't have many strawberries this year and those we did have went into the freezer. A few days ago, I needed the freezer space so the strawberries came back out to be used to make jam.

strawberry and apple jam Dec 15 (2)

Most people use lemon juice to set strawberry jam. We used some of our apples, cored, peeled and chopped instead. By weight of fruit, the apples were about 40% of the total.

strawberry and apple jam Dec 15 (3)

A small amount of water was added to the preserving pan with the fruit to stop the apple catching on. The fruit was brought to the boil and then simmered until it was all a soft pulp. An equal amount of sugar was then added and the pan was brought back to the boil. Once setting point was reached, the jam went into hot, sterilized jars.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Cheese cake

cheesecake Nov 15

With all that ricotta cheese to use up, we've turned to making cheese cakes. They've turned out rather well, especially with some of our homemade lemon curd used as a topping. I'll be doing a cheese cake video soon. Watch this space.

Making potted meats - the first step

roast chicken Nov 15 1

We slaughtered another two cockerels last week and the roasted them. That, however, was not the end of the story. We are planning to make potted meat though, due to lack of time, the cooked meat is now in the freezer. I've never made potted meats before so I will be looking up recipes soon.

roast chicken Nov 15 2

This is all part of our plan to revive old skills and ways of preserving foods that used to be used commonly before the invention of the freezer.

Goats in heat

One of our goats, Geraldine, was in heat over the weekend. The other 2, Pinkie and Georgina, went into heat yesterday. We are not yet ready to send them to be mated. They had blood samples taken on Tuesday for testing for CAE and they won't be leaving the site until the results come through, probably next week. So they will be mated when they come back into heat in 3 weeks' time. Which means we will be busy between Christmas and New Year!

Pheasant soup

pheasant soup Nov 15

More use for the two pheasants we had recently: pheasant soup. Potatoes and onions went into it as well. It was then blended. We got 3 meals each out of it.

Roast beef and horseradish sauce sandwich

roast beef and horseradish sandwich Nov 15

This did for lunch recently - cold roast beef from the joint we had for Sunday dinner with some of our horseradish sauce. Very nice.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

The last runner beans

Runner Beans Nov 15

We picked the last of our runner beans recently. We had left them a bit late so some of the pods were not in a good shape. We have rescued what beans we can and have sent all the pods for composting. The beans will be mashed up at some point soon and will be one of the ingredients to go into the casing for mini veggie scotch eggs. We have some quail eggs left to use up so watch this space.

Pheasant potato cakes

pheasant potato cakes Nov 15 (1)

We swapped some jam recently for a couple of pheasants. Since we had no room left in the freezers, we decided to use them straightaway. The meat was used in a number of different recipes, one of which was pheasant potato cakes. They are simple to make - mashed potatoes, chopped pheasant meat, lightly fried onions and some herbs mixed together and then fried.

pheasant potato cakes Nov 15 (2)

They went rather well with some of our plum chutney.

Friday 4 December 2015


goat Dec 15 (3)

We have had lots of rain recently (and the weather forecast shows there's lots more to come). Parts of the main allotment have turned to mud. The ducks love it. The hens don't. So it was not surprising to find Pinkie's goathouse full of hens recently. A sensible (and dry) place to hang out.

Thursday 3 December 2015

Invading the fruit cage

Goatin fruit cage Dec 15 (4)

I got to the the allotment a few days ago to let out the poultry and feed the animals only to find that Pinkie, our milking goat, had invaded the fruit cage and was munching her way through branches and a few remaining leaves. The netting around the cage had split at one point and Pinkie, being Pinkie, had discovered it and used it as the way in. I left her to it. The shrubs in there needed to be pruned and she was doing a good job for us.

Goatin fruit cage Dec 15 (1)

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Our first sweet mince pies of the season

sweet mince pies Nov 15

Lots of sweet mince pies made last night, using some of the very large quantity of sweet mince I made recently. I too some pies to a couple of meetings I had this morning. They went down well.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Marley Hill Christmas Market

Marley Hill Christmas Fair Nov 15 (7)

It was the Christmas Market in Marley Hill Community Centre today in the next village up the road from us. I was there to sell my preserves and a few tubs of honey. Quite a good little market. I took more than expected.

Video - how to make toad in the hole

Toad in the hole is a great recipe to use up some of our sausages, one of our duck eggs and some of our goats milk. I filmed this last week.

Monday 23 November 2015

Roast beef

roast beef Nov 15

We rarely have beef. It takes up a great deal of resources to produce it so large scale consumption is unsustainable. Eating beef for us is therefore something for special occasions. Yesterday was our 30th anniversary so we decided that was worth celebrating. We had some beef we got in a local farm in a swap. It was also an excuse to try out the recently made horseradish sauce.

So dinner yesterday was roast beef, Yorkshire puddings made from our own eggs, our own vegetables and, of course, the horseradish sauce made from our own horseradish and cream.

roast beef dinner Nov 15

Excellent meal!

Making horseradish sauce

horseradish Nov 15 1

We have lots of horseradish so we had a go at making horseradish sauce last week, helped by some of Pinkie's milk having a significant amount of cream in it. Here's the recipe:

  • 30g grated horseradish root
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • half teaspoon English mustard powder
  • half teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 300ml of cream from our goats milk.
Soak the grated horseradish in hot water for about half an hour, then strain it. Add all the ingredients together and stir well. That's it.

However, as our cream was a bit runny, we added a bit of flour to thicken it. You may want to add more grated horseradish, depending on taste.

horseradish sauce Nov 15

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Video - how to make tomato and marrow chutney

I wrote about this recipe recently so here's the video. It is quite a sweet chutney so you may want to vary the sugar according to taste.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Video - how to make a chicken casserole

Our abundance of cockerels recently means we've had to be quite creative to avoid the tedium of roast chicken everyday! In this video I make a chicken casserole.

Crab apple jelly

crab apple jelly Oct 15

I didn't get round to making crab apple jelly last year. This year I was determined to make some. There was a good crop on the trees in the local hedgerows so I picked a bucketful and used half to make crab apple jelly. The other half was added to blackberries to make bramble jelly. Alas, half of what I produced has already been traded.

Making the sweet mincemeat

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (1)

Last month I made 35 large jars of sweet mincemeat. It is made largely from leftover materials such as soft fruit that has been pickled in gin and vodka to make fruit liqueurs, fruit purees made from the pulp leftover from making fruit jellies and jams, marmalade and jellies that failed to set.

These photos show the various ingredients at various stages of being mixed together.

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (2)

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (3)

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (4)

Vegetarian suet was added. Chopped apples were also included. The resulting cores and peel were used to make a jelly. And, of course, a modest amount of brandy went in. There was no need to add sugar. The jams contained plenty.

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (5)

Lots of preserves were included.

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (8)

making sweet mincemeat Oct 15 (9)

Lots of the jars of sweet mincemeat have already been used as swaps. The mincemeat however will, if not used this winter, mature over the next year and be usable next winter.

The roof is now on the new goat house

building the goat house Nov 15 5

The roof has now gone on to the new goat house. All that's left to do now is to put on a door and install guttering. Geraldine and Georgina are starting to use it - but only because I've put their trough in it and therefore they have to eat there. They continue to prefer the old, knocked-about shed as their main shelter. That shed however will be moved out of their paddock shortly. We will repair it and use it for storage.

building the goat house Nov 15 6

We will whitewash the roof in the spring.

goats Nov 15 26

goats Nov 15 25

Monday 16 November 2015

How to make ricotta cheese - video

I filmed this recently. We were amazed at just how much ricotta we could extract from the whey which we were previously putting in to our poultry mash.

More stuffed marrow

marrow stuffed with ricotta Nov 15

A glut of marrows and a glut of ricotta cheese (what a terrible life self-sufficiency has inflicted upon us). What to do? Add some breadcrumbs, onions, celery and chillies to the ricotta and use it to stuff a marrow. It kept us going for two and a half meals.