Wednesday 30 September 2015

Bottling plums

bottled plums Sept 15

All our freezers are full so freezing a large quantity of plums was out of the question. Once we had made jam and chutney, we still had some to use up. I decided to bottle them. The process was easy. I made of syrup - 300g of sugar to a litre of water. The syrup was boiled and the cleaned, whole plums were added for 5 minutes. All the contents were then added to hot, sterilised jars, ensuring the plums were fully immersed in the syrup.

Cheese salad

goat cheese and salad Sept 15

We tried one of our hard goat cheeses recently. As a first attempt I was rather pleased with it. We had some lettuce leaves to use up so a cheese salad was the result.

Monday 28 September 2015

Chicken potato cakes

chicken potato cakes Sept 15 (1)

After a recent dinner we had leftover mashed potato and chicken (we slaughtered a couple of cockerels recently). I decided to experiment by making the poultry equivalent of fish cakes. I chopped up some of the chicken and added it to some of the potato with some chopped onions. The resulting mix was then shaped into cakes and fried. It worked quite well.

chicken potato cakes Sept 15 (4)

However, we still had chicken and potato leftover and we wanted to make the recipe more interesting. So the next day, we added some chopped peppers and celery. We also found some spiced mango powder (a Christmas present from a family member - they know how to treat us!) and a tsp of it was added.

chicken potato cakes Sept 15 (3)

The resulting chicken potato cakes went rather well with the apple chutney that won 2nd prize at the Bowes Show.

chicken potato cakes Sept 15 (2)

How to make plum chutney

plums sliced Sept 15

About a quarter of the plums we got in the recent swap were used to make chutney. The recipe is quite simple. For each kilo of sliced, stoned plums, you will need 1kg of peeled and cored apples, 2 large onions, a handful of star anise, a piece of fresh ginger root (peeled and grated), 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp salt, 450g sugar and 500 ml of white wine vinegar.

Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan except for the plums. Simmer for about half an hour so that the apples and onions become soft. Then add the plums and continue simmering until the quantity has reduced by a third to a half.

Then add to hot sterilised jars.

plum chutney Sept 15

Mince pies

mincepies Sept 15

We found an old jar of our homemade sweet mince in the pantry recently. Time to make mince pies! and very nice they were. It has reminded me that making the sweet mince for the winter is now an urgent task.

How to make plum and apple jam

plum and apple jam Sept 15 2

We recently had a big batch of plums and apples to use up. The plums in particular had to be used quickly. So one of the recipes I used was for plum and apple jam. Stone and chop the plums. Peel and core the apples. The resulting fruit should be about 50:50 plum and apple.

plum and apple jam Sept 15 3

Add the fruit to the jam pan with a bit of water and then bring to the boil. Leave simmering until all the fruit is pulped. Then add the same weight of sugar as for the total weight of fruit and put it on a rolling boil. When boiling point it reached (when a dollop of jam sets on a plate) add to hot sterilised jars.

plum and apple jam Sept 15 1

Redcurrant gin

redcurrant gin Aug 15

The recent supply of redcurrants did not just go into preserves. I made some redcurrant gin as well. 400g of fruit and 200g of sugar went into a storage jar with a 75cl of cheap, supermarket branded gin. It will be ready for bottling in December.

Redcurrant and rhubarb jam

redcurrant jam  (2)

I made some redcurrant jelly recently using fruit from the Hop Garden in High Spen. I bought the fruit using quail eggs. The pulp left over from making the jelly was used to make the jam. Rhubarb and a bit of fresh fruit were added to bulk up the pulp. The contents were weighed and put into a pan with a small amount of water. This was brought to the boil and simmered until the rhubarb had cooked through. The same weight of sugar as pulp, fruit and rhubarb was added and the pan brought back to the boil. Once setting point was reach, it went into hot, sterilised jars.

redcurrant jam  (1)

Sunday 27 September 2015

A big swap for apples and plums

apples and plums Sept 15

We did a big swap recently with a couple in Whickham who have a plum and an apple tree in their garden. I wasn't quite expecting the quantity. I ended up filling the back of the land rover, mainly with apples but with a decent quantity of plums as well.

The plums had to be used straightaway as they don't last. A day was therefore spent making apple and plum jam, plum chutney and bottled plums. I'll post the recipes for each soon. Below was my day's handiwork.

plum preserves Sept 15

Roast chicken

roast chicken Sept 15

We had to slaughter a couple of cockerels recently. This resulted in a rather pleasant dinner of casseroled chicken, which went well with carrots and potatoes grown on local allotments (we didn't grow them but we traded for them, using eggs ad jam).

Waxing the cheese

wax for cheese Sept 15

We are still learning to make cheese with the milk from Pinkie, one of our goats. We have been waxing the blocks of cheese recently to stop mould from growing on it. We have not yet tried eating any of the cheese protected in this way yet but watch this space. We will be trying it shortly.

waxed goats cheese Sept 15 (1)

waxed goats cheese Sept 15 (2)

Hazel gathering

Hazel Sept 15 (1)

We have had a lovely, sunny day making it more like late summer rather than early autumn. I used it as an opportunity to go to the local woodland and gather a bucket of hazel nuts. This is an important crop for us as hazel nuts are packed with protein, minerals and oils. Gathering them is a must-do job for those living self-sufficiently.

Hazel Sept 15 (2)

Friday 25 September 2015

Photos from the Bowes Show

Bowes Agricultural Show Sept 15

This is the full set of photos from the Bowes Show earlier this month.

Winning at the Bowes Show

Bowes Show Sept 15 1

We went to the Bowes Show in Co Durham earlier this month. We had various entries in the preserves, baking and eggs competitions. I'm pleased to report we got 2 firsts, a 2nd and a 3rd.

Bowes Show Sept 15 2

Bowes Show Sept 15 4

Bowes Show Sept 15 3

Though I came 3rd in the 4 eggs competition, it was the one I was most pleased with. It attracted far more entries than the jams and getting it is more challenging - getting 4 eggs of the same size and colour and with no imperfections is no easy task.

Bowes Agricultural Show Sept 15 (9)

Sadly, the weather was vile. It was tipping down and the field rapidly turned to mud. The rain kept the crowds away.

Bowes Agricultural Show Sept 15 (27)

Dad didn't bring his boots so is carefully plodding around the mud as he leaves the exhibition tent.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Turnip tops for lunch

Goat and hens Aug 15 (2)

Someone had left some turnips still with leaf and stem outside our gate today for the goats. A nice free meal for them. The chickens joined in as well. Lots of extra leaves recently seem to be boosting Pinnkie's milk yield over the past couple of days. She's gone from producing typically 2 litres a day to 2.7. I foresee more cheesemaking on the horizon.

Duck shelter

Duck shelter Aug 15 (2)

In the evening, we put the ducks in a run made from a former polytunnel. We've replaced the plastic sheeting with a net. One of my first jobs each morning is to roll back the net to allow out the ducks. However, though this has been a success at keeping the ducks safe from the foxes, it does not provide them with any cover. So on Sunday, we built them a rather solid shelter, using old materials including the old door that used to be the gate to the allotment. The ducks seem to be quite content with it.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Glendale Show - full set of photos

Glendale Show August 2015

You can view the full set of photos taken last week at the Glendale Show on the above link.

Whickham Flower Show

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (34)

The Whickham Flower Show was held yesterday. I paid it a visit but sadly, I was not able to enter any of the competitions. Gateshead Council is one of the sponsors and as the local Councillor, it would not look good if a member of the Council won competitions sponsored by the Council! Anyway, congratulations to everyone who took part, to all the winners, and to those who worked to put on the show.

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (36)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (35)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (33)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (29)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (27)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (25)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (17)

Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (16)

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Whickham Flower Show Sept 15 (7)

Saturday 5 September 2015

Visiting the Glendale Show

Glendale Show Aug 15 (16)

We went to the Glendale Show near Wooler in Northumberland on Bank Holiday Monday. There was a goat show, among other livestock events, and we were keen to see what went on, with a view to entering Pinkie next year. There were also lots of trade stands and we ended up having lots of useful conversations with smallholders, goatkeepers and especially cheesemakers. It turned out to be a very useful day out and we have lots of contacts to follow up.

Glendale Show Aug 15 (6)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (7)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (18)

We have a Land Rover Defender ourselves so this section caught our interest.

Glendale Show Aug 15 (22)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (21)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (23)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (27)

Glendale Show Aug 15 (28)

David and his choice of tractor.

Glendale Show Aug 15 (30)

We didn't enter any of the industrial competitions but if we are back next year, we'll be there with jam, loaves and bread and goats.