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.

More roast chicken

roast chickens Oct 15 1

We've had lots of roast chicken recently. Chicks hatched earlier this year are maturing and as soon as a cockerel starts crowing, he is invited to join us for dinner. We have another 4 cockerels to go. We recently had two birds roasted. Leftovers are used for a variety of meals, ensuring nothing is wasted.

roast chicken Nov 15 (1)

Though the mass produced chickens sold in supermarkets have more meat on them than the birds we produce, the flavour of ours is, in my humble opinion, much better.

roast chicken Nov 15 (2)

The unbeatable combination is roast chicken, roast vegetables (potatoes, beetroot and parsnips) and a tomato sauce.

Toad in the hole

toad in the hole Nov 15

Our own milk, eggs and sausages. All we had to buy to make toad in the hole was plain flour and salt. This was dinner for us last night.

The sausages were a bit of a cheat, I have to confess. We bought the pig from Bill Quay Community Farm last year and sent it straight off for slaughter. Some of it was made into sausages for us most of which have been in the freezer since then. However, I am planning to make our own sausages using game we get through swaps and chicken meat from the cockerels we regularly have to slaughter. We have lots of wood pigeon breasts and I am checking out old recipes to making game sausages. So watch this space.

Tomato and marrow chutney

tomato and marrow chutney Oct 15 1

We had a stash of purple tomatoes recently and no chance they could be used quickly in salads or day-to-day meals. I therefore invented a recipe for tomato and marrow chutney:

  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 750g apples peeled and cored
  • 375g sugar
  • 250g onions
  • 500g marrow
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • half tsp ground ginger
  • 400 ml cider vinegar
Mix all the ingredients together and heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of hours until the consistency is that of a thick sauce. Then add to hot, sterilised jars.

This is quite a sweet chutney.

Lettuce and vegetable soup

vegetable and lettuce soup Oct 15

We recently got a couple of lettuces as part of a food swap. They went into the fridge and were forgotten for a few days. When we remembered them again, they were a bit past their best but still usable. I decided to make them into a soup, with some other vegetables. It turned out better than I expected.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Building the goat house - the work goes on

building the goat house Nov 15 3

On Sunday afternoon, more of the new goat house was built. We have now finished putting up the walls. Next weekend the roof goes on.

building the goat house Nov 15 4

It is substantially bigger than the existing goat house we use for Geraldine and Georgina which you can see in the photo below has been knocked to bits by the two of them.

goat house damaged Nov 15

Chicken potato cakes again

chicken potato cakes Nov 15 1

I recently made chicken potato cakes to use up some meat from one of our slaughtered cockerels. Recently, we have had to slaughter 2 more cockerels (they had just started to crow - at which point they join us for dinner as we are no longer allowed to keep cockerels on the allotment). We therefore have lots of meat to use up. We adapted the previous recipe by adding more vegetables - celery, peppers, onion and kale. Again, we were pleased with the results - useful as we are having them again tonight.

chicken potato cakes Nov 15 2

The chicken potato cakes went very well with our plum chutney.

Emmanuel College Fair

Emmanuel College Fair Nov 15

On Saturday, we had a table at the Emmanuel College Fair at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, to sell some of our surplus preserves. Quite a successful day. Lots of people interested in how we are achieving self-sufficiency.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Building the new goat house

Building the goat house Nov 15 (1)

Today we started building a new goat house for Geraldine and Georgina. This is going to be a goat palace, much larger than their existing hut (which they have largely knocked to pieces). It will mean there is space for the kids which hopefully they will have next year, assuming we are able to get them successfully mated this autumn.

Building the goat house Nov 15 (2)

We've only build one corner so far but hopefully next weekend, we will get more done.