Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Little Distraction

Hasn't the weather been lovely the last couple of days?! We were spending a very wet and blustery Sunday afternoon giving our three bedrooms a spruce up and a tidy. You know the sort of thing, clearing out the piles of things that accumulate in corners, dusting under the beds (shocking amount of dirt under there) and moving things up to the loft that had been waiting to be put up there for months. 

As Joe went to put something in the airing cupboard his attention was drawn to the peeling paint on the cupboard door. And then this happened:

Followed by this:

And a little bit later this:


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Sunday, 27 October 2013

October in the Chicken Coop

This month in the chicken coop....

... Frog learns a new trick:

A quick hop up onto the windowsill and she neatly avoids the fence we've built. We don't think she gets into the veg patch this way - we've seen her squeezing through holes in the fence again - but invariably this is how she chooses to get out when she sees us coming (or is bribed!). Typical. The fence still does the trick with the other three which prevents complete destruction, and fortunately there's very little left to harm now anyway, but we'll have to come up with a better solution before next spring. *sighs*
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Friday, 25 October 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fruit of the Garden - October's Harvest

This month we've been clearing down the garden ready for the winter. There are some plants still happily producing fruit and veg but some we've decided to just take what we can and leave it there.

We've dug up the last of our potatoes (the pink fir apples):

We've harvested the rest of the tomatoes - mostly ripe and a few green:

Joe cleaned up the shallots ready for moving into the kitchen.

We've harvested our sweetcorn. It's a little undersized, but we put these plants in quite late and are glad to get something from them.

The courgette plant is still going, producing marrows and courgettes depending on our vigilance.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Making a Sticky Mess

This week has been preserves week in our house. We've made jelly, marmalade and chutney resulting in a lot of pan shuffling, using of every utensil and and a lot of stickiness. It's been great!

It all started with the tomatoes. We've been watching our tomatoes fail to ripen for weeks and had come to the conclusion that rather than sit patiently and wait for it to happen we'd make green tomato chutney. Then the week before our free weekend half of the tomatoes ripened. Typical. We decided to make a mixed tomato chutney anyway as we aren't eating enough salads now to get through them.

Then we thought, while we're making chutney, why not make marmalade from the oranges we put in the freezer when the seville oranges were in season. It was looking a good plan - marmalade and chutney would be plenty to keep us our of mischief.

I am from the pre-boil the oranges school of marmalade making. Once boiled the insides just scoop out and the skins are nice and soft for shredding. It is also more pleasurable to be up to your elbows in warm sticky gunge rather than cold sticky gunge!

As the weekend approached though, a box of quinces appeared from stage left. My cousin had been given them and thought we might like some. That sealed the weekends fate of being preserves, preserves, preserves. We no longer had enough empty jars to contain all the goodness but found a willing friend with a stash. While making this lot has certainly kept us busy, much in these recipes is of the "do this, then leave for an hour (or two or twelve)" ilk which makes it quite relaxing work for the amount of output. Perfect!

I love our old grocers scales for this sort of thing. We got them in an antiques shop for less than the normal kitchen sets and it is dead handy for dealing with big quantities! 4lb of fruit? Room to spare!

Recipe states to wipe with a dry cloth. It transpires that the furriness comes off! 

All of our recipes for these came from the same book. This was a charity shop find a few years back, and a must buy for its extensive selection of preserving techniques. It covers everything from jams to wines, drying and smoking to chutneys and pickles. It also has a lovely, very extensive, section on home freezing, clearly written for a generation where a freezer was a gadget not an essential.

ISBN 0330255630

The results (in iphone panorama form)!

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Friday, 18 October 2013

Photo Friday - Buffet Lunch

The photo Friday this week is a picture I took recently as promotional material for a friend who is starting a business doing cold buffets. I can definitely recommend him - if you are in the area and in need give Geoff a shout on 07564 902 917!

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Summer Knits: 6. Moving On Up

Hooray, I finally did it. Two sleeves completed, joined to the rest of the body and I've now started to work on the yoke. Progress is slow as each row contains 409 stitches at the moment, but its good to be working on the main body again. It's all downhill from here.

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Garden Blogger Blooms Day - October

Ill just leave these here...

Why hello mr buzzy bee!

Our beans did awfully this year - those ones behind are as big as they have got. New seed for next year I think!

The last of the sweet peas, guaranteed. The plants are in the compost heap now!

The cyclamen are starting  to bloom. It must be getting cold...

And another month where I shall say the last clematis flower of the year!

Although it was windy when I took these photos this rudbeckiia really does just look windswept.

This penstemon is rapidly becoming one of my favourite plants for abandoning in an awkward corner. This one is under a dry overhang at the front of the house and is still flowering many months on!
Linking up with May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day again.
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Friday, 11 October 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Kitchen Gadgets: 2. Zester

This months gadget is a very simple one - it has no moving parts and is entirely mechanical. It is a zester. I use it for baking and cooking in equal measure. I am sure many of you have attempted to use the "zester" side of a box grater and cursed at the amount of rind left stuck between the barbs. This method doesn't have that problem. It produces lovely long strands of lemon zest that you can either use whole or chop more finely. I also find it gets almost no pith and still does a good job of getting the zest off the whole fruit, particularly knobbly lemons! There is also something rather satisfying about methodically removing long strips of zest.

Smoked Salmon Risotto 

Serves 2
  • One Diced Shallot
  • 15ml Oil / Butter
  • 150g Risotto Rice
  • 1/2 Litre Vegetable Stock (I use standard swiss vegetable buillon - the green tub)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Drops Lemon Oil (optional)
  • 60-120g Smoked Salmon Trimmings (as much as you fancy, we use value ones)
  • 100g Spinach / Rocket (depending on time of year)
  • Grated Parmesan (to garnish)
Fry off the shallot on a low heat. Make up the vegetable stock, adding the zest and juice along with the bay leaf and lemon oil. Add the rice to the shallot and stir through. Add the stock mixture bit at a time, mixing lots and letting it gently simmer. Once the stock is used up and the risotto is cooked, stir the smoked salmon through. Serve on a bed of leaves and garnish with parmesan.

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Friday, 4 October 2013

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Summer Knits 5. Must there be two?

While it's definitely autumn now our Summer Knits are still progressing but I must admit I'm getting a little impatient with mine at the moment. It's an impatience that I'm sure that everyone who's ever knitted socks, gloves, mittens or a jumper can probably attest to.... I'm knitting the second sleeve! I really want to get working on the yoke, which is going to be by far the most interesting bit of the whole thing, but I can't until I have two sleeves. *Sighs*

We've got lots of driving and plenty of time sat chatting to people this weekend so hopefully I can plough on and get to the interesting bit soon. Fingers crossed, eh?

p.s. I know I talk about my summer knit much more frequently than Joe's. That's because he's a much busier person than I am, coupled with being a new knitter, and as such is making much slower progress. I'll show you how he's getting on when there's something to show. 

Previously: 4. Bust Shaping
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