Monday, 30 January 2017

The bacon cure recipe and prisoner hens

  Hello All
Firstly here is the recipe and method for the home cured bacon (courtesy of Cro)
Mix 2 parts sea salt to 1 part brown sugar some crushed black pepper and a good pinch of dried herbs.
 Day 1. Rub this mix all over your pork joint and place in a shallow dish (reserving a little of the mixture).
Day 2 Pour off any liquid and rub in remaining mixture.
 Day 4 wash off the salt mix , pat dry and wrap in muslin. hang in a cool dry place for 2 weeks.
I left the rind on for the curing  and removed it for cooking as it was very hard.
I used a piece of belly pork from half a pig I bought from a friend, but see no reason why you couldn't buy  a piece from the butcher to have a go.  Good Luck if you give it a go.

The chickens are still "cooped up"( I suppose that is the origin of the expression) I have put duct tape over the words"Free Range" on the sign by the road, but am sure that few people understand why. The news reports by Defra, the newspapers and the TV have been dire and sketchy at best.. How many people know (or care)  that we have had more cases of Bird Flu in the country? I wonder what we are suppose to do after 28th February, the date set in the new year for keeping the birds in. We have had four more cases since then but no notification of extending the deadline.
Anyway, I thought I would share the plight of my girls, and goodness knows they are better off than many. The goat house (which hasn't housed a goat since Annie died 4 years ago) is now given over to them. Three breeding doe rabbits now share the house, but we have had to cancel the piglets we ordered and the early cade lambs.
Here is the door to the house, The top is usually open, but the girls can easily jump out when it is. Our major concern is that the swallows arrive in April/May and use this entrance to come and go from the nests they build in the eaves here every year.
At the entrance is a tray, usually used to stand plant pots in, which has a sheet of carpet in the bottom and Jeyes Fluid diluted at the rate of 20 to 1 with water. The container and brush at the side is for cleaning boots etc if necessary.
I'm really chuffed that Jeyes Fluid is approved for footbaths etc for Avian Flu as it is so easily available. I bought 1 litre for £5.45 at Lidl last week.. bargain!
I have turned the small hutches, usually used for young chicks or kits into laying places, stapling black material over the netting an gaps between hutches to encourage the hens to lay in clean bedding.

 Towards the rear of this picture is an large hutch. I am using this as a vermin-proof place to keep some stores. ...Apples, marrows, pumpkins and onions in particular. I'm a little worried that the number of chickens will be increasing the temperature around the veg and they will not keep as well, so I have started to use this particular store. As you can see they birds are eating some soft apples here
 Here we look towards the door. You will notice that we have perspect roofing, which means that we are getting eggs now ( with some artificial light from 5 until 7) While I am complaining on behalf of the birds, the set up actually helps me as there is both electricity and water in the goathouse, meaning I can do all I need to do for their comfort in one place.
      The "bushes " you can see against the wall is a bamboo that I have tied up there to dry and was going to process into canes before the Avian Flu overtook us.                                                                                                                                                  
If this post has done nothing else it will have heartened those who thought THEIR smallholdings were untidy !!!
Back soon
Gillx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Hurrah for Harry Potter

Hello All.
Just starting to feel better after back-to-back lurgys!  While I'm getting a new post together with the bacon solution recipe and some bird flu update, here is a post I wrote before Christmas and never posted
There is an awful lot of literary snobbery about the Harry Potter books. I understand that they are not "classics" nor "worthy" and I know of many people who say they are trash and they wouldn't deign to read them.(mmm how can they know they are trash?)
Some years ago my grandson J. aged 7 (who has Asperger's) who could read exceptionally well (ever since a fantastic teacher found a way to make him sit still long enough to teach him the rudiments of reading  - thank you Mr Collinson!) would often stay with me overnight. I would read to him each night even though he read as well as I, as it calmed him and was part of a lifetime ritual. He liked books on Mythology, space stories and dinosaurs  and some other random stuff. I was always on the look out for something to read to him, or for him to read.
One particular weekend I was watching the news and saw a line of boys and girls queuing outside a book shop. They were waiting to buy book two of a series and were SO excited they were jumping up and down. What really caught my eye were the numbers of boys in the queue and I wondered what phenomenon had captured their interest. It was Harry Potter Book two (I hadn't heard of book one) Sometime in the next week we went to the library and borrowed Book One. I read the first chapter to J. and he then took the book off me and began reading. He read for hours and hours until he had finished it. Needless to say I set off to buy Book Two which he took away and read likewise. These book he read and re-read for the next year, while he waited for the next book to be released. One night when he was staying with me I said. "If you like Harry Potter I think you will like The Hobbit. I read the first chapter and he again took the book off me and read through the night until he had finished it. The next time he stayed I gave him the Lord of the Rings (my mother's favourite books, which we replaced each year for her as she wore each copy out!) He was in heaven, but had to be restricted to his reading times with these books obviously. He would walk around with one of the books under his arm (he still does this age 24) so that he could lose himself (and not have to interact with people either!).
I'm not sure that I would have thought to introduce J. to Tolkien so early without Harry Potter prompting me to do so.
I know of so many parents who say the HP has awakened an interest in reading in their child which can only be for the good and we all have to start somewhere,
So Hurrah for Harry Potter!
Back soon
Gillx


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Home cured bacon - The Results!

Hello All
This morning EGD and myself were getting ready to brave the grey damp weather to watch YGD compete in a (not very) local show. She was competing in the Dressage and Jumping. We thought we ought to have a little something inside us to keep us warm and decided on egg on toast until we remembered THE BACON. Only a day early, so off I trotted to the outhouse to bring the joint in.
We discussed how to have it and decided that simple was best so we had it fried and in a sandwich.
Here is the joint  after a few slices cut off

And here is is fried and crispy
Oh MY! it was Delicious!!!!!
Thank you Cro for the recipe and the method, we will be doing it again most definitely.
Back soon
Gillx

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Making Bacon and Jaffa cakes

 Hello
As mentioned in my last post. .......
Here is the half pig I bought from a friend. She had it slaughtered and would usually have it butchered too, but as the abattoir was busy with Christmas they could only cut the pigs into six.
 Here is my half, cut into three.

There was quite a lot of fat on it, but we are okay with that as it adds to the flavour and makes it more succulent and it looks like pork used to look. It didn't take me too long to cut it into joints and chops, which I froze apart from a good size leg joint that I chilled to roast on Christmas day and a piece of belly pork that I determined I would home cure for bacon  in the manner that Cro a blogger in France does.
Below is a (not very good) picture of the belly joint in the salt  I left the rind on for the process, though Cro tells me it is likely to be tough when finished, so I will remove it when curing is finished.This is coarse sea salt mixed with brown sugar ( I used demerara) black pepper and herbs. The second day I poured off the liquid that had gathered and put more (reserved) salt mix over the joint. I turned this again over the next four days, when I washed off the salt, patted the joint dry and hung in an airy outbuilding wrapped in muslin. It will be ready on the 9th January. I believe at this stage you could smoke it if you had the facility, but I shall try it unsmoked first. 
Just had a peek and it is looking and smelling good so far. Can't wait!!!

                                                                                                                                                                      And so to Jaffa Cakes....
The Jelly -- A few hours before (or the day before) you are due to bake, make a jelly (from jelly cubes) with 150mls hot water instead of 400ml and pour into a shallow tray and refrigerate
The cake bases -- Make a fatless sponge with 1oz sugar, 1 oz flour and 1 egg (beat egg and sugar together until light and fluffy and carefully stir in the flour) Grease  shallow patty tin tray. Put a large spoonful of mix into each patty tin and cook until very lightly browned and firm. This mix made 4 dozen little cake bases.
The chocolate -- melt chocolate (we used a mix of dark and milk choc) in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. When melted, take off heat and allow to cool.
While the chocolate is cooling cut rounds of jelly to rest in top of the sponge. We used the top of a salt pot (this also serves well to cut holes in doughnut dough!)















When the chocolate has cooled sufficiently (you will need to test this on any rubbish sponges you might have) so that the jelly does not melt immediately, spoon over each cake and smooth over.. Voila!!!













Look pretty good don't they? They cost very little too.
Hope these work for you, they are certainly easier and more like the real thing than those made on the GBBO.
Back soon
Gillx

Monday, 2 January 2017

A good start to the year

Happy New Year Dear Bloggy friends.
David and I have had the lurgy since Boxing day, but are now on the mend. David always suffers more than I do as he has such a weak chest for various reasons.
The chickens are still going stir crazy from being kept in because of the Avian Flu thing. I am still seeing hens and geese out in the fields as I drive along and wonder if they know that currently they are required by law to keep them in. On the plus side....
 THE CHICKENS ARE COMING BACK INTO LAY. Hurrah!. So the signs are out alongside the Honey and Kindling signs, so hopefully we shall earn some money to pay the butcher for doing the deed with the sheep that go tomorrow.
Had a great Christmas up until the lurgy struck. 18 for Christmas lunch and some lovely, thoughtful  and  useful presents. One of the best was a card from my godson and his sons for a days work from each. Brilliant! I have already got lots of ideas where some brawn will be very helpful. The children bought us some cider apple trees and a four wheeled barrow thingy which I have used already to ferry animal food about, bags of munchings for the chicken house floor and a bag of potatoes and carrots from the barn to the house. This morning I have put some bags of kindling in it to ferry to the gate for sale. David bought me an electric wax capping knife which I am excited to use and I bought him a new bee tunic as his is full of holes (not good!) Lots more presents given and received but won't bore you any further apart from to mention EGD's home made hampers. One of the items she made was Jaffa cakes, which were FANTASTIC and very easy to do (not at all like the rubbish efforts in the Great British Bake Off). I shall put the recipe in my next post.
All for now, as I'm feeling a lot better and am anxious to get outside while the sun shines.
A very warm 2017 welcome to Louise Pope, Rozie Hassan, Lias, Jennifer marie and Mary Lee Williams on Bloglovin and Rita Caudwell, Sandra Graham and Maude on the Google side bar.
Back soon with the Jaffa cake recipe and the low down on how I am attempting to home cure some bacon a la the "Cro method".
Gillx


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas

Revving up to a couple (or more!) days of friend and family overload, which is not a complaint in any way! So in the quiet before the bedlam, sitting in "my" snug with just the parrot for company, I would like to wish you all
            A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS  and a PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.

Gillx
PS in case you hadn't already guessed that is my own Santa with his youngest granddaughter on one of his several outings this Christmas.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Apple and Honey Chutney, present making and bird flu update


Hello All
The chickens are getting used to their prisons, but continue to try to push past me when I go into feed them! I am certainly using more food as they cannot find find the extras that free-ranging allows. I am spinning out the apples, marrows etc and David has the workshop oven lit each day to cook up vegetable peelings, which he is mixing with the gash flour from the mill.
 I have been interested to see how people have been approaching the difficulties.  Dawn at "Doing it for ourselves in Wales" seems to have all bases covered, she has even stopped feeding the wild birds, which is something I hadn't considered. Dawn is a smallholder with much experience, give her a read if you haven't visited her before.(I still don't know how to do a link)

A present for the man who has all he needs -
I have written before about my annual quest to find a present for a friend who has all he needs (and more) He always buys me books from a charity shop and I always make him something. For example, knitted dishcloth, dusters from old shirts and home made polish from out beeswax, an apron with a picture of his current house on the pocket, a tea cosy embroidered with a pic of his old house. You get the idea. This year |I have made him a dundee cake which I am putting in a tin on which I have stuck a label that resembles a bookplate. He is a serious collector of bookplates, owning thousands and adding to his collection all the time. Bookplates always have an illustration of some sort, the book owners name and often the words "Ex Livre" - meaning "from my library". My latin is non-existent and I have been trying to find the latin for Kitchen, but have had to settle for "oven". I know he will get the joke. I am also making him some stuffed dates, which I will make nearer the day, though I did make some almond paste yesterday for one of the fillings. I am not in the least bit worried that he will read this before the day as he can't even use a mobile phone!
This guy will also get a hamper from my granddaughter. Each year she makes preserves, cookies etc to put in her hampers which she gives to all the(older) adults in the family and friends. One of the preserves she made this year was Apple and Honey Chutney. This is a new recipe for us, with nearly all the ingredients grown here on the smallholding. Here is the recipe
Apple and Honey Chutney
12 Apples (pippins) we used large jonogolds
6 green Tomatoes
 2 large onions
3 peppers (I used both green and red)
Half cup of dried fruit (we used chopped dates)
one and a half tbs mustard seed
one a three quarter cups Honey
3 cups vinegar (we used cider vinegar)
one and three quarter tps salt
 "  "          "         "       "  ground ginger
  "             "          "       "      "      Allspice ( we didn't have any, so used nutmeg and cloves)
 2 cloves crushed garlic
Chop fruit and veg how you like it (some people like it really chunky)
 Put everything together in a pan and cook slowly until thickens ( so a view of the bottom of the pan can be seen when a wooden spoon is drawn over it) This took over an hour.
Put into sterilised jarts and seal.

Has anyone else had a surge of Russian readers again? At least somebody loves me - I seem to be losing followers on Google again (while the Bloglovin numbers grow steadily) Is it something I said?
Still unseasonably warm here. Off to post local Christmas cards and letters from the Civic Society and won't need hat and gloves methinks.
Back Soon I hope (yes I know I'm rubbish at regular posting)
Gillx