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

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bird Flu!!!


Quick one here. I know I have been away from posting for a while though I have been reading other blogs.
Still incredibly busy here, though it should slack off a bit soon now that  the Civic Society's public consultation is over, with the assessment of results nearly complete.
The big news today is BIRD FLU!
It is the first time that we have been asked to keep our free-range birds in for 30days because of bird flu on the continent. This request (on the news) was really quite robust when in the past it has been more of a suggestion. So today before I let the girls out of their 3 sleeping/laying/fox proof homes, I gathered various pallets, string etc so that I could secure them away from wild birds.
As someone who prides herself on the freedom my girls have, I am saddened that they will not have their lovely lives for a month. Not as upset as the girls you understand, as they are seriously p****d off!
The 6 almost-pullets in the goose house are now restricted to that house and the small run attached. The goathouse crew (new cockerel, a couple of broodys and grown chicks) are now shut in the goathouse. Later today I shall combine these two groups into the goathouse as they will have more space there. The main flock are excluded from the orchard and are in the first run before the orchard where we usually feed them. This run is netted above so should exclude all but the smallest birds, who access this run from all sorts of entry points!

Here are some of the orchard hens. This enclosed area is four times the bit you can see here, The little old house you can see is left there as a place to shelter, with some nice dry soil underneath for bathing. Behind me is a hen house that opens onto this run too, at the moment  no one is using it, though it is available if they want it. Further through the run is the entrance to the main chicken house and through the fencing is the orchard.

Here is a pic of the hens in the orchard (on the other side of the part of the fence you can see above) a while ago, they are crossing the pond that will certainly miss now that they are "locked in"
And here is the empty orchard this morning! A  rather sad sight.
I guess I will be using some of the stores I put by ( to keep them interested in the winter) sooner than I expected.
All for now, hoping to blog again soon.
Gillx

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Apple Mountain

Hello from a wet and windy Derbyshire. The river is up and some of next doors sheep are marooned on little islands of grass where the river has burst its' banks. I shall keep and eye on them.
Thank you so much for the comments on my last post. I learnt a lot and hope some of you did too. I will round up with a quote from Aneurin Bevan
"No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means" (I hope I remembered that correctly, but you get the drift)
Update on the apple mountain.
The other day I blogged that I was on my own for the day and not expecting visitors (fat chance- saw quite a few!) One visitor was especially interesting. he knocked at the door and said that he saw I had apples for sale, wondered what kind they were and if I had any not fit for selling ? Erm yes! This guy works for a small local brewery and was wanting to have a go at making cider. We walked around the holding together looking at what we had and I agreed to fill a couple of sacks for him while I was sorting the glut/picking up windfalls. Over the next week I put different kinds of eaters (he already had plenty of cookers) in the sacks and he collected them last week leaving me with a couple of bottles of their beer. I am looking forward to trying his brew.
 I finally have some cider on the way. I used 4 large bucketsful of mixed varieties and got 7 and a half litres of juice. Not too bad.. Eight trays of perfect eaters and a tray of Bramleys are now in cold store and I have a barrowful of Bramleys to process for the freezer. EGD and I made several jars of apple and honey chutney towards the Christmas hampers and our own winter stores. I have put a bucket aside for Cheeky (sheep) before they go off. The chickens have a barrowful of rubbish ones and the really awful ones are on the compost heap.
All sorted tah dah!!!
Still on a bartering/food theme. Godson arrived with some more pallets and a couple of pheasants he went away with a jar of marmalade and some fish. Just how I like to deal.
Here is EGD just starting the prep for the apple and honey chutney. It was great to have all the ingredients grown here. (Including EGD who was born in my bed!)
 Here is Adam just starting the beans sorting. he so loves this job and I so love it being done. from 9 o'clock we have butter beans, black beans, the tray to be sorted,; Borlotti; Lazy Housewife and  Streamline. As you see there are many more Streamline than I will need for seed and we don't eat them dried so will save for the pigs.

A couple of days ago before the rains came I looked into our neighbours field and saw mushrooms. I was very excited as we have had none this year. I collected a bucket and stealthily climbed over the wall to find.... turnips! the farmer had thrown several buckets out for his sheep. (not the only animals feeling sheepish)
All for now
Keep warm and safe
Gillx