Saturday, 25 October 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

Well today I made the worst soup of my life. Using the squahes out of the garden I made a roasted butternut squash soup in the same way as when I make tomatoes soup, but I think I got the thickness wrong because it ended up like baby food with a bland flavour and nearly made me gag. The croutons were nice though.
Anyone got any better recipes for this vegetable as I don’t think I’ll be making soup from it again in the near future.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

What the fig?

I brought myself a new fig tree at Malvern show the other day as a nice addition to our patio. Since getting it back it seems to be dropping its green fruit which I thought was meant to stay on till next year.

Does anyone know why this is and what I can do to stop it?
(poor picture but you can see the bottom fruits are just starting to go bad)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Another great weekend

We had really beautiful weather this weekend so I thought it was time to dust off the old shotgun and go shooting on the farm.

I decided to go pigeon shooting first with decoys and then lamping later for rabbits.

I made myself a lovely hide, in a field that hadn’t long been harvested, and sat there for a few hours. This was fruitless and I didn’t see a single pigeon let alone shoot one, but it was lovely just to sit in the field and watch nature go by.

At one point a buzzard came within 10 feet of me and almost went for one of my decoys before realising they weren’t real pigeons! I really loved watching it fly off and land in the old half dead oak tree across the field, it seems we have so many birds of prey now and I can remember when there was none about on our farm, now we have buzzards, kestrels and sparrow hawks all around.

The lamping was a much greater success. This is essential pest control and since leaving home the rabbit population has exploded since I'm the only one who shoots, so it’s good to come back and have a bit of a cull once in a while. Also provides some tasty meat, although I won’t be keeping the rabbits this time, instead my boss at work wants them for a stew so it’s a nice (free) gift to give him.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Pickled Eggs

Managed to pickle some eggs tonight, but a load broke when I was boiling them so we’ve got egg sandwiches tomorrow as well!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Green Tomato chutney

After picking all my tomatoes on Saturday we decided to make green tomato chutney on the Sunday and soup for dinner with the red ones.

The chutney was quite easy to make, but quite labour intensive.

3lb of green tomatoes (skinned, this is what takes the time)
12oz onions
12oz of cooking apples
12oz of brown sugar
¾ pint of ready spiced vinegar
A little salt
(Sorry about all the units being in old money, it’s from an old recipe book)
1. Soften the onions in a pan with a little vinegar.
2. Simmer until nearly soft
3. Add the chopped apples, chopped tomatoes and salt with just enough vinegar to stop it sticking
4. Cook until all soft
5. Add the rest of the vinegar and the sugar
6. Boil slowly until the mixture is thick
7. Bottle it, seal it and label it
8. Leave to mature before eating

I did catch the bottom of the pan a little so hopefully this won’t affect the taste too much, when I tried some it had a real punch to it but tasted good.

Other than that, I managed to plant my garlic out in a raised bed I’ve cleared and some flower bulbs in the borders. I also managed to grease band the few fruit trees we've got here at home.

The chickens are still laying a couple of eggs a day and we’ve got quite a few stored up so later in the week I think its time to pickle a dozen for eating in the winter.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Busy Autumn Weekend

Apple picking again! This time I’m picking for storage.
The Norfolk Royal is absolutely laden with apples this year, but to pick some more I’ll need to use the tractor and loader, so maybe next weekend (i've already been told off for standing on the shed roof!). The Norfolk Royals' waxy skin helps it keep well into winter with the correct storage, but I’ve only got baskets to store them in – when I’ve built my new shed I will create a proper apple storage area so they’ll keep longer. I also managed to pick Bramley apples as well as all the pears that are left on the young trees.
As well as this I’ve decided to pick all my tomatoes, red and green, for soup and chutney. I’m making the chutney today so might post it later on. All my chilli peppers were also picked yesterday and put straight into the food dryer.
Like a fool I tried one of the dried fruits this morning and then spent hours with my tongue under the tap! I made them into flakes but placing the fruits in a freezer bag and lightly hitting them with a hammer, this should make them easier to add to stews and things. They should keep a long time sealed in a jar and they'll be good for warming us up on cold winter nights!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Malvern Autumn Show

Mum invited both Claire and I to Malvern Autumn Show at the weekend. This turned out to be a great day out with gorgeous sunshine, the show was packed and everywhere there were all the countryside stalls and attractions you could want, from fishing to flower pots to ferrets.
My favourite was the vegetable exhibition hall, particularly the large vegetable collections; there were leeks as tall as men and onions like footballs, not to mention pumpkins that had to be brought in on forklift trucks! I’m going to have to try harder with mine next year (although I’ve a sneaking suspicion that some of them weren’t grown quite as naturally as others)!

As well as this there were some great show gardens in the “Plot to Pot” section, I particular like the “dig for victory” garden set out like the old wartime poster. Local school children had helped build it and a lad of about 8 could name all the herbs used, showing what a good education it is for school children teaching them where their food comes from.

The food hall was also really good this year, with the collections of apples and perry pears nestled at the back. I’ve always loved perry pear trees as my parents farm has loads scattered about the place, one of them being about 60ft tall and dominating the farmyard. The perry pear collection was quite impressive but still didn't have the type of pear thats on the farm!

Fruit drying

Some of the early eating apples we got from my mum and dad’s don’t keep very long, so before they go rotten its time to get the fruit dryer out from the cupboard.

We brought this fruit dryer from Poland when we went on holiday there last year as it was only £30 compared to nearly £100 in this country.

To dry the apples I peal and core them before cutting them into slices and lying on the drying trays.

Then with the food dryer on I leave them for 24 hours until they’re crisp and seal them in kilner jars.

Kept in a cool dark place I’ve kept apples like this for a year and they’re great for snacking on.

As you can see in the pictures I also dried raspberries and blackberries. The raspberries are lovely and nice on cereal with milk but the blackberries went like burn currants and I wouldn’t recommend them (make sure they dont go in the compost either or you might as well plant brambles!).

My chilli peppers will be then next thing to have the drying treatment to make my own chilli flakes.