Sunday, 31 October 2010

Chicken Run

Well our 10 (not so) little chicks and mum have gotten a little bit too big for the arc that they were hatched in, so last weekend I fenced off a large area of the garden and wired up half of the old shed for a coop.
We moved them in on Friday night, after clipping their wings , and they love it! Running round scratching in the leaves and grass while the mother hen clucks away. Trouble is it looks good now but by the end of the week I'm sure it will be like a mud bath! Never mind, its a more natural way for them to live and they should be big enough to eat by January so we should have grass back in the spring, unless we hatched another batch...
The sad thing is, at six weeks if these were Ross Cobs then they would be killing weight now and end up as the cheap chicken in the supermarkets! Mine have got another couple of months yet, to grow at the speed that nature intended them to. It's ridiculous that they still allow chickens to be reared so fat and so fast.

Drying Chilli Peppers

It's the time of year again to dry the chili peppers that we haven't used.
This year I've decided not drag out the food dryer and instead I've just strung them from the ceiling in the kitchen. Hopefully they won't go moldy and since I strung them up on Monday night the rest of them have started to turn slowly red.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


I love apples, I eat two everyday of my life.
I know this goes against my seasonal eating but I have a packed lunch and I need my fruit. I eat English apples for as long as possible and then grudgingly make the switch. But I love this time as year as I get the crisp lovely apples for free, just a few hours spent picking them, which is a treat in itself!
My parents farm isn't great for eating apples, although I have planted many different trees over the last 5 or 6 years they are only just becoming useful, so our store mainly contains cooking apples.
The three on the picture above are my three favourites, Warner King, Scot Bridget and the good old Bramleys Seedling.
The Warner King doesn't keep over a month but is very early to be ready and I think tastes better cooked than any other apple.
The Scot Bridget is duel purpose (although its skin is quite tough), we've managed to keep them till May and it always has a huge crop no matter on the year.
The Bramleys Seedling comes from three trees down the bottom of the old orchard we've got loads of them and they store quite well, also good for a baked apple.

My mother and I have both wrapped up our apples in their paper jackets for storage, so now its just a case of thinking of enough recipes to cook them in.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bright Eyes

On Friday night my wife was out on the town living it up. On the other hand I was being driven round fields in the dark with a .410 stuck out of the window. I know where I'm happier!
Lamping rabbits is a great way to bag some free meat and to try and keep their numbers in check. My father and I didn't have to spend long doing it before I had four good sized rabbits suitable for the pot (it then started to rain so we went back to the warm). I gutted them that night and then butchered them in the morning turning them into bags of fat less meat (about enough for 4 good meals).
My wife was less than excited about the prospect of eating rabbit so I thought I'd cure her by serving up some hot rabbit rolls instead of bacon - a risky move that could have gone wrong as nothing to hid the meat as anything else! I chose the best bits of meat from each rabbit (the saddle across the back) and rubbed them in olive oil, an Oxo and a little pepper and then fried them quickly. Served in fresh french stick with some salad out of the garden my wife could only say how lovely it was - Good job, I intend to fill the freezer with the furry little critters....
Rabbit stew, rabbit curry, rabbit burgers, rabbit and white wine (more ideas please)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pickled Cauliflower

I think Cauliflowers are like buses - they all come at once. Last weekend we had three very fine looking specimens waiting to be harvested. Rather than let the slugs eat them we decided to pick the lot.
I was already on a preserving rampage with jam and chutney under my belt (not literally that would be messy) so I decided it was best to cook the one for lunch and to pickle the remaining two. It is a know fact around our house that my wife is rather keen on pickled veg and will eat a whole jar in one sitting if allowed! I'm not so keen and struggle to eat a few pieces with a bag of crisps!
To pickle them I consulted a large number of my preserving books and then did my own thing (heavily influenced by said books).
  • First wash and cut the cauliflower in bit sized pieces
  • Then leave it in a brine to draw the moisture out for 24 hours(the brine was 100g of salt to 1 litre of water)
  • Sterilise the kilner jar and fill with the vegetable
  • Pour over the vinegar making sure it is all covered
  • Seal and leave for a few weeks before eating
I'm even considering hiding this from my wife as she might eat the lot when I'm not in and make herself ill!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Red Tomato and Chilli Chutney (and Sloe jam)

I've been preserving things again this weekend. I started off with a wild Friday night making chutney (I know how to live!), although I might have dozed off and burnt the pan a little (a lot). I pretty much used the green tomato recipe but used ripe tomatoes, one big Cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of coriander seeds and a table spoon of fennel seeds. It only made three jars (so I wont be giving any away) but it smelt nice - I've just got to wait for two months to let it mature before I can try it.I spent Saturday shooting, well I say shooting but I mean carrying my gun around, as I shot nothing, very disappointing. I did pick lots of apples and over 2kg of sloes (I've never seen so many) so my trip wasn't completely pointless.
On Sunday night I made some of these sloes in jam (there is only so much gin you can drink). Sloe and apple jam is something I've not tried before and reading a recipe on the Internet it says to use
1 kg of apples,
500g of sloes,
1.5 kg of sugar
by the time I stewed the fruit and pushed it slowly through a sieve I had a lot less mixture so I only added the same weight of sugar. The resulting jam I'm unconvinced about, its sweet but has the same dry taste of cranberries, I'll have to have it on something nice to judge it properly (its a great colour though).