Friday, 30 December 2011


DS2, his partner and their 2 lovely daughters came over this afternoon. Haven't seen them for absolutely aaaaaages, so it was great.   Girls were very happy and excited and, for the first time that I can remember, didn't "go shy" when they arrived.

Lunch, drawing and playing,  small presents,  more playing.   The Girls got us all playing their games.   Then I opened my new Abba Wii game.   Great fun.  The Girls and DDIL love Abba.  DS and DH can't stand them (and neither of them dance at all)  - but even they had a go.

Thoroughly recommend it.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

How green is your hessian shopping bag?

Listening to "In Our Time" today, about Macromolecules.

Towards the end of the programme the scientists explained that in order for a hessian (or was it jute?) bag to be truly better for the environment than a plastic carrier bag (taking the whole process into account from growing to decomposing), you have to use it 130 times for every one time you would use the carrier bag.

So if you use a carrier bag twice, you have to use your hessian bag 260 times.  If you use a carrier bag 3 times before discarding it, you have to use your hessian bag 390 times.

Life's never simple.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Treadmilling, revisited

On the plus side, I'm up to doing 6.8kph.

My sessions have been shorter though (only 3.5 minutes at a time), and I've been rubbish at doing them with any regularity.  I blame Christmas,  but that's really just an excuse.

I did try watching TV while I was walking, but the treadmill is so noisy that I can't hear the TV.  Yes, I could turn the volume up - but it's right at the other end of the double room,  and I don't think it would be fair on the neighbours.  So, I decided to get a pair of wireless RF headphones.

Found them in stock at Maplin in a nearby town,  and went out on Boxing Day to buy them.  They only plugged in to the headphone socket on the Amp,  and DH had an idea to make them less hassle... which required him to pop to Maplin yesterday to buy bits to make an appropriate lead.  Long story short, they are now plugged in to the back of the amp, and the amp thinks they are extra speakers. 

Today, I finally got round to using them.  I went for a 15 minute "walk" on my treadmill, slightly slower speed than normal and not at any gradient,  but I covered just over 1.5 km  (about a mile). They worked really well!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve, Good Afternoon

So, the potatoes are roasted in the goose fat and are sitting in the tray to cool down.  When cool, I'll strain off the goose fat and leave the potatoes in the tray until tomorrow; then  they'll be popped in the oven (with no additional fat)  for 20 mins to reheat while the goose is resting.     I did question how this really saved time - they only take 3omins to cook anyway - and we worked out that it means we don't have to peel potatoes and par boil, and then get the fat up to temperature etc, all while trying to do lots of other things.

The red cabbage smells delicious.  I made a huge quantity,  and when it's done and cold I'll be portioning it up and freezing it for use in the coming weeks.  I'll leave enough for tomorrow (which I'll reheat in a small saucepan) and to provide cold accompaniment to cold meats.

The goose stock/gravy is bubbling away.  DH is following Nigella's recipe for a "light" gravy, my choice of recipe so I hope it's OK.

The root veg are cut up and sitting in a bag in the fridge, marinading in oliveoil, garlic, salt and herbs. 

I've still got carrot and swede to do,   and the stuffing to make. 

The girls have been enjoying left over bits of red cabbage (so we'll have blue poo tomorrow),   the cores of the cooking apples,  the seedy bits of the  butternut squashes,  and some grapes.  I was making room in the fridge and decided to have some for me now and some for the girls now too.

Chrsitmas Eve, good morning


Had trouble getting up today, so I'm a bit behind.

I've sorted out my list of thngs that can be prepared today, and I'm going to get started shortly.

On my list for making today:
  • Make goose giblet stock
  • Braised red cabbage with apples
  • Swede and carrot mash
  • Roast Potatoes (Mary Berry gave instructions on Radio 4 for how to cook them the day before and reheat them on the day;  we tested this last week and it worked well)
  • Make stuffing for goose
  • Prep root veg for roasting, put in bag to "marinate" in olive oil and herbsI 
It makes tomorrow's cooking much easier.
I think I'll have a cup of coffee first.
Catch up later xx

Thursday, 22 December 2011


I seem to have gone a bit overboard with hanging things this Christmas.

During the year I picked up a couple of things which I wanted to add to the tree.  I seem to have a bit of a chickeny and cat theme going on.

Firstly some teeny tiny little bees. I think they are meant to be card embellishments, but a bit of black cotton and they in amonst the tree branches...

Next, at Easter I found some Gisela Graham chickens, one yellow, one green, one red.  Not very Christmassy, but I don't really care - the tree is decorated to make us smile. 
Last GD3 made us a special decoration as a Christmas Present,  so we've put it on the top of the tree this year

I seem to have developed a Gisela Graham habit, which I don't really understand as "Bunting Cupcake" style isn't really me. I bought two indoor chicken related hangers,  and then embellished them to make them more personal to us.

The front door wreath was larger than expected,  so it took a bit more decorating than previously.  However, the theme is much the same as last year. I thought I had taken a pic but I can't find it, so I'll take another one and post it later.

I've realised I have too many pics sitting on my camera, so I'm going to spend the next little while downloading and backing up.

Talk soon!

It's behind you!

Pantomime on Tuesday, excellent. I love Pantomimes.  We go every year and, in fact, for many years we went to two Pantos, one with our friends S&K and again with the kids.   S and I have been to the Panto together every year for the last 25 years.

Last year's pantomime was DIRE. We saw Cinderella last year, at Windsor. Charlie Dimmock was the Fairy Godmother, and she did well considering she wasn't a trained actor.  But the rest of the cast were singers,  and the whole show revolved around giving them opportunities to sing.  The lines were merely delivered,  with no feeling or gusto, as though they were going through the motions.  What a waste of money that was.

This year it was High Wycombe's turn.  It was Cinderella at High Wycombe, with Lesley Joseph, and it was fantastic.  She wasn't high on my list of must-see stars (usually we pick pantos by avoiding people we don't want to see)  but the Swan has put on some of the best pantomimes over the years and it's worth the trek.  

The story this year was very focussed around the Lesley Joseph role of Fairy Godmother.  Buttons was really well played by Matt Slack. Almost, but not quite, as good as Brian Conley that we saw there in 2007.  (Brian seems to play Buttons every year, and I'd definitely choose to go and see him againbut hasn't been in the area since then). All the cast really threw themselves into it and seemed to be having as good a time as the audience.  There was plenty of opportunities for booing and hissing and shouting and generally participating.

Christmas Cakes

Yesterday I finally got round to decorating the Christmas cakes I made for my friends.   

First up, Delia's Creole Cake with glazed nut topping.  Excuse the vile gold board,  the shop didn't have silver ones of the right size.


 Next, Delia's Traditional Christmas Cake. This one has a (bought) Father Christmas on the top, with various sugarpaste snowflakes and stars,  and some sugarpaste holly.  The top is possibly a bit over-busy I think. and I wish I'd used smaller holly leaves.  Too late now.

Finally, another Traditional Cake.

I've still got to decorate our own Creole cake.  I think I might try cutting it into 4x4 inch cakes and see what they look like when decorated.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Oh rats!

The council took it upon themselves to clear an area near the bottom of our garden which had been thick with brambles (a haven for blackberry hunters), ivy, and other overgrown greenery.  As a result, the now-homeless rats are looking for alternative accomodation and sources of food, and have decided to try their paws at our Girls' walk in run.

Fortunately, I spotted the first excavations immediately. We baited the tunnel and blocked it up.  We started brining in the food each evening, and each mrning we find evidence of a new excavation.  So, we're baiting (which is horrible, poor rats) and trapping (which is more humane, but not always possible) to try and discourage them, and blocking.  Each day we sweep away the debris of the diggings so that so that we can see evidence of new excavations.

In the current weather, we can only take immediate short term measures.  In the Spring, we'll have to concrete the whole area to provide permanent protection. Not great, but probably necessary.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Finally getting into the spirit

I marzipanned two christmas cakes this afternoon.

I'll aim to ice them on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. I've got two Creole cakes to top with nuts as well...I might try and get to Costco on Monday (or Tuesday)  to get the nuts and a few other bits, and then  can do all 4 cakes on the same day. 

Maybe. Costco. Christmas. Hmm.

DH knows his onions

DH's local has a home made pickled onion contest each year, judged by a local chef and one other.  The jars and the onions are provided. The onions are pickled over a particular week and then are stored at the pub. Judges don't know which entry is which.

DH has entered every year since inception in 2003, and has come second a number of times. 

DH won this year!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Early planning backfire

Last year the weather in the days before Christmas was dreadful, and we were very lucky (and grateful to) our beef supplier and Ocado for battling the weather to ensure everything got through.

This year I thought I'd be Be Prepared.  We're having goose,  and that arrived early in December and was put in the freezer.  So far so good.  I've also started stocking up on non-perishables plus  the long-shelf life products like chocolates, drinks an nibbles, especially those that are on offer. Usually we get everything in the last couple of days.

I've now discovered that DH has drunk most of the delicious Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water.  I've drunk a bottle of Crabbies cloudy ginger beer.   And, most suprisingly of all,  we've eaten both bars of white chocolate and I've munched my way through 6 bags of crisps.  I think that's probaby happened because I rarely have chocolate and I never have crisps in the house, and the temptation was just too much.  And who can stop at one bag of crisps when you have an open six pack sitting there?

So, I've had to re-add those to my Christmas delivery next week.

I need to get back on that treadmill.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


We bought our tree yesterday (14th), which is very early for us.  I wanted a Fraser Fir - they are very compact trees, not wide like the more popular Nordmanns - and in previous years we have trouble finding one because we leave it so late.

Well, it's up, it's decorated.  I also decorated the wreath for the front door,  and  enhanced a pre-bought Gisela Graham chicken related wreath for one of the inside doors.  D used the spare foliage from the tree to make a plain wreath for the Girls.

Spurred on with the Christmas theme, I made mincemeat today - Cranberry (Nigella's recipe, instead of my usual Delia mincemeat). It looks very pretty, but there isn't a uhge amount of it.  

DH started a brie, hopefully it'll be edible by Christmas,  and then made ricotta with the whey.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Shopping

We don't exchange pressies at Christmas, haven't done for years, and it makes Christmas so much more pleasurable. We spend extra on birthday presents instead.  It started a long time ago when a friend of ours was economising and we areed not to buy for each other;  we spread this to agreeing the same with my family;  and then the (adult) children.    Everyone else continues with the mayhem of spending money on gifts they desperately hope the recipient will love - it's just us that have opted out completely (we don't even buy pressies for each other).

Every year for the past 25 years, my lovely friend S and I have taken a day to go Christmas shopping, getting it all done in one hit.   Even after I stopped buying pressies, we've continued with our day shopping. S still buys pressies, it's a pleasant day out together, and  I find it interesting watching people's behaviour without having the stress of trying to find gifts myself.

We have grandchildren that we see a lot, and some we don't see very often. Since we've had grandchildren of an age to know what Christmas is, I started to feel a bit mean not buying them something to unwrap (and - frankly -  I felt that other people felt I was mean), so a couple of years ago I tried to buy a small token pressie for each grandchild.   I find it quite difficult to find token inexpensive presents that don't seem mean they all have so much already). I also struggle to get a fair balance between all of them. 

I might get them some chocolate this year.  As if they need more chocolate?!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cheeky boy

Our cats have a perfectly functional cat flap, with it's own porch,  to permit them free access to the outside world.    They also have a specially designed gap in the trellis by the gate which lets them pass from the front to the back gardens without having to jump or climb over anything.

Many months ago, our ginger ninja pawed at the french window in the kitchen indicating that he wanted to go out.   How could we resist such a cute thing?  We let him out.   Over the months, both cats got in the habit of  pawing at the french window when they want to go out. Or when they want to come in, for that matter.    And we got into the habit of opening the door for them. 

I can see their point.  Why should they go out the cat flap and walk round, when they can see where they want to be?   But I'm amazed at how easy we were to train.   Now, we automatically go and open the door - stopping whatever we happen to be doing at the time - to let the cat out. or in.  Or both in quick succession.    Often it involves us getting up and unlocking the french window, opening the door, letting the cat pass through, then shutting the door, relocking it, and putting the key away.

DH and I laugh at how silly this is. How ridiculous that we've allowed ourselves to be trained this way. But still we do it.  We've idly thought about installing a bell to see if we can get the cats to use it.

Today, Washburn took this to a new level of cheekiness.  He pawed at the door. I got up, got the key, unlocked the door, opened it for him... he sniffed the air... and walked away, back into the warmth of the kitchen.

Far too cold outside.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Very cold this morning.

Poo trays full of ginger feathers: looks like Custard is starting to moult.

Roobarb now has some feathers, but not many.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tradmilling, again

I've covered just over 4 miles since Sunday.

I'm now walking at 6.2kph (3.87mph) for just over 6.5 minutes at 3% gradient, with 2 x 100m runs at 9kph in there as well.  I'm covering 0.75km in each session now (0.47 miles). 

I do understand that these are pathetically short walks to those who love walking (or who do a job which involves walking miles a day, like waitressing),  but every minute on the treadmill is a minute's walk that I would not otherwise be doing.

Partially plucked chicken

Roobarb now has a few feathers on her side, and a small modesty panel on her back.

The rest of her is still oven ready.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Stolen Lurcher - THORNEY HILL AREA NEAR BURLEY BH25 postcode

Do you have any friends who live near the New Forest/in the South west?  If so, please ask them to keep an eye out for a stolen lurcher.

I've had this email from my friend Clare:

A friend who lives near the New Forest has had her lurcher stolen while walking there. It was seen being led off into a van by two men; as you can imagine, she is beside herself with worry.

Stolen from Burley, New Forest Hampshire. Near Burbush Car Park (Burley to Bransgore road) HE HAS BEEN STOLEN - WAS SEEN BEEN TAKEN BY TWO MEN IN A VAN HEADING TOWARDS THE THORNEY HILL AREA NEAR BURLEY

His name is Ozzie, he's tattooed and microchipped.

If you have any friends who live in the south west region, please pass this information on if you can.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Oven ready to Hedgehog

Roobarb now looks like a hedgehog, or spiny anteater, or somesuch.  

She has these plasticky quills sticking out all over, and they click together when she moves.  She's looking, understandably I think, very sorry for herself.  It can't be comfortable.

There are a few odd feathers appearing,  having burst out of a quill or two.

Hopefully it won't be long now before she's sporting her glorious new winter coat.

Grandparent Tea Party

DGS1 is in year 6 and, at his school, they have an entertainment-and-tea show at Christmas for the year 6 Grandparents.  Or, rather, for one grandparent per child.   I was really touched that DGS1 decided to invite us,  and then I was slightly panic-struck when I realised it was for me not DH.

DD lives a fair distance away, takes a good couple of hours to get there. DH came with me so that he could see DD and DGD while I was at the school.  DD walked me to the school and left me there.  I felt like a child dropped at the school playground for the first time (which is completely unfair exaggeration as I was actually in the school's reception,  but I did have to ask her to "come and collect me" at the closing time).

The 3 classes had held auditions for who was going to be in the show.  Not everyone had to audition, so there was no coersion.  Of the 90 children in that year, they had 12 acts interspersed with single/pair/or trio comperes (or "compares" as they put on the programme, tut tut) telling jokes.

It was really good.  We had sketches,  lots of singers,  a wide range of musical instrument playing (clarinet, guitars, trumpet, flute), and some gymnasts.  The quality was, of course, variable,  but each one was fantastic just for having a go.  There were 180 people in the audience, plus teachers,  so quite daunting.

And then we had tea.  Some nibbles, some cakes, some tea.  An individual cracker, made by grandchild,complete with gift.  There was a bit of a competition to see who had travelled the furthest.  I thought it would be me...but I was pipped at the post by a grandma from Portugal.  I take my hat off to her. 

Then the children were sent to run around in the playground and we were invited to go with.  So I did. DGS wanted to play "it" but, as I chased him, I tried (pantingly) to explain that it was inherently unfair because I was unlikely to catch hime and even if I did he'd catch me back within seconds.  So we  spent the next 15 minutes or so playing jumping games with my DGS.... they have squares with letters in, so we were jmping letters to make words,  and then we were doing the alphabet backwards.   They also had a grid with the numbers 1 -100, so we were playing "times table" jumping.  In the end DGS decided the Table, did the jumping, and I told him which numbers to jump to.  He was most impressed that I knew the 12 times table.    One of his friends wanted to join in (how bizarre is that?!), so for a few moments until the whistle blew we had a bit of a competition.

I was so pleased to hear the whistle.  I was shattered, I was cold.    DD, DH and DGD turned up to collect me, we went to the other part of the school to pick up DGS2,  and then back to collect DGS1.

On our walk back I walked on the otside, explaining that I needed to keep my sword arm free to protect them.    "What if you're left handed?" asked DGS after some thinking.   I explained that in the olden days, people weren't allowed to be left handed, that my Mother had been forced to learn to write with her right hand.   DH (or DGD in their case) was left handed;  DGS2 was left handed; DSiL was left handed.    

DGS then said that they didn't have roads in the old days.  I explained that they did have roads - how else did people get fromone place to another? - but of course they weren't tarmaced and pavemented roads.

"What about in the desert?"  was the next challenge.  I agreed that there probably weren't roads in the desert.


The Treadmill has been occupying a large part of the sitting room since Sunday.

I decided I'd start with 5 minute sessions only,  and work on building up gradient and speed.  This has worked really well.  I had 2 goes on Sunday, although the first one was at strolling pace and with no gradient, so I'm not sure it counts really.

On Monday morning, I got up first to make tea/hot lemon. While the tea was brewing, I did 5 minutes. I was on gradient 3 (out of 9, and I suspect that it is a "gentle incline"),  and I was up yo 5.8 KPH, which is about 3.6 miles an hour.   

We went out for the day (more later) and when we got back, I did another 5 minutes at 5.8KPH.

This morning, I moved up to 6KPH (3.75mph), still on gradient 3. I don't think I could sustain that, epecially when I've just got up and am still in my jimjams, for much longer.

So, .I'm going to carry on at 6kph for 5 minutes - which means I'm doing just under a 3rd of a mile eachtime - and then I might look at increasing the time slightly.

Not earth shattering, I know. But consistent.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Thanks Alexis

I was catching up with Alexis' blog a few days ago, and her post about issuing herself a challenge really chimed with me.  I've been thinking for ages that I should try and go for a walk everyday..but I don't particularly enjoy walking for the sake of walking,   and I know that I wouldn't keep it up in bad weather.

I thought about setting myself an achievable target. Maybe, walk everyday for a week (I appreciate this probably sounds pathetic to those of you who enjoy walking, or walk anyway).

Then as I read on, I saw the fateful words "on my treadmill".  Now, I've never seen the point of treadmills. Too big, too bulky, and likely to just be a dust catcher.  We don't have anywhere sensible to put a treadmill - at least, no where where it would also actually get used.  

But I kept thinking about it.   I looked on Ebay. Lots of treadmills there (mostly hardly used, I chuckled when I read that), and much less than buying one new.  I spotted one quite local to me.  I decided I'd bid on it. If I won it,  I'd put it in my living room for a couple of weeks and use it every day.  Then I'd move it into the spare bedroom, and see if I continued to use it.  I would set myself an easily achievable target. Maybe, x minutes walking each day, and see how much I covered, rather than aiming to do a specific distance.  

And if I failed, I could sell it on Ebay without losing much money.

I raided my Quidco pot,  and my birthday money pot, and made my bid.

And I won it.

I haven't told DH yet.  I'm going to have to tell him because I need to use his car to collect it. (And, of course, he might notice it in the living room anyway).

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Can't leaf them alone

A discussion on the Omlet forum a while ago about leaves, and whether it's OK to put them in a walk in run. (I'm getting a sense of deja vu here, have I already mentioned this in an earlie post?).

Anyway, i put a load of leaves in the run back then and the girls seemed happy with them.  They (the leaves) made the run look a right mess, like it wasn't cared for.   Roobarb then shed her feathers all over the run (on top of Florence's feathers, and that was on top of Tilde's feathers).    Today I was sweeping up leaves from the corner of the garden that the Girls don't have access to, and I piled them in the Run.  The Girls leapt on the pile in glee.  So I swept up some more.  And some more. And some more.

I love the rustling noise as the Girls make busy with the leaves.


What a glorious day!

Yesterday, it was cold, dark, icy/drizzly weather.  I had planned to go jumper shopping as Woolovers were visiting a town not too far away from me.  I thought I could go and try on a few things, get an idea of their sizing and styles,  and then I'd be able to buy online during the winter as well.  The weather was so foul I just couldn't face going out in it.

What a difference today.  Chiro appointment at 10am, so I was out of the house at 9.15 so I could fill up with fuel en route.  The sun was bright,  I was inside my car,  and outside it was either a glorious chilly Autumn day or a baking hot summer day: only my frozen toes told me which it was.  I didn't take a coat (I don't know, it just wasn't that cold going from the house to the car)  Everything looked so clean, and green,  and pleasant.

Chiro told me my glands were swollen,  which means I'm probably fighting off an infection.   DH has his latest persistent cough,  so I expect I'll be starting on that soon.  

Kedgeree for dinner tonight.  I had to make some room in the freezer for the spare raviolis, and I took some rice out.   DH loves smoked haddock, and he koves kedgeree.   During the last 5 years or so of trying to overcome my fishphobia, I learned that I can stomach smoked haddock, just about, as long as I have stuff to mix it with.  I haven't eaten kedgeree, so it'll be good to try something new.

I've got some mutton arriving tomorrow.  We've been eating through the stuff in the freezer, and the last of the mutton was eaten a long time ago.   I'm lookin gofrward to having a decent, full flavoured shepherds pie very soon.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Home made

No work today, so I took the opportunity to make some things I haven't made for a while.   First up, a batch of pasta dough to make home made ravioli this evening. Second,  some focaccia, to eat with the ravioli.
And now I'm thinking about ravioli filling.  I have a small amount of roasted squash from Sunday;  some ricotta cheese from DH's latest cheesemaking exploits;  I've got the last of the belly pork; and some mushrooms which need using up.   I think I might start by cooking the muchrooms in garlic butter, I can then perhaps blend them with some pork,  and (separately) some of the ricotta.  I can mix the squash and ricotta together... hmm.  Need to see what this all tastes like, I think.

I usually use a largish ravioli mould, but I bought some giant ravioli stamps to make giant ravioli, so I might have a go with those for a change..

I'll see what inspiration strikes.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Say cheeeeese

DH is on a it of a roll with cheesemaking.  

He's made a cheshire-type cheese and a gouda cheese this week,  and he's turned the whey into ricotta cheese as well.   We haven't made home made pasta for a long time, so I'm thinking we might have some giant raviol, stuffed with ricotta and roasted butternut squash.    I might also make some mushroom ravioli. I@ve got some tasty portabellini mushrooms in the fridge, and I think I could try cooling them in garlic butter, then chopping them (mincing might make it  a bit paste-like) and using it in ravioli as well -  with or without ricotta, not sure which yet.

Sunday Lunch

DH wanted a roast dinner for Sunday evening,  so I got out one of our cheaper cuts of pork. Belly, 1.7kg and boneless.  Followed Jamie Olivers recipe for slow pork shoulder (bone out), and it was amazing. As always.   I didn't turn the veg into gravy, far too tasty for that, instead I used some of the pork stock we made when we butchered half a pig recently.

I also had a tray of roast vegetables, including some cauliflower. I've done cauli this way before, and it has worked; I've done it before another time and it was burnt to a crisp. This time, it worked well.   I've decided that the trick is to add the cauliflower at the same time as I put the Yorkshire pudds in the oven -  so it gets a bit less than the rest of the roasted veg.

The tray also included some home grown butternut squash. That wasn't for eating with lunch though,  that was to be saved for a bit later in the week....

I made extra swede-and-carrot-mash enough tto freeze 2 lots for dinner accompaniment another time. I've still got some uncooked swede i the fridge, which I'll give to the Girls next time they have to be shut in (their large run)for a while.
 Crackling was crispy,  pork was moist and tender and delicious.   I'm making Chinese style pancakes and we'll have the leftover pork with hoisin sauce and pancakes etc this evening.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Chicken drumsticks

Overnight Roobarb has lost her leg feathering, and she's wandering around on chicken drumsticks.

Poor little girl.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Poor Roobarb

Poor Roobarb has decided to moult, and she's doing it in spectacular fashion.  The poo trays are full of her lovely feathers,  and she looks oven-ready down her back sides and bottom. Poor little lovely looks like a cruelty case.

There's a picture of her, in her pre-moult finery, on the right hand side the blog (next to the titles).  Well, there is at the moment.   I can see I need to do some editing of the pictures.     At some point I'll get some pics of the missing girls, and I'll re-do it.

Another Day Out

Apart from the trip to tracklements, en route to seeing the inlaws, last weekend,  I can't remember when DH and I had a day out together.  I'm sure we have done, I just can't remember.

So, my "days out" fund had been in quite good shape up to last weekend, and then I raided it again yesterday as we went to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC.   We haven't been to the GFS at the NEC for some years,  we've been to the Real Food Festival at Olympia (or is it Earls Court?) and the BBCGFS (now renamed Mastercheg LIve) at Earls COurt (or is it Olympia) instead.     Last year's show was OK, but not great, so we decided we'd try Birmingham again.

It was a very enjoyable day.  Much bigger then the London show, more stands, more stands of interest.   We had a list of things we wanted to look at and try.  We were there from 11 until 3.15, which was plenty of time for us.  

I think I'll give the GFSs a miss next year though, as they are a bit samey.  I might still go to the Real Food Festival though,  as that has a lot of small producers.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Grand Day out - Part 2

We left Tracklements, and we continued our journey.  

We planned to stop for a pub lunch.  One stop on the trip is a bit of a rarity,  and I don't think we've EVER made 2 stops before. 

I thought it would be pleasant to stop at Abergavenny, which was en route and is gaining a but of a reputation as a foodie place.   I then thought it might be interesting to visit Matt Tebbut's pub, which was just outside Abergavenny.  Matt Tebbut is a chef/presenter on UK TV Food's Market Kitchen.  We've been to see it recorded, and he was a nice enough chappie.

When we arrived at The Foxhunter it turned out to be a rather upmarket restaurant, not a gastro pub.  It was 2pm and we decided we'd eat there anyway, despite the fact that we were going out to dinner that evening (Typical, We don't go out to eat for months, and here we are out to dinner for the second time in NOvember and twice in one day).

We ordered, deciding to share a starter and picking something we'd never normally have.   While we waited for the food, we wondered idly if Matt actually still cooked here, or whether he was now more of an Executive Chef.  We decided that he probably cooked here when he wasn't recording TV shows - after all, he'd need to keep his hand in so that he could continue to say "at the restaurant we...". And I'm sure that the TV sow must bring people to his restaurant. Well, it brought us and I doubt we're the only ones.

Food was good.  DH caught sight of Matt, so it was good to know he was there after all.  We weren't sure whether he would like to be recognised, and we aren't really the sort to go up to "famous" people. 

As we got into the car, I felt a bit sorry that we hadn't outwardly recognised him.  I suspect that he probably would have been pleased to be acknowledged,  and I could easily have said something non-gushing, like "Will you be back in Market Kitchen soon?".

Maybe another time.

A grand day out - PART 1

DH and DMiL's burthdays yesterday, and we decided to suprise DMiL with a flying visit.    We arranged for DBiL to tak MiL and FiL out to dinner,and we would be waiting in the restaurant when they arrived.

It's about a 4 hour drive, and we broke the journey after an hour and a half to visit Tracklements, who were having an open-factory morning.  It was lovely.  We followed the sat nav up a small lane, to an old airfield.  There was a small bus waiting to come out - I was shocked. Are they so big that they have had to lay on buses to bring people from the car parking area to the factory??  We turned in. Oh. My, God, the industrial estate was huuuuuge.  I thought they were a small company?  I've been tricked!

But then we realised that it was an eclectic group of companies, one of which was a coach/bus hire company,  on a disused airfield: it wasn't all one big Tracklements factory.    I let out an involuntary squeal as we drove past Ascott Smallholding Suppliesas I had no idea they were in the same place.

Very enjoyable short tour of the "factory", and I was pleased to see that they live up to their claims.  Everything is mde with ingredients that you would find in your storecupboard at home,  the quality is superb, made in small batches etc etc etc.  I use their products anyway, but took the opportunity to stock up on a couple of things I hadn't tried.  I even bought some green chilli jam, despite having jars and jars and jars of home made stuff.  The ingredients in theirs (apart from the chilli) sounded interesting: lime, ginger, fresh coriander.  And some Tarragon Mustard,  I'm loving my home made Tarragon Vinegar, so I thought I'd see if what it's like as mustard.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

All change

So, yesterday we said goodbye to 2 of the 3 boys, and 2 of the dinner girls.  We kept the Roo x Mrs Roo boy (Sasso on both sides) as he is completely unrelated to the 2 Welsh Black ladies that we will want to breed from next year.   He's a lovely lad, spitting image of his Dad.  His tenure may be fairly short though,  as it's likey we'll want to bring in some new unrelated Sasso blood for 2013.  We'll see.

So, as well as taking away his two competitors, we took away the fence which separated him from the Ladies.  He was initially overwhelmed and just looked on, dazed.  The Girls swarmed all over "his" paddock, which still has (or rather, had) plenty of grass.  The boys spent a lot of time watching the girls and not so much time grazing.  

He watched in apparent shock as they swarmed around "his" feeder. The food in it is identical to the food in the 3 identical feeders in the Girls' area,  but of course this was new to the Girls so tasted much better than their own food.

He looked on as they then took it in turns to sit on the garden bench;  they investgated his shed,  they ran amok.

Eventually the Girls got bored and returned to "their" area.  All except Coco Roadrunner (the chicken of fate) who was so busy stuffing her beak with grass.  Left on his own with only 1 girl,  Rupert (I have no idea if that name will stick) shook himself out of his shock and pounced on her.  Poor girl, it wasn't pretty.    Afterwards she shook herself, and then carried on eating next to him.  Rupert shook himself, and preened himself, and strutted around.

I've got a selection of saddles ready to take down with us, in case we see any problems. 

I'm looking forward to seeing how they organise themselves at night now.  Currently they have all options available (Shed,  NUmber 1 coop, Number 2 coop, Youngsters Coop (which doesn't have integral nest boxes, but does have a temporary nest box inside it), or the Temporary Shelter.   We want to remove the temporary shelter soon, so I'm kinda hoping that they will abandon it of their own accord.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Catch up

Been so busy with work, I haven't had much time to do anything else.

Florence (Australorp) is continuing her gradual moult, and is looking a bit sorry for herself.   Milly (Cream Legbar, oldest hen) is finishing her moult; her little quiffy hair do is all spiky, like she's been busy with the hair gel, and her tail feathers haven't grown back yet.  Tilda (Sasso, special needs hen) has finished her moult and is sporting a gorgeous new set of feathers. Her comb is still pink and shrivelled, so she;s not back to normal yet.   Roobarb (Welsh Black) hasn't seemed to moult, and her bg red comb shows she's not starting yet.  Custard (Sasso, Tilda's big bully of a sister) also hasn't started moulting, and her comb is huge and red.

On the Allotment, we're preparing to cull the last 2 "spare" cockerels and 2 of the dinner girls, so tomorrow we'll be opening up everything into one huge area.  The remaining cockerel will be overjoyed,  and we've got a number of saddles ready in case we see any problems.   Once they've settled down a bit, we'll have a bit of a rearrange so that we can put one area to rest, ready for next year's babies.

We still have some bees. We haven't been in the hives, of course, but we still see them coming and going a bit.

DH has been cheesemaking again, started a "Brie" type cheese and a hard cheese today.   He's also planning to turn the last of the chillis into a couple of types of chilli oil.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Dollopey women

There is one thing that I dislike more than dollopey women,  it's when I act like one. (rolls eyes)

I did the Allotment chooks today, as DH was tied up. All fine. One of the Welsh Blacks is running around like a hedgehog, obviouslyin some discomfort. SHe dropped all her feathers in the space of a few days, and now they are all gromwing back at once.  Poor love.

Anyway, It was raining.  I did the chores, locked up, and left.  Several hundred yards away,  I didn't remember turning on the electric fence. Now, I've been here before.  I do it automatically.  But at this time of year, I just couldn't take the risk.

I thought I would save time by cutting across some other allotments to the back of ours,  as I had DH's keys which had the fence tester on.   It was harder than I expected to get to the back of our allotment. When I got there, the fence wasn't on.

I walked round to the front, and I could see that the energiser was on. BUt the fence wasn't.  The bit of wire had that links the energiser to the fence had come off.  I said a rude word. Last time I'd made that happen, it had been very serious. There was no clip on the end of the wire. I couldn't get it to stay on the pin thing.  I ohoned OC Ohter Chap) to see if he could come and fix it. 

As I was still on the allotment, he asked me what sort of screws the casing had, so he could bring the right tools.  Nothing for it, I sank to my knees in the mud to try and work it out.  And then I realised that I could actually reconnect it myself, it was the previouss energiser that was unfixable when this happened.  I told OC that I thought I could fix it.  He warned me to disconnect the energiser from the battery.  It's turned off, does it matter.  Yes.  So, I unlocked the door, went in, disconnected the battery. Connected the wire to the terminal, connected the energiser to the fence, reconnected the battery, turned the energiser on - and it worked!  Why was I such a dollop that I hadn't just checked it properly in the first place?!!  OC just chuckled when I told him.

Several hundred yards back to the car, I couldn't remember whether I'd locked up.  I remembered shutting the door, but I could not remember locking it.  Botheration.    

I had locked it.

Still, the exercise is good for me.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Having a fit

Did a bit of a long motorway journey today. 

Got back, and my bonnet was badly marked by the eyelashes.  My heart sank. I gingerley rubbed one of the marks with my finger - it didn't move.  I wetted said finger, and tried again. No luck.

DH was on the phone when I went into the house. Got a clean microfibre cloth and wetted it, and also picked up the Fairy Liquid.

The marks came off.

I am somewhat relieved.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

BIts and pieces

Went to the allotment yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks (DH has been doing the duties).     

The 3 remaining cockerels are filling out and are now all stunning young men.  

The Girls are getting on (reasonably) well together.   Mucking out yesterday I can tell that  three coops and the temporary shelter are all being used for sleeping. Can't tell who is sleeping where,  so I might pop down one evening to have a look.

Norman has finished moulting and is sporting an absolutely stunning new coat of feathers. She's grown back blonde again, and looks fantastic.   Siouxsie, Norman's half sister,  has almost finished regrowth;  and NotNorman, Siouxsie's full sister,  is running around looking like a porcupine.

Ruby, one of the two Welsh Blacks,  is moulting.  She's lost about half her feathers in one go, and is looking very ucared for.    Rose (the other Welsh Black)  and Mrs (original Sasso) have yet to start.

The young girls have all filled out and look like proper hens now.  

Coco, as I think we may call the Chicken of Fate, is still running around looking much younger than the others,  but she doesn't seem to be getting picked on.  We still can't get close enough to catch her, and she won't eat out of our hands She lays very dark brown eggs - not Welscummer or Maran dark,  but much darker than everyone else.  I'm really happy about this, because it means that when it comes to incubating eggs next year, we will be able to identify hers and decide whether or not to include some.

With the weather starting to change, we want to get down to one flock. This would also mean that everyone could have access to the shed (currently the Boys sleep there), and we can put a feeder and drinker in there in case of bad weather.  However,  we have to get down to one cockerel to do this, and be ready to saddle the girls if necessary.

So, it'll be decision time on the cockerels soon. And we'll also start having to make decisions about the Girls.  Not really looking forward to that.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Log delivery yesterday - 2 cubic metres.  All packed away now in the dry, ready for the cold weather.   I opened the coal bunker to stash some in there, only to find it full of kindling from last year. lol.

Hopefully this delivery will last all winter, but I'm not sure.   I've resisted lighting the stove so far, but the weather has been so chilly lately that I can't see it being long. I do love a real fire.

Central heating still off.  I want to get to at least November before we start putting it on. Ideally I'd like to get to the end of November, but I'm not sure we'll manage it.  DH feels the cold more than I do.  Actually, that's not true. I think I just put an extra jumper on!

Quince, yet again

I'm embarking on my fourth and final lot of Quince related preserves today.This time I am making jelly whith 3/4 Quince and 1/4 Japonicas (ornamental quince)

The Quince jelly is lovely.  Clare mentioned that she finds Quince jelly a bit tasteless, and I can see why she thinks that.  I think it has a very delicate flavour, and it gets totally lost on robust things like crumpets - but it is lovely on, say, scones.

The Japonica jelly is completely different.  A sharper flabvour. Still surprisingly moreish.

The lemon and Japonica "shredless marmalade" (which is actually Japonica and Lemon Jelly, given a name more suitable to the emd resul) is very sharp, and makes a good breakfast marmalade.

I'm interested tofind out what the combined QUince and Japonicas will produce. I'm hoping for the best of both  - a slightly less delicate Quince flavour, but without being completely in-yer-face.   I'm actually wondering if I should have used less Japonicas?  Is a quarter still too much?  Oh well, we'll find out in a couple of days.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dentist time

Lost a tooth on Saturday. Well, lost the enamel from round a filling.     Went to a party Saturday night and had to make sure I didn't do any wide-mouthed grinning.

Phoned for an apoointment this morning. Usual receptionist wasn't there, it was a lady with an eastern european accent.  I explained that I'd like to see Mr H.  No, it wasn't for a checkup, I'd lost part of my tooth.  

She gave me the time for the appointment, and I had to suppress a chuckle.  I wish the usual receptionist had been on duty, as I would have shared the joke with her.

What was so funny?  The appointment time.  2.30.

I think that must have been one of the first pun based jokes my dad ever told me.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Yesterday I converted the juice from the Japonica-and-Lemons into jelly.   It is no longer murky, it  is now relatively clear and a sort of pinky-brown.   It's quite a sharp sweet-and-sour taste, so I think I shall cheat and label it as Shredless Marmalade.  I'm going to try some on crumpets this morning.

As this wasn't a disaster, I'm going to make some Japonica Jelly, without the lemon.  I'll follow the Quince Jelly recipe,  and then I will be able to do a direct comparison.

I'll report back.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Today I made four Christmas Cakes (2 using Delia's fabulous "Creole Cake" recipe, and 2 using her Traditional recipe).   Fortunately the young ladies on the allotment have been busy laying, and a set of scales helped me work out how many of their smaller eggs I needed for the stated quantity of size 1 eggs.  In case you are interested, a size 1 egg, without shell,  is about 50g - 55g (ish)  of egg.   I needed just over 250g (not counting shell) of eggs for each of the Creoles,  and just over 100g (ncs) for each of the 2 Trads.  

They are all in the ovens now, and the kitchen smells very warm and fruity.

Then I started on making Quince Jelly.  I'm starting with the pure and proper Quince.  It's made and in jars (5 half pound jars, plus a smidgeon extra), and is beautifully clear and set. I'm glad I resisted the temptation to squeeze the bag; I would have got more juice, but it would have been cloudy.  I'm looking forward to having some on my breakfast toast tomorrow.

The japonica and lemon juice is looking very murky,  so I need to strain that before turning it into jelly.   I'll do that later, I'm a bit cooked-out at the moment. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


This year, the Quince tree produced 9 fruits. That's our biggest harvest ever.  I put one into a pie with some apples. Absolutely lovely.  DH didn't mind the taste (he drank some of the poaching liquid) but didn't like the texture.

I've used three more to make some quince jelly.  It's hanging from the "chandelier" above the breakfast bar, dripping.  The liquid is pink and clear, and smells vaguely perfumed.

DH hung the Lonzino up there this morning as it has reached the stage where it needs 24 hours in a warm environment.  I decided that hanging next to some steaming quince juice was possibly a little too warm, so I've relocated it. It's now handging from another light fitting elsewhere in the kitchen.  Tomorrow it'll  then join the ham which is hanging from the light fitting in the spare bedroom, which is cooler (being north facing and uinheated) and airier than anywhere else in the house or garden.  We're hoping no one will want to come and stay before the two bits of pork have finished curing.

My lovely neighbour delivered her ornamental quinces a couple of weeks ago, and they have been ripening on the kitchen table.  Some of them went yellow, i.e. ripe, others skipped that stage and went straight to brown and wrinkly.    I picked out the ones that are ready, and decided to make japonica and lemon jelly. I guess I should have made just jelly, then I could have compared the two...but I didn't. So, that is currently dripping through a jelly bag.   This is not pink, and it is not clear. Not really sure what's happened,  so I think I'll try straining again before I use juice tomorrow.  I might try doing another batch and use my tefal jam maker to extract the juice. Not today though.  And not tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be busy.  I've got the 2 lots of quince juice to turn into jelly,  and I'm making 4 C*******s cakes. 

DH has been making curry base for the freezer ("Curry Secret" cookbook. Make restaurant quality curries at home).It takes a while to make, so we make a lot of it in one go.  But once it's made,  a restaurant-quality curry takes only 20 mins to make. It's been portioned up into tubs and, as soon as they are cold, we'll pop them into  the freezer.

Between us we've made a bit of a mess of the kitchen.  Still. That's what it's there for.

Wind and shadows

Very windy fof the last few days, which has become the norm for October now.

In the garden, poor Tilda (special needs girl) is still in full moult. She has got some new feather shafts now, and spends a lot of time preening. Bet it itches, poor love.  I was watching them out of the kitchen window this morning, and I saw Milly (oldest girl, cranky cream legbar)  peck Tilda on the back.  Tilda didn't react, so it obviously wasn't that  sort of peck.  Maybe I imagined it, so I asked DH if he had seen it.  He said it had been very gentle, which to be frank isn't a word we usually use in connection with Milly. 

No one else seems to be moulting yet, so I imagine they are going to wait for the really bad weather to set in.  Tilda will have the last laugh if that's the case.In the meantime, Tilda gets a couple of spooons of cat food every other day, to help her protein levels.

Custard (Tilda's full sister) continues to bully Tilda, making her move fromwhatever she's doing, whether it's eating (we have 4 double feeders, and Custard has to use the exact spot that Tilda occupies), drinking (we have 2 double drinkers and 1 nipple drinker), dustbathing (innumerable craters throughout the garden plus a man-made dustbath in the run), or just generally rooking.   Grrr. 

On the allotment, Norman and 2 sisters are in full moult, having gone for the "drop them all at once" method.   They are such small girls anyway, and now they are featherless they look even tinier than ever. Norm, who is a bit ahead of the others, looks like a little porcupine at the moment.   They get cat food every other day, and we have to stand guard while they eat it up to prevent the others (all much bigger, even the babies) from stealing it.    The other oldies don't seem to be moulting yet either.  I seem to remember that Rose and Ruby (the two Welsh Black ladies) were very late moulters last year;  Mrs (our sasso, mother of Tilda and Custard) is always a law to her self, and I expect she'll moult if and when she's good and ready thank you.

The newest girl - the one dumped in with ours - seems OK.  The confusion caused by putting everyone in together seems to have worked.  SHe hasn't really been "accepted" yet, but she doesn't seem to be being targetted.   We've started to get some very small eggs so we're thinking she might have come into lay.

And someone is laying quite dark brown eggs. Not Welsummer or Maran brown, but much deeper than we are used to.   No idea which of the newbies it is, but we'd like to find out as whoever it is might be a keeper. I did wonder if it was the newest girl, but these are large eggs and she looks too young.  Apart from the fact that dark brown eggs are attractive in their own right,  when you are raising offspring from your own eggs it is helpful to be able to identify the layer of an egg.   For example, our small girls are really too small to produce worthwhile dinner chickens; fortunately we can recognise their eggs,  so we don't put them in the incubator.  We aren't really able to tell Mrs, Rose and Ruby's eggs from each other, so we never know how many of each we're incubating. (We usually just take all the eggs laid by them over a few days,  so we're likely to end up with 1/3rd for each of them, IYSWIM).

On a non chicken note,  just heard Apache being played on Radio 4, and found myself doing the Shadows step routine.   I didn't even know that I knew the steps.   I think middle age is catching me now.

EDITED TO ADD: Since posting, they are now talking about the Shadows Walk. How spooky.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Definitely nippy now.  Walked to the local shops, cardiganised, and wished that I had put on my coat.

This morning we decided to "winterise" the Garden Girls' run.  This meant (a)  stripping off the green covers on the Cube part of the run, and replacing it with a clear tarp which covers both sides and the top, and lets in more light; and (b) putting up clear corrugated PVC panels along the side of the walk in run.  

The Girls were very interested in what was going on. They spent their time investigating what we were doing, examining our workmanship, and burbling their feedback to each other and to us.    I think we'll need to get some panels for the end, and maybe the door, this year if snow is likely, other than that it looks OK. I'm sure they will appreciate the clear tarp if nothing else, as it will let the daylight in earlier and allow it in for longer, now that the days are shorter.

DH also planting garlic today.  This year's harvest was fantastic, and we've already used lots of it with making passata.   Speaking of which, we're hoping to take out the last tomato plants today. One final batch of passata.    And it means that we can clean the greenhouse and use it to store logs for the winter.

Monday, 3 October 2011


So, what was it that I bought for my car, that shocked me and makes DH think the real me has been abducted by aliens?

Eyelashes for my car.

I know. I know. 
I saw a car the same model as mine with them and I found myself thinking "wow, she looks really cute with those....".  ("she" being the car.  There is something about the car that makes her very feminine.) "...but I wouldn't have them on mine".  

Then I found myself looking at my car thinking "You'd look really cute with eyelashes".

And then I found myself searching for them.

And then I bought them.

And then they arrived.

I've changed my mind several times since they arrived....and today I found myself putting them on. On the car, that is.

She does look rather fetching.
(HIghlight the missing words to reveal my embarrassing secret).

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Took the opportunity to not only scrub the Cube clean in today's sunshine, but sprayed with Poultry Shield as a preventative.  

Waited until Milly had laid her egg, then hoiked everything out. I worked as fast as I could, first power-washing the cube inside and out, then power washing the roosting bars, nest box dividers, poo trays.  Couldn't find the Ecover, so I had to use Fairy LIquid - hope I don't come to regret that. Left it all to dry in the sun while I also scrubbed out and disinfected the drinkers.

When it was nearly dry, I poultry shielded everything, and then went off to clean and disinfect one of the wild bird feeders while the disinfectant got to work.  By this time, Roobarb and Custard had decided they might want to lay, and were most disconcerted to find the nest box had no door, no wall and no roof. They complained, loudly.

Custard in particular has a loud monotone of a  screech. Roobarb's is loud, but it undulates.  It's annoying in its own right when she goes on and on,  but is very melodic compared to Custard.

I made up a temporary sheltered area for them, using rags (old tea towels) to provide two walls and a roof.  My efforts were not appreciated.  The duet of screeching increased in volume, reaching a crescendo which nearly had me shouting at them.  I may have had a little shout actually.   I walked off and left them to it.

They didn't stop.

Milly started.  I looked her square in the beak and asked her what she was complaining about, as she had already laid her egg.  She squawrked a bit more, turned on her heels (well, if she had heels she would have turned on them) and stomped off, in that clockwork-chicken way that Aardman captured so well in "Chicken Run".

I carried on with other things. Ungrateful girls!  I cut down a rather large branch of a very large shrub.  It had caught me  one time too many, when I was hot and bothered and carrying the pressure washer over the netting and up to the Cube. What made it one-time-too-many is that today I had been wearing a tee shirt so I now have rents across my bingo wings.    Perhaps fortunately, I couldn't get to the chainsaw in the shed,  so I resorted to using a very large pruning saw.  It took a while, but the shrub is now considerably smaller and it won't be catching my arms in the near future. Ha.

I went to the Cube and dried it as best as I could with the rags.  It still wasn't dry enough to finish, so I left it open in the sun.

I put the pressure washer away, filled a tubtrug with Aubiose, found the louse powder and the diatom puffer;   I put the hose away.  Every time I went near the Run, R&C wailed at me.

In the end, I could stand it no more.  I put the nest box back together,  puffed with diatom, and put some Aubiose in. The Girls climbed the ladder.    I quickly put in the poo trays, lined them with Aubiose and put the roosting bars in position.  Back on, roof back in place, shut it up, walked away.

Hope it's dry enough.

The Girls are in there now.

Personality transplant?

I think I've been taken over by an alien.

I just bought an accessory for my car that the real me would  *never* have considered.

It arrived yesterday.  Eventually I showed it to DH, ainly because I decided he'd be more patient at fitting it than I would.  He just looked at me.  He'll fit it, because he's like that. I suspect he thinks it's my car, and if I want to accessorise it this way, it's up to me.   I suspect he's also adding the caveat "  long as I don't expect him to ever drive it".

Bit busy at the moment with pork processing, so I'll tell you abit more about the car thing later. Maybe.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Pigging out

Shirley contacted me a while ago to let me know that she would shortly be sending her last porkers to slaughter, and to see if I would like a half pig this time.   I thought about this for maybe 30 seconds and said we would.

To clear space in the freezer, we've been eating up the last of February's pork. Not a chore, as it is so versatile.   We wanted to butcher the pig ourselves and we arranged to do it under Shirley's eye again. Last night we watched the videecam footage I took, which was great at reminding us about the Primary cuts, the belly and the leg - but as I stopped filming at that point to get stuck in, we couldn't watch anything about dealing with the loin or the shoulder.

Today was the day.  We took our list of what we had last time, what we'd like more/less of, what we'd like to try that we hadn't before.   Shirley did the primary cuts, then we decided to start with the belly.  Discussion on what we wanted to do (compared with last time), and DH started making the cuts. THat was quick, helped by the simplicity of our requirements and watching the video yesterday.   Leg was a bit longer to do, as we had to sort out the ham. Again DH did the cuts, then I started turning the remaining leg into lean dice, lean mince, and offcuts for sausages.   Quite a lot to do, but we were fine, with help from Shirley.

When we got to the loin,  we needed more help. We discussed what we wanted, and worked out where to cut.   We made a good team, and we  worked well together, with Shirley's advice and tutelage where necessary. 

Eventually all was done.  We packed the pig into the portable fridge, which was plugged-in in the car, came home, flicked the fast freeze switches on the freezers, and set about vacuum packing everything.  The freezable stuff is now i one or other of the freezers (we'll sort then out later when everything is frozen and normal temperature has been restored). We also have a load of stuff in the fridge, these are the bits we are going to process over the next 2 days.  

I'll come back and edit the post to put the weights in.  I don't want to get partially frozen meat out of the freezer, to be weighed, in this heat!

Pork for Processing

Loin (eye of loin) for Lorenzo 765g
Belly for Bacon 568g (which we decided to de-rind before curing)
Loin bottom for Lardons 828g (which we decided to de-rind before curing)
Loin piece for back bacon (we're going to use Shirley's maple cure)
Half leg for Ham (2.786kg)
Offcuts for sausages  
Belly fat for lard
Back fat for rendering into lard
1 pigs liver to be turned into pate

Pork for freezing
Lean Mince
Lean Dice
Lean Shoulder Dice (probably for pork pies)
Spare rib (shoulder) joint 1 for slow roasting
Spare rib (shoulder) joint 2 for slow roasting
Hand of Pork for slow roasting
Belly Pork joint 1 for slow roasting
Belly Pork joint 2 for slow roasting
Pork tenderloin
4 large loin chops 1.5 kg (actually just over)
2 trotters (for gelatin for pork pies)

1 pork hock
Spare ribs
Pork fat and rind for turning into scratchings