Monday, 31 January 2011

Lemon Curd in super easy Yoghurt ice cream

I was watching Market Kitchen the other day,  and Rachel Allen showed how to make a Lemon Curd Ice Cream using greek yoghurt and creme fraiche.   I looked up the recipe online and saved it, as that as the recipe that got me to get off my bottom and make the lemon curd.

I made it yesterday.  It was delicious.   She uses Greel Yoghurt + Creme Fraiche + Lemon curd + a bit of grated ginger. stirred, put into a freezer-proof container, and frozen for at least 3 hours.  No stirring to break up ice crystals,  no churning needed.  I almost omitted the ginger, I'm glad I didn't because it didn't overpower the flavours (which is what I had feared), instead it "lifted" the flavours making them seem even more fresh.

Here's a link to her recipe, which includes instructions on making lemon curd:

Just in case the recipe page moves,  here are my notes for myself:
The recipe is  1.5 parts greek yoghurt, 1.5 parts creme fraiche,  1 part lemon curd,  then 1 teaspoon of ginger per 100ml of lemon curd. 
I made half her stated quantity, which meant 300ml GY, 300ml CF,  200ml Lemon Curd,  2 tsp grated ginger.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Lemon Curd and souffles

Nom nom nom.

Made some lemon curd yesterday. Doubled up the recipe, took forever for the sugar to dissolve.   Made 2 pounds, which is 4 small jars.

Later on, turned one jar, and more eggs,  into hot lemmmmmmon curd souffles.  Delicious!

Thanks laydeees!

Monday, 24 January 2011

All 8 Cuddled

Lily, Daisy (older girls, White Star, Amber Star) Tilda and Custard (last year's babies, both Sassos) are easy to pick up. They crouch, and they are happy to receive some corn from my hand.

Florence (last year baby, AUstralorp) crouches readily, but isn't used to being picked up.  Managed to pick her up today, with minimal struggling from her. She's a big girl, so I had to get DH to offer her corn.

Milly (even older girl), Cream Legbar) doesn't like being picked up, and tries not to crouch.  I've managed to catch her unawares for the last few days and she's crouched for me.  Today I managed to scoop her up and give her some corn.

Delilah (oldest girl, beautiful Bluebelle) is very slow now. She normally managed to give me the slip, but today I was able to pick her up, although she doesn't crouch.   She sat in my lap eating corn.  I took a bit longer with her because I get the feeling we won't have so many more opportunities.

Roobarb (last year baby,  half Indian Game) isn't laying yet, she doesn't crouch, and she doesn't like being picked up.  I normally don't push it, as I'm sure it will get easier once she's in lay.  Today though, having successfully had a cuddle with all  7 of the others, I wanted to pick her up as well.  It took a while and a bit of deception, but I managed to pick her up.  She did manage to wriggle free and stand on my head (ow oW OW) but then she sat on my lap making her really strange noise - more like a guinea fowl than a chicken.

She did, eventually, condescend to eating some corn. She's take a bit, then look around, then take some more.  She's definitely a flock creature,  much happier in the company of others. Other chooks, I mean.

But, although I am frozen now (no coat, no gloves; hadn't expected it all to take so long), I feel a sense of achievement at getting all 8 with only a little bit of hassle with Roobarb.   

I don't think any of the chickens particularly like being picked up.  I think they adore having the corn, and - at best - they don't mind being picked up as they associate it with corn.  I don't want it to be a traumatic experience for them though, so I thnk I'll leave Roob alone until she's in lay.

They all still come running over to see me when I go out (cupboard love),   and if I go in their ranging area, they come over (most of them crouch) and range around me (they see me as their Roo).

I love my chooks.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


It was a dry day today, DH was clearing up after the trees surgeons, so I decided to turn the compost.

The Girls were busy helping DH as he cleared the vegetable patch.  Every time he moved something, or turned over something, the girls were there en masse to inspect.  Poor unsuspecting worms were shucked down in one go.  Wherever DH put his spade, he was surrounded by beady little eyes watching the ground.

The moving of the spare Cube so I could get to the COmpost bins caused a flurry of activity.  Tilda and Lily decided to squeeze underneath the elevated run, and they would not be persuaded out.  Lily jumped on the ladder,  and we moved the Cube - carefully - with them underneath.  DH got them out after we'd lowered it back onto the ground.

The tipping over of the first compost bin brought great excitement, even more when I started tossing the black gold on to the vegetable patch.  Bin 2 being overturned caused a bit of a pile up, and I had to shoo the Girls away so I could shovel bin 2 contents into the now-empty bin 1.  Bin 3, and I was getting tired and kept taking breaks to watch the Girls rook through the compost.

By bin 4, I'd really had enough.  I was tired anyway,   and hesitated before upturning it as I knew I should really call it a day.  But, if I cleared up everything without doing Bin 4 then I'd either have to do it all again later or, more likely, bin 4 would stand there untouched for another month or two.

Of course, bin 4 would be the one that had great solid stinky mats of grass clippings.  The sort that appears in bands through the compost, which have stopped the compost process because the worms are having trouble chomping through it.

The smell was vile, and I was trying to break up the lumps as I went.  This time I kept the Girls away,  as I didn't want them eating the worms here - I wanted the worms in the compost bin!     I emptied the poo trays to provide some extra dry matter in between layers,  and eventually it was done.  Carpets put on the top of all bins - on top of the compost I mean - to help generate some warmth,  and I came in for a well deserved cup of tea.

We've fenced off the vegetable patch now, as it has a lot of compost on it and I read somewhere that it isn't a good idea to let your chooks on to compost.  No idea why, but don't want to take any chances.  The Girls are not amused.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Goodbye Dinners

We despatched the last four Dinner chickens on Monday. We're having 2, and Other Chap is having 2.  

They were meant to be done before Christmas, but the snow made it impractical.  They were 33 weeks old, which is rather older than ideal.,and huge. The dressed out weight is over 6lb.  We're roasting one tonight; if it's a bit tough then we'll make proper coq au vin  (proper as in a recipe designed for ancient old cock birds) with the other. 

I don't find it gets any easier.  We rarely eat chicken now, unless it is one of our own.   I always remind myself that at least I'm eating a bird which has had a good and happy life.  I also like the joy of raising them, right from setting our Girls eggs in the Incubator, through the hatching and rearing, and watching them grow.  Without the Dinner chickens we wouldn't need Roo,  and we wouldn't need our beautiful breeding Girls.   

And we don't waste any of it.    In the BC (Before Chickens) days,  I wouldn't think twice about cooking a chicken and only eating the breast,  or chucking out some past-it's-use-by date chicken breast.   I try to be equally rigorous with any meat we eat now, whatever the animal.

So, our plan is for a minimum of:
- roast chicken (but eating only a breast)
- something delicious with the other breast and maybe the thighs
- chicken fajitas with the legs
- risotto or similar with the remains
- stock

Monday, 17 January 2011

Girls Don't Like The Noise

The Tree surgeons are here.

Girls were shut in, and all their fencing dismantled.  They really didn't like the noise.  Delilah and Milly (the Ancient and the SecondOldest of the flock) took themselves up the steps and into the Cube for refuge.  Delilah doesn't lay any more, so we know she wasn't visiting the nest box.

The poor old greengage tree is no more.  It didn't take long.    It's very sad taking out trees, even if they are "just" fruit trees.   It really was time for it to go.  Even on a ladder and using our super-extended picker, it was difficult to reach the fruit.

It hasn't made as big a difference to the look of the fenceline as I expected - which is a good thing.

We're keeping the logs. They won't be ready to burn until next winter, of course, as they have to season. 

Work has started on thinning the crown of our Russet apple tree. I can't watch.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Girls Help Out

The Tree Surgeon is coming on Monday to deal with the fruit trees, so we spent some time today moving things which would be in the way.

First up, the Ferns from the shady part of the garden,  and one of those paired-seat things from under the apple tree.   The Girls shouted encouragement from their free range area,

Next, in the Girls free ranging area, we started moving the other Cube. The Girls got very excited and came to help.   I put ome tracks down - a removable garden path - and these had to be inspected. Although the Girls have had free access to the land on which the tracks now sat,  they were very interested in the gaps between the tracks.

They were all over us, and trying to get in and under the Cube as we moved it.  Two of the girls started excavating the area which had been under the cube and that they hadn't been able to get to before.

We parked the Cube, resting it on a raised bed.  Custard got under the CIbe run, and decided to climb the CUbe ladder.  She couldn't understand why the door to the Cube itself was shut.   We got her out, and moved the Cube so the run rested on the ground.

I then took the opportunity to rake up the debris from one of the beds that the Girls have been clearing for us.  As I raked and put the rakings in a box, the Girls couldn't contain their excitement.  They were trying to excavate the box to see what was in there. They were on my rake, under my rake, and then back in the Bed to clear it some more.

I love my chickens.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Proper Pork Scratchings

Horrible things when you buy them in those little packets in the pub.

Had some hand made ones at the Real Food Festival - telll a lie, it was the Ideal Home because my SIL was there - and they were lovely.

When we make sausages, we usually get the belly pork with skin and on the bones, so we can make cracklingng and spare ribs.   This time we decided to try making crackling.

It's delicious.  Like crackling but better.


Pork scratchings

DH is making sausages again today,  the pork from thebuttsfarmshop arrived this morning.    We got belly pork on the bone and complete with rind,  so we're marinading the ribs (spare ribs) for dinner on Saturday,  and we're making pork scratchings with the rind.

We usually make crackling when we have rind, but thought pork scratchings woud make a change.

We've used smoked salt on a few of them, so it will be interesting to see what they taste like.

They've had the oven part of the cooking.  We'll do the finishing deep-frying when the sausages are made. 

Mmm. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

To Done

  • Made Dentist appointment
  • Been to Dentist
  • Made Cat vet appointment
  • Been to Vet
My todo list is now two sheets of A4 paper.   I remember now hy I always used to do the things that could be done quickly rather than write them on a to do list.  

I'll get back into that habit, I think.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Tree Surgery

We have a number of fruit trees in the garden.  When we moved here, 13 years ago, there were 3 very old apple trees, and ancient plum, greengage, pear and cherry trees.     Not long after we moved in, we employed the services of a proper, qaualified and insured, tree surgeon to sort the trees out.

It was awful. 

We didn't realise at the time, being new to trees never mind fruit trees.  Yes, they tidied the trees up. But they cut away a lot of the accessible branches.

Now we have trees which are too tall, and where a lot of the fruit bearing branches are way, way, waaaaaay out of reach.   We decided to try a tree surgeon again.

So, a lovely chap called Mark came today.  Same tree surgeon we get our logs from.     We decided to have the poor old greengage out completely - no chance of getting fruit bearing branches anywhere in reach.     The three apples will be pruned as well, to reduce height and thin them out.  

I explained what happened last time.    Mark has said he will aim to leave the fruit bearing branches.

Goodness know what it'll cost...we should have the quote in a day or two.

Surprise moult

Did I mention that I kept finding vast quantities of orange feathers in (a) the poo trays, (b) the nest box and (c) the run?

It's Custard.  She has Borg-inspired technology on one side of her neck, which closer inspection shows to be new feather shafts.  So, I can assume she's not being pecked.

I am surprised that she's moulting though.  She was only hatched in 2010, same time as Florence, TIlda and Roobarb.  Mind you, she did start laying at a remarkable young age, so maybe she's on some sort of accelerated development.

I'm just watching them through the kitchen window, it's one of those rare moments when all of them are together:  8 fluffy bottoms.  I love my chooks.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Double take

Lily manages to escape frequently.   She flies over the netting, despite having a newly-clipped wing,  or she just finds a teeny tiny gap and squeezes and squozes until she gets through.

I found one of her gaps yesterday, and blocked it up with a large piece of concrete edging.  I was a little concerned that it might fall and flatten an unsuspecting chook, so I wiggled and woggled it until I was reasonably sure it was safe.   She didn't get out at all yesterday,

This morning I as sitting by the french windows in the kitchen, having a cup of tea and some leftover christmas cake.  I was studying the crossword, but I still saw her out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up, and Lily marched across the paving in front of the window.   I sighed, and got on with my crossword.

Then I saw a darker shape out of the corner of my eye.  I did a double take as I saw Milly looking in the french window at me.   It took a few seconds for my brain to compute that Milly  was out as well.  As I was trying to work this out,   I saw Tilda on the patio as well!

I rushed out, offering corn to them (as a reward for coming to see me) . Milly crouched (I don't remember the last time she did that for me!).  I looked around the fencing and saw that  Lily had managed to dislodge the fencing from the Edging stone.  Cheeky monkey.

All three girls let themselves be caught and returned,  and the gao has been repaired.   Not sure how long it will last.

Tilda and Milly were so excited to be out, both of them left me a present on the patio - one on the mat.   Bless 'em. Our outside tap is turned off at the mains at the moment, because we're getting severe frosts. 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Another new egg!

Yesterday I found a small brown egg in the Run.  I guessed it might belong to 'Tilda, as she has been crouching for me lately.

This morning, I found another small egg, off-white this time, in the nest box,  and 'Tilda was in the Cube.  She came to see me as I was collecting the eggs, and sat and let me stroke her 

So, the evidence suggests the nestbox egg was Tilda's. But it isn't the same as the one I found in the Run,  so does one of them actually belong to Roobarb (the only other yet-to-lay Girl)?    Roobarb is showing no signs of laying..she doesn't crouch.

I expect we'll find out eventually.

Oh, and I also found lots - and lots - of feathers in the poo trays and some in the Run.  I know from the colour that they belong to either 'Tilda or Custard, but I can't tell which one.   Both are too young to moult (I would have thought?).   

Another thing to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Out of the Blue

A blue egg in the nestbox this morning!

Milly's first egg for.... ages!

To Do

1) Make dentist checkup appointments for self and DH
2) Make Vet appointment for cats for annual check and boosters

I am very aware that in the time it has taken me to write that down, I could have made both sets of appointments.    

Procrastination is such a thief of time,  and I usually DO little things like this instead of writing a "do" list, for that very reason.

But I've been needing to do both of these since before Christmas, and I haven't done them.  Have no idea why I'm procrastinating, so I thought I'd write them here and embarrass myself into Making Those Calls.

Monday, 3 January 2011


'Tilda, my lovely less-able-bodied chicken, has started crouching for me!   
She has a bit of trouble getting off the perches: she waits until there are no other chickens around, then she leans forward and lets gravity take control, bouncing a little when she hits the Aubiose (I've piled it up to help break her falls).  So, when I let them out in the morning, I always go and gently pick her up and place her on the ground.  

In recent weeks, she's taken to shaking her body and fluffing herself up afterwards, as hens do after they have received attention from a Roo.    A couple of days ago, when she was on the floor and I approached,  she crouched! I stroked her, she did  the usual post-coital rearranging of her feathers, and walked off quite happily.   She now crouches every time I go near her.

Florence has started crouching again as well, so maybe she's coming back into lay after a short break.

Lily, who has been laying reasonably regularly for the last couple of weeks since she emerged, beautifully re-feathered, from her moult, has also started crouching again.  But sometimes - especially when she has escaped and I am trying to catch her - she manages to crouch but still run whilst crouching. Quite an achievement!