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.