Thursday, 19 June 2008

More for the store cupboard

Spent half an hour yesterday sorting through my jam shelves; some dated back to 2006, so a bit crusty on top :0) Turned out all the unwanted jam into a brewing bucket, and will get the jam wine on the go this morning after the washing. Bit unscientific - I pour in a couple of gallons of water then taste it, to see if it needs more sugar or not - difficult to tell sometimes, with the sweet jam. However, it works well, usually, and the resulting wine is good - fruity, and you can actually discern soem of the different wines in there. Rhubarb and ginger makes a nice addition! It's a good way of using older jam, and I do it at this time of year to make way for the new stuff; I still have some of last year's left to get through, but that's all looking fine. I found a couple of jars of greengage at the back too, so pleased about that as it's one of my favourites. I made strawberry jam at the beginning of the week, with the first of the English strawberries - not from my garden yet, but I'm hoping my new plants will bear a few berries soon; they just went in this year. I also got the elderflower champagne made and bottled, so it's now in the outside store room with the rest of the brews. Not many gooseberries yet, but I pruned the bushes , so maybe I did it wrong - never mind, I shall have high hopes for a bumper crop next year! In the meantime, I need to get to the redcurrants before the birds do................ The warmth and now mroe rain will have the garden out of control in no time, so I need to get out there this afternoon and do a bit of weeding and sorting, and get another bed ready for the winter veg - onions, kale, leeks.

Need to get the wholesaler's order tweaked too,aa nd get it organised to send off; some stuff for the newly tidied shed to put by for prepping, the rest for general use. I'd like to shoe horn in some spinning today too, and some knitting and sewing, but might need another 6 hours to accommodate all that!

Elderflower drizzle cake

A lovely seasonal cake, this one - uses up some of the egg glut as well as the wonderful elderflower cordial I made:

6oz butter, softened

6oz sugar

3 eggs. beaten

6 oz self raising flour

4 - 5 tbsp elderflower cordial + 2 tbsp sugar for drizzling

Prepare a loaf tin; cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs bit by bit. Incorporate the flour and mix and beat well, until smooth and creamy. Turn into prepared loaf tin and bake in a hottish oven until well-risen and golden brown on top, about 40 - 45 minutes or so, depending...........

Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes or so, then prick all over with a skewer or fork; drizzle over the cordial, then sprinkle with sugar to make a sweet crusty topping. Leave to cool for a bit longer, then remove from tin and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

More roses...

This is the current content of the rose bowl in the sitting room - perfumes the whle room, lovely............... Graham Thomas, Roas mundi, Albertine and Eglantine

Coal dust briquettes

OH makes these for burning on the open fire and the Rayburn - good way to use up all the loose coal dust from the bunker. Make a mix of 80% coaldust and 20% cement, with a little water to almost bind, mix well and pack into cardboard tubes = almost free fuel. They burn well, and he assures me theya re safe, but I'm not sure about the earth friendliness of the cement. It works though.

Prepping, rat sh*t and forgotten treasures.....

.............all of us are ill here, alla t teh same time, first time ever. nasty bad cold, but we each ahve it in varying degrees, Bean and I for the second time. Oh off work for two days, virtually unheard of, but he's gone back today, against my advice. He wanted to keep on the go yesterday, so we emptied out my shed, with a view to storage for prepping - when the stuff was out, the shed swept and the useful stuff for keeping put back in, I could see exactly what I had, and we have quite a bit of storage room in there for foodstuffs and equipment. If push comes to shove, more stuff could go, or move to other storage, so quite bouyed up by that. We had rats in there last year, and in behind some of the bits and pieces was a real mess, but it's all swept up now and tidied. I no longer store animal feed in there, so at the moment, there is nothing to attract them. We are on the lookout for metal storage boxes and bins for our prepping supplies now. Managed to unearth lots of bits and treasures I had forgotten - there is one piece plus the bottom board missing from the fruit press - need to get that addressed before the autumn; nice container for heating decent amounts of water in, with a tap on the bottom, plus a good-sized metal water container with a spout in; 3 crates of beer bottles - need cleaning and the seals checked out, then will be filled with beer; a good solid old wooden chest that has been to India and back by ship before WW2, belonging to my father's family; cleaned up my push mower for imminent use after I sharpen the blades; also, some less useful but nice things for the garden, including a couple of handblown glass hanging holders for candles.
Spent Monday morning in the kitchen - strawberry jam, 2 cheese and onion quiches, started a new cheese, made apricot ice cream from an Elizabeth David recipe in one of my new books, bottled some wine, got the elderflower into demi-johns. I need to get the elderflower champagne labelled and out in the store room - we have a bit more room as we drank two bottles each of last years during our endeavours yesterday with the shed; it was still in excellent condition after just over a year, and very refreshing on a hot day.

Not sure what I'm up to today, as I still feel a bit rough, but on the mend.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Another weekend gone.....

...... but productively filled! Friday morning Bean and I got up extra early and went down to Wimborne with OH; visited the excellent Farmer's Market there. So impressed that I am going to use it for our weekly shopping from next week; coupled with what we produce ourselves, plus a regular order from the Suma wholesaler, I am going for the non-shop shopping option :0) I like a challenge....... Had a routle around the charity shops too, but found them a bit pricy. Pub lunch on way home, then usual Friday things. Saturday morning was up to Shaftesbury to collect 5 fleeces someone had acquired, not wanting them to be dumped, but she couldn't use them herself. I was alerted to this by the vicar;s wife, so they are now here, although it seems to have increased to 6 in number! Bean has purloined one of the white ones for herself, and can be seen in the photo sorting it prior to washing. Went to Dairy House antiques and Semley reclamation on the way back; acquired a yellow and white jug and a pile of books, including 3 vintage Elizabeth David books, which are lovely. Saturday afternoon was spent round the corner at a fund raising tea party for Marie Curie; I won a quiz (on tea........), so came home with a bottle of champagne, which was rather lovely for Saturday night! Yesterday was out in the garden tying up tomatoes, moving stuff, more beans, planting in the greenhouses, etc, before it came on really heavy rain, so that was that. Tea last night was huge mushrooms stuffed with goat's cheese, pesto and breadcrumbs, baked in the oven, which were lovely, served with feta and olives from the market on Friday.