Saturday, 11 April 2009

Cloud spotting

Well - this lot didn't take much spotting this morning - look at this!

MrL says it was a cold front moving off, followed by a warm front. Spectacular!

World War 2 mittens

Thought I'd post up a picture of my latest vintage knitting project, as it's quite interesting, done to the authentic pattern issued to knitting groups during WW2 For knitting for the forces.

More details here:

UK moving into ecological debt

Worrying stuff this. I'm sure I could do more myself (ecology begins at home), so going to give a long, hard think to this.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Things to do on Good Friday

Make hot cross buns

I make mine usually, but there are some good bought ones around too. I'm trying out a new Nigella recipe I found the other day. Not a fan of her per se, but some of her recipes are good. Toasted or not? Butter? I make my crosses with a sharp knife, and for me the cross represents the four corners of the world, or the compass points. Looking forward to spicy aromas in the kitchen later.......

Make Easter biscuits

Lovely round, crimp-edged buttery biscuits, got to be larger than usual biscuits, full of spice and currants. So big you have to snap them in half to dunk them in your tea LOL

Spend time with friemds and family

It's a nice time of year to have friends and family around, shared food and laughter, taking it easy. Not here, though, just us four, but that's what we like to do! Do your own thing..........

Spot of gardening

Weather permitting - not here, I fear; the forecast for today is not good, so will more than likely be indoors after mucking out the goats and trimming their feet :)

Plant potatoesTraditionally the day for planting your potatoes. This came about as it was the only day at this time of year that most workers got time off, so the vital job of tattie planting was doen today. It will be done here too, weather permitting.

Spare a thought for others...

Those who have to work, who are unable to spend time with family, those who are alone; those who choose to celebrate in ways different to your own, or not celebrate/mark the time of year at all.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

These are for you...........

...... all my lovely blog readers. Have a lovely holiday over Easter, however you may celebrate it or not.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Seasonal wine making

Gorse flower wine

2 quarts flowers, loosely packed, no green parts
1 gallon boiling water
1lb - ish dried fruit
1 orange
1 lemon
3lbs sugar

Place the flowers in the bin and pour over boiling water; cover closely and leave 3 days.
Strain the flowers out, then add the dried fruit and sliced citrus fruits and the sugar; stir to dissolve. Warm to blood heat, then add the activated yeast. Cover again and leave 2 - 3 days, then place in a demi-john; you can take out the fruit or leave it/some of it in as you choose. Ferment out, then bottle.

As the flower wines can be a bit "thin", as they only really add their essence, some people use grape concentrate as well, but you need to reduce the sugar if you use this.

I don't, and use the recipe above, or very similar for mine; broom wine is made in exactly the same way, but it is easier and less prickly when it comes to gathering the flowers.

You should find a place with several bushes, so that you don't denude one or more too much.

The above is how I do it, and I'm sure there will be as many recipes/methods as there are winemakers.


2 quarts young nettle tops
1 gallon water
large nub of fresh ginger
1 lemon
1 teabag
2 1/2 lbs sugar

Place nettles and grated ginger in large pan with water, bring to simmering point and simmer for about 30 - 40 minutes; strain on to sugar, add sliced lemon and teabag, and leave to cool to blood heat. Add yeast, stir well, cover tightly and leave to ferment for 3 -4 days. Strain and put into demi-johns, ferment out, rack at 6 weeks, then bottle after another four or so, when wine is bright and clear. Leave at least 6 months, if you can, before drinking.

I've got two gallons of nettle wine done, and hope to get out at the weekend for some gorse flowers, with their lovely coconutty aroma.......

Don't lose our craft skills!

This is a copy of a post on Creative Living Forum; please read and help in any way you can to help this vital work. Thanks!

One of the reasons for the loss of craft skills has been the lack of an organisation to campaign for their cause, to spot endangered crafts and step in to make sure they get passed on to the next generation.
Have a look here
The Heritage Crafts Association has been set up by a group of craftspeople and others passionate about the loss of crafts skills. Everyone who cares about the loss of these skills can make a difference, simply by telling other people about the website, by signing up to the facebook group here or signing up as a supporter (it's free) here
I hope you will consider joining this campaign to stop the loss of traditional craft

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cath Kidston - what *are* you doing??!!!!

I received my copy of the new Cath Kidston catalogue last week; rather what I *thought* was the new catalogue. Seems that it has turned into some sort of magazine - it has articles on places to go - "Get set with our guide on where to go and what to take" - an interview with Kirstie Allsop, Take a Trip to Tokyo.... , decorating "ideas", childrens' pages, there's even a recipe............ It is now termed a "magazine", with "Fashion/home/kids" amblazoned along the top.
I don't want another magazine. When I do, I go out and buy a proper magazine. I want a catalogue of what you sell, shown clearly, but in an inspiring way, and without having to leaf through unwanted pages to get to it. You are not Country Living, but that's what it seems to me this is trying to emulate/become. Not what I want, so a customer lost here, I'm afraid.

I'm quite prepared to be shot down in flames by those who love it, but I just don't. I still like a lot of what she sells, but fear she is on a wrong turning........

Monday, 6 April 2009

The perfect butterfly cake

I have found the solution to the perfect butterfly cake, and thought I'd share! Use your usual amount of mixture, in this case, 4 oz butter, 4oz sugar, 4 oz SR flour and two eggs, little milk to mix. Instead of eking it out to a dozen cakes, I make ten, and use a really quick oven. The extra bit of mixture added to each paper case cause it to rise into a good peaked top. When cool, this peak is sliced off flat, rather than dug out with a teaspoon; big dollop of buttercream (this was lemon flavoured), cut your top in half and arrrange the wings on the top. Decorate as desired. Looks much more generous and sumptuous, don't you think?

In my kitchen this morning.............

......I smell fresh nettles simmering with grated ginger (wine underway); the fresh, clean slightly acid smell of curd dripping for a cheese; yeast for breadmaking; lavender still hanging from drying last year.

Curds - I love the texture and look of these when the whey is draining - slippery and shiny, soft and creamy...........

A simple country lane

- is not at all simple! It's a vibrant, living, self-sustaining entity in its own right, when left alone by the likes of us. I discovered a new-to-me lane last week, whilst out with the dog. Not far from home, a couple of fields away, this was more an ancient track leading through to some back fields, away from the road. We spent ages up there........I imagine it's been used as a field access lane for a long, long time, although now worn with tractor ruts, it's peaceful and quiet. Huge variety of wild flowers there; the only place I know of in the village where wild cowslips grow, a good colony of them too. I also foudn soemthing I hadn't seen before - dog's mercury. Chickenofthewoods kindly identified it for me when I posted a photo on the forum. Quick bit of research shows it's toxic, but has been used in the past for a dye plant, so I will be experimenting with it later in the year I think. Its usual habitat is woodland, but this was on the opne verge, so maybe was established when the wooded area was closer to the track, now being cleared to enlarge the field years ago. Lovely mixed hedgerows too, first of the bluebells, some self-heal, primroses, all sorts, and lots of flying insects. Three or four badger runs can be seen up and over the hedge bottoms, obviously having been used by these lovely creatures for many a year. Saw pheasant and pigeon too, and heard a tractor in the distance. I'll be going back soon, and will go all the way up until it reaches the field, will take my camera. When I told OH about it, he knows of the lane, and has been up there many times with EJ and the dog, and it actually has a name - North Lane, so it's certainly been used as a thoroughfare for a long time. It was lovely to take time to *see* things in the warm sunshine, rather than just *look*. Nature warrants close inspection to open up her hidden world. Lovely.