Saturday, 18 April 2009

Rhubarb rhubarb..........

At last it's time for rhubarb! Bit late here, as my two existing crowns got raided by the chickens! I also planted tow more, so wil have double the crop next year, all things being equal and no chicken invasions.......
So - what to do with rhubarb? The first fruit of the seasons, it's always welcome,a nd very versatile. My first picking usually goes into rhubarb schnapps:

About half a dozen nice red stems to a bottle of vodka and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar; into a Kiolner jar or similar, good shake , and store in a coold ark place for a couple of months, shaking occasionally. Strain into bottles, label and store. Very, very good.

Use the leaves of the plant to make an effective spray agains blackfyl on broad beans, but spray before the blackfly arrives. Just boil the leaves in water for a few hours, strain and bottle the resulting liquid - LABEL WELL and keep it out of the way of children. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, which is toxic.

It makes one of the best crumbles, also good for pies, and married with ginger makes a beautiful jam. Goes well with real vanilla flavourings too, orange and gigner, makes lovely fools and ice creams and stores very well being bottled in Kilner jars or similar, to see you through until next season.

About June-ish, the oxalic acid starts travelling downwards towards the stems, so stop picking then; an old way to remember is to stop picking teh rhubarb when teh first gooseberries are ready, a mehtod I've used for years. Actually, teh stalks should be pulled, rather than cut or picked, gently pulling to remove them with a whitish heel on them.

Baking is better than stewing, as the fruit will hold its shape well. Cooked, it freezes well.

Remove the flowers as they form, to prevent the plant running to seed, and to ensure its vigour for building up for next year. A good thick mulch of manure will do it the world of good over winter, topped off with a winter cap of straw, and you'll be harvesting it again before you know it.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Making scrambled eggs

I've been making scrambled eggs for many years now, and thought I'd share my favourite, foolproof way of achieving a soft, creamy, tasty result.

2 eggs per person
knob of butter
splash of milk

Heat milk in a pan, over a medium heat until just on the boil, add butter to melt; meanwhile, beat eggs well, then add to pan, still over a medium heat. Season to taste - I use se salt and gound black pepper. Stir constantly, and when just almost set, remove pan from heat. The eggs will continue cooking as they cool, so removing them before they are quite ready will ensure they don't overcook. Too high a heat, and not enough stirring will result in egg cooking on the bottom of the pan like an omlette - not what you want. Serve on hot buttered toast.

As soon as you have finished serving the eggs, run COLD water into the pan - this immediately stops the eg cooking on to the pan, making for easier cleaning when the time comes.

I learned this milk and butter method from a chef (an ex-army chef) I worked with some 22 year ago, and have used it ever since.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Busy busy.................. usual, but I don't seem to have got here much so far this week - will try and do better!

We had a lovely day out on Monday at the Lluest Horse and Pony trust in Wales; a small rescue centre run by a friend of mine from Creative Living and her husband. Great admiration for the hard work and dedication which is very apparent in the lovely place they have. I took a big pile of horse blankets for them, some made communally by forum embers, plus some crochet ones I had done too

I bought a little Welsh poppy for the garden, hope it does OK, I've not had much luck with them so far in my heavy soil, but fingers crossed.
Otherwise here, it's on with the seasonalt asks - cleaning and de-cluttering, seasonal brewing (nettle wine made, nettle ale just bottled, going out for gorse flowers tomorrow, then it's time for dandelions); lots of time spent out in the garden - potatoes in, first asparagus shoots showing, raspberries sorted out, lots of life going on in the greenhouses, general tidying up going on. I'm just about to get the front porch decirated too - MrL has done his bit with his masonry drill for a coat rack that's been waiting for a couple of years, lol, and he's amed a lovely shelf for the other side. I'm the painting department - not a huge job, but hope to get it done by the end of next week anyway.
More anon, hope all are well. April giveaway will appear very shortly too!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

In a Dorset churchyard

We took Bean to Pulham church to do a spot of filming for a project, on a beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.