Friday, 26 June 2009

Gooseberry wine recipe

By request :) Easy and cheap if you have the gooseberries in the garden, makes a lovely light white wine.

3lbs gooseberries
1 1/4 lbs white sugar
big handful of dried fruit (eg raisins, sultanas or a mixture of whatever you have)
1 gallon boiling water
1 teabag
1 lemon, sliced
1 tbsp dried yeast, activated in warm water

Place gooseberries in brewing bucket and pour over boiling water; when cool enough to handle, squish fruit with hands, wooden spoon or similar. Cover and leave for 24 hours. Add rest of ingredients, then the activated yeast - activate the dried yeast in about 1/2 pint of warm water with a spoonful of sugar. Add to the bucket, give it a good stir, cover it close and leave for 4 - 5 days in a warm place. Strain and put into a demi-john, leave to ferment for 6 weeks or so, then rack it off; leave a fruther 3 - 4 weeks, then bottle and leave at elast 6 months before trying.

This is the way I do it, and the way I do my wines - no fancy equipment or buying in of what I see as unnecessaries. My wines are usually good, very drinkable, quick, cheap and easy to make. I just use ordinary bread yeast, activated, as that's what I always have in. You could ring the changes with special wine yeasts, eg sparkling, etc if you like.
I don't sterilise the bottles and demi-johns, I just make sure they are clean, and give them a thorough rinse in as hot water as they and I can stand. Remember to label well, and be patient before trying them - that's the hard part for me!! LOL

Inspired to get back to the sewing - patchwork skirt and t-shirt bag

Much talk of hand cranked machines on the forum (Creative Living) inspired me to get all my hand machines out and get them sorted, as per my previous post, but I couldn't wait; got quite inspired! Threaded up Bean's Jones this morning and set to with the patchwork skirt I'd been planning for a while:

The body of the skirt is done now, it needs a waistband and the hem trimmed with something rather lovely, so I might do that later. It'll probably need lining too. Will post pic of completed skirt when it's done. Total cost under £1 using jumble sale etc fabrics.

Here's the bag; I can't take credit for the original idea, but I think it's great and I've made several of them. Total time: 15 minutes, total cost 15p :) Easy to make and customise, and as is said, "Been there, done that, used to be the t-shirt......." LOL

How many?!!

- erm.............quite a few LOL. These three beauties are awaiting various bits of TLC to get them up and running well again, so have hauled them out to get them cleaned up and sorted. They really are beautiful machines, not much to go worng with them, apart from several perished rubber bits that need replaced, but I should be able to find them. Then a good clean and an oil, new needles, and they're ready to go. Bean ha s a 1940s Jones machine (hand) and I have a rather lovely Singer treadle awaiting its new belt. I have an eleectic machine too, but that is being moved on once it's mended as I'd mush rather have the hand cranked ones. Wouldn't you?

Hot off the needles yesterday, handspun socks for me, for bedsocks for the winter. Hope it gets cold enough to wear them - they're thick and cosy!

Very wet here this morning, and thunder through last night. Hopefully it will top the water butts up really well, and give the garden a good soak through, much needed. I've just the greenhouses to do this morning now. Everything grows much better with rainwater than tapwater I've concluded, so try to keep tap water on the garden to a minimum, especially the edibles. I have an inkling of what's in our water, but I'm sure I don't know the half of it.............

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Poor man's weather glass

- is another name for the Scarlet Pimpernel (anagalis arvensis). There was a tiny one of these in the front garden when we moved here, but since re-doing the whole front borders earlier this year, it's appeared with a vengeance. Seen by some as a weed no doubt, but I think it's rather pretty - very delicate. Its looks belie its properties, apparently poisonous to man, dogs and horses if ingested.
The flowers open in the morning, and close again mid afternoon;they close up if it gets damp, or rain is on the way, hend the poor man's weather glass tag. Tehre is an annual anagalis too, with blue flowers. I grew that once, but seeds aren't easy to come by. I believe it was used as a medicianl herb in the past.
It's a nice addition to the garden, I think, and I'm happy to have this little "weed" play its part.

More poppies...........

Sorry - can't resist them! The dark pink one is an annual, self sown in the veg garden; the other two are perennial (aka Oriental) poppies in the front. They were just planted a few months back, so should bulk up well for even more flowers next year. :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Gooseberry jam/gooseberry and elderflower jam

One of my favourite harvests of the year. I picked a very respectable 11lbs of gooseberries eysterday - my arms bear witness to this feat! There's no way around the scratches and scrapes, but the results are well worth it. There are goosberries all over the kitchen today, so I need to get on and Do Things With Gooseberries LOL
First off will be jam; it turns a beautiful shade of pinky brown, and is a lovely jam, well worth making. This is the recipe I use:

4lbs green gooseberries
5 lbs sugar
1 1/4 pints water

Simmer berries int he water slowly, cooking gently until the skins are very soft. Stir in the warmed sugar, dissolve it slowly, then bring to a fast boil and boil until setting point is reached. Test often for setting, as this jam sets quickly. Pot up in warm jars and label, etc as usual.

To add a lovley seasonal extra, tie 5 heads of elderflowers in a square of muslin and place in pan; remove as jam thickens. Gives a lovely flavour.

The rest of the gooseberries will be bottled, and some will be made into wine.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Another lesson in patience and faith from Mother Nature

I've always wanted these opium poppies to self-seed around the garden - filling spaces in their unique way, and always looking just right. I've scattered seeds, I've sown in pots and transplanted, all sorts of ruses, but although they flowered, none had set seed with any vigour - until this year, when they semm to be popping up all over the place. Thrilled to bits.
More on the way too:

Monday, 22 June 2009

Garden visitor

This was one of the visitors to the garden today*; I was in the middle of a meeting (held it outdoors, as it was such a nice day), when this little visitor was seen raiding the tayberry bush; I didn't mind, it was lovely to see a mistle thrush in the garden.

*this isn't one of my own pcitures, but from Google.