Saturday, 5 September 2009

Fields I have known...............

........ and continue to know LOL.
I spent all last Staurday in a large field/deer park. I spent all day Thursday in a different field, this one of several hundred acres I should think, if I knew my acres. I spent this morning in yet another field, but inside a tented area. I will spend all day tomorrow and all of the next in this field too. As a complete contrast, I spent tonight in Crewkerne Town Hall.
Life is never boring around here................LOL
I will report back.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Great Dorset Steam Fair

This year is the 41st Steam Fair, here in Dorset.I haven't been to them all, but I've been to a fair few! It started out with a few engines and enthusiasts in a field, and has grown to a huge international event, covering I don't know how many acres of farmland in the heart of Dorset. There's so much to see, we were just saying tonight you'd have to camp for the whole duration to get to see eveyrthing. I love it all - the smell of the engine smoke, the noise, the steam organ music, lots of laughter, a great atmosphere, zillions of dogs of all shapes and sizes, cider and beer tents, excellent food, always bump into someone you know - I met the fishman this morning , there LOL. The weather was changeable with a few heavy showers, but everyone just piled into the nearest beer tent. I came home with a few very nice treasures, but will post about them a bit later.
Looking forward to the County Show this weekend, hope to get back with some good photos :)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


September is one of my favourite months - well into the start of autumn and all that the season promises; lots to harvest, to process towards preparing for the winter, the winding down of the summer garden, thinking ahead for next year's planting, autumn onion sets, jam making, wines bubbling, thinking towards winter and all the preparations that entails - food, drink, weather proofing, wood and fuel, animal welfare - Christmas to start thinking on, darker evenings, windy days and rainy mornings, hop picking, ripening pumpkins, last of the tomatoes, squishy medlars to pick, even more apples, winter craft projects, reading by the oil lamp, lighting the woodburner.......
Although I like to take each day as it comes, living the sort of self-reliant life I do means I inevitably have to think well ahead and make preparations, do research, get things ready, dig things over, all with an eye to keep the self-reliant wheels well-oiled and working well. Nothing beats good and thorough preparation so that projects go smoothly, therefore avoiding the likelihood of disappointment through waste of time and materials/ingredients.
Spetember holds all this , and more, for me.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Today is our 20th wedding anniversary - not bad going! LOL The picture shows us just before the wedding, outside our little cottage where we used to live. Not sure what we're up to today I think MrL has something up his sleeve, but not sure ...........

Married in September's glow,
Smooth and serene your life will go.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Making pastry

Following on from comments after my apple pie post, I dredged these pictures up from quite a while back - August '05, actually. I did them to help out a lad on the forum who wanted to make his own pies, but didn't know where to start, so I helped him begin his pastry making. Bittersweet memories, really, as he is no longer with us, but it made me smile when I remembered our conversations about pies and pastry! Anyway, these were done for him, and I wondered if they would be of help to Moominmama and brightandnew, and others; I hope they are. Excuse the dog LOL

Making pastry II

Making pastry part III

Bank Holiday brewing...............

It's a really busy time of year in the self-reliant kitchen just now - a lot of produce is ready for harvesting, processing, preserving..........However, the day to day jobs still need to be done as well, and I've found the trick is not to rush at them, but take it all at a steady pace, and I'll get through them. One ongoing job that needs close attention is racking the wine; most of what I racked today was made mid-June, so was well ready by now. If it's left too long on the lees, then an unpleasant, often medicinal taste can be imparted, and the wine spoiled - a waste of good produce, expensive sugar and valuable time, so I make time to keep a close eye on it. Racked today: 2 gallons of parsley, 4 elderflower, 2 jam, dandelion, orange, peapod, mead, tea, gooseberry and honeysuckle. The apple and elderberry cottage cider went into demi-johns, and the whole lot were dusted own and cleaned off before returning to the store room along with the new damson and apple and marrow I made recently. Tomorrow's job is to make another 3 gallons of cottage cider, but that's quite an easy one. I also spied hlaf a bucket of damsons still urking there, but I'll probably jam those. I got the plum and damson chutneys bottled, to cool overnight and label and store in the morning. Just the washing up mountain to tackle now - again! LOL

Apple pie recipe

It wouldn't be autumn without apple pie, and my recipe has been requested. I use a very simple one, nothing fancy. I made two yesterday, with apples from the garden.Windfalls are fine for this - just cut out any bruised or bad bits.

For a medium sized pie:

6oz plain flour
4oz butter
cold water to mix

10 or so smallish apples, depending on size
1 small egg, beaten

Make pastry by rubbing in butter to flour - it will be a bit sticky due to the high fat:flour ratio, but it makes for a much better pastry. Add just enough water to mix, and combine gently by hand. Turn on to floured board and divide into two. Roll one half to fit bottom of pie dish and place in, trimming the edges. Peel and core the apples, and slice directly into pastry shell, aiming for a little mound in the middle. Sprinkle with sugar to taste, and according to variety of apple - cooking apples will need a bit more than eating apple windfalls, which is what I used for these ones. Roll out rest of pastry for top of pie; wet edge of crust in dish with water and lay over the top. Seal with finger and thumb, then knock up the edges to give a good crusty finish (use the side of a knife horizontally all around teh edges of the pie where the top meets the bottom); make two small slits in the lid to allow steam to escape. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with more sugar and bake in a hot oven until golden brown.
Can be frozen either before or after baking; I always bake mine first, then they just need a gentle re-heating when needed.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

No rest for the wicked...............

I didn't have my usual easy Sunday today, as being out all day yesterday meant I had to catch up on all the harvest that made my kitchen do a good impression of Covent Garden LOL. I certainly don't resent the time spent, though, and as the weather wasn't too nice here - wet and chilly - it was quite nice being in the kitchen all day. I made a pot of tomato sauce for the freezer; damson chutney; plum chutney; 2 apple pies; 1 greengage pie; one pie shell to use up the extra pastry; started off a gallon of elderberry port and got the damson wine into the demi-john. Tomorrow I'll deal with the last half bucket of damsons and the big pan of apples. I got a hat knitted too :)

Tomorrow's main job is this:

Mainly bottling I think, but a bit of racking off to get done too; plus the usual Monday jobs ofcourse.


Yesterday was spent at the annual Oak Fair; we went with friends, the weather was perfect - it was a lovely day. I always come back from there very inspired with a list as long as my arm of things I want to try. Some of the bigger projects carry over from year to year, but I'd like to think I'll get there one day!
So, the list looks like this:

Build and learn to use a pole lathe
Bark containers
Making hide boots
Learning more about fire starting
Using antlers
Wood turning
Making a stick from my own coppiced wood
Hurdle making
More basket making, hedgerow baskets
Making more wooden knitting needles and crochet hooks
Spoon making
Wooden sculptures for the garden
Making a wooden bucket with rope handles

Highlight of the day was meeting Nick Gibbs, the Editor of the excellent Living Woods magazine, which I can't recommend highly enough.