Saturday, 13 February 2010

Parsnip wine

Now is about the best time of year to make this - parsnips are sweeter after the first frost is the perceived wisdom, and if you don't grow your own, they are a good price in the shops, being right in the middle of the season. I always reemmber the late John Seymour pronouncing this was his favourite home made wine, and quite possibly the only one worth making - I raise a glass to him, although I like lots of other home made wines as well LOL

4lbs or so of parsnips
2 1/2 lbs sugar
2 lemons
1 gallon of water
1 good tbsp dried yeast

Scrub parsnips well; no need to peel. Slice them into a large pan (I use one of my jam pans for this) and pour over the water. Simmer until tender, but not broken up, then strain off the liquid into another large container. I give the cooked parsnips to the chickens, but you could put them on the compost too. Add the sugar to the hot liquid, stir well to dissolve; leave to cool to blood heat, then add sliced lemons and yeast. Stir well again, cover and elave in a warm place 4 - 5 days. Strain into demi-john, fit airlock and leave to ferment out. Rack off after 6 weeks into clean demi-john, then bottle after another 4 weeks. Leave a year or so before drinking (if you can).

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Keeping up

Anyone who reads here will know of my deep and abiding love and respect for old traditions, values and ways of doing things. However, I am regularly very grateful for living in the times that I do; any seeming to be longings of centuries ago living are not seen so much as a squint through rose coloured spectacles, but a hankering after a much simpler life - something I am constantly tryin to address. I am lucky to be able to take from the past and the present and meld it to suit myself, my beliefs and the way I live my life today. I am eternally grateful to be so lucky.
Having said how much I enjoy the traditional and historical, I also greatly enjoy some of the new and modern - again, I realise how lucky I am that I am able to choose which bits of "modern" I incorporate into my life.
I read a lot, mostly books - a mine of information, inspiration and ideas to go back to time and time again. However, I do like to keep up with new directions in the fields that interest me - knitting, food, gardening, crafts, etc. For this, I find the internet invaluable, and reading magazines. I have been chastised in the past by various people for buying "so many" magazines; I get a lot of enjoyment out of them read them several times over, keep the pertinent ones, or at least keep relevant pages/articles. They then get handed on to friends, to charity shops, etc for another round.
I think it's important to me to be interested in what's going on around me, even if it doesn't directly affect/involve me; I suppose having two teenagers helps a lot, as does an interest in politics and current affairs.
For instance, take knitting. My one and abiding passion is the traditional knitting of the British Isles.In recent years, this has been championed by knitters such as Alice Starmore - giving a new twist and vibrancy to older methods and traditional patterns and designs. While I love the "proper" Fairisle, I like some of the newer things that are appearing too. The likes of Ravelry and Knitty on the internet help to keep the interest alive, but make the knitwear relevant and appealing to those up and coming.
It's important to me that good information, inspiration and ideas don't get lost, and are handed down; keeping up with what the younger people and the wider world are doing is a way of disseminating such information and skills, advice and help.
As they say, the best way to conserve rare breeds is to eat them! :)
So - to make sure that traditional ways and values, crafts and information survive, they must be used and made relevant to those who will carry the flag forward into the future.
For me, this is a truth in all walks of life - growing food, cooking, all crafts, animal husbandry, wokring on the land, family life, community, soul and survival.

There is literally too much to lose if we don't engage those coming behind us.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Oooooohhhhh look.......................

.............up the top there ^^^^^^^^^ LOL

Thankyou to Leanne at Somerset Seasons ( for helping me out with this. I hope the titles are self-explanatory, and I'll get around to filling them up in the next day or so. Makes me feel a bit more

Ginger beer

I hadn't made this for a long time, but started off a "ginger beer plant" last week. This is based on the recipe in the Lark Rise Recipe Book, but I have altered the quantities of sugar and ginger to suit my taste. I might use a bit less sugar next time, though, it was very sweet to me on first tasting. It's now been bottled, and will wait for a week before trying. I just hope it's less explosive than the naturally fermented cider I made LOL

To start the plant:

Mix 1/4oz dried yeast with 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp sugar and 3/4 pint of water. Leave for 24 hours, then feed daily with 2 tsp ginger and 2 tsps sugar.

After 7 days:

Strain through a cloth, retaining the liquid. The remaining solid is the plant which should be mixed with 3/4 pint of water, then fed againw ith ginger and sugar to produce a new batch of ginger beer. The "plant" should be divided in half about every two weeks.

To finish the ginger beer, mix the strained liquid with 5 pints of cold water, the juice of 2 lemons and 1 1/2lbs sugar(this is where I would cut down on the sugar, using 1 lb maybe) which has been dissolved in 2 pints of hot water. Mix well and pour into screw-top (beer or cider) bottles. Leave for 1 week before using.

(Taken from the Lark Rise Recipe Book by Mary Norwak - a lovely book, full of excellent, plain recipes, and other items of interest such as remedies, Oxford specialities, etc. Worth looking out for, lots of extracts from Flora Thompson's writing, nicely illustrated too.)

I can't help thinking of Enid Blyton's Famous Five whenever I hear the words ginger beer!

It's cold again here today, not helped by a bitter north east wind - a lazy wind - one that goes straight through you instead of around you!
MrL cheered up by some new socks, a third pair now on the needles -

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Ready, steady, sow.................

Couldn't wait any longer! LOL I've been champing at the bit with compost and seeds all ready to go for ages now! I made a start this morning with tomatoes, peppers and a few aubergines plus some basil.
Tomatoes are: Depp's Pink Firefly, Gardener's Delight, Roma,Ananas, Abraham Lincoln, Eva's Amish Stripe, two types of Brandywine, Eva's Purple Ball, Costeluto Genovese, Mortgage Lifter, Saltspring Sunrise, Summer Cider Apricot. Peppers: Tepin, Corno de Toro Rosso, Basques Sheepherder's pepper, Red Chickenheart, Amish pimientio. Aubergine: Violetta de Firenze; also sowed sweet basil, cape gooseberries, auriculas and Martagon lilies.
Outside, I cleared the last of the leeks, now braised ready for supper, forked the bed over and sowed the first of the green peas.
Indoors, potted up six tiny wee red geraniums for the kitchen windowsills in the summer.
It's been nice here today, bright and clear, but very cold, so I turned up the stove and did some cooking to warm me up lol I got all my housework jobs done too, and am looking forward to going knitting in the pub later on.
A productive, but unhurried day.:)

Monday, 8 February 2010


Isn't that just lovely? I bought one of these yesterday - we only went for couple of bags of seed compost! However, this tree was only 5.00 in the sale, so I snapped it up. I've known about them for years and always fancied one, so it's now out by the back door, ready to go up to the octagonal greenhouse later on. Doing a bit of reading about, I find that the petals are edible as well as the fruit; it's not very hardy (coming from Brazil), so I'll keep it under glass. I read too that it may need another for good pollination, but I'll see how I go with this one. I've never tasted the fruit, but I believe it can be eaten raw in fruit salads, also cooked, and has a sweet, fresh taste.
It's always nice to try something new and different, especially if it's half price LOL

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tarting up the tea towels!

My tea towels get a bit of a bashing, and don't last long, so I invested a while ago now in a dozen heavy cotton, good quality ones. Luckily, I came out with a bonus tea towel - 13 for the price of 12! I had them put away until I needed them, being of the mind to "buy when you see", or you'll look back later and wish you did. They're very nice, being plain white, but they're very - well - white! lol So, being me, I decided to tart them up a bit. The fabric is all from my stash, cut into a strip for each short end, then pressed over, pinned, tacked and stitched - simple and quick, but very effective. I've done four for now, with more to follow as I replace the old thin ones as I go along.
A nice option until I get around to weaving my own - lol