Saturday, 29 October 2011

Gentle jobs for a Saturday

- in late autumn, bit too chilly for outdoors, not feeling 100% with a bit of a cold, and not really wanting to stray far from her beloved Rayburn !

This is halfway through Project Bear. Bear is an Alaskan Malamute, and these skeins contain combings from hi lovley coat, carded and spun with Portland fleece, then plied with Suffolk. It's beautifully soft to the touch; may dye it with walnut husks for the final project. Will continue with the spinning a bit later tonight I think.

Look at the fantastic colour of these chillies - not my onw, but bought for pennies as date reduced items; they are being split and dried for use over the winter for curries and chillies after grinding.

Peeled and brined 1 1/2 kg of pickling onions; they will be ready for putting into jars tomorrow afternoon. Brining them helps retain their crispness.

Pear wine decanted into the demi-john, on its way to the wine shelves in the store room; this is from the scrumped pears I collected the other week. I got two boxes of poached pears and two crumbles out of them too, so that was good going. Made another jar of sloe gin too, with the last of the sloes,  so I'm well set up in the alcohol department!

Made a big pot of chilli for tonight's supper.

Yesterday was fairly productive in the few hours I actually got to myself -  made a couple of jars of jam with the last of the British strawberries I found, again, a good bargain at less than half price; a gallon of leek and potato soup for the coming week; a caraway cake too.

Will no doubt nod off  over the wheel later lol

Friday, 28 October 2011

Frugal Friday

Some of my favourite things to cook aret he using-it-up ones - you never quite know how they will turn out and you'll only manage to make them that exact way once lol.
One of my favourites is just called 'cheesy vegetables'; I get together all the veg that needs using up and prepare ti. Onions, carrots, potatoes, greens, beans, cauliflower, peppers,  leeks - almost anything, even if it's soft and bendy, or you have to strip a few outer layers to use the better bits inside. If I use onions, I tend to fry the first, just to colouring stage - gives more flavour I find.
Cut them all up into good sized chunky bits, trying to keep them roughly the same size (not always easy!), then gently boil or steam them until just done, drain well and turn into an oven dish. Make 1 - 2 pints of cheese sauce, depending on size of dish/amount of veg etc. Melt 1 oz butter, add in 1 tbsp plain flour and cook until honeycombing (this shows the gluten in the flour is expanding, hence the sauce will thicken), then gradually add 1 pint of milk, stirring all the time; leave to thciken, then add in grated cheese - another good opportunity to use up bits and ends of cheese that may be lurking lol Just grate them all and into the pan. Stir until melted, then pour over the veg. It can go into the oven like that, or you could add breadcrumbs as a topping - use up ends/slightly stale bread, grated - add in dried herbs, or smoked paprika etc. Cook in a hot oven until golden and bubbly. Nice served with crusty bread :)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


...........   just goes on in the background, like a permanent sound track to my life lol I do lots of other craft work too, but knitting is a constant - never far from my hands, always something on the needles to pick up and take with me, or sit with whilst at the computer. One of the loves of my life is knitting for others, and this is the latest one for a friend. Another hat, in North Ronaldsay wool, rapidly becoming wool of choice for this knitter! It really is lovely to knit with, and a rare breed that needs mor publicity and getting folk to use to ensure the future of the breed. Sadly, not the only breed that is under threat. I have a post to do for my knitting blog on rare breeds, so will expand and expound upon it all over there. In the mean time, I took delivery a few weeks ago of some rather lovely Soay fleece that is heading towards the Ashford when the first part of Project Bear is complete;  a long term aim, just for myself, is to spin skeins of rare breeds for my own records. The rare breeds wools really are special to work with - anyone else go for them too?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bring it on................

I know that not everyone can cope with , or likes,  a good hard winter (for lots of very sensible and practical reasons, and I may find myself in such a situation one day, so am not knocking it at all), but I do. I believe from what I read and hear that we are in for one at least as harsh, if not more so, than the last one. For me, peace of mind and preparation are the keys, and I like to have both. Preparation is a permanent state for me in this home, getting ready for whatever lies ahead, making sure I have adequate of whatever is needed, plus a few extras ' just in case'. I have spent a lifetime gathering up relevant equipment, books, papers, ideas and experience, and now feel confident in coping with almost anything that can be thrown at me.
Where I live the weather doesn't get too bad; yes, it gets cold, but the old fashioned ways of  dealing with it see me through - good blankets, thick curtains, draughtproofing, wood fires, 24 hour stove burning, candles, oil lamps, well stocked store cupboards, happy to stay at home instead of insisting that things are ok and I really need to be somewhere. I'm looking forward to some snow, some really good cold weather for the garden and nature in general - it keeps the world in balance. I'm not keen on wind, but lying cosy in a warm bed listening to the wind holwing around the house corners is a lovely way to drop off to sleep.
Some people have said to me 'Well, you're lucky to have all that stuff, to be so well prepared, know this and that and how to get through it.......' - that sort of thing. Actually, no, not lucky; I've spent many, many years teaching myself  to be as self reliant as I can - reading, listening, talking, picking up bits of equipment over many years to spread the cost, watching and learning by my own and others' mistakes, not relying on outside resources - power, light etc. I know it's not for everybody for lots of reasons, but it's the way my life has evolved so far, and I couldn't think of living my life any other way now. It's as far from the 'microwave mentality' - where people want things instantly and aren't prepared to work at them or for them  over time -  in all sense of the word as you could get.

Thought for a Monday morning