Sunday 28 August 2022

Fermenting ongoing!

Our milk kefir grains are working well and increasing in size:

I am still only making about 1/2 pint per day as I am the only one drinking it every day! Remember the fermented tomatoes (with added garlic and fresh basil)? We had some the other night served over buttery parmesan pasta.

It was nice though a little salty. This might ease off after a few more weeks in the fridge. I might though, try doing it with brine rather than salt directly in the mix.


Saturday 27 August 2022

Preserving today

 Firstly, apologies for the slightly blurred pictures!

Frying half a family bag of bell peppers and one large onion:

2lb of home grown tomatoes and 2 crushed cloves of garlic were added:
Salt and pepper, a few sprigs of fresh basil and one stock cubes added before blitzing:
I ended up sieving the mixture as a few tough pieces of skin were annoying me. I managed to get 3 double servings of a nice pasta sauce which are now in the freezer. Each bag cost about 45p each.

Monday 22 August 2022

More toms, beans and fermenting tomatoes!

 Having processed the remaining of the previous tomato harvest, more were ready for picking:

There are probably twice as many left but they are still green or just turning red. 

After washing them, some were used to make my first jar of fermented tomatoes. Several were cored then cut into 1/8ths. 3 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced and several sprigs of fresh basil washed and dried and leaves removed from their stalks.

I was a little worried how much himalayan salt was needed (4 teaspoons per quart jar) roughly 2 pints). 

Anyhow, I layered everything in, adding the salt as I went. The lid is screwed on tight and shaken until loads of liquid is formed. It is important to make sure enough is formed to keep the tomatoes under it. A couple more tomatoes were added as there was too much air space. Everything was shaken again.

I then changed the lid for a pickle pipe, wiping the rim and outer ring clean so salt doesn't corrode it. Below is the jar before shaking:

And afterwards with pickle pip to allow fermenting 'gases' to escape without letting air in:

It is now sitting on my counter top fermenting for 3 days. After that it will have a normal lid slightly loosely fitted and will be stored in the fridge.

I will let you know what it tastes like if it doesn't go mouldy!

Hopfully the link below will work to take you to the page on how to do it:


Saturday 20 August 2022

Harvesting then eating or putting away for winter!

We have a long and ever increasing list of things to do to prepare for this winter, now so more than ever. I think it will be a winter of discontent. High energy bills, ever increasing food costs, and the possibility of power cuts.

Our food harvest this week has been good thank goodness. Below is our first crop of tomatoes, a bit thick skinned due to adverse weather and the few potatoes from 2 compost sacks. I couldn't get on top of watering the potatoes but next year, hope to plant them in large buckets:

Anyhow, they gave us 3 meals. The taste of both was fantastic. Below is the second crop of tomatoes and the first proper crop of runner and french beans:

I don't normally grow runner beans and won't be doing so again. They are hard to set their flowers in dry hot weather and are often stringy even on the so called stringless versions. 

Below are 8 of the 16 red pears we grow on a mini tree. They came off easily but are currently rock hard. They will sit on the window sill for about 2 weeks when they will be soft enough to eat:

The above beans ready to blanch then freeze. My beans took 3 sowings before they began to grow, I now have all 8 up and running (at 2 beans per pole). Should crop a lot, fingers crossed:
We have completed painting and erecting the new fence panels down the drive. Now to start on the lollipop fencing. It will take an age but should be completed by halfway through September. Then the gutters to clean out, kindling to chop etc. Onwards and at times, very much upwards.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Darling son to the rescue - again

 After helping me get out of a collapsed bed frame on holiday, it was his dad's turn.

We were with him and our granddaughter at a local small farm play place. In the ride on toys section (in the barn) was a tractor tyre for children to ride around. DB was so busy filming his granddaughter he backed into it.

Down he went firstly on his backside, then on the rim In slow motion, he fell fully into the centre with legs in the air. I unfortunately missed it as I was sitting elsewhere. DS was busy pushing his daughter so didn't notice it either.

He couldn't get up or out so DS, once he realised, had to help him.

They both saw the funny side of it but DB was very stiff by the end of the day but thankfully, no injuries. Good job DDiL wasn't there, she would have dissolved into a fit of giggles.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Coal Miner's Cake - Joint birthday cake

 Just a word of warning, this is way too sweet for us and very calorific!

1 packet of Devil Cake Mix (first ingredient - sugar!)

2 Eggs - medium or large

1 whole can Cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Mix all the above together and put into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 170C or350F for between 25 - 30 minutes. Mine was cooked in 20 minutes.


Halfway through the cooking time, prepare the topping.

Slowly melt 4oz butter, 6oz chopped chocolate and 3 fl oz of evaporated milk in a pan. Boil gently for 1 minutes and pour straight onto the hot cake when it comes out the oven. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup chopped nuts. I didn't have any so used chocolate chips.

Leave to go cold and set. Cut into 16 squares. My cake, once cooled, went into the fridge as the temperature in the kitchen was too hot for it to set!

Now, the original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar to be added to the cake mix and 1/2 cup of sugar to the topping. Trust me, it is NOT needed.

Would I make it again, probably, for a special occasion. However, I would make my own sponge using the weight of 3-4 eggs (and reduced sugar amount) and find a chcolate topping that uses less butter - maybe double cream?

We served ours with vanilla ice cream - it definitely needs something.

Sunday 7 August 2022


Not been anywhere just been keeping busy, tending to the garden, moving stressed plants out of pots and into the garden. Oh, also been painting 5 x 3' 6" x 6' fence panels, still not done.

Each requires sanding down, painting of both sides black - twice, lifting out the old ones, struggling to put the news ones in. Finished panel number 3 last night, wouldn't fit, about 1/2" too wide. Turns out the person who put the concrete posts in years ago, placed two of them, a smidge too close together - doh! 

This is what the tops of them looked like:

Now without the fancy trellis top - much better:

They are very deep black, just don't look it on the pictures.

Also, aren't some bean flowers pretty, almost as good as sweet peas. These are the apricot coloured flowers of a runner bean called Sunset, new to us this year. Baby beans just appearing so hope they taste as good as the flowers look: