Friday, 25 August 2023

Using my new mincer

My Kenwood Chef (from the 1970's) has finally given up the ghost. A new one the same size would cost £400 then the mincer attachment another £150. 

I thought long and hard about replacing it (or getting it fixed which we may still do). For now though, I hardly use the rest of it so we shopped around for just a mincer.

We settled for a Duronic as it had quite good reviews. It is very powerful and noisy, making me jump when I switched it on:

I made enough bolognese sauce with out tomatoes for tea plus two more meals:

Whilst in the mood, I also made two crumbles using the brambles, dried apples and apricots:

We shared one with custard and put the other plus the two sauces into the freezer for later use.


Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Hungarian hot wax chilli poppers

I removed 7 reasonably sized peppers from my plant, which are still pale green and therefore not much heat to them. The tops were removed and then they were deseeded carefully without being cut in half.

Half a pack of Feta cheese was crumbled with a fork and pressed into each one to fill them. Then two streaky rashers of bacon were wrapped around each, making sure the open end was fully covered.

Just 7 minutes in the air fryer, turning halfway through and they were done:

Soft and squidgly inside, crispy outside and gorgeous. The peppers are slowly turning red so will have more heat next time.


Sunday, 20 August 2023

Tomatoes and more tomatoes... oh, and some brambles from the garden

 


Including some of the above, I have frozen 8lbs so far, simply chopped and bagged. Supposed to work.

First bowl of our own brambles, another one to pick today methinks:

Despite some days being quite hot, Autumn is approaching, you can feel and see it in the dewy mornings and in the changing of the garden. Also, it is now completely dark by 9pm.


Friday, 18 August 2023

Cheesed off is an understatement!

 With blogger that is.

Got a new iPad. Old one select blogger logo, asked to sign in. Sign in screen arrives and I sign in and enter password. This opens up my dashboard where I can create, read and comment. Once finished I can log out of my blog.

New one, no blogger logo so have to do online search for blogger. Asked to sign in, no sign in screen arrives but my dashboard opens up. I can create, read but not comment, except anonymously. It asks me to sign in to comment as DC, can’t sign in, as supposedly, I am already signed in. Round and round I go in an endless loop. Also can’t sign out of just blogger, have to sign out of everything:(

This has ruined my experience to say the least. Supposedly is something to do with Google+ finishing the end of July. Have tried everything suggested but to no avail.

Anyone else having this problem?


Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Weed juice

We recently changed our kitchen swing rubbish bin but didn't want to waste it nor throw such a huge item into the rubbish. 

I have been reading about weed juice for a while. We usually make stinky comfrey tea (leaves soaked in water, strained then used 20 parts water to 1 part juice). The smell is horrendous and I just couldn't face it. Time to try something new.

The base of the bin had a large drainage hole drilled into it. The hole was almost covered by large stones, then a piece of plastic netting. Dandelion leaves, comfrey, borage, nettles and mares tail were added along with about a cup of water. This was so I could see where it was draining to fix a large plastic milk bottle underneath to catch the liquid. It too has a large hole cut into its side and catches everything quite well.

Inside the leaves are weighed down with a heavy pot on top of more netting:

Within one week I could see thick almost black liquid draining into the bottle. Checking the liquid, it practically has no smell, so much better!

So far it has been added to with more weeds on two occasions. Within one month it has produced this much liquid:

We clean it out once the contents go black so as not to create too many flies and a general smell. It has been 1/3 filled up this morning and will probably be the last liquid we harness for this year.

It is used 100 parts water to 1 part liquid as it is very powerful. For me that represents 6 tablespoons to one full watering can. Free plant food, what's not to like?


Sunday, 13 August 2023

Rose hips and rose hip powder

Up north during our visit, we found a lovely rose bush forming hips. We managed to pick two lots from it over the week. First lot were deseeded whilst fresh, the second I froze for some unknown reason so it was far more difficult to deseed. Shall not make that mistake again:

Anyhow, once thawed, I deseeded those that needed doing, tore into smaller pieces, covered and dried in my conservatory:


These were lightly ground to form small flakes/powder ready for rose hip tea:


The seeds were washed thoroughly in a sieve, then also laid out to dry:

Once dried, they were swizzled in a sieve to remove any residual hairs and ground to a powder:

One small jar of Vitamin C to add to my smoothies or cereals in winter. Won't last long but will be a good immune booster.

Friday, 11 August 2023

A lovely garden tea

 One of a few courgettes from DDiL after our visit last week, tomatoes, baby aubergine, chilli and beans from our garden. Rice and an onion (not shown) from the shops:

Beans were steamed in the rice cooker with the rice. Everything else was cooked in the air fryer. Two delicious bowls of food, fresh as can be:
I have to say, my greatly reduced cooking equipment, air fryer, rice cooker and the pressure/slow cooker, are the only things I use apart from the very rare use of the cooker for potatoes.


Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Tigerella and beans

 The largest of the tigerella tomatoes abandoned ship overnight so I harvested it:

It weighed 1/2lb! I also harvested 2 Gardener's Delight, they were delicious.

The runner and French beans are cropping now and it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them. Quite a few had to be composted as they were too large and therefore tough. These were what was left before blanching and freezing:


A few have been kept back for tea.


Thursday, 3 August 2023

Quick cucumber pickle

One of the things we like about this pickle is not only its great light taste (half water and half vinegar) but also how quick it is to make. It needs to be eaten as soon as possible and not stored long term. 

1 whole cucumber sliced thinly, 1 unsliced but peeled clove of garlic, if desired. 

2 Bay leaves (fresh or dried), 6 or more whole black peppercorns, pinch chilli flakes - optional.

Pack the above into a jar about 1pint or slightly larger and press down.

Measure 150 ml of boiling water into a jug. Add 100ml clear vinegar of your choice but not red or malt. Stir in 35g while sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. 

Pour over the contents in the jar and screw on the lid. Swivel occasionally in the first hour to release bubbles. Leave for one day then it is ready to use. Store in fridge until eaten -  preferably within a fortnight:



Monday, 31 July 2023

Lemon Verbena

 Lemon verbena leaves have the most fantastic lemon smell and make a wonderful tea:

My two plants are taking an age to get going and don't think they will grow much past 2’ rather than the 11' predicted!

However, as and when I can get enough leaves to harvest and dry, I will do so, ready for winter.


Thursday, 27 July 2023

Tomatoes and leeks

 Tomatoes in Bed 1 are coming along nicely although the wet weather is worrying me a tad:

There is another bed behind them but they aren't so happy:(

Bed 4 has leeks, 3 carrots and the one surviving tomatillo:


The leeks are progressing nicely after the 'no growth' disaster last year. Only 3 carrots grew from 2 rows of my Mothers Day seeds, not so good. There were 2 tomatillo plants but one has died. It wasn't happy from day 1.

We have had 3 servings so far from our French beans, the runner beans are just starting to produce. A lot of things in the salads bed are going to seed so will resow some more soon.

We have also havested the second proper potato container, another 6lbs to add to the tally. Some so big just one would make enough chips for us both.



Tuesday, 25 July 2023

Its a cool cool summer so far

 Most nights recently, I have had to close the door to my greenhouse to try and keep the chilli plants happy. Night time temperatures are averaging just 10C, not nearly warm enough for them especially as the day time temperatures are hovering around 19C.

There are quite a few varities growing in there and those in pots are quite happily setting fruit. Top picture Sweet Hungarian Hotwax:

Here are some Red Hot Cherry:
We are also growing Jalapeno and Anaheim.

The ones in the soil are only just beginning to flower and are a bit leggy, probably due to the greenhouse staging above them?


Saturday, 22 July 2023

Borage - a super self seeding friend or foe!

 We have many, many borage plants not only flowering, but new ones popping up all the time. They really self seed everywhere but the seedings are easy to pull up to limit their numbers.

Just wish they weren't so uncomforatble to brush past or pick from. Despite using washing up rubber gloves to crumble the dried leaves, they still pricked me.

I have just discovered on my herbal tea making journey, that the smaller younger leaves and flowers can be used, with some caution as they contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Read up on them if you are worried.

However, as I only steep mine for 10 minutes and intend to only use once or twice a week, I think I should be okay. The flowers are gorgeous and useful in salads. Some countries eat them cooked in meals:


I was thoroughly amazed by the taste, very fresh and cucumber like. I have only used them fresh so far so will try some dried to see if the flavour is different.

UPDATE; Nowhere near so nice dried, more grassy than cucumber so will only use fresh as a treat!

 

Monday, 17 July 2023

Tomato Tigerella

I last grew this variety of tomato more than 35 years ago. They are part of the large pack of seeds given to me on Mothers Day this year. I do remember them being slightly larger than a regular tomato such as Shirley, but not this big:


They are all as large as, or larger than, a tennis ball! Another odd thing about them, don't know if this is normal or the weather, is that after 2 trusses have set fruit, the tomato has 'blinded' itself. There is no more growth above the last truss, how weird.


Tuesday, 11 July 2023

Hibiscus lemon drizzle cake

 Didn't have enough of any ingredients to make a full size cake so did the best with what I had.

Whilst the cake was baking, the lemon juice, sugar and a few hibiscus flowers were cooked to melt the sugar, then left to go cold. It was then strained to remove the flowers:

Poured over the cake, it resulted in a nice pink touch on the top of the cake:

Not sure if we could taste it as the nature of the cake is sour anyway but it looked pretty. I think it would make a nice pink icing if used that way.



Sunday, 9 July 2023

Garlic honey and potatoes

I started off a fresh batch of fermented garlic honey:


 Didn't have enough of either so will buy more ingredients in a few days time. The blue top is a burping cap used in fermenting. It allows the gases to escape without letting the air in. 

After a few hours, the garlic starts to float. You can use a fermenting glass weight to hold it down but I don't bother, choosing instead to give the jar a good shake whenever I am passing.

After a few days, the garlic sinks and the appearance of bubbles show it is fermenting. It is usually left alone for several weeks apart from a gentle shake every now and then.

I suffer occasional morning nausea and one teaspoonful of this takes it away almost immediately.

This morning, we emptied out our final and smallest compost bag of potatoes - 3 1/2lbs,  so not too bad at all. We now have the 4 large containers to use over the next few weeks.

Monday, 3 July 2023

A beautiful colour

My hibiscus flowers finally arrived and I set to, brewing myself some. I was a bit heavy handed but this is such a gorgeous colour:


 It got far deeper. The taste was supposed to be tart, similar to fresh cranberry. Yeah I thought. Wow! This was the first herbal tea I actually needed a full teaspoon of honey added, instead of just dipping a spoon in, leaving it to run off, then stirring into my chosen tea.

It did indeed taste of fresh cranberry, was very tart but very tasty. After I had disposed of the used flowers, I realised I could probably have stored them in the fridge for a day, then re-used them for a milder flavour and colour. I shall try that soon.

Sunday, 2 July 2023

Second bag of potatoes

 The second compost bag of potatoes produced even more than the first. First bag 2lb 12oz, this bag, 4lbs 8oz:

I have no idea why I washed them all, I don't normally do that until just before use, hey ho!

One more bag to go, then onto the 4 proper tubs. Onwards and upwards.


Saturday, 1 July 2023

My herbal tea 'shop'

 Mostly foraged or grown in my garden before drying, my collection is coming along nicely. Linden and camomile are the only bought ones here, but I have just got some hibiscus. Yes, I know I have missed the H from the latter:


All the above home grown!


Thursday, 29 June 2023

My first potato harvest in years

 Our first batch of potatoes was sown in compost bags and yesterday, we harvested the first bag. Now, I haven't fed or topped them up as much as I should but even so, we got 2lb 12oz:

I didn't realise they would be ready but the bag next to it, when watered, showed some potatoes sitting on its surface. The variety is Winston and we were a bit worried as they are supposed to be watery but we found them lovely.

Two more bags to go plus 4 large tubs - should be interesting!

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Taking the mickey!

 Shopping this week, I came across Bird's custard pods - say what I thought.

The package holds 4 pods and costs £2. Each pod has 22g of mixture which melts into 1/4 pint of milk, which along with sugar, will give you 1/4 pint custard.

A standard tub of custard powder costs £2 but for that, you would be able to make 16 x 1/4 pints custard. So pods may be more convenient if there is just you or you only require a small amount BUT it will cost you £8 to make the equivalent you would get from a tub.

Then of course there is all that plastic and packaging:



 


Saturday, 24 June 2023

Blimey I am hot already!

 It’s going to be hot and humid this weekend. Having done my watering, I set to weeding. It felt coolish when I started, but three large trugs later, I am steaming:(

Attended a new specialist clinic being trialled at our surgery. Pleased to say, I am doing reasonably well so far, but my extra tablet has dropped my blood pressure somewhat on the low side. Have had a block put on my medical records to state under no circumstances am I to have any extra pills such as ACE inhibitors otherwise I will pass out!

Have now been added to the regular clinic so that is good. Supposed to be seen back at the hospital within six months of my last appointment, want to put a bet on that happening. Surgery says I am to phone them up a month beforehand to remind them, yeah, right!!! The surgery itself will see me again in March. Hey ho!

Saturday, 17 June 2023

Being in the moment

One of the things I really enjoy about growing, foraging, harvesting and drying herbs, is being in the moment. Some might say that is practicing mindfulness but I don't really know.

Take the picture below:

Such gorgeous colours. Just one shelf in my dehydrater, separated bramble leaves and English marigold (Calendula). Not to be confused with French marigold, a whole different plant.

This was a trial but the marigolds took too long to dry so they now get dried in the conservatory over several days. Once 3/4 dry, I pull the petals off the heads, even though both can be used. Stored in a jar, they look like saffron! Haven't tried it yet in a tea but most will be used as part of my homemade shampoo. 

I tried but didn't like rose petal tea and certainly will not be trying lavender tea. Although I love their smell, I really don't like the flavour.

So far, for herbal tea, I have dried bramble (blackberry) leaves, nettles, elderflower, lemon balm, lemon verbena. I am currently drying mint, and have had to buy some camomile and linden (lime tree but not the kind which grows limes). Not much wild yarrow around here but I have bought some of the proper kind of plants, which will be dried when ready.

Next year, I shall try harvesting goose grass and maybe hawthorn flowers, time will tell.


Monday, 5 June 2023

Baking and harvesting...

 A few days ago, I made some cheese scones and a bread and butter pudding in the air fryer. The scones had to be carefully turned halfway through cooking but came out great:

The bread and butter pudding tasted lovely but wasn't quite set in the middle, note to self:

After dehydrating 5 trays of elder flowers, here are the results. First picture, combed off the stalks:

Almost packaged, look at all that lovely pollen (about 1 teaspoon in all) which helps with the flavour:
Into an 8oz jar:
We shall harvest at least once more, in a few days time.



Sunday, 4 June 2023

A gorgeous smell

 The house smells heavenly as I dehydrate elderflower flowers for tea later in the year. Not a bad taste as I tried some fresh yesterday but it will need a touch of lemon zest methinks.

All our usual harvesting places are disappearing for some reason. Some have been felled or just died, others overtaken by ivy.

We’ll let a few more days pass before going out for more.

Thursday, 1 June 2023

Keeping warm by making things...

 Still cold here with a brisk cold wind. Not the weather to be out and about on the beach or even in the garden.

As we had run out of marmalade, I set to and made some orange and ginger:

As well as the 5 jars above, there was also a small dish and a whole Le Creuset marmalade container made!

Then I made us some vegetable tikka masala curry, enough for us both for 3 meals:

I baked us a pudding in the Ninja to have for lunch as well as something else nice. Pictures to come another day.



Saturday, 27 May 2023

Cool nights -still

 My tomatoes are huge and really need to go in the ground. Unfortunately we are still have too cool temperatures at night. They really prefer 10C at night and most nights we are 7C or below.

I will need to get them in, in the next day or so, and fleece them overnight. The temperature though, is still forecast for only 7 or 8C, for at least the next two weeks:(

Monday, 22 May 2023

Fresh herb ‘tea’

 Having gathered enough blackberry leaves to dehydrate, I used one teaspoon (a spoon for tea leaves), plus the green tops and shoulders of 5 strawberries. I dipped a regular teaspoon in honey and let most of it drip off before stirring in. It was quite nice.

Next was lemon balm and mint, a bit too much mint but again okay. Final one was nettle, more medicinal but okay.

Onwards and upwards!


Sunday, 21 May 2023

We’re back!

 Have we been on our holidays, nope.

Our switch to Sky went well as far as broadband went but not a single gadget would connect to the hub. We tried everything recommended but nothing worked. Using an Ethernet cable got the tv side of things working so that helped our frustrations.

After a day and a half, we phoned them up. Got a lovely lady who tried to help but couldn’t. Later in the day after checking extra things she had recommended, we phoned again. Got an even more helpful chap who sounded like he knew more. Nope, nothing connected.

He disappeared for a few minutes then came back on to say they would post us a new hub and could we return ours once the new one was up and running. The new hub would arrive via the post office within a few days:(

Being without the internet was so weird and very frustrating. We hadn’t even chosen a new digital internet phone so we were relying on the mobile.

Within a few minutes however, we got an email from Sky to say a new hub would arrive the next day via DPD. It did and within a few minutes of connecting it, we could connect all devices to it no problem. So satisfying as neither of us wanted a repeat stressful experience. Well done Sky!

Monday, 15 May 2023

Nettle tea

 I mainly add dried nettles to soups and bread but today tried nettle tea. I did my research before so and suggest you do the same if you wish to try some.

1 good teaspoon was put in our cafetière and 1 cup of boiling water added. It was left to steep for 5 minutes.

Strained and taste tested, it need a teaspoon dipped in honey, and stirred in, to make it more palatable. Overall, not too awful, not great, but drinkable. I shall only have one a week to see if I tolerate it okay.

Baby blackberry leaves were picked this morning and are now dehydrating to give those a go. Haven’t got many growing yet. I would also like to try other berry leaf tea after more research.

Saturday, 13 May 2023

What a weird May

 Yet again, a 9C day with a cold northerly wind. Washing is on the line and we hope the wind will partially dry it.

Heating has just been put on as the house is cold. Greenhouse remains shut. Tomorrow is forecast for sun and 18C temperatures. It is still too cold at night to plants out the tomatoes, maybe another week or so!

Friday, 12 May 2023

Blooming cold!

 It has been so cold and windy today we have had to turn the heating on! The greenhouse has been shut all day as the wind would be chilling the plants way to much. Just 9C, brr.

Sunday, 7 May 2023

The good and bad side of rain

The good - all the plants are growing like mad:

The bad - patio still keeps flooding as it never has time to drain properly as our water table sits so high:(

Greenhouse is now in use and the tomatoes are better for it. Just need warmer drier weather and everything can go outside into the raised beds:


Ignore the sponge on the door, it is just temporary. We have done more sealing to help keep out the bigger leaks, just a few more smaller ones to identify. Each polypropolene panel is now attached to the frame. This has strengthened them no end and has almost eliminated rattling. Metal duck is our latest addition!

 

Saturday, 6 May 2023

Cost versus revenue

 For the coronation that is. I get a tad annoyed at those folk who are very vocal about the cost of living crisis versus money being wasted on the coronation. How they won’t watch it because of the waste of money, regardless of whether they are fans of the monarchy. The waste of money of having a royal family is also used everyday, yet as a whole, they generate more income for the country coffers than the amount the country gives them. 

Another argument is that no-one wants them, not my king etc. They know this because of the lack of flags up for the coronation. Well, we like the royals, as do most people I know, most of us have not got flags up. Never done it, doesn’t mean we are anti-royal.

If you don’t like them that’s fine. Want to moan that’s fine, just get your facts straight!

Having taken the time to actually find out, here are the numbers.

Approximately £100 million will be spent. In return it will generate, for the country coffers, not less than £1 billion. 

Friday, 5 May 2023

Weather forecast

 Light rain, gentle wind.

Actual at 12:20, heavy rain, blustery wind, thunder and lightning!

Greenhouse door now shut, patio slightly flooded. Ah well.

Sunday, 30 April 2023

It doesn’t pay to be loyal!

 BT have just lost us as customers, after 36 years. Our line rental currently stands at £220 a year and no doubt will rise shortly. Our monthly bill has just been put up to £66!!!

That is just for basic fibre broadband and pay as you go phone calls. Shocking. We will be penalised by BT as we will be pulling out mid contract but are willing to pay to be shot of them.

We wanted to go to Now broadband and tv but apparently they don’t do this area (even though their big sister does), go figure.

Anyway, we have gone with sky stream/broadband/pay as you go and will also keep our Freesat recording box to record UK tv and be able to skip ads on those.


Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Crispy vegetable peelings

 I used one parsnip, two potatoes and 4 carrots for the base of a soup. The peelings were kept in cold water for a short while, until the soup was cooking.

Drained and thoroughly dried on an old tea towel, they had just 2 teaspoons of oil and seasoning added.

The air fryer was set to air fry and 15 minutes. I tossed and shook them every 2 minutes and after 10 minutes, they were ready:

The yield was half a cereal bowl. They were cripsy, tasty and gone within 5 minutes! Obviously they would go soft after a while but still be tasty and would make nice toppings for things if cooked just in time for serving a meal/soup or even a sandwich!


Saturday, 22 April 2023

Rubble cakes

 These are meant to be rock cakes but Benecol in any bread like recipe, tends to be extremely short and results in things slightly falling apart. It is fine in cakes and crumbles but no good in pastry!

However, they taste lovely. I got the recipe from Kerry on her YouTube channel - budget baking uk - scroll to almost the end for the recipe:

They took 12 minutes in the Ninja Dual air fryer, on bake at 180C. Might turn it down to 170C next time and add one or two minutes.