Captains Stardate 7th October 2019 😜 Monday again already, I’m pretty sure that along with the rest of you, I’ve no idea how time flies by so fast so enjoy every day, enjoy the little things that make you smile, a favourite tune with the volume up, take a few seconds to really feel the sun, rain, wind on your face (this might not make you happy but they are a confirmation that you are alive and well, which should) put your wellies on and jump in a puddle, go on really have a good splash around, look around on your journey and take note of something you have passed by a million times and never really seen before, life is precious and can change in a split second so make the most of everything.
It’s raining this morning 🤪 I procrastinated a little by cleaning the area around the hob where the piece of kitchen fell down, it’s now back up but the area needed tidying and the dust wiping down. I should have gone out and done the rounds first though as by the time I did it was raining much heavier 🙄 A quick round, as John had already topped up all the water buckets last night, and back inside to have a coffee and a think about what to get done today.
I picked up some garlic bulbs yesterday when we went to the garden centre to get some more compost, I need to divide up a few plants and pot them ready for spring time. The circle of the year constantly turning never ceases to amaze me as already the saffron crocus and the muscari are pushing up some tiny shoots of green, spiderwort tips are also beginning to emerge though of course they will all slow right down in mid winter it’s nice to see they have hope lol. The sunrise this morning was a vibrant pink, though if you had only looked out of the front windows you would have said it was grey, different aspect gives a different outlook.
I rather feel I am procrastinating again sat here typing away so I’d better get on with something useful 😏
So firstly I set to making the red tomato chutney:
2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes all sizes cut the bigger ones
7floz red wine vinegar, cider vinegar if you don’t have red
6oz muscavado sugar or any sugar will do you just get a different colour result
4 small onions chopped
4 small cloves of garlic chopped
1 cooking apple chopped
A couple of handfuls of sultanas, I used the ones I made from the grapes
A sprinkle of ginger powder
A sprinkle of paprika
Put it all in the pan bring to the boil then reduce and simmer for approximately 1 to 1 1/12 hours, put into sterilised jars, they will store for at least a year if not longer.
Did you know that 24 million slices of bread are wasted every single day in the UK! This house is no exception when it comes to leaving the crusts, generally I throw them out for the birds but today I have about 4 crusts, a hunk of bread and a couple of flatbreads that should have been eaten over the weekend and weren’t so I made a bread pudding. I’m am not keen on the traditional looking pudding with slices of bread, the edges always seem to end up hard so I did it the other way. The bread was whizzed up into crumbs, we had a seeded loaf but that’s fine, all adds to the flavour 😀 I added milk, sugar, sultanas, egg, mixed spice, melted butter and let it all soak in so the mixture is soft and then bake it for a delicious pudding or as a cold slice with a cup of tea. You could doctor this anyway you want to, orange, lemon, cinnamon, ginger, cherries, dried fruit of any type, even chocolate chips whatever flavours you have or fancy. The basic measurements were, 250g bread, 300ml milk, 50g melted butter, 1 large egg, 70g brown sugar, the rest is up to you 😀 John doesn’t like bread and butter pudding he says, my guess is he has never had it and I won’t tell him what it is just leave on the side until he asks if he can have some lol, I’ll let you know what happens, if he really doesn’t like it all the more for me in the freezer 😀
I have been taste testing the chutney as it reduces, I think this one is going to be one that needs to mature, the temptation is to add more sugar but I’m going to leave it and hope that after a couple of months in store the flavour has deepened.
I’m on a roll now with the whole ‘making’ things, especially with leftovers today, next was the vegetable box at the bottom of the fridge 😀 A few sticks of celery, some wrinkled mushrooms, and I am on my way to making vegetable stock for soups over winter. We all have those bits that need using up and there is no better way than throwing them all in a pan with some herbs and seasoning, simmering it for a couple of hours to end up with a useful pan of goodness that can either be drunk as a gut healer or used in winter soups like leek and potato. When you peel your veg put all the scraps in a bag and pop it in the fridge until you have enough, nothing is off limits here, peelings, provided you have washed them, from sweet potato, carrots, swede, parsnip, etc, anything remotely vegetable like that is lurking and unlikely to get used otherwise, add a chopped onion, some garlic, a tomato or pepper, brassica, literally anything (except beetroot unless you want a red stock 🙄) You will get a different result each time probably but all will be tasty. Separate the veg from the juice and either use the juice or freeze it, don’t discard the veg, whizz them up and use them in your soup recipes as well. You can of course just whizz up the whole lot at the end of simmering and use that but if you want a separate stock for any reason that’s the way to do it.
Tuesday: I got woken up at 5.30 by a peculiar noise a bit like someone trying to shoulder a door in but it wasn’t, I got up and looked out but it was pitch black and I could see anything or hear anything more, it’s a mystery. The next odd thing was Benny wasn’t around, he is usually there miaowing away in the morning for his breakfast, by the time John had gone he still wasn’t there. I went out and called him and he came running from the haybarn, phew, I guess the nice comfy bed of hay is a lovely place to sleep 😴
I am also buzzing this morning with an idea given to me by a visitor yesterday. Kellee is over from the USA and she used to live here on the farm with her Mum (Sue, my Dads partner) and her sister Robin. She loves to come and visit as it bring back childhood memories, she mentioned Airbnb experiences where people get a unique experience in the things they are interested in. I have looked it up this morning and am thinking, yep, I could easily do that here, gardening, grow your own, smallholding, chicken keeping, any number of things really, it’s all buzzing round in my head now lol but it definitely something to think seriously about.
I did a stint in the big tunnel, weeding cutting back getting the dead stuff out then picked a few raspberries, the Autumn ones are doing well if you can get them before the rain spoils them. After having a good few days of feeling quite able, by lunchtime today I was flagging. Being able to recognise the fact that I am feeling tired is helpful because I no longer push myself to the limits and end up much worse, these days I go and have a sit down and maybe even a short nap 😀 to recharge my batteries.
It hammered down in the afternoon, just as well that Shelley, Josh and Flo called in after picking Josh up from school. After the left I did a bit of hoovering and then sorted the walnuts out again 🙄 I had washed them and dried them all then put them on a rack, from the apple storage, but some of them still developed a mould so I wiped them all over with a dry cloth and I have put them in the oven on 50c probably for an hour to try and dry out the shells better. I don’t want the nut inside to dry too much though I want that to dry naturally. I did think about shelling them now but the not meat is still too soft and it’s a bit of a mission just to get one out.
Wednesday: It rained quite heavily in the night and so it was a bit soggy this morning 🙄 I did the morning rounds and I’m keeping the stable birds I for a few days as they have become freeloaders 😜 actually, I have no idea where they are laying and we could do with the eggs. I then went into the greenhouse and picked all the remaining peppers, the foliage is starting to fall off and so that’s pretty much the end of those. There were plenty to pick, mostly small but they will still be useful, I then thought I may as well do the same to the courgettes and cucumbers, if we get a sharp drop in the overnight temperatures they won’t be much good after so pick them now while they still have a bit of substance to them. I also cut some lemongrass, that has grown really well and I would definitely grow it again, it has such a wonderful smell 😀 if you like Thai cooking I would encourage you to grow it or even if you just want to make limoncello 😀 I need to find out what other things I can do with it.
I had quite a few smallish cucumbers so I have begun to make some cucumber relish, ideal for hot dogs, at the moment they have been finely chopped along with onion and red pepper and are sat in salt to draw out the moisture, I can then make the relish tomorrow.
I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before so apologies if I have but going back to the peppers, I have never had much luck with them, I usually end up with one tiny pepper lol, but this year in the new greenhouse, wow, they have done really well and they didn’t even go in there until quite late so I’m excited to plan again for them next year, maybe even a few chillis and I may even try an aubergine again 😜 Just goes to show that the right tools for the job is the way forward.
I also pulled a few ‘mooli’ radish, these are the round ones, accord I think, I got free seeds and thought I might as well give them a go, well they taste great and they grow bigger than a French breakfast radish (size of a golf ball or you can grow them to tennis ball size) but don’t ‘blow’ so they don’t get hollow and woody, these will be a definite regular from now on, they will replace the more familiar red and white radish.
I am off out to Sudely Castle tonight for a audience with my favourite author Phillipa Gregory, very much looking forward to that and we are having Tudor tapas, the mind boggles but I will let you know what they consist of tomorrow lol. In the meantime I have got shepherds pie ready for an early dinner and I will be doing the rounds earlier than usual.
I am hoping that we have a couple of dry days in store so that I can get out on the garden and give it a good tidy, plus I need to dig up the self set potatoes before they rot in the ground.
This afternoon we were sat having a cup of tea in the living room when I spotted a Hummingbird moth on the Verbena which was bobbing about in the breeze, amazing little moth, though I had to have a look at a picture online as they don’t stay still long enough to see what they actually look like lol.
This is a pic from the internet not mine 😬
Thursday: A lovely sunny morning, slightly chilly but hopefully it will warm up a tad over the course of the day.
Last nights outing to hear Phillipa Gregory was fabulous, a talk on the hidden women in history, which was most of them as they were only recorded either through their husbands, through work they may have done and thus recorded in household journals or through crime, was riveting and I could have listened to her for hours. The Tudor tapas were venison sausages in onion chutney, kipper on top of bruschetta and a veg option of avocado on bruschetta followed by a lemon posset/parfait type dessert, fab evening 😀 I do have her new book (signed 😀) to read but I shall resist the temptation during the daytime unless is raining in which case I think that’s allowable lol.
I have bloods this morning and my flu jab 🙄 I have had varying reactions to the jab each year, sometimes nothing at all, sometimes a very sore arm that flared up every few weeks, sometimes decidedly unwell, however I think the alternative doesn’t really bear thinking about especially if there is an epidemic, we have all seen how it can move through animal populations rapidly (bird flu especially) the devastation it would cause in the human population doesn’t bear thinking about, so off I go.
Friday: Ooo what a terrible morning, it’s raining, sometimes hard and it’s blowing a hoolie. At first I thought urgh I don’t want to go out in that but then I had an attitude adjustment and figured at least it will be refreshing and might wake me up a bit lol. We have a long wait until Spring so I am going to have to make the most of what Winter brings, dark mornings and dark evenings, wet weather, cold weather, freezing weather, ice maybe even snow. It also brings the opportunity to get things done indoors, a bit of crafting maybe, reading, catch up on films I have missed over the summer, planning for next years veg. There are also a few of my favourite times of year to celebrate, All Hallows Eve, Bonfire night, Winter Solstice, a few winter birthdays and of course the great Winter Feast that is Christmas.
I started growing pumpkins the year before the first grandchildren were born I think and now it has become a must grow item for me to be able to carry on the tradition lol. I tend to grow small ones that are also suitable for eating but might have to move into the realm of giant pumpkins later on 🎃
I procrastinated a little until the weather looked more acceptable then went out and fed and watered everything letting them all out as I went. It was actually quite mild out there and I wanted to get a couple of jobs done, the first was to divide up my hardy geranium and get some small plants on the go ready for next spring. I got 11 in total, I won’t need most of them so they will go out for sale next year providing they take and make through the winter. The next job was to dig up some self set potatoes, these particular ones come every year in the same place, they are from a batch of Red Duke of York that I planted about 5 years ago. Each year they grow back, strong, healthy plants, no sign of blight no scab they just do really well and they are mostly growing in old manure! It just goes to show that you really don’t need to faff about with some veg they will make it anyway and without any problems. They produce whopping big spuds, ideal for a hungry worker who wants a baked potato 😀 the only problem that does occur is slug damage to some of them because they are growing in something that holds moisture which is why I wanted to get them dug up sooner rather than later. Those were the two things I really wanted to achieve today and so job done ✅ I had a few more walnuts in the greenhouse that I cleaned the outer cases off last week so I bought those in and gave them a wash in some white vinegar and then dried off the shells in a very low oven for about an hour. It should be air drying but I found that because we don’t have constant heating, mould starts to appear on the shells so properly drying them off is a must.
Went out with Sam, Shelley and the children for coffee and cake in the afternoon.
Got a hammering from the rain when the heavens opened at feeding time 🌧 I was trying to find the turkeys who had wandered off, the rain was pouring, splattering onto my glasses which were steaming up, the wind was blowing wet hair onto my face despite having my hood up, urgh hate times like that lol times like that I think what the actual ‘bleep’ am I doing 😜 Came indoors and went straight to the kettle for a nice hot cuppa ☕️
Saturday: Wet, nothing more to say about it than that! John did the morning rounds which gave me a chance to catch up with all the bits indoors that needed doing, the usual mundane stuff such as hang up clothes, put the rubbish out, wash up, a plethora of small jobs that all add up to an hour or two of busy 😜
I had a phone all from the doctor last night about my blood results and no wonder I have been feeling tired, my white cells have dropped too low again 🙄 great, there never seems to be an even keel these days, at least I know why I haven’t been up to speed I suppose but it gets me wondering about exactly how to handle this disease 🤔
We didn’t do a lot more today other than go and get some bits of food shopping and visit Mum and Ken, the afternoon rounds when we got back and light the Rayburn.
Sunday: Oh my days it has been raining heavily all through the night, there hasn’t been much let up for a couple of weeks now so you can imagine what that brings 🙄 I woke up at 6.30 that was not the first time mostly due to the noise of the rain on the tin roof, I got up and made a cuppa then went back to bed and did a bit of reading. I couldn’t sleep because I was wondering what we would be greeted with out there come daybreak and what to do about it. The horses have been grazing a large paddock all summer but it has no overhanging shelter apart from trees at one end, there is plenty of windbreak from the hedges but that doesn’t help in these conditions, we had left the other paddocks to work as standing hay hoping that by the time we needed it the grass would be exactly that. But needs must when the weather drives and this morning I need to move them to a field with a shelter, I couldn’t bring them in as they are already soaking and would get cold standing in a stable, we don’t have luxury features such as a dryer lol. When I first went out to the paddocks the water that is standing came over the foot of my welly by the time I had got the hay nets and gone back out a river had formed down through the middle of the all the side paddocks and the rain is not letting up 😏 I moved the horses and they seem happy to be in a field with grass but they can’t gorge on too much grass all at once, I don’t have an alternative at the moment though.
Delighted that I just managed to secure a load of wood chip from a tree surgeon next week 😀 that will go on the veg garden paths, they are in desperate need of doing especially with all the rain.
The rain eventually eased off though how long for is anyone’s guess.
My brother went to a garden centre that was selling off all its stock ready for a refit, he picked up some packets of seeds for me at 10p a packet, I think I need to plough up a field 🤣