Monthly Archives: January 2010

Leek and potato soup

Although I love food I can be a very picky eater. I don’t like dry food very much, but I do like fattie greasy food or sauces on everything. And I have ‘favourite foods’ which I will quite happily eat at every meal for weeks until my next ‘favourite food’ comes along, at the moment this is crispy roast potatoes with homemade gravy, it can’t be any gravy either. Homemade gravy only, where we make it from scratch, if not it just isn’t right… Needless to say living with so many other people I don’t get to eat this every night but I would be more than happy too.Some foods I am more picky about than others; soup is one of these. If it isn’t homemade, I won’t eat it. It doesn’t matter whose home, or even if it is in a home, but I don’t like tinned, dried, or packaged in any way soup… Tinned tomato being the exception to this rule.  

Pan of soup, eight people have already had their dinner from this - 21st January 2010

Leek and potato soup is one of my favourites, it is just so warming and filling and a comfort food I guess. It is also easy to make in large amounts too.

Ingredients (for making a big pan full): 3 – 4 onions, peeled and chopped, 6 – 8 leeks, washed and cropped, 10 – 12 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped,  butter, vegetable stock, black pepper, marmite and/or soy sauce all to taste. Cream or milk optional.Method: Added the onions, leeks and butter along with black pepper to a large pan and cook until onions and leeks are soft. Add the potatoes, either part boiled first or I don’t normally bother, and add just enough water to cover what is in the pan. Bring to the boil and add vegetable stock, marmite and/or soy sauce to taste. Cook until everything is soft and mushy and the potato is starting to break up. Blend and place this mixture back in the pan on a low heat. This should be a thick mixture, be very careful of it bubbling as it gets very hot and really hurts of you get burnt by it, so add water to thin it down to how you would like it. Add cream or milk if you are going to and heat through. Done!

Wales

I have been in Wales for the weekend with a group of children and young people from work. 

Bucket and spade - sometime over the weekend 23rd - 24th January 2010

 

It was a lovely weekend and we had a lot of fun. Now it is time to return to normal life and catch up on some sleep that I have missed…

Allotment 18/01/2010 – The first visit of the year and a seed plan

On Thursday me and mother went to look allotment, which had started to defrost like everywhere else. The brook, or possibly drainage ditch, on the other side of the hedge was full to bursting with the amount of water that was following down the field, there was still a lot of ice that was laying unmelted on the ground so we left the van at the gate and walked onto the site and up to our plots, it wasn’t good news when we got there.  

The rabbits have had EVERYTHING, and I mean everything. They had ripped through the nets that were keeping them off and eaten it all to the ground, they really must have been starving. On the way back from the allotment we saw a lone rabbit out on the first part of green grass busily eating, it was so busy it didn’t even run away from us.

I am annoyed, but not as mad as I have been other times that they have eaten crops. I feel sorry for them really, the snow has been covering the ground for so long now and wildlife has probably been hit the hardest. We had a look around and they have even managed to get onto others plots who have rabbit fencing up so we are not the only ones and knowing how much some people have spent on rabbit fencing there are going to be some really mad people.

During the last of the cold weather I spent an evening going through my list of things to grow, my seed boxes and seed company websites. This is what it looks like;

To grow, along with current seeds I already have:

Potatoes – chosen

Peas – Half Pint, Bulmoral, Oasis, Juguar

Runner Beans –

Courgettes –

Squash – Bon Bon (open packet), Scallop (op)

Kale – Red Russian, Nero di Toscanna

Swede – Virtue (op)

Leeks – Musselburgh, Elefant

Carrots – Afghan Purple, Early Natues 5, Chantenay Red Cored 2, unmarked packet, Cosmic Purple, unmarked packet, Dragon, Flakkee, Janne du Doubs, Atomic Red

Beetroot – Burpees Golden, Chioggia, Detroit 2, Perfect 3, Pronto, Cylindra

French Beans –

Cauliflower – All the Year Round (op)

Parsnips –

Cabbage – Roodkap, Golden Acre Primo 2, Offenham 2, Durham Early, Greyhound, Wintergreen, January King

Broccoli/Purple Sprouting – Autumn Spear, Raab ’60 Days’, unmarked packet purple sprouting

Sprouts – Falstaff (red), Evesham Special Green

Garlic –

Onions – Spring

Sweetcorn – Incredible F1, Supersweet

Mustrooms – Agaricus, White Button, Chestnut Button

Real Seed Company shopping list:

Cosse Violette Purple pole bean, Boston squash, , Waltham Butternut, Striato d’Napoli courgette, Tender and True parsnip, Golden Sweet Yellow podded mange-tout pea, Temuco Quinoa

Thompson & Morgan shopping list:

Potatoes, Sun Bright runner bean.

There are somethings like sweetcorn and cauliflower that I had planned on getting special seeds of but I already have two boxes of seed so am going with what I have for this year. For runner beans and french beans I already have seed but I want to change to climbing beans as the dwarfs haven’t done well for the last few years. Parsnip seeds are also some that I have a packet of but it is already an open packet and everything I have read about parsnips say use fresh seeds, so they are on the shopping list. I will still of course try the open packet just in case as I can’t throw seeds away, it is just something that is completely against my nature.

The next plans to make are a) where am I going to put all this stuff, and b) how am I going to keep the rabbits of it!

From white to wet

Coats and hats drying by the stove - 16th January 2010

Yesterday we had our thaw and it turned from white world to very wet world. There was rain, often heavy rain timed just right for when we happened to be out and furthest away from shelter. Other than the rain it has been very foggy, a damp heavy fog.

A day to stay inside…

Today it is sunny and clear. The world has change to an odd green colour, with white patches dotted here and there. And so warm,  enough not to need a coat.

A day to be outside…

Everything is wet but has survived the snow. Apart from maybe the roads which are in need of great repair works.

It is time to finish with Christmas and New Year, the snow and ice and start 2010 with a deep breath of sun warmed air.

More about… snow

I having just gone back through my posts to see when the snow first started, the 17th of December. By Sunday we will have had a whole month of this. Rain is forecast for Saturday so hopefully it will not go that far but there is more snow forecast for the middle of next week. And when all this snow melts there are flood warnings…

This morning we were talking to the couple who run the feed merchant and they are well and truly feed up with the weather, they have even decided to reduce their own stock later in the year because of it.

I heard on the news the other day that they have snow fall somewhere in Spain for the first time in fifty years.

Life is on hold until the weather clears, but it is still carrying on. Still, this cold spell with have a great impact on the garden pests that need a cold spell to kill them off, and the midges that carry Blue Tongue will also be killed off.

Hoo hum…

New Year Resolutions

I have already written a long and wafferly post about my aims for 2010 and when I read it back all of it was there, with explanations of why I wanted to do each thing but the part that was missing was how I was going to know that I had done these things; perhaps that is why so many people fail to keep New Years resolutions because they know what they want to achieve but they have no why have knowing when they have achieved it.

So I am starting again, this time with less going into what is it I want to do but more going into how I know if I have done it or not. 

Visit the Eden Project – Last year I finally visited the Centre for Alternative Technology, the Eden Project is also on my list of places to visit so this shall be the year.

Make my own cheese cake – Cheese cake is my favourite so it really is silly that I have never made my own.

Cut down the amount of needless “stuff” I own and accumulate – I will carry on with the declutter already started and get better at not buying things on a whim. I will set up a wish list for birthdays and Christmas. I will use the library instead of buying books. I will continue using the Mooncup I have and give homemade shampoo a try again.

Grow more of my own food – I need to eat more leafy greens and the fresher they are the better for me they will be so I will make sure I grow more kale and look for some more recipes to use it in. By mid-April I will like to have the allotments plots ready for full use, and fill the space up with crops.

Stay in contact with friends – I know this is something I am very bad at, when I have time off work I like being at home doing my own thing and it often seems like to much effort to go out and visit people but I have some very good friends, who luckily understand I am a little odd and more of a loner than most other people my age, and I will make more of an effort to see them.

Well, that is all I have that I can pin down but it is enough to work on for now. I am just waiting for the snow to leave the ground and I shall be away! Either that or very busy catching up on all the work I’ve missed because of it.

Sigh

Today has made everything better. There is still just as much snow and ice as yesterday, with even more snow forecast for tomorrow and even a few snow showers today but this morning middle-younger-sister arrived with animal supplies, our hayman delivered a big round bale for the sheep and goats and four small bales at the cows field and we got out of the village for people supplies later in the day.

Everyone has something and enough to eat for some days to come.

This morning the goats seem to have given up on their part-hibernation and not only got out looking for something to do (their gate is frozen and not shutting probably) but are eating well again. For the last few days they have eaten but there has been no enthusiasm for it, which is a big weight lifted for me.

This morning Rhys went through the feed shed looking for the sheep minerals, which still remain hidden or maybe don’t exist?, and found extra feed that we had forgotten we had including half a sack of calf milk, wheat and an unopened sack of ready grass.

Now that we are stocked back up this evening we can relax a little, even with more snow on the way, and enjoy roast potatoes and gravy for dinner!

The ‘S’ word

The last snow fall that we has been the worst yet…

Snow on the gate post at the cows field - 6th January 2010

I have been walking up to feed and check on the cows since it came down, above is the gate post on the first day it fell… and below is the same gate post today;

The gate post at the cows field - 8th of January 2010

 Not much different really. We have been snowed in for three WHOLE days now, normally when there is snow or ice we are able to get out at some point during the day but the road as just been too bad. I have even seen four-wheel drives slide back down the road.

Today I have been tired, cold and grumpy. We have to get out of the village tomorrow or we will run out of animal feed. We are running low on fire wood and coal and everything is just a worry… Are the goats warm enough, will they still be warm enough if it gets as cold as is forecast tonight, have the sheep eaten enough, and so on… We will manage whatever happens but it puts an extra unwanted strain on everyone and thing.

Present lists

Firstly, just to make completely sure that this cannot be mistaken, I like and am grateful for all the presents that I received over Christmas and the thought that has gone into them.

Now for the “but”… I don’t know where to keep any of it. I am having a real downer on “things” and “clutter”, not that I am thinking of a single present as clutter but it all adds up to more stuff, and I am sure that more “stuff” is only going to keep me happy or entertained for a finite amount of time. It is all stuff that I will value and treasure and use, but…

I am not an easy person to buy presents for; there is just never anything that I really need or want and most of the time I have no idea what I would like for Christmas or Birthdays so if I don’t know what I’d like how is anyone else going to stand a chance of knowing.

This year I want to cut down and cut back to what is really important, the things that are going to get me closer to “the good life” and stuff is just not going to help me with that.

For example, me and Rhys were given a few cheese collections, which is an ideal present in most ways. We both like food, and cheese is one of my favourite foods, it is a gift that we/I will enjoy, but it did remind me that one of the things on my long list of “things I am looking at”  is cheese cultures and cheese wax. A gift of a set of, or one or either of these I would be over the moon with and it would help me on my quest for self-sufficiency. Another example; I’ve been given some of those bathroom-bubble-bath-shower-smellies sets, again something that I will enjoy but what I would have really liked is a book of recipes for making these things myself leaving me with the nice-smellie-things but without the empty plastic bottles when I have finished and the pretty box/basket that I will keep and use to sort more “stuff”.

Does that all sound amazingly ungrateful of me?

I don’t mean it to at all. I desperately want out of the “stuff” part of life, “stuff” is meaningless at the end of the day, but I do need “things” and enjoy “things” it is just getting the balance right. The solution that I have come up with is lists, I just hope no one is offended by them (I will try writing a nice letter and include that with it, everyone likes nice letters…)

New Years Day 2010

Last night there was a blue moon, me and Rhys went to see a film and then have dinner with a friend to see in the New Year and it felt like dawn break all night. Or until 3.30am this morning when we came home.

I’ve had lots of half-formed plans for my 2010 in the last week, and had thought that I would be writing a post today full of my hopes and dreams and firm plans for the year ahead but today I haven’t really formed any of them to write about. I feel like this year I want to “make a start” I don’t want any mass change in my life but I want to start feeling like I am moving forward in some way. Tonight I’m going to curl myself up under more blankets, knit, watch the second part of Dr. Who and have a think…

In the mea time I have spent some of the last week sorting out photo files on the computer, and some of this evening putting together a collect of them of the progress on the allotment

Allotment April - December 2009