• 27Apr

    Cook several small jacket poatatoes and cut them in half. scoop out the soft poatoe from the inside and place in a mixing bowl. Leave a generaous amount on the skins though! Its mainly so that you have a slight hollow.

    Chop up some smoked bacon or ham and mix these in with the potato in the bowl. Scoop this mix back into the skins and grate cheese ontop.

    Place under a medium grill until the cheese melts.

  • 20Apr

    We are surrounded by pasture fields which tend to be over run with dandilions – the dandilion flower population explodes in April so I spent my first free day in April collecting dandilion flowers. I even made my dad join in and my husband decided to help as did my little girl.

    At the end off it we had a large ‘washing up’ bowl full of the flowers.

    I then spent the evening spliting the green bit at the base of the flower with my finger nail and extracting the yellow petals. Now the books say remove as much green as possible without being too fussy and my perants (who have made various wines when I haven’t) felt I was being far too fussy but I have read up alot on wine making and know that the green bit can give dandilion wine a slightly unpleasant taste so felt it was worth the extra effort.

    I found that three of my books contained recipies for dandilion one – some saying you must only use fresh and others saying dried is fine. I am most closely following one from C.J.J. Berry’s First Steps in Winemaking which is an ancient battered book my dad gave me when I first got married.

    The book is good in that it gives weights and measures in Metric, British and U.S.A however I do find some of the steps a bit ambiguous so am sort of just hoping here that things will turn out ok. Food for Free (one of my favourite books ever) informed me that it is important to pick the flowers when it is sunny and they are fully open. I didnt really appreciate why until I tried drying some last year – basically they can harbour insects which you dont really want in the wine – also if the flowers are wet it increases the chances of them going moldy during the drying process.

    Preparing the dandilions was a bit nightmarish and I found I was very dissapointed to find that I had only managed to get 2 quarts (2 letres / 450g / 1 lb) of flowers. This was only enough for one gallon / 4.5 litres. I managed to stain my thumb nail a dark brown which has taken a week to come off – I looked like I’d hit my nial with a hammer!

    I cleaned the fementation bucket with boiling water and placed the flowers in it. I then boiled (several pots and kettles) and poured in water until it reached the 1 gallon level on the side of the fermentation bucket. I then placed the lid on the bucket but did not seal the unit and left it to steep for two days.

    I chose the recipy with the least added bits – ie this is the second recipy on page 158 and it only adds Yeast and nutriunt rather than all the fancy acids and stuff.

    After the steeping I poured the whole lot into my preserving pan to boil it – it obviously took forever to start boiling, your supposed to boil it for 10 minutes with orange peel added to it – minus the white pith – I grated an orange. The recipy asked for four but unfortunatly I only had one in the house so am a bit concerned about the acidity levels but only time will tell! (also for one gallon this would surely make it orange wine? It smelt really orangy anyway :/ ).

    I weighed out 1.5 kg (3lb) of sugar – again here I sort of improvised as I didn’t have enough white granulated sugar and so added some golden caster sugar. I much prefer the golden and darker sugars and tend to use them in cooking anyway but I’m not sure what affect the molass part of sugar will have on the wine – again only time will tell.

    Once the mixture of orange peel and steeped dandilions had been boiled I scolded (poured hot water onto) the filter bag thing I have. You have to do this other wise the liquid just will not drain through it!

    I placed the sugar ready in the fermenting bucket (which had been cleaned) and hung the filter bag over the bucket. I then poured the contence of the preserving pan into the bag – being very careful not to flop soaked petals into the fermentation bucket!

    The liquid flowed and then dripped through the filtration bag and then I stired in the sugar until it was all dissolved. I then had to wait for it to cool down so put a clean tea towl over the top and went to bed.

    I had discovered that alot of the wine making stuff I had been given from Alaric’s step granddad is still missing since the drastic flood stuff and was not in my kitchen so I sent dad to get me an air lock plus the yeast and nutriunt.

    My mother darkly muttered over the nutriunt etc… as they never used it.

    Dad went to a home brew shop in Stroud (this is also where my second fermentation bucket came from pre-flood). We like this shop :)

    I washed out and sterilised the demijohn with boiling water and a funnel. I scolded the small filter bag, added the juice from the orange and on teaspoon of the yeast and nutriunt mixed it all up a bit and noticed that the yeast wasnt dissolving and was just going to get filtered out so I added 1/2 a tea spoon straight to the demijohn with the reasoning that some of it would probably get through the filter.

    After the boiling the liquid was a dark browny green colour – pre-boiling it was a nice sort of brown yellow. It smelt like oranges and tea bizarlly.

    I poured the mix from the fermentation bucket into the bag filter which I had sat in the funnel and even with the scolding it just dripped. Then I got Alaric to help me by lifting the filter up and the liquid flowed through quickly.

    The demijohn filled we attatched the airlock.

    I have noticed it changing lots and so will be doing more write ups on this – the wine will need to be syphoned off into bottles at some point and should be ready to drink around Christmas apparently!

    So guess what everyones getting this year :)

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  • 13Apr

    |t’s spring time and the flowers are popping up all over the place and those who are ultra sensitive are already suffering the effects of hayfever.

    The recommendation is to take a spoonful of local pollen enriched honey each morning through out the year and this will stop you being over sensitive to the pollen in your area. But local honey of this type is really expensive and hard to find – basically you are looking at only the farm shops and health food places – then when you look at it you realise that most of the honey avalible is not Bristish honey at all.

    This is becuase there is a problem with the bees, something is very wronge and they are disappearing. A few thearies have been put forward but no one really knows whats going on. This is a global phonomina but the UK seems hardest hit. Bee keeping and honey collecting is an ancient pass time, with Roman hives being excavated but more than that they are locked into our whole ecology – they pollenate crops and flowers, and the honey itself provides a valuable food and medicial source.

    I tend to use alot of honey in my recipies and with the impact on local bees it is even being suggested that we leave bees alone to build their strength back up. There is an interesting site that is a local project to me though they hope to expand globally – I thought that I should bring to everyones attention! I will link as soon as they go live!

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  • 06Apr

    Here is this months seasonal eating according to Mrs B!

    FISH.–brill, carp, cockles, crabs, dory, flounders, ling, lobsters, red and gray mullet, mussels, oysters, perch, prawns, salmon (but rather scarce and expensive), shad, shrimps, skate, smelts, soles, tench, turbot, whiting.

    Ok well – ling turns out to be quiet a few different fish – I have no idea which one she is actually refering to, if I find out I will let you all know.

    Mullet turns out be a type of fish and not just a dire hair cut (which I happen to like) from the early 80’s :/

    Shad turns out to be river herring.

    MEAT.–Beef, lamb, mutton, veal.

    I found another interesting article on the subject of veal. The site its self looks quiet interesting and I shall be looking at it in more depth.

    POULTRY.–Chickens, ducklings, fowls, leverets, pigeons, pullets, rabbits.

    Leverets doesn’t appear on wikipedia to my horror but unless I’m being very dyslexic (which I am!) then they are baby hares and no I don’t have a clue as to were you’d get them or what you’d do with them once you had them.

    GAME.–Hares.

    VEGETABLES.–Broccoli, celery, lettuces, young onions, parsnips, radishes, small salad, sea-kale, spinach, sprouts,–various herbs.

    FRUIT.–Apples, nuts, pears, forced cherries, &e. for tarts, rhubarb, dried fruits, crystallized preserves.

    I have no idea what the &e probably a typo – I can’t really see it being anything else to be honest.

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