Day 3 – baking and veg plot updates

When I was at work, everyone was asking me where I am going for my fortnight off.  Of course, we enjoy a break as much as the next person but we’re not going abroad this time (we are later in the year though, I’m not averse to it).  However what I do want to use these 2 weeks for is a combination of things.  Firstly to spend plenty of time with Ste and the kids doing things that they find fun and that do not cost the earth.  Secondly to get on top of the veg plot, greenhouse and polytunnel and house chores so that when I’m back to work, it’s more of ‘maintaining’ than ‘drowning’.  Included in the house thoughts is cooking for the freezer. We do have some space left in there, not much seen as though they are all full of meat.  However I’ll make sure they are stacked well and there’s plenty of home made produce in there for go-to meals.
Today started off as always feeding the animals and checking everything is present and correct.  The dogs came with me.  They love that I am off work.  Then back in for crumpets and a cup of tea before heading out with the kids and dogs to the feed shop as we needed more layers pellets and corn.  We were back and sorted by 9:15.  The kids offered to help out for an hour by tidying their rooms with the view to spend time after lunch doing the craft things they have both been waiting for.  They did a great job so I am pleased.  Making a start on cooking for the freezer, first up was a lemon drizzle traybake a-la Mary Berry.  I had all of the ingredients in, including the lemons thankfully.  It took no time at all to prepare.  It’s a throw it all in recipe, which suits my lifestyle 100%.

 

It turned out really well so I am adding it (and the cookies I made yesterday) to my batch bake list as the kids loved it as you can see!

In the veg plot, I have a million and one things to do.  I decided the best way to go about it is one bed at a time, finish it and move on.  Sounds obvious but when you get out there it’s hard not to start something and move on before you finish as something always catches your eye and before you know it the day is over.

So today I lifted the onions from Bed 1.  These have been brilliant, great size, didn’t go to seed and every single one came up so as long as the taste isn’t too bad then we will stick with these each year.  If it’s not broken then don’t fix it.  They are Sturon an Garnet (sets).  The bed was full of weeds in between the onions, they’ve been crazy after all this rain.

However I am really pleased with the results.  They’re all drying out head down which my neighbour told me to do.  We’re due a really heavy down pour tonight so they’ll get a wash and tomorrow is supposed to be lovely so they should dry out nicely before being taken into the barn.

I also tidied up the swiss chard as it was taking over, despite us using it regularly.  I’ll definitely be growing this every year, it is so versatile. 

Also the chickens love it so they got all the of bits that I tidied up.

So that’s 2 of the beds weeded and tidied up.  Although I didn’t start on the other beds, I noticed a few squashes coming along nicely which made me very happy.  I’d missed a couple of courgettes whilst I’d been so busy at work too, so I roasted them tonight for tea.

I’m really pleased as we had a free, home raised meal tonight.  It was pork burger (with chilli) in a homemade roll, cucumber and tomatoes, roasted courgettes, red onion and pepper with steamed Athlete potatoes.  It was delicious however a talking point was I’d thought the peppers were peppers when in fact they were chillis, ooops…..Burgers aren’t something I ate until this week – but these are too nice!

I also made a couple of loaves of bread for the freezer and I will continue to so we have them ready to just take out.

We then went out bramble picking for the first time this year and got a great haul which I will preserve with tomorrow as it was a bit late tonight after a busy day.

 
Another couple of photos from today that I took as they caught my eye and I’d like them to look back on for August memories.
 

 

Recipe books and geese

First on the list is using my abundance of recipe books. I love them. However I am terrible for finding something online, normally BBC good food and just having the recipe on my phone. What a waste of books and the money that went into buying them. So I am going to combine both methods. Tonight I had chicken out of the freezer and an abundance of leeks in the veg plot to get through which I feel hugely pleased about. So Mary Berry’s chicken with leek, potatoes and thyme seemed perfect. I had left over green veg from the other night. I was sceptical tasting it during cooking but it turned out lovely. A very nice recipe that can be cooked ahead. Please msg me if you would like the recipe.
 
 

 Remember Ryan the goose? Well turns out he should be called Rhianna or whatever the female equivalent of Ryan would be. Our male goose confirmed it yesterday.

One of our other female geese has been acting strange again which means she is either poorly or laying eggs again. Turns out she had stashed 3 eggs in the shed.
This mild winter is playing havoc with things. The geese think it’s Spring and there buds on the trees which normally wouldn’t be up yet. We’re due to go below freezing again tonight having said that.  Stay warm 🙂

Aga in the summer

We decided to keep the Aga on during the summer despite many of our neighbours or friends switching theirs off.  Our kitchen is a big old farmhouse kitchen that is north facing.  In the winter, it’s just a nice temperature in there despite the Aga kicking out some heat.  In fact the whole house is cold so we tend to congregate solely around the Aga in the colder months. 
I did think it would be too hot in the summer and although it’s been hot, we’ve been able to manage it.  Now why don’t we turn it off?  Well we use it every single day for a multitude of tasks.  Steven’s overalls for work (he’s a butcher) dry on there a couple of nights a week, the kids clothes that inevitably get wet, dry on there before they dash back off outside, our boots dry in front of it (yes, even in the summer), we have toast on it daily, boil the kettle and every main meal of the day is cooked on it plus the dogs love laying in front of it! 
Now if I switched it off, I’d have to find alternate methods to do all of these things, using electricity instead of oil and to be honest, I don’t want to.  Whether we will feel the same next year, our second summer in the house, I don’t know.  It will also depend on how much the price of oil rises too.  Not to say that we have money to burn on oil this year, we don’t.  I just don’t feel as much pressure from it as I would should I be paying double the amount.  It is a part of the family now, I simply love it and I think I would always have one now. 
Ours is 45/50 years old according to the engineer who services it for us.  He installed it in the farmhouse many, many years ago and it was a good age then as he bought it second hand and reconditioned it.  It’s an amazing little thing. 

When we moved here, well just before, my Mam and Dad bought me Mary Berry’s The Complete Aga Cookbook and it’s extremely good.  It’s very informative and so many recipes in there that I’m working my way through.  I think I will pick a month and make a dish a day (or so!) from it.  This will help me get through the recipes too as I am terrible for having recipes books and then making 1 or 2 from them and shelving it.  I’ll maybe do that through November, when the clocks have gone back and I have less time outside.

Aga toast – from when we first moved in and ever since!

 

Quite comfortable here

 

Poor Buddy!

 

Yummy food from the Aga

 

He seems to be here a lot!

 

See what I mean?

 

The Aga fixes poorly children

 

and sends you off to sleep if you sit there too long