Summer in winter

A long time ago I came across a recipe on the bbcGF website called summer in winter chicken.  It’s a really nice recipe and every now and then it pops in to my head as to how we can have summer in winter occasionally.
So the best way to do this for me, is to capture the foods we love in summer, and use them in winter.  Something I intend to do a lot of this year, and we didn’t do too bad last year considering it was our first year.
There was an alcohol theme though!
I did raspberry vodka which was delicious, a really refreshing treat in a long glass with lemonade.

When the damsons arrived, I wasn’t prepared!  So I made vodka with them too! I’d been given some bottles of vodka, and I don’t like it, so it seemed the best option.
We decanted it at the weekend after 4 or 5 months and it really was like having a summer drink, very nice again with lemonade.
It went from this:

To this:

Isn’t it a pretty colour?

Along with the blackberry scones I made at the weekend, it’s really been giving us a taste of things to come for 2017. 
I intend to plant more raspberries and also get some brambles (blackberries) planted as they are non existent here in the wild.  The sloes and elders made up for that though. 
Can you feel the build up to the growing and preserving year starting?  I can!

December birthday and raspberry vodka

Sounds like a good combination right 🙂

It was my birthday yesterday and also my long day at work, however it was great fun.  I heard from people I’ve not spoken to for a while, saw my family, was lucky to receive gifts and got to taste my raspberry vodka which we started off in summer.  Oh man, it was lovely.  I’ve been having a few drinks through December to celebrate and feel festive with friends when they visit etc and now I have this, we’re taking a bottle next door with us to celebrate Christmas Day Night with our lovely neighbours.  It’ll be the perfect end to the day when I get to chill after a hectic day no doubt.

So in true Tracy style, I was given a greenhouse heater and 2 huge propagators and a thermometer for min/max and current temperatures from Steven, along with some long socks, a bottle of Baileys and other items.  How lucky am I?

I also got a personalised notebook which I just love, that I am going to use to record all of next years info around eggs, veg seeds sown, grown and harvested (weights etc, thanks Dawn!).  My lovely parents got me a new coat to do my smallholding jobs in Winter, for which this weather is far too warm to wear it yet, so I am wanting a bit more winter weather please.  I got a Bake Off apron and £60 cash which has been spent on something for the smallholding that I will do another post on.
Hugely exciting too – the farmer has confirmed the litter of piglets which we’re getting ours from is due 2nd Feb so we will take them once they are ready.  In between now and then, I need to learn all about caring for them (already done a lot) and Steven is going to get their shelter/ark sorted.
Later in the year we are hoping to get goats too but that pending what Mother goat delivers in the Spring.  More on that once it’s firmed up.
Ooh and Christmas is still firmly underway, home made cards have been made and the kids put SO much effort in to them.  They were gratefully received which I was super happy about.  We didn’t manage to do all the cards as homemade, I didn’t realise how long they will take.  That’s ok though.
Did you know, apparently, Boxing Day is the time to sow onion seeds traditionally.  Don’t ask me who’s traditions or in what country, but that’s what I was told! 
Plans for the weekend?  I’m going to put some winter lettuce in my propagators this weekend.  We also need to get the Christmas meat sorted – a goose and duck from the smallholding will be dispatched this weekend.  They have had a wonderful life and this is what they were raised for.  We know what they have eaten and have been with them from cradle to grave.  Next year I am hoping for all home raised and grown produce as the main Christmas lunch.  There are a million and one other things on the list, which I’ll post as I get round to them,  In the mean time I leave you with how my work place was decorated for me! 
Where I work – a lovely lady always makes us feel special.

Another weekend is here :)

The damson vodka that I made last weekend is starting to have a decidedly pink undertone to it (pictured pre pinkness!)  The kilner jar seals must need replacing as it leaked when I turned it on its head.  So Steven had the idea of using two together until I can replace them.  The jars are 3 litre jars and when I looked on ebay, they all seem to be up to 2 litre max which is a slightly smaller diameter to the ones I have, according to their measurements.  So that’s raspberry vodka and damson vodka on the go.  I hope they taste nice as I actually don’t like vodka!
For the raspberry vodka, I’ll decant it in December and use the raspberries for ice cream topping for adults at Christmas, or even for the middle of a special cake.  I’m hoping this drink will be like drinking summer in winter and warm us through the cold and dark nights.
This weekend I’ll be picking sloes for sloe gin.  I’ve never make it before, well I’ve never made any of these actually, so it’s all great learning.  I must remember to make a note of the recipe I use though, as if it tastes lovely next year, I’ll struggle to remember which one I made!
Now Autumn is here, we’re also going to be foraging the elderberries in an attempt to make wine and some elderberry winter syrup.  I’ll take photos of each step to share on a post dedicated to that.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Monday’s post that didn’t post !

12 sleeps until my 2 weeks off begin, well 11 but I have to be in work on the Friday so it doesn’t officially start until Friday 3pm.  I can’t wait!

 

4 weekends have now past since I announced we wouldn’t be having any more takeaways and I am super pleased to be able to say, we haven’t!  We have had a meal or 2 out at a local pub however I don’t see this as a problem.  For me, that’s getting out into the community and supporting local businesses.  Although buying a take away is supporting a local business, I don’t think the food is generally very healthy and it’s certainly not good for the grocery budget.  Whilst we’ve had a day or 2 off work, we’ve enjoyed being able to get out and about together.  Sunday night was a tester for me though, I was tired from the weekend and didn’t fancy making a Sunday lunch, so I did homemade (there’s that word again Louise!) pizza instead and it was delicious.  I made the tomato base from the greenhouse tomatoes that were ready and I haven’t tasted a tomato sauce so lovely before.  Next year I want to grow even more so that I can fill the freezer up with it for all year round “go to” tomato base.

On Friday we all had the day off together that we hoped for and took the kids to a theme park for the day.  They had so much fun and made the most of it.  We managed to get a discount voucher so it wasn’t too hard hitting, though those places aren’t cheap!

We sold 2 of our top grade chickens over the weekend, they’re only 15 weeks old so not laying yet.  It was a pair, boy and a girl and the family seemed nice so off they went giving us £25 in our pocket towards the next lot of feed.  I’m sad to say that one of our female ducks was attacked by our geese on Thursday and she’s still limping however they’ve had another go at her, so I’m bringing her inside into the dog crate for some TLC.  I’ll post an update on her soon.   She doesn’t look too good.

Both Saturday and Sunday we had family over visiting for one reason and another.  It’s nice that people take the time to visit us, as we rarely have spare time to visit others but we do try as it shouldn’t always be on them.

I also found 3 cherry trees that I didn’t know we had!  The black ones are laden however they are so high up and out on a limb that I couldn’t pick them all.  We’ll figure out a way to get them though.  For now I have half a tub waiting to be weighed and turned into something delicious.  I’ve also got lots of the white currants stripped off the bush and I am going to make jelly from them to go with meats.  I also discovered a huge supply of sloe bushes when I was out riding, there are a ridiculous amount, so I hope we like them!  There’s bramble bushes a plenty too all along the bridle routes (which, selfishly, I’ve not seen anyone else use).  Our pantry will be overflowing with goodies and I hopefully have the start of the Christmas hampers.  Cherry brandy is apparently a real treat, so I’ll get a few small bottles to decant them into if I make some.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the free food I keep finding!

I’ve also got some late season purple sprouting broccoli to put in.  It may be too late but we’re behind people here anyway, so I’ll give it a go and put some in asap.  I’m right in the middle of sorting one of the fields, so I will try and spend at least an hour in each area a few nights this week.  I am realising how much I really need to look after the small fields we have otherwise they will be no good in a very short space of time.  So taking out the horses muck is a daily task now.

I managed to get the raspberry vodka made too, it was very easy and I hope it tastes as delicious as it looks.

Finally, I am pleased to say I learnt how to use the manual lawnmower at the weekend.  So now I can crack on and get that done instead of adding it to Steven’s shoulders.