Monday night preserves – Christmas spiced red cabbage and home grown chicken

When I think of preserving, my thoughts don’t always lend themselves straight to the freezer which is crazy really as it’s one of today’s modern options for preserving our harvests.  This week we have switched on the new (to us) chest freezer that we were given, as we will shortly have the pigs to fill it.  It seems to be working fine thankfully, got to love a freebie.
So that got me thinking and when I wandered round the veg plot the other morning I noticed every single red cabbage was doing great and they would need harvesting very soon.
So for my Monday preserve, I decided to trial a Christmas cabbage recipe as those of you who were hear last year know I love red cabbage at Christmas!  It freezes amazingly and tastes even better afterward in my opinion.
This new recipe from BBC Good Food which is Spiced red cabbage.

I’ve used 2 heads of cabbage for this recipe as mine came in short of the kilo that it recommended, but not far off.  I also used 2 red onions of my own, very satisfying feeling.  Don’t the cabbages look pretty?

Method taken from BBC Good Food.
Sweat 2 onions and add the zest of an orange and a cinnamon stick after 5 mins.  Give them a minute to fuse and then add the cabbage (shredded and washed), 150ml port and a dash of red wine vinegar.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for up to an hour.  It looked delicious!
 
We also dispatched our first Ross Cobb chicken at the weekend which was to see how big it was based on it’s current age (9 weeks).  We’re wanting to slow grow them but trial and error as to when they would be ready.  Well it surprised both of us, already weighing in as a table ready bird of 1.8kg.  I’m really pleased as this is a milestone for us, meaning we will never have to buy shop bought chicken again! 
For those who are interested we also did a cockerel, but he will be as tough as old boots I think (weighed in at 3kg, a Rhode Island Red) and we did them using our new area set up specifically for working on the poultry.  As this is a preserving post and to avoid upsetting people just looking for preserving info, I’ll post about that in another post later this week.
So our freezers are now starting to fill up nicely for the leaner growing months ahead.  We’re one step further onto the path of self sufficiency (long it may be!).

We’re good for vegetables but what about the meat?

At the end of last year, as is the norm for us, our minds turned to what we want to try in the coming year. In 2016 we’d tried our own chickens as table birds and they were just not worth it. The meat didn’t even go round a family Sunday lunch which is no good to us. So after some investigations, we decided to try and find some Ross Cobbs.
Well, turns out they are like hens teeth for the smallholder to get. They are sold as day old chicks but in their thousands!! A sale of 20 to 40 chicks was laughed at! So we tried to get the fertile eggs, again, no luck for the small scale person.
Then Dawn got some as day olds in Wales and she said she’d try and sort us out with eggs if she managed to get hers up and laying, though she has them for table birds like we wanted to. Such a kind offer and we still kept on looking.
We knew a local ish farm shop sells the finished table bird (for £40 I might add!!!) so we went in and got talking with the owner. As luck would have it, he orders in Ross Cobbs every 3 weeks to raise for his shop.  He said we could buy some off him! Perfect, a little bit of luck goes a long way!
So off we went on his next order and picked up 20 day old chicks. We put them straight under the heat and brought them on in the barn for a while.
Last weekend we managed to get them outside. We’re hoping to process them for the freezer in another 5 week maybe but that’s guess work at the moment.  As they won’t be around that long, we (Ste) made a temporary enclosure for them which they seemed to like.  I hope everyone is ready for a but of bare flesh on a Friday afternoon, if not, look away now.  I know, I’m lucky 🙂
Today they are in their 5th week and are growing rapidly. We’re trying hard to make sure they don’t put that much weight on that they can’t hold their own weight. All they do is eat!!
 
 Grace brought them all from the barn to their new place and being lazy, they were more than happy just to sit on her! 
 Hopefully outside life will have them growing healthily.
Happy Friday everyone 🙂