Monday nights are going to be a little different round here.

This week’s menu plan is up and running and you can access it here.  
Before I wrote it, I tidied out the smaller kitchen freezer last night as it’s becoming bare (which is a good thing as you can get organised).  I have a good amount of mince beef in there and some chicken pieces for the meat to keep us going.  
I’ve taken out a mince and onion pie filling to use the pastry I have in the fridge from this weekend’s quiche.  Also I have taken out what I think is fishcakes filling! Time will tell.  Also an English muffin that Ste can have with his breakfast.  Every now and again it’s worth taking a good few things out of the freezer otherwise it ends up full of items you don’t use.
The veg box was great this week, as always and I’ve included it’s contents in the menu plan page.  I’m starting to get in to a routine with the new way of life now.  
On a Friday morning the milkman brings our milk – 6 pints of semi, 1 pint of whole and 2 litres of cream (only size he has and freezes, goes in to loads of recipes).  

Also on a Friday we get the chicken pieces from my Mam’s chicken that she doesn’t use, as well as the carcass.  That goes in the freezer in a bag purely for carcasses as I’ve decided to start making batch amounts of stock every 6 weeks, to coincide with supermarket shopping, as I don’t always have the right things in to make the stock.  The pieces go in bags too, ready to use in bulk when we have enough.   I make a loaf of bread or buns on a Friday night for Saturday morning and/or lunch time.

The veg box comes on a Saturday, the shop’s last drop off I think, which is around 5:30 to 6pm.  As sad as this may sound, every week I get excited by its arrival! Not as excited as eating our own produce though!

Before that though, first thing on a Saturday after opening up is to make another loaf of bread for my parents, plus some scones which we have either for a snack or with lunch and again to share with my parents.  

We also give them veg from the garden in exchange for the chicken (not that they ever ask, it’s just nice to work like that).  Saturday sees me making quiche or soup for lunch which I am trying to double up on to have some spare in the freezer.  I do it early on the morning to make sure I have plenty of time outside during the day.  Saturday suppers are still work in progress, I wonder if taking something out of the freezer is best on a Saturday.  As the veg box arrives 5:30 onwards, I tend to plan the following weeks menu plan early evening on a Saturday so I could do that whilst making supper I guess.  We shall see.
Anyway – to the point of the post.  Here is out latest YouTube video, where Grace and I explain what we are going to start doing on Monday nights from now on.  

Those who have been here a while will remember I used to do Monday night preserves, which I shall be picking up again on a different day, but for now, Monday nights are dedicated to recreating Grandma’s wartime recipes.  I have 2 of her handwritten books, which I am busy working my way through, deciphering some of the words and deciding what we can recreate over the coming weeks and months.  I will update my blog from next week to reflect what we have done too.  I do hope this is something people can relate to and can enjoy watching our family recreate these special recipes.  
For now, I’m off to take a look around the veg plot – early June is such a busy time!
Stay safe everyone.

Isolation picture update….pigs, ducklings, GYO, Easter – exciting updates!

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Hello everyone! (Firstly sorry the text is so small, it won’t accept changing to larger for some reason).
Well I am busier than ever, I don’t know about everyone else?  I think a lot of people who are at home are struggling for things to do which I sympathise with greatly, I can imagine it driving them insane.  Here things are the opposite as I am working from home and the kids are being home schooled by me as Steven is still at work and will probably continue to be, given that its supplying food.  
I have been thinking about what to cover in this blog and as I’ve been undecided, it’s taking too long to get out there, so I thought I would just show you in pictures and update you with each pic.  Who doesn’t like pics after all!
I have to say, raising our own meat is so rewarding, health wise and financially!  This bird was over 2kg and has made 4 family meals for 4 hungry, chicken loving people.  The roast was Sunday, curry with shredded chicken Monday, chicken, leek and bacon pie tonight and then the carcass made stock which will make an abundance of other meals, so more than 4 really!  I do one chicken a week and every time, I can’t get over it!  I am finding I am missing having raw portions to cook from and we could always joint them but then I find it a bit of a waste, my own enemy!  
I was in the veg plot, beavering away as you do, when I literally turned round and look what was staring back at me!  We don’t normally get asparagus for another month I don’t think, regardless I am thrilled and we had some for tea last night 😀  It was DELICIOUS.

Something else we have started doing with great zest is selling eggs.  We have increased our poultry numbers significantly and now get around 40 eggs a day, which we sell.  The money we get from eggs is used to feed the poultry and the rest goes to our pot which we will use towards the 2020 goal of saving money for the whole paying your mortgage off project which we are kicking off next year.  Hugely exciting times!

Ooooh look, whilst in isolation I’m obviously needing to make 3 meals a day, which I did before really but it feels like I am doing more now.  We used to eat out once a week so maybe it’s that?  Speaking of which, we’ve taken the decision to carry on the lockdown lifestyle once it is all over as we actually enjoy it and it suits our plans and dreams very well.  Silver lining?  Anyway, I was showing you the below picture which is a quiche I made from 4 eggs, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of cheese, spinach from the greenhouse and tomato.  It was SO nice.  I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying cooking right now.
Below is the area we had pigs a couple of years ago (it’s rested for 2 years since) and guess what?  WE HAVE PIGS again!! There’s a pic futher on but the below pic is to show you the work we have been putting in to part of the area that we have agreed to grow more (yes, more) food in.  As it’s had pigs on it, the ground shoud be great but there is a lot of grass, weeds and stones in it.  Rather than spend months trying to get it perfect, we have covered in thick mulch on the left, just out of this photo and shown below we have used weed suppressant.  Hope it works!  We have fruit bushes and potatoes in there for now.  I am planning on putting brassicas in to the mulch which is rotted horse muck as I researched and found out that anything leafy like cabbage, kale etc will do best in the muck this year.  If something needs to form, like a cauliflower head, that may not be too good.  Will try a couple though just so I know.  Really pleased with this area and now it’s to keep it up and stay on top of it.

 Two of my favourite recent photos, after a hard day’s work, we had a fire to burn through some items, which Ste being a man, loved.  I LOVE to see him stood, surveying his land and taking it all in (hopefully thinking what other jobs he can do).  The photo below that is when Grace came over to see us as by this point we were sat by the fire having a much earned drink.  She has so much love for her Dad and I love to see them having a good time together.  It makes all of the teenage tantrums easier to deal with.

We found this log which Ste has since kept to turn in to something, but look at this natural pattern.  Maybe by woodworm?  Fabulous to look at though.

Something else I have been doing is making scones every Friday or Saturday and leaving them, with a bunch of others things, out for my parents to collect.  Sadly it is no contact collection and along with a veg box from Ste’s shop, is their only source of food right now, so it is essential to them.  We do miss them hugely.  Anyway, here’s last week’s scones, done in a muffin tray.  They were bacon, cheese and chive and were so nice.  They froze great and Ste had one for breakfast this morning.  I heated it up a little in the Aga and served with butter – yum!

Ooooh the veg box, look at this.  We stopped the veg box deliveries a while back, along with the milk.  A few reasons which I am not going to delve in to now but I just wanted to share how excited I was when I got this delivery on Saturday – it is amazing and we have used everything except a few parsnips.  I will maybe do them for tea tomorrow, or freeze?

I mentioned my parents collecting things with no contact.  It is their Wedding Anniversary today, 42 years, and this picture shows the card and gift we left outside for them to collect.  

Just because I can’t do a post without showing the dogs, here’s Rodney showing off his balancing skills and how he now likes to sit.  Annie and he have had a few disagreements lately and he tends to hang around higher up these days!  He also likes to sit and watch the pigs, how cute is that?

Ducklings!!! We have ducklings!  Am I allowed to be excited about something else!  We hatched our own and have more hatching now.  These are for eggs, meat, sales but regardless are my favourite animals!  Look at the one in the middle.

Here’s the cake my Mam made for us for Easter – how lovely and thoughtful, left on our doorstep!

More cooking – just cheese and chive scones now but I love making these!

Whoop whoop, we managed to acquire some flour!!! I am making ALL of our own bread now and will continue to, so flour is key to us.  Also we came across a large bag of mince for £12 so this is now either eaten, cooked and in the freezer or in portions.

Finally a picture of what we’re having in abundance and are selling too.  Rhubarb and eggs!  I’d love to hear your rhubarb recipes if you have any to share and I will link and share on one of my next posts.

That’s it for now everyone, take good care of yourselves and stay home if you can.  

Night time visitor

I don’t think I have mentioned yet, but I am having a kind of detox September.  I’m not drinking alcohol, trying to eat cleaner than I normally might, cutting right back on the sugar intake and so on.  My theory that I am working towards is that if it isn’t or can’t be produced by nature, it doesn’t get eaten.  Yes you can pull this thought to bits, saying wine if from grapes etc but I am not going down that route.  As I said to a friend, if it doesn’t feel right, it won’t be. I’m eating salad dressing still and drinking cordial as that helps me get my salad and water intake.  I really do think that eating seasonally and home grown lends itself to this way of thinking anyway and as we cut out more and more shop bought food, it will happen automatically.  I’m just giving myself a bit of a boost.
I am sleeping better already.  I used to lay in bed and read for a hour before I went to sleep, often falling asleep with the book in my hand.  It would be 11pm before I got to sleep which is too late for me during the week.  So now I’m having a warm shower, getting into bed and going to sleep.  I’ve slept great this week apart from last night when the puppies heard something and started barking!
Steven’s doing it too, though with slightly different requirements.  He’s training to build up and I’m hoping to slim down (1 stone 5lb or so would be nice)!
With this in mind I was excited to receive the latest veg box which contained all sorts of healthy goodies.  We had half of the peppers in last night’s tea and the salad was mostly used in today’s lunches for work.  That leaves the spinach, borlotti beans, some onions, broccoli and courgettes for the next few days.  I’ve also been given courgettes so I am going to nip over to a couple of blogs to see how they’ve frozen them as I don’t want to waste them.  Also the borlotti beans look almost dried out, so I’m wondering if I need to soak them.  I’m sure I’ve read that they store very well.
When I locked up last night, I had another friend waiting for me, this time a hedgehog!  Do you remember the toad that jumped out on me before?  Well this little guy scared the life out of me as it was dark and I didn’t expect him to appear in my torchlight.  He was adorable!  I’m so pleased to know we have hedgehogs living with us, they need looking after!

A little bit of everything.

Isn’t it lovely to see the changing seasons?  I love the country I live in.  There is a definite move from one season to another and with it brings new things.  Moving into our smallholding has shown us new seasonal sights, especially harvest.  Every day I look over to the fields around us and see the farmers hard at work, the roads have the tell tale bits of straw which have escaped when being transported, lined up along their sides and every few days we see bales of hay and straw piling up at random points along the horizon. 

For us personally, moving into Autumn is the shift from summer eating to slightly more Autumnal dishes, slowly introducing the slow cooker again, eating basic staples like mashed potatoes with beef gravy (yum) and my mind turns to making things like soup again.  I know you can make soup in the summer but it’s not something I enjoy eating during the warmest months and I enjoy the process more in the Autumn and especially the Winter.  One of my favourite soups is anything with sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkins.  Speaking of which, I’ve been growing pumpkins this year and one of them is enormous!  It probably won’t taste very nice with it being so big, but I have decided to enter it into a local show on 17th September.  It’s our first ever show, first ever pumpkin actually, so I though let’s go have some fun.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’m thrilled to say my daughter has followed in my footsteps with regards to enjoying cooking and has started making some of our meals.  She’s 9 and I am extremely proud of her.  Here she is knocking up some apricot and pumpkin seed flapjacks for our packed lunches.  They were so delicious, I didn’t get to take a photo of the end result!
The new company that we’re using for the veg box scheme are called Riverford and so far I am really pleased with them.  Their veg is so fresh and tasty and the milk has a good date one it.  Here’s the last order that came. 

 But what on earth do I do with tomatillos?!

I bought some granola to get an idea of what to include if I made my own.  It wasn’t cheap, £4 for this little tub, so I won’t be ordering it frequently, but hopefully I’ll like it and make my own as I’m struggling with what healthy breakfasts I can have.

Our girls have been producing eggs left, right and centre.  We’ve had about 120 eggs spare at any one time so if anyone has any ideas of what to make with eggs apart from frittatas, quiches, cakes, eggs on toast etc then I would appreciate them! Some of the eggs have been huge over the last couple of weeks.  The one of the left is a hen egg next to a duck egg (second from left) and 2 standard hen eggs on the right.

Whilst we were off we took our metal detector into the field as it used to be a medieval settlement so we hoped to find some exciting hints into what happened there in the past.  We were told it was a graveyard but looking at it from an aerial view you can see the outlines where the houses/rooms/foundations were.  On this photo we’re in the right hand side.  It’s all changed since the photo was taken and the big farm has been split into 3 but we an see our fields on here.  It’s really interesting and I think I will see what I can find out about its past.  We managed to dig up 2 horse shoes and some parts of a rusty old gate.

 

In the garden, I’ve cleared out the veg beds that had finished producing and that don’t come back next year.  I noticed we have some raspberries coming from the same canes that produced around 4/5 weeks ago.  Should that be happening and are they summer fruiting or autumn (I realise this is a silly question to some!)?

We really have had a lovely summer holiday, there’s nothing as fabulous as family time in a place you love.  I’ll wrap up now as I will be wittering on all night otherwise.  Back to normal now 🙂

Milk delivery / veg box let down again

Well on Wednesday I had my veg box and milk delivered as usual.  Well I was supposed to.  Those who read daily will know the last 2 deliveries haven’t been correct.  This was the 3rd one which was incorrect too!  They delivered only my skimmed milk (Steven drinks it, yuk) but not the semi skimmed and put a note on to say I wasn’t getting any this week.  Considering you have to order a week in advance so they can get it in and the fact no one had informed me in advance (they know the day before if they have it) then all I can assume is something happened on the morning of the delivery, making the semi skimmed unavailable.  However I did say that if they mess up for a 3rd time, then I’d move on and I have.  So sorry The Organic Pantry but I’ve now placed an order with Riverford who use regional farmers and dairies local to myself, which are set to send me a milk and veg box delivery on Wednesday.  They have lots of other items too so fingers crossed they are up to the mark and then I can shift a lot of the order to them instead of the supermarket.


I must say however The Organic Pantry veg boxes are lovely, it was just the milk that was the let down. 


With regards to the milk, I’d go to the dairy to buy it but there isn’t an option.  I only want to use someone who is already in the area if we get a delivery as creating more carbon footprints just to get my milk to me doesn’t sit well with what I’m about.  So I was pleased to hear the Riverford are in my local area every Wednesday.  I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on with them.


In the mean time, it’s Friday and that means I have one more week in the office until I break up for my 2 weeks and a day off!  I don’t think I have mentioned that yet have I :).  We have a few plans, people visiting, days out, jobs to do at home, walks and adventures along with kids birthday parties, so it’ll be lovely to spend the time together and enjoy a more relaxed way of life!