Thursday, 1 October 2015

My beautiful Bleat RIP

My lovely sheep Bleat has died today.  Daft to weep over a sheep I know but she was the first lamb born in our field - and I pulled her out after her mother got into difficulties.  She earned the name 'Bleat' because - apart from having lambs - it was what she did best - bleat!  Here she is with her last lamb.

She was a good mother and grandmother to her lambs, and although she only ever gave us one lamb at a time, it was always a big strong healthy lamb, and she fed and cared for each and kept the other two or three sheep, and their lambs, in line.  She was a stickler for routine, and knew when it was food and watering time.

I loved her because she loved me.  She adored having her face and ears rubbed, and watched me carefully as I gardened in case there was the odd titbit coming her way.

We worked out she was 11 years old.   She had enjoyed a retirement for the last two years - her only duty was to keep the grass down, but she had been getting a little thin recently and I had been supplementing her feed with pellets.

I knew her time would be coming soon, maybe not this autumn but soon.   True to her neat and careful personality, she just quietly lay down in the long grass and didn't wake up.

Dear old Bleat.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Skinning tomatoes - part 3

Of course, if you want to bottle/can tomatoes, then the grating method will be as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Have a look at this video from a fabulous blog,' Northwest Edible Life'.

I just cannot believe how quickly she skins tomatoes whole - the most efficient thing I've every seen! Makes this chore look so easy - I absolutely hate skinning toms.

She also has a book out, from yesterday.  I haven't read it of course, but it looks good.  I don't get any payment by the way, just love a good book about home preserving and home keeping - go through the link to Ohiofarmgirl below though, as she gets a penny or two from Amazon for referrals.

Anyway, the book title is

The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping

and I saw all about it here:

Take a peek at both of these very interesting blogs.

PS:  I think that's quite enough about tomatoes from me for one year!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Skinning toms - part 2

Aha!  Skinning toms gone viral on the net apparently - the American chef is called Justin Chapple, and here is a link to the video:

(try this link, if not, cut and paste above)

Credit where it's due!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Skinning Tomatoes - the easy way.

One of my pet hates is to skin tomatoes.  It drives me bonkers - I hate boiling up the water, dropping them in, fishing them out, waiting for the hot toms to cool so I can peel them - I'm far too impatient for all of that.

I prefer this method: grating.

Firstly, I absolutely cannot take any credit for this tip as I saw it on the net, by an American chef called Justin Someone (can't remember his name at the mo, sorry) so I thought I would try it.

It's especially useful for using over-ripe or damaged fruit as you can easily cut out the bits you don't want, like these:

Take a ripe tomato, cut out any bits you don't want and cut the rest into two pieces

 Then, merely grate the cut side of the tomato against a box grater

Just gently rub: the skin prevents you grating your fingers

you'll be left with the skin which you can feed to the chickens or put in the compost

and lovely, fresh tomato pulp which you can put with pasta as a sauce, add a few herbs and olive oil, or as I did, with chopped up squash, skinned marrow, onions, garlic, herbs and oil and popped in the wood oven for a sort-of-ratatouille, and eventually cooled for the freezer.

Easy-peasey!  Took about 30 seconds...

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Some recent stock

I haven't shown any of my stock for a while - I am still selling on Ebay - and here are just a few little items that I've sold or are still in stock

lovely Boudoir cushion, from France, nice and soft and all handmade linen embroidery

This is such a stunning piece: a gorgeous, and quite rare,  little chest of drawers, behind two vignettes of Art Nouveau beauties.  You can see the original colour of the drawer fronts - bright fuschia pink floral fabric.  Just perfect for a collector of French fabric boxes.

This was an old sewing basket, now rather shabby, but once must have been quite splendid, with green silk interior and pockets, and a rich pink and blue embroidery on the outside.

A rather striking Pierre Cardin scarf, all in silk

And finally, a couple of trims: one a baby blue satin ribbon and original card, and the other a burgundy red passementerie trim for cushions, upholstery etc.

There!  Just to show you that I am still working at my little textile business - you can take a peek at my shop here if you like, or just send me a comment if you want any further details.

Frugal dog food and Charlie

Our little poodle Charlie, is getting on a bit.  He's getting on a lot actually.  In the 8 or 9 years we've had him since finding him abandoned, with over-grown fur full of fleas, and an aversion to men with stick shaped things in their hands, he has calmed right down and become such a sweetie and much loved member of the family.  Well, I love him, even though the cats seem to cast their spooky spell over the rest of the family...I digress.

Charlie has always been a bit scratchy, a bit inflamed on the ears and feet, and I realised early on that it was probably the dog food I was giving him.  The vet agreed with me, but no matter what, Charlie would not eat the very-expensive-but-good-for-him dry food although he would quite happily scrump the cats' dry biscuit food.

So, after much consultation with vet/internet, I devised my own food for him: 40% chicken, 20% veg such as carrots/beans/peas and 40% rice and couscous, with a couple of spoons of powered eggshell for extra calcium, and he also gets a bit of sardine or mackerel when we have some for lunch.  Sometimes I chuck on a couple of little biscuity things too, just for a bit of a change.

About once a month, I boil up chicken legs in the pressure cooker until the bones soften, pick off all the meat, add the veg, rice etc, and measure it out into foil containers - 180 grams a go - and then into the freezer.  It costs me about a frugal 25 to 30 centimes a day, which can't be bad.  I love doing it for Charlie because I love him, and he doesn't scratch his skin anymore.


Well, it would be win-win, but he has suddenly got bored with his food and has started scrumping the cats' dry stuff again.  Sigh...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The 'Dorking' chicken

While we were in UK we did a trip around memory lane, and one of the things we saw was a giant cockerel in the middle of a roundabout in Dorking!  It made us smile, so I took a couple of piccies from the car (sorry about the quality but you can't park on a roundabout!).

A friend tells us it's because of the Dorking chicken - Dorking was once famous for the breed, but he thought it wasn't bred there anymore.  I think he's wrong, but I know you can buy then in France - saw some very recently at the market in PiĆ©gut.  They've come a long way!


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