This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, I got my invitation back to the farm. The lambs are being born well apart (in time, that is) and there are still 4 ewes to go. There were a pair of black twins whose first-time mother did not have enough milk for them. Would I like to help bottle feed them? Well, I'm just a big kid at heart, despite my age. It was fun! It does cost in petrol with our thirsty car but sometimes a little blowing of the budget does you good : )

I like to go to visit with "something in my hand". Back home in Ulster, you never went to somebody's house without taking something with you and you never left without taking something home with you either. Not a big thing but just something out of the garden or a jar of jam or whatever was appropriate for that occasion or time of year. The first weekend, I took a jar of my jam with me. This time I made some scones very quickly and took them as I had milk on the turn that I had brought home from school. Milk on the turn makes the best scones as the level of lactic acid in the milk is just right for humongeous scones. Anyway, as I handed over the scones, I said that these were to go with the jam from last week. Ah, they said, that is a bit difficult as we've finished the jam and washed out the jar to give back to you. More jam next time, I think.

By the way, where I come from, scones is pronounced with the "con" as in hustle. If you say scones to rhyme with stones, then you won't be getting any of mine to eat because mine are very unstonelike. I usually bake them in the oven but you can do a good job with them in a frying pan with a lid on the hob. Just roll (ie pat because it is less washing up) them into a round, mark across into 6 or 8 pieces and they are done in 10-15 mins.

At my younger daughter's last birthday, she had an at-home thing with people dropping in all afternoon and evening. There was a buffet table with salady things and finger food stuff that would sit happily on the table unrefrigerated for a while. I had a request to take scones for everyone who was coming. I asked how many she wanted and was told that she expected over a hundred people to be dropping in. I made large ones, about 3 inches across as I usually do and duly made over 100 scones as requested. The evening people didn't get any as the afternoon folk scoffed the lot with homemade jam and squirty cream.

Scones are so easy and I can't abide the dry-as-dust things that are sold in the shops. You are probably all experts but I thought I'd post the recipe here anyway:


8 oz SR flour - white or wholemeal or a mixture
1 to 2 ozs marg (1 for ordinary and 2 for rich ones for visitor/special occasions)
1 oz sugar
1/4 pint milk - preferably on the turn

Turn on oven to gas 7/425'F
Rub fat into flour, stir in sugar.
Mix milk in quickly until everything is just mixed together. Too much handling leads to flat scones. If using wholemeal flour, you might need a tiny bit extra milk.
Sprinkle some flour on a board or spare baking tray and pat dough flat to between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick.
Cut into large rounds and spread out well on baking tray.
Bake 15 mins until light golden brown.
Wonderful eaten straight from the oven with butter all melting.

They freeze well, if you can wrest them away from the family's clutches. The scones are best eaten within 24 hours after which they are best toasted. A 15 second blast in the microwave will refresh them but that is not as good as eating fresh or toasted or thawed from the freezer.

Some people add half a teaspoon of baking powder as well but I don't find this necessary, especially if using milk that is just turning. I also usually make a triple quantity and some will go in the freezer in packets of 2 scones. If the family get wind of scones, they will descend like locusts and none will reach the freezer.

-7 ozs white flour with 1 oz porridge oats stirred in with the sugar
-a handful sultanas added with the sugar
-a good teaspoon of black treacle used instead of sugar
-with treacle as above and the sultanas as well

I've mentioned above about cooking them in the frying pan. More frugal if just making one batch. As you can see, there is no great mystery to scones and they are really a plain and inexpensive recipe and really quick to make. Why doesn't everybody make them when they are so easy? Why do those dust-filled supermarket monstrosities have a market?

Anyway, another highlight of my parsimonious week to be told. I'd popped into Asda when I was nearby and ended up with a couple of receipts. Not having done it before, I used the online pricechecker and to my delight, ended up with two vouchers from their "at least 10% less" promise, one for £1.40 and the other for £2.14. I was delighted because, as you can imagine, I'd only bought things that were a reasonable price anyway. Thank you Asda for subsidising my trip to the lambs : ) Also, my daughter called in with two loaves of bread for me. She had gone to the supermarket at just the right time and come away with large loaves at 7p each. Wonderful!!!

The hens are still laying well but not quite so prolific as they were. I brought a bit of bread home from school today so I had happy hens this evening. I'll swear that they can spot a piece of bread in my hand from 50 paces because they make such a commotion. I do like these lighter evenings when I am home from work in time to see them and check them and even play a bit with them if I'm in early enough.


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