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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pasties - yum

My husband has had a birthday.  Don't they seem to come round quickly as you get older : )

One daughter clubbed together with our son to buy him enough polycarbonate to reglaze the greenhouse that we were given.  Hopefully the polycarbonate will be less easily broken than glass. Our other daughter made him 8 meal sized Cornish pasties to put in the freezer and two more to eat straightaway which were hot from the oven.  She rang her grandmother up and asked how she used to make them so that they were authentic and not like the ones that you buy in the supermarket.  My mother-in-law used to make them every week for the family.  I can still remember my shock at the size on the first occasion that I ate one as it was hanging off the plate at each end.  My husband's family are from Devon and Cornwall so they are all used to "proper" pasties. There are 4 boys in the family so when I ate my first one, my mil was used to catering for 4 teenage-boy-and-upwards size appetites.  I had to leave half of mine and ate it cold for lunch the next day.  Our daughter made them huge too so we had them for dinner and lunch the next day.  And probably the same on 4 more occasions.  Yum! Good job we had managed to eat a bit of space in the freezer. The same daughter made him a fruit cake for Fathers' Day.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach - is an old saying.  Definitely true in this house!

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Lidl and lamb

I was just wondering what happened to those nice Aldi vouchers in the Daily Mirror.  I had got in the habit of keeping an Aldi shopping list and still have the last one. Aldi is a four mile round trip so it is not far and I like the quality and the price of the goods they have. Apart from pillows, that is.  The last two pillows I have bought at Aldi have been very poor value. I had assumed that the first one was "just one of those things" and I was unfortunate to pick the bad one.  So I bought another set when they were in stock again. However, by the end of the first month in use, the filling had totally split in two and I would wake up with my head down the gap in the middle with all the filling bunched up on each side.  It wasn't very comfortable.  One rogue pillow may be an accident but two in a row is definitely not and I won't be buying any more pillows from Aldi however much I like everything else from there. My husband's pillow is not as bad as mine but is on its way to the same condition.

Lidl is a three mile round trip in the opposite direction from Aldi but I pass it every week so I'm more likely to shop there. We bought an electric mitre saw there recently.  We had one but it died and although we bought parts for it, my husband was unable to get it working again.  So when they came on offer in Lidl, my husband rushed out and bought one.  However in the first week of use, a specially shaped bolt fell out and was lost in the grass in the garden.  My husband emailed Lidl and had a reply and an apology  the same day and then a few days later, a replacement bolt arrived from the manufacturer. I think that is good service. And I like the quality and price of their groceries too.

I've bought a lamb for the freezer and it will be arriving this week. The lamb was about 15 months old so it will be a lot darker and have far more flavour than the meat I could buy in the supermarket.  I've bought it from our farmer friend so I know the lamb's mother, its father and how it was looked after all its life.  I like knowing its provenance and that it had a good life. However, although a whole lamb is never as big as I think it is going to be, we had to eat our way through a fair amount of the food in the freezer in order to leave enough space to be able to fit it in.  One of the things that we took out was a very large chicken and we have been enjoying that.  We had roast chicken, cold chicken and chips, chicken salad sandwiches and there are four little packets of chicken slices or chunks in the freezer.  I cooked up the carcass in the pressure cooker and have a tub of jellied, concentrated stock in the freezer for soup.  I picked the bones clean and added that meat to the pile of very small chunks/crumbs and made five 2-portion pies with some vegetables.  The sauce in the pies was made with a bit of the jellied stock. I ran out of pastry so two of the pies have a mashed potato topping.  My husband looked at the results of my labours and said that he had thought that we were meant to be creating space in the freezer, not filling it... We've eaten one of the pies now and it was very tasty. So the chicken has provided 11 meals for two of us plus sandwiches and soup.  I said it was a big chicken! Oh and my little cat kindly demolished some of the giblets. And there is definitely less in the freezer than there was before I agreed to buy the lamb.

This weekend, we are going out to my friend's farm to help with sheep shearing.  It is fun!  He only keeps about 10 ewes so there is not enough wool to be able to sell it so it doesn't matter if some of us wannabes mangle the fleece.  My son and his wife have an appointment on Saturday so we are taking our two little granddaughters with us.  The two year old had been told what was happening and had obviously been thinking about it.  Later she announced that she was looking forward to seeing Grandad peel a sheep...

: )


Monday, June 08, 2015


Yesterday we had a street party in connection with The Big Lunch.  A big section of the road was closed off and there was a bouncy castle and go carts and lots of people sitting and chatting as everybody had brought chairs out of their houses.  We know so few of our neighbours these days that it was good to actually spend some time talking to the people that live around us. The weather was wonderful and that contributed a lot because it would have been miserable in the rain.

I've seen the grandchildren several times over the last couple of weeks, which has been good.  The little one has started crawling which means nothing is safe anymore : ) She has been crawling for a couple of weeks but only in reverse gear.  Now she has worked out how to go forwards and is off and away. She can walk quite steadily if you hold her hands and I was beginning to wonder if she would be one of those babies who would bypass the crawling stage and just get up and walk.

We've been picking some bits and pieces at the allotment.  We have quite a lot of asparagus kale.  It is a heirloom veg. We were given some seeds a few years ago and if a couple of plants are left to go to seed, it just keeps coming back every year. I love it and at the moment, there are flowers coming at every branch like sprouting broccoli.  I keep picking the sprouts to eat as broccoli and pick the flower heads off the rest.  The hens regard the flower stems as a great treat and the green leaves help to make the yolks a good rich yellow.  The plant leaves develop the odd hole but as a rule, they are not greatly prized among the insect fraternity - which I do appreciate. Tasty, easy to prepare and cook, loved by me, the hens (but not the rabbit) and easy to grow and free - a wonderful plant that I thoroughly recommend if you have the chance of some seeds.

My little cat is still hanging on.  She doesn't give me the impression of being in great pain yet but the growth is growing at a phenomenal rate and it won't be very long until I am forced to make a decision. She still enjoys doing some of the things a cat likes doing, such as cooking in a patch of sunshine, and while there is still some quality to her life, I'm not taking that away.

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