Thursday, 22 September 2011

Time to say goodbye..

So the day came, and went. Barbara the cock-a-doodle-doodling cockerel has gone back to the breeder. The breeder breeds absolutely first class and show winning birds, and she said that he was a pretty perfect example of a Light Sussex cockerel. She had mentioned that she might rehome him with friends but she seemed pretty keen on keeping him for herself.

Margot and Mrs.Weaver were a bit miffed and upset at the relocation of their boyfriend. But they seem quite content now, making gentle cooing and clucking noises.

Thanks again Barbara! Go scratch some dirt!

Martin and Amy

Monday, 19 September 2011

Free Food is Fantastic

This is the picture of a the park where I have played and played and played ever since I was a very small child...

It is just down the path from my grandparent's house...

 Notice anything?

That's right a very established crab apple tree. One of two on the park. You may notice that there is a pool of fermenting apples already littering the floor. Why should so much FOOD go to waste? People walk past these FREE APPLES every day. Surely there is no need to waste ALL of them....

So after picking half  of a plastic carrier bag full of these crab apples, about 2kg, this is what the kitchen sink looked like...

I wanted to making something nice and tasty from these apples. Crab apples are known for being sour and pretty unapealing when raw. But when cooked and with the addition of a little sugar, the juice is lovely. But is wasn't juice I was making today (well not primarily). I was going to take my first plunge in to the world of jelly making....

With a very nice looking, clear, perfectly set and most importantly delicious jelly, I was very pleased!

I've made endless amounts of jam before but I've never endeavoured to commit to a jelly. I think it's the fact that you have to strain it over night, do this and do that. Oh well. I looked at buying a jelly strainer and could not believe how expensive they were for such a simple and flimsy object, but with a little bit of searching and imagination I made my own. I got an old, clean bathroom towel and using some elastic bands attached it to a microwave stand. It worked a treat, I just wish I took a picture to show you how it worked.I put all of the boiled pulp in to the towel stand to drain the juice from, then I left it for 8 hours to drain. It said in the recipe to leave it over night, but I started it off early morning so made the jelly in the early evening.

Once you had the juice, it was a very similar method to jam making which I am familiar with.

The jelly is very sweet so I would proably use less sugar next time, but it is still very tasty.

Making the most of free food which is available in public places, the side of a road or anywhere else for that matter is a brilliant thing to do. Not only are you pleased with the fact that you are eating delicious, homemade food, but you are also happy it cost you no more than a bag of sugar.

Have a good day!


P.S I will definately be making jelly again, such fun and highly reccomended. Off to bake some more bread now!!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Loaf at first sight!

Well, I'm not sure if it looks more like a football with a puncture or a work of art.

I hadn't made bread by hand for absolutely ages. In fact I never thought I was ever any good at it full stop. However I decided I would have another go yesterday to get me in the mood for Friday's baking session. (Which I will blog about over the weekend.)

From the moment I started making the dough I knew this was going to be a top loaf. After the dough had been left in the airing cupboard for 40 minutes, it had risen like my other doughs had never risen before. It was so big, so smooth. I was so excited and half an hour later..

Drumroll please....


I'm making another loaf tomorrow. I had made this loaf for Amy for when she got back from work, but when my family saw it, they asked me to bake them one too.

Don't you just love that scent that wafts through the house when bread is baking in the oven. If you don't know what I am talking about then you really need to bake some bread!


Have a good weekend!!!

Friday, 16 September 2011

You're not supposed to that!!

Ever since the 3 Bantam hens have arrived, we have been filled with nothing but laughter watching them being so innocently charming and delightfully clumsy at times.

However, nothing could have prepared us for the laugh we have had over the last few days.

You must watch the video below to understand why...

Turn your volume right up because I was only using a mobile phone to record it..

So it turns out Barbara is actually more like Barbarian! We've heard crowing for the last couple of days but were convinced that it was coming from somewhere else. But today she, I mean he, was caught red handed.

We phoned up the breeder who we bought them from, and explained the situation and she said she would happily have him back. So tomorrow we are taking Barbara back 'home'. She has a great place to live with the breeder, large open fields with plenty of places to scratch, play with friends and cock-a-doodle-doo to her/his hearts content.

We will miss you Barbara. It's been an honour to have you with us these last 2 months! But we're not quite ready for a cockerel yet, not with neighbours in the proximity anyway.

Martin and Amy

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The price of currants..

I'm going to tell you a secret. We are making Christmas cakes this year as presents for some of our family.

My Grandma always used to grace us each year with a delicious Christmas fruit cake, delightfully iced and topped with festive decorations. However for several years she stopped making them, but I dug out her old cookbook last year and we made one together which was really enjoyable.

This year we are making the rich fruit cakes as presents. I love the idea of homemade delights at Christmas, and I know people will appreciate them more than a box of Thornton's chocolates or a bottle of lower end red wine.

So again, it was time to dig out Grandma's cook book. It is one of those proper, proper cook books. There are stains on the pages, some pages have come loose from the bind, the edges are cellotaped up, there are handwritten notes on certain pages, and at the back are years worth of shopping lists safely preserved. I can't stand it when people have cookbooks on shelves that have never been opened and the pages are clean and new, and they still have that new book smell. What is the point?

My Grandma got this book when she was 21. So over 50 years later, it is still purposefully being used by the next generation.

So we are to make four cakes. (For whom shall not be mentioned, because we know that some of the potential receivers do read this blog.)

We multiplied the ingredients for one cake by four, and this was the shopping list we set off with.

1.8kg Currants
1kg Raisins
1.8kg Sultanas
680g Mixed Peel
340g Glace Cherries
340g Shelled Almonds
1.2kg Margarine
1.2kg Caster Sugar
24 Eggs
1.4kg Flour
1 Jar of Mixed Spice
4 Unwaxed Lemons

Well, we won't have to buy all of those eggs, but we are a few short so I will have to pop in to a local farm shop to make up the numbers that we (or they the chickens) cannot provide for.

First stop was Tesco. I've recently enjoyed shopping in Tescos, because they have had lots of reduced stationary, and I love buying stationary, however I didn't love their home baking section as much, they had no Raisins, no currants, well in fact all they did have off our list was Sultanas, Flour, Caster Sugar, Lemons and Almonds. Oh well. Onwards to Morrisons.

We piled the trolley with the Morrisons value raisins and then we went to pick the currants up, and we almost died of a heart attack at the cost of them. Where as the raisins and currants cost about £1 per kg, the CHEAPEST currants were priced at £3 per kg. So working on a budget, we bought one pack of currants and and extra 1/2kg bag of both raisins and sultanas, costing us much less in the end.

We have a baking session set asside for Friday afternoon. The cakes need to bake for just shy of 5 hours, so we need to be sure we are going to be in to monitor their progress in the oven.

We will let you know how our afternoon goes, and we might even treat you to some more pictures of the cook book.

Have a great day,


Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Well, with the night's coming in earlier and earlier as each day goes by and the air begins to turn colder and colder it means only one thing. Autumn has arrived.

Where we live I had the best childhood ever when it came to Autumn. The park which is only 50 metres walk from our house has many established Horse Chesnut 'Conker' trees dotted around the edges, so around this time I always remember going with my Grandma and brother down to the park to fill up a few Tesco's bags full of Conkers and then I would take them home and pierce each one and load them on to strings ready to take to school to abolish my friend's conkers with.

Great fun indeed.

With the change of season comes the need to update the look of the blog.

So here's our Autumn profile picture which was taken by my brother, who wants to be a photographer...

 He does a great job every time, and he is responsible for tweaking all the graphics on this blog.

I have a few Autumny posts lined up for the rest of this week and then we proceed rather directly on to.. ahem.... Christmas posts. But don't worry there will be plenty of more immediate things to blog about too.

I've had a great morning starting to catch up with some of my favourite blogs, don't forget you check them out on the right hand side of this blog. Each one is definately worth a read.

Have a great day, and thanks for visiting us. Your support is amazing, thankyou.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A month of fun and things..

Well, it's been exactly one month since we last posted about that delicious green pepper.

Amy is back studying again now and I go back to Uni on the 3rd October. Despite not blogging, we've been keeping up with 'Our good life' and the tomatoes just keep coming, the apples are almost ready for eating, the runner beans won't stop running and we're enjoying gluts of delicious produce aswell as sharing it with friends and family too.

Today brought a momentous occasion. Despite having the Bantam girls for several months now, until today we have been eggless. But only moments ago came the groundbreaking discovery...

It's very small but very perfectly formed. We think it Barbara, but we can't be sure yet. We'll be watching carefully these next few days to see who is making all those right signs.

Anyway, you might be wondering what else we have been up too. Well we've started a radical health plan, we are visiting the gym daily, and we've made radical changes to our eating habits which have been conducted with immediate effect.

We're making big plans for next year already, including upscaling our operation to cover a wider range of all things good. We are far from where we want to be in the long term, but these little strides make it seem like a realistic aim to have.

Well, we hope to blog more frequently this month. We've missed reading your blogs, but it's been nice to have a break. Dare I say it, but with Christmas now only around the corner we are already starting to buy, make and think of presents and puddings ready for the big day.

Thanks for reading the blog, we won't abandon you again!

Martin and Amy