Archive for March, 2014

  • wpid-IMAG1154.jpgFrom the kitchen window
  • wpid-IMAG1139.jpgChallenger hop in moss packaging
  • wpid-IMAG1150.jpgHop planted with wire supports on fence
  • wpid-IMAG1149.jpgThinned strawberries
  • wpid-IMAG1143.jpgPlanting garlic
  • wpid-IMAG1152.jpgRhubarb
  • wpid-IMAG1151.jpgNewly planted Victoria plum tree
  • wpid-IMAG1153.jpgPropagating celeriac seeds
  • wpid-IMAG0999.jpgRosemary flowers

First attempts at Spring

It has been our first opportunity to go out into the garden this weekend.  We have managed to sow beetroot, Isle of Wight garlic, shallots and peas, as well as a hop and a Victoria plum tree.  Since the fence has been repaired, things are beginning to look like they are under control again.

  • wpid-IMAG1002.jpgSoda bread
  • wpid-IMAG1140.jpgSoda bread broken in two

Soda bread

This is our first attempt at making soda bread.  It is very easy to make – simply mix flour with a little salt and baking powder, and add buttermilk to bring it together to a dough (a little milk helps to make the dough wet enough to form).  It takes only half an hour in the oven.

I think there is a little too much baking powder in this batch, as it has risen a little too enthusiastically.

  • wpid-IMAG0997.jpgDug over plot
  • wpid-IMAG0996.jpgBucket of compost

Spring Digging Over

Now that we have had a few days of fine weather, and we’ve had the fence replaced, we’re now able to get on with preparing the vegetable plot for some sowing and growing.  We’ve dug over the plot, which is badly compacted by constant waterlogging, and dug in some compost from our compost heap and spread over some chicken manure.


Sourdough Starter

Since taking  a bread-making course at River Cottage with Aiden Chapman, we now have a sourdough starter sitting on the worktop.  The starter was taken from one of the starters at River Cottage, and we have fed it up and fermented it until being able to make our first sourdough loaf.  The starter now needs daily feeds to keep it in shape.

  • wpid-IMAG0966.jpgAfter the apple tree stump has been ground out
  • wpid-IMAG0968.jpgRemoving existing rotten fence
  • wpid-IMAG0969.jpgRemoving existing fencing
  • wpid-IMAG0970.jpgGenerous mulch from stump grinding
  • wpid-IMAG0983.jpgConcrete posts and gravel boards
  • wpid-IMAG0985.jpgDuring construction
  • wpid-IMAG0986.jpgFence complete

Fence Repairs

Now that the rain, wind and storms seem to have passed for a while, we have taken the opportunity to replace one of our broken fences.  This fence borders our veg plot, so we need this work done so we can get on with digging over and sowing.

The existing fence posts have rotted through, so we have replaced them with concrete posts and concrete gravel boards at the base of the fence bays, to try to limit the extent of rotting if we are in for persistent wet weather.

  • wpid-IMAG0973.jpgHarissa marinade
  • wpid-IMAG0978.jpgSeared on both sides
  • wpid-IMAG0981.jpgAfter resting, very tender

Spiced and seared goose skirt

Usually, if we have picked up a cut of beef skirt, we will slow cook the meat in a stew.  Today we tried a recipe from the Ginger Pig Meat Book.  The skirt is marinated in harissa in a plastic bag for a few hours, and then cooked on a griddle for a few minutes each side, and then rested for a long time, at least 10 minutes, otherwise it will be tough.

  • wpid-IMAG0977.jpgEnglish brown ale
  • wpid-IMAG0989.jpgViolent fizz of a Belgian beer gone wrong

Homebrew Testing

There is quite a difference between the two beers we have so far made using the Brooklyn Brewshop kits.  The Bruxelles Blonde seems to have gone wrong somewhere in the fermentation, and each bottle is very cloudy, and will foam up and completely overflow when opened.  The beer in each bottle is not that great either – there is a white filmy deposit that seems to have settled into sediment before the bottle is opened, but is remixed into the beer by the violent fizz when it is opened.

The English brown ale is way more successful, a really nice dark craft beer that is close to a porter in its malty taste and dark brown appearance.