Monday, 31 January 2011

To Beef or not to Beef...

We did resolve to buy local and fresh when we moved here, and then life kept getting in the way and there we were in the supermarket. We also resolved to buy in bulk so we could cut out the weekly shop and spend more time doing fun stuff, but we had to rebuild a house and that left little space for storage. But at last, we're getting there... in the space of a week we've bought half a pig and a big box of beef to see us through the spring, oh and a chest freezer to put them in for the pricely sum of £20! (the freezer not the meat!) The tip for buying such a value freezer is to wait until your absolutely desperate for one and them pray that your neighbour moves house and needs to offload one fast!

Our beef came very local, so local that BH picked it up as he dropped our little one off at Toddler group. Manor Farm Beef are Chris and Charlotte Shipley who run a mixed farm quite close to us and have been nominated for a Yorkshire Taste Award. Charlotte ran a tasting session recently at which their steak was devoured. My littlefreerangers wasted no time in tucking in...

I cant tell you the struggles we've had to get this one to touch her dinner, never mind finish it and ask for more! The joint I cooked was a Crop of Beef  and I slow roasted it for most of the day - it was as they say on 'Diners, Drive Ins and Dives'.....Capital T Tender! I would have taken a picture only it was set about too quickly by the hungry herd!

Needless to say I am going to be cooking more beef recipes and going back to Manor Farm. They are having their first go at Driffield Farmers Market on Saturday, so who knows - might see you there. I'll be the blogger taking pictures and loaded down with joints of meat!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Eggs at last...

It's been a long wait as our girls stopped egg production quite a while before Christmas. But at last, after much encouragement and perhaps a few waves of the stuffing mix, they're back on line. At least one of them is....

Our first egg of the season - hurrah!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 24 January 2011

Adventures in pastry ...

Okay it might not sound so adventurous, but Ive never really made much pastry before and I set my self a new year goal, forget cutting out carbs and drinking only herbal teas, I am resolved to master, or if not master at least figure out pastry...Ive made cakes, I'm getting better at bread, I'm having fewer disasters with scones but Ive avoided pastry thus far, or I'm ashamed to admit I've bought it frozen, so I figured it was about time to get to grips with it...

 Its not perfect, and probably never will be but I made a chicken pie with the kids (they were on leaf cutting duties)...
It was from Nigellas 'How to Eat' in the children's food section. The filling she recommends is really nice and very child friendly, just stock, milk, butter, cooked chicken and sweetcorn and then topped with pastry. I did double the pastry ingredients as I think her pie dish mush have been tiny, the amounts certainly wouldn't have covered ours.
 I must admit I couldn't quite believe how easy it was - and how well it went down with all the Freerangers, I wouldn't call myself a pastry connoisseur but its definitely homemade from now on for sure!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Plant Potty...

Who says there's nothing fun happening out in the garden? Admittedly most of my gardening day was spent trying to find the garden under layers of leaf sludge...but my girly had other ideas...

 Completely oblivious to onlookers she decided that the trees really needed some decoration and set to work with what she had to hand. That's my girl....born to accessorise!

Her little brother got to work too, rearranging everything that Id arranged half an hour earlier and then scattering tools on a mums only treasure hunt around the garden - result: 4 hours of fun in the garden but very little done - at least when it was snowing our garden looked the same as everyone else!!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I'm walking on sunshine...

I'm thrilled, I'm over the moon, I'm dangerously delirious and at the same time ever so 'umbled. I've just received an award. My first ever, from Jo at who writes not one but two thoroughly good blogs and has taught me a thing or two about gardening I can tell you!

To be honest I had wondered how people received the awards that you see on their blogs, and now I know! I started writing this blog to keep a handful of friends back in London up to date with what we were up to and probably like many of you I've found its taken on a whole different life of its own. In the past six months since I've been writing I've taken more photographs than in my entire life, I've written more often than I ever did when I attempted to keep a diary, I've been visited by readers from 45 different countries and I've discovered a camaraderie through shared words that I never knew existed, so to get an award is way more than I was expecting - Thank you x

Okay so the deal that comes with the award is that I have to share 7 things about myself that you might not already know, here goes...

1. My favourite film in the entire world is Mrs Miniver. Makes me long for a world of hats and gloves and stiff upper lips - brilliant!

2. When I was at school I won a Young Northern Poet award and was presented with my award by Brian Patten and Roger Mcgough. Roger was lovely, but I idolised Brian Patten at the time and he was a right miserable git - early lesson in the inevitable disappointment of hero worship!

3. On a teacher exchange to China I had tea with the Minister for Education and was offered a job by a school director whilst I was on the toilet!

4. As a student I had many jobs, including working at the Body Shop for several years, back when it was still a bit hippyish. I was in charge of bridal makeovers and had an absolute scream doing up brides to be and mother in laws on their big day.

5. My favourite drink is a classic margarita, closely followed by a mojito and of course a good old cuppa tea - Yorkshire Tea of course!

6. When I had my first child I bit so hard on the gas and air that I broke my front tooth in half - you can imagine how lovely those photos were

7. My husband is one of the most amazing model makers in the country and has worked on Harry Potter, Bond and Sexy Beast amongst other films, but he gave it all up to come and raise children and chickens (I  will consider hiring him out for a fee though!)

There you go, now you know...

Now its my turn to nominate 15 sites worthy of this award. Apologies if you're not on this list, it may be because you've already been nominated and I can only pick 15. Blimey this feels like way too much responsibility, here goes...

In no particular order...

A City Chicken Farm
Mels Backyard
Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments
Elephants Eye
Our Wee Farm
Well, this isnt getting t''ens fed...
Bellau kitchen
mrsnesbitt's space
A Mingled Yarn
Chocolate Log Blog
Vanilla Sugar
21st Century urban housewife
Living on the Edge
Corner Cottage Bakery

I could go on...However please do not feel under any pressure to receive the award, just like Jo before me, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blogs. And once again Jo, thank you - you made my day!!! I do love getting all of your comments and even if I don't get chance to reply to them all -I really love reading them.

Monday, 17 January 2011

From Rocky to Rockette...

Its been a surprising few days on the homestead. We've learnt some very important things...

1. No matter how many books on poultry you read your hens will always surprise you.
2. No matter how many books on poultry you read your children will always surprise you.

I haven't seen much of the chickens over winter. I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark and BH sees to them in between. But I do remember that before the winter set in we had four fluffy young hens, a mixture of Buff Orpington Bantam, Wyandotte and Rhode Island Red - pretty little girls all of them - not any more.

As I was clearing up leaves, mini freerangegirl said 'mum, one of our hens is a cockerel' and it certainly did look like one. We called BH up to ask the same, but he insisted that it definitely wasn't as it had never crowed...

...and on that note the little fella stretched out his neck, shook his beautiful plumage and you guessed it...Cockadoodledooed. Not once, not twice but for the rest of the day and pretty constantly too. Needless to say we have a very embarrassed BH in our midst. Looking at him now its pretty obvious but then hindsight is 20:20 as they say...

My poultry princess got to name him and immediately called him 'David Beckham' which I thought was rather apt as he's got Spurs! But he has gone to live on a friends farm where he can cockadoodledo to his hearts content without driving my neighbours nuts. I think its back to chicken school for us - where my daughter is probably giving the lessons!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

January is the cruelest month...

I'm finally emerging from the post Christmas malaise that descended upon our rather exhausted household. The decorations are packed away for another year, the cards that never got posted have been guiltily put out of sight and the fridge has been emptied and restocked with things that at least look like they've seen a vitamin!

And at last the snow has gone!

Finally the view is green again!

Like everyone else we were taken by surprise by the amount and the longevity of the snow. We hadn't finished winding up our outdoor jobs and projects for the year so under the snow they've sat - for seven weeks altogether. The last couple of weeks have been all about assessing the snow damage and getting up and running again. So far we've not done badly, the raspberry cage has collapsed, several favourite plants have definitely bitten the dust, but compared to friends with burst pipes we've been lucky so far.

Fortunately for me I have my head gardener to plan the season ahead, even if she does take more tea breaks than she spends digging, she assures me shes thinking very seriously about what to plant this year...

We braved the plot together and after much sighing and oh dearing we've decided upon our gardening resolutions for this year...

mine were - no more big brassicas - we've fed the caterpillar population enough thank you very much! and this year we are going to get better at taking cuttings and collecting seed.

mini freerangers were - she's going to plant her broad bean seed in pots and keep them in the house as last year she lost them all to a hungry vole population and she wants to see more roses - every where!

So after that exhausting brainstorming session we had another cuppa and decided to leave the clearing up for another day!

Happy 2011 everyone, thank you to those of you who kicked me out of my rut and got me back in the garden, I'm definitely back and feeling like freeranging - hang on, is that the thud of a Marshall's seed catalogue I hear on the doormat, Wahay, here we go again!