Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Again - we found it near the foot of a Scots Pine tree. It wasn't as big as the one H. found before, but still a decent size. The weather has been wet and windy for the last few days, with sunny intervals; perfect for mushroom gathering. I need to clean it first before we eat it - not sure what to do with it this time - whether to dry it out and jar it - or eat it up quickly. I might wait until H and B are home - B loves mushrooms ;)) ...
Monday, 21 September 2009
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Such corporations, and similar companies are the elitist 'Illuminati' Bayer, BASF, Dupont, Dow and (Swiss) Syngenta - actually, with Monsanto, the only six such agri-corporations left - because they've consolidated over the years.
Consume less, buy regional, buy bio, be careful what clothes you buy; if they're cheap cotton, then they're likely to have been made from GM cotton, probably in a developing world sweat shop, where Monsanto has cornered the market and has control. They're doing it in Iraq. (Another reason why the US and the UK invaded the country. So that they could get oil, natural deposits, cheap labour, and carry out more population reduction than Saddam ever did.)
Support your local beekeeper and buy his honey. (If you've got bees in your garden, then you'll have a local beekeeper somewhere.)
Get informed; internet, books, public lectures, films etc. Join up with others who feel strongly about the issues, write to the newspapers and politicians, blog, go on demonstrations. Let the politicians know that the public DON'T WANT their corrupt corporations running our countries.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
So I have a few empty squares. Have got some new compost ready, so I'll add that and then we'll start some new veg for late summer and autumn. The mangetout are scrumptious and the aubergine seems to be recovering in its new position, especially as it's been under cellophane and getting extra warmth. June here is being very cool, rather like last year. But I already have small green tomatoes on both bush and beefsteak plants and the cucumber plant is taking off like nobody's business, as is the butternut squash and another pumpkin variety which our next-door neighbour kindly gave me. The potatoes are flowering and beginning to look a little tired - maybe in a week or so I might be able to get our first new potatoes out? They'll have been in since the beginning of April. We'll see. The strawberry plants have been fruiting a bit - but perhaps not as much as I hoped. It maybe though, that they're young and need a couple of years to establish themselves. I'm going to buy some strawberries this week and make some more jam. We've run out.
I'm really glad that I left so much room between the beds; the plants are growing so big, one really needs the space. I'll do another video soon.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
I have replanted the aubergine in their place, as it just wasn't getting enough sun back next to the beef steak tomato. Where the aubergine was, I have sown some more bush beans.
Have discovered that I probably put down too much horse manure (excess nitrogen) last autumn than was good for onions. None of my onions look too good - in fact, all they've done is to grow upwards, rather than outwards in the bulb. So I've used them for salads as in spring onions and have sown radishes there instead.
Kohlrabi obviously likes horse manure, but onions don't. Not too much anyway.
The other disappointing thing is the carrots. I only have one square of them , but it's possible that the soil isn't clayey enough for the rather short, rounded carrots which I sowed. They are taking forever. Apparently only the long ones like loose, friable soil. I thought that the SF bed wouldn't be deep enough for long ones. So we live and learn. Never mind - I can buy both carrots and onions from the local farm.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
The sweet peas are because my grandmother used to have a long trellis of them every year in her enormous garden in Storrington in Sussex - (the house was demolished after Grandpa's death - I remember the asparagus and the cucumber frame too )- and she'd bring huge bunches of them into the house.
Their scent filled every room where they were. I loved them... Sweet peas and the smell of Grandpas's pipe tobacco; the damp, wonderful, faintly alarming smell of the garden room with its enormous rubber plant whose leaves we were allowed to clean with milk; the constant ticking of the huge, spired grandfather clock in the corner of the drawing room; the dark green, musty smelling carpet on which we would lie for hours, making card houses and playing Beggar my Neighbour, while the thrushes sang in the apple trees in the orchard outside and the azure periwinkles crept into every crevice in the stone-flagged terrace under the kitchen window.
The beans go in tomorrow because today is a public holiday in Germany (Ascension day/Father's Day and the shops are shut. So it's a-bean-buying I'll go tomorrow, plus I need two new kohlrabi plants - the first ones are so fat and perfect-looking and they'll soon be ready for picking.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Have also made my first goats' cheese. Same method as with the cheddar - worked beautifully. The curds are a lot softer though, and break up into very fine pieces. It sat under a press for three days and I took it out this morning to begin maturing. It's whiter than the cows' milk cheese, and tastes quite creamy. We'll see how it turns out.
I'm finding that cheese-making is a question of experimenting. So far, each cheese has tasted somewhat different. Maybe I'm too much of a creative chaotic to be rigidly disciplined every time, and follow exactly the same rules. I find experimenting a lot more fun. Two weeks ago I made a cheddar with sage and mediterranean herbs in it. It smells gorgeous. Both this and the previous cheddar are now maturing in the cellar (which isn't ideal as far as its temperature is concerned, but it's the best I can do. Both are covered with a yellow cheese wax to prevent drying out and bacterial attack.
I've also reorganised the cellar and made room for food storage. Our larder in the kitchen is merely a small cupboard into which relatively little food will fit, so it makes sense to have enough room somewhere else. I would LOVE to have a walk-in larder one day.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Friday, 24 April 2009
Started another cheddar three days ago. The last one was made in a hurry and I didn't put enough salt in the curds, plus the milk had gone off just a bit, so it was rather sour tasting. I used it grated on pizzas though, and it was fine. 4.5l of raw milk from the farm around the corner costs 2,80 Euro. That makes 720g of cheese, which would probably cost three times the amount in a shop. Even grated cheese costs quite a bit, even though one is also paying for the air in the packet, so I reckon that even if the cheese is a bit of an experiment, and doesn't necessarily always taste brilliant the first few tries, you can always cook with it, so nothing's wasted and one's probably saved money. I don't HAVE to use mozzarella. She's too fat anyway. ;)
I've been experimenting with different forms. This time I decided not to use the old biscuit tin. The cheese turned out rather flat, and took up too much room in the fridge. So this time I used a large yoghurt pot (the ones which contain firm Greek yoghurt and have a handle - bought expressly for the purpose of cheese-making and not for the yoghurt, of course) - and stuck holes in the bottom to let the whey run out. It works perfectly, the shape is fatter and more compact and will look better once it's cut, I trust. Better for putting on bread too.
I've ordered some cheese wax (yellow) which will prevent the cheese from drying out and growing unwanted mold. It'll ripen longer that way, I hope. Also ordered a berry picker which will be jolly useful for blueberries, bilberries in the woods, and hopefully our own jostaberries, this summer.
Actually we're not eating jelly or cows' milk cheese at the moment. We're doing the 'Maker's Diet' again - started 5 days ago. So, no carbs for 2 weeks, loads of berry fruits, veggies, clean meat, seeds, sprouts, goats and sheep cheese - (my next experiment is to try goats cheese). Feeling better already.
Oh yes, and our potatoes are sprouting! Very exciting.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The dandelions are from the fields above our home and are primarily for Tessie, who has woken up after hibernation and has a ferocious appetite. She loves dandelions. I wash them and keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag ready for when she needs more.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
I've planted a cucmber plant already - I hope it's not too early - but if there's any danger of frost I can cover the wire cage with plastic. The cucumber plant is not yet taller than the top of the cage. When it becomes too tall I'll cover it with a tomato plant sheet.
Friday, 10 April 2009
I've planted small seedlings from the garden centre, just to get a head start on the seeds. We now have spinach, chard (normal, rhubarb and Bright Lights), beetroot, (red cabbage and broccoli - thanks, Angelika!), leeks, spring onions, red and white onion sets, lettuce (four varieties) garlic, nasturtians, carrots, mangetout, and two small bush tomato plants which are hardy enough to be planted before the last spring frost in the middle of May. When the 'Eis Heiligen' (Icy Saints) come around 12-15th May I'll cover the wire cages up at night. I also have chives, sage, lavender, and have sown marigold seeds in the hope of getting a few flowers to keep off the snails. I have a few beer snail traps, to be on the safe side.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Have finally laid down bark chippings and finished the edge all round the SFG area. It looks really tidy and I'm pleased.
Saturday, 7 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
This afternoon I had a look at the soil in my SFG beds and turned it over a bit. The ground is still frozen at four inches below. So I covered the beds with black plastic (actually meant as sand pit covers, but they fit the SFG beds - at least the 4x4 ones quite well. They're too big for the 2x4s but it doesn't matter) to speed up the thaw. In one 4x4 I had sown a lettuce seed and some lambs' lettuce last November. The first seeds are coming up in it, so I covered it with transparent plastic over a couple of bendable cable tubes. The air can still get to the soil, but at least the seedlings are protected against the worst of the cold.
The ice is slowly melting in the pond. It'll be another week or so before the toads and frogs arrive. The snowdrops are out at last in full force and Frau B's aconites (Winterlinge) next door are smiling up at the grey sky in gleeful anticipation of warmer days ahead.
In spite of the grim political and economic situation, I am so grateful to God. We can still see His hand in Creation and know that He loves and cares for each one that He has made. All will be well.
And here is how the cheddar looks after a week. Left with a flash, right, without.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
So this is 5l of raw cows' milk heating up slowly in a sterile saucepan to 32°c.
I then added a teaspoon of animal rennet (bought online because although I was told I could buy it from an Apotheke, no-one wherever I inquired even knew what rennet was. Incredible how ignorant we all are these days) in a small cup of cold water. Stirred the milk. It was nearly midnight by this time.
I sat the saucepan on the night storage heater for 30 minutes, after which time the milk had coagulated and turned to a thick junket, providing a clean break when I stuck a finger in to test it. Getting really excited now, I then cut the curds with a palette knife -to 1cm wide, and stirred with a whisk to separate curds and whey. I'm not quite sure what the point is of cutting the curds in the first place, if one has to separate them even more with a whisk afterwards. Perhaps it's supposed to make it easier to cut them really finely if one does it with a knife first. If anyone knows, please tell me..
You can see the cut curds here. It works!! All the info and videos
on the net couldn't quite take away my anxiety that I maybe hadn't done everything correctly.
Then I heated the curds and whey up to 38°c and stirred slowly.
It is fascinating how different the
curds are this time, compared with how they look when I coagulate the milk with lemon juice or vinegar. They are so creamy, as opposed to clumpy. Then I poured off the curds slowly into a cloth over a bowl, keeping some of the whey for cooking. Making a cheese this big, there's so much whey left over, that there's no way (pun unintended) we could use it all, so I am ashamed to say that I pour a lot of it down the sink. I know this is awful, but I don't know what to do with the rest. While the children are not at home, no-one eats cereal in the mornings... We haven't a dog or cat or livestock. Ideas welcome.
I then added three teaspoons of salt to the curds and mixed it in thoroughly.
Here I placed a bowl under this strange looking metal stand - I can't remember what it's for, originally, but it has some very useful holes in the top, which the whey can drip through while the cheese is being pressed. The curds are in a cloth, in the old biscuit tin, with my husband's weights on the top. They stayed like this in a cold bedroom (thanks Ben) overnight. Went to bed and dreampt of cheese.
(The cake in the background is a carrot cake for Sunday.)
This was the next morning after the first pressing. I then turned the cheese over and pressed it again in the same way for another 24 hours. When I took it out this morning it was much firmer and uniformly smooth all the way round. I turned it once again to press for a further day. Tomorrow morning I'll take it out to put it in the fridge to mature. I don't know if I have to cover it with cheese wax - I don't have any and I don't have the necessary equipment to melt enough with which to cover the cheese. So I'll see what happens. All very exciting.
The last cheese I made using this method, (see last cheese entry) I soaked in a salt bath over night. It was tasty, (creamy yellow rind on the outside and a firm white soft cheese on the inside) but perhaps a little too salty. So this time I only salted the curds slightly and salted the outside. I made this three weeks ago and since then it's been sitting in the fridge, gradually giving off moisture and developing a firmer yellower crust. Can't wait to try it.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Monday, 2 February 2009
It's a start. Have brought in some 'Mel's Mix' in a plastic tub to start some seeds off early for transplanting out later. Have to warm up the soil first. I'll wait until tomorrow before sowing.
Monday, 19 January 2009
What is particularly pleasing though, is that I didn't have to buy one of those revolting long fluorescent dachshund/frog/snake/reindeer draught excluders which are as cheap and less effective than they look.
I was so inspired by our friends' rows of canned vegetables, that I bought a couple of big jars of pickled gerkins (1,25 each for two huge jars) (I'll use the jars once the gerkins are gone, of course) and soaked off the lables. ...a. they look nicer that way and b., I can pretend I canned them myself. Couldn't wait for next summer. ;)))
Now they're sitting in the cellar next to the jars of Sauerkraut, which I cut up this morning.
I've had so many ceps that we can't eat them as quickly as they grow, so I'm drying a row of them on a thread stretched between a couple of beams on the kitchen ceiling. I'll put them in a glass jar once they're dry and they'll reconstitute beautifully in water when I need them.
Hannah found an absolutely massive Cauliflower Funghi a couple of years ago at the foot of a pine tree in the woods behind the garden. After we'd cut it up, washed all the bits out of it - pine needles etc, we dried it on threads in the same way. We then packed it into glass jars. I made a goulash a while back and after soaking the remaining funghi in water, used it up (as well as the water) in the stew. It was really good.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
It said that the German government is warning people of hard times to come, and that they should start preparing for them by storing rations, food, grow their own vegetables, even have a bag prepared with emergency items in case one has to leave home suddenly ... (one wonders why...)
Anyway, since I've been hearing similar things on the US alternative news grapeline, this only confirmed my own mind in wanting to become self-sufficient.
My friend is going to find out about the book and tell me so I can read it myself. She told me about her parents' upbringing in Romania and how they produced everything themselves. It was brilliant. She then took me over to her sister-in-law's house, where they had made Sauerkraut last year, (they do it every year) and showed me the cellar there.
There was this enormous green plastic barrel with a little tap at the bottom, (not so sure about the plastic - but there you go) which they'd bought from the local DIY store, over-half-filled with liquid with herbs and bits of horseradish root, floating around on top. A huge stone was keeping some untreated planks of wood held down under the surface of the liquid, and under the planks were the cabbages. Whole, with their cores cut out, into which they'd then poured the salt, packed the cabbages into the barrel, filled it up with water, herbs and spices, and then once the liquid had begun to ferment, it was tapped out and poured on top over again a number of times.
On the shelves of the cellar were lots of large glass jars filled with pickled gerkins, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, preserves of all sorts. Tomato sauce, aubergine, pepper and tomato spread, honey from their own bees, jams.
I've made our own jams, jellies and chutneys (see above) for a long time and we rarely buy our own. (The picture on the right is of our own Elderflower syrup, which Hannah helped me make last year.) I've never thought much of it - have done it for fun, rather than as a necessity, probably because my mother did it, but apart from making piccallili once, I've never been a great one for preserving vegetables. But this has really inspired me. I'm even thinking of preserving meat. Chickens, from the local farm. The confit method sounds scrummy. I like the idea of potted meat too, as well as salting - it's called 'Pökelfleisch' here - I love the sound of that.
I think I'll ask for books on preserving veg, meat, and making my own cheese, for future birthdays.
Friday, 16 January 2009
Raclette and Chester are married and living uncomfortably at Innperlenburg Palace in close proximity to Raclette's parents, King Géramont and Queen Emmental. The latter is as silly, controlling and manipulative as ever. They'd like to get a place of their own, but snooping out the murderer of Raclette's Aunt, the Dowager Duchess Mozzarella di Buffala is a lot easier in the palace, as any suspects must live or work there too.
Edam and Petrella are also married but owing to the reconstruction of the country after Morbier's invasion, times are hard. Edam is working on his father's thyme farm and Petrella has a job on 'The Daily Grind', the main Innperlenburg newspaper.
Pecorino, Petrella's younger brother, is champing at the bit, hoping to win the National Wheeling Championships, which are due to take place shortly. Petrella has to do a write-up on the contest.
It has been decided that the Palace Trap Gang will do some hunting for the elusive iron box, thought lost when Großkäsingen (Cheesing Magna) House burnt down, which contains proof of Morbier's crimes and which, it is hoped, will finally put Raclette's wicked Uncle behind bars. However, in the meanwhile, Morbier, undaunted by the death of his 'Baby', Gorgonzola, is up to no good, continuing his genetic experiments on rats, and has succeeded in breeding a succession of mutations for which he has found a ready market; more about that another time.
New characters so far; Norbury, another journalist on The Daily Grind, currently out in the East investigating some fishy business involving the Sultan of Ghazi and a depopulation programme. Grinding Manchego, the Chief Editor of The Daily Grind, greedy, unsympathetic and down on his employees like a tonne of bricks.
The 9th Baron de Roquefort and his wife the Baroness Delice (who happen to be Queen Emmental's parents) and their son, Albray, the 10th Baron-in-waiting, commonly known as Baroque. Later to appear in the story, Mortadella, King Géramont's banished sister.
I have to get on with some writing. Excuse me.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Alternatively, if the boys are in the garden and need to come in 'for a particular reason', why not just get them to fertilise the compost heap? Easier and quicker and more fun for them, AND no dirty boots all over the house, unless you're in Germany like me, and people have to take their outside shoes off before coming in.
When I was a child, there was a popular science television programme on the BBC, which name I forget. One of the episodes has always stuck in my mind. A lady was experimenting with not washing her hair with shampoo any more. She was going to tie her hair up in a turban for a number of weeks, until her body was able to regulate the natural oils in her hair again. She had long, dark brown hair which reached beyond her waist. The TV audience were obviously not convinced that it could work and sounded revolted by the idea. After a number of weeks, the lady was back on the programme, with the turban on, and the moment came to remove it. Off it came, and down flowed this gorgeous wave of beautiful, healthy, shining hair. She hadn't shampooed it once, (apparently) and everyone was amazed.
I've also been concerned about the chemicals which are leaching into the water system, also about the fact that all those chemicals can't really be good for our skin; after all, how did our forebears cope? My mother-in-law says that they used to use something called 'Kernseife' (a pure, natural, unadulterated soap, which you can still buy here in Germany, for all their washing needs - hair, clothes, everything. We always take this soap when we're on a hike or when camping because it's environmentally friendly. It also lasts longer than the usual perfumed bars.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
How to Make Cheese -
with our usual raw milk from the farm around the corner, which had gone off and needed to be used up (although I did add 500ml of organic yoghurt and what was left over of the clotted cream and whipping cream we had in the fridge from the holiday season) I ended up (after a night in an unheated, decidedly chilly bedroom, in a pot under a 10kg weight - by which I do not mean that I spent the night in said bedroom, in said pot) with a very edible soft cheese - actually it was more like an immature, unripened Wensleydale, not as spreadable as the one in the video because it had probably drained for longer, but really tasty, nonetheless.
One of these days I'm going to get hold of a Dutch cheese press, and make my own hard cheeses. I'm sick of buying plastic wrapped cheese - even organic cheese comes wrapped in some kind of plastic - quite apart from the unwanted packaging, homemade always tastes nicer, it's fun and more satisfying to make oneself, and one doesn't have to worry about the gender-bending endocrines getting into the system any more than they absolutely have to. Back to basics.
So far I have had about four or five good harvests of (Ceps or Porcini (Boletus Edulis) which are delicious. After picking the last lot, the farm has had a bit of a rest, but after watering, the next crop is growing rapidly.
Once the mushroom culture is exhausted I intend to put it on the compost heap and get a refill. Frank loves chanterelles, so I think we'll have those next time.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Monday, 5 January 2009
Have also bought a bit more wood and intend to make one more 2x4 bed. Prepared the ground for it before the first hard frosts hit in November, and it will be a nice project to finish before spring and the children come home. I have just enough soil mix for one more 2x4 left over from the beds I made before.