Recipes

Lemon Yellow Squash Pie

With an abundance of Tonda Padana winter squash – grown for its amazing taste and storage properties – Suz adapted a squash recipe found elsewhere. It went something like this:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tonda padana squash
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda (sweetener)
  • 3 teaspoons white flour
  • 2 eggs (kindly donated by Holly and Mistletoe)
  • 1/4 cup baking margerine (Stork, but butter will do)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • pastry for the base (to suit)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350C.
  2. Wash and peel the squash.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and save to bake separately for another dish.
  4. Cut the squash into manageable chunks
  5. Grate the squash with a coarse grater (a typical cheddar cheese grater is good)
  6. Mix all the ingredients (except the pastry!)
  7. Line a pie dish with the pastry – it’s only going to be the base.
  8. Fill the base with the squash mix.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes on the low rack, but in our fan-oven it only took 27 minutes.

That’s it! Suz baked a couple of them – they lasted two days (personally I’m surprised they lasted that long!), and the second was even better as the lemon had time to really soak into the squash.

On the subject of squash – we worked out, given the seed packet cost, how much it costs to make a meal per person. Suz concocted another gorgeous recipe – Baked Squash Soup – roughly speaking the ingredients are baked squash, baked garlic, fried onions, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Oh, and some milk. This soup, with grated cheese on top, a couple of slices of bread and butter, gives you all you need and the soup contingent costs around 10p per person per meal. The squash, onion and garlic are all home-grown. So including the cheese and bread and electricity you’re probably looking at 40p maximum per person per meal. I’m saying this, not for the cost perspective, but for the fact that as a nation we have forgotten how to eat cheaply *and* well. I only wish local councils would help people who want to grow their own by encouraging allotments, teaching people, and we could all have a bash at that smug feeling to be had from chowing down on your own produce. Sometimes our priorities are so messed up. Sure, it takes a lot of time to grow and prepare the food from your own patch, but what else would we be doing? Watching the goggle box? Paying for gym membership, when all the exercise I could possibly wish for was at the end of a fork or spade?

 

Damson Gin

Christmas Damson Gin

Christmas Damson GinIt’s that time again, and this year’s damson supply has been a darned site better than last year which, for us, was practically non-existent.

The recipe was almost the same as this one – but I decided to add some typically festive spices – nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Absolutely gorgeous!

Cabbage and Onion Harvest

2013 CabbagesWith the great weather continuing, we tried a new technique to dry the onions out, stringing them outdoors and hanging them on some of the many builder’s spikes we use here. The round and savoy cabbages are also looking partcularly decent – the scaffolding mesh and groundsheet method of growing is definitely the future! 2013 Onion Harvest

Homemade Redcurrant Cordial & Rhubarb Juice

2013 Redcurrant CordialThis is another easy one – along the same lines as our homemade rhubarb juice. The picture says it all really – squeeze every last drop of juice from your redcurrants – or you can blend them and leave them to drain through a seive – find a way that works for you with what you have to hand. Then add a small amount of vanilla essence, to take the bitter edge off, and sweeten to taste. We use sweeteners, but sugar is better if you don’t need to use sweeteners, and a spoon of honey wouldn’t go amiss. Boil the juice down, to remove the excess water, and you have created a cordial that you can add water to when needed! Chill it, and use within a couple of days.

Rhubarb juice is exactly the same method, except you use the waste water left over from cooking your rhubarb! Leave the water in the pan you cooked your rhubarb in, strain it if there are bits floating in it. Add the vanilla essence and honey and sweeteners/sugar, bring to the simmer, just to mix the ingredients, and leave to cool before popping in the fridge. This is one of my favourites, especially as it uses something you would otherwise throw down the sink!

For a particularly refreshing version of either, add a dash of lemon juice to either

Lazy Man’s Mayonnaise

Okay – easy mayonnaise for the culinary crippled:

Ingredients for the Basic Mayonnaise

  • 475ml sunflower oil or rapeseed oil – don’t get all fancy and use olive oil – it’ll taste disgusting (take it from one who knows)
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Colman’s Mustard Powder or 1 teaspoon of Colman’s English Mustard from a jar
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Drop all of the ingredients except the oil into a blender and turn on to full whack.

Gradually trickle the oil into the blender as the ingredients are mixed. This ensures the oil is aerated as it enters the forming mayonnaise. Trickle too quickly and it will end up a gloopy mess (bleugh). Too slow and it will end up cooking the eggs 🙂 I’ve only made those mistakes once each – a nice steady trickle will ensure you never will!

Depending on the capacity of your blender, towards the end of adding the oil you may need to stop the blender, stir the mix to free the blades, then restart the blender and continue to add the oil. I need to do that about 4 times in our Kenwood to make sure the oil mixes well.

Experiment!

The easiest thing to add is garlic. Just add a couple of cloves at the initial blending stage, before adding the oil, and you get great garlic mayonnaise!

Herbs and spices are also easy to add, or onions for a less-garlicky flavour. I guess you could also add some beetroot for a red mayonnaise, though I’ve never tried it 🙂 One for Hallowe’en maybe…

Rhubarb Cake

We had a great gathering over the weekend, with old friends and their families descending on us for a camping weekend. One of the puddings that went down well was the Rhubarb Cake Suz and Jay made, and as people have asked for the recipe – here it is!

Rhubarb cake:
8 oz Self-raising flour
pinch salt
4 oz margargine
12 oz chopped rhubarb (if you use the pink stuff it looks prettier)
4 oz sugar – I used this for the party, but usually put in much less – and usually just fruit sugar
2 large eggs

Grease + line a 1 lb loaf tin
Chop the rhubarb into slices approx. 10 – 15 mm wide.
Pre-heat oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4 or 5
Add the salt to the flour, rub in the fat till bread crumbs. Mix in the sugar, chopped raw rhubarb and then the beaten eggs. The mixture is fairly dry + heavy. Into the loaf tin, level out.
Bake in oven for approx. 45 to 50 mins – press top with finger to see if it’s done.
Remove, leave cake in tin for 15 or more mins to firm up before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Eat warm as a pudding or cool as a cake.

Yum. No pictures I’m afraid – I didn’t have time to take any before it was gone!

Hay Making

This year was the first we carried out the plan to make our own hay. Way back, when the layout for The Patch was drawn up, one quarter acre was always meant to be left to grass. In theory, this quarter acre would give us around 20 small bales, enough for a couple of sheep over winter. Now, not having sheep that need feeding, and the grass still being quite new, we have grown grass for hay before.

However, last year we made around 10 bags by necessity – a long rainy stretch at the start of the year meant our grass was too long to cut, in the chicken paddock at the back of the house. When we finally did manage to cut it, it was around 8-10″ high, just about manageable with the push mower, held at an odd angle. From this we made hay, very mulched as it was, and the rabbits had good food for winter!

So, after that experience, this year it was decided that we’d have a bash at our first hay! The grass grew, the clover started to peek out amongst the rye grass seed heads, and a week of sunshine was 2013 Hay Makingforecast. The fly in the ointment was how to cut it! We’d been lent an old scythe a few months prior, but the blade was in a pretty bad way. Not having the first clue about how to use one, and looking at a week of sun but also a good load of normal day-time job work, meant I couldn’t afford to take the time to learn and do, and risk losing the grass. We needed someone to cut it for us, after which we could turn it and bag it.

And therein lay a 2013 Windrowsproblem. No one wanted to do it! More to the point, no one was capable of doing it! All the local farms are large scale, no one is geared up to squeeze between 8′ gates anymore. Even if they were, to cut a quarter acre is not economically viable. Luckily Farmer John next door put us in touch with a chap who would cut it for us, but into a semi-mulch state – 2013 Bagged Hayaround 6″ long pieces. The day arrived, and my task was to follow him with a garden rake, and rake the missed stalks upright, for the second pass, and rake the cut grass into rows that he could go over again. After three passes of the field, trying to keep up with the cutter, I have to say I was exhausted! A full day outside, in the hottest sun we’d had all year. Once he’d left, as the pieces were quite short, the windrows needed turning more frequently than normal hay as wind had a struggle getting into the piles. So a full week later and we were ready to bag  the hay. Of course, not managing 2013 Hay Barnto find a small-scale hay cutter was a precursor to also not finding a small-scale hay baler. We needed to improvise, and in such a short term I decided on recycled refuse bags. If left open they would hopefully breath enough, although the hay was pretty dry when we finally came round to bagging it up.

All four of us spent half a day bagging it all up, 2013 Hay in Garagethen we needed to transport it to a small barn that Farmer John said we could use – a life saver as the garage was almost full as it was, and we needed space for storing our produce! It was a satisfying sight to see it all brought in, and enough in our garage for the pet rabbits. The best thing was the quality – I hand weed the quarter through the first part of the year, pulling out anything that’s not meant to be there. No chemicals are use, and so we can have complete faith in using it, or passing it on.

Cheesy Bread

Think of Chelsea buns, replace the currants with mature cheddar, use spelt flour, and this is what you end up with. Gooey rolls with seams of cheesy loveliness 🙂

Spelt Bread

As an experiment we bought some white spelt flour, from Doves Farm. It is much stickier to work with compared to modern wheat flour, but it does give a nice crispy exterior and soft inside. The bread was made in old Hovis tins we found being sold off from the factory – they’re cracking quality – really solid, and the small ones are perfect for the kids to take their own mini loaf to school.

 

Home Grown Meal & Perfect Tomatoes

Okay, so the fish isn’t homegrown, but the rest is – tomatoes, onions, beans, potatoes. It’s so tempting to have a carp pond, but it would be a massive space-taker. I’ve seen some funky greenhouse-based permaculture fish tanks, but that seems like an awful lot of materials and work to get the hydroponics system working. An outside carp pond would seem to make more sense 🙂 One day perhaps…