Archive for July, 2012

Our first peas and glorious fruit from the garden

We have had a week of lovely sunny weather here and it has done the garden good, bringing on the fruit and veggies after all the rain we have had.  Yesterday we picked our first peas.

Our first peas

They were lovely fat pods of really sweet peas.  We have never grown peas before so this is a definite success.

shelled peas

We had them last night with baked trout and our home grown potatoes – yummy, followed by home grown raspberries that have been so abundant this year we have been eating them daily.

Home grown raspberries

We have the raspberries served with meringues and squirty cream, an unbeatable combination.  Not only do we have raspberries but loganberries and for the first time tayberries, which are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, so quite dark in colour.

Also the blueberries have been plentiful.  I think all the rain made them swell up, we have never had so many big ones.

home grown blueberries

Our gooseberries are now ripe and I have been picking both green ones and red ones.  I made strawberry and gooseberry jam with some of the green ones and raspberry and red gooseberry jam with the others.

Green gooseberries

Red gooseberries

So what with the blackcurrants and strawberries we had earlier our fruit garden has been bountiful.  With regard to veggies as I said we have harvested peas and potatoes, our beans and cabbages are coming along OK and we have had several courgettes, but our sweetcorn doesn’t look up to much, got dashed down by the rain we had, and the seeds of our carrots, parsnips and beetroot have all come to nothing.  Also there are very few apples on the trees.  Our British weather has a lot to answer for, but we must be grateful for the fruits we do have!!

Our B&B guests will be enjoying freshly picked fruits with their breakfast.  www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Beautiful blackcurrants and making Cassis

We planted our blackcurrant bushes the first summer we were here, that is 2 years ago now but this is the first year we have had any significant berries off them.  With all this rain they are big and beautiful.  Easy enough to pick but what a pain they are to top and tail prior to stewing up!!

beautiful blackcurrants just picked

So I decided to look for what else I could make with them, without having to top and tail first and the first thing I came up with was making some blackcurrant liqueur or Cassis.  This is how I made the first batch. First remove all the stalks and leaves.  There is no quick way to do this, you just have to sit and painstakingly go through them all, but still quicker than topping and tailing.  Then weigh the fruit.  You need: 

600g blackcurrants

700ml brandy

400g sugar

6 fresh blackcurrant leaves

1 small stick of cinnamon

3 or 4 cloves 

Add the brandy to a demi john or similar large vessel.   Add the washed blackcurrants.  I did this with a small spoon. You then add the sugar, the cinnamon and cloves and a stopper and give it a good swish round, then leave for at least 2 months.  After that strain the fruit and you are left with a lovely liqueur which you can bottle up.  I have saved my brandy bottle for this reason.

 

 Today I made my first batch with one bottle of brandy, but I am going to get another and double up on the sugar and blackcurrants to make a larger quantity.  It will all fit into the demi john. 

I used the rest of my today’s blackcurrants to make blackcurrant and raspberry jam, using 200g blackcurrants to 620 g of raspberries and one packet of 1 kilo jam sugar.  Delicous and all ready now for my B&B guests for breakfast. visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Buckland St Mary church fete July 2012

On Saturday it teemed with rain all day long.  What a day to be the  date of the Buckland St Mary church fete this year.  Luckily this was to be held inside the church instead of in the grounds of Buckland House as in previous years, so someone must have had some forethought to keep us dry.

Hubby and I were running the book stall.  It was a challenge setting up all the books we had across the pews, a bit difficult to display them to their best, but we had a go.

Neil and I with our book stall

We didn’t do  badly taking £65.00 inspite of the lower than usual turn out in the rain. Mind you we were selling paper backs at only 50p each so everyone who came along got a bargain.  Neil’s sister had come down to visit us and she not only brought us loads of books but also helped out on the stall.

Neil’s sister Carole at our book stall

There were quite a few other stalls, bottle tombola, bric a brac, jams and marmalade stall, plant stall, cake stall to name a few and afternoon tea and cake was also on offer.  So inspite of the weather we had a good time. Neil and I were left with quite a few books, so we took them down to the Ferne Animal Sanctuary charity shop in Chard on Monday morning, so they can sell them and make some money. We were the right people to ask to do the book stall and as both Neil and I love books and have several bookcases of them in our home.  We also offer our B&B guests to browse our books as they are on the landing outside the guest bedroom. If you want to see for yourself,visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Mrs Speckledy and the baby chicks

One of our hens, Mrs Speckledy went broody a few weeks ago and wouldn’t get out the nest box.  When the other hens laid eggs, she would roll them under her to keep them warm.  So we moved her in the ark where she could sit on a nest to her heart’s content without disturbing the others. A friend who has a cockerel, suggested to me that we put some fertilised eggs under Mrs Speckledy and wait to see if anything hatches.  So for 21 days Mrs Speckledy sat on these eggs.  She hardly moveed, hardly ate, I was quite worried about her.

Then on Thursday afternoon when the 21 days were up, we went down to check on her and there were 2 beautiful little black chicks.  I was surprised they were black, but guess they came from Black Rock mothers.

We put some chick crumb down and Mrs Speckledy moved off the nest to have a peck.  Of the eggs remaining on the nest, we saw one crack and move.  Another chick was hatching.  We waited but Mrs Speckledy sat back on the nest.  About 10 minutes later this bedraggled little brown chick emerged from under her wing.

You can just about see the little brown chick. Her mum was probably a brown warren hen.

newly hatched chick

Mrs Speckledy is a good foster mum, cos although she didn’t lay these eggs, she has sat on them for the 21 days and is now taking the youngsters under her wing, literally.  They seem to have healthy appetites and all 3 have fluffed up nicely. They are so cute!! 

If you want to see our chicks visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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My Dad’s 90th birthday cake

This is my 100th blog, so what better way to mark this occasion than by telling you about my Dad’s 90th birthday.  We went to visit him  last week (4 hours drive away), and take him out for lunch for his special day, but also I made him a cake.  I made a lovely rich fruit cake but without nuts.

Pa’s 90th birthday cake

This is the recipe I used:-

Ingredients:

  • 175g      light muscavado sugar
  • 175g      butter softened
  • 175g      self raising flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 3      large free range eggs
  • 2      tablespoons of milk
  • 110g      sultanas
  • 110g      cherries, quartered (and dipped in some of the above flour)
  • 110g      dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • 110g      currants
  • 25g        raisins
  • 1      teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 2      teaspoon of ground ginger

Preparation:

    1. Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas3
    2. grease  and line the base and sides of an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment
    3. beat the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy
    4. add the eggs one at a time and beat
    5. add the milk
    6. add  the flour and all the dry fruit ingredients and fold in
    7. tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin
    8. place the cake in the oven and bake for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until golden brown and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    9. place the cake on a cooling rack to cool before removing from the tin
    10. decorate  as required (I put marzipan and icing on mine)

This made a lovely moist fruit cake, not too heavy.  My Dad loved it and here you can see him blowing out the candles.

My Dad blowing out the candles on his cake

All my B&B guests are offered a piece of cake with a cup of tea when they arrive, so if you want to try my cake visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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