Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday November 25th 2012 Birdproof cover for the Blueberries and the first strawberries of the season

This weekend my project was to make a bird proof cage for the blueberries to replace the wire tubes that they had outgrown. The problem with my old tubes was that when you tried to pick the blueberries which required pulling the cage off to reach them, you ended up pulling off the blueberries, ripe and unripe. I thought I would just make something a bit bigger but when Max decided to help me, it became a lot LOT BIGGER . By sliding old polypipe over the top of star droppers, the framework went up really quickly. We used some fine wire bird mesh and  white plastic bird netting which we already had in the shed, but it was quite slow and tedious sewing them together with baling twine.  This should last for years now, and also provides room for strawberries tubs to be kept out of the way of greedy birds. It is almost finished now - I just have to sew some shade cloth onto a mesh door and then it will be bird proof.

When I went to move one of the strawberry tubs, I discovered that the strawberries had already started to ripen so that was dessert sorted for last night.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Delicious Elderflower drinks and a Wensleydale Monday November 19th 2012

At this time of the year, elderflowers are out. A friend of mine gave me some  homemade syrup for Christmas last year and I always thought that  you needed a lot of elder flowers to make it. As  I haven’t got a tree in my garden I have never tried to make my own. On Saturday, on the radio, I heard a recipe for the syrup and also a recipe for a sparkling elderflower drink neither of which used many flowers. See the link to Sally Wise's website for the recipes. I also discovered that there was an elder tree in the garden of one of the other houses on the farm. So this afternoon, I went and picked a few heads and then quickly made up a batch of syrup.
 It consists of sugar and boiling water, tartaric acid and about 14 elderflowers. The elderflowers just steep  in the hot water to impart their flavour....that’s all. Now it is all bottled, one in the fridge and 2 in the freezer for a later date.
The sparkling elder is also brewing – half a dozen flower heads, water, sugar, a chopped lemon and  a little vinegar. They sit for 48 hours and then I will bottle and wait another couple of weeks until they are ready. Looking forward to them already.

At the same time I was experimenting with cheese. I couldn’t decide whether to make a Pyrenees Pepper or a Wensleydale so I decided to combine them and make a Wensleydale Pepper. The advantage that the Wensleydale has over the Pyrenees is that it will be ready in about a month or so as opposed to 3 months or more.  The disadvantage is that the recipe is somewhat more fiddly so I didn’t exactly follow it.....we’ll see in a few weeks. I have just taken it out of the press this morning – hope there are not too many peppercorns in it either.