Friday, September 28, 2007

All of life's essentials

Film, food, and theatre - what more is there?

Haven't blogged for a while (there's been rather a lot of Real Life going on recently) so there is a backlog of stuff to catch up on - so this post will be in two parts, one on the food side of things, and one on the performance stuff. So, if you're not interested in tomatoes and chickens, please feel free to come back later.

Anyway, here's our first egg:
Laid the day after they arrived.

I thought the chickens (Milly, Dilly, and Sybil) would take a while to settle in, but in fact they started laying pretty much straight away, and we're getting two eggs most days. I'm not sure whether that means two are laying and one isn't, or all three are laying but not every day. In theory, they're all the same age, so should all be laying, so I'm leaning towards the second explanation. They're in their run during the day while I'm at work, and I let them out to free range as much as possible when I'm home. I've never seen or heard evidence of urban foxes round here but for now I'm not taking the chance. They seem to really like being out and about, having a good scratch and peck. So far they've managed to dig up a hyacinth bulb five minutes after I planted it, and make a couple of bare patches in the (so called) lawn. Dilly also made short work of a slug. The funniest bit is that they follow me about for a few minutes after I first let them out, until they realise they're not getting a treat just yet, then they go off to do their own thing. As for treats, they adore spaghetti, which is great because it means it's really easy to get them back in their run - I say "hello chickens", they run over to see what I've got, I fling spaghetti in the run and they dash in after it. Shut the door, and there they are, all locked in securely for the night.

Chickens are ace - I don't think you could own chickens and be unhappy.

The York Festival of Food and Drink is on at the moment, and V and I sampled quite a few of its delights last weekend. We went to a tomato tasting on Friday (8 different tomatoes, ranging from small marble size to cricket ball size) and afterwards the woman running the tasting was selling her produce so I bought four different types of tomatoes - Brandywine, a really meaty "heritage" tomato with hardly any seeds, great for sandwiches; Vicky, a small plum tomato; Marmande, a big beef type, and Black Cherry, a dark skinned cherry tom. So, along with the Rosada, Alicante and Gardener's Delight that I've been growing, that meant we had seven types of tomatoes in our house this week! Some of them were turned into oven dried tomatoes, and some into passata:

There are all sorts of drying recipes around, of varying degrees of complexity, but all I did was halve them, put them cut side up on a baking tray, and leave them in the oven at gas mark 1 for about 4 hours; leave them to cool, then put them in jars and cover them with olive oil.

We aslso did a cheese tasting, and a wine tasting followed by a dinner made with locally sourced food, which was great. Five wine suppliers offered a choice of wines, so we tasted probably around a couple of dozen different wines, then had a splendid Yorkshire-grown/raised/caught dinner. And tomorrow we're tasting chocolate. There's also a really good food market running throught out the festival in the city centre, so I've bought some really good olives, sausages, spices and coffee, and intend going back tomorrow for more supplies.

Handyman Steve brought some apples today, so they were turned into apple puree, slightly chunkier apple sauce, and chunkier still stewed apples to go in the freezer ready to make apple crumble at the drop of a hat. Here's the puree and the sauce:

They're brownish-looking because I use brown sugar when I stew them, to give better flavour. The puree wasn't supposed to be puree, it was going to be sauce, but I put the apples on to stew and then went out to see the chickens and they distracted me, so the apples got rather too cooked. Never mind, a quick whizz in the blender and we have another addition to our cupboard. I also made Tarte Tatin but you can't see a photo of that because we ate it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Domestic Goddess Sally (and Anna?) strikes again!
All sounds, and looks, fantastic.
Love from us

10:09 pm  
Blogger Stacie said...

Yummy! :)

6:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chocolate tasting - of course!! Why didn't I invent that?

PS, mentioned your chickens to my boys - Aslan is quite keen for a play date!


1:30 pm  
Blogger Stacie said...

Did you try the 100% chocolate bar also?

9:21 pm  
Blogger Sal said...

LOL! I'm sure Aslan would love to meet the girls - I'm just not sure how they'd feel about him!

Stacie, yes I tried the 100% and it was vile! Inedible - as was the actual chocolate bean I chewed. Give me madagascan any time

10:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sal, its Nina.... dead jealous of your cooking exploits, I love the end product just not the work before hand. Plus need some advice re green tomatoes... We had a bit of a disaster this year and have ended up with lots of green toms, with no real hope of hot weather, any ideas what I can do with around 1 1/2 lbs of unripe tomatoes??

9:50 pm  
Anonymous haze said...

Im currently trying to ripen the rest of mine indoors, it seems to be working slowly, with the help of a banana and several shop bought red tomatos mixed in with the green ones they're slowly turning red on a sunny windowsill on newspaper. xx

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Haze, I've popped a few in the fruit bowl fingers crossed!

7:30 pm  
Blogger Sal said...

I put them in a paper bag with a banana - bananas give off a gas as they ripen which promotes ripening in other fruit, which is why you're not supposed to keep bananas in the fruit bowl normally. The advantage of the paper bag is that it keeps the gas around the tomatoes. You could also put them in a drawer, or any enclosed space.

One of my cousins makes green tomato chutney, I'll ask for the recipe

8:20 pm  

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