You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 14, 2008.
The 7th January. Just an ordinary day. There I was happily talking to my friends on my favourite forums when up popped an email… from Channel 5!
Now I’m just an ordinary person so my first thought was ‘Well I know my TV license is up to date’ I must have a guilty conscience!
The email was from a lady called Laura who said she was filming for a programme about money-saving and she’d seen my postings on soap making and homemade beauty products and wondered if she could have a chat with me. I gave her my phone number and she called me up. She asked what kind of things I do and I told her how I make my food from scratch and that I keep hens and generally try to find ways to improve my quality of life by living healthily.
I said that I found my skin was better as a consequence and I got satisfaction from knowing exactly what I’m putting in and on my body. She asked if I would like to appear on the show. Now my whole body was shaking at this point, so much so that I could hardly hold the receiver in my hands. My mind was screaming out ‘Have you lost your marbles, have you any idea how scary it is appearing on TV, say no you mad fool?!?!) but all that came out of my mouth was…. yeah sure!
So we fast forward to Friday at 9.30am and I have a camera crew on my doorstep!
The weather is very gloomy and the crew decide to film me outside with the hens first. This is a wise move as we hadn’t even finished filming when the heavens open. Its been raining for days and the ground is bog like so I’m slipping around trying my best to smile and look natural….. not so easy done when I’m wearing three coats and wellies big enough to fit my dad!
I demonstrate butter making next. The crew were amazed how easy it was to make. Ray the cameraman tasted it and declared it delightful.
Then we move onto flour making. I have a little granite stone flour mill and I mill wheat to make my own bread. (I shall tell you all about the mill in a later entry but for now I’ll carry on with the camera crew) I sort some wheat, looking through it for any dead bugs or grit. Then I mill it and show them a loaf that I made earlier…. ooh I sound like Delia!
Finally I made some body butter. I make lots of different sorts including ones that have cocoa butter in for stretch marks and a coconut one made with homemade coconut oil. The one I made for the programme was a simple Shea butter and jojoba oil. I whipped it up to a lovely creamy consistency and gave the freshly made butter to Laura from the team as she is a body butter fan and spends a fortune buying it in the shops.
I was just cleaning away my dishes when I noticed Ray the cameraman slathering the body butter on his arms. I was so pleased to see the team actually enjoying what I do and not seeing it as a job.
It turned out to be a lovely day and I’m thankful of the opportunity to do something like this. Since I lost my daughter I’ve been stuck in a time warp, not quite sure what I should be doing from day to day, but now I have a direction and the ideas are spilling out of my head at great speed. I have a desire to tell the world how to make things so I’m starting with this blog! I hope you are going to keep reading and hopefully pick up a few tips and recipes along the way…..
Someone once told me that when margarine is made in the factory, its actually black but they colour it yellow to make us buy it. Now I dont know if this is true but its sure stuck with me!
A couple of years ago I started buttermaking. Its very simple really, you just need a pot of double cream and a vessel to mix it in. Butter can only be made from double or whipping cream, single cream will not work.
Cream is best when its almost on the ‘turn’ by that I mean it will have gone off if you leave it a day or two more. This suits me fine as I can buy the pots in the supermarket that have reached their sell by date and are reduced to silly prices. I managed to get loads over the Christmas period for 10p a pot!
Take the cream out of the fridge about an hour before you are going to do your buttermaking. This gives it chance to come up to room temperature and makes it easier to mix. Now I make my butter in a food mixer but you can even make it in a jar with a marble in, just make sure the jar has a secure lid…. unless of course you actually want your dogs licking cream off the walls for the next week! Hey it gives them something to do and stops them chasing the hens!
I put the cream in my mixer and put the cover over it to stop it flying out everywhere. Turn the mixture on and once its mixing nicely, turn the speed up. You will notice the cream goes through a few stages. First it just looks like whipped cream and then it takes on a kind of scrambled egg consistency. Keep your eye on it at this time as it wont be long before you hear the sloshing sound as the butter separates from the buttermilk. Turn the mixer speed right down as soon as it separates and just let it mix slowly for a few seconds. You’ll probably notice the butter clinging to the beater.
Stop your machine and drain off the buttermilk. Do not throw this away as it is delightful used as the liquid in scone making or in sauces. I usually plan to make a cheesey pasta bake for tea on buttermaking days so I can use the buttermilk up. Buttermilk tastes like very creamy milk but is low in calories as the fat has gone into the butter. If you cant use the buttermilk right away, simply freeze it and use it in cooking at a later time.
So on to the butter. It now needs rinsing to get out all the remaining buttermilk. If you dont rinse it you will find that the butter goes off very quickly. I pop mine in a colandar and pour running water onto it. Once you’ve rinsed it, now its on to drying. I place three sheets of kitchen roll on my worktop, pop the butter on to it and then add another three sheets so its in a kind of butter sandwich and then squish it down with a piece of wood. This flattens it and gets out any remaining water.
The butter is now almost ready to be used. You can add salt to it at this time if you like but I prefer to keep mine unsalted.
Now the really fun bit…. hitting it as hard as you like with a couple of wooden butter pats! I find it a great way to get out all my frustration. I beat it up a bit and then when I get bored I shape it nicely into an oblong block and either put it in my butter dish for instant use, or freeze it if i’ve taken advantage of the supermarket reduced section and bought fifteen pots to make it in bulk!
The taste of homemade butter is something special. So rich and creamy. I havent bought butter or margarine in years, it just tastes so ‘plasticky’ I’m sure that once you have made your own, i’m going to be seeing you in the reduced section from now on….
Sorry about the ‘rustic’ looking butter but I wanted to add a picture and I only had this bit in my dish. I promise to put a nice oblong block of butter on soon
OK I thought I would concentrate on my hens today. I got so fed up with trying to buy nice organic eggs from the shops and finding when I got them home that they were from farms hundreds of miles away, travelling around for days before spending heaven knows how long on the supermarket shelves. Sometimes I didn’t even know whether they were laid in this country. So I looked into getting a few hens of my own.
My husband made a little shed that is raised off the ground to keep rats away. As the hens were going to be free to roam around the garden we just put a small run around the coop so that the hens would be safe to walk about and feed until I let them free in a morning (they do get up very early!)
I started off with three little chicks that I bought at a local farm for just £4.50 each. We kept them locked up in the run for a few days to let them discover their new home and then we let them out to explore!
Within minutes they discovered the patio is a great place to be and they dug up and ate my plants and made a mud bathing area for themselves! Whilst the summer months were here they would spend most of the day mud bathing with great vigour before retiring to the patio to stretch out their wings and do a spot of sun worshipping.
They are fascinating creatures and each have their own individual personality. It makes me want to cry when I think of those poor little hens that are intensely reared. Stuck for most of their miserable lives in a shed with thousands of others, never seeing the sky, never feeling the sunshine on their faces.
I now have five hens wondering around happily. This came about after a visit from the foxes. I’ll write more about this later on as I think I’ve rambled on long enough for today….
Good morning everyone.
Right i’ve set this blog up so I can explain the things I do to make my life a bit more natural. Most of the things I do are actually moneysaving but I dont always intend it to be this way… its just a nice side effect!
Over the coming weeks i’ll be writing about hobbies such as my hens and how easy they are to keep. I also want to talk about the downside such as when hungry foxes come to the door I make my own soaps, body butters, hair tonics etc and i’d love to share recipes with you.
I’ll talk about how I got started on this road and the impact it has had on my family. When I started on this route I could never have imagined I would end up being filmed on Channel 5! Its all very exciting and I hope you will enjoy reading.
Please leave me a message if you want to know more or have ideas to add to my blog.
I’ll ‘speak’ to you all soon