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Happy belated new year all.
I can’t believe its been so long since I wrote on my blog. Things have been hectic here.
I’m a grandma now! My daughter Keelie gave birth to a beautiful little boy just before Christmas. She is taking to motherhood so well. She sends me picture text messages most mornings once she’s dressed him to show me how cute he looks in that particular days outfit. I’m very proud of her.
I also got another new baby at Christmas… a brand new embroidery machine! Its wonderful but I have to admit I’m still a little nervous about using it. It is sitting in the corner looking all majestic and keeps giving the evil eye to my old Bernina. I hope to start embroidering little shirts and things for baby Dylan. Once I get the hang of it i’ll put some pictures up if anyone is interested.
Well its only a short post today. As many of you know the tenth would have been my beautiful daughters birthday so its quite a difficult time for me right now. We are hoping to go to the seaside again as we did last year. That was beautiful. Walking on the beach with a weak sun trying hard to make us smile. We had fish and chips near the sea and watched the world go by. I think its important to go out and do something to celebrate the day. Happy birthday to my little darling x
As you know I had to find a new home for my chickens which meant I had to find a new source for my eggs. I tried the farmers market but I wasn’t keen as the man who sells the eggs also sells battery eggs. I didn’t actually realise this until I looked closely at the eggs and saw the number 3 stamp which means caged hens. The eggs were just advertised under ‘fresh farm eggs’ so i can imagine some people would buy them thinking they were from happy hens… this is a farmers market after all!
Anyway now life is good again. I’ve found a lady who is supplying me with fresh eggs from her little hen family. The hens are free to roam and are well looked after so its good for everyone.
So why am I telling you this? Its all to do with my yorkshire puddings! I’ve always had success with yorkshire puds that are well risen but for the short period when I was having to buy my eggs from the supermarket (I was buying large organic ones and looking for the longest sell by dates) they were just average. I didn’t think much of it as I don’t really measure my ingredients so the recipe is never quite the same.
Maybe its a silly idea but I wonder if eggs from happy hens are slightly different? Could the fact that caged hens may be stressed make any difference? I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this but I have to say i’m happy that I’m getting good puds again and I’m eating eggs from happy birds.
I just wish I could get them to stay in a nice round shape lol!
I’m sat in the room listening to the thud of the builders hammer as he puts in a new staircase. I feel bad for sitting at my laptop whilst he is working hard… even though we are paying him! It seems an endless job this renovating malarky.
The kitchen is nearly done now, just needs the finishing touches like curtains and things. I love how its turned out. We had room to make a utility area and its got a pantry in yaaay! I’ve waited twenty years to design my own kitchen. I usually end up inheriting someone else’s design and ideas but this is ours and I’m happy.
Of all the rooms in the house I’m most excited about the kitchen because its where my cooking hobby takes place. If I’m feeling a little down I’ll go into the kitchen and cook up some comfort food such as chocolate chip cookies.
I spend hours in the kitchen roasting tomatoes for pasta sauces, bottling jam etc. You can usually hear the whirring of the Kenwood chef in the background making up the next batch of butter or a couple of eggs to make a cake.
I love wondering around car boot sales looking for old cast iron pans for renovation projects. My favourite cooking pots are old cast iron ones that I’ve sanded down to the iron and re seasoned. They become non stick and can their heat well so are money saving because you can turn off the pan and it will continue to cook for a little while and keep the food warm for ages. No one else is allowed to use my favourite pans and I hide them at the back of the cupboard!
We had a discussion over on MSE about moneysaving and is it worth it and I have to say that I would be lost if I didn’t have all my kitchen projects. I could stop making everything from scratch and have lots of extra time but what would I do with that time? I get so much pleasure from cooking and its made all the better if I found the ingredients at a reduced price or growing wild. Moneysaving is no longer a necessity for me but I think its in my blood now. If I go to the supermarket which is not that often these days as I try to use the farmers markets as much as possible, then I make a beeline for the reduced section. If I find a stash of cream for buttermaking or perhaps vegetables for sauces then I walk around the rest of the store excitedly planning what to make with my haul….. please tell me i’m not alone in this
For breakfast on a weekend we always have some sort of fried food. Sometimes a huge fry up, other times a nice sausage butty with freshly made breadcakes (cobs, rolls, whatever you call them in your part of the world) and tons of lovely onions stacked so high that they peep out and slide off onto your knee as soon as you take a bite.
Now I spent ages looking for the perfect sausage but I always feel let down. Either the meat content is too low or the sausages leave huge amounts of fat in the pan etc. However the main worry I have is what exactly goes into my weekend banger. I hear stories that they include everything from earholes to ar…… well you can see where I’m going with this.
So what better way to control what goes into your sausage than to make your own! Its not that difficult but its kind of tricky to do it on your own so I recommend finding a willing partner. I made these ones when everyone was out except the dogs and they don’t have steady enough paws for the job so the photo’s may not be that great.
For these particular bangers I used a recipe from http://forum.sausagemaking.org/ These guys really know their stuff and I’ve bought their casings and curing powders before and have been pleased.
Lincolnshire Style Sausage, 2 Kg mix
1.000g Pork Shoulder
500g Pork Belly
270g Water (Chilled)
180g Rusk / Breadcrumb
Here’s the recipe for the seasoning. This makes enough for two batches so use half and store the rest in an airtight container.
Lincolnshire Sausage Seasoning
5g White Pepper
5g Black Pepper
15g Dried sage
14g Corn flour
I used breadcrumbs from a loaf I’d made a couple of days before.
I use a mix of meats to get a good fat ratio. This time I used belly, shoulder and a little bit of tenderloin.
Cut the meat up in to manageable chunks. A good tip is to chill the meat for a few hours before as this helps it go through the mincer. My mincer is an attachment for the Kenwood Chef, I’ve found that these can be found quite cheaply on ebay.
I first grind the meat on the coarse setting.
And then on the fine setting. Its easier to do it this way than trying to stress the machine by doing it all in one go.
Between each step its best to put the meat back in the fridge so it keeps chilled. You do not want the meat getting warm as it would be a breeding place for bacteria!
Now its time to mix the ingredients. I put the minced meat, seasoning, breadcrumbs and water in my kenwood chef and give them a good mix. By now they are beginning to smell like sausages, yummy!
Now for the fun part. Load the sausagemeat into the kenwood and assemble the sausage making attachment. (remember to refrigerate the meat whilst preparing this stage) Once you start feeding the meat into the casings it takes a steady hand and you let the meat feed through whilst you guide the casings. Its trial and error and you sometimes get bits where the casings aren’t full enough or are full to bursting. You can usually remedy this by squeezing the sausages into shape at the end.
And here you go, my sausages! They aren’t professionally linked but what the heck they taste great! It really is much easier when there are two people. I can eat these bangers knowing that there’s nothing scarey in them. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Every third Saturday of the month is Ashby de la Zouch farmers market. I love to go along and check out all the lovely stalls, sometimes I treat myself to a freshly cooked burger whilst browsing. There’s a real mix of characters and I always ask questions of the stall holders as they have such a wealth of knowledge between them that they are willing to share. Most of them stand out as being really passionate about what they do. I buy from them and feel happy to know a little about the meat I’m buying.
There’s a man there who sells roosters. I always make a beeline for him as rooster is a fantastic alternative to chicken. Unfortunately in today’s society of egg farming and high output production there is often no place for the males. The chicks are sexed at a very early age and the males are often destroyed as they are no use to the egg farmer and to keep them alive would cost as they need feeding. Anyway that’s a debate I don’t want to get into here….
The roosters that I buy lead a good life. They sit around all day looking manly and keeping watch for danger, get up for a spot of dinner, maybe strut their stuff if they have the urge and then its bedtime! The meat of the rooster tastes like chicken but much stronger if that makes sense. The rooster doesn’t have to stress its body by using valuable energy and nutrients in the process of egg making each day which results in a wonderfully flavoursome meat. The stock from these birds is a thick gel that smells divine and is so deep and rich that it lifts any dish that it is used in. The rooster isn’t an expensive bird. I find it cheaper than an equal sized organic chicken in the supermarket.
I also bought some wonderful rare breed beef. I tend to buy a piece larger than I need so I can use the leftovers to make a meal for the next day. I treated us to some fillet steak too but we haven’t eaten that yet as I’m saving it for a nice weekend meal with a ton of onion rings all smothered in a mushroom sauce… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
I bought a couple of nice pork joints, chops and tenderloins for the freezer and some good streaky belly and shoulder to make into sausages. I shall be doing a sausage making entry shortly if anyone is interested?
Here’s just a selection of the meat I bought before I portioned it up for the freezer.
Another really good buy is the lamb pieces. I get a decent sized pack of gorgeous free ranging lamb pieces for a couple of pounds. I freeze them and use them for casseroles or curries. The flavour is so different to what you get in the supermarket and probably works out cheaper!
I came away with a real haul and hopefully that’s the families meat supply sorted until the next market. I also bought veg and ordered some oat groats as I like to mill them myself for porridge and muesli bars.
If you get the chance to visit a farmers market then I highly recommend it. Its such a relaxed atmosphere and I’ve noticed that lots of people go with their families and treat it as an afternoon out. No one seems to be in a rush and there’s always plenty of time to just browse and read the labels and information boards to find out more about where the products come from. There’s always children running about and quite a few people bring their dogs. I daren’t take my two boxer dogs as they are fed a raw meat diet and I have visions of them running around with sausages in their mouths being chased by angry stall holders in that Benny Hill style…. bless em!
So here I am with a well stocked freezer full of locally grown, thoughtfully raised meat. I feel good supporting the local community and feeding the family with ‘happy food’ Oh dear I’m sounding a bit Delia Smith now, well before she lost the plot and brought out her new book…. another entry for that one methinks!