Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Yoghurt

Having tried various methods here's what works for me...

Rinse a pan with cold water, then add whole milk. The cold water should reduce the amount of milk sticking to the bottom of the pan. I also put in a 'milk saver'. It sits at the bottom of the pan & rattles when the milk starts to boil- genius!

My Grandma & my Mum both had a milk-saver. Eventually I unearthed this deceptively simple pyrex disc in an old fashioned hardware shop.


Whilst the milk is heating, I fill a wide-necked flask with boiling water. As soon as the rattling milk-saver alerts me to the heated milk, I turn off the heat & leave the milk to cool.

When the milk is cool enough, empty the hot water from the flask. (I do not have a thermometer so use a scrupulously clean finger to gauge if the milk is hot-bath-temperature). Add a generous spoon of yoghurt to the warmed flask & carefully stir in the heated milk.


Leave the flask for between 12-24 hours then you should have yoghurt...

To make thicker yoghurt, add a spoon of dried milk powder. Alternatively try using raw milk. The fat content is very high so the resulting yoghurt is wonderfully thick and creamy.

If it all goes wrong strain the mixture through a cloth & you'll have cream cheese instead!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Keeping Cats out of the Garden

Apologies to all cat-lovers out there...

We are a feline-free island in a sea of cat owners. Therefore all the local cats think that our garden is their playground, operatic stage, wrestling ring, hunting ground and bathroom.


I love gardening and am fed up of discovering unwelcome piles of very smelly, semi-buried cat faeces. I also object to being woken up by cats squabbling half way through the night.

In an attempt to keep cats out of the garden I have tried numerous deterrents. Please don't get me wrong, I don't wish the moggies any harm, I just want them to steer clear of my garden. I also want to stay friends with all my neighbours...

In an attempt to solve the problem we talked at length to cat owning friends and did lots of research.

The first thing we tried was some incredibly smelly garlic granules. These were so effective that they cleared our garden and several neighbouring gardens of cats and humans alike.

Having been told that I should spray water near unwanted cats, I took to stalking the garden with a loaded water pistol. Whoever gave this advice had obviously never tried it because it is totally impossible, the cats very sensibly stayed out of the garden until I returned to the warmth of the house.

Sprinkling ground pepper and shredded citrus rind around the garden proved to be expensive, time consuming and didn't seem to work.

 
Convinced that the local cats were now laughing at me, I semi-buried plastic chicken wire. It was very fiddly to bury, made it very difficult to weed and even more difficult to extract cat faeces from...
 
Becoming increasingly desperate I forked out for a very expensive sonic device that emitted a high pitched squeal designed to deter cats. I think all the local cats must be deaf...

In an attempt to save money I placed freebie CDs around the garden shiny side up as cats don't like reflections...maybe our local cats are both deaf and vain?


I knew things had reached rock-bottom (please excuse the pun) when I tried to persuade Mr TH to wee in the garden as cats don't like the urine of larger male mammals. Mr TH vehemently declined citing indecent exposure as an excuse...

Frustratingly, we were still regularly removing piles of cat faeces and being woken up in the early hours by cat fights and operatic choruses.  But when I discovered that all my carefully planted lettuce seedlings had been dug up so that the pot could be used as litter tray I declared out-right war!

 I staked their toilet sites with canes...

 
I started to think like a cat...would I like having my paws prickled? Clippings of holly were placed on favoured bathroom sites, this did work but I had to keep up as they quickly found other toilet-sites around the garden.


I know that cats don't like to get wet so I strategically placed dishes of water around the garden. This combined with the holly seemed to work.


I then turned to their favoured entrances and exits to the garden. Surely a sudden noise would deter them? A (cat-loving) friend bought me an anti-cat rattle that I attached to one of their entrances to the garden.


Inspired by some online research, I scrubbed all the garden walls with biological washing powder to remove all favoured cat-smells and then sprayed with a mixture of third parts; water, alcohol and lemon juice.


Whilst clearing out the bathroom cupboard I discovered a very out of date jar of Vicks Vapour Rub which I liberally blobbed on plant ties around the garden walls.

I know that this is not a guaranteed solution. I will still be clearing their unwanted presents out of my garden for years to come. Cats like privacy to carry out their ablutions and somewhere sheltered to stalk and terrify the local bird population. The bird feeders in my garden will always be a draw for the moggies.


I also know that cats are discerning so maybe I should take their presence in my garden as an extremely warped compliment. They, like me, appreciate a good garden when they see it...or maybe I should just step up my continuing petition for a dog?









Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Swish


What happens if you mix;

5 women

a warm sunny evening

a few bottles of wine

& various bags of clothing cleared from their wardrobes...?

Whilst Mr TH quickly hurried off muttering something about going to the cinema we settled down to some serious 'Swishing'. 


Wine was consumed & clothes were rummaged cautiously at first but then with added enthusiasm.

The 'trying on' was accompanied by gales of laughter & lots of does-my-bottom-look-big-in-this? 

One dress was compared on 3 of us before it found its real owner -how can a dress look so different on 3 people?

It was universally acknowledged that the Swishing had been a success & that a repeat event will be a necessity.

In the meantime we get to admire our clothes on each other...


Part of my haul...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pea Shooters


Inspired by the sudden increase in temperatures, 'spring clearing' the shed seemed a suitably busy outdoor activity.

Lurking towards the back were crates left over from the Christmas clementines.


In the kitchen cupboard there was a lonely packet of dried peas, leftovers from a mushy pea phase...


Soil was shovelled, peas scattered, water sploshed...

A mere ten days later...


peas shoots!

They have been sampled (scattered on risotto). They are delicious.

I've already planted some more.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Too busy to Blog...

Things have been a bit hectic here. I've been...

Harvesting the last of the nasturtium leaves before the frosts really get going...


Trying very hard to make yoghurt...


Decanting & sampling the Fennel Liqueur...


Roasting quinces...


Recycling more paper...


Trying a different recipe for marrow cake...


Harvesting chillies...


 Making clotted cream...


And trying to dissuade the local cats from congregating in our garden...












Monday, 22 October 2012

Preserved Lemons

Bags of ripe lemons reduced for quick sale prompted me to get preserving...


I washed & partially quartered the lemons.

Added sea salt to the insides.

Tightly packed them in a sterilised jar, layering with more salt, peppercorns, a star anise & some bay leaves.

Topped up (& covered) with fresh lemon juice & sealed.

I shall leave them for about 4-8 weeks before testing...


The leftover lemons were turned in to yet more Lemon Curd!











Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Hummus or Humus?

Hummus, hummous, houmous, hommos, humos, hommus, hoummos not to be confused with Humus (& I'm not even going to mention the Hummus Wars!)

I get easily confused & so I make my own peaceful & very edible hummus.


I put a tin of chick peas & a tin of butter beans in the blender. I realise that this is meant to be a chick pea dish but I like the texture that butter beans add to the mix. (They are cheaper than chick peas too!)

To be thrifty, soak dried butter beans overnight then rinse thoroughly & boil for approx 20 mins to soften. Chick peas need hours of cooking so I tend to buy them ready cooked.

Add a slurp of sunflower oil & a dash of olive oil (too much olive oil makes the mix bitter).

A crushed clove of garlic & a good splosh of lemon juice add zing.

I like spiced hummus, so I add approx half a teaspoon of smoked paprika, cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander & a grating of nutmeg. (I sometimes add chopped root ginger from the freezer)

If you have tahini or peanut butter, add a tablespoon.

Blitz...

Add extra oil/lemon juice if too solid.

Season to taste.

I like to add chopped herbs; chopped coriander leaf from the freezer is a favourite too. A drizzle of nasturtium pesto is also good...as is chopped thyme or oregano.

It keeps in the fridge for a few days (& can be frozen too but on defrosting it can be quite, erm, 'windy'...!)


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