Archive for October, 2013

pumpkin and squash

There’s something lurking in the shed….well several somethings, our pumpkin and squash harvest. This lot was brought in a couple of weeks ago, and we cut the last few green ones to see if they will ripen in the light of the french doors.

Along with the apples, in another shed (apparently you shouldn’t store them together…something the apples give off can make the squash go bad – is this true? no idea.. we put them in different sheds so they will behave) this harvest, thankfully, are not taking up freezer spaces. The freezer crisis is bad, and we did not have any pigs to put in this year! – how we shall clear space for thingymas foods, not to mention future pig years, I’m not sure, but it is a good problem.   The pumpkins are grown for halloweeny reasons, the crown prince is our favourite large squash, but I am really taken with the little sweet lightening – I like the idea of a squash of manageable size, and will be experimenting with other small varieties next year.
podding beansWe also have had a bumper bonus harvest of haricot beans, thanks to a really good bean year, we stopped picking the beans for slicing and freezing and let them mature up and we have had many pounds of podded beans.  Not an unpleasant task to sit chatting and podding by the fire.

The stormy weather predicted and the clocks changing this weekend makes it feel a good time to retreat to the warmth and safety of indoors and enjoy the stored food.


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esse ironheart

esse ironheart

The new esse is installed and we have been using it for a week – and it is just lovely.

It’s been a long haul,  going from the revolting pink crazy paving clad fireplace, which turned out to be a cover up rayburn - beforejob…. hiding a lack of structure.  The previous arrangement was very boxed in, with wooden frames and the pink paving, and made the fireplace seem more of a hole in the wall,  and we have gained nearly a foot of extra room just removing all that ‘decoration’ – as you can see by the way the(horrible) lino doesn’t meet the edge anymore! – in time we shall put a new floor in – Well, the rest of the kitchen needs complete renovation, the fixed fireplace being the clean gleaming thing in a pink broken kitchen!

But we have a proper strong fireplace now and the woodburning esse range is in.  Back in July I reported how we found a slab of granite and wondered if there was a whole floor of it… alas no.  We did dig a few holes in our kitchen floor – as you do, and although there were a few stones left, mostly they had been lifted – I suspect the others are the nice granite stones shoring up the side of the green lane.

So all we really had was the nice granite hearth stone, which we carefully raised to above the level of the floor and now fronts the esse.  We did leave a message under the hearth from all of us to whoever might be renovating the house in the future (hello future house people!)

The esse has been really easy to light, and gets up to temperature  very quickly. We are still learning its little ways, and how to tweak the temperatures, and have fried, roasted, casseroled and baked – and to top it off, it makes a tank of hot water too!

It brings a whole new layer of smug when you eat a home grown meal, cooked on home grown fuel!

But the best bit of all is the lovely warmth and ambiance it brings to the kitchen

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hazelnutsIt’s been a bumper year for hazelnuts, I get bombarded just walking down the green lane to check the animals and birds, and I am gathering a bowlful like this every day at the moment.

So what to do with them?  Thankfully they can sit in their shells quite happily, for months, no extra pressure on the freezers.  Just as well or they would have to stay on the lane floor.

We like to crack them open, roast them briefly until deliciously crispy and crunchy – and they are very scoffable at that stage, but even better  is to mix them into cookies:

hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies


45g bar of black chocolate

3 oz butter

2 oz sugar

4 oz self raising flour

Shell the hazelnuts, until you have about half a mug full. Put them on a tray and roast them at the top of a warm-hot oven until crunchy (10 minutes or so). This can be done in advance and stored in an air tight jar. Chop the chocolate into lumps, about the same size as the nuts. Blend  the butter sugar and flour  until it forms a ball. Now knead the nuts and chocolate into the ball of dough. If you have just roasted the nuts, the heat will start to melt the dough, so work quickly.

Roll walnut size balls and place on a greased baking tray, spread apart. Bake at the top of an the oven at about 150C. They are done when they have spread out and are slightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool down.

makes about 12

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