Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Grow Your Own Veg etc

Apart from thinking about faith and spirituality and reading a couple of books recently I have been spending some time in the garden.  I love getting out into the garden in the Spring sunshine.  If you've been meaning to grow a bit of your own veg or a few flowers to attract bees and butterflies now is a really good time to start.  You don't even need much of a garden, you can grow quite a few things in pots, although you don't want to put too much in any one pot.   Clay pots are best for plants that don't like being waterlogged and plastic is better for plants that aren't happy drying out.  Most plants benefit from a bit of drainage at the bottom, though.  Very few plants enjoy being waterlogged.   On the other hand it's not a great idea to grow really thirsty plants in pots as you will probably have trouble watering them enough.

I've grown quite a few veg in pots and bags from onions and potatoes to lettuce and tomatoes.  Last year I grew a courgette in a grow bag, which was reasonably successful but not as good as previous courgette plants I've grown in the ground.

This year I'm growing a few first early potatoes in bags as we don't have a massive vegetable garden.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Spiritual Reflections and Explorations

I've decided this is probably not the place for my reflections on spirituality and my faith, but I am feeling a greater need to explore my beliefs so I have decided to set up a new blog, which I'm calling Spirituality and Sustainability.  Please visit if you are interested in such matters.

My first proper blog was entitled Living Faith, but I have moved on since then.  Doing a google search I found there is a Catholic website with that name and I didn't want my new blog to be mistaken for that.  I also came across a website called Spirituality for Life, which was my second idea for a title.  It looks like it could be interesting and the author may think a bit like me, but I haven't checked it out properly yet.

As my faith or spirituality or whatever I have these days has encouraged me to try to live more sustainably and that seems to be an important way that I can express what I believe, Spirituality and Sustainability seemed appropriate, if slightly clunky.  Hope you don't find it too much of a mouthful.

I look forward to walking with you on the journey.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Making Marmalade

Hubby and I made marmalade with Seville oranges on Sunday.

You may think that Seville oranges are out of season now, and you would be right, but realising I wouldn't have time when they were in season and having ordered a batch including a couple of lemons from Riverford I decided to freeze the fruit until I had the time.

I used the recipe from Riverford  for quantities, but used a recipe from school days for the method.

Not having a pressure cooker we cut the fruit in quarters and simmered in the water for half an hour instead of 10 minutes. Hubby carefully extracted most of the pips. However, once the fruit was cooked we separated the pulp and remaining few pips from the rind and cut the rind into fine slices. Hubby’s were a bit shorter and chunkier than mine.

Then it was time to go and see mother-in-law and do some shopping. After that we did a spot of gardening. Then (after washing our hands well) we put all the pips and pulp in a large muslin cloth, which I'd bought a while back, and tied the ends to make a bag, simmered the contents for a half an hour in the fluid left over from the morning. We then removed the muslin bag and squeezed as much juice as we could out of the bag. Hubby later found somewhere to hang it up and let more juice drip out.

Next we added the sliced peel and sugar so that our saucepan was very full. You don’t want a saucepan full of sugar solution to boil, so we ladled some into another large saucepan so that both were half full and could bubble away happily without too much spillage.

I used Waitrose Fairtrade sugar, which came in paper bags.

When I thought the marmalade was nearly done hubby tipped the marmalade back into one saucepan and mixed it together well.

From school days I knew to have a saucer or two in the fridge, so that I could put a few drops of marmalade on one when I thought it might be ready. At that stage you pop the saucer back in the fridge for just a few minutes, then touch it to see if it has set and wrinkles when you push it.

We added a knob of butter at the end to disperse the froth. Then we poured it into clean jars we’d sterilised in the oven and sealed each jar with a wax disc before covering with a plastic film lid. I'd been saving the jars for a couple of years, but had to buy the jam pot coverings on Sunday as I couldn't find any where I expected them to be.

It tasted good on the spoon and the next morning we could see it had set. So, it seems it's all right to leave it half way through.  The crucial bit is cooking it for just the right time.  We just need to finish our last jar of bought marmalade and then we can try it.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Experiences of Pollack and Nursing Homes

Where does the time go?  I don't seem to have much for blogging lately.  I've been reading books instead, I guess.  Yesterday I went to see my parents and took my mum to look around a couple of nursing homes that take people with dementia who shout.  My aunt has been keeping her fellow residents awake at night and has to move homes.  She did not have a confirmed diagnosis of dementia when she moved in and she was a lot less noisy.  It is a sad situation, but we were relieved that the first home we looked at was very calm when we looked around and the residents appeared well cared for.  The second home was a different story and we hope she won't end up there.   There are places in the first home, so we just have to wait for the assessment to take place to learn if they will take her.

I'm hoping to take advantage of this sunny day and more energy than I've had of late to get a few things done in the garden, so I shan't say much more.

However, I realise I have not reported on our experiences with pollack.  I bought some a couple of weeks ago to make a fish curry and it was a firm white fish with a pinkish tinge that tasted absolutely fine in the curry.  Friday night we had it again, this time just coated in flour and fried and it was as good as cod and possibly slightly moister.
Not my photo, but it looks very much as our pollack looked