Showing posts from July, 2010

Another thing I can't get my head around... successional planting. Yes of course I understand the principle of the thing. You sow some seeds and then a week or two later you sow some more of the same thing so that you don't get all of your crop at once. It makes perfect sense until you start actually trying to plan the garden or allotment. For example: I grew two rows of beetroot. I can't remember exactly how many plants that was... maybe around 40. This is more than enough for us... I am not that fond of beetroot. I don't like it pickled in vinegar and I really can't take eating it more than about once a week... probably less. But I planted them all at once and they were pretty much ready all at once... and it has been hard work to preserve them. One of the reasons for not staggering the planting (other than not actually thinking of it at the time) was that I did not want to have space with nothing growing on it... I mean, if I don't have something growing on it, the weeds rush in to fill t

Mystical Symbols?

I found these in a local charity shop. They were fifty pence, and because I was intrigued, I bought them. I asked the lady what she thought they were... she didn't know. They were kept with the jewellery so she thought maybe they were scarf rings. I wasn't convinced. There are 12 symbols on each metal ring (although they are not exactly circles in shape), the symbols are on both sides, and I surmised that perhaps they were something to do with zodiac symbols. There is a cross, but not a Christian cross, the arms of the cross are equidistant. There is also a chalice... the rest are simply strange. They are not the regular zodiac symbols and although I did spend a little time searching on line I couldn't find out what they represented. I have come to the conclusion that they must be from some kind of game perhaps and that there is no mystical meaning to them at all. Anyway I made an offering to Inari in the hope that he will look kindly on me and send more bless

One Woman Went to Mow

Went to mow a meadow... One woman and her dog.... (Fergus)... Went to mow a meadow! This was my birthday present from last year. I waited several months to get it... as I only got an I.O.U. on my actual birth day. It's something that I decided upon the moment I laid eyes on the couch grass at our allotment. No electricity there and I hate the sound of the petrol strimmers - not to mention the fumes and the general wearing of helmet and goggles... just not my idea of how to spend a summers morning. I thought about it a great deal and I did quite a bit of research before plumping for an Austrian Scythe from here . The Austrian scythe is much lighter and easier to handle than a traditional English one, apparently. I couldn't afford to go on a course in how to use it - that was not included in the I.O.U. Just as well... I would never have got there in time... it was quite an adventure to collect it... Sat Nav's don't seem to understand the Dorset lanes... an

Positively the Last Word on the hay box cooker

Well... I trialed the hay box with a chicken curry on Friday. It was a success, in fact it was more than a success... it was ready long before I opened up the box to take it out. It was still hot but not hot enough to eat so we had to pop it back onto the stove top... I had to thicken the sauce anyway. I made the curry just like I normally do. I sweated some onions and vegetables in a little ghee, after which I added garam masala (or curry powder)... we usually grind our own spice blends to make our curries... not sure what the blend was this time... something BillySteve forgot to label!! Next I added the pieces of chicken which I cut to be no more than inch sized pieces. After this I added some stock and boiled it vigorously for a few minutes... ......then it was on with the lid and quickly into the hay box cooker. That was just before 12 noon and we didn't open it until 6:30pm... I have a feeling that the curry was cooked to perfection around about 4 hours after it w

Cooking for free - well almost!

As I am sure most of you have realised, I am totally SOLD on the hay box cooker. What I can't understand is why this 'old-tech' solution to low-energy (low-cost) cooking fell into disfavour/isn't better known or more popular. We all like getting stuff for free. I can't imagine why people who would happily use an electric slow cooker would not consider a hay box. Some members of my family were laughing at my antics... I even had strange looks from BillySteve the first time I suggested we make one of these... some members of my family are still laughing but I think I know who will get the last laugh on this one. For example: The Boston Baked Beans recipe I chose is a vegetarian one (I haven't tried meat in the cooker yet but that is planned for Friday which is traditionally curry night here at Technobilly Central) but even so, the recipe required cooking the beans until almost soft (depending upon the age of the beans that could be anything from 45 minutes to

Slow Soup

This morning I made soup. I used a handful of carrots from the garden (you can't do anything in this house without an audience), the potatoes from the allotment that were too small for doing anything substantial with and an onion. I chopped them all into fairly even-sized chunks and sweated the vegetables in a little sunflower oil. Next I poured in some lentils then I added some stock... .........actually I added a lot of stock - more than I would normally use, I wanted to give the hay box cooker a fair trial this time so I filled it to within 2" of the top. I boiled the soup for 2 minutes.... .........and then put on the lid with tinfoil and popped it into the hay box cooker. I packed the blanket around it really tightly this time and squashed in a second blanket .....and pushed it all well down before putting on the polystyrene lid. ............That was 10am this morning. At 6pm we opened it up and the pot was still so hot I had to use oven gloves to tak

Porridge in the Hay Box Cooker

Well we had porridge from the Hay Box Cooker this morning. It was sort of a success. It was cooked and it was warm... but only barely warm. I have learned a lot from this first experiment. Heat is escaping from the top of the pan (heat rises of course) and so I need more insulation on top. I shall dig out an old cushion or another old blanket and pack it around much tighter next time. What I did was this. I brought the porridge (made with half milk half water) up to the boil on the stove top. I boiled it for about thirty seconds (it is quick cook porridge which only needs about five minutes anyway) then put tin foil over the pan and then put the lid on. Small quantities of food do not cook so well since they cannot retain enough heat so I made double the usual quantity... for the purpose of the experiment I thought it was worth it. I still had too much of a gap between the porridge and the lid... about an inch is better. The porridge pot went into the cooker at 11pm and we

The Hay Box Cooker Has Arrived!

Well it's not a 'cooker' in the conventional sense, and it doesn't have any hay in it and it didn't just magically arrive... but it is a BOX and tomorrow I am going to cook the dinner in it! I don't know why it never occurred to me before to make one of these, I use my slow cooker a great deal and that is just a more modern version. So... the first thing we needed was a suitable box. I have one. It's an old army equipment box given to us many years ago by my father-in-law. BillySteve uses it as his bedside table. We call it the Keepsake Box because we keep all our old photographs and memorabilia in it... oh dear... I knew if I opened it up I'd be there for hours... we did have a laugh I can tell you....... Now where am I going to put all those old pictures? And what is BillySteve going to use as a bedside table? I got a large sturdy cardboard box from this

Getting Back on Track

Things here have been a little more Techno than Billy of late... and that's not how it was supposed to be. The wonderful idea of de-cluttering by putting lots of my useless junk (but other people's treasures) onto ebay was a good one in principle. What has ended up happening is that I am back to being a slave to my computer... I had got myself into a habit of only switching it on once or twice a week but of course I have had to switch it on every day to check if anything has sold, how many watchers I have or if anyone has asked questions... and I have left it on all day using up electricity (albeit not much, but its the principle of the thing), it's taking up soooo much time... ....and it's not just ebay that is ruling my life. I have a word document that I use as a menu planner for the week. On a Friday morning I update it with the meals for the following week and from it I compile a shopping list... I then print it out and take it with me to Sainsburys. Well t