Thursday, 27 August 2009

The first crop of tomatoes!

225g of tomato goodness! Actually, there are so many tomatoes still forming that I am beginning to wonder what to do with them all. Though we did have some stormy weather last night, so I think a few of the longer branches might have been damaged. None have broken off, so we'll have to see if they recover. However, it looks like I'll easily have enough to make a good quantity of chutney! Super.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Blacksticks Blue cheese

I tried this cheese the other day. I'm generally a fan of blue cheese, so I though I'd give this one a go. I have to say, it's fairly good! I enjoyed it with biscuits, always the best way to enjoy cheese in my opinion. Well, crusty bread works well to I suppose, but biscuits felt the way to go in this case. I'm not sure how best to describe it really, it's kind of creamy like Stilton, but maybe not as much. The flavour was subtly different as well, I recommend giving it a try!

According to the British Cheese Board (, 65% of adults admit that cheese is one of their favourite foods. Well, there you go.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Plants - Grow your own chillies, sweet peppers and tomatoes!

To my great delight, I noticed while watering last night that some of my tomatoes are starting to ripen! It's such a great feeling, watching plants grow knowing that you're going to be able to enjoy the fruits (literally!) of your labour very soon. I never cease to be amazed at how few people even try to grow their own, it's great fun and requires very little space. I only have a small patio and yet I can still grow a decent quantity of tomatoes, even if they are now a little on the rampant side:

Unfortunately, my attempts to support the plants with canes has failed, with the result that they have tumbled all over the place. However, they still seem to be doing well, though I am concerned that some of the fruit is resting on the ground which probably isn't good. I'll have to do something about that soon.

The chillies are continuing to do well, actually, they are nearly all ripe now I think, so I shall have to pick them soon:

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wild blackberries

The season for blackberries seems to have come rather early this year! I am lucky enough to live next to a large park with plenty of wild blackberries, so I took the opportunity to head out and gather some.
My plan is to use them to make jam, although I may need to get more then this for that. Actually, I was surprised that there weren't more ready to be picked, though as you can see from the pictures, there will be plenty more in a few days time. I try to avoid picking any that are below roughly waist height, since these are easily reached by dogs and foxes...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Plants - Grow your own chillies, sweet peppers and tomatoes

All of the fruit I'm growing seems to be doing really well! The chillies are coming along nicely and I think some of them will be ready for using fairly soon:

The sweet peppers are also looking good:

I'm not sure how much longer it will before these start to ripen, but I don't think they'll be ready for a while yet. I have three other sweet pepper plants, one of which is now flowering, but the one featured in the picture is along way ahead for some reason. Treating them with washing up liquid solution for the white fly didn't do them much good and resulted in the leaves curling up a bit, but the good news is that they are all producing new leaves which look perfectly healthy!

Last, but not least, the tomatoes are doing amazingly well and I'm looking out every day now for the first red fruit:

These are just the fruit that are easy to see, there are plenty more hidden underneath the branches of the other plants! The leaves have started to turn a bit yellow, which I think happens has the plant starts to put more energy into producing fruit. I have pinched some of the tops out to let the plants focus on ripening the fruit and I have been giving them a little liquid fertilizer every time I water. Hopefully, this will mean that I get lots of great tasting tomatoes!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Home made, fresh chicken stock

Well, I promised a post on making fresh chicken stock from a roast chicken, so here we are! Obviously, the first step is to roast a chicken, which I assume you'll have done. I will also assume that you have eaten your fill of the meat and are left with a carcass which looks something like this:

Using a sharp knife, remove as much of the meat as you can. This can be used for all sorts of things, such as stir fry's, risottos, etc, so it's worth keeping and we don't really need it for making the stock.

If you followed my recipe for roasting a chicken, then you'll have the vegetables (onion, carrot, celery) left over from the roasting tin. Put all of these, along with the carcass into a large saucepan and add enough water to nearly cover everything:
Now, cover the pan and bring to the simmer with a low heat. Leave it simmering for approximately two hours or so. You'll need to check on it from time to time to make sure it isn't getting too dry, so add more water every so often. After about two hours, it should look something like this:
When it is done, the bones will be completely clean and the carcass will have fallen apart. Now, to extract the stock, simply strain this through a sieve, using a fork or something similar to squeeze out every last drop of juice. When that's done, you should end up
with something like this:
Once this has cooled down, it can be frozen and kept for quite a while. Fresh stock is excellent for making risotto! Enjoy.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Plants - Home grown chillies

Well, the plants I'm growing are continuing to do really well! Actually, I noticed the other day that the chillies are starting to ripen! So, some good curries are not too far away. The sweet peppers are coming along nicely to, but they are still green.