Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wellie Boots Woman Flu

Having momentarily tunneled my way out of the Funny Farm Kitchen,  I found Trousers in the sitting room the other evening laughing his head off at a TV commercial for Boots (the chemist, not the designer rubber ones you stick on your feet for the garden?).  It's an old advert, and other chemists are available.....but this ad is suitably aired during the 'Man Flu Season', and very succinctly acts out what women already know, and men have little knowledge of. 

So... with Trousers and Pip off out Metal Detecting at The Crack of Sparrow F@rt this morning, BC Gardening Cat Extraordinaire took it upon herself to come and 'make puddings' on Wellie, waking me to procure her breakfast, and my first medicine of the day.  She had Salmon flavoured pussy cat pouch, and Wellie had a Lemsip with a tablespoon of honey and a slug of homemade Elderberry & Rosehip Syrup to take the nasty taste away, taking the brew back up the spiral stone steps to Bedforshire.

What Joy!  Hug in A Mug, Cuddly Cat with a full tummy, BBC Radio 2, and a double bed all to myself, to drift in and out of The Land Of Nod for as long as I liked.

Unfortunately, once I'd drifted in and out of consciousness for three hours, the boredom factor kicked in, and I decided that it was time to put more of a sparkle into my day.  Ten minutes later, there was a Banana, Frozen Garden Raspberry , OJ and Elder/Rosehip Smoothie on the go, and then it was time to make some Comfort Food, because Trousers will be cold and hungry by the time he returns from digging up Romans.
He returned without any freshly dug-up Romans, but there's always another day, eh?!

I know you won't believe me, but I chose a Denis Cotter recipe?!  namely, Celeriac, Leek & Potato Gratin, with capers and thyme.
With some of the Autumn Leeks in my kitchen garden starting to run to seed, I harvest them, remove the inner 'unuseable', chop and gently saute in butter, then freeze in Muffin moulds to use at my pleasure later.  So, rather than catch my death of cold harvesting fresh leeks in the garden today, I defrosted some of those to use in the gratin.  With those Leeks, Celeriac, Orla Potatoes, and home-preserved 'pretend' Nasturtium capers, and Thyme just outside the door, I'm feeling much more human now, Thank You For Asking?!

Incidentally, whilst I've got your attention, AND the fact that peoples from Greece, Moldova, Slovenia and Brazil are now also reading The Funny Farm Blog (so we're hugging 31 countries Worldwide now, which is just brilliant.X)  It's time to put some serious thought into writing to Santa Claus with your Christmas List.

For now, Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.X

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Culinary Mountain versus Garden Molehill

 Trousers says that these are the best Celeriac I've ever grown.
He isn't wrong, but let me burst my own bubble for you, just to tell you that these were the best three out of six or so, pulled from my Kitchen Garden this afternoon - the others resembling a well-known nursery rhyme.  Here, it's about an Old Slug in a Shoe, not an Old Woman!

I also harvested the remainder of my Summer and Red Cabbages, wanting to create some noo and exciting vegetarian dishes, selfishly for myself, and too, for preserving for the leaner months of the year, the latter of which is extremely important to me.

To be perfectly honest, there's a desperate need in my life for a chef to create recipes within their books, particularly vegetarian books, for produce that's in season 'all at the same time', that I can find inspiration from, not only to cook now with, but to PRESERVE that medley of a glut by whatever means, whether it be 'bottling/canning', freezing, preserving in oil/vinegar, or downright sitting on it until it gives up the will to live, because 'use it or lose it/waste not want not' doesn't even begin to touch on my tastebuds when I'm wanting to make a culinary mountain out of a garden molehill my friends.....

 The Savoys, Red & Green Brussels, Purple Sproutings, Leeks & Swedes can stand in line in the garden until I have use of them 'Center Stage', or otherwise, because they're hardy to withstand the ravages of Mother Nature.  And that's largely why I'm Denis Cotter's biggest fan, because he pulls the vegetarian equivalent of Rabbits out of his hat every single season for me on a personal kitchen level, with top banana flavour ideas that blow my frock up..., and you can adapt the ingredients.
But I'm sure I'm not unusual these days, being a great believer in growing 'seasonally', wanting to 'make hay when the sun shines', and wanting to preserve every essence of what I've lovingly grown from seed.

And I thought, before the frosts arrive, that I'd furtle around for any evidence of my newly-grown Carribbean Sweet Potatoes....
... No.... Honestly.....The fact that you are rolling around on the floor laughing with tears streaming down your face next to me, means that we share exactly the same planet.....X.
This is my very first attempt at growing Sweet Potatoes, and this is my harvest from two out of four Jamie Oliver 'slips' bought from Homebase, planted into the ground with more cow manure than you could shake a stick at.  Having paid a lot of money for them, I would've been far better to buy the actual potatoes, grown by someone more capable than me, direct from a beautiful carribbean shop in Bristol, pay the fuel 'there and back' to collect them, AND the £5.something extortionate Bridge Toll to get myself back into Wales on the way home as well, and still have change for a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  No?!

But that's gardening for you.  You win some, and inevitably, you lose some.  Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way, because all the while, I'm learning.

A big Thank You to all of you around the world in now 27 whole countries here with me, because since I last looked, we've also got hugs from Australia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.  And I sincerely Welcome Each and Every One of You with open arms.

Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Laugh? I Nearly Bought A Round!

Tommy Cooper:  "Bottle Glass, Glass Bottle..."  Hhhhhh.....

And to be perfectly honest with you, if I were Trousers, I wouldn't be proposing an Arm Wrestling Match this evening.?!

Long gone are the days when someone gave you a bottle of homemade wine, and you dreaded the day when you had to open it in front of them and pretend to enjoy it......

I never EVER imagined in my wildest dreams that one day I would ever attempt to make wine.  I thought it would be way too difficult, and far too complicated for my Pooh Bear Brain, (I sometimes do myself down?) and here I am, courage in my own hands, perfectly achieving that, understanding how it works, and that's exactly why I'm here telling you about it.  If you're a little shy of trying it yourself, please, stick with me, and I promise you that I'll improve your confidence so that you feel as able to do this as I do, because these kits now SO emulate the real deal, and if you love wine, you'll profit to your hearts' content..
No disrespect to Miss Piggy or Kermie, but you'd have to be a complete MUPPET these days not to succeed.

Today, in Wellie's Kitchen, I'm bottling my very first attempt at Pinot Grigio, from a dead easy wine kit.  Getting myself used to the process, procedure and equipment. And to be perfectly honest, I was setting myself up to 'cock it up' on a grand scale - just in cases....?

Allegedly, you'd want to be fermenting at 'above ambient room temperature'.  I'm not sure what yours' would be, but our room temperature didn't even top 18c when I started, with no central heating, so I left it to ferment twice as long as was specified, testing the gravity until it fell below 1,000 and eventually tasted it with a spoon and it was gorgeously dry!

Once I'd got the confidence of the Pinot Grigio (Cantina 5-day 21 litre -, and the 135 freebie bottles & screwtops from the lovely Ragmans Lane Farm peeps washed and sterilised within an inch of their lives, if you look beyond Wellie in the first photo, you'll spy 23 litres of Yarrawanga Creek Australian Blend Cabernet Sauvignon ( fermenting like a good'un with the heat from the Rayburn now at 23c.

I'm wanting to draw your attention to the wine rack that Trousers rather reluctantly put together for me this afternoon Children, because I bought it in 'kit form' for him today, and all he had to do was put it together with the help of the Destruction Manual.  Well..... I'm here to tell you that the array of swear-words, the foul language and cussing, was quite alarming.  Such that I wished I'd covered the cat's ears, and put it together myself.

Trousers will hate me for drawing your attention to this, but I'd just like to show you one of my Wellie Workshops:  Can YOU spot Wellie's homemade Herb & Spice Rack in a previous blog Kids?
Put together with a well thought out and measured approach: measure the height and width of the jars PLUS room to grab the jar off the shelf with your pinkies.  Make the shelves level and the whole thing attractive, in a cool, dark corner of the kitchen, but prom enough to be enjoyed visually to want to use.
Marks out of ten Gordon?!

With Trousers and I having 'pushed each other to the limit' today, and each of us having thrown each others' teddies out of a number of prams Children, I chose to do something special for him this evening, because I adore him, and I've been threatening to do this for years just because I love him:  and that's to make him some homemade Ginger Beer.
He absolutely ADORES Ginger Beer.

If I can get it to explode in the same room as him in the next week Children, I shall be a very proud woman..?  But don't quote me on that, right?

Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.X.

Monday, 14 November 2011


To be perfectly honest, I've been a little shocked to find that my Funny Farm Blog is now not only in the UK, but also widely viewed in the US, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Russia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Botswana, Mauritius, India, Latvia, The Netherlands, Ukraine, South Korea, and beyond....and I just wanted now to stand in front of you, with a nice frock on, a glass of wine, and just to thank you all so very much for being here and reading what I write every week. 
Feels like a bit of an Award Ceremony, but it's not.
Are all of you completely Nuts?!

A whole packet of Wallflower seeds sown, seedlings up to her proverbial armpits, and Wellie has been that generous to her friends, giving away wallflowers to her hearts content, but has not planted a single seedling in her own garden borders yet, when that was actually the whole sodding point of The Exercise.....  (note to self:  be way more selfish in future luv)

On a lighter note, I stuck the Hydrometer into the vat of Pinot Grigio that I've got brewing in the kitchen today, and it still isn't reading less than 1,000, (she said through gritted teeth) but my dedication to fermenting and brewing goes far deeper than superfluous, so don't worry your cotton sox my friends.!

I told you about Ragmans Lane Farm, and how brilliant they are, and they very kindly gave me, this week, as many redundant bottles as I could take away, and today, all day, I washed and sterilised 135 of them, with spanking brand new screw-tops.

So! the Hydrometer reading better be 998 tomorrow, or you'll read about a mad woman having jumped off the Old Severn Bridge this week with a fermenting bin under her arm, having finally lost the will to live.

Keep Warm.
Keep Safe.
And See You Here Very Soon.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cool !

As if not having the noo oil tank taken off the grass in The Woodland Garden and connected to the house yet, to replace the old rusty tank, (which is now fast running out of the emergency oil feeding the only heat-source in the farmhouse) wasn't ENOUGH to alert me to the fact that we're creeping closer to colder weather..... my cat goes and 'rubs it in' that we have insufficient oil for central heating too, by cozying on down in Wellie's JumpyDrawer.  I don't encourage this kind of behaviour from her, and it'll teach me not to be so lazy and close the drawer afterwards when I'm next in need of a Woolly Pully.

Mind you, I've been rather inventive on the Woolly Pully front myself last weekend as a matter of fact...

Without the luxury of an airing cupboard, and the progressive decline in heat radiating from the Rayburn in the high-ceiling'd kitchen, I was rather concerned that my Pinot Grigio Wine Making Kit would be struggling to ferment at less than ambient room temperature.

So took a leaf out of my cat's book and employed a Woolly Pully or two for added insulation.
Clever Wellie!

To be perfectly honest, the sound of the fermenting bubbling from the airlock reminds me of Trousers in the bath Children?
A considerable time ago, I had intended to try my hand at a Chardonnay Wine Kit from Wilkinsons, but it was sent to the Cheppie store from Newport or Cardiff, and as I pulled off the delivery label, it ripped off the instructions as well, and I've never done nought with it since.

With the farm aminals troughing on the orchard windfalls still, I did look up about making cider today, and have convinced myself that I ought to give that a bit of a punt too, whilst there are still fruits to be had.  Sweet apples will make a sweet cider (Doh!) and Bramleys will make a dry one. 

The 'Invincible Pears' that I grew this year from the tree I bought last year, I've bottled in a Cider Syrup, so to make my own cider to use next time around makes perfect sense. 

So this noo playtime practice is a rather belated string to my bow, to keep one amused whilst one reads the book on how to make one's own cheese, yoggy, butter and stuff.

And before I go, I've got yet another welcomed opportunity to extend my novelty cake repertoire in the coming weeks, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

For now, keep it here, keep watching, and I'll see you next time.X

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who's Queen?

 "Who's Queen?" is a question that I ask here at home on a regular basis, just to keep Trousers and my adorable gardening cat focussed, and anyway, it makes Trousers laugh.
With both of us needing to Go To SpecSavers, (me'n'him, not the kitty-cat kids?), his rather blurred photo of my latest novelty cake, in the making, is marginally better than the blurred one that I took of it myself, so we thought 'hang it', and decided to show you anyways.

It isn't important as to why I decided to make my friend Medina a birthday cake, only that I knew the finished cake would mean something very special to her, given that we're about to organise The Itton Village Show for 2012 together, her being crowned 'Marmalade Queen' in this years' Show, and her lending me a hugely funny book about a Village Show where a Spinach Quiche was entered that killed someone - but that's not important right now....

So - A Marmalade Cake, made to look like a pot of marmalade, with a spoon of marmalade, and Birthday Wishes.

Happy Birthday Medina.X

Who's Queen?!