One of My Favourite Times of Year!

Yes, it’s one of my favourite times of year. I can see everything is brightening up. The particular bird song, new shoots peeping through the soil, blossom coming out, so it’s time to get active in the green house. My fingers get itchy this time of year and I get the impulse to grow things! I’m not one for gardening in the cold so tidying up is being done now as well. 🙂

I’ve had a sort out in my green house and moved a few things round and it’s now set for action.

Today I sowed some tomatoes, cucumbers and small red peppers

I have made a gardening journal from an old book, that I try and keep a record of how things go in my garden as well as hints and tips for me to refer to.

Here’s a sample page. 🙂

New Years Marmalade

It’s the time of the year for marmalade, the Seville oranges have been in the shops and thoughts are directed to making a years supply of marmalade. The reason for this sudden desire to slice 6 pounds of oranges is two fold. It tastes better and it’s cheaper!

For several years now I’ve put the oranges in a food processor to chop them, but this year I decided to slice by hand. Oh my word, I was so surprised how pleasant it was to sit and slice the oranges by hand (with a nice serrated steak knife) in the quiet. A very simple life thing to do, and it was easier to extract the pips too!

marmalade-1 marmalade-2

Once the sliced oranges have soaked over night they are meant to be simmered to reduce the liquid by a third. When I had heated the the water in the pan and added the sugar I realised I hadn’t done that!!!

I managed to rescue it by taking some liquid out, adding more sugar and a bottle of liquid pectin. Here on my pantry shelf are twenty jars of marmalade. I now feel like Moomin Mama and I have a very happy husband!

marmalade-3

It tastes exceptionally good too 🙂

marmalade-4

New Chicken House

To start off the new year of my Simple Life Blog, I’m excited to show you our new chicken house. Considering a chicken house the size we needed would have cost around £900 without nesting boxes etc, we decided to be creative and find an alternative solution.

This second hand polytunnel we found was the right size and only cost us £80!!!!new-house-1
All that was needed was to secure the sides with chicken wire so they can’t dig their way out.

We have a shut down for chickens here in the UK at the moment because of bird flu, but as soon as that is past we are going to cut out a large window along the the front and fill with chicken wire.

new-house-2So here they are, all secure and safe with lots of room. The nesting boxes you can see in the front corners are made from insulated dog beds which are easy to clean and only cost £35 each!

new-house-3The result, happy chickens and happy Debbie! 🙂

Garden Tools

I’m not usually a fan of tesco’s but as you can see with the photo below they’ve done very well with the packaging of the garden supplies I just bought. No unnecessary packaging just 3 or 4 plastic strips to attach items to card and a small bag for the garden labels!

Tools

Then why were You in there you might ask? It’s my nearest place to get milk 🙂

Blood Orange Marmalade

When I saw the blood oranges were in season on the market stall I like to use (nice un-packaged fruit and veg) I thought I would try making some marmalade with them to see what it was like. I should have worked out the costings so I could share with you how little you can pay, but I forgot to record it so I might add it later.

They are not very attractive are they? Blood orange 1
..but look how pretty they are inside!Blood orange 2
I chop my oranges in my food processor for quickness. ..Blood orange 3
….then the marmalade is all pulpy and nice.Blood orange 4
I did have some trouble with the recipe I found, so had to do some adaptation from my normal Seville orange marmalade recipe to get it right. Trust me, if you have a go at preserving and it doesn’t work out, it could be the recipe and not you!

Here it is, yum! It’s very perfumed compared to other marmlade I’ve made. I collect and re-use jars, keeping the pretty jars for me, they look nice in the pantry, and fill some plainer jars so I have some to give away 🙂
Blood orange 5

Home Grown Chicken for Dinner

Well, this is a huge sense of achievement. We’ve just had one of our own home grown chickens for dinner. These are three more going in the freezer. One small step towards self sufficiency! Girls for laying, boys for eating 🙂P1380113
We pot roasted one (which I forgot to photograph to show you) and this is a risotto with some leftovers. I also plan a pie or pasty for tonight and then make some stock for some soup.P1380114
This makes me happy! 🙂

Broccoli Soup

You may well know that Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall is my life style guru. He’s definitely been an inspiration in how I want to live my life. This soup came about because of being reminded about how you can clear your fridge of any aging vegetables and make soup. Not that I need reminding really but it does help and I do get a sense of achievement when I’ve done it.

I had two broccoli heads I had bought that had been reduced for about 25p each and I hadn’t had a chance to use them. I decided It was possible to make some soup.

Soup 1

After frying some onions, garlic with a little celery salt (you can use normal salt) and a couple of carrots, I broke up the broccoli and popped it in the pan and added enough stock to just cover the veg.

Soup 2

I cooked it until the veg was tender and then whizzed it up in my blender and put it back in the pan. I had a little soft goats cheese in the fridge that needed using so I popped that in.

Soup 3

Voila, a lovely nutritious lunch for the two of us for at least three days! 🙂

Soup 4