Autumn Soups & Chutney to be made

My goodness! The wind is howling and the trees bending double in these gales, but the leaves are still green and hanging on there, how the poor old roots must be struggling.

Last week I went and saw a friend who is lucky enough to have some very old trees in her garden. I didn’t know but trees have a shedding time when they drop branches off the tree (don’t ask me why) but nature is a wondrous thing! She had a Turkish Oak 250 years old that had shed a branch which weighed about 3 tons – the huge tree is fine but I’d not want to be under it when it happened. A week before in earlier gales this late summer another tree came down, it was a 650 year old English Oak, short trunk and wide branches, made me feel so sad. It looked like a dying elephant and sure enough all the hopeful little bits of green are now gone. It took 6 chainsaw men to cut it up in a day, now only the huge trunk remains – I’m sure nature will find a good way to use it!

How have all your veggie gardens done this year? Hasn’t it been strange with the dry and prolonged temperatures. I tried butternut squashes this year and they’ve grown prolifically all over everywhere! Many good looking squashes as well, I’m hoping they will keep as they are good in so many ways.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 Squash
Stock (chicken) or veg cube
Pepper and salt
Water
A swirl of cream or spoon of Greek yoghurt

Peel and de-pip squash, chop into squares, put into a pan with water and stock cube and cook.

When soft blitz with a stick or in a liquidizer, season, warm through add cream or yoghurt and enjoy.

Chutney

Then the runner beans never seemed to set, I don’t think they like the hot and dry weather, as soon as it got cooler they were off and have been wonderful this year. Now these cooler nights and the final crop goes to chutney.

Into a pan put sliced and chopped beans and cook for 15 mins. Then add:

Onion
Red pepper
Apple
Medium curry powder
Pepper and salt
Tiny bit of dried chilly
A squeeze off tomato sauce

Let it all bubble together until the consistency looks right, and adjust seasoning.

Bottle into sterile jars and enjoy with a baked spud!

I still think this chutney is the best, though closely run by tomatoes, both green and red.

That’s enough ramble this time, too much gardening to do now – it’s always nice to put everything to bed properly so when the spring comes you can hit the road running! I also have some curtains and cushions to make, and of course, for this Granny there is Christmas around the corner, and I do try and make for all 8 of them now!

Farmer’s Wife Chutney

Green Bean Chutney Recipe
2lbs beans
4 large onions
Cut up or mince fine and cook until tender in salted water, drain
 
Put in a pan with
1 1/2 lbs demerara sugar
11/4 pints malt vinegar
Boil for 1/4 hour
 
Mix
1/2 tbsp mustard
11/2 tbsp cornflour
11/2 tbsp turmeric
1 teasp cayenne pepper
1/4 pt vinegar
 
Mix together and add to beans, boil for 15 mins. Make sure your jars are sterile before filling.
 
This recipe was given to me by an amazing farmer’s wife in Luppitt.  I have run out of time now, so the green tom will come next time along with other things. Good luck with the cooking!

Fruit Crumble…you know you want to…

Fruit crumble for 4 people
 
Whatever fruit you have, apples and brambles of course, but it could be pears or plums, bananas or tinned cherries if you have no fresh fruit, just whatever’s to hand.
 
2 bramley apples
A hand full of brambles, not squashed!
A pudding spoon of sugar
 
Put peeled and roughly chopped apple in a pan with 1/4 pint water, cover and stew until fluffy, then put the brambles and sugar in, take off the heat.
 
Into a bowl put
250g plain flour
125g magarine or butter
90g demerara sugar
 
Mix flour and margarine or butter with finger tips together then add sugar and lightly mix until like breadcrumbs.
 
Put fruit into a bowl, sprinkle the crumble mix on top and cook 180c fan oven or gas mark 4 until cooked 30-40 mins. Take out and let cool. Warm before eating. This rest allows the crumble to crumble well!

Brambles, badgers and grandchildren

What a great day! Its been a long time since I took time out to write some things down in my note book, but today was special!
 
The sun shone with those weak sunbeams of autumn time, pale light and the hint of warmth, ummm, just the job to inspire the collection of hedge bounty that there is now!
 
I went and collected Meg, my 7th grandchild now, and, as she has the most amazing imagination, we jumped on our ponies and took to the lanes to go bramble picking! They are wonderful this year and so are our apples. We galloped up and lanes and in and out the brambles, we found fox and badger runs, and piles of mouse eaten nuts, and a few of the last wild flowers, just the things that make great fun when you have alittle one with you, plus we filled 2 big pots with brambles. There would have been 3 if Meg hadn’t eaten them! So tired little legs, we trotted our ponies back home, with constant chat about what we’d do with them, and plenty of teasing on the way, the sun still shone, just a magic time.
 
Back home, and Meg decided a crumble would be great for tea, so we peeled apples in the sun and then took everything inside to finish off. It was very good, David and I had some as well! Thank you Meg!
 
So I thought I’d remind you of the Fruit crumble recipe (coming up next…) and also we’ve been clearing the veggie garden, and its chutney time for all those left over bits that need to go somewhere, and hopefully cheer the wet of winter!

Better Beer Batter

It’s always difficult to turn down a plate of crispy battered fish and chips and while it might not be high on the ‘clean eating’ list, it rates pretty highly in Luppitt! But you just can’t make any old batter for the perfect fish and chips. It’s got to be…obviously…beer batter.  It really couldn’t be simpler – just use your normal recipe and replace the liquid with beer. Hey presto. If you don’t have a recipe, this will work too.

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 230ml beer
  • oil for deep frying
  • 4 fish fillets
  • extra flour for coating

Give it a go. Once converted, there’s no going back.

Marvellous Matt

We had the gorgeous Matt Austin up at the brewery having a wander round and taking some of his incredible pictures. David was on his last legs with a cold but we dragged him out and made him sit with us for the photoshoot. As always, Matt worked his magic and made us look halfway decent and also took some brilliant pics around the brewery for our website. Even our usually reticent brewers and drivers got involved – now that really is challenging subject matter.

Otters, Pigs and Cows

On a lovely sunny day like today, I saw a large tractor collecting our spent hops from the top field. We have 3 bays of composting hops at present here and Nick is taking the rest for his Christmas trees and also making compost. It’s a sterile mulching for the beds and looks good when it has rotted down properly, although it’s a bit smelly if used too young!

All our waste yeast, of which there is a fair amount now (Gus can’t use it all) still goes off to the pig farmer and it gets blended into a mixture for the pigs to enjoy. One day we shall get a tanker to transport it, but at present it goes off on the back of our trucks in big plastic containers.

Our spent grains are also going to a local farmer for his cattle, again the collection point is in our top field so the big tractor can get to it easily, this goes off every day. Patrick is to be seen at this time of year pushing his little trailer under the shute for his highland cattle, he feeds them every morning, steaming grains to cold breaths from the animals at 6.30am!!

Our new water waste system is working a treat and the top 2 ponds are going to be fenced around so we can keep ducks on them to keep weeds and grass down. The water from them runs on down through the willows to be polished before returning to the river. I seeded the ground above the holding tanks with wild flower seed last autumn, so we’ll see what kind of show we have this year.

Spring is sprung

I love this time of year. When everything, including those of us less keen on the harsher winter months, can start to come out of hibernation and spread our wings.

During the winter months I dream of being able to wander down amongst our ponds and willow beds, dogs and grandchildren in tow. Of course it usually means that I come back with a list of jobs that need doing down there but while our brewery waste products are nourishing the natural environment, so my soul is a bit more nourished too.

Now’s the time I need to be in the polytunnel too, making sure there will be plenty of fresh fruit and veg to feed the troops over the summer. I can feel some recipes coming on. Watch this space!