Friday, 19 September 2014

Courgettes, painting, then courgettes again......and figs!

The plod through the harvesting is what I am doing, plus I am supposed to be helping with painting the kitchen, but the demands of trying to cope with our huge pile of courgettes is overcoming my will to paint those walls. 

I have already dehydrated lots of courgettes. Not sure how they will rehydrate, but it doesn't matter if they turn out not so nice because I can grind them up and use them to flavour and thicken soups and casseroles, which will save me having to buy stock cubes. But, thank goodness, I am coming to the end of the fig harvest. I didn't make as much fig jam (15 jars) or fig chutney (9 jars) this year, but I have dehydrated loads. Those slices of dried figs are our most favourite snack to munch on. Ok, well, they do tend to make us windy, but on the other hand, eating them does keep our food transit systems marching along at a goodly pace. 

Courgettes: Have also thrown together a courgette and apple chutney (5 jars). Yummy, that's all I can say. Didn't have a recipe, but just did about a kilo each of chopped up courgettes and apples. Sweated several onions first in a drop of oil in a pan. Added the courgettes and apples, added in about 400 grams of brown sugar (the last I had) and just under half a litre of vinegar. Couldn't be bothered with fussing about putting spices into a spice bag (I normally make my spice bags out of muslin but didn't have any made) so I threw some this and thats (cloves, fresh ginger, bay leaf, cinnamon, and can't remember what else!)  into my spice mill, and then put the now ground up powder into the chutney. Two hours later, and wow, but I could have eaten the lot there and then and not saved it for a few weeks for it to mature, which is what you are supposed to do chutney after it is made. 

And it just proves that keeping things simple really does work. The reason why I didn't make more of the fig chutney was because I use a recipe which was given to me by a friend, and it is such a complicated list of ingredients that it fair tires me out by the time everything is cooking in the pot. Next season I shall probably invent my own recipe for that chutney as well. This is my fourth year of jamming and chutneying and I am finally getting into the swing of it. Be bold and have a go, that is what I have learnt. 

I am going to do the same with courgette and apple jam. 1 kilo of each plus one kilo of sugar plus a good quantity of grated fresh ginger. If it doesn't turn out alright, then I can always use it for cooking with. 

Got a huge pot of courgette, lentil, and potato curry on the stove. No recipe again, just frequent tasting to see what else I can add to the mix. So, curry for supper, and the rest is to go into canning jars. 
The rest of the courgettes will be going to the animals. The seeds and fibrous innards go to the chickens. The flesh is cooked up for the pigs. Winners all round, nothing is wasted!

All this food......, but our actual meals have been minimal and uninspiring of late because I am too busy with getting all this produce stored up for the winter. Plenty of food coming in, but no time to cook meals!

.............and I still have not started on that huge pile of squash that I photographed in my last blog! 

On the subject of milk: Lissie is milking very low at the moment, with falling milk yields every day. Her boy calf is with her all day, but at night he goes into Bonny's pen so we can have the overnight milk for the kitchen. But I don't mind not being swamped by milk because I don't have the time to make dairy products at the moment, so any excess would have to go out to the pigs, which they would love. The  satisfied grunts as they slurp up of the 'divine nectar' says this is so. 

The boy calf can't stay with us, neither can we sell him. It is a sadness that we shall not be able to keep him until he is a juvenile (which is the age we keep all our animals who are destined for the table) because of the lack of winter grazing when the floods come. Neither can we bring ourselves to put him into our own food chain, so he is to be dispatched here and then donated to a local farmer who is going to BBQ him. The day that we have to do that is going to be a hard one. But it is the life of a farm. It is the way. 

On the subject of painting: It is slow going, but all the walls of the kitchen now have their first coat of paint. I have to take over the task of getting the other coats on the walls because Lester needs to finish off the paddocks out back. The piglets are getting bigger. MumSow has almost weaned them and now they need to go out onto the paddocks so they can start turning over the grass and digging up the roots. Earn their keep, that is what they are going to have to do. We did think about selling the seven but think that we shall keep them for our table. Males will be done first, so will be quite small, then the four girls will be given time to grow bigger. Hope to explore ham making. Can do bacon although have not made any for ages, but I think that DIY ham would be a good addition to our larder.

Has anyone out there in blogging land made ham? Would appreciate some helpful hints if you have.

Meanwhile, off to cut up some more courgettes to dehydrate overnight. The painting will have to wait until tomorrow!



Kerry said...

I know what you mean about the figs, they just keep coming. I've made jam, chutney and frozen loads plus made puds etc. We've eaten 1 jar of chutney already and its less than a week old!!

Kerry said...

Forgot to say, I use this recipe for my fig chutney -
You can always tweek the spices for whatever you have.

John Gray said...

I hate bloody courgettes

Vera said...

Kerry, thanks for the link, and will have a go at the recipe next year. I froze figs one year but they went mushy when I defrosted them so they went to the pigs as a surprise mid winter feast!

John, I can quite understand why!

Kerry said...

I'm expecting them to go mushy but I can always make more chutney!!

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Im green with envy about your bountiful harvest. In Australia, just as our fruit and vegetables are ready to be picked, they are eaten by possums (which also eat through netting). And each year we leave France before our plums ripen. However, this year at My French Folly, we managed to harvest our first crop of red currents and red cherries. Wonderful. Warm regards

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yes! i've made ham - fun and easy. i used the method from Ruhlman. or you can just part it up fresh as here:

to cure it you need a really big bucket.

i might have missed something - why can't you sell the calf?

Vera said...

Elizabeth, shame about those possums! But at least you did get a harvest of cherries and currents.

OhioFarmGirl, there is no market for a male calf here - either the farmers have their own bulls or they use AI, which is what we do. Also, we are not registered at the moment so don't have the necessary paperwork which is legally required here to sell on large animals like cows. We are getting registered at the moment, but it is taking time. For our calves in the future we shall definitely try selling them, or we shall eat them ourselves. But this year we have too much to do, so this year's calf is being donated to a good friend.
Thanks for the link, at least we can cut up those back bits of the pigs properly now!