Monday, 17 October 2016

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Soupe de couenne.

Well, my version, at least.
Preserved pork skin     or bacon rinds    or lardons.
Dried mixed beans, soaked overnight and then boiled for 10 minutes and simmered for 20minutes.
Garlic and onions to taste
This is a good,  basic French dish.  Filling and nutritious on a cold Autumn night.

Here is where the recipe  changes a little according to taste (ie. my tex/mex spin)
Tomato puree        chicken stock       white wine      Sharp cheese or cheddar

Fry the chopped bacon skins/lardons along with the onions until crispy and almost caramalised. Transfer to an oven proof dish or stew pot.
 Then fry the beans and garlic until crispy. Add to the stew pot, or casserole and cook until thick and wholesome, unless going down the adventurous route!

Add tomato puree, home made chicken stock and some white wine.
Add to the oven dish and mix with the lardons. My chicken stock was homemade so had chunks of chicken, carrots and celery in it.

 Pour in the beans and tomato puree.  Top with sharp cheddar and bake for 30 - 45 minutes until thick and chunky.
Serve with crusty bread. And enjoy :D

Friday, 14 October 2016

Bacon - part 2

It worked! It may not win any prizes for the prettiest piece of meat, but by golly it tastes good!
The fatty bits will be used as a sort of lardon while the top piece will be sliced for big, chunky rashers.
 I sliced off some thin pieces to fry, just to be sure it was ok of course ;) and it was amazingly delicious. I know this will barely last the weekend, but I'm hoping to cook a sort of Soupe d'haricots couennes, which uses primarily pig skins. I'll use the lardons and some of the skin with a big pot of beans.
I doubt my recipe will be true to it's origins as I do like to mess around with ingredients, but I'm sure it will be good and hearty.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Silly me!

Sunday was glorious. We went on one of our best walks along the coast and then inland a bit towards a little Inn by the harbour.
Two boys finding lots to sniff at in the long grass. Manchee likes to hunt little creatures, but rarely catches anything!
 Walley prefers a more wild approach to the water. This little freshwater stream runs into the sea and gives the boys a chance to wash off and have a drink.
 A quick gallop,
 and then it's our turn to sit on the harbour wall and have a drink of our own. Manchee was so chilled out, in the sun watching other dogs play in the mud. It's not his thing to get too wet and sticky!
 A rare picture of me at work with Finn and Bamban while the roast cooks. I had a sudden idea!

What would happen if I put some Alpaca wool into the water that I'd cooked the beetroot in? Well, not a lot. I used vinegar as a mordant but the colour was weak, so I added a few drops of red food dye (it was all that was left, to be honest). Still not much uptake.

Finally, I just boiled it for a bit and hoped for the best. It's a kind of pale apricot, but I'm thinking the colour would have been better had the fleece not been so saturated with dirt, despite my many washings.
I don't think I'm very good at dyeing and clearly need loads more practice! Or maybe a good book on natural dyes for Christmas (hint!)

However, the dinner was excellent and the roasted beetroot, in my opinion, the star of the dish :D

Sunday, 9 October 2016


I haven't cured pork for bacon for a very long time, but after my dear companion served me some of his home cured bacon, I realised I needed to make it again. 
Armed with a selection of salts, juniper berries, demerara sugar and Hughes preserving book, I tackled a piece of pork loin. Loin makes a sort of back rasher but for streaky, you need a good piece of belly pork.
I bashed the juniper with some of the salt to release the flavours.
Put all the ingredients in a large bag and mixed well. The pork was coated well with a fifth of the mix and left overnight in the fridge in an airtight box.
The next day, a good amount of fluid has come out and the meat is starting to look darker. It won't take on that pinky bacon colour as that comes from the pink salt which has been linked to some forms of cancer. I'm just using kitchen and sea salt.
After draining the first lot of water, another layer of salt mix has been rubbed all over the pork and then it's back in the fridge for another 24hours.
Today the weather is glorious and although we'll take the dogs to the coast later, right now, I need to tackle some long overdue jobs in the garden. I may even get more fleece washed :D

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Shawl progress and weaving.

The shawl is progressing slowly and now looking the way it should. (edited to add, this is the same picture as before, doh! but it is getting bigger, honestly!)
The loom is now up and working and I love the colours of the weave. This will be a Christmas present for someone :D
These are the colours of the wool and it's not something I spun myself as it would have taken too long to get it finished in time. Especially as I have so many other spinning and knitting projects in the bag!
As soon as I saw this wool, I knew instantly who it would be for as she wears these colours a lot. She also doesn't read my blog, so I'm quite safe ;)

Tomorrow, I'll be making bacon!!!

Monday, 3 October 2016

I made a loom!

I've been wanting a loom for sooo long, but simply can't afford the rigid heddle loom that I've been covetting for years, so today I decided to simply make a frame loom.
I measured the spaces for the nails and put in guide holes with a bradawl.
 I then used the first piece of wood to copy the marks across onto a second piece, for top and bottom and put little nails into the holes.
 With wood glue and screws I attached top and bottom pieces to the sides. I won't win any prizes for my carpentry skills!
 In all it took a couple of hours and measures 38cm x 145cm. That should be plenty long enough for a snug shawl. If it's too long then I can simply unscrew the sides and shorten the length.
 The shuttles were a lot harder to make, mainly because the sander was quite tough to hold and my hands are suffering a bit in the damp weather. The top shuttle has been sanded and I've since made the slots for the wool longer and wider. I'm quite happy with how it's all turned out :D
Now, when the knitting or crochet gets a bit laborious, I'll do some weaving :D

Quick! Wash the Alpaca before it's too late!!!

The weather was great yesterday for washing and drying fleece, so I took the opportunity before the weather turns more to Autumn rains and storms.

I've had this Alpaca in the garage for most of the year but suddenly the urge overtook me to get it ready for winter spinning.
This brown is sooo soft, but it does remind me a bit of Walley's fur! That's one thing I don't fancy spinning, dog hair, eek!
The white is lovely with some hints of cream, which might just be due to dirt!  So much dirty water came out when they were washed that I worried I might felt them!
Thankfully it all worked out ok and I even decided to take a chance and dye some of the white.
I used Henna that was left over from dying my hair a few years ago, haha! It's a vegetable dye and fairly colourfast. I know from personal experience how hard it was to get this bright yellow out of my hair! I looked fluorescent!!! I love the colour, it's golden with red tips. I hope it stays this bright when I wash it after spinning.
The shawl is coming along nicely and starting to look like it should. I'm really happy :D
We walked along the coast beside our favourite little village. The sea was like a millpond and it seemed that half of Hampshire were walking with us! The dogs met lots of new friends and then it was home for roast chicken and potato gratin. A perfect weekend <3