Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In my kitchen

Marshmallow top hats - classic children's party food. Melt some chocolate over a pan of simmering water - this was a 100g bar of Dairy Milk. Pour a spoonful in the bottom of a paper case - push in a marshmallow and top with a chocolate bean.

Foraged mussels from the shore - bit on the small side yet, but very fresh and tasty.

A make your own pizza party! Lots of good food, fizzy drink and chat. They seemed so grown up, suddenly - such a nice wee bunch they are too.

Little cups of roasted beetroot and fennel soup for a lunch party starter. Peel and thinly slice 3 or 4 medium size beets, a medium onion or 4 shallots and a garlic clove Sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until beetroot is tender - about 30 - 40 minutes at 180 C. Blend the mixture and the juices until smooth and add 500 ml chicken or veg stock. Bring almost to boil and serve with a drizzle of cream.

Sausage rolls chips and beans with a good red - why not?

Oh yes - and  salted caramel sauce - supposed to be for ice cream, but was mostly spooned straight out of the jar.

A few of the things happening in my kitchen in November. Roll on December :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Around the Croft


It's been so long since I posted a croft update - two whole seasons have come and gone and here we are heading into Winter already. Even James remarked this evening on what a quick year it has been.  This year has been so different for us, with John's cancer diagnosis and treatment, and all our focus has been on just getting through.

The work still goes on though - and I've had to keep a lot of plates spinning over the last 6 months. I've managed - just, and I've had help from friends and neighbours too. But, there's no getting away from it - changes have had to be made to suit our current circumstances.

The livestock have been sold. The sheep went to the August sales, and the cattle were bought by a lovely man who is building up a new Dexter herd. We were sad to see them go, but it really was the best decision for me - and for them too. My step-daughter was here to lend a hand, as well as some of our neighbours, and we soon had them loaded and on their way.

Their new owner is delighted with them, and, reassuringly sent this picture of them enjoying the lush pastures. I have to say, too, that during the recent gales and storms here, it was a real relief not to have to worry about them.

The sheep and lambs went to the mainland too, but we still have a flock on the croft. One of our neighbour's is using our top field for tupping. The ram is fitted with a harness containing a coloured marker. When he has had his wicked way with a ewe, the evidence will be clearly visible ;) A different colour is used each week, until all the sheep have been covered. It's a good way to work out when the lambing season will begin and end.

The garden was badly neglected this year. There have been some small harvests - and I still have chard and broccoli on the go, but there have been a few steps backwards this year. Never mind - the garden will still be there next season.

I'm still picking sweet tomatoes, though - very pleased about that.

I planted a lot of spring bulbs outside, but I am going to do tulips in pots this year. The ground is just too wet for them, so I will bring them on and then plant the pot out. I've brought a few plants and cuttings in to overwinter in the polytunnel. You can see the broad bean plants, still in their root-trainers, where they gave been since last Spring. When I, at last, got a chance to plant them out in June, I found they had rooted solidly into the ground. Obviously they didn't do terribly well in that restricted space, but I managed to get a few pods, which have been saved for next year's seed.

All summer, I have been steeping herbs and fruit in vodka. Now they have been strained out and the liquor added to a sugar syrup. By Christmas time, they will be just perfect for tippling. I have fennel, elderflower and raspberry. 

So that's my quick roundup of crofting matters for now. I'm sure there has been more, and certainly there have been ideas and plans for the future discussed, but so much is on hold while we wait to see how John's treatment has worked out. Next week we travel to the hospital on the mainland to see the neurosurgeon and oncologist, so we should have a clearer idea of where we are then. xx

Friday, November 14, 2014


Sharing a moment that I want to remember. No words, just a single special image. Joining in with Soulemama for This Moment. Wishing you all a happy weekend xx


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