Thursday, 28 April 2011

Fleece sorting in the sunshine

This lovely weather has also given me an opportunity to sort a fleece that has been waiting since shearing last year.

I took the fleece out into the garden and spread it out, then armed with a clean bucket and a chair (appropriately patriotic for this week, but that was not intentional!) got to work.

The fleece was pulled into handfulls then the locks pulled out from each handful. A lock of sheep fleece looks like this:

It is a clump, usually stuck together at the top end and fluffier at the butt end which comes from closest to the body (it really is called that).

With this fleece I was really brutal, anything dirty or weak got put in the scrap pile. In the end that was probably about two thirds of the fleece, but I have other non spinning plans for that.

The next step will be to wash the locks to remove the dirt and grease, pictures of that to come soon.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sunny bank holidays

Four day weekends are great, by the time day four rolls round all the jobs that need doing are done and you can move on to the non essentials and things that are just for fun.

The stunning weather yesterday helped too, so I sat in the garden and worked on some spinning using a drop spindle.

The fibre came from a craft show last year and is being spun really fine, I will probably make a three ply out of it.

The neighbours are clearly quite used to my strange behaviour- they did not even comment on the spinning when we were chatting over the fence!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In the garden

Like much of the country I have been enjoying the wonderful weather. It has been a great opportunity for some gardening.

The seedlings have been moved out from the sunny windowsill where they were started...

to the mini greenhouse.

The strawberries have been moved from the ground into a strawberry tower. This should really have been done earlier in the year and they are looking a little sad in this photo, they should soon perk back up though.

The fruit should be much better as it is lifted away from the ground and the bugs that steal it!

Other jobs have been mowing the lawn, preparing beds with some compost and getting a hanging basket ready (pictures to come in the next post).

Two new mini fruit trees have also been bought so hopefully this year there will be a few homegrown peaches and cherries- delicious!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Recipe- Beef bourguignon

This might seem like a strange choice for a first post considering how much I bang on about the best of British, but it is not the name of the dish or the origin of the recipe that makes the food, it is the ingredients.

An early warning- there are a lot of pictures as I did this step by step.

I did not plan to make this for the blog, so the ingredients are as they came from the fridge/cupboard, I thought I would see how well I did making this out of British produce and try to do better next time.

Ingredients (In the order you need them):

1 leek (UK)

3 cloves of garlic (unknown, no label)

2 large carrots (British)

1 tsp olive oil (Non specified EU origin)

400g pack of casserole beef, chopped into chunks (British)

1 large glass of red wine (French)

1 stock cube (No idea, not labelled on the box)

2 large glasses of water (UK, from the tap)

1 tsp olive oil (Non specified EU origin)

4 rashers of bacon (British)

6 large chestnut mushrooms (Ireland), or other variety if you prefer

8 shallots (British)

1 tbsp corn flour (Non specified EU)

1/3 mug cold water (UK, from the tap)

Set the oven to 180 degrees C

Wash and slice the leeks. Peel and slice the carrots. Peel and crush the garlic.
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or pan and brown the beef.

Take the browned beef out of the pan (the lid is a good place to store it). Add the leeks and garlic and lightly fry until the leeks look a little see through, you will need to keep stirring them to avoid burning.
Add the sliced carrots, browned meat and stir
Add the red wine, stock cube and one glass of water. Stir well.
Put the lid on and place in the oven at 180 degrees C for two hours. Check occasionally and add a little more water if it is looking dry.

After two hours prepare the shallots (peel) and mushrooms (quarter).

Finely chop the bacon and fry in 1 tsp of oil.

Once the bacon is crispy add the mushrooms and shallots. Fry until the mushrooms are soft, the shallots should be lightly browned where they have been touching the pan.

Take the casserole dish out of the oven. Stir in the bacon, shallots and mushrooms. Put back in the oven for another hour.

About five minutes before serving mix the cornflour with cold water in a jug, stir into the casserole and return to the oven for a few minutes.

Serve with potatoes and veggies and what is left of the bottle of wine. Enjoy!