Bawk Bawk – CHICKENS!!

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I could not leave this monumental event in my life pass me by without a blog post. Proudly introducing Augusta, Demellza (I’m partial to Poledark), Molly and Polly. They are fabulous hybrids and settling in so well. Sending lots of thanks to the fab family who run FarmFowl in Wicklow, Ireland. We had a lovely experience buying the very lovely chicken coop and the hen’s from you all and your help was greatly appreciated.

For years and years I have been wishing and hoping for chickens, I grew up with hens and they evoke such lovely memories, and those delicious eggs! My husband needed a LOT of convincing, and he has come around at last. I appreciate that everyone in the household needs to be on the same page, as it is a team effort. The chickens are POL’s or point of lay. They will start to lay over the next week or so. Each chicken will lay one lovely egg per day and will continue to do so for up to 4 years! We are an egg loving family and it makes sense to have organic, free range eggs on demand.

My mini chicken farmer has taken to the job really well! It is so great to see a 5 year old full of self discipline and confidence that she can do the jobs needed to keep the chickens in tip top shape. I can’t wait to see the look on Eabha’s face when the eggs arrive!

So I am learning about chicken care and I love it. I have found some great tips and would welcome any advice from any other chicken keepers out there. Any questions please ask and I will gladly share anything I know!

Interesting fact: Did you know chickens are related to the T-Rex!! Read more here.

Home-made Blackberry Jam Recipe

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This is my mothers recipe for Blackberry Jam – use it wisely and enjoy the results!!

Pick the fruits of autumn, aka blackberries. I usually rope in the whole family or some willing and able children. Blackberries like sunshine to produce the ripest berries so go for wide open places where brambles grow freely. If you haven’t a clue where to look just ask someone from the area where is good to go blackberry picking, they might send you on a wild goose chase if they are avid pickers to save all those yummy berries for themselves!! 

You will need:

  • Cooking apples for the all important Pectin – pectin is naturally found in apples and is used to thicken the jam
  • Sugar – you can buy sugar especially for jam making (has pectin added) but it is a lot more expensive than regular sugar and all you need is an apple!
  • A deep pot – important as there will be a lot of bubbles and it will get hot so a deep pot like a pressure cooker pot is perfect
  • Potato masher to break down the fruit
  • Clean jam jars or jars that contained sweet stuff rather than savory stuff (can have an after smell) Make sure these have been sterilised or run them through a hot dishwasher cycle. You can pop them in your deep pot with boiling water to sterilise them – prevents your jam spoiling when stored.
  • And of course as many Blackberries as you can pick for FREE!!! 

The simple steps:

  1. Wash your berries well as they can contain some bugs and creepy crawlies
  2. Weigh your berries and weigh out the exact same amount of sugar
  3. Peel and core apples – I usually guesstimate the amount of apples needed eg 1kg of berries will need a cooking apple the size of a large fist ( don’t worry about how many apples they all break down anyway and adds to the flavour)
  4. Put the berries and apples into the pot and simmer on a medium heat, stirring and allowing them to break down. Use a potato masher to give them a good mashing.
  5. Add the sugar and turn up the heat to full
  6. Once the mixture has come to full boil, time it from this point for exactly 15minutes, stir often and keep safe as the jam is similar to molten lava! – once the time is up turn off the heat and leave to cool before putting it into jars.

The Perfect Hot Chocolate for my Less Is More Christmas.

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I am also simultaneously running and updating another blog dedicated to The Less Is More Challenge and all those other great Less Is More Lessons. At the moment I am writing a lot about the amazing time that is Christmas, and the different approaches one can take. These approaches include my own personal approach, but also the very marketed and standardised approach Christmas has become for many.

So, as part of My Less Is More Christmas, I am on the hunt to perfect the simple things that life can bring at Christmas time. These simple things involve some local ingredients, some time in the kitchen (involve the youngsters) and the best of the simple things that Christmas can bring. I am going to perfect and bring you my tried and tested best recipes for the following Christmas Yummies:

  1. Hot Chocolate
  2. Mince Pies
  3. Gingerbread Cookies
  4. Perfect Roast Potatoes
  5. Perfect Left Over Turkey recipes
  6. Finger Food for party season
  7. Mulled Wine, and last but not least..
  8. Sherry trifle

So the first tried and tested recipe is the ultimate favourite of my family anytime of year. Hot Chocolate is so enjoyable and fun to make and it was an Austrian friend who really got me into it many years ago – I have been addicted ever since and passed it onto my daughter Eabha. The recipe is from Irish chef Donal Skehan and really is AMAZING. It contains cream which has added luxury but I make my regular hot chocolate throughout the year using skimmed milk.

Dark Orange Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

450ml milk

200ml cream

1 orange, zest only

150g dark chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp caster sugar

Add the milk, cream and orange zest to a saucepan and place over a medium heat.

Bring to just before the boil and then take off the heat.

Add the chocolate and sugar and mix through.

Pour into the glasses and enjoy right away.

 

Meat Free Monday.

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I always love cooking without the use of meat. It not only teaches you to be resourceful and inventive in the kitchen but it is also scientifically proven to be good for you to ditch meat. Too much meat is not only bad for your body but the food production involving animals is getting increasingly intensive which is not good for the poor animal or the planet. Meat production accounts for up to 18% of the greenhouse gas production in the world – cow wind is pretty bad, poor farmers standing behind all those cow bums!! It is a Meat free Monday and sometimes Tuesday’s, Wednesday and Thursday in our home! is a great initiative set up by Sir Paul McCartney, Stella and Mary.  

Check out Meat Free Mondays HERE.

Today I am cooking my all time favourite Red Lentil Dahl from Green Saffron, another farmers market success story, Cork native and one of my favourite Indian cooking essentials. 

I am always telling people who are so afraid and confused about their own powerful impact on the earth that they CAN make a difference. It is as simple as cooking a meat free meal on Mondays for you and your family and telling everyone about it. We all can make and become the difference for our planet.

Peter Rabbit Soup?!

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What is this I hear you ask! Well I have a little girl who likes a certain few veggies but wouldn’t be a fan of things like onion, mushrooms, tomatoes etc. but, loves the soup version?!!

For me I love nothing more than seeing her polish off a big bowl of vegetable soup and it is great for clearing out the vegetable drawer saving on waste. And I find for the winter having a stock pile of soup can keep the weight down on mum and be a quick healthy option for tea for the kids.

Recently Eabha started to watch Peter Rabbit on CBeebies and loves it to bits. This love affair with Peter Rabbit is great for me as she is much more willing to try new veggies, I tell her that Peter Rabbit loves this particular vegetable, and she believes me 🙂

So my Peter Rabbit soup is simply a combination of any vegetables left over combined with an Organic stock cube, garlic, thyme, ginger and salt and pepper.

I hope this works for your little bunnies!!

 

DIY Hummus – easy peasy!

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We are a huge Hummus loving house hold – we all love the stuff. As a quick snack on toast or crackers or even as an aperitif for dinner guests it really is great. Hummus is actually so easy to make and is really good for you. With the benefits of raw garlic and the protein offered from the main ingredient of Chick Pea’s.

Here is how I make mine – and this is what I have found, after lots of experimenting, to be the best tasting recipe:

1 can of Chick Pea’s (any brand or cost it doesn’t matter just be sure to drain them)

1 clove of garlic (peeled and crushed)

Sunflower Oil I find is better suited as some olive oil tastes very strong – you need as much of this to make the thick paste consistency that hummus has – take a look at the picture above. Just add a glug at a time, until all of the chick peas are mashed up together.

A squirt of lemon juice and salt & pepper.

My secret ingredients are: A sprinkle of smoked paprika and of cumin (or as my aunty call’s it coming, LOL!!)

Blend together in a machine and serve. It can keep in the fridge for a day or two but is best eaten fresh.

Enjoy!

CL XX