Daisypath - Vacation

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Plenty of a Time for a Biscuit Break!

I think this is the longest time I've gone without posting a blog entry despite trying to be in the habit of posting everyday.

However, there doesn't seem to be much point in posting everyday when there's not a lot to talk about! I'd rather not post than write about things that are mundane and boring!

Besides, we haven't really been up to much. We've been "tweaking" the garden and adding bits and bobs to it and finally put the black and yellow tomato plants in the cheap greenhouse we picked up from Wilkos a few weeks back.




They're doing really well, although we did have to keep an eye on them the other night with the frosts but all seems to be fine.





Even Edward was helping with the gardening:







This is basically what we've been up to though really - just pottering. My op is next week so I guess that its just a case of relaxing before the big day. I cannot wait to get it over and done with!

I was in need of something sweet the other day and had nothing in the house - I knew I had ingredients to make a basic biscuit mix and the only other thing I had was marmalade!

I did a bit of googling and found a recipe for a basic marmalade cookie, but I enhanced it a bit by adding an orange icing for on top of the biscuit

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Seville Orange Marmalade Biscuits with an Orange Icing






This recipe makes around 18-24 biscuits, and we only have around 6 left and I only made them yesterday afternoon!

Even though they're a biscuit which is mostly butter and sugar(!) they're incredibly light yet slightly chewy. The tangy orange-zest icing makes them really refreshing.

Be warned - you won't be able to to stop eating them!


Ingredients:

for the biscuit....
* 60g room temperature butter
* 100g of sugar
* 1 egg
* 150g of Seville orange marmalade
* 185g self raising flour

for the icing....
* 185g of icing sugar
* finely grated zest from half a large orange
* finely grated zest from half a lemon
* 30ml of juice from an orange
* 25g of melted butter

Method:

1. Place your butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until the sugar and butter are combined and creamy.





2. Next, add an egg and beat really well. Once that mixture is combined, add your orange marmalade and combine once again.





3. Next add the flour and beat until you have a smooth mixture. Cover the bowl in cling film and then pop in the fridge to chill for around 30-45 minutes.




4. Whilst the dough is in the fridge, get on with the icing. Melt your butter in a small pan and whilst that is melting, grate your orange and lemon zests into a bowl.





5. Take the warm, melted butter and pour over your zests, add your orange juice and then whisk in your icing sugar until you have a thick icing. Leave to one side as this will top the biscuits once they are cooled.





6. Next, preheat your oven to Gas 4.

7. When your dough is chilled enough (it should be firm and not too sticky when handling) take it out of the fridge and roll into walnut sized balls and place balls 2-3 inches apart on a greased baking tray.




8. Cook for around 20 minutes until golden brown. With a spatula scrape the biscuits off the tray and leave on a wire wrack to cool





9. Once cool, ice them with as much or as little of the icing as you like!









This icing is really great as well as it sets quite firm so you should be able to pile these biscuits in the tin for them to keep for a few days or so. That's if there's any left!

Mmmmmm!!




Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Lettuce

Well our first lettuce seeds have appeared and look quite healthy in our home made mini greenhouse:





There's other seeds all in a row too so it should give us quite a nice supply if we keep reseeding every 4 or 5 weeks :)

This was the greenhouse we made, remember?



It's funny as the box is our old bathroom wall cabinet and then its just some garden canes and cling film and its done a great job of creating a mini greenhouse.

I'm hoping that tomorrow with Pawel being off, we can get the black and yellow tomato plants repotted as they've got quite big now and definately need new containers....however, weather forecast says it might rain here :(



Monday, 22 April 2013

Immersion Heaters and Solar Panels

We're now at the right time of year whereby the batteries are being charged completely on their own by the solar panels - no engine power needed!





However, the last couple of days I've noticed that our batteries are nearly fully charged by lunch time. I can tell this as on our Outback MPPT controller it tells you when the panels go into "float" mode, which means the batteries are nearly at capacity and the absorption from the sun is 'slowing down' - so not to over charge the batteries.

Anyway, it seems a waste to have all these solar panels and not have them being utilised during the best hours of the day.

Basically, you see, after the batteries are fully charged, the solar panels effectively 'switch off'.

So I'm thinking I could either get more batteries which I don't want to do (as they need replacing every couple of years) or I could divert some of the energy to something like the immersion heater which would then give us hot water.

I've seen this online:


It's a 12v element which basically replaces the 240v element in the calorifier that we have now. However, I'm still trying to find out how it would be connected to the MPPT controller or if it is directly connected to the solar panels.

I need to do some research but this would be incredibly economical and means we really wouldn't have to run our engine at all during summer months. (we still have to at the moment as our engine heats up our hot water!)

What's a little bit annoying is the fact that we had a wind turbine which can also be rigged up to heat a 12v immersion heater - and we got rid of it. If I'd have known I'd have kept on to it, purely to heat water!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Log Store....

Now we have our own patch of land and are able to 'store' things, we'd like to get a log store or a log shed ( whatever you want to call it!) so we can start stockpiling logs for next winter.

Something like this :




However, I'm thinking of building some sort of store using good thick branches that have broken off trees. Not sure if I'd be any good at it, but it doesn't have to be anything special and there's loads of big sticks/branches that could be used for it that we noticed today on a small walk....

Anyway, having a stock pile of logs to burn next winter will be much more economical than burning coal all the time, as more often than not, you can get wood for free, and this winter we were using maybe 3 or 4 bags of coal a week!! (I like it hot!!)

We would probably still use coal as a 'base' as the downside to burning logs is that you can't really chuck it on and leave it for 6-8 hours like with coal - you sort of need to keep your eye on it at all times to make sure it doesn't go out. Plus a small coal bed helps to burn logs better as well. Hmmmm.

However, if we do get the diesel central heating installed like planned (and maybe double glazing) then it won't be that necessary to keep a constant eye on the stove all the time and burning the logs in combination with the diesel heating would work quite well.

That's my theory anyway?!

Friday, 19 April 2013

More Garden Tasks

It's been a nice calm, dry day today with some warm sunshine in between the light cloud. We decided that as Pawel was off, he would start planting a few bits and pieces in one of the raised beds.

We decided that one raised bed will be solely for strawberries.

We've got quite a few different varieties - some new and some from last year so wanted to plant them all together. In total we have 14 plants in one raised bed! I'd better get a bowl of strawberries this year ;)

Here's Pawel hard at work(!):









All the plants in - although some are bigger than others. Most of the plants we planted today were the bulbs from the garden centre that we got ages go, so they'll be a little behind the rest!



We also had a bash at making a cover for the lettuce box - using some garden canes and cling film!!


Making the frame:













Also the tomatoes are getting quite large already, so they've also had some stakes tied to them to provide support:





Eventually, these will go into the other raised bed along with cucumbers and a couple of dwarf green bean plants and that raised bed will also have a polythene ( or cling film, who knows?!) cover over it as they need better temperatures really.

What a nice heather.....





Haha.

We're getting there....slowly!!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A New Favourite Dish!

There's not been a lot to blog about over the last few days so that's really why I've left it.

There's not been any significant jobs that we've been doing or anything either, mostly just relaxing and doing odd bits and pieces. The wind got quite fierce again yesterday so I didn't get much sleep last night - we're so exposed here and the gusts were apparently around 50 MPH!

I did make a spinach and feta 'pie' the other day though which I was talking about making in an earlier post with the feta I got from a local farmers market

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Spinach and Feta Pie






This is called a 'pie', but I don't think it really is a pie as such as it is made using filo pasty - and I always equate pies as using shortcrust or puff pastry.

However, you will make it in an 8 inch loose bottom shallow cake tin, so technically that makes it a pie!

Well, it's a great dish and it tastes amazing - although quite a bit of preparation is needed beforehand! However, it'd be great in summer with a nice salad and some bread and a cold glass of wine outside.


Ingredients:

*1kg bag of frozen, chopped spinach ( defrost thoroughly in the
fridge for 24 hours beforehand)
* 2 onions chopped
* 6 eggs, beaten
* 200g feta cheese
* 100g pine nuts
* 2 tsp of nutmeg
* 3tbsp of bread crumbs
* 50g cheddar cheese, grated
* 100g butter, melted
* 6 sheets of filo pastry ( 'jus-roll' sell in sheets of 6 and are the
perfect size
* Olive oil for frying
* 1/2 tsp of salt
* Black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to Gas 5. Then, heat your oil in a frying pan and get your chopped onions in the pan to sauté for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool



2. Meanwhile, take your spinach and literally squeeze as much water from it as you can. This can take a while! I literally took small handfuls and squeezed each handful until hardly any water was coming out after.


3. Put spinach into a bowl and fluff it up a bit with a fork, add your nutmeg, salt and pepper.




4. Simply add the other ingredients. Add the grated cheese,pine nuts, and your sautéed onions, followed by the feta cheese, bread crumbs and beaten eggs. Fold it all together













5. Meanwhile, put your butter into a small pan and allow to melt on a low heat.

6. Next, take your melted butter and your filo pastry sheets. Basically, take a filo sheet and place the first sheet onto a well oiled top. Brush the filo with some of your melted butter. Stack another filo sheet directly on top and brush that with melted butter too and continue until all 6 sheets are stacked together and buttered.



work as quick as you can with the filo as it can dry out very quickly


7. Once all the filo sheets are stacked, gently lift them and place them into your 8inch pie tin. Allow the edges to overhang.




8. Spoon your filling into the 'case' gently as otherwise the filo can tear.





9. Now, simply fold up the remaining filo over the top to make it like a parcel.... Brush some melted butter onto the top of the pastry.




10. Put the pie in the oven for around an hour and it should be golden brown and the filling set.







You can enjoy this either warm or cold - it tasted great either way!





Monday, 15 April 2013

Bits and Bobs

Pawel has been off today so we both went into town for haircuts this morning and then did some food shopping. We returned around 3PM and have been pottering around with the space outside on our new mooring.

Pawel finally built one of his raised planters for the veg and gave it a coat of paint to match in with the batons around the edge of the gravel.

Here's how it's all looking:
(He didn't paint the inside as that will be filled with soil soon !)




We also put the 'log wall' around the tree from the vegetable box to the gravel edge. We are the thinking of maybe planting a 'herb garden' around that tree now.

The list of things we are growing is now as follows:

* Tomatoes - normal cherry, black cherry and yellow cherry
* Strawberries - we have around 3 different types
* Blueberries
* Dwarf cucumber
* Dwarf French beans
* Peppers
* Lettuce - Duchy 'Organic Dynamite'
* Herbs - basil, thyme, chives, rosemary


Well that should keep us busy!


The first thing we did when we got here a few weeks back was put the bird feeder out. However, there wasn't many birds come like in our old space and still isn't - we think it's because there's no hedgerow as such for them to sit/nest in.

However, we are getting a few lovely looking birds which I've found out are a breed called "Chaffinch". In our old mooring space it was mostly Blue Tits we had, but these look a lot more exotic:





I've seen some that also look the same as in the picture above, but have a bright blue head - like a Blue Tit. It's lovely seeing all the variety of wildlife and being this close to it.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

I've Another New Friend

I'm not sure what to call him! He comes by our boat quite a lot since Pawel gave him a bit of apple last week!

He often glances up too and it's almost as if he's looking through the windows at me!








Today has been quite blustery with rain showers all day, but I did manage to get the batons painted around our gravel edge.

It looks a lot better but I've not had a chance to photograph It as I don't want to go back out in that wind!!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Good Day Gone Bad!

This morning looked promising weather-wise, so I was hoping to get into town to get some paint for the batons around the gravel patio we've made and to get them painted today. I think the batons would look better painted either green or a charcoal grey:





Anyway, we'd left the fire in overnight (as usual) but awoke this morning to it being 25.4 degrees in here and that was with the stove shut down to minimum setting! Looking outside revealed why though. It was already showing on my weather station as being 12 degrees out and the sun was also full on! Great - a perfect day to get my job done then!

We headed into town after breakfast and I got the paint I needed and also some 'satin black' for the boat blacking below the gunwhales (it looks a bit patchy in places and like it just needs a bit of refreshment.)

I returned from town only for it to start raining around half an hour later and the winds are over 20MPH - so its a bit blustery!

Oh well, another job that's going to have to wait!! Grrr

There was a farmers market going on in a local pub car park today too and we also had a look around that whilst we were out. They had some good things including a French patisserie - selling gorgeous looking breads and pastries.

I got a long baguette for a £1.00 and we also had a chocolate twist pastry and one containing a peach and egg custard filling. They were amazing! We went back and got two more for breakfast tomorrow!




I also picked up some amazing feta cheese which I plan on using to make a spinach and feta "pie" (it's not really a pie as it's made using filo pastry - maybe 'parcel' is a better term rather than 'pie'!)

I love it and it makes a really tasty, filling meal along with a side salad and some buttered bread. I will post the recipe with pictures on here when I make it in the next few days!


Friday, 12 April 2013

A Polish Rye Bread

I promised a reader about a week ago that I'd post the results of a polish rye bread that I had attempted.

It turned out OK! Rye breads are usually more denser than normal breads and this one was dense but definately a bit lighter than some I've made before, especially as I've been adding more yeast to my recipes lately.

This one requires a 'starter' which you need to make 2 days before, so it does require a bit of planning. It also makes this a 'sourdough' bread I guess.

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Polish Rye Bread


Ingredients

For the starter:

* 2 tbsp of rye flour
* 1 and a half tbsp of warm milk


For the dough:

* 300g of rye flour
* 300g of white or brown bread "00" flour
* 1tsp of salt
* 30g of butter
* 20g yeast
* 300ml of warm water

Method:

1. To make the starter, mix the rye flour with the warm milk and cover and leave in a warm-ish place for 2 days.

2. When ready to make the bread, put all your dry ingredients and butter into the bowl along with the starter.

3. Slowly add the warm water, and you might not need all of it so just enough to make a dough which comes away from the bowl cleanly. This dough is fantastic and is quite elasticky very soon after combining.

4. Knead for around 8-10 minutes and then leave to prove for around a hour. Punch back and knead for a few more minutes. Shape into a round 'boule' shape on the tray you will cook it on and cover once again and wait for it to rise to double size. Once doubled, cut some slashes into the top and also dust with lots of flour.

5. In a preheated Gas Mark 6 oven, pop the bread in for half an hour, turning half way through cooking. When you put the bread in the oven, also place a bowl of water on the bottom shelf.

6. After half hour, turn it upside down and give it another 10 minutes upside down to make sure its cooked all the way through.

Here is how mine turned out:













It really was lovely, however it will be an "occasion" bread as my other bread recipe I've cracked is a bit easier ( no starter required) and also produces really good results.
However, this really is a great rye recipe and you'll love it if you're a fan of rye breads.