Thursday, 27 September 2012

Smallholders Piece De Resistance (Peppered Steak In A Shallot Sauce).

Peppered steak in a rich shallot sauce.
Today I thought I would share with you one of my favourite recipes.  I found it in a magazine a few years ago  and even our butcher asks his wife to make the meal for him.  You may not be able to afford or even want to get dressed up to go in some fancy restaurant and hand over Monopoly (The Euro/Sterling?) money for a meal that you don't like.  Honestly it's excellent.  It just involves you having to make it.

Right, shall we begin?  This recipe serves 4 or 2 if you like big portions.  You will need 4 large rump or sirloin steaks from the butchers.  Be awkward and ask them what breed the animal is/was, if you get me?  I adore the Aberdeen Angus, which we sometimes treat ourselves to when go for some retail therapy and a change of scenery in Killarney.  You will also need a bottle of Cognac and a bottle of red wine.  Don't worry the little miniature bottles will do, sadly!   I was expecting somebody to bring me a twenty eight  euros  bottle of Hennessssy (very special) Cognac, yesterday.  That  somebody produced a miniature Cognac and a miniature red wine.  We really are in a recession, aren't we?

You will also need some shallots or onions, preferably one's that you have grown yourself.  Melt 25 grammes of butter in a big frying pan over a medium heat.  Then add 4 sliced shallots and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they feel soft.  Now is the time to pour in 4 tablespoons of your Cognac and boil it for 1 minute.  Then add 200ml of red wine.  If there's any left have a drink of wine or Cognac, or both if you're like me?  Let the mixture boil and reduce it by half.

You should be also making your veg around now.  The menu says to serve it with chips and tomatoes.  However we thinking we are starting to look like chips and prefer to 'steam' our home grown veg; carrots, potatoes and broccoli 

Meanwhile (back at the ranch) get yourself 200ml of hot (put kettle on) half a  beef (OXO) stock and pour it in the pan.  Let it to boil until it's reduced by half again.  Stir in 25g of butter and add some seasoning, taste it, and leave it to cook slowly.  Brush your griddle (frying pan will do) with a little oil and place it under a very high heat.  Get your steaks and press 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns over them and cook  the steaks for a few minutes on each side.  I like mine 'well done' and hate it when you get meat served with the blood still running out of it.  No thank-you.

Now is the time to plate up and pour the sauce over your steak.  I would also pour yourself some home-brew or some more brandy or wine, that's if you remember to buy a 'big' bottle and not a miniature   Moral of story.  Always get your own drink.

 Bon Appetit.

You have to wash up also.  It's worse for me because I use nearly every cooking utensil and pan in the kitchen.


  1. That looks very nice, pity about the minatures, as you say though, the recession is biting. I think it deserves a glass or two of decent port or a heavy red to wash it down. (Or some well-matured home-brew)

    Bit better than me, it was fried (cold prevously-boiled that Mrs didn't eat yesterday) new potatoes, with a cheese & onion Cornish pasty (No, I haven't heard of them before either, but Tesco was about to throw it in the skip so it was rescued payment of 12p) microwaved and half a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce (no cordon bleu here today).
    Not much washing up though.

    Good news was that the Nelsons Revenge was sampled and found to be just about right for drinking, a distinctive hoppy taste, with a superb head. I think it could do with just a touch more settling for perfect clarity.

    Keeping dry at present, bright grey sky, no breeze, feels a bit warmer as well.
    Raggy cat been in, soaking wet this morning, dried out in front of fire then went missing; found it in the bedroom curled up sleeping happily on a pile of clean clothes on top of the chest of drawers, then it went out, then came back in. I've shut the bedroom door with cat this side of it.

    How to give a cat a pill
    1) Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

    2) Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

    3) Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

    4) Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right fore-finger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

    5) Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

    6) Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

    7) Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

    8) Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

    9) Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

    10) Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

    11) Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Throw Tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

    12) Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.

    13) Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

    14) Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

    15) Arrange for RSPCA to collect cat and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.


    1) Wrap it in bacon.

  2. Hi Cumbrian,

    We usually have the steak recipe only now and again. However if you want a lavish meal without going to a restaurant, try the one above. I am sure you won't be disappointed.

    Jacket potatoes, filled with baked beans and grated cheese tonight.

    Never heard of a 'Cornish' cheese and onion pasty. You can't complain for 12p can you?

    The Nelsons Revenge sounds great. Going to drink some more of me 'Yorkshire' home-brew tonight. It's not bad.

    The cat pill story is very funny. We have had some great adventures with the cattle in the holding crush. Managed to crack my ribs twice. I shouted swear words if I just put a blanket or sheet on them. The joys of farming.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. Yes, a very rich recipe, "I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food".
    I tend to do all meats in my slow cooker, adding an onion or two chopped fine, a stock cube or two and a splash of sumflower oil, suppose it would be easy to add a splash or so of brandy and/or red wine to give extra richness to the gravy and enhanced flavour to the meat.
    I'll try it next time I'm putting something in the slow cooker, sure I can scare up a shot or two of alcohol from the depths of my cupboard.

    Jacket potatoes with beans filling sounds good to me, Mrs wants beans on toast for supper.

    My 12p cheese & onion Cornish pasty wasn't too bad, but considering it started life at £1.20 I was expecting a bit more filling, it was mostly pastry, very nice pastry to be sure, but pastry. Same as a lot (most) of supershed pies. For 12p I'm not complaining though.
    Could do with some condemned fish tonight, we generally have fish every Friday, not religious, just habit. Failing that it's a dig in the freezer to see what I can find.

    Sounds like Dave 1, cattle 1; keeping stock is always going to be fun and games; think about what it must have been like before they had the crush?

    Still keeping fair if overcast.
    Raggy cat back in, luxuriating in front of fire, even though it's not switched on.

  4. Hi Cumbrian,

    Alcohol is brilliant for a sauce or even gravy. Beef cooked in Guinness (or home-brew?) really adds that bit of extra to a boring looking meal. It also tenderizes the meat. Do try the recipe Cumbrian it rally is excellent. You can substitute the Cognac with vodka or whisky. I do like brandy and Cognac though. We have used the dregs from some vodka from the cupboard ('press') and it was fine.

    Jacket potatoes are excellent and there is a myriad of different fillings for them. Chilli is great.

    Glad to hear you liked the cheese and onion Cornish pasty.

    Every farmer must have a crush or else the vet can't (won't)test for TB. I often wonder how they managed without the crush years ago.. I think farming is in the the top 3 of most dangerous occupations in Britain and Ireland. Think every farmer can tell a terrifying tale or ten?

    Raining here.


  5. There's a couple of pieces of sirloin in the freezer, I'll make that my project for Sunday dinner, I'll open a bottle of decent French red and use that in the slow cooker with a dash of brandy as well, report to follow in due course.

    Jacket potatoes are a stand-by here, like you say, fillings can be just about anything, one of our favourites is chole-con-carne.

    I knew a crush was sensible, but didn't know it was mandatory, I've learned something today. Must have been some rodeo before they had them.
    Guess you're right about farming being dangerous, I know the construction industry was up there, but there's so much H & S rules and regulations now it seems to be reducing the number of serious accidents. Mining as well was a dangerous job, especially in years gone by. And fishing has its share of tragedies, especially the offshore boats. But agriculture is a lot more difficult to regulate, I suppose there's always going to be accidents when you're handling animals that weigh a lot more than you do, especially when you're doing things they don't particularly enjoy like sticking needles into them or interfering with their wedding tackle; and operating powerful machinery alone.
    Yes, every farmer will have a tale to tell.

    Raining here, dull and breezy but not so cold.
    Raggy cat waiting perched on the decking handrail, then tried to steal my computer chair; dunno where it's gone now.

  6. I am really glad that you are going to make that your project for Sunday dinner, Cumbrian. I know very little about wine. We usually get a bottle of red South African or some German white like Blue Nun.

    Sirloin is supposed to have got it's name when king James 1 knighted the meat at Hoghton Tower near Preston. The real reason is probably the Anglicizing of the French word 'Surloynge. 'Sur' means over or above and Loygne means 'Loin'. I think Sirloin an T -bone are the best steaks.

    We have noticed when we have killed one of the heifers we often get meat that we wouldn't normally purchase like tail-end and boiling beef. This usually means we start looking for spicy meals and different recipes so we can disguise it. It would be good if you could get an animal just made of steak. We also have a similar problem with pork. I look forward to reading your report.

    Yes jacket potatoes are really good for you - especially the skins, which are full of iron.

    The agricultural department can have the animals shot if you don't have a crush. The only reason they give farmer's a herd number is for TB testing and traceability. Also when a farmer fills in their single farm payment/area aid forms they are signing their signature to say that the powers that be can walk on their farm without prior announcement. The government also is allowed to hunt on your land if they choose and they own any minerals found on the land.

    I am always reading of farmers being killed by animals (especially bulls) or with machinery. The biggest problem is the isolation and the farmer struggling to repair a machine or move cattle on their own. Also some of the continental breeds like Sooty and Ruby (my 2 Limousines) are mad as a box of frogs. We had one called 'show jumper'. She could clear any gate with a foot to clear. She was an absolute lunatic and nervous wreck. Give me the Hereford any time, such a calm and sedate creature. Trouble is the continental cattle make the most money.

    There's always fishermen drowning around the Irish coast. Two people lost their lives in West cork recently. The poor fishermen can't even claim dole when the weather is too rough to go fishing.

    Trying to rain here. Jack Russell lay on sheepskin rug watching me.


  7. Yes, I think the bits of sirloin, done in slow cooker with the usual dash of sunflower oil, stock cube and finely chopped onion, then a dash of brandy and a glass of heavy red, I think there's such a bottle lurking in my wine cellar (corner of the garage); served with new potatoes, carrots and broccoli.
    And there's the bottle of red to wash down.

    Today it's smoked cod, baby new potatoes and mushy peas; Asda provided the fish last night from the comdemned shelf.

    All the unusual bits of an animal we rarely see now I suppose, they tend to be the less desirable cuts, maybe they get consigned to pre-made pies etc. But the cheaper cuts in my opinon are just as tasty as the prime ones, if not more so, it's reckoned the taste's in the fat and prime cuts don't tend to have much. My slow cooker tenderises everything I put through it, so evrything gets thrown in for a few hours with my usual accompaniments, always comes out tender and tasty.
    Ox-tail's a bit we don't often see, but the thick end has some tasty meat, just needs long slow cooking, 2 section in a big slow cooker with potatoes, carrots, onions, and any odd root veg cubed and thrown in for a few hours makes hearty meal for little effort (and not much washing up).

    Injuries and fatalities are just another big down-side to the modern agricultural practices, there's no-one to give you a lift or to shout for when things go wrong, and both beasts and machines are getting bigger and more powerful and dangerous.

    The fishermen have my sympathy, they got sold out big time by the politicians and the EEC, allowing all the European fleet free access to our waters, but denying ours the right to fish their traditional grounds off Norway and Iceland (remember the cod wars?) Fish are getting scarcer every year, I beleive cod, what used to be the mainstay of the industry, are now classed as an endangered species. And a lot of the smaller fish like whiting, bream and pouting, which were commercailly useless, are now on the fishmongers slab. They also have the same isolation problems of the small farmer, probably even worse, and are totally at the mercy of the weather.
    We used to have several fishing boats and men making a living from them, also a lot of smaller part-time fishermen (I was one myself) with 16' - 20' boats and set nets or pots, all making respectable catches. Now there's no full-time fishermen, and only a handful of weekend pleasure anglers.

    Wishy-washy sunshine, wind's picking up, it's gonna rain.

  8. Thanks for that Cumbrian,

    You're making me hungry talking about all that delicious home made food.

    One of my followers (I follow theirs) is: Offallygood. It's an excellent blog about offal, have a look.. There's a great review of 'Dough' restaurant in Leeds. It makes and serves British and continental food. Have a look at the menu. Wish it was over here. That's why you have to brew your own ale (listen to the expert now) and grow your own veg and make yourself fantastic food. You can't beat slow cooked food can you? That's why we love our Stanley range. You just pop the meat and vegetables in the oven for a couple of hours and forget about it, then you open the door and the meat just falls apart.

    Just been stone picking and dangerous land is another thing I forgot to mention. Farmers often take risks on land not fit for tractors, not even the modern 4 wheeled one's! I invested in a mobile phone in case anything happens when I am working on my own. Trouble is when the sun shines (when was that?) I can't see who is calling or to phone? You can't take your reading glasses everywhere can you?

    Your right about the isolation Cumbrian. That's why I don't like the words 'self sufficiency', much prefer 'self supporter'. People need people and smallholding is very isolated and you are always struggling against the weather, with animals and fate. Must go on the European lottery tonight. I think its a record jackpot. If I win I am going to France or Herefordshire or Cornwall.

    My father's family used to be fishermen and Bantry Bay was famous for it's Herrings. Now it's Salmon farms, a oil terminal and mussel harvesting and a few yachts. Didn't know you was a fisherman. Please tell me more...

    Showery here and it can't make it's mind up what to do.


  9. Offally good just happened to have ox-tail on the menu when I looked, a good site to know, I think we tend to over-look too much of what is referred to as offal, most of it has no skin, no bones, no fat and is very healthy. One of my favourite meals was liver, kidney, mashed potatoes and onion gravy from the pan, or Cumberland sausage, black pudding (the real black pudding before the EEC rules stopped it), fried egg and mashed potatoes.

    The Dough restaurant certainly has some exotic menus, pity it's not within driving distance, it would certainly be an experience.
    Must say though, the average restaurant doesn't seem to have the same sort of produce, I think I can make better myself, just takes a lot longer. My slow cookers (big one amd little one) are your Stanley, like you say meat just falls from the bone.
    And I prefer my own brews to anything I can get in a pub.

    Yes, some of the fell farms have fields very steep, difficult to use machinery on, they can only work up and down, too dangerous to cross; but some of them have extra big wheels bolted on so they can use them on steep(ish) slopes. Trouble is, they won't go through the gates of most fields.
    Mobile phones can be a blessing or a curse, the writing is so small you need good eyes to read it. And some of them are far too cmplicated. I had one stolen (7 years old but state of the art when I got it) and the insurance Co sent me the modern equivalent, Sony Ericcson Elm. I couldn't work out how to use it (it had sat nav on it) I thought there was something wrong, so sent it back for checking; the supplier sent it back with a very kind letter that basicly said "You knobber, there's nothing wrong, you can't use it". So it went on e-bay, cost £160, I got £40 for it 1 week old, somebody got a bargain, and I bought a Nokia most basic I could find for £35. Even it can make videos.
    I carry it in case Mrs needs help she can call me any time, I think the original £10 credit is still going from about 18 months ago.

    You win the £80-odd million you won't be worrying about the price of beef or silage. Best of luck.

    Bantry Bay sounds about typical for most ex fishing areas.
    I wasn't a full-time fisherman, just part-time with a 16' IP (Island Plastics) open boat powered by Seagull outboard, your average small-time boat. Fished set nets and pots; did a bit of cod-banging as we call it, just sitting with a baited hook on hand-lines or rods for the sporting types; mackeral in season, they were caught on feathers by the hundred. Also set lines and nets on the shore when the tides were right, depending on times, boat at high water, shore at low water.
    Waste of time now, there's no fish left, even the mackeral seem to be thin on the ground, and any white fish seem to be very immature, the size limit means they can be landed too young to have a chance to breed. Same with crabs and lobsters.
    Isle of Man still seems to catch enough herrings to make the traditional Manx kippers, but they're very expensive.

    Still overcast and breezy, not actually raining. Yet.

  10. Hi Cumbrian. Thanks for that. I was also impressed with the 'Dough' restaurant write up. It's great to see: 'Home grown' over the door. It's looks a great menu too.

    Your home-brew must be good if it's better than some of the English real ales. I think English real ale should be shouted about and praised to the high heavens.

    First mobile phone I ever bought was a 'Orange' and it had big buttons and numbers. Today they look like something off Star Trek and you need to have a babies hand to use them. Only good thing is I can check my blog and emails without having to boot up the computer. Trouble is I am looking it up every half hour. A bit like when I have the television remote control. I will share anything with my family but not the remote control.

    If I win the lottery I will be buying a bigger farm with rare breed cattle, a fishing lake and I will start my own micro brewery/pub serving English- European peasant food cuisine. I will employ you to be the chief brewer and bar manager. While I sample the real ales and talk to the customers... We can all dream can't we?

    The fishing industry seems to be very depressed. Which is crazy really with all the millions of acres of sea to farm for fish.

    Still trying to rain here.


  11. Wouldn't say it was better than some of the real ales, they're excellent, and I agree it deserves a lot of praise; it's just that my own tastes just as good to me and gives me an awful lot of satisfaction to be drinking the results of my own efforts.

    Yes my first mobile was a bit like a building brick compared to the modern ones, all it did was make and receive calls, as long as you were in a good reception area, and a lot of the Lake District wasn't.

    Think it would be nice to manage a nice country or village micro-brewery and bar, with real country food served in generous portions for people with real appetites. A beer garden with a decent under-cover area for the smokers with some heaters in winter so they don't have to shiver in the rain.
    Big walk-in open fireplace with a big iron dog basket to take logs about 3' long so the dogs can get dried out and customers warmed up on wet days with stone hearth and stone surround and big timber mantle.
    Real hardwood bar and brass footrail, exposed heavy timber beams, wooden floor.
    A few decent sized tables and chairs for playing cards and dominoes, dart board and some decent darts and proper chalk board. No juke box. Big screen TV in seperate room for the sports fanatics.
    Dining room with wooden tables and comfy seats, small wine list with reasonable prices.
    Sober and honest barman (will settle for either) who knows how to keep and dispense ale; a selection of guest ales changing evry month.
    Plenty of polite and efficient staff to keep it running smoothly.
    With 80 million it wouldn't need to show any profit, just a show-piece with reasonable prices, could even have a shuttle bus to ferry customers there and back home.
    I could just see myself as a public relations type, discussing the relative merits of different ales with happy customers.
    Dream on.

    Showers at the moment, breezy but not cold.
    Raggy cat sitting in front of fire, even though it's not on.

  12. This looks a bit on the exotic side, Dave, possibly a bit too rich for me.

  13. Hi Cumbrian,

    There is a lot of great English food and fantastic real ales. You can also make your own at home for a fraction of the price.

    There are still parts of West Cork with very poor phone coverage. I even heard of a phone being taken away because (wait for it):

    "Nobody used it."

    That's like doing away with the life boat rescue because nobody was in trouble that week - crazy!

    Love your idea for the micro brewery -pub- bistro. It sounds fantastic and you have obviously thought a lot about it. I would also have a room for functions, rock and folk bands and a bowling green. The shuttle bus is a very good idea.

    Fine today but cold. Thanks.

  14. Hi Pat,

    I don't about it being a bit exotic. We think it's delicious. Give it a go and let me know if you liked it.


  15. Or cancelling your insurance besause the house hasn't burned down this year. Or getting rid of the cat because you don't see any mice.

    Nice dream, but I don't think it will happen, the big lottery winners seem to disappear, probably to live on some tropical island in luxurious surroudings; they're not usually interested in running a country pub.

    Todays masterpiece is going to be smoked cod again, there was too much in the bag for one meal, so it's being used up today with more baby new potatoes and mange-tout.
    The sirloin will be taken from the freezer tonight ready for tomorrows dinner following your recipe.

    Bright this morning, mixed blue sky with white clouds, windy but it's back in the South-West so not too cold and not raining.
    Raggy cat in as usual, not wet this morning, seems to be getting fatter, must be good hunting.

  16. Your right Cumbrian about getting rid of the mice or cancelling the insurance.

    Can't understand why governments don't make insurance companies refund policy holders when they don't make a claim? I don't mean one hundred per cent- just something to reflect that you have paid for something and got nothing in return. We pay about 800 Euro a year for insurance; car, tractor, house contents, buildings, land, animals, public liability..?

    We didn't win so that idea is gone. I think you would employ people rather than run somewhere your self. You could spend your time sampling all the country pubs and restaurants if you had the money. Imagine if you could just travel for six months of the year, then write about it. Think I would like to start my own book publishing and magazine for people interested in smallholdings, allotments and self supporting with campaigns for rural transport and articles on wine making, home brewing, rural crafts, rural pubs, great British food recipes and where to eat... Think I would call it something like: DO IT YOURSELF. Like you say we can dream.

    Beautiful here at the moment.


  17. Must've got the wrong idea, always thought 'tatty ash' would be more your kind of thing, Dave. Having said that, I used to love bacon hotpot with loads of onions inside.

  18. Bacon hotpot Pat, now there's a thought.
    Do you have a special recipe please, I like the sound of that.

  19. Hi Cumbrian,
    Unfortunately, I'm not much of a cook, but if I remember correctly, my mum used to just make it something like everyday potato ash (e.g. oxo cubes; lots of onions; and, of course, lots of bacon), cooking it in a casserole dish in the oven.

    I think Dave will probably be able to offer a similar recipe for bacon hotpot. Can you Dave?

    I'm not really much of a cook, but my favourite meal is boiled carrots and broccoli with rice, and cottage cheese sprinkled over the top of it, and a small piece of boiled Polish tatar meat (basically a small tough 'beefburger' kind of thing)next to it. The surprising thing is how well cottage cheese goes with rice.

  20. Thanks Pat, sounds ideal for my slow cooker style of cooking, just throw everything into the pot, switch on and forget about it for a few hours.
    I'll see if I can get some chunky bacon rag-ends, the modern sliced stuff's cut too fine, and try my usual (potatoes, onions, carrots and stock cube mix) with them.
    Report to follow if I can find some.

    Cumbrian taytie hash is corned beef in chunks, potato, onion, carrot all boiled up for a long time (or slow cooker), often with suet dumplings added and served with pickled red cabbage.

  21. Never one for 'tatty hash'(tater hash) Pat. I can never understand why most recipes always use mutton for Lancashire Hotpot. It was always bacon hotpot wasn't it? We usually make it with some bacon ends which you can normally get from Aldi or Lidl. They are just small pieces of bacon in a plastic bag. Then you get sliced potatoes and onions and build them up in layers of meat, onion, potato.. and put them in the oven. I like to add a lot of malt vinegar with the water. I will try rice and cottage cheese and meat Pat. Thanks.

  22. Couldn't find any bacon bits, but sirloin taken out of freezer for tomorrow, bottle of red opened and sampled, and a left-over drop of brandy located; a few pickling onions (no shallots) found. Some carrots, a swede and a couple of parsnips to go with the new potatoes.
    All set to try for dinner.

    Still not raining, a bit cold though.
    Raggy cat went out early at 6:00 pm, must be some attraction out there tonight.

  23. Look forward to reading your review of your version of the meal above Cumbrian.

    It's roast beef cooked in a can of stout ('Murphy's) with smallholding grown potatoes, borecole (kale) and carrots for tea ("Dinner") tonight. Washed down with some of my home brewed bitter.

    Blowing a gale here and raining. Seriously thinking of bringing the cattle in for winter this afternoon. The gale season usually runs from Nov-March, looks like it's come early this season. The tractor box and the hand pike are going to be busy from now on.

  24. Think you're gonna be busy, but it can't be much fun being outside in persisent rain, gales and cold; not very good for gaining beef either I wouldn't have thought; sure they'll be pleased to get inside.
    Of course sods law says that having got them in and established, the sun will shine next week.
    Gales usually come to us in October, and that's only tomorrow, the worst of winter often comes before Christmas, cold wet and miserable in January and often a bright spell in Febrary; March can go either way.
    But the seasons and weather patterns seem to be changing, there doesn't seem to be so many of the bright clear frosty winter mornings I remember, nor the warm sunny spells in summer. Sure some of that might be nostaligia though.

    Not very nice here this morning either, strong wind, wouldn't say gale, but not far off; rain; and cold.
    Good day to be inside cooking, got 7 lemons as well, so 2 batches of lemon curd can be done. Might even bottle a dj of wine, a couple of them are looking clear enough. And remember to label them.

    Raggy cat in early, well soaked. It's getting fatter, must be good hunting, it's not been greedy on the biccies.

  25. Yes I will be busy 'mucking out' the loose housing/yard and giving the cattle straw and shavings to lie on and silage to eat. Not forgetting to fill their drinking water barrels up. Normally I have to empty them because one of them will leave a country pancake in it.

    Like you say Cumbrian. Come next week the sun will shine. I think I will leave it until this afternoon before I make my mind up to bring them in. Going off that old saying:

    "Rain before seven, fine by eleven.

    Yes the weather system seems crazy these days. We have had better weather last week than we have had since March. Absolutely crazy.

    Jack Russell asleep on sheepskin rug. They say a dog sleeps seventeen hours a day, can believe it.


  26. Lot of work, but just think of the FYM to be mucked out, all good stuff to make the allotment a bit more productive.
    And I was reading there's been world-wide crop failures this year, leading to many farmers getting shot of stock they can't afford to feed, which means a glut of meat short-term but an shortage / price increase on the way.
    So you might get a nice unexpected bonus from the cattle.

    Yes, Rain before 7 - Fine by 11, usually works, but not today here, still coming down stair rods, hasn't stopped, wind seems to be picking up as well, maybe get up to gale yet.

    Sirloin marinating in a splash of sunflower oil, finely chopped spring onions, generous splash of brandy and a bit more of red wine, and stock cube. Smells good even before I've switched it on.
    Dinner normally about 5 or 6 on Sunday, so switch on about 2:30 for an hour high, then to low for another 2 hours or so, when I can stick my knife in easy.
    Early supershed trawl this afternoon, see if there's any prime veg condemned to go with the potatoes, they're supposed to be new, but more middle-aged I'd say, about hen egg sized, scrubbed up nicely though.

    Reckon the Jack Russel's got a bit of sense, Raggy cat been luxuriating on floor in front of fire, now re-located to my armchair. Must get a sheepskin rug for it.
    How's Domino coming on?

  27. It is a lot of work Cumbrian. I think I am one of the few small farmers round here ho don't have a slatted house. I don't like the idea of cattle lying on cold and wet slats on top of the sewer with the gas and all the germs. Yes they are great for the farmer and he just needs to get his (or her) slurry tanker and pump out their liquid fertiliser on the land. But I think cattle need something dry and soft to lay down on. So we buy sacks of shavings and scatter some straw which they often eat. It's extremely hard work at times but the vegetable garden and the fields get the benefits from the cattle. I try to clean the shed out one day and the yard the next...

    I am told 'big' cattle are still making great money but lighter stock is back a hundred per head. You can't win really because once you have sold your cattle you have to replace them. I bought cheap 'dropped' calf's this year but they take ages to grow. Plus they aren't continental breeds so like they say:

    "The day you buy is the day you sell."

    In other words you get what you pay for. Farming can be depressing when you think of it financially, but I farm for sentiment and that's all.

    It's gorgeous here at the moment - unbelievable how you can get every season in a day.

    Hope you enjoy the meal Cumbrian. Going to have my beef in stout with a bottle of red South African. Apparently it's on offer and I really like South African.

    Domino looks like a cat these days. He's got a milk belly. He spends his time pawing insects. Think he will make a great mouser.


  28. Dave has got a good point about layering the bacon hotpot, Cumbrian, although I'm not that sure about adding vinegar.

    I used to enjoy bacon hotpot with full rashers of smoked bacon which made the whole meaL very salty, so maybe adding a few drops of vinegar isn't a bad idea after all.

  29. Hi Pat,

    I always found the bacon very salty so I always liked to add Sarsons malt vinegar to it. Never thought of using smoked bacon, great idea! Funnily enough I was looking at meat and fish smokers on Ebay today. I wonder if anybody knows how to make one? I have read of people using an old biscuit tin full of hardwood sawdust. Any ideas folks?

  30. Dinner went down well, but Mrs wasn't so keen, maybe I overdid the red wine.
    Supershed trawl netted a couple of packets of smoked bacon, couldn't find any rag-ends, so a hot-pot will be put in hand using a packet of that, potatoes and onions. Can only try.

    I think the bicuit tin with hardwood sawdust should work just fine, I heard of one bloke made one from an old wardrobe with a few holes drilled in the sides at the top, duno how well it worked; but I reckon it would be not a big job to build one with brick or block, bit more permenant. Depends how much smoking you're going to do.

    True enough about selling and buying, suppose you're always depending on the whim of the market on the day.

    The Law of Sod kicked in here as well, it's bright sunshine, blue sky, wind's gone, even the roads have dried out. Like you say, all seasons in one day.
    Raggy cat gone out, must have realised the sun was shining.
    Good to hear Domio's shaping up well.

  31. I suppose recipes are likee humour, music, fashion even.., everything is subjective. That's probably why a good restaurant caters for most tastes. Not to worry at least you gave it a go Cumbrian.

    The beef cooked in stout went down very well. We ended up getting a 6 Euro bottle of Chilean red. I wasn't struck on it one bit. Thought it would be OK since there was a promotion on it at the supermarket.

    There's some good smokers on Ebay. I think they are about thirty eight Euro/pounds? Please have a look if you get time. Think we will use it a lot when we get a couple of the animals slaughtered in the next few weeks.

    If you want to make money with cattle, you have to pay for good stock and fill them with meal, so does any body ever make any when you take away the costs?

    Cattle are staying in the field tonight. Hopefully they will finish the remainder of the silage off tonight. Then it's bring them in tomorrow and give them a bale of silage. They won't be happy, but it's time.

    Yes Domino is fine. Must get a wood burning stove to keep him and the farmhouse warm, oil is far too dear for a cat.


  32. Yes, I like to give things a go, be a sad life if we didn't try new things, and everybodys tastes are a bit different.

    Supershed trawl this afternoon (they shut early on Sunday) netted a couple of packets of smoked bacon, so I'm gonna try bacon hot-pot, potatoes, onions, bacon in layers with cheese sauce poured in, about 2 hours at 200 deg I reckon, take the lid away to browm off for last half hour or so. Full report to follow in due course.

    Chilean red's normaly quite good, especially the Merlot, thought you'd have liked it, especially at 6 euros on offer, price is usually a pretty god indicator of quality for wimes (same as a lot of oter things)

    Had a look on ebay, there's all manner of smokers, just depends on what you want to smoke and how much of it, there's a few about that price.

    Looking for a decent day tomorrow to put cattle under cover, sure they'll like the silage when they realise it's the only thing available.

    Raggy cat not come back, it'll be there in the morning.

  33. Hi Cumbrian,

    It's back to some plain English food today with my next blog post: Meat and Potato pie. Will post it on the Internet later today.

    Please do report on the bacon hot-pot. Never ate it with cheese sauce so that will be interesting.

    Yes there is a lot of 'cheap and nasty' drinks available at the supermarkets. How much would you pay for a good bottle of wine? I thought the wine had a lot of tannins in it. Wife added a bit of lemonade to make it taste nicer.

    Going to keep searching for the right smoker. There's quite a few videos on You Tube about smoking meat and fish. You can even smoke in a pan covered with tin foil. We plan on smoking quite a lot of pork and bacon so we will need a fairly large smoker.

    Yes the cattle are coming in today. For 6 months or more. Will let them go out to pasture on any nice days while I clean them out ,so they are not in the way. They get great devilment and delight kicking a full wheelbarrow of FYM over. They are just like people with their personality's and idiosyncratic ways.

    Jack Russel spent night in barn on the big bales of straw we had delivered last week. Asleep now on sheepskin rug.

    Thanks Cumbrian,

  34. Meat & Potato pie sounds good, one of my favourites, but there's some terrible imitation things available in the supersheds, nothing like the real thing. And they're Potato & Meat now, must conform to all the Politically Correct twaddle that seems to dominate our written and spoken English. (for example, No 2 son tells me that the childrens nursery rhyme "ba ba black sheep" is now not allowed, it's considered in bad taste, racist and politically incorrect; FFS, what about Blackpool? or Whitehaven? Just another of my soap boxes)

    No, I've never tried cheese sauce in hot-pot before, but I've never made bacon hot-pot either, so an interesting experiment, full report to be published later.

    How much to pay for a good bottle of wine? Not easy, depends on your taste and where you buy it. What wine I buy is usually in France, a trip once a year to stock up, and I know the labels, regions and grape types I prefer, my price range there is 2-4 euros, but the choice there is never-ending and prices much more reasonable than ours. I'm not familiar with prices in S Ireland, but £6 a bottle will get you a good one here. Of course you can go mad and pay just about anything, but my experience it won't necessarily be any more to your taste. Having said that, the bottom end stuff is usually not very nice.

    Hope you find a suitable smoker, good idea to start small I suppose and see how it goes, you can always build a bigger one if it's gonna be worth it. Looking forward to reports in due course.

    Jack Russel earning its keep and a rest on the sheepskin, animals soon learn the cosiest places.
    Nice morning here, bright if not exactly sunny, no breeze, a bit warmer as well.
    Raggy cat in, straight to the bowl, it's got some jelly from Mrs pork pie supper, she won't eat it but Raggy cat enjoys it immensely. Then to sleep on my armchair.

  35. Cumbrian, I agree entirely with your thoughts on political 'correctness' (in reality, cultural marxism that originates from the German Frankfurt School).

    One of the main reasons why I got out of Britain was political 'correctness'. Sadly, it's now arriving in Poland, especially the cities (a sad price for all the EU subsidies, I guess)

  36. Pleased to hear I'm not the only one Pat, in fact there seems to be a growing number of people who share our opinion. I don't know who originally coined this particular phrase, but it dominates our culture here. So much for "free speech".

    Experimental bacon hot-pot in the oven, looks good, layer of onion, layer of bacon (smoked from packet), layer of sliced King Edwards, repeated once it filled my oval 12" x 8" x 3" roasting tin just right, a pint of cheese sauce poured over in stages. For the mathematically-minded, 6 potatoes about duck-egg size, 3 medium (tennis ball) and 4 small (golf ball) onions, 1 packet thin sliced smoked back bacon (maybe 250gm) cut into bits, about a pint of cheese sauce mix according to instructions; now in fan oven at 190deg for a couple of hours, then take lid off to brown top for a bit longer.

    Yes, I sometimes wonder if Poland (and some of the other Eastern European countries) are doing themselves a lot of favours by joining the EEC, as you say the subsidies will come with a price.
    The ripples of political correctness and mindless self-serving beaurocracy are moving East.

  37. Hi Cumbrian and Pat,

    It's great reading your latest comments. Totally agree with you both that it's about time common sense and reason was used instead of political rhetoric in the classroom.

    I would like to also add my views on humour or rather the lack of it today on British television. What hope is there for any satirist or comedy writer in this political climate where you can't say anything without offending somebody? One rather clever comedy writer (can't remember his name, sorry)summed it up perfectly recently:

    "It's like writing with the brakes on."

    Refreshingly here in Ireland you often see a job advert saying:

    "Man wanted".


    "Woman wanted."

    Looking forward to hearing about the bacon hotpot.

    Thanks to you both for your comments.

  38. Yes, must be difficult to be a good comedian without poking fun at somebody or some race of people and their customs or culture. But some people take offence at the least excuse (I won't say reason)

    Nice to hear you can still advertise for the person you want in Ireland, I don't think there's a job left in England that can be so advertised. Don't some titles sound strange when applied to either sex (chairwoman of the board just doesn't seem to sound right, neither does firewoman) and some jobs are not really suitable for either sex, ever heard of a male midwife?
    Funny thing, you're not allowed to advertise and discriminate against anybody by reason of race, colour, religion, age, sex or disability; but it's quite in order to advertise for a non-smoker? When was smoking made illegal?

    And as somebody said, common sense isn't that common.

    Bacon hot-pot quite good, tasty, bacon not too salty, potatoes browned and crisped just right. A bit dry though, I need to fine tune the amount of liquid, maybe make the cheese sauce a bit thinner but more of it. And it was sticking to the side and bottom of the tin, maybe a bit more oil would stop that.

    Fine sunny afternoon, cool breeze now.
    Raggy cat been out then back in, fast asleep on my armchair, good life it has.

  39. I think alternative comedy means: an alternative to comedy.

    Once heard of somebody going for a job interview in Scotland. They talked about the prospective employees hobbies and:

    "Which of the Glasgow football teams do you support?"

    If you chose the wrong team you didn't get the job. Don't know if it was true but I can believe it.

    Here's a question somebody once told me was an entrance question for the the armed forces.

    A young couple go to see the priest in September. They ask him if he will marry them on the first saturday in january. The priests says:

    "I will have to look in my diary."

    He looks in the diary and says:

    "Sorry folks I can't marry you that day, I have got a funeral.

    Question: What's wrong with that?

    Glad you enjoyed the Bacon hotpot Cumbrian.

  40. Yes I can beleive that, I suppose it's a way of asking somebodys religion in Glasgow.

    Dunno whose armed forces, what worries me is that some bloke who can't work that one out (and there must be some) could be handed a rifle and taught how to shoot it.

    Mrs just got up, she's been in bed with back pain again, and asked for her dinner, I presented the half of the bacon hot-pot, which she ate and asked for some more. Sadly it had all gone, but I must be doing something right. I still think it was a bit dry.

  41. I have asked quite a few few people the question and they couldn't answer it. To those of you who can't work it: How would he know he had a funeral on that day in 4 months time?

    I suppose I would just add more water next time.

  42. Did you know that you can create short links with Shortest and earn $$$ for every visit to your shortened urls.


Another One Of My Gardens.

We made this garden last summer.  Number one son cleared and levelled and broke rock with his digger.  He also laid the round patio whilst ...