Friday, 5 October 2012

Smallholding Apple Pie And Smallholding Jeddah Gin, Mead, Saki And Some Real Ale.

The cattle came in for Winter on Monday night.  So it's smelly silage time.  There is nothing like fermented silage aromas on your hands and clothes if you want to get strange looks in the shops.  It's like  being dressed from head to toe in sweaty socks, if you follow my strange line of thought.  Only 6 months folks, before us smallholders stop smelling of fermented grass and whiff of cow..    You can't beat the countryside can you?

There are also some pleasant smells in the 'Northsider Towers' kitchen at the moment.  We have been making pork pies, apple pies, bread, bangers and mash, Jeddah gin, Saki, Mead and forty pints of good old fashioned English bitter.   Here's some pictures of our self supporting efforts.

Pork Pie Pastry.

Pork Pie: (when it's cooked.)

Mead.  Like they used to drink in merry old England.
Bitter and Jeddah Gin.


Apple Pie.
(Guess who cracked it trying to remove the silver foil tray?)

 It's a good time this weekend to brew some ale for Christmas.  Go on get down to Wilkinson's or a home brew shop near you, and invest in your own 'self supporters brewery' .  You will make pints of bitter, cider, lager, stout..., for about ten bob a pint and you don't need to get dressed up to drink it.  See you soon.


  1. Yes, I remember the silage smell, but then it was made in big heaps, spending many happy hours rolling a tractor over and over to compress it, then sticking a temperature rod into it to make sure all is going well. Some batches of it came out better (less smelly) than others. No big bales then, they hadn't been thought of, and the little Fergys wouldn't have managed. Funny enough, I never minded the smell, but it was bloody hard work cutting a section of the stuff out with a silage cutting spade.

    Good to see all that effort going in to a real self-supporting kitchen / bakery / brewery. Wish I had a bigger kitchen, the garage is taken over as a store / cellar.

    Yes I think it would be a good time to set a batch of Chrismas (or Winter Warmer) ale off, the stronger stuff tends to benefit from keeping a while.

    Showers today, cool.
    Raggy cat just off out.

  2. Thanks Cumbrian. Fresh silage is fine. It seems to smell far worse when it's been on you're clothes for a while - second hand silage?

    Was a silage cutting spade like an hay knife? That's great fun when its blowing a gale. I suppose the permanent farmy smell in winter is an occupational hazard?

    Yes thanks mainly to you Cumbrian (Cumbrian gave me the recipes for the mead, saki, pork pie and Jeddah gin) we never have a dull moment thinking of what to brew or make to eat.

    We aren't very rich but we dine and drink like a lord. That's the great thing about self sufficiency/self supporting. You don't need to spend a fortune to live really well.

    Going to have a go at making the Baileys tonight. I prefer Scottish whisky to the Irish whiskey. So I will call it my'Scottish Baileys'.


  3. Never used a hay knife, just remember the small bales tied with the hairy string (farmers weld).
    The silage cutting spade was just that, a spade but heart-shaped blade sharpened and pushed in with the foot. Lots of fun.

    Try the lemon curd next, dead easy, bet it's nice with duck eggs, it's very rare I see them, used to like them when I drank in a local village pub, a couple of duck keepers would bring a few in, very fresh.

    Lemon Curd Microwave

    • 200g caster sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 lemons, zested
    • 100g unsalted butter, melted

    Preparation method

    In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter. Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the microwave, and pour into small sterile jars. Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

    This is the original as I got it, I generally give it 30 second intervals in the microwave. I just use a plastic jug (the one I use for alcohol production) And a stick mixer, it cost about £5 in Asda, been worth every penny, gets used for Baileys and lemon curd; used to get uded for lentil soup but we prefer it chunky.

    Hope the Baileys goes down well, sure it will be even better with duck eggs, I just use whatever whisky I happen to have, and a measure of brandy if there's any, and a splash of vanilla essence if you like it. I beleive recipes are meant to be tweaked to taste.

    Fine but cold wind.

  4. I just have one coat that I've abandoned to the silage, and boy is it ripe....Our problem is that its hard to use a whole round bale before it starts to go off, so the horses get a few days feast near the end of a bale.
    Been making vast quantities of carrot and coriander soup here with the horse carrots which are still only £2.50 a 25kg bag. All the bendy ones that the supermarkets don't want. With any luck we'll have enough of our own next year..

  5. Yes the baling twine used to be made of sisal. Think it came from East Africa and they didn't use any chemicals to grow the hemp like plant. Baling string now is made out of plastic and doesn't decompose naturally.

    Will try the microwave lemond curd - thanks. I will post the apple pie recipe if you want it? Duck eggs are brilliant for baking. They have really thick creamy yolks.

    We often make Irish coffees, again with Scottish whisky. I am not really keen on Irish whiskey. Bush mills is probably my favourite over here. The other stuff seems to have a tang and I prefer the malts and blended cheaper whisky like Grouse. Some whisky is very fiery and not be recommended. My favourite malt is Dalwhinnie. It's such a mild and smooth whisky unlike some of the cheap and nasty one's. You're right recipes are meant to be tweaked.

    Cattle went into their stall with out any protest. Probably because they got a straw bed and the wall manger is filled with piked silage. Will have to give them another bale tomorrow. Hopefully my little tractor keeps all four wheels on the ground. The silage bales are far too big for my little tractor. She always manages though.

  6. Hi Steve. I know exactly what you mean about the silage being ripe. Always thought us smallholder farmers stood out because of our clothes, now I know its the silage smell.

    Can you not get haylage for the horse? There's a farmer down here who sells his own small bales of silage. Think they are a fiver a bale. I much prefer haylage or hay, but it's not been possible this year. Bought 6 round bales of barley straw last week. The cattle love it and eat most of their bed. We also buy bags of wood shavings.

    We ask for the old veg and bread at the supermarket. Sometimes we are unlucky because somebody beats us too it. I also hate spending ten mins or so taking lettuces.., out of their plastic wrapping. Can't believe it would of all gone in land-fill Yesterday the pigs left the cabbage leaves. It makes you wonder what the spray on them when your farm animals won't eat them?

    I am going to grow a lot more veg next year. Could do with some equipment for my Ford 3000 or even get an horse and tackle. Don't think the Shetland will work the land for us.


  7. Hi Dave, Jeddah gin sounds interesting. I guess this is for the lads who have trouble finding a pint in Saudi Arabia.

  8. Hi Pat, Hope you're well and having a great weekend in Poland. Cumbrian gave me the recipes for Jeddah gin, Mead and Saki. I think you're right the Jeddah gin is made by the Brits in Saudi Arabia.

    If you're reading this Cumbrian, please can we post the recipes?


    Made the 'Baileys' last night -it's brilliant. How long will it store for?

    Thanks for your comment Pat.

  9. No problem.

    4 whole eggs (I used 3 big ones)
    1 tsp instant coffee
    1 cup whisky
    1 tin condensed milk
    single cream (I only had double but its ok)
    whizz it all together in a blender and enjoy
    Dead easy, stick a bit of brandy in as well, drink instanty.

    Jeddah Gin
    12 oranges
    12 lemons
    3kg potatoes
    5kg sugar
    10 litres water
    1 tsp. yeast
    Wash and slice fruit and vegetable leaving skins on.
    Dissolve the sugar in some of the water and add to fruit.
    Add remainder of water and yeast. Leave for 7 days stirring occasionally.
    Leave to settle for 3 days.
    Remove solids and leave 2 more days.
    Rack until clear then bottle.
    This one came out well, I stuck a couple of limes in as well, and a good heaped spoon yeast, Wilkos wine yeast. Could even have been the one you sampled.

    Rice Whisky
    Sterilise one bucket
    1 gallon tepid water
    3lbs round rice
    3lbs raisins chopped
    3lbs sugar
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    Add 1 sachet yeast
    Cover with clean tea towel
    Stir 3 times daily for first week
    Leave till fermentation finishes and raisins float to the top
    Strain off raisins and bottle
    Leave for 15 weeks in a dark cupboard
    I generally give it a couple of months in an air-locked demi-john to settle and clear then bottle. It improves with keeping.

    Just a couple of recipes I use, the Baileys can be made as required, adjust the spirits to your taste, try adding a splash of vanilla essence; keeps about a month bottled with good top in fridge (if it lasts that long).

    Yes, I understand Jeddah Gin was developed (as well as a few other ideas) for producing alcohol in dry areas o0f the world from readily available ingredients.

    Pleased you enjoyed the Baileys, I tweak it with a splash of vanilla, some Tia Maria or chocolate liquer just experimenting. I think about a month in the fridge, but it's so quick and easy to make, just whisk it up as required, so I've never tested its keeping ability.

    Lovely morning here, blue sky with a few white fluffy clouds, light breeze, cool but not cold.
    Raggy cat came in, went out and returned with a mouse (dead) to eat in the kitchen.

    1. The last post was too big to publish, so see under for Mead.

      1 gallon batch
      3 1/2 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
      1 Large orange (later cut in eights or smaller, rind and all)
      1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
      1 stick of cinnamon
      1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like - these are potent critters)
      optional - a pinch of nutmeg and allspice (very small )
      1 teaspoon of Fleishmann’s bread yeast ( now don't get holy on me--- after all this is an ancient mead and that's all we had back then)
      Balance water to one gallon
      Use a clean 1 gallon carboy
      Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy
      Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights --add orange (you can push em through opening big boy -- rinds included -- its ok for this mead -- take my word for it -- ignore the experts)
      Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (need room for some foam -- you can top off with more water after the first few days frenzy)
      Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.
      When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. ( No you don't have to rehydrate it first-- the ancients didn't even have that word in their vocabulary-- just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not)(The yeast can fight for their own territory)
      Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's - wait 3 hours before you panic or call me) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeastees! Let them alone except it’s okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.
      Racking --- Don't you dare
      additional feeding --- NO NO
      More stirring or shaking -- Your not listening, don't touch
      After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that, you are not so important after all) Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don't need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet), likes a little heat (70-80). If it didn't work out... you screwed up and didn't read my instructions (or used grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away) . If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated.
      If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be, then enjoy your mead. When you get ready to make different mead you will probably have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey--- This recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don't knock it. It was your first mead. It was my tenth. Sometimes, even the experts can forget all they know and make good ancient mead.
      And there you have it. You have made your first Mead. Now come the steps that must be followed to make a good, and eventually a great Mead.

      This is as I got it, I didn't use any nutmeg, cloves or spices; and just Wilkos wine yeast and Tescos basic honey.

  10. Thanks for going to all that trouble writing down the wine recipes Cumbrian. I am really pleased with the Baileys cream drink. Can't believe you can make a big bottle for less than a fiver. The cup of whisky is the dearest ingredient. It really is good. The people who sell these kind of drinks must be making a fortune.

    How long before the Mead, Saki and Jeddah Gin is ready to drink Cumbrian?

    Parsnips, carrots and oranges are cheap today in the supermarket. How long would we have to wait for these to be ready? At lot of the recipes say to leave for TWELVE flipping months. Do you know of anything that's ready in a couple of months?

    If it was the Jeddah Gin you sent me, it's going to be brilliant Cumbrian. Thanks again.

  11. Even cheaper if you can make your own whisky / brandy / just about anything else.
    Yes, the people who sell these drinks really do make a fortune.

    Those 3 are about the fastest, you can drink them when you like, but they all clear and improve with a bit of keeping.

    Most of the recipes suggest 12 months, some only 6, and some 2 years, my general rule is the heavier the wine (bramble's a heavy) the longer to keep. But it won't harm you before, just won't taste perhaps as nice as it could.

    Carrot, orange and parsnip will all make wine, as I say, I make most of mine from last-minute shelf stuff, it's often jkust right for the job.

    Still sunny
    Raggy cat gone out again.

  12. Thanks Cumbrian. So I take it when it's completely clear, you can drink it? The Jeddah Gin smells incredible when you stir it.

    Sampled some of my Yorkshire bitter last night. It soon went flat yet we never did anything to the last batch which was really good. Perhaps it was the ingredients or my well water? You're right every brew is different. It's like being an alchemist trying to find gold and the elixir for life, isn't it?

    Think I will make some more Jeddah Gin when I put the latest wine brew in the Demi-John on Wednesday. We are really enjoying our new hobby brewing real ale and wine. Thanks again to you for all your help and advice.

    Fine here. Leaving the door open on the stall tonight. So it's up to the cattle if they are going in the stall or eating silage in the yard.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  13. Yes, it's like baking a loaf, you seem to do the same thing every time, but some turn out better (or worse) than others.

    Like the Nelsons Revenge I'm drinking now, I'll give it 9/10, a nice full nutty taste, deep honey colour and keeping a good head.
    The other keg's Norfolk Wherry, pulled a small sample, not clear enough just yet, won't be long though, it's easy to be patient when there's plenty more to try.

    Good stock of wines as well, sampling a peach from earlier this year at the moment, lovely blush colour and sweetish taste, very pleasant.

    Been a lovely day, had a run out through some of the lakes and fell roads, Mrs back slighty better. What an abundance of pheasants about, can't remember ever ben so many, somebody must be putting them down or it's been a good year for them, and that would be surprising since they banned our fox-hunting. And saw a polecat or big mink run over the road, rare to see them.
    Lots of fell-walkers as well, they all seem to carry one or two stick things, look like minature skis, back-packs and some with a map on a lanyard hanging round their neck.

    No cattle though, they must be in, autumn comes early in the fells, the trees are shedding brown and yellow leaves. But did see a couple of goats in a paddock, a white and a light brown.

    And noticed another traditional village pub with For Sale signs, Black Cock at Eaglesfield, a very old hostelry which was run by an old lady single-handed for years, the Gents was outside, she wouldn't allow one inside. Used to play darts there many uears ago, her baked potato suppers were ledgendary. Ancient black range in the bar with log fire, ovens still there and probably in working condition, she kept kindling dry in one of them, usual low beamed ceiling, lots of horse brasses. Old boys with pipes, farm workers and lots of good cheer.
    Sad to see it passing away.

    Sure the cattle will know best if you give them the option.
    Still fair here as well, been warmish but cooling fast now the sun's gone.
    Raggy cat been out, came in with me from my supershed trawl, milk and the remnants of a pork pie, now asleep on my kitchen chair.

  14. Yes Cumbrian you're right. Baking a loaf is a good example of doing the same thing every time and getting different results.

    Farming is also full of problems. Crops fail, bad summers, sick animals,machinery breakdowns, debt...., are just a few examples.

    Vegetable gardening is also full of disappointments. Every year something fails or gets a disease or destroyed by some creature. This year we found wire worms in the potatoes. They must have been in the old pasture, yet we have never had that problem before.

    Does it take long to build up a good stock of home-made wine?

    You paint a wonderful picture of the Lake District. Autumn is a great time to visit. The Killarney area reminds me of the lakes, with its rugged mountain and lakes scenery.

    You're right the cattle know best. They look really healthy since they came in for the Winter. I suppose the grass in the fields was nothing but water. They seem to like the silage and barley straw.



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