Friday, 14 September 2012

Smallholders Bread and Self Supporters Onion Soup.

It's starting to get chilly now and we are lighting our Stanley Mourne stove in the morning.  It heats 3 radiators, gives us hot water and we cook all our meals on it.  Talking of meals, here's some of our 'brown onion soup' and (no yeast) 'brown bread'.  I have christened it:  Smallholders Bread and Self Supporters (hate 'Self Sufficiency) Soup.

Get yourself some onions, preferably one's that you have grown yourself on your smallholding, allotment or kitchen garden.  Then peel them and chop them.  It might be good idea to put on a gas mask while you are doing this?  They (who ever 'they' are) also recommend you run a cold water tap when peeling them.  If you have been reading this blog recently  and took my 'onion freezing' method trick.  You will have no tears because you will already have (Blue Peter quote) "here's one I made earlier."   If not just peel and them and chop them like the one's below.

Then get some margarine or butter and place it in the 'dancing pan'.  For some reason we have a pan that seem to dance about when we place it on the stove. Perhaps it's happy?

Moving on very quickly.  Add the chopped onions
and cook them until they look really brown.  Then put 3 Oxo cubes in some water and fill your pan and bring to the boil, skim and add any seasoning.

The brown bread is really easy.  Sieve 8 oz of Self Raising flour and add a teaspoon of salt in a bowl.  Then add 8 ounces of wholemeal flour and a tablespoon of sugar.  Then add a tablespoon of cooking oil and add about half to three quarters of a pint of milk.  Knead out your dough on a floured work top.  Make it round, turn it over and place on a floured tray.  Then get a sharp knife and make a deep cross.  This is not to keep the evil spirits away.  It's to make sure the bread cooks all the way through.  Now place it in the centre of your oven (range) at 150 degrees centigrade/300 Fahrenheit /Gas 2 for one and a quarter to one and half hours.  Then it should be ready to scoff.

Not bad Eh?

That's the soup.  You can always add a bit of hot spicy sauce if you think it's a bit bland and boring.  It's not what you want, it's what the body needs.  Onions (Alliums) are fantastic for fighting colds and  even make  you say a good old faux pass in a very posh English accent::

"New shoes, more tea vicar?

See you next week.


  1. Good to see you helping the wife out with the cooking, Dave. Like Phil Taylor used to always say, you set an example to us all.

  2. Ha Ha. Hi Pat. Yes we can't all dine in all these posh Warsaw restaurants like you do Pat. Not that I blame you when you tell me that you can get really good food and excellent ale so cheap.

    I can even use a washing machine and I wash up after our meals.

    Hope you enjoyed the Woven Hand concert?


  3. Will give it a go. We've a similar (though smaller) range that we use in the same way. Is that coal or wood? Had to convert this one for wood.

  4. It's solid fuel Steve. We burn mainly wood most of the year. Wood works well during the spring and summer months. Think even wood burning stoves give off some degree of carbon monoxide?

    Some times during the gale season (Nov-March) the wind blows the wrong way and the stove blows back and fills the room with smoke. Then we open a window and everything is fine and we are cold. So much for the joys of living next to the sea.

    Do try the onion soup and brown bread. It doesn't look exciting but it gives you lots of energy and it's a very cheap and hearty meal.


  5. Looks like a nice easy way to make a pan of tasty soup; could be tweaked with addition of any root veg that look a bit dated?

    My favourite is lentil, made from ham shank stock, sadly decent ham shanks are a bit of a rarity, dunno where they all went.

    Put ham shank and water to 2/3 fill slow cooker, leave on low over-night, then take shank out, it will fall off the bone; serve with new potatoes and cualiflower & cheese sauce.

    Give the bones to the dog and the skin to Domino the cat, if it's anything like Raggy cat it will love it, in small doses.

    Chop onions, carrot, potato, turnip, swede, celeriac and any other root veg that you happen to have, any combination, fairly small, throw it all in with half a packet of red lentils, stir and leave on low for a few hours.
    Serve with fresh bread, mine comes from the bread-maker. OK, it's the easy way, but turns out some good bread.
    Wonder if youir 50/50 self-raising and wholemeal would be any good in the bread-maker? An idea to experiment with.

    Another winter one, a variation of scouse, is lamb, any cheap cuts like neck or breast, in slow cooker with rough chopped onion; potato, carrot, and any other root vegetable all chopped to about 15-20mm chunks, a couple of stock cubes in a little bit of water, just throw it all in together and leave for a few hours, serve with pickled red cabbage Home-made of course, I've just chopped a cabbage today, it's in salt for tonight, Kilner waiting for it tomorrow)

    Miserable weather here; cold, rain, wind.
    Raggy cat seems to be spending more time in front of the fire.
    It's in disgrace again, fetched a live mouse and let it go in the Living room, can't find it, hope Raggy cat does.

  6. Thanks Cumbrian. The onion soup is a really cheap way to make a meal. It really puts you on for the day. You're right you could tweak it with whatever root vegetables you have got available.

    Think we will have to have a soup and stew season on this blog. I
    was thinking last night we have never made tomato soup. So that's todays adventure. Also you can't get Mulligatawny soup (another meal from the Empire) here, so we'll have a go at that. It's amazing what you have in the house, that can be made into a really hearty stew or soup. Also it's cheap and not full of preservatives like the tins and packets.

    The ham shank and lentils sounds excellent. We will give that one a go. I just try to stay away from pre-packed (cellophane) meat because it's usually a dry cow or an old sow.

    In Ireland, all the pubs used to sell 'soup and sandwiches'. They always had a pan of vegetable soup on the go and they would serve it piping hot with crusty brown bread. Then they would sarrive with lots of ham and tomato sandwiches, asking you if you want brown or white bread? I

    Great to hear you bake bread and use your slow cooker. The range cooks really slowly (2 to 3 hours) and you only need to open the oven door once an hour and see if it's ok. There is even a 'slow food movement' in Europe now. I reckon the brown bread should work in the bread maker, please give it a go and let us know how you get on.

    We used to always pickle red cabbage and beetroot, but since my mother passed away, I can't be bothered growing it this year. Perhaps I should in memory of a great mum?

    I was watching the news (I know you said I shouldn't) and there are more craft ale brewers now than there was seventy years ago.

    Raggy cat obviously brings his work home with him. What a character.


    Thanks Cumbrian.

  7. Yes, the ham shank and lentil was a Cumbrian stand-by, shanks were cheap and could be stretched to a hot meal then cold cut, lentils were cheap and filling. Most families had a big cast iron pan with a bucket handle (think they call them jam pans) which was often full of lentil soup, it could last for days. We never seemed to get tired of it.
    Maybe just nostalgia, but the shanks seemed bigger, meatier and tastier then.

    No. I've never tried tomato soup either, be ideal to use the glut of tomatoes a lot of people seem to have about this time of year.

    Cumbrian pubs tended towards pie & peas, although sandwiches could be available, usually in the local "biskies", which are tea-cakes or barms depending on where you live. Pickled egg in a packet of crisps was a favourite as well.
    Sadly I think the pub snacks are a thing of the past, killed off by Health & Safety and EEC regulations.

    Slow cookers (little one and big one) get a lot of use, not many days I don't use one of them, the big electric oven gets switched on very little. Bread-maker weekly, usually 50/50 white/wholemeal. Suppose your Stanley serves as everything.

    Pickled red cabbage, I only do one or two a year, there's a lot in your average 4" solid red cabbage, and only me eats it. Mrs loves the beetroot though, I do them for her, dinky ones whole, medium ones sliced.
    You could do one or two cabbage to remind you of yur mother, but probably not worth growing a lot, and I bet it won't taste as nice as hers either.

    Dosn't surprise me about the craft brewers, I've heard similar statistics myself; not surprising when you consider the price difference between the pub and what you can make it for, and the quality of the modern beer kits.
    Wilkinsons have an offer just now, Woodfordes Real Ale Wherry, £15 from £22, a real nice ale. Dunno if you have Wilkos near you, I've got one in Workington, they don't have the kits, but order on-line they deliver to your local store, there's a couple waiting for me now, to be collected today.
    Think the Nelsons Revenge is about ready for the keg, so maybe even get a Wherry on today, we'll see how the red cabbage bottling and rhubarb wine making go.

    Not raining this morning, just cool grey and breezy.
    Raggy cat came in a bit late, asleep on Mrs chair now.

  8. The smallholders here in Ireland always kept salted ham and bacon in a box or barrel.

    I know the jam pans you mean, my father's got quite a few very well polished brass one's, along with the old copper kettles. Must be why I collect them?

    Going to try the tomato soup today. Will see if can a spicy recipe on Google.

    Once went in a chippy in Sheffield and asked for a chip muffin. The girl said:

    "Sorry love, we have only got flour cakes."

    Also heard them called 'chip batch' in Cheshire. I know what you mean though.

    We should champion regional English, British and Irish food. Keep the recipes coming Cumbrian. That's the great thing about self supporting you don't need a lot of money to eat and drink really well. That's why I say people should grow their own - it's the taste.

    The Stanley stove does everything like you say. Most people here have the oil. I find the room goes cold when the rads go off. We have it in the old farmhouse but we very rarely use it. It's far too expensive. The great thing about a range is there is no fuel bills or standing charges. If you want coal you just buy a bag. If not you make do with wood and paper.

    I do know Wilkinsons. There are none here. However we can get homebrew kits online and most of them seem to come from dear old Blighty. You can't beat northern English ale can you?

    It's fine here so I will tackle the jungle (veg plot) and build up an appetite for the soup and some home brew tonight topped up with a few bottles of Theakstons.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  9. Must be good to have a Stanley, most farmhouses in our area seem to favour the Aga, usually solid fired on coke, which could be obtained from the steelworks (they had a huge battery of coke ovens) at reasonable price, collect it yourself.
    Brilliant device, I've never owned one, but often wished I could have.
    Good point about the standing charge, annoys me intensly, paying them to have their meter on my propery to charge me for their product, especially as we're very low users, the charge is disproportionally high. And they even put VAT on it, what a scam that is, bit they all do it, electric, gas, water, phone.
    Remember the story of a pub in the Lake District, very remote, had no water supply or sewers and the rain discharged to a beck; United Utilities sent him a bill, which he appealed against, but the court ruled he must pay it, on the basis that the roof water drainage went to the beck, and United Utilities were responsible for all watercourses. Beats cock-fighting as we say.

    Good idea to promote local food and local produce, I think our most famous is the Cumberland sausage, must be the real thing, made by local butchers, sadly a rarity now and getting rarer. I know purists say it should be made from Cumberland pigs, now extinct, the last one was in 1969, they were big animals, inclined to fat, but some of our local butchers still make really good sausage, big loops of them hanging in the window, I buy by length and pay by weight. The black pudding was also very good, every butcher made it, but now they can't, something to do with EEC regulations.
    Another speciality is rum butter, I beleive it goes back to the days when the Isle of Man was a smugglers haven, and a lot of illicit rum was brought ashore in West Cumbria.
    And of course Jennings ales, the original brewery from 1841, uses water from its own well; the farmers could buy the spent hops and barley for cattle food, dunno if they still can.
    I think every area has its specialities, often imitated but never seem to be as good as the original.

    Pity you don't have Wilkos, they do a fair range of home brew and wine making stuff at reasonable cost, picked my 2 kits up today. Didn't get the brew kegged, it needs another day or so, then I'll start one of the new ones.
    Red cabbage in vinegar, needs a couple of weeks to be ready.
    Some of my rhubarb was going off, so it's been cosigned to stewed rhubarb and custard for tomorrow, Mrs has issued a directive that suet pastry is only any good for steak & kidney puddings.

    Raggy cat redeemed itself, caught the mouse in the Living room and ate it, left me a head to dispose of, unusual as it normally eats the head first. Gone out now, a bit early, must have pressing business.

  10. Thanks Cumbrian.

    We really like our Stanley stove because it keeps us warm, gives us hot water for baths, washing up and we cook meals on it.

    Talking of food: the tomato soup making worked very well yesterday. I am so used to putting spicy sauce or giving food some umph that I thought it was a bit plain. However I am sure we could add something like Basil?

    There is no standing charge with the oil but you just can't afford a thousand Euros every 6 months or so. I wonder how much we all spend on fuel (car or heating, even eating) in a year? That's one for you Cumbrian. I think your average car costs about five thousand to run including all the extras like road tax, repairs and fuel. We seem to have become slaves to the oil and utility companies.

    Thanks for telling us about the local Cumbrian food and drink. Think the only way today to eat and drink really well, is to make your own. Then you become boring like me when ever I eat in some establishment:

    "I bet it was cooked in the microwave and the chips are frozen."

    You just can't beat home cooked food that's been locally sourced and free from preservatives can you? I even think that the ingredients in a lot of famous brands (beer or food) have changed and not the same product in the famous wrapping.

    We are making steak puddings tomorrow. Today it's good old fashioned roast beef with roast potatoes(mine) and broccolli (ours again) washed down with some of the real ale. Started putting a few bottles from every batch away for Christmas. We also started our Christmas cupboard this week. Years ago we wanted one of those hampers that they always advertise on the telly. We couldn't (or wouldn't) afford one so we decided to make our own. All you do is everytime you go the supermarket buy an extra couple of items, be it a tin of beans, jar of pickles, tin of biscuits and put them away for Christmas. You will be amazed how much you will have come Christmas. It aldo means you don't need to spend a fortune Christmas week.


  11. Never really analysed the cost of running a car, the obvious depreciation, tax, insurance, diesel, maintenance & repairs, tyres, etc, probably easily adds up to 5,000 a year.
    Domestic fuel, we seem to be very light users, I just got my statement from E-on, combined gas and electric I'm £147-odd in credit on £70 a month payments. Not celebrating just yet, it's been the lightest months, maybe we'll catch up in winter. I know too much of the money is for standing charges and VAT.
    Sadly though, we tend to rely on electric, gas and motor vehicles now. I sometimes wonder what life must have been like without these essentials, after all they're relatively recent innovations. But we're all slaves to them.

    Must admit we haven't eaten out for a long time, can't remember when it was, but I was very un-impressed by the quality of food and standard of preparation; not to mention the cost. Think you're right, unless you're in a really top-class restaurant, a lot of the stuff is tinned or frozen.
    Nice to eat locally scourced stuff, but almost impossible, unless you're prepared to accept a very restricted diet.
    For bulk food purchase have a look at, sometimes some good buys.

    Supposed to be off to Silloth market and car boot this morning, but it's raining stair rods, so that's no good. I'll keg the latest brew and start another; get dinner on, lamb chops, new potatoes, runner beans and green cabbage; and some mundane household chores.

    Good idea for Xmas hamper, one item a week for 50 weeks is a good stock. We like to go away for Xmas and New Year, saves a lot of hassle and probably doesn't cost much more, warmer as well, so don't tend to bother much with stocking up.

    Cold windy and pouring down, Raggy cat very sensibly sleeping in front of fire.
    How's your vermin control team doing?

  12. Thanks Cumbrian.

    Your domestic fuel use sounds incredibly cheap. We use at least 2 may be 3 bags of solid fuel (coal, smokeless fuel or peat) plus logs a week during winter. So it must cost us at 200 Euro a month including the electricity for the pump on the stove for the hot water.

    Imagine if you owned a mill or with a water wheel? There is so much energy in water that never gets harnessed.

    There is also the pollution from domestic fuel and cars to thinkabout. WHO recently released a report proving diesel released from cars cause cancer. Even wood burning stoves release carbon monoxide. I think it's Toronto in Canada that bans wood burning stoves. Industry, tractors, cars and domestic fuel all pollute the environment. I personally think there are far too many vehicles and it's about time governments started saving fuel for future generations. Even organic farmers seem to drive cars and tractors. But what alternative is there?

    Wouldn't it be great if we could go back to a peasant farming with people collectively working the land with horses? I have been reading John Seymour's: Blueprint for a Green Planet. The book shows photographs of fish in the North Sea with cancer growths. All because of pollution.

    Your dinner sounds excellent Cumbrian.

    The Christmas hamper normally starts in September and come Christmas week we have a cupboard full of food. Also when it's blowing a gale you can raid the cupboard and don't need to go shopping, but you have to put it back.

    Raining here and the cattle are eating like mad. Not long before they are back in the yard and I'm mucking out every day and piking silage. My busiest time is Winter. I don't mind the cattle though. They are characters like Raggy cat.

    The terrier came in looking like she had been down the pit yesterday. She was quickly told to go to the barn and have a wash. Domino is keeping busy pawing moths and insects. Think he will make a great mouser.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  13. It's only cheap because we don't use much of it. Neither gas fire nor central heating never go on in summer, just the gas hob to boil potatoes; fridge and freezers don't use much, slow cooker uses little, computers don't use much, TV is not on often and uses little, only a couple of enery-saving bulbs in use at any time, and they're not on much in summer, washing machine once a week; biggest culprit is the kettle, but it only boils 2 cups at a time; and we're on holiday a bit as well.
    They don't break the cost down, so I can't see exactly how much they charge me for the privelege of having their meters in my garage. But I do know there's 5% VAT.

    Water power is one of my pet soap-boxes, waterwheels served for centuries to power all sorts of mills, we had one locally powering a sawmill, and the Lake District had several powering bobbin mills, I've seen one working (re-furbished) in Wiltshire I think it was, flour mill, they were selling the flour, all dressed in period costume.
    Water wheels cost nothing, cause no pollution, are silent, work all the time, need minimum attantion, and thousands of them could be built on any river with no downside at all, powering all manner of equipment and machinery as well as generating electric. They could even charge your battery-powered silent non-polluting vehicles overnight at no extra cost.
    The main (only) losers would be the greedy power suppliers and grasping governments, so they don't want to see this technology developed.
    Wind and solar are also good, but not reliable, I beleive the input into some of these methods of generating small amounts of power exceeds their useful output. We have lots of windmills, there's always some of them broken down; and a few roofs have sprouted solar panela, but for what sun we get here I can't see them producing much compared to what they must cost to make and install. Not to discard them out of hand, the technology needs improving.

    But until the oil finally runs out, and the vast amount of money that is both invested in it and the income generated from it starts to slow down, nobody who can do anything will care, they're too busy lining their own pockets.
    Perhaps water, horse and man-power will have their day again in the future. But by the time that happens, the Arabs, Chinese and Japanese will own Merry England and probably your Emerald Isle as well, and quite possibly lots of Europe, so maybe our descendants will end up working for them.

    Sounds like it's going to be a long winter for the beasts, at least you've got plenty big bales. Unless we get a bit of late summer in October, not un-heard-of.

    Kippers for breakfast, manx style. I have to decapitate them, Mrs says she can't stand her food looking at her. Raggy cat eats the skeletons and left-over bits, but not the skins. Fussy little sod, it eats everything about a mouse and sparrows.

  14. Thanks Cumbrian. We sing from the same hymn sheet on so many things.

    I have never found any of the energy light saving bulbs any good myself.

    "Water, water, everywhere..."

    It really annoys me when we hear about water shortages and you have lakes like Ullswater that you couldn't put a thimble more in. When will people realise that northern Britain and Eire have tons and tons of spare and available for a very reasonable price?

    In places like Saudi Arabia they invest in de-salination plants for fresh drinking water. We could run towns on hydro electricity with modern turbines and water wheels.

    If we stopped buying cheap products from Asia and bought British and Irish everybody would have employment. You never hear:

    "Buy British" now do you do you?

    We seem to be totally dependant on imports and middle east oil.

    It always is 6 months of the year tending to the cattle.

    Totally agree with Mrs Cumbrian about food looking at you. That's probably why only eat fish in batter.

    Raggy cat is a hunter who likes comfort next to the Cumbrian fire. He's not daft.



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