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hypercharleyfarley


Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Squirrels

Posted: 16/07/2015 at 13:59

That's amazing, Dove!  I've never seen it happen - the squirrels ignore the bird-bath here en route to other more interesting things!

Squirrels

Posted: 16/07/2015 at 13:38

They probably won't be particularly interested in dried stuff (e.g. bird food) at certain times of the year, particularly if it's a female squirrel which is still feeding her young.  When they are lactating they need a fair amount of moisture intake to produce enough milk, so I think that's supposed to be one of  the reasons they tend to go for young & relatively juicy buds etc.

I don't know if anyone's made a study of how much fluid squirrels actually need to consume, but when you think that they evolved to live in forested areas where often there's no obvious water available I suppose much of the "liquid" must be from immature greenery.  I've never ever seen a picture of a squirrel drinking anything!

 

p.s. Sorry - Dove - we cross-posted!

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 16/07/2015 at 13:21

Don't bother going down the "salt route"!   As I mentioned before,  the results are not worth eating.  I think salt was used in the past as a means of preserving all sorts of things because it was readily available and there wasn't really an alternative apart from smoked or dried meat & fish etc.  Not sure when people started to make preserves in glass jars or in cans, but I guess it was probably over 100 years ago, and who had their own canning factory anyway!  At some point people must have discovered that things like vinegar and sugar acted as a preservative, but sugar (as we know it) was a real luxury item until relatively recently in terms of our own evolution, so it would be interesting to find out just when and where these means of preserving food began to be used.

I always pick the runner beans etc well before they get to the tough & stringy stage anyway - and helps more of the flowers to "set" apparently, as the fundamental reason for plants to flower and seed is for them to reproduce - so if you don't allow them to get to the fully-developed "seed" stage, it works because they keep on trying!  When you think about it, we don't eat the beans when they have grown enough for the seeds themselves to be viable -  we really only eat their immature seed pods.  Must go & pick some mange-tout peas in a minute!

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 16/07/2015 at 10:54

I prefer to blanch all those vegetables which are supposed to need it - you never know which little bags of frozen stuff somehow get "lost" in the freezer, only to turn up months later!  If they're then not really worth eating, the whole thing has been a bit of a waste of time. 

As far as pans of boiling water are concerned, no real problem I reckon if you boil a kettle-full of water to add to a smaller quantity already heating on the top of the stove.   Far quicker that way.  If you decide to steam rather than put the vegetables in the pan itself, the water just needs topping up from time to time.  I always steam fresh green vegetables anyway, often on top of a pan which has perhaps carrots or potatoes in it.  Makes more space on the cooker top and I guess it saves electricity/gas too as well as the result having a better texture/flavour.

I remember the taste/texture of runner beans preserved in salt - ugh!  In those days the larder shelves were stacked with bottled stone-fruit (plums/damsons) and people even used to preserve whole eggs in isinglass.

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 15/07/2015 at 19:10

Hello again - I had to look up the reason for blanching in the old book I have!  This is what it says   ",,,,Blanch:  to heat vegetables in boiling water, or to steam just long enough to slow or stop enzyme action".

I don't think you need to blanch fruit, but if freezing apples for example, the book recommends slicing them straight into a container part-filled with a cold 40% syrup.  I only freeze cooked apple anyway i.e. not quite to the puree stage, but what I'd call "stewed" a bit. I thaw it and use it in pies, or apple flan with a bit of grated lemon rind and some sugar to taste.  For the flan, I cover the thawed apple with thinly sliced raw eating apples and then cook it.  When it's cooked I brush some melted apricot jam over the top whilst it's still warm from the oven.  It cools to make a lovely-looking glaze.  Delicious too.

Even if you freeze fruit in sugar/sugar syrup, you can discard this before eating the fruit, so increased sugar consumption shouldn't be too much of an issue.  It seems as though the sugar acts as a kind of preservative and the fruit itself doesn't absorb much of it anyway.

Good luck!

p.s. the book I referred to was published in 1968!

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 15/07/2015 at 13:32

Some fruits can't be frozen successfully, and I think whole apricots are one of them.  I think they can be frozen, but you need to halve and stone them first, add some ascorbic acid solution and then freeze them in sugar syrup.  It's probably a good idea to think about those fruits which are sold as "frozen food" and that'll give you an idea as to what works and what doesn't.  e.g. raspberries freeze well uncooked, but strawberries don't!  There are other ways of preserving things of course -  for example, I bottle damsons and make jam sometimes with other soft fruit.  Vegetables need blanching first, and then cooling in iced water, then well-drained before packing in small-ish plastic bags.  Once again, think about what's available in supermarkets as regards whether or not to freeze whole e.g. French beans whole and runner beans sliced.  I'm sure the commercial producers have experimented a lot over the years to see what works best!

If you grow lots of fruit and vegetables it's probably worthwhile to buy a book about freezing things - I have a very old one called "Home Guide to Deep Freezing" by Audrey Ellis, but I don't know if you could buy it now!  Charity shops often have quite a good range of old cookery books, so I think that's where I'd look first.

Chester Visit

Posted: 14/07/2015 at 20:34

Hello DK - I think the best thing to do is to walk round the City Walls, probably best to begin at the Eastgate, in the centre of the city close to the Grosvenor Hotel.  You can get up on to the Walls level via some steps there.  The Victorian clock on the Eastgate is one of  the best-known features of the city itself. 

With the hotel behind you, if you walk to the right (clockwise) along the city wall  you'll go down towards the eastern side of the city and will see the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre on one side and and the hippocaust on the other, where the Newgate goes over the road.  If you were to walk to the left you'd pass the cathedral.  There's a new-ish belltower there.  If you were to walk down Eastgate Street with the clock behind you, you'd reach The Cross, with Bridge Street on the left, going downhill a bit to the river. Watergate Street's straight ahead, and it goes down to the Roodee & underneath the Watergate itself.  You can access/leave the Walls at a number of points, so a total circular tour isn't absolutely necessary!

Either way, it's a fair distance along the Walls from the Eastgate to the part where you can look down on the Roodee Racecourse.  A bit of the wall's missing between that point and Handbridge,  but if you go further  (anticlockwise from the racecourse & past the County Court building on your left) you'll end up alongside and above the River Dee.  There's an old bridge which crosses the river and upstream there's a weir which might make a good photo.

In any case, I guess the best-known feature of Chester is probably what are called The Rows - shops at the upper level and covered footway over those at street level.  You probably know already that the city's Roman name was Deva, but The Rows date - I think - from the Middle Ages.  Near the Newgate and just beyond the amphitheatre there's a Visitor Centre, so that might be a good place to go and pick up a guide book.  It's probably less than 100 yards from the Newgate, and you can see the building from there - it looks as though it was once a school or something.

Hope you have a good time - Ma.

Rabbits

Posted: 30/06/2015 at 08:38

It looks as though Charlie November and I have the same problem with rabbits!  The solution ref digging/mesh won't work for my garden either!

It's a bit of a myth that dogs will control the rabbit population - my whippets are very good at catching them but - of course - the dogs aren't outdoors 24/7!  There are two rabbits just outside the window beside me as I type this, even though the dogs have already done what you might call their "morning patrol".  One of the dogs actually caught & killed a rabbit the other day - and the dog was on the lead at the time - when we walked down the lane.

I have found that even those plants which are supposed to be what you might call "rabbit proof" get nibbled a bit - maybe the young rabbits taste the greenery and then decide  that that didn't like what they'd tried.  They don't, however, seem to touch wild poppies, foxgloves, euphorbias or hellebores.

Until a few years ago I had two semi-feral cats and I've no doubt at all that they dealt with the problem far more efficiently than I could have imagined, because since the demise of the last cat, the rabbits have taken over completely. 

There have been several outbreaks of myxi during the time I've lived here, but the reduction in the rabbit population then doesn't seem to have lasted.  I now have a theory that those rabbits which survived the outbreaks were probably those which had a tendency to stay above ground more than the rest, so didn't come into contact much with the affected ones.  I gather that the disease is spread by the transfer of infected fleas from one rabbit to another - probably down in the burrows.  Years ago I never saw rabbits at all during the daytime - it was only at dawn and dusk - but the current population seems to be above ground for most of the time, so maybe they inherited this trait from earlier generations which had that inclination.  The adult rabbits are also far smaller than they used to be, so again perhaps it was the smallest/weakest ones which didn't "fit in" with the rest - and became some sort of outcast, resulting in the breeding of smaller ones.

swallows

Posted: 16/04/2015 at 14:07

two here yesterday, and another one this morning.  I don't think they are the "local" ones, just en-route to somewhere further north.  This time they're about a week earlier than last year.  I think it might have something to do with whether or not the prevailing wind has been coming from the south - must help them a bit.

Can You Identify this Bird?

Posted: 10/04/2015 at 11:46

Could it be a buzzard?   much more "bulky" than other birds of prey and the mention of "White" feathers makes me think a buzzard's more likely, especially as red kites aren't seen everywhere in the UK - mostly the SE I think - at least that's where I usually see them - near the M40, but never round here (much further north).

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