Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

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.


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.


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).

Hedges - anyone else noticed....

Posted: 22/03/2015 at 08:34

Yes, it's one of those.  It can reach over the hedge and cut both sides if necessary, as well - of course - as doing the top! There are problems if there's anything in the way - e.g. trees along the hedgerow or things like telephone poles, which is why you'll see growth still close to these.   Most farmers these days don't have the specialised equipment for things like hedge-cutting or combine harvesting, so these are usually  done by contractors who are often chaps from farming families anyway & who've set up a business when they themselves don't actually have land to farm - e.g. younger sons or those who are more interested in machinery than animals.

Hedges - anyone else noticed....

Posted: 21/03/2015 at 19:16

Are the  hedges being cut by the council or the landowner?  If it's country roads, it may well be the latter.

This is the proper time of year for hedgecutting around farm land - farmers are not allowed to do it during what the Powers that Be call "flowering and fruiting times", so this is the time of year you'll see it happening.  If there's a very overgrown hedge which is deemed to be affecting the traffic, the council can step in and do it - they may charge the landowner for this.

If hedges have been properly maintained - and you're not supposed to cut both sides in the same year - the use of a flail hedgecutter is fine - a good contractor will take the trouble to make several cuts - each taking a little at a time, so that there are only small pieces of twigs etc taken off at any one "go".  For example, I get the hedge around my land cut by a local contractor who does a really good job, leaving the hedge wider at the bottom, and taking a lot of trouble to see that the debris consists of small pieces.  I can tell which of the other people round here use him - the hedges look fine.

On the other hand, the person who owns land adjacent to mine has not cut the hedges for 10 years.  This had led to the sort of overgrowth which means that the farm tractors/trailers go off the tarmac surface and on to the verges, causing the tarmac at the edges to crumble away.  The local council were told about this and all they did was repair the tarmac (badly) with the result that it hasn't lasted - the hedges have grown even more, and the verges are badly damaged and a sea of mud.  For some reason they haven't tackled the landowner about this, which is surprising as they did contact another person I know and told him to see to his hedges - or else!........ 

Septic Tank Drain Field

Posted: 19/03/2015 at 11:40

Can you perhaps explain what type of system you have?  If your house is a "new build" it probably has one of the modern "digester" systems (e.g. Klargester type) and as far as I know, the run-off from these is supposed to be considered "safe". 

I can tell you how the old-fashioned type of system works, but have no direct experience of the new sort.  Maybe someone else can help.

Discussions started by hypercharleyfarley

ID please!

looks like a cross between grass and foxglove 
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