Wednesday, 31 May 2017

English Bread

Bread is unfortunately one of my biggest downfalls, I love bread, any sort of bread, especially french bread.  I don't miss too many foods from the UK but I have to say I do often miss a fresh baked bloomer or split tin.  We had a lovely meal yesterday evening, pan fried haddock (dry fried in seasoned flour) with new potatoes and peas and sweetcorn (my faves).  After cleaning my plate I said to Nigel the only thing missing was a piece of bread and butter.  Lo and behold when I got up this morning there was Nigel kneading away at a lump of bread dough, he had found a Paul Hollywood bloomer recipe on line.  I've just had a warm crusty end spread with butter and it was heaven!  Gorgeous, I must say it is Nigel's best bread loaf to date!   He's such a treasure my hubby!!

Biscuit O'clock

Dogs are such creatures of habit aren't they, our two get five dog biscuits each twice a day, once in the morning and once early evening (they get fed their main meal around lunch time).  They both know when its "biscuit oclock" as Nigel calls it because they pester (especially Joli) and when Nigel comes out with the biscuits they have their specific places where they sit and Aimee always expects a little tease play with Nigel taking them away and giving them back etc.  Billie has recently decided she should join in and have biscuits too, the first time she had a sniff at Aimee's biscuits she was put in her place and snarled off, Joli, being Joli and soft as anything, moved away to let Billie get in there and I swear if she could have got one in her mouth she would have eaten one.  So now at biscuit oclock Billie has her own little pile of Dreamies cat treats (on the settee where she sits).  This morning when he had finished his biscuits Joli came over to have a sniff at Billie's and was sent away with a swipe of her paw, claws out!  He really is a big softie!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Yorkshire Jam Cake

We have loads of fruit in the freezer from the garden which we are trying to use up, loganberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, so Nigel decided to use some loganberries in this Yorkshire Jam Cake.  It was a favourite of my mum's and the recipe Nigel used was an old handwritten one which I think came from my auntie Sylvia up in Scarborough.  However here is a link to a very similar recipe on  Cant wait till after dinner to dig in, will be gorgeous with a spoon of greek yoghurt.

The Veggie Patch 19 May

Here is a picture of the vegetable plot taken on 19 May.  As you can see things have started to sprout and we have put cloches on to enhance their growth/keep them warm/for protection.  The sweet potato plants are looking a little worse for wear, we had a really hard hail storm (crazy weather) so we are not sure if it was the hail or if something has been nibbling.  I feel if it was the latter they would have been nibbled down to the stalk but this is not the case, instead some of the leaves are broken.

Japanese Maple

We planted this glorious Japanese Maple in the border of our decking in 2008.  It is absolutely beautiful and luckily the sheep either dont like the leaves or they cant reach them (they have been nibbling on the bark though).  It is about the only thing that has survived in the decking border unfortunately.  Some rain and a little bit of sun and look at the grass starting to pop up, hopefully the sheep will nibble that back!  Also a nice picture of Joli standing proud in the middle of the deck!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Veggie Patch

Well after all that glorious sun the weather has now changed to dull grey and light rain.  You'd think at least we would have a downpour or two to fill the waterbutts instead of this constant drizzle stuff.  Luckily we got all the planting done in time.  Nigel has worked really hard over the last couple of weeks to dig out our veggie patch which had become totally overgrown.  The raised beds had more or less disintegrated so he took out all the rotting wood and weeds and pulled up the green matting we had put down to make one large veggie patch.
As a lot of the things we have grown before, such as lettuce, courgettes, leeks, beetroot etc are so easy to get in the supermarket and are so cheap in the summer, we decided this year we would plant things which are either difficult to get or are expensive to buy.  Swedes (rutabaga) are both our favourite vegetable but are so expensive so we have put in two full rows of them.  They are so good mashed with pepper and butter, chunked into stews and roasted in the oven.  Next we thought we'd try kolrabi as we'd heard they are very tasty and can be eaten cooked and raw and you just dont see them in the shops here.  We've utilised the only remaining raised bed to plant spaghetti squash, lovely roasted in the oven then the inside forked out (it actually looks like spaghetti) with a bolognese sauce a very satisfying low carb dish.  We eat a lot of tinned green and yellow beans (haricot vert & jaune) but fresh ones are expensive even in the summer so they've gone in plus two rows of runner beans.  You dont see them so much in the supermarket and they are expensive when you do, plus growing your own you can pick them early before they get "squeeky".  One of my favourites is mangetout, gorgeous steamed, in stirfrys and raw in salad.  We saw some sweet potato plants up at Point Vert so got a couple of them to put in, will be interesting to see how they grow.  Gorgeous mashed up with carrot or on its own as well as chunked up and roasted with other roots.  Lastly we planted a bed of purple sprouting brocolli.  Nigel has put up a frame which we will cover with netting when they start to grow to keep the butterflies off.  One year we filled a whole raised bed with brocolli and cauliflowers and the time I spent picking caterpillars off the leaves!  I remember we had the ducks at the time so I collected the caterpillars in a tub and fed them to the ducks!
Cant wait for it all to start growing!  I will take pictures and post as they do.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Well its been a few years since I posted on here so perhaps its time I started again!  I'm still an exclusive designer on Craftsuprint so maybe I will also post a bit over on TotalHilaryCrafting as well plus put on some pics of my crochet projects.

As an update on our situation here in Brittany, its just Nigel and I now as my sister Jacqueline returned to the UK a couple of years back along with poodles Pixie and Liqua and cat Loulou.  Billie the cat is still going, she must be at least 20 years old now, she had a stroke a couple of years back and is now very wobbly on her feet as well as deaf as a post.  We've thought we were losing her a couple of times but so far she has come through and will probably outlive us all!
As you can see here all she wants to do is cuddle, as soon as I sit down she's there wanting to sit on me which is a bit of a pain when I am designing and crocheting.
Aimee has grown into a beautiful big dog and she is so well behaved and loving, she dotes on Nigel and gets very jealous if he talks to Joli or Billie.  She follows him around everywhere and if he goes out anywhere and leaves her she just sits at the gate waiting.  She is so good out on a walk, she doesnt need a lead and comes to heal when called, although she can be a bit protective of Nigel and barks at passers by.
Joli is getting old now and sadly last autumn we found out he has tumours in his lungs and in his throat, the throat one makes him cough a lot and his breathing gets quite laboured sometimes.  He has metacam which helps with the cough but he constantly wants to eat and unfortunately usually as soon as he has eaten he goes out into the garden to evacuate (thats how Pataud was at the end).  He is still very lively though and runs about, although he rarely goes out for a walk with Aimee and Nigel.  We dont know how long it will be before he starts to go downhill but have decided we are not going to let him go through what Pataud did at the end, as soon as he starts to suffer at all we will put him to rest.

Regarding outside animals, the only other animals we keep now are Ouessant sheep.  We got our first four Ouessants in April 2015, two girls and two boys.  Last year the two girls gave birth, one each, a girl and a boy.  That boosted our flock to 6, then this year the first lamb born was stillborn, then two more, a girl and a boy, were born healthy and it was wonderful to watch them frollicking about the garden.  Sadly on two days running we lost both babies to a fox or some other beasty, so sad.  We are still making our minds up what to do about the sheep now, whether to sell the females (females are the easiest to sell) and get a couple more males so we have a single sex flock and dont have to worry about lambing, or try and sell the males or even offer them up for rehoming and get a couple more females.  No doubt we will make a decision sooner or later.  We would definitely recommend Ouessant sheep to anyone with a bit of land they need the grass keeping down.  The only thing Nigel has to cut now is the stinging nettles and the bottom field, the sheep roam everywhere else and keep the grass down lovely, unfortunately the bottom field isnt fenced in so we cant let them go down there.  It is planned to fence it in somehow at some point when we have the funds.

Aimee likes to think she is a sheep!