93 days ago
My pal Chris came aroud to pick a stack of our glut of strawberries. He, and his daughter, took a trug home with a couple of lettuces after supper but we still have stacks more to pick. Meanwhile on the production line:
347 days ago
The fried green tomatoes continue to win rave reviews from the Mrs and myself and so we enjoyed another batch yesterday after the arrival of two large bags of “old fashioned cornflour” with a big picture of what used to be known as a Red Indian on the front of each. I suggested that the flour might have been produced by Native Americans but the Mrs, a woman once known as the deluded lefty, gave each bag a dirty look, suggesting that – like the Washington Redskins – a makeover was needed for these enlightened times. I think I shall order some more bags to ensure we have a lifetime’s supply with the current design. Meanwhile, I have more of the green tomato glut to deal with, without resorting to chutney as we already have more than one winter’s supply of apple chutney.
426 days ago
I hear that there was a near biblical deluge yesterday and it looks like there is plenty of rain ahead back at the Welsh hovel. And I have a couple of assistants going in to water both the garden and the big lawn so I hope I shall return to something in good shape. As long promised, here is what I have turned the jungle into. The project is far from finished but its no longer a jungle.
645 days ago
My Christmas presents for those outside the immediate family, friends, relatives and neighbours are a combination of Yarg cheeses, dried chillies and Greek Hovel olive oil. There may be the odd jar of home made jam chucked in to the mix. 17 Cheeses arrived on Wednesday. Four are for personal use as the whole family of the Mrs. will bless us with their presence. The rest, sometimes as halves, are to be dished out.
662 days ago
The five chilli plants brought inside to escape the frost continue to chuck off red, yellow and green chillies all of which are incredibly hot. Ahead of my Greek trip I pick around 100 a day to thread and hang up to dry for putting in jars when I return. One small chilli makes a stew spicey hot and as I expect to have well over 1200 chillies by the time I am done. If you are on my Christmas list you have been warned.
671 days ago
As you may have gathered, I have become a bit of a bore on the subject of nature warning us of cold weather ahead and in that vein, I am bracing myself for frost and worse next week. I was working outside for most of the day in preparation for this and while the sky was a clear blue there was a real nip in the air.
675 days ago
In the alcove next to the aga, strings of red hot chillies continue to dry. I really am not sure what I shall do with them as I already have more than a year’s supply and there is another batch awaiting stringing and more still to be harvested. But now joining them are a few bunches of rosemary, thyme and lemon thyme, drying ahead of storage. There are other herbs in the two new herb gardens which I will be harvesting to dry and store this weekend. More progress as we prepare for the long winter.
683 days ago
After the bonfire party here on Friday some of the grown ups tried a shot of my home made Chillie vodka. The father of Joshua’s pal R managed two but he is Polish so it is in his DNA. The rest of us managed only one glass and, boy, did it need tonic as my home grown chillies are uber powerful. I have now started pacakaging up two shot bottles as Christmas presents for my siblings and, ever thirsty, daughter Olaf in remembrance of my father who appreciated a modest drink or two and loved devilishly hot food. Fear not, better presents will also be given but this is for dad.
695 days ago
It being half term, Joshua and I killed time at the local garden scentre buying more gooseberry bushes for reasons I shall explain later and also a pumpkin. He, the Mrs and Jayarani are away with the mother-in-law this weekend but when he returns on Halloween I shall have it carved and a pumpkin soup ready for him. The light is deceptive. It is bright orange. Pumpkin cuisine can wait. Last night was another cooking night, as the family snored and slumbered I stayed up late, turning the last of the windfall cooking apples into jam.
697 days ago
For some reason Quincey has graduated from sleeping in Jayarani’s baby chair and is today taking control of my garden trug which, after bringing in another batch of chillies for threading and drying, sits on the kitchen floor. Maybe, as he approaches his 7th birthday, he is growing up. Whatever, the bigger and friendlier of the two cats is very handsome as you can see below.
705 days ago
The chilli bushes are still spitting off firey red chillies and so, as you can see below, I am still threading chain after chain to hang up in the kitchen, close to the aga, to dry. And after just over two weeks, the first chilis have dried. I bit one to taste and, gosh, one tiny nibble and my mouth was on fire. Those dried chillies have now been put in an airtight jar where they will last a year.
723 days ago
As you can see below, there are now three strings of chillis hanging up at the Welsh Hovel to dry. The longest of the three was yesterday’s harvest and as each day goes by more chillies turn a fiery red and are ready to pick. I reckon that by mid October I should have as many as three hundred dried chillies in storage jars. And that will last us until next year’s crop is ready.
724 days ago
They may be small but they are now turning red and fiery hot. I am advised that if they are strung up to dry for two weeks they can then be stored in a kilner jar so we have use of them right throughout the winter. And thus the first chillies were strung on a line using needle and thread yesterday and now hang in the kitchen in the old fireplace between the old bread oven and where the aga now sits, the place that the Mrs stores her booze. I will thread another line today and if I have time go pick another batch for threading. God willing we should have several hundred chillies drying within the next two weeks.
729 days ago
What you see below is the yield from just one pepper bush and I have six of them in the garden. Plus another six producing normal shaped peppers and six more producing chillies which are now turning red and becoming fiery hot. All are dripping with fruit which we put in salads and stews but just cannot eat all of. I shall be threading my first chain of chillies for drying next week. Peppers, I am told, freeze well without any need for blanching so what you see below is now in a freezer growing fuller by the day.
761 days ago
I planted 18 pepper, chilli and sweet pepper plants here at the Welsh Hovel and the pepper ones are the most laggardly. The others are dripping with fruit including some devilishly hot chillies. But the first pepper has now been harvested as you can see below.
3918 days ago
For some reason some folks think that as a restaurant owner i am a professional chef. I have tried to disillusion them and I enjoy cooking but there are limits. Those limits will be exposed in about 90 minutes time as I have tried to recreate a Spanish/Portuguese dish but things are going awry. I thought I remembered the recipe but it slowly dawned on me as the process started that this was not the case.
Put it this way, I hope folks like their food spicey as I think I overdid it a bit on the chillies. I have now tried to offset that with a bit of red wine (heck the Spanish cook with sherry, but I could not find any of that) but as you balance and counterbalance earlier errors with items retrieved from cupboards you just seem to find additional errors creeping in. At this stage I can just hope that as the sauce reduces the chillies reduce with it and that the white beans and meats soak up whatever horrors I have injected. At least with a side dish of colcannon (well, as it happens, a slightly experimental version of that traditional Irish mainstay) I cannot go too wrong.
As for the cheeseboard, I have discovered a new West Country cheese (Afterburn) made with garlic and er…chilli. I am amazed to discover that there is an annual chilli festival held in Dorset each year and that this country has a thriving chilli production and products industry. I sense that a New Year resolution is to discover more about this and I may well be heading off to Wimborne St Giles (details here) for the next annual Chilli festival. It looks a hoot.
Now back to the unfolding culinary adventure.