Archive for February, 2011

Books: Food from Your Garden and Allotment

This book is one of my guilty little secrets! How can anyone be really serious about gardening with a book from Reader’s Digest?

Now that the secret is out however, I have to say that if I could only keep one book from our library it would be this one. It has everything you need to know, about almost every type of fruit and veg that you’re likely to grow. It’s simple, clearly laid out, well indexed, packed with great pictures and illustrations, and very very unpretentious.

My only criticism is that it could have done with being more comprehensively updated from the 1977 original. There a several newly-fashionable plants you won’t find in here, and there is an over-dependence on chemical solutions that you don’t tend to find in most modern books.

So, as you may have guessed, this book is another one to buy. Don’t bother with getting a copy from the library – I did initially, but went straight out to buy one as soon as I had the chance. Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – Food from Your Garden and Allotment, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

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Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture & Aquaculture

I’ve been interested in permaculture for years but this is one of the best examples of cold-climate permaculture I’ve ever seen – really clever integration, in an incredibly difficult climate. If they can do it on an Austrian mountainside we should be able to do something here in Manchester.

Books: John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency

In our eclectic library of green and gardening books, this is one of my favourites. I combines being a coffee-table “pretty” book and a great starting point for most smallholding topics. There are a couple of sections that I find invaluable: there is a better guide to deep digging than that inHow to Grow more Vegetables; and I find the crop rotation guide, and pictures of the vegetable beds through the year, to be the clearest I’ve read – it’s what inspired our Crop Rotation fantasy plan. But most of all, I like the fact that it has a couple of pages on any topic that might interest me – from bees to chickens, building a storeroom to preserving, and it has the ultimate dream – plans for mini-farming five acres.

The book is beautifully produced, the illustrations are a delight, and the content is relevant and comprehensive. This is another book I’d recommend buying – it’s something to refer to on-and-off for ever.

Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Cheaper, better – vegan – bread – the results

I’ve finally tried the Real Bread recipe from my “Baking cheaper, better bread” post. I have to admit I was pretty sceptical. about a third of the yeast I usually use, no sugar to feed it and no butter? I put it into my standard one-hour breadmaker cycle and was expecting a flat, solid, uninspiring loaf.

Opening the breadmaker was not very encouraging, it had risen less than my usual recipe, but not by much:

It wasn’t a nice glossy brown on top, but it did look encouragingly bread-shaped:

Time to open it up then! The best reflection on taste and texture was that the loaf was half-gone by the time I managed to get a pic. It was a lot less crumbly than my usual  loaf, tasted nice, was pretty light, and sliced nicely. Pretty much all you could want:

So, it’s edible, how much does it cost? We’re using the same prices as my original “How much does it cost to bake your own bread” recipe, minus the milk, butter, sugar, and with the new Doves Farm large packets of yeast we’re getting from Waitrose – 125g for 99p.

250g Strong White Bread Flour 11p
250g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 16p
1 tsp salt 0.2p
5g yeast 4p
Electricity 3.14p
Total 35p

So this “Real Bread” recipe costs only 35p in comparison to my usual recipe’s 78p. That’s a pretty significant difference, so it’s our new favourite – until the next comes along! Any other suggestions?

Almost forgot to add – now it doesn’t use any chilled ingredients it’s even more green, and it can be made out of standard store cupboard ingredients – even better for our Peak Oil prep.

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