Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Feeding our happy little fish

The carp are here and enjoying their new home. It was slightly surreal coming home to a box of live fish, but after a gentle introduction to our tanks they all swam off happily, showing no ill effects.

We got a couple of kilos of carp food delivered with the fish, but as they’re far more omnivorous than the trout we’re keen to try something a bit more home-grown.

Some of our sumps are doing well at growing duckweed so I thought that would be a good start and added a net-full of duckweed to their tank.

They’re much gentler feeders than the trout, so I haven’t seen them aggressively attacking clumps of weed, but it is steadily disappearing.

At this stage, with tiny digestive systems, they need to be able to “graze” through the day, and I think the duckweed helps with that between their main feedtimes.

As they grow we’ll try to expand their diet further to see if we can eventually produce all their feed in-house – ideally from waste, or areas we’re not using for our food

The Carp are coming (by post!)

At some point I’ll manage to document the roller-coaster ride that was our first go at Aquaponics. Suffice to say it was a mixed success – we got to eat lots of delicious trout, but lost quite a few on the way too.

We’ve spent the last 18 months doing a major redesign to get the fish out
of the polytunnel, and we are finally ready to go again – the system has been split to allow for different sizes, and different species, so we’re now eagerly awaiting our first Carp delivery ….

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.

How much food can you grow around your house?

Another great interview from Peak Moment TV. One woman’s experiment to see how much food she could grow from her own garden. She has bees, chickens and rainwater harvesting – it’s an inspiring video – take half an hour to watch, or at least listen, to one person’s view on sustainability and resilience – and the fun she has.

Baking cheaper, better bread

An interesting challenge this – a comment from Chris Young from the the Real Bread Campaign on my post on “how much does it cost to bake your own bread“.

Apparently I can make delicious bread without the sugar or milk – Chris gave a link to this Real Bread recipe. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but will do next time I have a chance to play again. I think the main issue may be the small amount of yeast combined with the rapid cycle I tend to use, which produces a loaf in under an hour. We’ll see!

Here’s the recipe:

500g Flour (wholemeal or a mix of white and wholemeal)
5g Salt
350g Water
5g Dried yeast (or 10g fresh yeast, or 3g easy-blend yeast)
15g Butter or olive oil (optional – makes bread slightly softer)

Unless your machine’s instructions say otherwise, pour the water into the loaf pan and, if you are using it, add the fresh yeast. Disperse the salt in the flour and then sprinkle this over the water. If you are using dried or instant yeast and/or butter or oil, place them – not touching each other – on top of the flour. Secure the pan in the machine, close the lid and press the start button.

I’ll post a picture once I’ve tried it.

First signs of new life

A strange mid-winter warm spell has me feeling ridiculously springlike. In contrast to the -10c we were experiencing before Christmas, it’s now a balmy +12c. It’s not just me noticing the change – the garden is awakening. The broad-leaved sorrel is the first of the perennials to re-emerge from the softening ground, and the ivory shoots of our new bulbs show that our ever-hungry squirrels have failed to eat all of them and that my dreams of woodland drifts of snowdrops and bluebells may yet come to pass!
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