Wednesday, 9 December 2020

The Courtyard Dairy and Camphill Trust

It has been quite a while since I have driven up through the Yorkshire Dales and even when I did do the journey for work I rarely had time to stop and explore. So, whilst going to collect my youngest from university, I dropped in for a break from driving at The Courtyard Dairy just off the A65 beyond Settle

At the moment, there are of course safeguards and restrictions to protect transmission of Covid-19, and so the coffee hut in the foreground of the picture below was self service, but still a nice cup after quite a long drive!

However, the main reason to call here was to get some cheese and they have an amazing selection of small producer cheeses from all over the UK. 

A perspex screen seperates the customer from the staff in the entrance, which is just around the corner from the end of the path by the far building. However, there is a slot in the barrier, with a cheese board upon which samples of cheese are put by the staff for customers to try!

I opted for two cheeses, Young Buck - a blue cheese made in Northern Ireland and Dale End, made at Camphill, Botton, North Yorkshire, a community of learning disabled people. 

When buying the cheese, I wasn't aware of this community, but having supported learning disabled clients in care work it was very pleasing and interesting to me to find out about the work of the Camphill Trust  and that I have bought a product which supports this community. 

As I have said many times, it is so important to support local businesses and food producers and this will be especially important over coming months and years given Brexit and the UK Government's proposals for the farming sector.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Tuesday 1st December - Lockdown - Day 27 - Allotment Update

 Well, tomorrow the present lockdown is over for me and I go back to work, so after a lovely walk with a friend this morning I went up to the allotment this afternoon to do some digging over. 

The broad beans have been doing well, although one or two appear to have been nibbled despite the brambles round them to try and keep the slugs away. There's some more in the lean-to greenhouse at the house, which are getting very big to be honest and maybe I need to plant them out. 

This is the sprouting broccoli for early Spring next year which has done really well, the trick is to try and keep up with the picking once it starts otherwise the flowers come really quickly. 

This net has been a good investment. This particular apple tree, a Gala, is really late fruiting and so if it isn't netted the birds come along and have a really good peck at the apples. It is not big enough to protect every single apple but we've had a lot more off this tree than in previous years. 

The nasturtiums have finally caught a little bit of frost, apart from around where the parsnips and leeks are I will let these rot down as a kind of green manure and ground cover, saves me having to weed over the winter!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Sunday 29th November - Lockdown 2 - Day 25 - Home Grown ingredients in Tortillas

After podding the beans yesterday, today was using them in the tortilla filling for lunch. We also used home grown onion, and home grown tomatoes, from the tomato plant in our bedroom that has really got going again now the heating is on a lot more!

We had a similar number of tomatoes in the salad on Saturday too!

We've also added chicken from our local butchers (sourced from near Ripon, North Yorkshire, and some dried kidney and pinto beans as well as our own. 

Friday, 27 November 2020

26th November 2020 - Lockdown 2 - Day 22 - Pumpkin Chutney

Yesterday, I set to and made a batch of pumpkin chutney (well from what is to be honest an orange coloured squash!)

The first task was the peel the flesh, get the seeds and pith out and then chop up the squash into small pieces ready for cooking. 

I needed two pans into which also went about half a kilogram of brown sugar for each, which gives the chutney a nice darker colour, and about 3-4 cm depth of pickling vinegar into each pan. Into one pan I also chopped up some ginger and into the other I put a tablespoon of both chilli flakes and garam masala. 

The mixture was bubbled for at least three hours on a low heat, stirring every so often and then near the end mashing the mixture and increasing the heat to ensure a decent consistency and no vinegar was left visible as liquid. 

The mixture was then transferred to sterilised jars, it is best to use jars from such as indian sauce mixes rather than jam jars for this because of the type of lid as long storage of chutney containing vinegar will eventually corrode certain lids. The jars were sealed and left to cool. 

27th November 2020 - Lockdown 2 -- Day 23 - Podding beans

 Just a short blog today to say that I have spent a lot of it podding the ying-yang and borlotti beans that have been (or bean!) drying in an upstairs bedroom for the past few weeks. 

This isn't all of them either - the pods will go into the compost heap and the beans are being stored for the next time we have tortillas!

Thursday, 26 November 2020

25th November 2020 - Lockdown 2 - Day 21 - Moon and Mars

 Just a quick one for this evening. I am busy learning how to use my new Omegon LX3 Minitrack for astronomy photography, amd indeed the camera settings necessary for this. 

Last night was clear and so I got a nice picture of the moon for starters. 

The next one is of Mars, in the constellation of Pisces. I'll need to work on this another night, to try and produce an image of Mars without the "starburst"effect, this was on a 30 second exposure with the clockwork motor running on the tracker, however, the image is sharp and the colours of the stars in the shot are noticable. 

I need to look at layering multiple photographs as well and experiment with different aperture and ISO settings and timings. However, tonight was all about just learning how to use the tracker so it was a good result!

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

24th November 2020 - Lockdown 2 - Day 20 - Book Review and home grown

Recently I have finished reading "A Green and Pleasant Land" by Ursula Buchan, borrowed from the library just before the second lockdown. 

There's a collective folk memory based on the "Dig for Victory" poster, an idealistic image of everyone on the home front growing their own crops and being self-sufficent. This book sets out to explain what actually happened and the different approaches to ensuring that the nation had enough to eat during the wartime years. 

Much has been made of how parks and public spaces were turned into allotments and how it was encouraged for people to turn over large amounts of their garden to fruit and vegetables. However, a survey done in 1944 showed that under half of households grew some of their own fruit and vegetables either at home or on an allotment. There would be many reasons for this, not least of which either space at home or lack of time or manpower to undertake this, though many observed during the war that many who could have grown their own did not do so. 

The book also looks at cultivation on farms, the efforts of the Women's Land Army, how gardening was covered in the media, and how changing farming practices, for instance with chemicals, changed the landscape and habitats. The efforts of the WI, particularly in preserving fruit and distributing food, are also documented. 

My view of grow-your-own is this - if you have room to grow something for yourself, you should. Whilst even our present Covid-19 crisis does not compare to the hardships and issues encountered in the Second World War, those who can take a little of the pressure off the food supply chain should do so, and indeed reduce their food miles and reap the benefit of ultimate freshness that the market can't provide. That being said, I acknowledge that not everyone can do this, though I often mention my grandparents growing tomatoes and cucumbers in the window of a tenth floor council flat in inner city Leeds! 

It is not about total self sufficiency either, most of us are not lucky enough to have the two or three acres that would make this even remotely achieveable. However, with a little planning you can have elements of many of your meals that are entirely your own growing efforts. 

Today, for instance, we had home grown preserved pears on my porridge and home made damson jam (damsons from the allotment) on my oatcakes at breakfast. At lunch, a home grown apple with more damson jam on one of the sandwiches. At tea, with the pie was home grown potato, as well as home grown carrots and parsnip, and a little spinach beet, broccoli and some very small sprouts (the latter three are pretty much at the end of the crop now!). These are all from the allotment and served two people.  

Even if you don't have that much room, pears and apples can be container grown minarette trees and carrots can be grown in an old dustbin or tyre stack. Spinach beet is a cut and come again crop, so should be able to be grown in a large container like salad leaves.