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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Feeling a bit peeved......

We have been waiting so long for the builder to start work on the stair extension. We were happy to ask him to do the job as he has great reviews, and though he lives away, he does quite a lot in the area. We went to see some of the jobs he had done, then he came here and made suggestions. It was agreed that he could start in September when his current job was finished. Then it was put back, then again. Then he was supposed to start today and hasn't turned up. Getting worried!

We had a bit of a drama yesterday. We had been having nasty niffs upstairs in the bathrooms. Occasionally it has been because something has died in the space between floor and ceiling, a smelly reminder to put up with scuffling rather than use poison (which I hate anyway) But on Sunday the smell was in the garden too so we came to the conclusion that the tank might need emptying. Dave went to see Venka and it was arranged that Jordan would take Dave to the village hall to arrange emptying. Everyone was very worried that it would cost a lot as our's would be the only one and we should wait. But although it didn't look too full, maybe six years just sitting there had done it no good. So it was arranged that they would go back later to find out when it could be done, and then they had to go down and meet the wagon to show it the way! So, although it wasn't very full, it was all done and dusted before 4pm, thanks once again to our lovely neighbours, who also keep an eye on what they are charging. It was much less than we feared and already things are smelling better!

It seems Angel will be back from Italy in three weeks. He will plough our land as soon as he can. I just hope it is not too wet by then to get the onions and garlic in. It is far too much to dig from scratch but we are hoping that once it has been ploughed we can level areas and make paths so that in future we can do any cultivating in sections as they become available rather than having to plough everything. We'll see. We are told he will be removing the machine, whatever it is, from the garage, but I'm not sure we will get our car in it. We would like to as there is the danger it will freeze in winter as we rarely use it.

Today we had a visit from the man who gave us the chickens. He had asked Dave to paint a picture of their do for a surprise gift for his wife. It seems his wife accidentally saw a picture of the painting on his computer so the cat was out of the bag! He kindly called in to cash and carry for glace cherries, icing sugar, a whole brie and tome taters. He seemed delighted with the painting and paid more than he was asked for. He went off happy with his picture and four rhubarb plants, and was delighted to meet his rooster for next year, boy teenager chick. It was a six hour round trip! Bless him. So lovely to have a visitor and chinwag.

All the chicks are spending their days out in the run. Big chicks are managing to cope with the occasional attack from the adults, and baby chicks have the mini run as a bolt hole. There is only really a problem when they get split from each other, though we try to keep big chicks out of baby run as they get them cornered and let them know they are their superiors! Little chicks are looking tatty and not at all pretty at the moment. All very complicated.
Big chicks checking out the adult quarters. It will be a while before they are in here.
 Little chicks looking...well...little

We had a strange happening on Sunday too. Dave was out watching the chooks and saw lots of white stuff floating around in the sky. Eventually some dropped by him and he found it was a big clump of spider silk with a baby spider attached. Really weird. On speaking to our visitor today it gets worse later. We will see.

We have also had an increase in ladybirds who crash into you rather than just landing. They were having a go at Dave while he was up the ladder painting the window frame. They seem to bite for the hell of it.

We hope we have seen the last of the walnuts now. We are at the stage when we are shelling them and freezing them for any wild birds in winter, save us finding peanuts for them. Bella and Bonnie are both walnut thieves, a bit worrying as the shells can be so sharp. Bella would like her's shelled please!
I have made some quince and pear jelly and also a spiced batch. I ran out of jars so was using whatever I could find. We gave Venka and the quince lady a slab of chocolate and beetroot cake, which confused things a bit. Venka then sent us a jar of quince jam and another big jar of mixed veg!

We also had a quince tarte tartin which was delicious. I would like to thank Maykal in Romania for suggesting it. This is how I made it, but you could use any hard fruit.

I had some home made puff pastry to hand but a good shop bought one would do and if I could get it I would use it!

I poached thick slices of quince as I wasn't sure how long it would take to cook. I used a tablespoon of sugar and a splash of water with half a teaspoon of cinnamon and poached till tender, then left the fruit in the syrup to cool. I then removed the fruit, added another couple of tablespoons of sugar and boiled till it went a rich caramel colour. Take it off the heat and (carefully) arrange the fruit in the hot caramel. Leave to cool, cover with a layer of pastry and bake for half an hour at 180c. I do the whole lot in a small frying pan but sit it on a tray in case of bubble oever.

Put a plate over the top and turn the whole lot over. Be careful as it is extremely hot but if you leave it too long it will set in the pan.
Also this is a link to a really lovely Beetroot cake. We don't go for the pink icing, but a layer of cherry jam or similar in the middle and chocolate ganache in the middle and on top. I can't get cream here to make ganache so use a dark chocolate buttercream made with scalded cocoa.

I make it, as all my cakes, in a large roaster and freeze half. It freezes really well. If I am giving it away I will use half as much mixture again to make it deeper.


  1. I love reading your blogs Sara and Dave's painting of the dog is excellent.

  2. Brilliant painting of the dog... fits in perfectly with the excellent blog.

    1. The owner was chuffed to bits with the painting...a big one. It brought his wife to tears as she said it brought out Bella's character even though he had never met the dog.