Monday 31 August 2020

Fajita recipe for The Weaver of Grass

Tam's Fajita recipe

One chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/4 -1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 - 2 teaspoons tomato puree
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
Blend of 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin, 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander, 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika, Chilli Flakes to taste.  

This feeds one hungry person - 2 Fajitas!

Cook onion and pepper in pan in a little oil - 3 to 5 mins.  Add chicken breast and garlic and continue to cook until chicken cooked through.  Add spices and cook until aromatic (a couple of minutes), then add tomato puree and a tablespoon or two of water and blend.  Cook until mixture starting to thicken and "dry" a little.  Season, put into wraps, and eat.  This does two wraps.

A Walk in the Mountains

Yesterday the mountains were calling us, and - thinking that everyone would be at the beach - we headed for Llyn-y-Fan-Fach.  We were turned away at the usual turning to the lake, with a sign saying Carparks Full and a lady in high viz . . .  We drove on to the other turning from Llandeusant church and managed to get in as people were by then leaving.  The view above is one I took as we were drawing near.  This is the mountain I take photos of from the top of our hill.

Walking the mile and a half up to the lake meant a climb of 800 feet.  Blimey, it felt like it!!!  This is the Trout Farm half way up, built during WW1.

The stream tumbles over the rocks and I took far too many wonderful photos.

The lake - not one for swimming in as it has all sorts of nasties in it including Leptosporosis.  Yet there are many sites recommending this for "wild swimming".  Back in my day, this was just called "swimming"!  We used to camp up on Dartmoor too - now this is "wild camping" . . .

The sheep up on this steep slope look like they were stuck onto fuzzy felt!

There were lots of people who had climbed up on to the ridge.

Tam, caught unawares.

I was very relieved to be walking downhill at this point.  You can just see the wee bothy in the background.  The dam was built by 175 Irish Navvies who began work in 1914, and in 1916 200 Conscientious Objectors were added to the mix.   Jehovah's Witnesses were amongst their number and this LINK will show you the trout farm buildings being built.

The views . . .

You can see the procession of people on the trackway.

Today?  Back to work!!

Sunday 30 August 2020

Autumn's arrived early

With the recent named storms (Ellen and Francis), autumn arrived early.  The beans in the garden were blown over and blight entered the Polytunnel through the mesh window we had uncovered on one side, blown in by the winds.  That's brought the garden to a bit of an abrupt halt now, although we still have squashes to come and the Greek Gigantes are just about hanging in there, propped up with a hefty step ladder.

Yesterday I looked out of my office window, and the Ty Coch farmer (or his son) was ploughing.  For winter crops for his sheep or cattle, not wheat or barley.  We don't get enough sunshine here to ripen any grain crops, though farms probably grew oats in the past, which are more tolerant as they require more water.

This morning shows he had been very hard at work and ploughed the neighbouring field too.

I treated myself to a magazine when I went to the PO yesterday.  We have just started taking a Saturday newspaper again after having gone without newspapers since mid-March.  I still have to persuade myself they are not contaminated (!) but I make sure I wash my hands thoroughly after handling.  This has long been one of my favourite magazines - more like Country Living used to be, before it got full of adverts.  I've gone without magazines too, apart from my quilting magazine which I have on subscription.

Yesterday teatime Tam and I picked the plums.  Not a gigantic crop, but enough for us, and more than the young tree has produced before.  It's one of the cheap ones that Aldi or Morrisons sell every spring. Csar I think.  We had to use the other step ladder and a pair of loppers to reach them though, so the tree got a bit of a pruning too.  These will be cooked up and go in the freezer.  I need to check the chest freezer and try and make a bit of room.

Next month it will be pears and apples.  Oh my goodness - the apple crop this year is overwhelming.  I've had to cut back the tree at the end of the driveway as it was hanging so low with the weight of fruit, so friends and visitors have been given bagfuls of smallish apples to cook up (or feed to their donkeys!)

The pear crop is huge too, but another tree which hasn't fruited before and did this year, got nobbled by the birds.  The fruits have a slight blush and that must have attracted them.  I think that might be a Comice.

Tam requested one of our favourite tray bakes yesterday, Chocolate and Blackberry Brownies.  We were low on chocolate but sacrificed the last bar of Lidls' Raspberry dark chocolate for this (we needed a bar and a half and some more as chocolate chips but added a chopped apple instead.  Half has gone in the freezer.

Here's the recipe below:

The illustration in the book and below, the book, which is one of my favourites.

Due to the Blight, we had to pull all the tomato plants (they will be burned on the bonfire), and have green tomatoes for chutney making.  Tam will have to do that today - the vinegar fumes do my asthma no favours.  A shame as I used to make all my own chutney before this happened.

Various preserves books have been pulled off the shelves - a couple which I have bought Tam down the years (above and below):

And below, my own "go to" book which takes some beating.  It has recipes for everything and they never fail.

Has anyone been watching the Our Yorkshire Farm series?  It's my favourite programme - those kids are so practical and self-reliant, and by gum, the family live a tough life up on the North York  moors.  The kids are so down to earth and not a mobile in sight!  Wee Clemmy is such a character, and  one of these days I'm sure we will see Tony The Pony tucked up in bed with her!!   I went to bed so relaxed after watching last night's programme and slept well, and we still have the Lockdown programme on record to see tonight.  

Right, I have pickled onions to make, and I need to take the fruit out of my Damson wine, and add sugar to the bin . . .

Thursday 27 August 2020


Our middle daughter Gabby came for lunch today (and brought most of it too, as she always does, AND got a bunch of Asters for me.  I love being brought flowers.)  It was pouring with rain, so we had a Socially Distanced lunch down in what was mum's kitchen, with the door wide open and Gabby with her mask on except when she was eating or drinking.

It was lovely to see her again.  We discussed what was likely to happen at Christmas.  I had to say I didn't think it would be a family one this year - she and Danny could spend it together and we would all meet up in a car park somewhere to exchange gifts.  Not ideal, but hopefully it would be a one-off, from necessity.  Once there is a vaccine, we could have a sort of "Second Christmas" and all sit down together, safely.

There was a gap in the rain, and some blue sky, so Tam and I had a quick walk up the hill late afternoon.   The clouds were amazing.

These bare fields have had the grass killed off, so I assume they will be re-sown.  This is where the 10 or so Red Kites were feeding on meeces when Tam and I had our foraging walk a few days ago.  The lane we were on is on the right-hand margin of the furthest brown field.

Looking up the valley.  Next door's cows are all grazing peacefully.

Black Mountain disappearing under clouds.  I wonder if we will get to walk up to Llyn y Fan Fach this year?  I doubt it now.

I had a busy morning and as it was chucking it down with rain from the moment we got up, I decided it was time to make a pan of soup.  My gosh, pan - it was more like a VAT by the time I'd finished blending it.  Recipe is HERE, over on Tracy's Farmhouse Kitchen blog.  I've frozen 2/3 of it and there is still plenty to see us through the weekend.  

Keep dry everyone!

Monday 24 August 2020

A foraging walk

Tam and I had a lovely (downhill) foraging walk yesterday and came home with 2 1/2 lbs big blackberries and about 6 1/2 lbs of stripey wilding apples which I plan to make cider with.  Here's the view across the Towy Valley.

Common Knapweed (I know them as Hardheads).

A wee Scabious on the hedgerow - probably Devil's Bit Scabious.

A Violet which is a bit out of tune with the seasons.

Looking across the valley again.

One of the sort-of-neighbours up the hill from us.  Not very friendly  . . .

Walking into the view.

Orpine and a pale Red Campion.

You can just make out a Red Kite if you look closely.  There were about 10 of them hunting a field which had been sprayed with grass killer.

Finally, looking across to Black Mountain, and lots of rain clouds piling up.  Today has been one of those days and my dearly beloved and I have fallen out.  My mood is not improving with keeping.