June 2008


… we wants the milks back… or we’ll moo!!!

[“Twelve of farmer John Venning’s Charolais cattle line up in the sunshine to enjoy the view at Trethullan in Cornwall. (Picture: Martin Blythe)”, borrowed from BBC News]

nah. it’ll never catch on..

Spent the last few days being either quite angry at stuff (hence the soapbox rant the other night) or feeling like i’m about to burst into tears. no idea what the cause is; the stress of the last week certainly won’t have helped, but today i thought.. enough. and i got out into the garden.

Planted some peas (sugar snap and douce provence) that i had growing in the cold frame to begin with, moved the kale, dug over bed 2, then constructed the tomato frame. I had decided a while ago that since i was turning bed 2 over to tomatoes/tomatillos/gherkins that i may as well construct a proper frame, as all of them need support. And that was what i did today. Its working well, so far, and i think it’ll be good. here’s hoping its still good at the end of the season!

Photos behind the cut as usual:

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I’m gonna rant, my friends, and this isn’t gonna be pretty. if you don’t wanna read, fine, clear off, hit the X, and don’t let the door hit you in the backside on the way out. this is *my* space, and i’m gonna damn well say what i think. Capiche?

Good.

rant no 1: prices.

specifically.. food prices. You know what really gets my goat? the unfairness of it all. let me explain.

about three and a half years ago, our belts had to be tightened rather drastically. the reasons why are irrelevant, and not something i’m gonna put in here. Simply know that they had to be. Now, i’m not the world’s best person with money. My Mom and Dad will give a very long suffering sigh and totally agree with that statement – i’ve gotten into trouble with money time and time before, because i’m just not very good with discipline (not just with money, with just about everything!). and this time around, when i realised we were gonna have to pull our belts in and live off a vastly reduced sum, i thought.. “no. I’m not gonna make the mistakes i made before.” so i set about learning how to live off that vastly reduced sum. I learned about all the things so many of you already know. Menu planning. bargain spotting. shopping around. not eating the branded food items (and paying a premium for it). eating more veg than meat. Learning to bake and cook properly – i don’t mean dinner party cooking, posh and good cooking, although that’s very nice and something i love doing.. i mean making two decent meals for two out of a bag of spuds, 8 sausages, a couple of onions, a tin of beans, maybe some peas, butter and milk. Learning how to make a good chicken last more than 1 meal. learning how to extend minced beef so that its a) healthier b) “does” for more meals. I learned other things: how to grow my own, and instead of growing flowers, i chose to grow food. I learned how to buy cheaper chemicals to make fabric conditioner thats better for the environment, better for the machine, and doesn’t cost the earth. I learned about making things with a sewing machine rather than buying them.

In the last three and a half years.. despite all i have learned, despite all my efforts.. i haven’t saved. all my savings, where i’ve learned to spend 19p on Aldi’s nonbranded generic beans instead of however much heinz beans are.. have gone into the price difference between how much nonbranded generic butter used to be (around 50p) to how it is now (around 85p). where’s the fairness in all this, i ask you? I’m running faster and faster to try to save and stuff.. and it feels like all my efforts are going into the pockets of the supermarkets…

I wanna throw myself onto the floor and scream and yell like a 5 year old about ITS NOT FAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

i won’t, but i want to!

and i know, rationally, that making these savings is just about the only way we *could* have survived the last three and a half years, the only way we have been able to keep up with rising food bills, rising energy bills, and not go into the red. i suppose, logically, that’s my reward: still in this, instead of going the debt route that so many others have had to go down. I also know from reading around the subject that food bills need to go up, that farmers have been operating at a nonprofit for so long that something has to give, and that a lot of the cause of these rising food bills is to do with bad weather, rising fuel prices, and so on. i know all that, its not like someone has deliberately sat down and said “lets take away all of keth’s money”, but still. the five year old part of me wants to scream and rage about the unfairness of it all.

rant no 2: this country is going to hell in a handbasket.

the government can now hold suspects for 42 days without charging them. they can legally snoop on my email, my phone calls. They can erect a CCTV outside my home to examine my activities. They can look into my bedroom to make sure i’m having sex in an approved manner. they want to put my biometric details, financial details, medical details, in one large database, probably also including my DNA. the same people who lose the financial details of so many others, who cannot be trusted to maintain such a database securely. The same people who make the sex offender’s register so large, so applicable to so many crimes, that it is now virtually useless. the same people who seem to be ruled by headlines and fear of upsetting the newspapers, wringing their hands and having to be “seen to be doing something”, even if that something is so useless and badly written that Amnesty International is protesting against the law. The same people who feel the need to apply the full force of antiterrorist legislation against a pensioner who heckled a minister at the labour party conference. yeah… a pensioner. huge terrorist threat that one.. (!) At the same time, gangs of children roam the streets, threatening others, adults too scared to say anything to them in case they get stabbed, too afraid to defend themselves in case the child reports them to the police for child abuse. Too afraid to tell the neighbours the music is a little noisy, instead resorting to anonymous calls when it probably isn’t necessary. other problems, all symptomatic of a culture of fear, of what is read in the papers, fear goading one into inaction, inactivity, fear of what “might” happen and never usually does. it makes me laugh that on the one hand, the govt is enacting some of the most draconian laws we’ve seen in a very very long time with regard to personal liberties, and on the other, doing nothing to stop those who really want to hurt other people.

the country is going to hell in a handbasket… i sometimes think we should get out, while we still can. but that’s not possible because…

rant no 3… the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

well it is, isn’t it? you only have to look at the problems with the environment. people worrying about planet earth, how we’re going to destroy it. never mind planet earth. She’ll be fine – we can’t destroy her. its US we’ll destroy, make this planet uninhabitable for mankind and so many other species. and what’s being done about it? nothing. oh there’s lots of fine words and agreements and stuff but in reality…? very little.

its depressing.

i look ahead to when i’m 70, just 35 years ahead from now and.. i don’t hold out much hope. As the artic ice melts, low lying land is going to be flooded. temperatures will rise. resources will become scarce. it means that someone like me, lying at the bottom of the food chain, as it were, with no power, no money, nothing except a lil knowledge, is gonna struggle. there’s no guarantee of a future, you know. something has to be done. mankind has to start becoming more altrustic, living simpler, just taking what is needed, not what is wanted. living lightly, thats the word.

i don’t hold out much hope for it.

i know this blog is depressing. its not meant to be, its not going anywhere, there’s no grand designs on it, no big message. just a rant, just … me offloading stuff. cos there’s nowhere else to put it. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow morning, think.. damn, i put that up? and delete it. but you know what? its stuff that needs saying. and we need a government that isn’t afraid to kick butt. we need a government that isn’t afraid to say to the papers… “look. shut up. we’re doing our best. we’re not gonna apologise. we’re not wrong, we believe in what we’re doing. if you disagree, fine, there’s the ballot box, use the vote to get us out.” won’t happen though. but its what’s needed.. not just for food prices, for the environment, but for the world, for the effort to create a better society.

you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

bout time we got smashing, eh?

The greenhouse went up today!! Michiel very kindly did most of the work on that one: hes far far better at it than i am after all, so it makes sense for me to let him do it. As he says about him and cooking: “whats the point in me cooking when she does it far better than i do?”. 😀

Anyway. its now up, although there’s nothing in it at the moment – filling it up will be tomorrow’s job. or maybe wednesday’s. See how tomorrow goes, really.. play it by ear. Didn’t get round to doing strimming today, ran out of time, so there’s that to do too.. hope its not as hot as it was today though – i was baking on the bus going up to Ashton (had to return those shoes). Have to say though: feels good to have the greenhouse back up. the garden felt empty without it.. Many thanks to my Great Auntie for sending it to me as a *very* early birthday present..

Photos behind the cut as usual. Including a way cute one of Jess!!!

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I stumbled across a wonderful blog via Rhonda Jean’s Down to Earth blog.. its called A Year in Bread, and its written by three people who are passionate about bread, and all things breadly connected.. they take a type of bread, then all three of them come up with a different recipe for it. There are some wonderful recipes there which i’ve been trying out. I tried calzone on saturday, as an alternative to our usual pizza night, which was semi-successful – the bread part was good but we agreed that the filling as suggested was rather too dry and would’ve been better with a tomato sauce inside as well. So i’m going to try a variation on that next week (when i’ll post photos and a recipe for my take on it).

Tonight i tried the Focaccia, Quick Rosemary Focaccia. I raided one of my neighbours garden for rosemary plants – with her permission, i hasten to add!! – took some proper rosemary cuttings in the process (and gave some to her for her mum!) and used the rest in this. Its a lovely bread, not a true focaccia in that it doesn’t have the big holes in the crumb, as the recipe says, its more of a cakey crumb to it (as you can see in the photo below). But for all that it tastes absolutely gorgeous, although i did use a little too much salt. While i love the site and their recipes (which make you hungry just reading it) they aren’t too clear in some of their recipes, so its very much feeling your way along – and, being American in origin, they tend to use cups and degrees Fahrenheit, all of which need translating into something i can work with. But its certainly fun, and i’ll be making this recipe again, minus some of the salt on the top, and perhaps by ringing the changes with other toppings.. There’s a lovely looking recipe for a Grape Harvest Focaccia – Focaccia with red seedless grapes pushed into the holes on the top of the bread, and i’m itching to try that (and to try it with black olives in a garlicky flavoured Focaccia.. that would be totally totally yum), as well as trying a proper focaccia recipe.

The good thing about bread is that it is relatively cheap – the most expensive thing about this recipe was the olive oil, i used a cheap one and it probably cost around 50p for the two loaves, so it didn’t break the bank too much, and it means its something i can experiment with without driving us into debt. We had this with spaghetti bolognaise, and there’s enough leftover for another meal from it tomorrow night – not bad going, really, for a loaf that probably cost around 30p to make (not including fuel costs). Definetly be doing it again..

In with the batch of photos i’d uploaded to the computer from the camera on 15th May were some spring pics. the final ones of the year (we’re now officially in summer), i thought i’d share the nicer ones here…. behind the cut, of course!

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