Archive for Self Sufficiency

Best Before?

I have just finished preserving the last of my garden food, it is all canned, jarred, or dried.  Most of it will keep for a year or so, the stuff in jars will probably last even longer. Every now and then though one might go bad.  I don’t however have to put ‘best-before’, or ‘use-by’ dates on anything that I have preserved.  So when reading this article about  ‘sell by dates’ being removed from food packaging in UK it did make me chuckle!  Why is it that we as humans in the western world need informing when food is off and shouldn’t be eaten.  I can tell straight away, the stuff stinks, or tastes like old sick.

 

‘Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman: “People are confused about food labelling” – who exactly is confused?  What is there to be confused about?  If it stinks and is not blue cheese chuck it.  If it tastes of sick throw it away.  No date is required.  If shops sell you some crappy food take it back or even better don’t shop there again.

A loaf of bread in my local shop is 38p for fresh bread after 24 hours you can get it for half price.  After another 24 hours it is sold as ‘dog bread’ for pennies.  Not a single label in sight.  Amazing.  Bulgarians are obviously much more intelligent than British bods who would all poison themselves if not told exactly when food goes bad, or confused even when told.  I know most people aren’t idiots, so why do we accept being treated like them.

Ultimate Protest Vote

One of my neighbours has not had electricity installed, does not have mains water and has refused to pay council tax on his house since he has lived there.  So is he some strange hermit? Quite the opposite, he speaks three different languages, used to teach at the local school, he just doesn’t believe in giving the politicians a single penny, and has an opinion on everything.  He has offered me a game of chess that I intend to take up (after I have practised a bit so that I don’t look too foolish).

So how does he manage?  His house is by a stream – water, washing machine.  It is also near the forest so firewood in winter is not far away.  He works strictly for cash/food/beer in no preferable order, he gives nothing to the politicians and wants nothing in return.  Some might think this is a hard way to live, but I see him smile everyday.  Take a walk round London during rush hour see many smiling faces?  He has more spare time than he knows what to do with, and goes without nothing.  Deep down I envy him.  I am just playing at self reliance in comparison.

The way he does this is by not having any official money.  If you haven’t got anything, there is nothing for them to take.  It is no good fining him for not paying his council tax – he has no money.  If they imprison him for not paying his fine, they will have to feed him, clothe him, this will cost them money.  So he just gets left alone.  The ultimate protest vote.

 

Tomato Puree

Just been out and picked todays crops – tomatoes – 30kg of them. Fortunately unlike cucmbers I am quite good at making these into something
that will last through winter and if done properly will last a year or to. So if you have grown you own tomatoes, and have eaten enough salad to amke you
feel like a tree hugger, they are dead easy to turn into tomato puree which will keep for ages here is how I do it, any other ideas please let me know.

Tomatoes here are mine that I picked this morning.

Two Buckets of Toms

These then get chopped into quarters, so the can fit through my juicing machine.

Chopped Toms

Bulgarian Jucing Machine

This removes the skin and the seeds which if left in make your puree very acidic. It is well worth doing otherwise you would have add sugar
to make this more palatable. Do enough tomatoes to fill up the biggest pan that you have

Tomato Pulp in a pan!

Then put over a high heat and reduce down to your required consistency, I like mine as a paste so this takes a while, but it does save
on storage jars. I also add half a cup of malt vinegar, salt, and cooking oil. These are not necessary just personnel taste.

Reduced by about half

Then you just need to put in sealable jars (whilst still hot!), anything that you get from a supermarket will do if they have a depressable lid that clicks when opened.

My tomatoes in a Jam Jar

Put on a lid, turn it upside down to check that it has sealed, leave to cool and check the lid to make sure that it does not click! Dolmio eat
your heart out, no E numbers, emulsifiers, and depending upon the seal on the jar will keep good for a year or two.

Todays Toms in Jars

Shelling Peas

I have just spent nearly 3 hours harvesting and preparing to store my first crop of peas, I thought I would harvest them earlier so they are in ‘Garden Pea’
form instead of letting them grow to full maturity, and having ‘Marrowfat’ peas. This was mistake number one. Yes the peas are sweeter, and are delicious when eaten
direct from the pod. But shelling the damn things, is just a waste of your life.

My 3 hours work!

The rest of my peas needless to say will be of the marrowfat variety, where by they are left on the plant until fully ripe, then dried and shaken from their pods.
The down side being that they are really then only good for ‘mushy’ peas, or pea soup. Ah well who likes garden peas anyway!

May Weeds

A little rain and a lot of sun and suddenly everything starts to grow, unfortunately the weeds also. This year as with previous years I have grown too
much, not kept up with my weeding, and now look out into my garden and think ‘where do I start?’

My greenhouse/Poly-house is having spurts of growth, from small seedlings to ‘Oh my god!’ it appears over night!

My Spurting Green House

My cucmbers and tomatoes are in need of training up the posts. Over in Plot No1 (not deep bed) I have sweetcorn, red cabbage, and carrots generously interspersed with
just as many weeds.

Plot No 1

Whilst over in the deep beds (I am comparing effort and efficiecy this year) I have similar crops that so far are out shining the ones in the normal beds,
but so also are the weeds! There are so many of them I am begining to take it personally.

Deep Beds

I have reached 3 tyres high on one potato stack, and am running out of tyres, as I have not had a puncture in the last year. My Bulgarian slalom driving technique
(around the pot holes) is obviously improving.

Turkey chicks – Don’t bother they need more care than new born babies and have a survival rate of, well, turkeys at christmas. 4 Chicks, 4 days of intensive care, result
= no remaining chicks! This I am told by my neighbours is completely normal, one of them had 15 and lost the lot in one day once, and he has been keeping turkeys for
30 years.

I am off to wage war on the weeds. Barcelona to win 2-0!

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