Where growing, making & good living come together


Posted by on Thursday 4 October 2012 in cooking | 3 comments

In an effort to get back into the habit of blogging regularly, I’m taking part in Blogtoberfest 2012 – at least one post a day on at least one of my blogs (full list of the posts).

I had to do something with all that great smelling stock, so today has been a batch soup making day.

We’ve got chicken, carrot and ginger at the front, all pureed up and ready to go, and still a bubbling away George’s Marvelous Medicine type tomato/pepper/beany soup at the back.

The former is one of my favourite winter warmer soups because of the heat of the ginger but also because the carrot keeps the soup at lava temperatures for ages (useful on particularly cold days!). I know it’s not quite winter yet and today was actually a really nice autumn day here, but the start of soup season is mentally if not physically upon us here, and what the hey, it’s just yummy ;)

The latter is a particularly special concoction because while I was picking some of the key beany ingredients I couldn’t find the can open so had to use whatever beans can in a ring-pull can… It’s packed with cumin and chilli too though, so I’m sure it’ll be fine!

Have you been soup-ing recently?

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The best smelling chicken stock I’ve ever made*

Posted by on Wednesday 3 October 2012 in cooking | 5 comments

* Well, you know, one of them. I don’t remember them all exactly but this one smells gooooooooood.

Hi again. It’s been a while since I blogged – too long – I hope you’re all well.

I’m taking part in Blogtoberfest 2012 to try to get back into the habit of blogging regularly – the idea is to blog every day, at least once a day. I’m spreading my efforts across this site, How Can I Recycle This? and my somewhat geeky only-of-interest-to-my-mum personal blog to make it easier on myself (but I’m keeping a list of all my Blogtoberfest posts to make sure I do one a day!).

ANYWAY. The chicken stock. The last chicken stock I made in my new-ish big slow cooker was a bit lacklustre so I’ve been saving the carcasses from our Swillington Farm chickens in the freezer to make a mega-stock – and this is it.

After roasting the carcasses alongside our dinner last night, they went in the slow cooker and the smell of it cooking made me drool. This morning, I separated it out and it smelled even better. It’s a bit fatty at this stage but I’ll skim it before I use it. As well as making stock, I also made some fluffy friends – Lily-dog got the chunks of carrot from the stock and she & the cats also got bits of chicken too tough for our soup :)

The bestest bit is that Swillington Farm birds are so huge that not all my carcasses would fit the pot in one go so I’ve got a second load on now – more yummy aromas! (The last bird we got from Swillington was over 3kg/6lbs 6 – each breast alone weighed 400g/14oz! Massive!)

The first lot was spiced with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, a garlic clove and some chunks of galangal. This one is second one is black peppercorns, szechuan peppercorns and galangal. I’m not exactly sure what either batch will be used for but, since it’s us, it’s likely to be something spicy/gingery/peppery so these should work either way.

What spices/flavours do you use in your chicken (or other) stock?

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My kindling cutting “helpers”

Posted by on Sunday 2 October 2011 in chickens, wood stuff | 3 comments

I had some company while cutting the kindling this morning.

Lily was taste-testing each stick as it came off the axe.

“Mmm, bit of a woody flavour.”

And a few minutes later, after Lily had gone into a sulk because she’d heard the fake camera click of my phone (she HATES all cameras for some reason), Lime the chicken came to see what was going on too — the first time she, or any of the chickens, have visited the top level of the garden, which is three flights of stairs away from the chicken coop/run.

She watched me chopping some kindling for a bit but she was more interested in John cutting wood in the woodstore though and spent ages stood behind him, head cocked to one side and making the occasional clucking noise, as he sawed up some logs. She seemed to have no interest in any of the many edibles on that level, just wondering what us crazy humans were up to. :)

(Appalling camera phone pics, sorry for the quality.)

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Ten minute chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Posted by on Tuesday 13 September 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 1 comment

I wrote this back in August but it didn’t post for some reason. Now that soup season has properly started, we’re less interested in light soups – we want warming stodge! – but it’s still yummy :)

I usually make hearty, wintery soups but since it is technically summer at the moment, we’ve wanted lighter broths for our lunches. This chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup fits the bill nicely – not a giant overwhelming flavour bomb on our tastebuds but fresh & light, filling us up without the need for bread.

I make this whenever we’ve got some spare chicken stock – it’s a useful, quick lunch for us. If I’m thinking ahead, I put some vaguely suitable flavours in the stock – for example, extra black peppercorns, coriander seeds and galangal.

Quick chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Serves 4 as a lunch

1.5ltrs of fresh chicken stock
150-200g-ish of chicken (either the already cooked bits stripped from the chicken carcass or a chicken breast)
A green pepper, finely diced
About 250-300g-ish of sweetcorn kernels
Pinch of chilli flakes/half a fresh chilli, very finely sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of honey

A nest of egg noodles (or pack of ramen noodles)
1 tbsp of cornflour, mixed into runny paste with a little water
1-2 eggs, whisked together in a bowl
Black pepper (to taste – but a fair bit)
Salt (to taste)

Optional extras to serve
Rounds of fresh chilli
Rounds of spring onion
Coriander leaves

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How we got 14 meals from our Swillington Farm chicken

Posted by on Thursday 14 July 2011 in cooking, eating, frugal | 7 comments

We got our first Swillington Farm meat box delivery at the end of June and are determined to do it justice. I’m keeping a lengthy record of what we did with every bit of it – but as we’ve not got through much of it so far, I thought I’d mention this separately – what we did with the chicken.

As part of our “medium” box, we get “1x large organic chicken” each month. By “large”, they mean large – it was considerably bigger than any I’ve seen for sale at supermarkets. According to the Swillington Farm’s website, the birds start indoors but then “spend the next 2 months free range on organic pasture” and “aged at least 3 months before they reach your plate [producing] larger, better tasting chickens than the average supermarket bird” (supermarket chickens are typically 6-9 weeks in age when they’re killed – ie, 1.5-just over 2 months old). Butchered, our Swillington chicken weighed 2.6kg (5lb 12oz), and they included the liver & neck in a little baggie.

How we used it

  • 2 portions: Chicken legs (each weighed close to 370g!) roasted with a light garlic, lemon, ground coriander & black pepper marinade. Cooked with roasted new potatoes, and served with purple sprouting broccoli.
  • 2 portions: Chicken wings and some meaty bits from the carcass roasted with the same marinade, with leftover roasted potatoes and garlicky broad beans & salad from the garden.
  • 4 portions: Chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup made from stock/meat from the carcass/neck.
  • 3 portions: Chicken jalfrezi, made with one chicken breast and our eggs.
  • 3 portions: Chicken & pepper jalfrezi, made from the other breast and our eggs.

And the cats had the skin & liver cooked up and blended into a “pate” – which they *loved*.

We have … generous appetites so the portions were still quite large – both in the amount of chicken in each portion and the size of the portion. I thought there was enough meat in all the meals – all the meals felt sufficiently chicken-y for me – but John said he’d have liked a better chicken-to-other ratio in the first jalfrezi.

Update – Jan 2013: We’ve had Swillington Farm meat boxes most months since I wrote this post and we’ve always had equally generous chickens – including some even bigger ones at times! 14 meals from a bird is the rule in this house, not the exception – and 16 meals isn’t uncommon. I’ve written a little update here.

What are your favourite ways to get the most out of chickens?

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