Where growing, making & good living come together

Payment for eggs? Or homegrown veg / homemade crafts?

Posted by on Tuesday 21 June 2011 in chickens, growing | 12 comments

Last week when John’s mum was visiting, she mentioned that she had been wondering about paying us for the eggs we give the family. I think we gave her/John’s dad effectively three half-dozens last week – which would cost about £5 in the shops, but cost us just under £2*. She tried to give us some money but John refused to accept it on principle, and bundled her out of the door before she could argue — it did lead us to talk about it afterwards though.

When we got the extra girls last year and it made it easier for us to regularly give away boxes of eggs, John & I talked about taking a nominal charge for them to pay for the extra feed and that sort of thing – but never actually got around to doing it. With the six girls now, we are really just giving away our spares; I think if we had enough chickens to warrant doing a “garden gate” stand to sell them (or sold them at our workplaces), we’d be more inclined to take money from friends but for us right now, while we’re ok for money and it’s just a casual thing, it feels a bit petty to ask good friends and family for £1 here and there.

Even if we were selling them though, John said he wouldn’t accept any money from his mum and dad because they’ve given, and continue to give, us so much – over the last fortnight, John’s dad has put up a fence for us, supplying all the wood (some free; some paid for) as well as labour — that is surely worth a few eggs!

Expanding from that, we realised that at least half of the people we regularly give eggs to frequently give us they’ve made/do something for us in return – and we like that idea of unofficial/unspoken bartering because it stops it being just about money and becomes about time/effort instead. There are a few people to whom we regularly give eggs that don’t really give us anything in return – and we’re not bothered about that (if we cared, we wouldn’t give them eggs so often!), but if they ask to give money towards feed now, we’re more likely to say “bake us a cake sometime instead”.

Something related: last year or so, I realised that I’m always more inclined to give produce or crafty things to other growers & crafters etc. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so bothered if I had a mega glut of things – but at the moment while my output is more limited, if I have to choice between giving stuff to a grower/maker or a non-grower, I’d almost always lean towards the grower. They realise that homegrown/homemade things aren’t necessarily always aesthetically perfect and they know the effort that goes into producing the finished fruit or project.

Someone who doesn’t grow their own veg may see as courgette as something worth (say) 60p, which may be a few minutes of their working time, the same price as a Mars bar or can of Coke, but a grower (or someone who has grown in the past) sees the ongoing care and attention that went into growing it, and that’s far more valuable. (I think that’s why people who grow/cook/make etc are generally less wasteful too – it’s easier for them to see/imagine the effort.)

What do you think? Do you sell your surplus at a “garden gate” or to friends and family? Or do you give everything away for free? How does it work for you?

* our per egg cost is usually around 9p, so £1.62, but has been a little more lately because of expenses to do with the red mite infestation last month; I’m putting it at around 11p or 12p an egg at the moment.

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Chocolate Coffee Mousse recipe

Posted by on Wednesday 23 February 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 5 comments

I stumbled upon this recipe a little while ago and it’s become a favourite in the Peach household – not only is it one of the nicest, richest desserts I’ve ever eaten, it both uses up eggs (a good thing!) and is really pretty easy & quick to make as well.

It’s easy because it cheats by starting with ready-made chocolate. I’ve tried making it with both fancy 70% chocolate and cheaper plain stuff (I mean really cheap plain stuff – Netto, two 200g bars for £1.50) – there is a difference, the former was obviously a lot stronger and richer, but you know what? the cheaper stuff did pretty well too. The intense strong chocolate is nice but can be a bit overwhelming – I’d certainly make it again with the cheaper stuff, especially if the people eating it weren’t major dark chocolate fans.

Regarding the coffee, John is a coffee snob so we have very good beans in the house pretty much all the time and he makes it using an Aeropress which apparently removes a lot of the bitterness (I don’t like to drink coffee but I like it as a flavour in cakes & desserts). Since it was being mixed with other things, he didn’t use his super expensive stuff but used a blend of “old” beans (admittedly no more than a few weeks old) to make the espresso. I dare say the fact it was good coffee to start with added to the flavour of the finished dessert.

Aside from that though, eggs is eggs, a little sugar is a little sugar. If the eggs are homegrown (as ours are), the only real cost is the chocolate, with an extra 20p or so for the fancy-smancy coffee. For a super rich dessert for four, I think it’s pretty reasonable.

Dark Chocolate Coffee Mousse recipe

Makes enough to fill four to five ramekins

200g of plain chocolate
3 tbsp of freshly made espresso/strong black coffee (or more/less to taste)
4 room temperature eggs
1-2tbsp of caster sugar, depending on how sweet the chocolate is

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Lovely Buttery Lemon Curd recipe

Posted by on Wednesday 26 January 2011 in cooking, preserving, recipes | 6 comments

I mentioned on Monday that I made a batch of lemon curd while my frustrating, sticky marmalade was boiling away.

Lemon curd is far easier and more fun to make than marmalade, and oh my wow, it’s delicious.

It doesn’t have a long shelf life though – what with the butter and the eggs – but I don’t mind having to make it regularly because it’s so quick and easy that it’s not a problem.

Compared to jams from foraged or grown fruit (where the only expenses are sugar, a tiny bit of spice & energy), this is expensive – lots of bought-in items. Using eggs from our own chickens, it worked out at about 70p a jar; if we’d had to buy in good eggs, it would have been about £1 a jar – not break-the-bank expensive and it is very very nice, but not the cheapest either (the blackberry jam I made last autumn worked out at about 25p a jar since the only thing I had to buy was sugar). It’s a good way to use up egg gluts – something we’ll have to get more proactive with now the girls are laying more.

Buttery Lemon Curd recipe

5 large lemons
5 medium-to-large eggs
250g of butter (!), room temperature
400g of golden caster sugar
2tsp of cornflour

Makes just under 3lbs of lovely lemon curd

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Spicy pickled eggs recipe

Posted by on Thursday 18 November 2010 in cooking, preserving, recipes | 5 comments

Keen to preserve some of the summer glut of eggs and add to the super-spicy items in our store cupboard (we never have enough!), I’ve pickled a few lots of eggs over the last few months.

We finally cracked open the spicy batch earlier this week – yum! Between the tart vinegar and the spices, they’re really quite strongly flavoured – but good. We had them with bread & cheese, instead of a chutney, and they were perfect for adding a bit of bite to the proceedings.

(Apologies for the not great photo – the full jar looked ace but then we ate half of them!)

Spicy pickled eggs recipe

To fill a 2lb jar (we used an old pickled peppers jar from Lidl, kindly donated by Strowger)

8 large eggs (not super-fresh ones – use ones that are at least a week old so they’re easier to peel)
450ml of pickling vinegar (white vinegar, at least 6% acidity)
2tsp black pepper corns
2tsp yellow mustard seeds
1tsp dried chilli flakes


0. Sterilise your jar – wash it in hot soapy water, rinse well in hot clean water, then place in the oven at 160C/gas mark 2 ish, for about 15 minutes. The lid of the jar should be washed and rinse – it needs to be a vinegar proof lid (plastic lined).

1. Hard boil the eggs using your preferred method – if you don’t have one, obey Delia. Cool them as Delia says then remove the shells.

2. Add the vinegar and spices into a small saucepan. Stir together and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes – with a door/window open because man, it stinks.

3. While the vinegar is simmering, place the eggs in the still-warm jar then when it’s done, pour the vinegar on top of it, making sure the spices pour along with it and don’t all stick to the side of the pan. Fill the jar to the very top then seal it.

4. Leave somewhere cool and dark for at least three weeks.

Once they’re ready to eat, have them as a part of a salad, with bread & cheese like we did, or make them into a really interesting tasting egg mayonnaise!

Have you made this? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Spicy marrow chutney recipe

Posted by on Thursday 16 September 2010 in cooking, preserving | 19 comments

Here’s the first recipe from my preserving marathon on Tuesday: spicy marrow chutney.

With all the different spices, it’s got a very full taste rather than a one-note blast of chilli heat.

It’s not the texture of either smooth jelly-like jam nor chunky like Branston — although it would be possible to make it like that – just cut the marrow a lot smaller to start with, blend the onions etc and skip the mashing stage. I did it my way because I wanted something more spreadable for sandwiches. Plus chopping up so much marrow into teeny-tiny pieces? yawn.

It’ll be amazing with ham and beef.

Spicy marrow chutney recipe


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