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Marinated Courgettes

Who plants courgettes/zucchini, and then ends up wondering what to do with all the produce?  Is there a person in the world who has got the balance right on how many plants to grow for their family?

If you grow them, I can put money on it that someone in the house is saying ‘not courgettes again!’

When I shared the Courgette Scarpaccia a couple of years ago, lots of you tried it, and I know it has become a favourite in this house and in many others.

Well folks, I’ve another courgette recipe to share with you.

It too has become a welcome favourite in this house, and it works on so many levels.

The original recipe came from Olive Magazine, but as always it has evolved and changed here in Redwood.

Marinated Courgette/Zucchini Salad

Ingredients:

  • A medium courgette
  • Olive oil – plenty of it
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Clove of garlic – bruised

Method:

Cut the courgette into slices of 7 to 8 cm long, and half a centimetre in thickness.  Heat a griddle pan to high.  Brush one side of each courgette slice with olive oil and place oil side down on pan.  Griddle for 4 to 5 minutes.  Brush upper side with oil, and turn over for a further griddle.

Arrange your slices in a nice shallow serving dish.

Mix the rest of your ingredients together and pour over your sliced courgette.

This is all best made ahead, and left to sit for an hour before serving.

(Note:  I do tend to warn people about the lump of raw garlic in the dish… it is not something I’d like to bite into!)

Give it a try and let us know if you enjoy!

 

Burgerton 2018

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We offer guests the option of joining us for dinner when they come stay.  If they decide to take up this offer I ask about food likes and dislikes.

The most usual answer to that question would be that they don’t eat ‘offal’.  Now we do, but I don’t think I would ever randomly serve it up to guests.

Then there are the people who don’t eat fish. Those who only eat ‘white’ meat …. pork seemingly comes under that classification!!! (What kind of pork are they used to???)

We’ve had some interesting challenges in the food department.  There’s been the nut, dairy and egg free challenge.  The latest was dairy, sugar, salt and red meat free diet… that was somewhat of a challenge but we managed it.

More and more people are saying that they’d like something ‘traditional’.  Now here’s a question for you…

  • If you are Irish what do you classify as a ‘traditional’ Irish dinner?
  • If you are not Irish, but travelling to Ireland, what would your expectation of a traditional Irish dinner be?

I think it is fair to say that Alfie and I really don’t do much that is ‘traditional’ Irish food. We have on occasion done ham (usually finished on the bbq!) with the potatoes and vegetables.  I’ve also done stuffed pork steak with vegetables as a ‘traditional’ option.

As Irish as it gets here

Summertime traditional?  I don’t know.  My childhood memories would be of salad plates with lettuce, ham, tomato and probably a hard-boiled egg.

Give us your answers….

I know, a drought is not what anyone would think of in relation to Ireland.  Having had the longest, wettest Winter anyone can remember, we had about a week of Spring, then straight to Summer.

Not just any old Summer though.

The temperatures have been crazy.  Many days here in Tipperary have been over 30 degrees Celsius. It was lovely to have that beautiful sunshine, and to be able to just pull on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Weeks into it and things are looking very serious.

There is a ‘hose’ ban in place for the entire country until at least the end of July.

We are so very glad we stuck with the plan and maintained our own well.

We, thankfully, have sufficient water.

You’d be astonished at how much water hens and ducks drink.  Pigs need water to drink but also to wallow.  Pigs roll in wet mud to protect themselves from the sun – pig sunscreen!

Our 1,000 litre rain barrel is almost empty, but we have 2 smaller ones on standby.

We’ve watched our neighbours hauling 10+ tonnes of water for their cattle every day!  They are pumping water from a stream/spring to supplement their mains supply.  Can you imagine the effort involved in that?  Can you imagine the extra costs they are incurring?

The grass isn’t growing, and is in fact parched.

Our soft fruits harvest is way down on previous years.  Last year I harvested 6 lbs of raspberries in one day.  This year I’ve only managed to get 2 lbs over the past week!

In conversations recently with city folk, there does seem to be a complete disconnect to just how critical water is to our food supply.  Plants and animals need both sunshine and water to survive.

I am no economist, but I would suggest that fruit and vegetables, in fact all food is going to increase in price, and is going to be in short supply – both for animals and for humans.

Worrying times ahead.

Breakfast

The most important meal of the day.

Certainly one I enjoy, I would rather be late for an appointment than skip breakfast!

Now that we are doing bnb, breakfast has become even more important.  The guests’ breakfast that is.  Ours on the mornings we have guests staying may never happen!

I was listening to Georgina Campbell who runs the annual Irish Breakfast Awards on radio some months back, where she was asked ‘how can you go wrong with breakfast?’.  I loved her answer!  ‘Let’s start with the orange juice’!  And how right is she?  Another guest on that radio programme who I think was a chef at a hotel, pointed out that you can give guests the best dinner in the world, but if they stay overnight and have an awful breakfast… that is going to be their abiding memory.  Again how right?

Here at Oldfarm, I am generally the breakfast cook.  Not everyone wants a ‘cooked’ breakfast, but we always offer freshly squeezed juice, homemade granola and homemade yoghurt.  Then if a guest wants there is the ‘cooked’ option

I never start cooking breakfast until the guests come down stairs.  Is there anything worse in the world than breakfasts that have been kept ‘warm’ somewhere!!!  Yuck!

This is what an Oldfarm breakfast consist of …. take all, some or none!

 

Freshly squeezed orange juice

Homemade granola with homemade yoghurt

Fruit and Yoghurt

seasonal homegrown fruit – fresh or stewed

Poached Egg

Eggs – any which way – from our own hens

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Sausages and/or bacon (subject to availability) from our own pigs

Potato Cakes

homemade jams and marmalades, and maybe some of our own honey

Homemade Breads

Selection of homemade organic breads

Tea and/or coffee – real tea (with leaves) and real coffee (French press or Keurig)

Our guests enjoy their breakfasts…. well so they tell us!

When are you coming to stay?  We promise a damn fine breakfast!

Heaven help us!

Yes, a rant is coming up.

We have our own well.  We paid dearly to have the water diviner come and identify the best spot to dig the well.  We paid for the people to come drill many many feet down and connect the pumping system.  We installed the water filtration system.  We have lived happily with our lovely fresh water for 12 years.

Bath time

Then the filtration system packed up.  It seems that most things these days only have a life span of 10 years!  Lots of ‘stuff’ has needed replacing this year.

I digress.

Back to the water system….

Did you know there is a grant of 75% available to install/upgrade water filtration systems?

We did not know this, but discovered this gem of information when talking to one company.  Happy days.

We downloaded the relevant application form for Tipperary, and started going through the various processes.  Tedious but not onerous.

  • get water tested…. tick
  • complete application form ….. tick
  • get quotes from 3 different companies ….. tick
  • get water tested again after fitting of new system …..

We were told that there can be a 6 week delay in getting approval, but if you hand deliver your application it can be processed quicker.

So yesterday morning Alfie drove to Nenagh, handed over the documentation.  Person on counter said that we should get immediate approval, but she’d have colleague call us to confirm.

And here it is folks…..

The colleague called and said we don’t qualify for the grant.

Why?

We are too close to the road, and should connect up to mains water!

Now here’s the thing…. our neighbours are often on ‘boil’ notices for their water.  When this happens where do they go for their water????

They come here for our well water, and are most welcome to.  We have an outside tap and they help themselves.

So now the County Council wants us to use mains water?  And, by the way, the cost (to us) would be treble what a water filtration system will cost us.

As I say heaven help us!  We are willing to look after and maintain our own water system.

And then today it is announced that the government is giving Irish Water millions to upgrade/repair/clean the Irish  water supply system which is in a disgraceful state.

There is so much more that could be said …

but for now rant over.

Growing pigs outdoors in Ireland, ain’t easy.  However, having said that we have been growing pigs outdoors for almost 15 years, so I guess we know a thing or two about it.

Our land is not ideally suited to it – heavy, clay soil – but you do the best you can.

In reality nowhere in Ireland is perfect for growing pigs outdoors.  There are areas of southern England where they have chalk soil that is good.

We have managed to keep our pigs outdoors all year round ever since we started to keep them.  You’ve heard it before – pigs are smart.  If it is too wet, too cold, snowing – they will stay indoors in a bed of straw.

Outdoor raised pigs produce a completely different meat to that of those raised in ‘factory’, or indoors.  Outdoor raised pigs obviously will have greater muscle tone.  While outdoors they are rooting about picking up various trace elements that occur naturally in the ground.

 

We’ve heard many say that there is no ‘standard’ for free-range pork.  Well there is.  Alfie is on the Bord Bia Technical Committee for Pig Meat, and it was Alfie that devised the standard.

Freerange Farmed:  a type of animal husbandry where pigs have free access to fields/woodland with defined boundaries for all or most of their natural life.  They receive their nutritional needs from prepared natural feed or from pasture or forage depending on the season.

We were the first pork producers to achieve ‘free-range status’.  However, and here is the rub…..it means nothing!  Yes, that is true.

The reason it means nothing is that most small producers use small abattoirs and small butchers, and none of these are registered with Bord Bia.  Only the big abattoirs and butchers are registered.  It is not cost effective for the small guys to pay the annual fees to be on the list of registered slaughter houses with Bord Bia.  Similarly, it is not feasible for small producers to take a couple of animals to one of the large processors.

As a consumer you have to ask yourself “what is important to you”?

Do you want to eat meat that has led a natural and healthy life outdoors, being fed organic feed?

Do you want to eat meat that has lead a natural and healthy life outdoors, being fed commercial pig meal which contains GMO soy and maize?

Do you want to eat meat that has been confined to a concrete building all its life, being fed commercial pig meal with  again GMO soy and maize, and I won’t mention antibiotic use?

The decision is yours.

You have the power to change how meat is reared in this country.

Will you vote with your fork?