Sunday, 30 March 2008

Traditional Scottish steak pie.

Traditional Scottish steak pie was originally a peasant dish using the cheaper cuts of meat ie shoulder or shin. Shin is a very gristly cut but when pressure cooked for about 40 minutes or so makes a nice filling for a pie. I use aprox 2lb or 1 kilo of shin of beef for this pie.
Start by coating the beef in seasoned flour and fry/seal in a small amount of corn oil a hot non stick frying pan, a handfull at a time till its all done. Transfer to pressure cooker and add 3 chopped onions, 2 large sliced carrots, 3 cloves garlic, 3 beef stock cubes and a pint or so of water or stock. Nothing to stop you changing the basic recipe to suit your own taste/culture.
Pressure cook on blue for 40 minutes, or if you dont have a pressure cooker, a large pan with a tight fitting lid for about 2 hours
. Once the meat is very tender, save the liquid and put the beef in a pie dish.
Top with rolled puff pastry. Using a pastry brush give the top a coat of seasoned egg wash.
Put the pie in a medium hot oven for about 40 minutes or until baked.
Meanwhile add some cornflour to the gravy and season to taste.
Traditionally served with roast potatoes and seasonal veg.
Thanks to Max Campbell for the original recipe.

Raised beds project under way.

Spent the weekend in the garden as opposed to fishing. Weather forecast was bad again for up north so stayed home. Managed to get four of the beds in position as you can see.

The two on the left have each one hundred onion sets. The nearest one has French yellow, the other a French red. If I can get some shallot sets I will do a bed for them also. We love shallots.

I plan to have eight of these beds and a few traditional furrows. Other veg we plan to grow are cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, some beans and peas, swedes and salad such as lettuce, spring onions, Pak Choi, beets and maybe try some exotics depending on the weather.

Last summer here in Scotland was a non event with average temps of about 10c. The previous summer saw average temps in the high 20's.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

This is Meggy, our ESS, had to nail her paws to the ground to get her still for a pic.

The daffodils are coming through.

And that big beech tree might even have some leaves on it soon.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Snow and strong winds.

Now you see it.

What tree?

This was the view from my living room window this morning.

Never got to the fishing this weekend as the weather forecast was so bad. Snow, storm force winds, sub zero temeratures, not the best for going out in a boat!

Had a call from Roy, my buddy up the road saying that a big old ash had came down during the night, and that we should go " tidy it up", for our wood burning stoves.

So I loaded up the old Husqvarna 266, put on the safety gear and met him at the woods. He brought a tractor and trailer so we pulled the tree into a safe position, and removed the stump.

You have to leave a wee bit of the stump because, as a tree grows it pulls odd bits of slate, gravel etc into the tree, and this can seriously damage the cutting teeth of the chain.

I cut it into ten inch slices while Roy loaded it on to the trailer. Roy has a wee Stihl chainsaw and started cutting up the branches but he hit a stone and lost the edge off his chain, so got the shitty job. Unlucky Roy!! Best way is to cut three quarters of the way through, then roll thetrunk over and cut the last quarter from the top.
We will have to spend a couple of evenings splitting it into burning size pieces. Ash is the best firewood you can get, as it contains only 35% water, even less at this time of year as there is no foliage. Beech is also a good burn, but at 55% water needs a summer of drying before use.

We hauled about three tonnes down to Roys woodshed. Once its processed we will share it out, between our woodstores.

This is a great start for my fuel for the coming winter. A start like this means I can spend more time fishing this spring and summer as opposed to collecting wood for winter.. Can't rest on my laurels though, because most winters we use about 3 tonnes.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Raised beds.

This year I,m going to try Chinese Permaculture. This involves gridding the veggy plot into raised areas held in place with wooden batons attached to stakes. I have fed the soil with over half a ton of cowdung, chickenshit and compost so hope for some spectacular results. I have'nt used the mechanical rotovator this year because it kills the worms, and worms play an important part in this type of horticulture. This is a no dig arrangement for up to five years.
You use the grass cuttings for mulch, which keeps the weeds down, and also to feed the worms. The worms, in turn keep the soil aerated and workable. This is a crude first attempt at Chinese Permaculture so wish me luck.....

A new start to the Brown Trout season.

This usually means the start of the trolling season for the serious sporting angler. Next week I,m off to Loch Oich to do some fishing with a few buddies. We intend to do some trolling of dead baits and lures for pike or ferox trout for a few hours on the Saturday, and camp overnight with static deadbaits out till bed time. This will include a barbecue and blowing the froth off a few cold ones. At first light I,ll have the dead baits out before even putting the kettle on. I,ll report back with some pics, hopefully of big fish, but failing that some pics of the loch and surrounding scenery.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Finished painting the cottage this morning. Took five months of scraping, sealing, sanding, undercoating, topcoating. The landlord will have to get his wallet out.