Friday, 16 March 2007

Friday 16th March 07

Just a normal day really, a bit of gardening, getting ready for the spring crops, and some compost heap management, woodpile management, cooking, spending time with Wife and friends, and several bike trips.

So, as usual, Gill got up early and got the boys ready for school, which today involved spraying their hair red for Red Nose Day, when the school encourages them to have a 'bad hair day' and contribute a pound to raise money for charity. I got up just in time to help Gill spray some of her hair red too, she looked either really groovy or really silly! She took them in and cycled back to join me upstairs again. We are so very lucky to have found each other, we complement each other, and, keeping the relationship vibrant, compliment each other regularly too!

At 10ish we got a phone call from a friend who participates in our food coop, asking if we'd like to have some spare flour which she over-ordered and hasn't used and needs to get rid of as she's having a clearout. I offered to pick it up on the way back from my usual Friday compost collection, so I set off within minutes and went straight to Out Of This World to pick up about 20kg of unsold veg and peelings and stalks leftover from soup making, as they have a little cafe.

When I arrived at my friend's, her father was there as he's been unwell and is staying with his daughter whilst the medics find out what's wrong. He and I got into a good conversation, and it seems he approves of my ethical approach to life and we rather left his daughter out of the conversation, but she was busy with various things and didn't seem to mind. He declared he was bereft of stimulating company at the moment, and did I drink wine?

So I invited him around to tomorrow's evening of Scrabble with Will and his friend Fiona, who is apparently quite a Scrabble fiend. The gentleman's name is Taj and he is a mathematician and economist and engineer. Should be interesting, as Will is a maths person so stimulating conversations should ensue.

Home for lunch and some garden activities afterwards, including emptying a 'New Zealand Bin' of partly composted material into another (known as 'turning the heap' in composting circles) and continuing to fill the Compostumbler with chopped materials and chainsawdust. Also some weeding, as the Ground Elder and Nettles are beginning to grow. Some people say not to put these types of weeds in compost, but there are 3 ways that they can be added. Put them in a hot heap, and as I have several, that's what I do. The heat, generated by the large volumes of rotting materials, quickly destroys any living plant material, including pernicious roots. However, letting them dry out before composting also works, as does putting them in a bucket of water for a few weeks and then tipping the resultant smelly gunge onto the heap. This latter method also kills weed seeds, whereas drying doesn't.

Half an hour before having to go to school to pick up the boys, I made a nutloaf for tea. This is something I make quite often and it's a really easy recipe.

Here it is:
Ingredients: Breadcrumbs, chopped veg, peanut butter, chopped nuts, optional cooked rice/bulgar wheat/other cooked food, optional egg/s, optional moisteners such as red wine, yesterday's soup, etc.
Method: I make breadcrumbs in a blender from old crusts or bread not eaten and not yet mouldy! Put a generous spoonful of peanut butter into the breadcrumbs and wipe this in so it is well mixed up and no PB is left recognisable. Then add other 'dry' ingredients such as leftover grain, chopped onions, grated carrot, chopped nuts, seeds etc. Then add the 'wet' ingredients such as chopped tomatoes, yesterday's soup or curry sauce, and egg if you want to help the mix bind together. Mix very well and season with herbs and bouillon powder or soy sauce (for saltyness).
Grease a pyrex dish or baking tray and I often sprinkle some sesame seeds onto the margerined surface before putting the mix into the bowl. I press it in hard with the back of a fork, and microwave to cook, or put in an oven. I use the micro as it uses far less energy than conventional ovens, but today I turned it out when partly cooked and it went in the gas oven as Gill was already using it to make scones. In the conventional oven it gets crispy around the edge which is nice.
This recipe is infinitely adaptable as it uses up leftovers and can be flavoured with whatever you fancy. Sometimes I do two mixes, one with spinach or chard out of the garden, and another with baked beans, and make a layered nutloaf, or 'terrine' type invention. I've been making these for over 20 years and love them. Great with a sauce!

So the boys had some of this for tea, with new potatoes, peas and sweetcorn and a cabbage salad. After I finished off some outside jobs we had carrot soup and nutloaf for tea. Later in the evening my good buddy Simon came round and as my computer was on, he showed me how to 'cut and paste' which several software programmes have asked me to do and I've been too much of a computer novice to be able to do. Cheers Simon!

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