Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The shortbread of millionaires (and peasants)

I've mentioned before that getting hold of ingredients here is tricky, having cravings for things can be well, frankly pointless. But sometimes, just sometimes you can crave and create with little effort.

I searched around on the internet for the easiest recipe and trust me there are some long-winded, almost scientific recipes out there for millionaires shortbread.

This is the easiest one by far:

The following are the ingredients for the shortbread base
8 oz plain flour
4 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar

Ingredients for the caramel filling
4 oz margarine or butter
4 oz soft brown sugar
2 level tablespoons golden syrup
5 fl oz condensed milk

Ingredients for the topping
4 oz plain chocolate
½ oz butter
Preheat the oven to 180oC, gas mark 4.Grease an 8” square tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and stir until the mixture begins to bind together. Knead until smooth. Press evenly into the tin and prick well. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and firm. Allow to cool in the tin.

Place the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil and then boil, gently, stirring, for 5-7 minutes, until thick. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the base.

Melt the chocolate and butter together and stir well. Spread over the caramel filling. Allow to set before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

piggie update #4 and goodbye's

Whilst keeping these pigs has been challenging and rewarding, nothing had really prepared me for the feelings I had today when we had to rustle two of the piglets into a cage and transport them to their new home. We had decided to give one piglet to the lady that had been giving us whey and she accepted (unwillingly) and then asked if she could also buy one for her daughter. So that is where they went today. I had been dreading it and was right to, I hated every minute. Catching them, driving them and then delivering them.

I cried all the way there, and all the way back. I sobbed my heart out for those little pigs. I think their new home is crap, I mean really crap. It's a concrete pen in a building with little natural light, no straw for bedding no nothing. It really really broke my heart. I knew it would. But I know the new owners, who have been farmers all their lives see it differently. Maybe it wont be the only home those pigs have, maybe they'll get to run around again, who knows? They thought the pigs were beautiful and fat, which they were. And I'm sure they will look after them because they are important. Everything else on their farm is pretty well kept, and they are wholly self sufficient and running at a profit. But the reason I cried wasn't really about how they were going to be kept, it was about loss.

For us they aren't just food, they have, albeit slowly, cleaned and turned over some of the land, and hopefully they will turn over more, they have deposited muck on the land, and perhaps the strangest most untangeable part, they have given the farm life. In a very real sense they are the life of the farm. It will be a very desolate place when they are all gone.

Given different circumstances I would interview potential buyers for any livestock we rear, I would want to visit the farms of said buyers, but we don't live in that kind of world (no-one does), all I can do is rear them the best I can, give them a really good start in life, freedom, happiness, health and fresh air,

I know that what happens to them after is out of my hands. Yes I could just not do it, and to be honest it was never our intention to have so many pigs all at once, but, that's life. Sometimes circumstances change you.

I guess what I am saying is, that as awful as it feels to be so emotional about your livestock, if I wasn't, I'd be worried, because that would mean I had stopped feeling and that's not right either. We both love all the livestock, and try our best to keep them as well as we can, given our lack of knowledge and financial constraints. But, it hasn't been that difficult so far, we've been fortunate I'm sure, for nothing that bad has happened and they have done everything we could have hoped for them to do.

They're not pets though, they are livestock, they will die at our hands at the time we need them to, and provide us with food, as long as we can keep them alive and well long enough, and that's our part of the bargain. Theirs is to be the farm animals they are and do the things they are supposed to.

I'd like to think that if you love them and care for them you will get more back, not just in the health and well being of your livestock, but a return inside yourself. When you give something of yourself you'll be surprised what you get back.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Life is shit

I was wondering why, when I read everyone else's blogs they are always so positive and upbeat, I'd had some ideas about this before and often felt like I myself was being a bit smug every time i posted some wonderfully positive event on my blog.

I haven't written much lately for lots of reasons but mostly because nothing in "my" world has been good. So I got to thinking that maybe I should break with tradition and write about something negative and crap. Life is not always just about all the good things that happen, it can't be, anyone who tells you (through their blog or otherwise) is a liar or deluded or very very lucky/fortunate.

I am living in an area of outstanding beauty, I've chosen to live a different way of life, I don't have to get up every day and work for someone else, I can eat when I want, go to work when I want and go to bed when I want.
All that sounds pretty good eh? yup and nope.

I am not always enjoying myself, in fact lately it's been the opposite, I feel guilty because I feel like I "should" be enjoying myself or at least grateful. I feel like I can't talk to anyone about feeling crap about my amazing life, because it's somehow seen as ungrateful or negative.

It can be very isolating and lonely not to mention confusing. The events of the past months have been quite overwhelming and although we have recovered (not financially) we are up and running again, it has knocked me and my confidence for six.

I am often not sure what the hell I am supposed to be doing here, other than being a housewife and occasional vegetable grower and livestock rearer. That doesn't cut it for me and I don't know how to make it cut it for me. This is the first time in my life that I haven't had a job, either working for someone else or myself, it's the first time in my life that I haven't had to get up at the crack of dawn everyday. It's the first time in my life that I haven't had to be somewhere on Monday morning. One day blends in to another, weeks whizz by and then months and I seem to have achieved nothing. I can't help with the house build as it's really too physical at this stage, I can't grow any vegetables because it's too flipping hot. I can't go outside because it makes my head hurt. I never thought I would say this but I actually hate the sun and wonder what in god's name I was thinking when I suggested moving to Portugal.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Bloggers block

We've had a really crap month, so am not writing anything but I have taken some photos of some nice things:

One good thing came out of being truckless, we got to use the bike

Piggie update #3

The piglets move around so fast I can't get any decent pics of them or they're sleeping in their house. They're all fine and fat and have about one month to go before they go on to their new homes. We will be moving their enclosure soon, so they can have one last chow down before they can on to pastures new.

Dirty piggy

Perfect piggy