Aug 2009 – Menu Planning

August saw me reviewing my homesteading. I’ve tried to design a two week summer menu that meets the criteria of using only natural produce (i.e. not processed); fresh veg from the garden, using least amount of cooking pots ( I hate washing up); using herbs from the garden; and allows us to cook two meals at a time (one for the freezer). In the winter it was easy as it usually involved a weekly roast and if it was chicken the carcass made excellent soup. The sort of soup that felt like it was doing you good. Or fish pie, the recipe copied from Dinty’s bar in Union Hall - haddock (from the fish shop in Union Hall) in a cheese and leek sauce served with garlic potatoes..yum.

To expand our menu I treated myself to a couple of second-hand books on Amazon – “The Thrift Book” by India Knight and “How to feed your family a healthy, balanced diet with very little money” by Gill Holcombe. It was against my better judgement that I bought the “Thrift” book, as thrift is a word I’ve never liked the sound of. I don’t think it describes what homesteading is about – homesteading is about eating only the best – just making it go a little further! On second thoughts maybe that does describe thrift. Anyway this book is as far away from thrift as is possible. It’s really only suitable if you are downsizing from having food flown in from Fortnum and Masons! On the positive side it did contain lists of some very useful websites. The other book “How to feed your family…”, was a great improvement, the recipes were easy to follow and there were plenty that I was inspired to try. At the end of the book there were menu suggestions, which was the reason I bought the book and they were costed for the UK supermarkets coming in at less than £30 per week. Just one recipe horrified me “Fish finger pie”!  

Sad news this month one of our cats “Clive”, passed away. He was 16 and had lost his sight, so in a way it was a release. Phantom his sister really seemed down and missing him – apparently cats do grieve for a lost companion. So we searched on the internet for kittens in West Cork and surprisingly found that one of neighbours at Loch Ine had some kittens that needed a home. We chose a little black one, the image of Clive, who we named Trixie and a black and white kitten we called Lilly that looks just like Phantom. Phantom was not amused especially when the kittens very cheekily pushed her head out of her food bowl. She’s gradually getting used to them and in time I think she will enjoy their company. I often see her watching the kittens as they play. 

I think cats often get a bad press when it comes to birds, but our cats have rarely caught birds and when the ducklings were tiny they seemed to know that they were part of our family. Talking of birds the swallows have laid a second clutch of eggs, which is a really good sign that its going to be a good September, as they must be planning to stay on. One year the swallows left on the last day of August and sure enough in came the sea mists.

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