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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Home Made Bruschetta!

Not sure if anyone else is having this problem luck, but I have LOADS of tomatoes ripening all at the same time! Fab!
So what do you do with them? Before, I have made the usual chutneys and sauces, however i totally forgot about one of my favourite dishes.... Bruschetta!
I first tried Bruschetta at the Olive Garden restaurant in Calgary, Canada and was hooked. Loaded up onto warm Ciabatta bread with some garlic & parsley butter...Nom Nom!!!

It is one of the simplest dishes to make too, here's how:

5-6 Nice juicy ripe tomatoes - Diced
1 Large red Onion - Diced
2-3 Cloves of Garlic - Crushed
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-5 Fresh basil leaves - Chopped

Basically all you have to do is mix all the above into a dish, stirring well to distribute the olive oil & Balsamic vinegar evenly.

(Some people like to deseed the tomatoes....I don't, I chuck the whole lot in, no wastage here!)

Load it up onto some Ciabatta and tuck in!

I have now made this a few times in the past few weeks and have had the thumbs up from every one of my friends. Its a great dish to serve at a BBQ / Party etc - You could definately class it as finger food!

However this is a very "garlic" dish (especially if you have garlic butter too) so be warned if attempting any tongue action, as you may get the finger!
At least you won't get attacked by Vampires though!!

There are many variations to Bruschetta, all of them can be found on the internet, from more tomato receipes to pepper varieties!

Let me know what you think if you try any of them!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Alex James’ Harvest Festival & Pulled Pork

We went to Alex James’ Harvest Festival last Sunday, it was a bit windy but fortunately the weather stayed dry, which helped us digest copious amounts of Aspell Cider, eat food fit for the gods and see Michelin star and celebrity chefs cook amazing food! What more could a girl ask for!! We were very fortunate to have seats at the Chef’s table as well. Where i devoured a dish of pulled pork which was to die for!

And in homage to the dish I have tried to re-create the dish here at home. I roughly followed the recipe from the BBC food website by Simon Rimmer from Something for the weekend;

oil, for greasing
2kg/4lb 6½oz pork shoulder
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp mustard seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml/7¼fl oz white wine vinegar
250ml/9fl oz cider
3 onions, finely sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 170C/340F/Gas 3.
For the pulled pork, oil a baking tray and place the pork shoulder on top. Mix together the chilli, mustard seeds and salt and freshly ground black pepper, then rub the mixture into the pork shoulder.
Pour the vinegar and cider over, then scatter over the onion and garlic.
Cover with parchment paper, then wrap in foil and place into the oven to roast for three hours. Remove the parchment and foil, then roast for another hour.
'Pull' the pork by sticking a fork in the shoulder and shredding the meat into small pieces with another fork.

I also added some smoked paprika as well. I cooked mine in a slow cooker, It was cooking on low for nearly 24 hours. For a first effort it turned out really well, I only heard words of praise from Spen so that’s always a good sign. Next time I think I will add a bit more spice, although the meat was tasty and shredded perfectly some of the meat in the centre of the joint lacked a bit of flavour – definitely something to work on!



Friday, 2 September 2011

Red Mite!!

Unfortunately our chook house has been attacked, an infestation you may call it, I call it War!

The dreaded Red Mite, the vampire of the night that sucks the blood of chickens causing stress, reduction in egg laying, anaemia and in some cases even death!

This is a problem I was hoping we would never encounter, however we have and in a BIG way!

They are called the silent killers, for the fact that during the day they hide away in the nooks & crannies of your coop waiting until its dark to feed on your chickens. They appear white until they have fed, then they turn bright red! (hence the name, Red Mite!)

Red Mite leave a grey dust in the crevices they live in, we had this dust, but because I use a white mite powder on the coop, I assumed this dust was that! I have learnt my lesson!

Our chooks are cleaned out reguarly, disenfected and treated with a diatom powder, but we still managed to be completely infested by this horrible pest! As soon as we realised, the war was on!

We began by dismantling as much of the coop as possible, and giving it a damn good scrub, concentrating on every nook and cranny.
After we left this to dry, we applied an insecticide spray (keep it away from the chooks as they must not breath the vapours) to every inch of the coop, followed by a complete dusting of Diatom powder, which was also applied to every chicken.

We also had to take off the felted roof and burn it, Red Mite LOVE roof felt and can hide and breed in it quite easily. The only option to get rid of the major infestation was to send them to the depths of hell!
We have now replaced the roof with plastic corrugated sheeting. Much easier to keep clean and no hiding places for the mites!

The coop is now back together, and looking very clean, however this is not the end of the war, no, every few days we have to keep on top of it, by checking reguarly for any stragglers we didn't manage to kill in the first instance as they can breed so quickly. The average life cycle of a red mite is around 7 days and in this time you can go from a minor pest to a huge problem!

If you think you have Red Mite in your coop, get on top of it now!

Products I used:

Insecticde Spray: Ready to Use Smite Red Mite Spray (Sold widely on the internet and good pet shops)
Diatomaceous Earth (Diatom Powder): A 100% natural powder for use on animals, pets and birds against external parasites (lice, fleas etc) and internal (worms), and for general good health. I bought mine from wiggly Wigglers (

I have also started adding garlic (either fresh or granules) to the chickens water. According to research, Red Mite HATE garlic, so the hope is, if the chickens drink "garlic" water, when the Red Mite feed, the chickens taste of garlic, resulting in the mites going elsewhere!
I'm not sure if it works or not, but I might as well try it!

There are LOADS of internet sites dedicated to information relating to Red Mite so if you need any further info, google it!

Have you had Red Mite? What did you use to eradicate them? We'd love to know!