Sunday, 5 December 2010

Rainbows & Ice,Peacocks, Homemade Mincemeat, Local Arts,

This morning we are having such peculiar weather...this wonderful rainbow appeared arching across the farm in extraordinarily strong colour and I was walking across fields white & crisp with frost in a fine drizzle. There are still sheets of ice everywhere and icicles hanging in the streams. We have not had the excitement of snow sadly, just treacherous ice and deep cold. Yesterday the yards were like sheets of glass and this morning the Farmer was to take our cattle trailer to help a neighbour move house but the car dooors were frozen solid so instead of going at 9 o'clock it has been postponed until later this morning when things have 'warmed' up a bit and he can get into the car!
From this same neighbour the Farmer has acquired a pair of peacocks, which he brought home yesterday in a cage . They are called Charlie & Hettie and because peacocks apparently have a strong sense of home they are to be kept under high security for 3 months to reduce the risk of them them making a break for it and heading back across the valley & also to keep them safe from Mr Fox. The Farmer has always wanted peacocks and he will win them over by hand feeding them, hopefully. I'm not sure how we are going to cope with haunting scream that peacocks make...people have told us that it can be fairly persistent and therefore intensely annoying.
'Who said, 'Peacock Pie'?
The old King to the sparrow:'
(Walter de la Mare; The Song of the Mad Prince)

Yesterday which was horrid, very cold & damp, I spent making & bottling a large quantity of mincemeat that I had set on the go the day before, and baking while the Farmer & Younger Son were off beating with the dogs. Making mincemeat is one of the Christmas preparations that I really enjoy and I make enough of it to see me through the year not just the festive season. it is very useful stuff, not just for mincemeat pies, but it it makes a lovely pudding with sponge on top and a good spoonful in a cake mixture makes a good moist fruit cake.

 Homemade Mincemeat
4lbs. apples cored but not peeled, chopped small
8oz. suet
2lbs. mixed dried fruit & candied peel
12 oz. dark brown sugar
Grated zest & juice of 2 lemons & 2 oranges
4 tspns. mixed spice
1/2 tspn. ground cinnamon
A little ground cloves
A little grated nutmeg
6 tblspns. brandy
(I double everything & sometimes add a couple of tblspns. of ground almonds)
Mix everything together well except the brandy,in a large bowl and leave overnight covered with a clean cloth.
The next day cover the bowl loosely with tin foil and put in oven for 3 hours
 (Gas 1/4, 225 degrees F, 120 degrees C or the bottom oven of the Rayburn).
When it is taken from the oven the suet will have melted and the whole thing will be swimming in fat... this is how it should be.
As it cools stir occasionally.
When quite cold add the brandy & pack into clean jars, cover with wax discs seal.
It will keep indefinitely in cool dark place

We are always interested in local artists & craftspeople and try to support them when we can afford to (!) and recently a friend has set up a new online business selling work by graduate students from the local art college where she lectures. The original designer pieces produced are wonderful and S. is keen that the young artists should be given a shop window for their talents. Look at and see what remarkable and lovely things are being made here in Carmarthenshire.

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