No idea where the last month has gone as one thing is for sure, apart from going out to fill up with LPG Hattie hasn’t moved much. I have tried to land her in a slightly different spot each time I have got her back into the field … so far successfully roughly a foot further over, trying to swing her backside out a bit more to get an extra few minutes out of those solar panels on these short, sun deficient days.
We have been doing well though, despite using a fair bit of gas for the heating as the temperature has dropped to zero a few nights and has hovered in the low single digits, we have managed to make it off the field when we needed to and have even borrowed a generator from our ‘field-mates’ to try it out a couple of times. The additional solar panel which is portable has been great, although even with it – which gives us 530 watts of solar in total – over the past month we have had a few of days where we have only managed to suck up a total of 60 watts….. with the worst day so far being only 40 watts. They are few and far between but it just shows how difficult it is to stay completely off grid in the UK at this time of year… and we aren’t huge electricity users.
I think we have pretty much adapted our wardrobe now to reflect the British winter…. lots of layers, new hats and gloves – both for exercise as well as during the day when we are out and about. The wellies have been a godsend, as have the exercise matts – just means that we can carry on doing what we want to do, when we want to do it without having to think about it – jumping in big, muddy puddles has become my new sport!
We have been walking mostly locally and I have fallen even more in love with trees and the change at this time of year and have been taking a few more photos as we have been wandering through the beautiful Berkshire countryside.
I also managed to finally visit Clivedon with my mum, somewhere I have wanted to go to for ages but just hadn’t got round to visiting it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a clear day so the photos aren’t as good as I would have hoped, but it was clear to see what a beautiful place it is and I will plan to go back at some point when it is a little more accessible as currently, like most National Trust gardens, they are booked up a fair bit ahead of time as they are restricting numbers.
With huge pressure on the hospitality industry we felt that we needed to get out and try and support our local pubs and restaurants and opted for a sneaky trip back to Sindhu in Marlow as their Christmas menu looked really interesting. It delivered on all levels as always, the dishes were a wonderful combination of flavours, using traditional seasonal products like Venison and Turkey with a Southern Indian twist. The athmosphere was just right and the service – impeccable. We left happily full of deliciousness to waddle along the burst banks of the Thames to help the food go down.
As always we have playing around in the kitchen – but this month we have introduced a new factor… The Oddbox. Well, we aren’t going very far at the moment so we thought we would try and find a farm to get seasonal fruit and vegetables from but then had oddbox recommended to us by my mum. Oddbox is an organisation that tries to reduce waste, either being fruit or veg that are the wrong size or shape, or simply surplus to requirements and the farm has to dispose of them before they even get to the supermarket. Despite the fact that we are only two people, we opted for a large veg box the first week and were so impressed we decided to add the fruit from then on.
We are now just about to get our third box and so far, each week the contents are mostly different. You get to hear what produce you are ‘rescue-ing’ a few days ahead of delivery so can still plan ahead…. a large box is a fair amount of fruit and veg for 2 people but, as you know we do eat our weight in food!
We have also had a bit of a play with pastry…. well, someone challenged me as we eat mostly vegan but our pastry used butter…. so, I have been playing with Trex. It started with one pie with Trex, the next with butter, then for the mincepies too… but as we weren’t sure that we could ensure the controls were consistent between pies, I ended up doing half the pastry with Trex and the other with butter on the same pie…. it made us smile anyway!
The final outcome was that they were pretty much of a muchness. Both were light and flakey and gave a good crust, unfortunately I struggle to get my head round eating Palm oil and we aren’t going to keep both in the fridge as we just don’t have the space – so for now, we are still sticking to butter… but if we were vegan, wouldn’t have an issue with switching as the flavour and flakiness is pretty comparible.
This months new recipes / succesful experiments have been the following:-
- Sweet potato, mushroom and walnut pie
- Fish, chips and mushy peas
- Mushroom and cashew soup
- Kale pesto pasta
- No cook breakfast bar
- Celeriac risotto
- Artichoke, caper and cannelini pate
- Jerusalem artichoke risotto
- Vegan lemon ‘cheese’ cakes
As we are now in Tier 4 there isn’t any planned movement for the foreseable future so for now we wish you all a very merry Christmas (and Channukah, although it has now finished) and of course a happy and healthy new year. Lets hope 2021 brings Covid vaccines, good health and happiness.