Friday, 31 January 2014

Egg-citing Times!

Egg-citing Times

Despite it being early February, in the depths of winter, there are subtle changes out there that indicate that change is on the way. If you find the winter months to be long and drawn out, and if you find the dark nights and gloomy days really test your mood, you’ll be so pleased to see little indications of a change in the season.

Each week since the new year began, has seen the days lengthen. These changes take place at a snails pace but by now, four weeks in, we are no longer walking in the dark at 5pm! As we enter the shortest month these changes will accelerate, or at least they appear to do so! February will come and go, and soon we will be entering March, and we’ll be weeks away from  pushing the hour forward to welcome spring! Now that is a pleasant thought.  

Until then, we have potentially the coldest month of the year ahead. In Polish and Ukrainian respectively, the month is called luty or лютий, meaning the month of ice or hard frost. Interestingly, January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, as the Romans originally considered all of winter to be a monthless period - just winter!

I have to confess, as I write this the wind is howling through the trees and the rain is lashing against my kitchen windows. Despite this, I maintain that spring is just around the corner! How do I know? Well my chickens told me! Don’t laugh, of course they didn’t actually TELL me, but they gave me the biggest hint.  

Last week, following a spell or a rest from egg laying, they delighted us with the first eggs of the year!! It may be cold out there, but the little chooks are obviously feeling cheerful about the longer days. It’s a good sign, and that combined with the emergence of little shoots pushing through the bare soil, tells me that I’ll be out in the greenhouse within no time. Obviously, it’s not time to get digging quite yet, but it’s certainly time to start thinking about and planning the gardening year ahead. It’s a pleasant thought! 

With a sudden abundance of eggs I’ve been busy in the kitchen. Last week at the Teens Cook Club on monday night we made creme brûlée, and with the spare egg whites we later whipped up some delicious meringues for tea. With their deep orange yolks, the free range eggs from our hens made an amazing custard for the Portuguese tarts, with added raspberries for a wonderful treat.

Though I love all these lovely sweet cakes and puddings, my favourite egg recipe has to be this weeks recipe of the week,  a Spanish tortilla - omelette, served with aioli, a sauce made from garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolks, or simply made from mixing mayonnaise and garlic for a quick fix! A tortilla can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, tea or supper, and can certainly be enjoyed as after school snack. So simple to make, nutritious and very economical, it is a real winner.  To glam it up, add it to a platter of cold meats, salami, chorizo, hams, add olives, capers and some fresh home made bread (see Journal 22nd Jan) for a real feast.

If you like the idea of having your own supply of eggs, consider keeping a couple of hens. It may seems like a crazy idea, but seriously, they are great pets that pay for their keep! Provided you have just a little time and a little grass, a small coop/shed you have all it takes to keep a pair of happy clucking chickens. Forget about the cockerel crowing in the early hours, laying hens don't need a man about the house, but they do need the companionship of another hen. There are regular poultry sales at Ffairfach Llandeilo, where you can pick and choose your perfect feathered friends to take home. 

On the last Saturday of the Month, the BJP poultry sale commences 10.30am, but be there early to suss out what you want in advance of the sale, which is by auction by the way! So you’ve a few weeks to get ready, read up and prepare, before you embark on a new poultry adventure! Don’t forget….. don’t get carried away! Leave the ducks, geese and peacocks for another adventure, another time, when you’ve done your homework, and you know what your doing!!  You can however, visit the adjacent machinery sale and discover all manner of tools and equipment that you may need, or not! Enjoy! :)