Recipes, Cats and Ponds

First of all, the recipes have just been posted over at Bealtaine Cottage Kitchen on the Good Life website…and here’s a link:

https://bealtainecottage.org/bealtaine-cottage-kitchen/

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Sammy-Bear is well and truly zoned out here on the sofa.

dsc03201I was going to sit down, for I’ve been out most of the day at the pond, finishing clearing the pond-weed! Oh…at last…job done! dsc03202I stood and watched his restful sleep and decided to sit elsewhere! dsc03203He’s a lovely boy who deserves his comfort! dsc03204The signs of season change and early autumn are now quite visible from the windows of the cottage, with lots of yellow appearing on the young Ash trees. By the way, there are lots of Ash seeds for sale and these trees are very, very easy to grow…even as Bonsai! Here’s the link to the seed site…

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

dsc03229You can see from the following pics the amount of clearing I’ve done.

dsc03211It was a mammoth task and I’m jolly glad it’s over! dsc03212The next task involves continuing to clear around the banks and the woodland around the pond.dsc03228

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The water is cloudy but this should settle in the next day or so.dsc03233Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.  Buddha

dsc03232Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. 

John Wooden dsc03220dsc03221I have a mind to just get on with things…head down into the wind, not looking to right nor left and working until I’m exhausted.dsc03230

dsc03207dsc03209This is probably why I have refused the help of others and never allowed woofers to stay here…I’ve always been stubborn!

However, it must be said that I love a challenge and hard work is good for mind and body, regardless of age. dsc03206dsc03205Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere.  Self-pity gets you nowhere.  One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world–making the most of one’s best.  

Harry Emerson Fosdick

dsc03235dsc03236dsc03237Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.  There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Chocolate Brownies on a Frosty Morning

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The oven was very hot on the wood stove last night.

As I watched the thermostat creep forever upwards, I imagined it to be a sign…to make a batch of Vegan Chocolate Brownies…never waste a hot oven!

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And so I quickly got the ingredients together from the pantry and whipped up a tray and a half of these delicious, and extremely nutritious, treats.

I went to bed safe in the knowledge that the morning would be filled with hot coffee and chocolate brownies…and it is!

The recipe?… I hear you ask!

Well, here goes…

Vegan Chocolate Brownies

1 can coconut milk

Half a glass of organic millet (I use a half pint glass)

150g chopped dates

Mix together in a saucepan and cook slowly on low heat for about 40 minutes

Meanwhile…

Mix and mash in a big bowl:

3 ripe bananas (I buy the brown bananas very cheap!)

half a glass of cocoa powder

4 tblsps sunflower oil

3 tblsps cornflour

1 tsp baking soda

Mix both mixtures together when ready.

At this stage I add oats, sesame seeds and other healthy seeds and grains I may have to hand..in total about 2-4 ozs

Spoon into a big baking tray and set walnuts on top.

Bake at 180C for about 45 minutes.

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And there you have it…no animal products whatsoever and very healthy!

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Meanwhile, Sammy Bear and Charlie are making full use of the dresser, as Jack has taken to sneaking their food!

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The day was just gorgeous yesterday, all sunshine and rainbows.

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With the diversity of planting comes lots of winter colour, as you can see…much more interesting than a lawn!

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All this and wood for the stove!

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Complete with a rainbow!

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This morning is very cold and frosty, but equally beautiful.

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With fresh coffee and brownies, it is idyllic!

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The stove is lit and the kettle sings low.

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There is a small stretch in the days…about 15 minutes per week is added to daylight after the Solstice!

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The frost is welcome as it will help in breaking down garden waste and allowing it to be taken down into the earth by the worms and insects.

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There are plenty of leaves all over the gardens waiting to be dealt with in this way.

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Never clear a winter garden, or cut back too early!

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20 Day Juice Fast…Final Day!

www.bealtainecottage.com

Dropping 13lbs in 9 days has been one of the extraordinary benefits of the Juice Fast I have been on.

Deciding to embark on a total reboot of my system has been what I can only describe as “liberating!”

This is my first glass of juice of the day and has all the ingredients shown in the pics below…

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Ginger, Cabbage, Cucumber, Orange and Lime…plus…

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Carrot and Courgette…sometimes Beetroot, but not today! Plus…

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Peppers and lots of herbs and greens from the garden…

Lemon Balm, Parsley, Rocket, Golden Oregano…

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With lots of Mint!

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Cleaning the machine straight away after use makes it an easy task…just rinse and leave to dry!

www.bealtainecottage.comI checked myself out with the Doctor after a few days and all was well.

My energy levels are good, though the first three days were tough!

www.bealtainecottage.comDuring this time I suffered headaches and tiredness, as my body came off the caffeine and wheat.

This disappeared after the initial three days and since then I have been feeling fabulous!

www.bealtainecottage.comMy tips for success:

Take time off work to start this as the first three days can be hard and you will want to sleep!

Keep busy…have books to read, walks to go on etc.,

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This is a good time to de-junk your life…start with clearing out cupboards, wardrobes etc.

This is what I have kept busy with and the feeling of clearing space is wonderful!

www.bealtainecottage.comFinally, I must add that I have never slept as well or as deeply, though keeping warm is essential, especially in the evenings!

Blessings XXX Colette

UPDATE… 2nd June, Day 12. Energy levels good. Skin clear. Eyes bright. Sleeping well. Total weight loss: 15lbs

UPDATE: 10th June, Day 20! On this final day I am so very happy that I took on this challenge!

It has been one of the best things I have ever done!

I’ve never felt this good and have lost a grand total of 20 lbs!

I shall continue from next week juice fasting 2 days out of every week until all my surplus lbs have gone.

I am now a totally committed Vegan!

An Ancient Recipe for Blackcurrant Chutney

Evening kitchen at Bealtaine CottageFinally, finally coming to the bottom of the freezer and the last of last years Blackcurrants…so many of them…over 150lbs!

I have eaten Blackcurrants every day since last summer.

kitchen at Bealtaine CottageI have a very simple meal that I make with them…raw food vegan!

It’s simply putting a handful of sunflower seeds in the blender with 3 or 4 big handfuls of organic oats.

Blend.

Add soya or other vegan milk, or dairy if that’s your choice.

Blend.

Add 1/4 lb of frozen Blackcurrants and some Maple Syrup to taste.

Blend.

The result is a cross between an ice cream and a smoothie…spoon it out and enjoy!

Blackcurrant ChutneyThis evening I have made four pound pots of delicious Blackcurrant Chutney. Blackcurrant ChutneyThe recipe is quite ancient…passed down to me from someone very close.

The taste of this chutney is unique and delicious and not to be compared to any other!

Here’s the recipe…

1 lb Blackcurrants

 1 lb moist brown sugar

1/4 lb chopped seedless raisins

1oz crushed mustard seeds

1oz chopped onion

1/2 oz  ground ginger

1 heaped teaspoon salt

1/2 pint distilled white vinegar

Cover the currants with the vinegar, and cook them gently until they are tender.

Let them cool, then mix in all the other ingredients.

Stir well together, boil up for about ten minutes, and bottle and cover tightly when cold.

Lysimachia Punctata on the table in the kitchenMost delicious and you can adjust the ingredients to taste and to suit…not too much though!

This recipe was handed down from my great grandmother, Mary Ann Higgins-Baxter, who grew masses of Blackcurrants on her small farm on the Derry Road in Omagh, County Tyrone.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThis was the thatched cottage owned by my great grandmother.

bealtainecottage.com (9)It was recommended by Mary Ann that the Blackcurrant Chutney be served with Goats Cheese, which she made herself from the many goats she kept and milked.

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Framed, Raw and Rather Juicy!

Upcycling Old Picture Frames

I was given this beautiful old frame by a guy in a second-hand market in the local town.

It is one of the most beautiful picture frames I have ever come across.

Look closely at it, for it is a colourful mosaic of sea washed glass and shells.

The new chalkboardFor several years now it has waited patiently in the shed for someone with a good idea…who just happened to come along this week.

Cara was helping me to find a hammer in the outside shed on Monday, when she spied this frame and suggested it be used as a chalk board for the garden…all it needed was some board cut to fit, which could then be painted with blackboard paint and fitted into the frame!

Cara turned up with the finished, magnificently up-cycled chalkboard today and promptly fitted it onto the wall of the lodge under the shelter of the veranda.

Lodge VerandaDoesn’t it look great?

organic herbs from the permaculture gardensMeanwhile…in the kitchen I prepared some wholesome juice, using organic produce from the gardens…

After juicing organic apples and carrots, I add Kale, Apple-mint, Lemon Balm, Fennel and Parsley.

Juicing is a great way of ensuring a steady supply of the finest and freshest nutrients, especially using what is so easily grown in the edible gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Preparing aVegan stir fry at Bealtaine CottageMuch of what I harvest is added to stir-fries too.

These are the ingredients for this evening’s meal.

Missy catMeanwhile, Missy Cat is enjoying the sunshine, while keeping an eye on me!

Bealtaine Cottage Fruit Growing and Winemaking Workshop

Bealtaine Cottage rhubarbGrowing food is important.

Bealtaine Cottage BlackcurrantsHere at Bealtaine Cottage there is another bumper crop of Blackcurrants, Rhubarb, Apples, Pears and Plums growing.

Bealtaine Cottage redcurrants from the permaculture gardensPreserving and using fruit is a challenge when the crops are this abundant!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingMaking wine is one of the delights of summer, allowing fruit to be preserved in a unique and tasteful way…wine!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingThere will be a day long wine making and fruit growing workshop at Bealtaine Cottage on Saturday, the 29th of June.

Bealtaine Cottage teaA Vegetarian lunch will be provided, as will morning and afternoon tea/coffee and home made cakes.

home made wine at Bealtaine CottageIf you would like to book a place, please email Colette on:

coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

Harvesting Rhubarb and Growing Peach Trees

Harvesting Rhubarb for the second time this year.

The first crop was back in the middle of Spring.

When that crop was picked, I manured the beds and allowed it to go on to develop a second flush.

Once washed and chopped I lightly stew the rhubarb, then cool it and pack it into bags for the freezer.

The Spring crop was made into delicious jam!

One of my favourite winter puddings is simple stewed Rhubarb topped with toasted oats and demerara sugar, mixed with some chopped nuts…mmm!

I lightly toast the oats in a big cast iron pan with the sugar and nuts.

It takes minutes and tastes divine topped with Soya cream!

Oops…the pics are mixed up!

Lots of good stuff for the growing compost heap.

You’re right!

I had no intention of waiting until winter for this treat!

Taking the compost over to the heap, passing the Nasturtiums on the way…lack of sun doesn’t appear to bother them at all!

Just to share with you the progress of one of the little Peach Trees, grown from seed here at Bealtaine Cottage…a real Irish Peach tree…and very strong indeed!

And as I return from the compost heap, I spotted the Spirea  in blossom in the hedge.

This is a mixed hedge planted with cuttings and home-grown plants about five years ago.

It is in the Orchard, so all the shrubs are flowering and Bee-friendly.

P.S. You may have noticed the name change at the top of the page. Well, I thought it best to make it a simple “Bealtaine Cottage,” for this is where it’s all happening…

Making Elderflower Cordial…Summer in a Bottle!

The Summer harvest has begun in time for the Solstice…Elderflowers are in abundance and the making of Elderflower Cordial captures the energy of the summer solstice in a bottle of sweety goodness!

30 heads of flowers, 4 lemons, boiled spring water, sugar and citric acid to preserve the cordial well into the dark days of midwinter.

It’s a very simple process.

First boil the one and half litres of water you will use, then stir this onto the 1 kilo of sugar and leave to cool.

Then grate the lemons and slice into thick slices.

Add all to the cooled sugar water, along with the Elderflowers.

Stir well.

Add 50g of citric acid and stir again.

Cover and leave to infuse for 48 hours or so, then strain through muslin and bottle in sterilized glass bottles.

Mmmmm….

Any leftover flowers can be dried in a cool oven and kept in a clean glass jar for making Elderflower tea with during the winter…

This makes a delicious, organic tea!

I love the abundance of summer…

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A Life in the Country ~ Sunday, Food and Autumn Colours

Thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall… A fabulous and easy recipe…

Chickpea and pumpkin salad

Chickpeas go very well with sweet, roasted squash, adding a little bite to contrast with the silky flesh. Serves three to four as a starter, two as a main course.

1 butternut or other squash
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled but bashed to break the skin
1-2 small red chillies, deseeded, membrane removed, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
150g dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked as above (or a 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large bunch parsley, stalks removed, leaves chopped
1 large bunch coriander, stalks removed, leaves chopped
1 small bunch mint, stalks removed, leaves chopped
20g pumpkin seeds, toasted

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Peel the squash, if you like (I usually leave the skin on), halve it, scoop out the seeds, then cut it into 4cm chunks. Put these in a roasting tin with the garlic, chilli, thyme, bay leaves, some salt and pepper. Trickle over three tablespoons of oil and mix with your hands until well coated. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until the squash is softened and beginning to char around the edges. Add the chickpeas, toss and cook for five minutes to warm through. Add the lemon juice and toss with the herbs, pumpkin seeds and a bit of sea salt. Serve warm, with a little oil trickled over the top if you like.

The colours on the trees are simply amazing..