I can hear the Jeopardy theme song ticking away in the back of my head. Duh, dah, duh, do, duh, dah, duh….only 36 hours to go. So far the tank is well below my limit of £10. Cross fingers.
Like Baldric in Black Adder, I have a cunning plan, M’lord. I am going to call one of the biggest course fisheries around and ask if they would allow me to toss a crayfish trap into one of their carp ponds. The River Stour is in full flood, in fact the news today showed it had flooded the bottom floor of the old flour mill on its banks across from Sturminster Newton. The large open doorway in the picture to the right is now in flood. All of the surrounding fields have disappeared under water as well. I suspect that would completely eliminate any chance we have of catching anything there for at least two to three months. Carp ponds are bound to be full of crayfish, they eat their poo and all of the uneaten food pellets that drop to the bottom. Best yet it gives us an opportunity to go visit Topsy’s World across the lane. We do love his wonderfully imaginative style. What better way to celebrate the thaw? That’s if we can get there over the river?
What more can I say? We have had some serious rainfall.
Yesterday was our recycling run, picking up ashes, newspapers, bottles and mushroom trays. This is the road we usually take to pick this up. Normally the River Stour is 10 feet below the crossing, between the lines of fencing.
Today is the last fruit day and I will be seeding Poblano peppers. We use a lot of these and they are almost impossible to find. We fire roast, peel and seed, and freeze them in bundles for use during the year. But when they are fresh we have Chiles Rellenos con Queso en Salsa. Chillies stuffed with strips of cheese, dredged in flour then dipped in souffle batter then fried to a golden brown, served sitting in a pool of roasted tomato salsa. You can even freeze them cooked for serving at a later date though they suffer a bit in texture as the souffle coating softens. I give you the recipe at the end of the rant.
At 2pm today the calendar changes to 3 consecutive root days. I am in a quandary as to what to do on this. We have approximately a 2 hour window in which to seed before rain returns. The BBC is telling us that tomorrow will be another deluge, possibly through the weekend when temperatures will drop. Not looking too good for planting is it? The time is ticking away and the onions, shallots and garlic MUST go in before we lose the season. Planting them outside in the face of a deluge is suicidal. I think I am going to seed them into the paper pots I have prepared and set them inside the greenhouses until the next root day when we can try our luck with the rain. We have sufficient seeding compost and mushroom trays, I cannot see any other way to handle it as we cannot afford to replace the lost sets should they wash away.
It seems rather a bit of overkill to speak of aquaponics right now but I have heard back from the organization I contacted. Their suggestion is to raise, carp, trout or perch. Ugh no thanks. I am doggedly persistent and still pursuing the Tilapia culture. They did say we could raise Tilapia in the warm months and harvest them before the temperatures dropped. A good idea but I have found some other worthwhile information. If we made a solar system for the pool it might work to extend the season giving us larger fish. I learned that for every 8 litres volume inside the solar heater you can raise the temperature in a 12 foot INTEX pool such as ours, 6C/14F in one day. That is significant and within our grasp if we construct a 12-16 litre system, compensating for our lack of sun with a larger volume. We could build a surround outside the pool and back-fill it with packing peanuts making sure to cover them well and keep them dry. A floating cover of thick bubble wrap on the water would help too. This should minimize heat loss overnight. When I lived in the yurt I had a wood-fired hot tub made from an 8-foot cattle watering tank. I insulated it in the same way topping it with a styrofoam lid overnight. The temperature at night would be 41C/107F dropping to 36C/97F by morning on a winter night when temperatures fell to -29C/-20F. We would have to build a hoop house over the greens tray that filters the water but that is easy enough. It might give us the full 9 months needed to produce fish of a sufficient size to eat well. We would have to re-start the system with new fingerlings every year but that is not a high price to pay for such delicious meat. More later….
Chiles Rellenos con Queso, Cheese Stuffed Chillies
- 1 Poblano pepper for each person, more if you are a big eater
- 50 gms of cheese for every pepper, we use mozzarella, jack or mild cheddar instead of impossible to find Oaxaca cheese
- 1 egg for every Poblano used
- 1 tsp flour for every egg
- pinch of salt
- oil for frying we prefer corn oil
Before you begin this process it is wise to prepare the salsa as the fried peppers will stay crispy for only a short time and should be served immediately. Roast the whole peppers either over an open gas flame, in a dry frying pan, or under a broiler until the skins are charred a dark brown/black. Immediately place the pepper either in a paper bag or a metal bowl and cover it to steam until cool. Peel off the charred skin taking care to keep the pepper in one piece. Open a slit in one side and remove the seed ball keeping them stem and any loose seeds. If you are all thumbs like me remove the seed ball and stem, flatten the pepper into one piece and remove the skin and seeds using the dull side of a knife scraped gently over the flesh. This is not traditional but much easier. Stuff the strips of seed into the whole pepper or fold it inside the flattened pepper. Many cooks secure the cheese with a toothpick through the pepper. Separate the eggs, making sure not to get any yolk in the whites. Whisk the whites into stiff peaks. Beat the yolks with the flour and salt until smooth. Slowly fold the yolk mixture into the whites making the souffle batter. Dredge the stuffed peppers in flour then gently dip them in the souffle batter transferring them immediately into a frying pan with 1/2 inch of hot oil. Fry until golden turning only once (this is tricky, use a wide flexible spatula if you have one or use 2 forks) then set them aside on some paper towelling to drain. Serve them on top of a pool of roasted tomato salsa, do not spoon the salsa over the chillies as it will soften them.
Salsa de Jitomate Rostizada, Roasted Tomato Salsa
- 6 Roma-type Tomatoes
- 1 clove Garlic peeled
- 1 Onion peeled
- 1 Jalapeno Chilli
- a pinch of Oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped Coriander/Cilantro
Using a dry frying pan or a BBQ grill roast the tomatoes, garlic, onion and chilli until the tomatoes are somewhat charred and softened, the garlic browned but not burnt, the onion somewhat charred and the chilli browned and blistered. Place all the roasted ingredients in a blender, but first de-stem and remove the seeds from the chilli. Add the sugar, oregano and coriander along with 1 cup of water. Whirr it all until smooth. Transfer the sauce into a pot and simmer it until the sauce is reduced in volume by 1/3. Season it with salt and pepper.
CDT; £27.49 apprimately 303 plants/bulbs avg price £0.09
- Poblano pepper seeds £3.50
- Onion Sets £10.00
- Shallot Sets £6.00
- Garlic Sets £6.00
- Compost used £1.99
- Newspaper Pots £0.00