Lemon Curd

The hens are in full production now, so there are plenty of eggs to be consumed. Now that pancake day has been and gone, and while there are still lots of lemons in the house thoughts turn to lemon curd.

It’s really very quick and easy to make. We only make small amounts at any one time because delicious as it is it has a relatively limited shelf life and needs to be kept in the fridge once made.

 

The Recipe we use for Lemon curd is as follows:

50g butter

110g caster sugar

grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

2 organic eggs and 1 organic egg yolk

Melt the butter on a very low heat. Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and finally whisk the eggs and stir in over a very gentle heat. Once the mixture has thickened, pot, and when cool refrigerate.

All the recipes say ‘best eaten within a fortnight’. It’s so delicious on toast or fresh bread that it is unusual for there to be any left after a fortnight.

Sheep’s Wool Insulation

This winter has been relatively mild, but going on the theory that you can never have too much insulation and the fact that heating cost are only going to rise, we decided to put more insulation in the attic.

In the hall waiting to go upstairs!

We went with sheep’s wool insulation because it is a natural product, is environmentally friendly and because Lough Bishop House is Green Hospitality Certified. Another factor is that we are doing the job ourselves and it is really nice to handle, quite apart from the fact that we have sheep ourselves and even though it’s not our wool in the attic we are least supporting the industry! The only downside is that it is much more expensive than fibreglass. But who knows, if demand increases maybe the price will eventually come down.

The actual product we used is Thermafleece PB20 which comes in easy to handle rolls and which will fit through the attic trap door.  We were a bit disappointed to discover that it contains recycled polyester, but were assured that this is because, having been so tightly compressed, it requires the polyester to make it spring back out to 100mm!

Wool laid over fibreglass

We already have 100mm  (4″ in old money) of fibre glass insulation up there laid out between the joists and with another 100mm of sheeps wool insulation over the top we’ll have 200mm (8″) in total, two layers laid at 90 degrees to each other ensuring no gaps and hopefully minimal heat loss.

All the advertising literature shows lovely big attics you can stand up in with heaps of room to unroll the insulation. Not ours! Head room is a dizzying 3′ with supports coming down to carry the ceiling joists so it was a case of doing the whole job lying down and crawling from joist to joist. Hard on the knees.

It probably took about a day to complete the job, quite satisfying and it certainly looks the part. We saved money by doing the job ourselves and running up the stairs with rolls of  insulation was great exercise! So here’s to a warmer house.

>Seville Orange Marmalade and Oat Biscuits

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It’s January, so as always its time to take advantage of the short Seville orange season and make marmalade.
I’m on batch number two of the 2012 season, but once all the slicing is done there is alot of hanging around in the kitchen while things boil, so today I decided to make some Oat Biscuits.
We use Pat Lalor’s “Kilbeggan Organic Porridge Oats” for both porridge and flapjacks but just before Christmas we were at an event where the Lalor’s were promoting their oats and had made biscuits. They were kindly giving samples and the recipe to all who were interested. They were delicious, so today was the day to make them at home.
Kilbeggan Porridge Oat Biscuits:
3ozs soft brown sugar
30zs plain four
4 ozs Kilbeggan organic porrdige oats
5ozs butter
half a teaspoon of bread soda
Mix all the ingredients together. Roll into small balls and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten them slightly, and then bake until golden – roughly 15 minutes in the Aga.
Once cooled the biscuits just about get onto a plate before they are devoured by family and friends.
At this stage the marmalade should  have reached setting point! So its time to pot up before relaxing with a cup of tea and a Kilbeggan Porridge Oat Biscuit.  Yummy!

>New Year

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Leeks are the only thing left in the garden at this time of year.
But once the chores are done it is nice to sit by the fire in the evening and browse through the seed catalogues.
have all sent out their catalogues and somehow it is nicer than browsing on the computer. Pen in hand we mark all the seeds we think we might like, and then cut down our order trying to be realistic about the amount of time and space we have. Never enough of either!

>A little bit sad

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“When loved ones die, you have to live on their behalf. See things as though with their eyes. Remember how they used to say things, and use those words oneself. Be thankful that you can do things that they cannot, and also feel the sadness of it” Louis de Berniere, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
Helen’s father died at the end of October. He had helped us at every stage of Lough Bishop House’s development. From the septic tank to the roof he was there with practical assistance and good humour.
He was diagnosed with cancer in February of this year and asked us if we would plant a tree for him. He particularly wanted a Wellingtonia and after much searching O’Mearas Garden Centre just outside Mullingar managed to source one for us.
We brought the tree home in October.

And in December we finally got around to planting “Graham’s Tree”. All who come to visit us at Lough Bishop House will now be met at our entrance by a Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron Giganteum). As its name suggests this tree will grow to be very big and I suppose we won’t get to see that either.
John McCabe, from McCabe Contracters, was coming to do a little digger work, so we took advantage of the opportunity and got the machine to dig the hole for  us. Christopher mixed in a bag of compost to the loosened soil and the job was complete.
In a few hundred years time it will look like this, and will probably be blocking the avenue if not the road!
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