Boy's Toys

I have written before about the chemicals and equipment used for curing and sausage making but when 'the bug' bites you'll undoubtedly end up buying (investing in?) even more.

Sooner or later you'll want to move on from that cheap slicer that you bought from Argos, it slices bread very nicely but struggles with uncooked meat, so you'll look for a commercial slicer. You realise that you'll never get away with buying a new one 'cos your partner will have a fit, so off you go to ebay.

After awaiting its arrival like an expectant father, you'll end up having to clean it up, just like a new-born baby! Half a day, and lots of elbow grease later, you'll be slicing everything in sight! I know, you don't believe me, but take my word for it, you will.

Berkel Slicer

It'll be the turn of the mincer next. You'll get fed up of using the Kenwood Chef for larger amounts of meat and look for a dedicated mincer/grinder. You'll have a look at something like this one which receives excellent reviews, but you'll convince yourself that you really need something more like this. It's just... Well it's just...Ok I'll say it... It's just more manly... More macho. Trouble is, with a champagne throat but beer pocket, you can't justify (get away with!) spending that much. So it's off to ebay again. Weeks later you may drop lucky and pick up one of these:


A bit like me, the finishing isn't that brilliant but it's built like a brick outhouse! It weighs over 20kg and absolutely whips the meat through it's 70mm head.

It's then that you realise that your sausages are working out at about £20 a pound but you've just got to have proper sausage stuffer. It makes the process so much easier.

Sausage Stuffer

Another £70 quid lighter!

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Norfolk's Bounty

Marsh Samphire

I'd heard of samphire a long while ago but have never had chance to get any. This changed last month when my mate , who has featured on this blog before, brought me some from Cookies Crab Shop in Salthouse.

Cookies is becoming a bit of a place of pilgrimage among the regulars at my local. John has visited a couple of times and Maurice invariably visits when down that way. It's a seafood shop with a few tables where you can eat, by no means haute cuisine but then you are getting a half lobster salad dressed with loads of other smoked and shell fish for under a tenner.

Samphire grows on the marshes and although it can be eaten raw, it is best lightly steamed or boiled. John saw it for sale on a table outside a house while he was driving to Cookies for lunch. At £1 for a good bag full, it was a steal. It's anything up to £14 a kilo in London!

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Sourdough Bread

Following discussions about bread making at the forum I said I would make sourdough and try to produce a loaf without the 'over-sour' taste that both others and I had experienced in previous attempts.

I started by mixing 100g of supermarket white bread flour with 100g of cold water in a bowl, covering it with a plate and leaving it on the worktop in the kitchen.

After 24hrs I threw 100g of this away and mixed in another 50g of flour and the same of water.

On the third day it smelt like sick - Doh! I threw it away and started again with the same process - each day throwing away half and replenishing it with more flour and water.

A week later I mixed 100g of my starter with a further 125g each of water and flour and left this to ferment in the warm kitchen (it was a hot day) for a couple of hours.

The initial mix after fermentation

The salt, and the rest of the flour and water, to make up my recipe were added (taking into account the 175g of flour and 175g of water already in the mix).

For this experiment I just stuck to the metric equivalent of a 1lb flour/½ pint water recipe so made the flour up to 300g and water to 190g - I was testing the taste not the quality of loaf - that can come later.

The mix was kneaded well, risen, shaped and proved.

The risen loaf

When baked the finished loaf wouldn't have won any awards in the bread-making class, but that wasn't the aim.

The loaf

The 64 million dollar question; did it taste 'normal'? Yes it did - I was amazed - it wasn't just a "yep, that's OK dad" from , my mum, and the kids - they really liked it!

And my opinion? Well, it would certainly be a lot better made into a more open textured rustic (country) style loaf, but I was dead chuffed with myself for achieving what I set out to do.

Have I continued feeding my remaining starter? ...

...Nah! Can't be bothered!

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The Inflation Busting Pig

Happy Pigs at Langton Farm Shop

No, not a comment about a successful Chancellor of the Exchequer! Instead, the news from the BBC that food inflation is up a record 13.7% in the past year with reports from The Morning Advertiser that the rate for meat and bread is around 16%.

This gives even more reason to try and save on food costs, and what better than if you can do this and also eat better food. Ignore the advice to buy cheaper Supermarket brands and make your own.

The half pig I bought recently has been processed and at a conservative estimate has saved me & my family £63 on Supermarket prices, that's a massive 41% saving.

So what has it made?

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The Half Pig

Oh how I wish I could come up with clever titles for my posts.

Well I'm back in circulation and am doing the jobs that have been put 'on hold' whilst dad's been so ill.

The first thing was to get some more pork in to cure, and make sausages, so I ordered half a pig from Don at Warwick Bridge Farm Produce, Littlethorpe. In spite of supermarket pork prices rising by about 50p per pound across the board, Don's price was very reasonable and the pig obviously larger than the one I had last time. This suits me as I cure most of the meat and larger pigs are much better for this.

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