" Yes .... can I help you ? "
This is one of our newer girls, she's a Rhode Rock, they have quite an evel glare to their eyes don't they but they are delightfully friendly chickens. We bought four of them this Summer from a local farmer and they still laying us an egg about every other day even though for reasons unknown to us, all our other girls stop laying through the Winter since we moved here to North Wales.
While we lived in Oxfordshire and Berkshire all but the pure breds continued laying year round. Our neighbour over the road had the same problem with his hens last year. There were lots of us to be seen in the supermarkets last year buying free range organic eggs, and I suspect so were a lot of other chicken keepers in this area, as this was the first type of eggs to sell out whichever supermarket you went to.
So at the moment we are getting around 14 eggs a week which is just enough to keep us in eggs with the occasional half dozen for my Mum.
Yesterdays post seem to throw up lots of questions, so I thought I would answer them here.
From the Comments -
Yes, Chard, or most other leaves for that matter, can be used to make pesto. See the recipe for Green Basil Pesto on the 'Recipes I Use Regularly' page at the top of the blog. Basically Pesto is a mix of leaves, nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil, and it is the one recipe I constantly mess about with, just using whatever I have in store.
Pine Nuts can go rancid quicker than most other nuts due to their size, and as they are pretty expensive for the amount you get in a bag I tend to buy them only when I see them at a reasonable price and then store them in the fridge.
No they don't go soft, they stay exactly as they are, as long as they are either in their sealed packet or in a jar or plastic sealed tub. ALL nuts can be stored in the fridge or freezer, in fact the freezer is pretty much the best place for them if you buy a large quantity as a bargain buy. Nuts contain a lot of natural oils and this is what gives them a short shelf life outside of the fridge or freezer, but their extremely low water content means they store very well chilled or frozen.
I tend to keep a jar of made up Pesto in the fridge for a couple of weeks for instant use, and then whatever is left after that I decant into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen they cubes are tipped into a plastic tub for long term storage. You can use pesto from frozen, I tend to just slice up the cubes and dot the pesto around where I need it. I'm not the only one that does this if you go to Google Images and type in 'frozen pesto cubes' you'll find lots of photos, I was amazed :-)
No, I don't heat it through to serve it with pasta. I simply drain my pasta (catching some of the water in a bowl) and return it to the hot pan and then stir through a couple of tablespoons of Pesto, adding a little of the pasta water back to the pan if I want to loosen it a little. Served with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan style cheese it makes for a nutritious and very quick lunch or supper.
From the Emails -
Does mine work out cheaper?
It can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it.
If you were to always use Pine Nuts, top quality Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, Virgin Olive oil and supermarkt packets of cut Basil it would be pretty expensive, although would no doubt taste pretty lush. Using whatever nuts you have in store, (you can even buy packs of broken nuts much cheaper than whole ones), supermarkets basic Parmesan or own label cheddar, a nice quality ordinary Olive Oil (as I do) and homegrown leaves or 'yellow stickered plants' from the supermarket or market, it works out much, much cheaper ..... and in my opinion just as tasty,
A jar of bought Pesto seems to be an average price of around £2, which I think it pretty good value actually but it just doesn't go very far when compared to my huge storage jar full of pesto for about the same price. I didn't think to weigh the pesto when I made it and I don't intend to make a mess by taking it out of the jar to weigh it, (unfortunately I don't have a similar empty jar to weigh either, sorry). And homemade pesto is just zingingly fresh tasting when you compare it to the jarred bought stuff, so I would still make it if the cost were the same.
How do my ingredients compare to bought jars?
My ingredients are:
Parmesan Style Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
This jar of 'Classic Basil Pesto', taken from the Sacla website -
Sunflower Seed Oil, Italian Basil (36%), Grana Padano Cheese, Cashew Nuts, Sea Salt, Glucose, Pecorino Romano Cheese, Crushed Pine Kernels, Flavourings, Potato flakes, Acidity Regulator: Lactic Acid; Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I don't know why you would need glucose (a form of sugar) or potato flakes ... I guess they are a bulking out and thickening agent. Also notice the way the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is last on the list of ingredients, it must contain a tiny percentage, but they can quite honestly then advertise the product as being 'made with Extra virgin Olive Oil' .... aren't they clever ;-)
Have I ever bought the ready made tubs of Pesto Pasta?'
Yes, I have bought one of these in the past, when we were out and had no lunch with us. A tub of this and a bottle of water made for a very small lunch, but served a purpose. I would not buy it to bring home and eat - EVER!!
Look what I also found on mysupermarket.co.uk while I was getting the image above.
A 700g 'Easy Entertaining Pesto Pasta Salad for £6 ... for that price I would expect it to entertain me!!
You could of course just make your own - one jar of sauce and one bag of value pasta shapes, using Tesco own label Green Pesto and one bag of Value Pasta Penne Shapes = £1.70, it would take you about ten minutes from start to finish. Perfect for a party ..... oh and if you want it to entertain you I would just sit the bowl of pasta in front of the television and watch ;-)
So ... enough talk of pesto it's making me hungry, and yes, after all this I am just going to have to have some pesto pasta for lunch :-)