Monday, 23 November 2015

Can I Help You?

" 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
Fresh Garlic
Olive Oil
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?'

Tesco Pesto Pasta Salad (190g)

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!!

Tesco Easy Entertaining Pesto Pasta Salad (700g)

Look what I also found on 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  :-)

Sue xx


  1. Good points Sue. Making your own whether it be dearer or cheaper, at least you know every product that has gone into it. Most of the additives in jars is to enable preservation and some like you say are beggar belief.

  2. I have been saving baby food jars ready to make up a batch of mint pesto next spring. Everyone in the house hates basil so I make a nice mint version instead. Well worth a try

  3. Replies
    1. Haha ... did it remind you of yours? I have a few shots of various chickens like this, they love to come up and have a look when you are snapping away don't they :-)

  4. Great chicken photo. Is it just my family who does this, but do you ever imagine what accents and voices your pets and chickens would have? We've done it for years! Maybe we're just crackers!!

    1. I can tell you just by looking at any of the dogs, Ginger or the chickens exactly what they would be saying if they could talk. I think I learnt this particular skill from Johnny Morris :-)

  5. Our girls have stopped laying too. 2 of them are in molt so I guess that is to be expected and our third chicken is laying one egg every four or five days. We had to buy eggs for the first time in 2 years the other week, it just felt so wrong.
    Love Gem x x x

  6. I must say that when I make pest,o that and salad dressing are the only two things for which I use top quality extra virgin olive oil.
    We have hybrid hens and so far they have not stopped laying. We have six old hens and ten new ones and we get on average thirteen eggs a day - we keep all friends and relations going so far this winter.
    I don't that the hens eye is evil - I think it looks more super intelligent!

  7. We do this too! One of our dogs was from Bromsgrove originally, so she talks in a Brummie accent. The other dog is a saluki cross and so a Bedouin dog. Obviously, therefore, he sounds like Omar sharif :-)

    1. That was supposed to be s reply to Mrs LH...


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