Fit Fiday, Fat Friday VI. Off the wagon, on the wagon.

TTC.

Seems I am not a hermaphrodite, although much more cannot be said yet. Here’s hoping.😀

Weights.

A lot of garden work needs doing right now, so we’ve moved my weights onto a day-on-day off session. The order looks like this:

Day on: main weights session.

Day off: yoga during the day, light or bodyweight version of the main session.

Most days: shearing, digging, hoeing, carrying things in the garden.

2-3 times a day: run the dog in the garden.

Diet.
Not too bad, not as good as I would like. Gained some excess fat so just making sure I get no more calories than I need and fasting in the mornings, which is nice and keeps me focused.

FatFriday.

That said, I have been eating a few more sweet things and wheaty things, which may explain the issues I’ve had with fat and water weight. Been eating much more cleanly the past few days, lots of vegetables and lean protein.

How did your week in fitness go?

Oatcake Wraps.

Traditional oatcakes are made with butter, cheese or maybe bacon and sausages in them. They are brilliant. Some day I may master making them from scratch and then all you furrners can try them.😛

Jon is always looking for more ways to eat oats. Porridges, oatcakes, stews, breads. Although he stopped short of the savoury porridge that a friend and I tried out, which was actually pretty nice. However when we discovered derbyshire outcakes which were so thick and heavy they were basically tortilla wraps anyway, he just had to try them with something other than bacon or sausages in them.

So here are a few things we have done with heavy oatcakes, which make good, healthy, albeit stodgy dinners for hungry Celts.

1: Chili chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 thick oatcake
  • butter as desired
  • 1 chicken thigh or leg
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 2tbsp chili sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • baking tray

Recipe:

  1. Place the chicken in a tray.
  2. Slice the onion and pepper. Place over the chicken.
  3. Season and roast.
  4. Warm and butter the oatcake.
  5. Strip the chicken and shred the vegetables.
  6. Fill the oatcake and warm once more under the grill or by microwave.

2: Beef and vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1 thick oatcake
  • butter as desired
  • 100g beef mince
  • 100g mixed vegetables
  • 50g cooked black turtle beans
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro/coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • small pot

Recipe:

  1. Brown the beef in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Slice the vegetables finely and add them to the beef.
  3. Lightly cook in the spices until the fluid is all gone, save the coriander for near the end.
  4. Once stewed down, add the coriander and set aside.
  5. Warm and butter the oatcake.
  6. Fill with the mix and warm once more.

3: Eggs and ham.

Ingredients:

  • 1 thick oatcake
  • butter as desired
  • 2 eggs
  • 10ml cream
  • 100g ham
  • smoked paprika, salt and pepper as desired

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • frying pan

Recipe:

  1. Whisk the eggs with the spices and cream.
  2. Dice the ham and lightly fry with the eggs, scrambling as you go.
  3. Warm and butter the oatcake before the eggs are cooked.
  4. Fill the oatcake with the eggs and ham mix.

Oatcakes are a great food and I’ll keep working on the main recipe so everyone can replicate them as nature intended.😀

10 Things That Grow In Clay And Frost.

If you’re anything like me, you love to DIY as much as possible.

Which means that growing food in difficult soil winds us up continually.

Here are 10 things that survived clay soil and frosty winters year after year here, making garden food easy to grow and maintain.

1: Potatoes.

Adored worldwide as a staple, potatoes survive almost anything. Normally by early Spring the leftovers of my Winter harvest has begun chitting (technical term here, no laughing!] and I can plant them out. But even when I didn’t my potatoes reseeded themselves from the tiny spuds left behind last year.

Literally any time a potato grows shoots, plant it out and see what happens.

Just don’t plant out chitting potatoes straight into frost. Plant out clean ones early, green ones later. The shoots can be devoured by frost and you will waste good potatoes.

2: Woody berries.

Woody berry bushes like blackberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries all do great in our soil and even through frosts. They thrive in hedge areas.

3: Parsnips.

Our parsnips reseed themselves every year, although I will often let a single ‘snip become fully mature and harvest all the seeds to keep over Winter, to minimize crop loss. They do great and are actually tastier once the first Winter frost has nibbled them.

4: Brassicas.

Not great at reseeding themselves in our soil, but they are persistent. Still got three broccoli bushes from two years ago. They have never floured, so I never picked them, but I gather the leaves in Winter and they dutifully regrow in Spring.

5: Marjoram.

Cut back and dry out your marjoram over Winter, leave it alone over Spring and Summer to regrow. It’s a beautiful, fragrant herb that does well pretty much anywhere.

6: Strawberries.

I always thought strawberries were fickle plants that keeled over and died at nothing at all. Apparently only the leaves are. I planted our strawbs out where they can be guarded by weeds and parsnips and they are thriving. They just need a bit of foliage around them to help retain enough water, a wall against late frosts and a little sunshine and they produce berries even in the harshest soil.

7: Mint.

Mint grows everywhere and will dominate your whole garden.

8: Rhubarb.

Rhubarb is not at all hard to grow. Just make sure the roots don’t get choked by grass or weeds as they get established, pull the stems out instead of cutting them and clear up after Autumn is over. They will grow back.

9: Chives.

A little like mint, established chives will regrow year after year without a problem and slowly creep across your garden.

10: Raddishes.

Never had bad luck with raddishes anywhere. Sometimes not had particularly good luck and this soil is awful for them compared to milder, softer soils. But they still grow here. Sow them out, wait, and they will rise up for you to eat all through Summer and Autumn. They don’t really reseed, though, as we eat them before they flower.

And those are 10 plants that survive our garden. What troubles does your garden have? Got any gardening staples?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Being All You Can Be. Part IV: Self-Sufficiency.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment.  And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Part III addressed how finance is important to being all you can be, and a few ways of contributing financially.

But where you cannot afford a service or product, where your financing abilities fall short, you needn’t go without. After all, if you need to, you can do almost anything yourself. Here are some self-sufficiency skills which will save you money on projects you may not be able to realistically outsource.

  1. Grow your own. If you can grow the food you eat, you eat better and save money. Consider getting herbs and a bonsaid lemon tree for the kitchen; tomatoes, courgettes, oranges, strawberries and raddishes on balconies; carrots, potatoes, rhubarb, berries and cabbages in small gardens, and fruit trees and various crops in bigger gardens.
  2. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Outsourcing these, even in the form of buying prepared meals, hiring a carpet cleaner or getting ironing done at the dry-cleaner, is expensive in the long term. Cut costs by looking after your hosue from scratch yourself.
  3. Basic plumbing and electrics. Plumbers and electricians cost an awful lot. Which is fine for big jobs, after all we don’t want a flood, death by electrocution or both. But when it comes to changing light switches and cleaning u-bends, we should be masters at looking after our house’s workings.
  4. Woodwork. Anything from mending a shelf to making your own pagoda, the more woodwork you can do the better your house can look for less.
  5. Feminine arts. As with woodwork, repeated again. The more you can make and mend on your own using sewing, knitting, crochet, darning and weaving, the less you need to buy to look and feel great.
  6. Literally anything. Think of things you spend on and ask yourself: can I do that? You may be surprised!

Next week we will look into enjoyment, the things we can do to make the most of all the time and money we free up with the previous two pillars.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Cured Meat Risotto.

We’re a big fan of cured meats in this house. But putting them in stews and sandwiches is not the only thing you can do with them. Cured meats make great additions to fried, broiled and sauteed dishes as well. Here is a simple risotto you can make with almost any cured meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 300g cured meat
  • 1 cup chopped onions and cabbage
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • water

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • frying pan
  • kettle

Recipe:

  1. Chop the onions and cabbage finely.
  2. Add them to a frying pan and lightly cover with boiling water. Simmer until tender.
  3. As they simmer, chop the cured meat and garlic.
  4. Once the onions and cabbage are tender, add the meat and garlic.
  5. Once the garlic is soft, add the salt and smoked paprika and stir in the dry rice.
  6. Top up the water as needed, very gradually, until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the water.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and stir in the spinach.
  8. Serve with grated cheese and/or garlic bread.

Being All You Can Be. Part III: Finance.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Finance is an important pillar, because it represents the resources that we cannot handle on our own. In Part IV I will discuss the ways in which we can handle as much work as possible, but it’s important to remember that there is a limit to how much we can do from scratch. It’s the whole reason we needed an economy to begin with!

However finance is not just about earning money. Finance is, at its core, about a trade of skills, where you swap what you’re good at for what someone else is good at. Here are a few ways of fulfilling the financial side of your person:

1: Getting a job. The easiest way. Here you swap your skills for money, which you then swap for someone else’s skills. The exchange is distant, but it’s the easiest way of predetermining the value of your work and making sure you have covered all your needs.

2: Swapping skills. A bit more ambiguous, but works in small communities. You bake bread for the neighbour, she weeds your garden. A simple trade.

3: Saving money. If making money isn’t your forte, then saving money is a good way of increasing your resources. This will be explored more in the next part, but in principle whenever you manage to haggle a price down, so something yourself or locate a cheaper version, you have generated wealth.

4: Enabling an earner. This is the way well to do housewives have traditionally generated wealth. It is a mash up of getting a job and swapping skills. You use your skills at home so that the earner does not have to do anything when they get back, allowing them to work to the fullest and make more money when outside.

All of these practices generate wealth by exchanging your abilities with someone else’s, making it easier to get someone else to do those jobs which you cannot do, such as make lightbulbs or treat your infected cut.

Next week we will address the ways in which we can develop our Self-Sufficiency, to become all we can be!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… fake it til you make it. The right mindset.

The idea of faking it til you make it has done the rounds for a while, pretty much since the earliest human written wisdom we can locate. The concept is simple: put on the shoes, and if they don’t fit you’ll grow into them.

But in the modern era of entitlement the concept has become twisted to mean deceiving others for personal gain. Which is not actually the effective way of doing this. So here are some pointers on how you can fake it til you make it… properly, and for results.

1: If the boots don’t fit… check the feet.

Sometimes the boots just don’t fit. You can pretend that gender and race are social constructs all you like, but faking being a black man when you’re an asian woman isn’t going to work. OK, that example goes a bit far. But how about a more realistic one: you can love art all you want, but faking being a great artist, if you lack the talent and the skill, will not make you great. Some things are not meant to be.

2: If the boots are too big… work on it.

So the feet are great: you have a solid foundation to build your new identity on. What now? Well, now you put the work in. Faking, in and of itself, is not making. The very core of “fake it til you make it” implies you should probably be putting some energy into becoming the person you appear to be.

3: You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

This is a big one. You’re not fooling anyone. If you’re a novice lecturer, all the senior lecturers know where you are. You will not trick them. If you are trying to care for the garden, the neighbours won’t believe your spiel about some raspberries “don’t like rich clay soil”. And you’re not meant to fool anyone else. You’re not faking it to make people think you are a pro, you’re faking it to give yourself the confidence to persist.

4: Persist and you will learn.

Ultimately, giving up is the main way you will lose every battle. Keep going. Keep working on it. Whatever you’re working towards, you will learn something. Maybe you will learn what you set out to discover. Maybe you will learn other skills that your transfer into your life in general. Maybe you will learn that your ability to judge your own talents is really bad. But you will learn something along the way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!