It may be hard to believe given my well-known dislike of cooking, but this morning saw me voluntarily in the kitchen. And I’ll be back again later making pancakes. Using flour, which leads me to this photo which I just have to include. (OK, I have it in for M Hollande at the moment, but he started it by asking me for a donation!)

A bad flour moment!

We usually start off with cheese and ham pancakes and I have some topically named cheese to use today!

After the savoury first course of pancakes, we hit the sweet fillings with a vengeance.

So why was I cooking this morning? Well, we’re taking our drive for self-sufficiency in meat and veg seriously. Chris has been busy butchering over the last few days and I had a liver to use, so I had my first stab at homemade liver paté. I chose an ultra simple recipe. It involved frying a chopped onion in butter, adding the chopped liver, pepper, nutmeg and herbs, and I threw in some walnuts for luck. Once the liver was cooked I added some cream and whizzed everything in the food blender and voilà, suprisingly good paté. In future I’ll store up all the livers from the poultry. We’d previously been giving them to the cats. No longer!

First attempt at paté

Monsieur le Président of the local hunting club turned up yesterday with three large lumps of venison for us, so we now have a very well-stocked freezer meat wise. Our supply of frozen pumpkins never seems to get any less, so today I was trying out apple and pumpkin crumble. It’s interesting, shall we say. I don’t think it will catch on. Actually, I think the problem may be that I used raw pumpkin with stewed apple. I vaguely remember reaching the ‘s*d-it, I-hate-pumpkin’ stage when I was processing the citrouilles last year, and lobbing a few bags of uncooked chunks into the freezer instead of cooking them first. I’m not a high ranking domestic goddess. And my laziness has caught up with me.

We still have loads of frozen eggs. The girls were laying right up until le grand froid hit so it’s only now that I’m starting to use my stash from the freezer.

The cold killed off all my seedlings in the polytunnel sadly, but we’ll start again. We’re in the process of preparing a raised bed in there. We put the wooden frame in place yesterday and put down a layer of geotex (our builder got the wrong stuff in for our fosse septique, which was responsible for it being failed the first time – it took five goes to get it approved.) On top of that we’ve put cardboard as an extra weed suppressing barrier.

Raised bed in progress

Today we’ve been transporting lots of compost in my brand new wheelbarrow (an early 50th birthday present I’ve been told!) to the bed. It will take several more sessions to fill it, but we’re on the way. The plan is to grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, radishes, cucumbers and other salad and delicate veg in there and keep ourselves fully provided for. We have a kiwi tree in there too.

We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first lambs and we’re in the process of tracking down some pigs, preferably Gloucester Old Spots or Berkshires. We also have our eye on some Limousin Cul-Noirs (black-bottomed pigs). They’re very slow growing so they’ll be a long term project. We need some other weaners to fatten up quickly for this autumn. However, there seem to be a lot of time wasters out there who advertise pigs for sale, but when you make contact, it turns out they haven’t actually got any. A few people have also told us we need to be registered to keep pigs before they can sell us any. That’s nonsense, and all the pig-keeping forums say as much. Anyone can buy a few pigs to fatten up and eat. It’s only if you start supplying meat into the food chain that any sort of agricultural rules and regulations have to be obeyed.

Chris fell in love with pigs on his pig experience course so we’re very frustrated at finding it so hard to get our hands on some. But we’ll keep trying.

And to finish with, as a follow up from my last post, here’s a list of the Twitter accounts for the gallant round-the-world cyclists so you can follow them if you’re interested. Stephen Phillips @globecycleracer   Sean Conway: @Conway_Sean   Stuart Lansdale: @StuJLans   Simons Hutchinson: @SimonsEpicCycle   Richard Dunnett: @Onebigpedal   Paul Ashley-Unett: @paulcyclesworld   Mike Hall: @Normally_Human   Martin Walker: @Cycle_Around   Kyle B Hewitt: @KBH_WCR   Jason Woodhouse: @boyonhisbike