Monday, 14 September 2009

Is it supposed to look like that?

I started the day with a lot of good intentions and an unrealistic view of how much I could get done in a day. I think when you try and cram too much in, you're likely to cut corners and lose concentration and things don't go as planned.

Ronnie the bee guy who I do swaps with - eggs for his honey - saved me the wax capping from his last honey harvest. It seemed a shame to throw it away when beeswax is a great raw ingredient: lip balms, furniture polish, candles. All great things, right? And of course with the interweb, all the information I needed on refining beeswax is right there in seconds (well minutes). I got the general idea and printed off some simple instructions and started my stove-top beeswax refinery.

This is what it started as:

Then I melted it:

And filtered it - 3 times:

And I ended up with this:

Does that look right to you? I know I filtered out a lot of schmutz but I expected more wax than that. If anyone has made beeswax before and you can point what I did wrong, I would be grateful. Still, I have enough to make a little pot of polish. And with the money I've saved I can hire a housekeeper to use it, because I cannot remember the last time I dusted. I leave the windows open on a nice day and hope it kind of blows away.

My homemade custard had a funny turn too. Though I was careful not to boil it, it curdled. I added arrowroot powder to thicken it. Could that be the cause? Nothing goes to waste and I fed it back to the chickens. Grandma Brown and her chicks were most impressed with my culinary skill. You just have to know your audience.

I also made a few more suet balls for the birds (I was cleaning the coffee cups out of Boris). Those seem to be today's big success. Sad, isn't it?

Collette allowed me to raid her eating apple tree, two buckets' worth. Tomorrow I'll do some stewed apples for the freezer. I will appreciate those in winter. I love it just warmed through and served with vanilla ice cream. Even I can't screw that up. My new jam pan is getting some mileage.

My other main job at the moment is dogs. They will be back to work next Tuesday and start with a pretty hard 4-day week. I can split them into groups so they can share the workload. Dogging in (chasing pheasants home) has upped their fitness, though I do my best to keep them mentally and physically well by running them behind the quad bike 3 times a week in the off season. But they know the 'real deal' is coming and nothing gets them more excited (and worse behaved) than warm game to hunt and retrieve.

Spud the puppy is taking well to her training. Neither of us have had a flat-coated retriever before. They are described as the 'Peter Pan' of the dog world and it seems to be true. She has the attention span of a butterfly and the energy of a charged particle. But we have totally mastered the 'sit' command, so we can build on that. We are working on sitting and staying at a distance, in short bursts of course. And Spud is food oriented, which makes it a lot easier. She won't even see the shooting field this year, there's no sense pushing her. And if this picture is anything to go by, she may be a little slower than the rest -


Pomona said...

The colour and texture look right - but I have never made beeswax, so can't comment on the quantity.

Quick and easy foolproof custard: for half a pint. Use a pan with a decently thick base. Take a quarter pint of milk, whisk in a level tablespoon of cornflour, and warm gently, stirring until it thickens. Take off the heat, stir in a tablespoon of caster sugar and the other quarter pint of milk. Then whisk in one egg, beaten. Put back on the heat, and warm gently, stirring all the time, until thickened.
Remove from the heat before it simmers/boils. This is my school recipe - it wouldn't pass a chef because of the cornflour, but it is quick, easy and foolproof, and tastes nice!

Thank you very much for chicken info - a great help.

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

Thank you Pomona. I have this basic French cookery book and I'm trying to expand my repertoire of sauces. I'd never made a custard from scratch (previously Ambrosia from a carton!). But with all these eggs - it was a change from creme brulee or omelets. I will try your recipe to go with my next crumble - Thanks!

Poppy Cottage said...

And I'll pop over for apple crumble and made from scratch custard!!

10 days (almost) till the big day!!!!!!!!!!

Nice to see you this afternoon. (Jasper keeps asking about the deer stalking :0)))

See you soon.

Colette (with one l xx) hee hee

Anonymous said...

A bit late perhaps, but as a beekeeper your close with your wax. I never filter my wax though. Instead I heat the cappings and what not in a crock pot (electric, and dedicated for wax rendering) with about 50% water. The junk sinks in the water once it's all melted and the wax floats to the top. Pop it in the freezer for an hour or two (once it's cooled) and the disc of wax pops free from the sides of the crock pot.

Sometimes I have to run the wax back through with fresh water once or twice, but it gets 90%of the junk. Sometimes there is even a little honey in it...