It’s hard to believe but Christmas is under four weeks and while we are now closed on the farm until the Christmas guests arrive, we are busy preparing for them and doing are best to ensure a magical Christmas for all who stay. This begins with unlocking the secret store cupboard up in the bedroom of Pencarrow lodge to reveal our treasured Christmas collection built up and saved over the years. The children’s faces are a picture as they recognised favourite items and decorations. Carefully we carry everything downstairs and load it all into trolleys for an afternoon of work. Well perhaps not that carefully, in all their excitement there was a fair amount of hoovering up left for me at the end!
Along the path with the trolleys singing Christmas carols as they go my excitable bunch distribute tree stands and outdoor lighting at their destination properties. The indoor decorations all came back to our garden bench for a thorough sort out. We began by emptying the boxes and filling them systematically. First the baubles with a mix of new and old checking all had hooks. Looking at Jed’s hands some hand washing ahead of this activity would have been a good idea!
Then the tinsel is divided into the boxes with the older pieces discarded before the tree lights are checked and added on the top. Each box then joins the stands inside the properties to await a tree in a couple of week’s time. We will leave the box of decorations, having checking them thoroughly, for our guests to enjoy their own family time decorating their tree.
Meanwhile Nick and the older boys were hard at work with the outdoor lights. Up trees, round the log store, on cottage walls and of course our reception.
The triplets and Theo were keen to make something from all the scraps of tinsel we were throwing away and decided on wreaths. We cut some pliable stalks and wound them into a circle securing the ends and adding strength with the broken pieces of tinsel. Then we set off with secateurs to collect Holly and Ivy which was then was wound into the tinsel to create our finished wreaths. One hung on our door evil spirits Man, one on the garden tree base and Theo decided the third should be hung on a top branch and scaled the tree for the perfect location!
The best fun of all was popping back out when darkness draws in to see our lights sparkle; good day’s work and six excited children.
Did you know you could be sharing Christmas with us here on the farm? If your family Christmas party is made up of seven or under why not enter to win Christmas with us
If you have been outdoors enjoying the chilly winter weather then please grab the badge and join the linky. Everything from the park to the beach, the woods to a fun family day out is most welcome. Learning, crafting or even cooking outdoors is fun. Leaving the screens and central heating system for the outdoors is good for our health and our children’s too. Please just wrap up warm and enjoy. There are always some great ideas here on the linky to inspire you.
Just a few of my favourites from last week:
Caterpillar Tales shows how a few props can transform a woodland walk into something far more exciting
Mummy Mishaps tells the best Gruffalo Tale I have seen yet
Over There to Here enjoys a birthday beach treat toasting marshmallows.
Mammasaurus Blog has a great twist on hide and seek perfect for anyone who enjoys the Stick Man story.
I am always after inspiration for new recipes with pork since we have plenty here on the farm! Home grown, home cooked pork is quite different to that sold in the supermarket. If you have a good local butcher I promise it is worth the extra. If you can get them to do the hard bit for you and have it cubed all then do accept as this by far the most time consuming part of the whole cooking process!
The idea for this recipe came to me over a cycle ride up on Bodmin Moor. I knew I had a boned leg of pork in the fridge and having had roast the previous day I fancied something different. The tarragon bit was already in my mind but the rest was largely driven by what I had in the kitchen and the windfall apples in the orchard. The result was a fusion of flavours that worked so well I am sharing here.
1 large Leg of pork boned and cubed.
2 apples chopped
2 onions chopped
200g Evaporated milk
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
I teaspoon dried tarragon, or fresh if you have it.
2 chicken stock cubes
I large glass of fruity white wine.
Juice of a lemon
Tablespoon of Honey
I tin borlotti beans
Ground black pepper
Place the cubed pork in a large casserole dish over a medium heat on the hob.
Add the butter and a chopped clove of garlic and brown the meat.
Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of plain flour onto the meat and stir well to absorb the juices and thicken.
Meanwhile fry the onion in the olive oil with the other clove of garlic.
When the onion begins to soften add the tarragon, pepper, stock cubes and apples and beans
Continue to simmer over a medium heat, when it begins to stick to the pan add the glass of wine, honey and lemon juice. Combine then remove from the heat.
Add the evaporated milk to the pork and stir over a low heat to make a thick sauce.
Add the apple and onion mix to the casserole and combine before covering the dish and transferring to a medium oven about 140 – 150 degrees for 2 – 3 hours still the pork is tender.
I like to keep the skin back from the leg to make crackling. Score the skin and rub in salt. Cook on a rack over a baking tray at the top of the oven and finish in a hot grill for perfect crispy crackling.
Serve with brown rice, salad and a sprinkling of chopped chives or roasted potatoes and green vegetables. A strip of crackling adds the finishing touch for a perfect winter alternative to a family roast dinner.
Give the casserole an occasional stir, if it becomes too thick add a little more of the evaporated milk. Don’t be tempted to cook on too high a temperature or the milk may separate. If this happens just cool slightly and stir in a little cold milk to combine again.
I am sharing my recipe on these lovely linkys. Why not pop over to see some more cooking ideas:
I love everything about Christmas, the build up, shopping for presents, wrapping presents, planning all the fun of the farm for our holiday guests and a little bit of crafting with the children. I stumbled over this idea while I was fiddling with an old newspaper recalling making seat cushions as a Girl Guide and waiting for a cake to come out of the oven. The most unlikely but true start to our advent calendars this year. The rest evolved as ever with help from the children.
I showed them how to fold and weave the sheets of newspaper to make a grid of 25 squares and they all soon grasped the idea and joined in. The corners are then tucked in to make a neat square shape on both sides. It is important to have a good overhang of newspaper for the tucking in as this helps give the shape structure.
We threaded a wooden BBQ skewer and string through the top section to hold the shape and provide a way to hang the calendar.
Then for the fun part: The children each choose a colour and painted their square helped by Penguin our cat who was lucky not to end up with paint on her paws.
Next an excuse for some farm fun as we set off in search of some festive ivy to make our decorations.
Guy and Jed stuck their ivy onto the wet paint along with some icing sugar for a Christmassy effect. Clio chose to use the ivy leaf as a print to paint onto her dried square later on. The children then wrote the numbers one to twenty five in random squares across the front face to give themselves a challenge each morning to find the number!
Finally the part they were most excited about: threading candy sticks and chocolate pennies into the pockets. I deliberately chose this mix as some of the pockets have no bottom depending on the direction of the weave while others are secure but accessed at the side.
The result is three amazing home produced calendars for just £2 each, which was the price of the candy and chocolate pennies. They look wonderful on the back of their bedroom doors all ready for next weekend.
After all that crafting there was just time for a quick kick about with the football since my Country Kids can never sit still for too long and the boys had a league match to practice for the following day. Jed came home from the actual game with the ‘Man of the Match’ trophy and couldn’t have been more proud.
Just in case you missed all my tweets this week, I have a competition up to win your family Christmas with us here at Coombe Mill. If your Christmas party has seven or less people and you fancy the idea of Christmas away why not hop on over and enter? I guarantee plenty of Country Kids moments for the winner.
Country Kids is all about enjoying outdoor activities with the kids. I know its winter, the days are short and it can be cold and wet, but still a little fresh air is good so wrap up warm, turn off the screens, leave the central heating and make time for some outdoor family fun. It can be a simple as as trip to the park, the beach or the woods, garden crafts, a family day trip, recent holiday highlights or anything else you do outdoors. If you can add the badge to your post that would be grand and please, please come back and visit a few others linked up. They may just inspire your next adventure.
If you are short of ideas take a look at a few posts that stood out for me last week:
I love this woodland adventure brought home and used back indoors for an autumn sensory train track from Edspire
Similarly More than a Momma brings their fun at the woods home and creates a treasure tin to build up each time they visit
Three Boys and a Cat reminds me that we need to crack on with some bird food making again this season