Saturday, 31 August 2013

Elphin Agricultural Show 2013

Another 12 months passes by and its time for the local village;s annual show. Last year I helped out in the Poultry section as a steward and this year was no different, but Diz got commandeered to also help out. He was going to stick around for an hour to help with the bird entries, but within a few minutes he was asked to help with bringing in the 'Scarecrows' instead. Once several entries got situated, it got hard to tell which were the scarecrows and which was Diz. Even the judges included him in the entry count!

We entered our Indian Game cockerel, some photos, some tomatoes and a cucumber. The cockerel got a third and one of the photos got a third, I was very disappointed the tomatoes didn't get anything but I didn't make them look pretty enough with sprigs of parsley! Mental note for next year! It is serious stuff this showing.

The show is predominantly for the farmers to show off their bovine stock, but there are a few sheep, goats and horses thrown in to make an interesting show. Their is also a poultry section which has done well for the past couple of years, with 160 birds (chickens, ducks and geese) entered this year. It is a noisy day with lots of questions from the public. We (the stewards) get free entry into the show though and fed, so it's not too bad. We make a lot of bird contacts as well, which always helps. There is a dog and cat section, but we haven't entered our dogs yet as Kip is too mad and Jes has gone shy. Maybe next year.
It is always amusing to see the cows washed, fluffed, buffed and polished for hours before they get in the ring. Some of the Black Belgium Blue's (not sue how that works) looked like they had coats of velvet, couldn't touch them though in case your hand got black (they get sprayed with something). The handsome beast in the picture is an Angus.

The cows were outside this year and lined up by colour and breed, they had a good contrast against the green grass and no mud in sight for a change.

Once all the judging is over and everyone collects their winnings, another year is over and planning for 2014 has already started.

All the best
Stella and Diz

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Pig on a spit

While some friends were visiting, we got onto the subject of lamb and pig on a spit and how incredible the taste was, as you do. The wife said she would persuade her husband to arrange a date and if we could help they would cook a pig on a spit for a family get together. So a few days later a text was received confirming the date and our availability. Something to look forward to.
As the date got closer, the planning began. Diz to supply the spit and expertise of 'how to' and the friends would provide the pig, wood and location. The conversation started as 'I have a small pig for the occasion which I thought we could kill for the occasion, couldn't you Diz?' Various discussions on home kills versus slaughter house and the guy picked up a prepared pig on the Friday. Diz showed how to prepare and mount the pig on a spit and I delivered 48 bread rolls, pig liver pate, potato salad, and a meringue base all prepared fresh during the week. We then left leaving instructions that the fire needed to be started at 0900 and we would return once the birds were all fed and watered, to mount the pig and show them what to do.
On our arrival, the fire was just starting to get going. The spit was then assembled and the pig mounted in front of the fire. The skin had been well rubbed with salt the night before and the skin had been 'scored' to help make yummy crackling.

Diz explained the process of fire management to ensure the pig would be cooked slowly and evenly over the next 6.5 hours. The idea was to have a white heat not a roaring fire and for more of it to be under the rump and shoulder. The pig was put quite low down to begin with to ensure the skin was crispy and bubbly and then it was raised with regular turning every 10 to 15 minutes.
Once instructions were left we went home to get some other stuff done to return an hour before the pig would be finished. A couple of phone calls in between to ensure all was well and then returned to a wonderful looking pig on a spit, which we couldn't wait to try.
Bang on time the pig was ready for carving and the guests grabbed platefuls of food and then had meat freshly carved straight onto the plate.
What an amazing taste, juicy, plenty of flavour and the most incredible crunchy crackling. The best compliment would be the few 'squeamish' individuals who weren't keen to partake because it was a whole pig presented to them, but when you watched them returning again and again all night for more that's when you know you got it right.
Not only was the pig a raoring success but so was the bread and pate, with strangers seeking me out to complement me on how good the bread and pate was. Diz and I had smiles on our faces all night.
The best bit for me though, was.......
Jelly and Ice cream!!!!!! A little girl was in heaven.

The whole day and night was such a success that we have decided to do one of our Lamb's on a spit in a couple of weeks, just because we can.

Stell and Diz