The view across the field from my shower on a crisp morning always lifts my spirits. There’s something very lovely about enjoying the hot water while glimpsing long frosty grass and the sun trying to burst through behind the yellowing leaves of the oak tree.
This weekend the sun was very successful in its bursting through and we were all keen to get outside as soon as possible to enjoy the blue sky and autumn sunshine. With the nights drawing in, I’ve been missing my dusk gardening and all the clearing/chopping back/mulching that gardeners are meant to be doing this month has been sadly neglected.
So although I’d taken a joint of pork (from our very tasty Berkshire pigs) from the freezer and marinated it in cider and garlic, it was a day to enjoy being outside rather than in the kitchen.
Having lit the woodburner first thing, I quickly brought the oven to full heat. We do this by filling old paper flour sacks with sawdust (there are always piles of it in Guy’s workshop from his carpentry work on the house). The packed sacks added to the woodburner make the temperature soar quickly so it’s ideal for the first 20/30 minutes of browning the joint, ensuring good crackling. I then covered the joint in foil, let the woodburner die down (to around 140C but it’s all a bit imprecise) and let the pork cook slowly all day while we attacked the garden. Anyone popping in for a cup of tea checked if the woodburner needed a log adding to keep it ticking along.
Mog and Tiger followed us outside, even Guinea enjoyed the sun in the field next to us.
We pruned, made bonfires and dug the weeds that have started to grow in the area that the pigs cleared this summer. The curved lawn that Ruby planted with grass seed in September is growing well.
The pigsty is currently stacked with surplus wood for the woodburner (our permanent woodshed is rammed full). I plan to plant fruit trees and wild flowers along the fence at the back and am working on beds of flowers and vegetables radiating out from Ruby’s curved lawn. As you can see there’s plenty to do.
Ruby helped with a few jobs too. She enjoyed harvesting more nigella seeds (I sneaked in a good spot of digging and mulching with compost while she was occupied), cleared the trampoline of leaves and carried bean sticks to a pile. Obviously there were bribes.
I have my eye on the leaf pile for mulching my bare soil. In the meantime, Ruby had other ideas. She declared it perfect for “leaf dancing”. Towards the end of the day, the smell of pork coming from the kitchen was tantalising. Ruby was more interested in making herself a leaf bed.
While Ruby was transported straight to the bath in an attempt to remove mud and leaves, I took the pork out to rest and stoked the woodburner up again with a sawdust packed wood sack. Saturday’s tea had been home-made pizza (also cooked in the oven of the woodburner) and I made far too much dough.
The surplus was left to prove very slowly overnight on our cool bedroom windowsill. I rolled this into little rolls which were baked on the woodburner until golden. We ate them hungrily filled with pork, apple sauce and stuffing. Although the apple sauce and stuffing seemed very English and all of the ingredients for our supper were very local (mainly from the garden) we liked to think that the slow-cooked, tender pork was a little like pulled-pork or Italian porchetta.
Perhaps it was the Tuscan style soup I made later in the evening (unable to resist making more use of the woodburner’s heat) with borlotti beans, lots of our cavolo nero from the garden and a pork bone for flavour, that gave me the Italian vibe. The temperature in our kitchen after the woodburner had been going all day was definitely mediterranean anyway.