Self Sufficient Living

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I have for many years had an inner drive to be as self sufficient as possible, probably because in my teenage years I lived on a small holding in Hampshire and I loved it. We had fantastic fresh veg and eggs and 3 bee hives . One year we kept 5 lambs and some geese too, which kept us all fit chasing the lambs which escaped regularly.

In my 20's I had a small holding in Kingsteignton, unfortunately work meant moving to Plymouth, Now living in a city I still have the desire to be as self sufficient as possible, but it does pose some problems. Our garden is tiny, so growing a large amount of food is not possible, allotments are highly sought after and are difficult to maintain without living nearby and subject to vandalism and theft.

You can still grow veg to supplement what you buy, this year we have grown mange tout peas, loads of spinach, beetroot, onions, broad and French beans, potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, courgettes and much more.

Protein is expensive to buy so we catch fish which we freeze and with chickens and turkeys it gives us a variety. We have just aquired a small fishing boat which will allow us to catch a wider vairiety of fish (hopefully)

Smoking fish

Mackerel:- I have caught and smoked mackerel on many occasions, sometimes in quite large quantities 100+. The best time to catch sea fish is roughly one hour either side of high tide, preferably on a large tide near the full moon. Feathering is the most productive way when the fish come in.

mackerel

Smoked Mackerel:- first you need a smoker, I purchased a fish smoker which will smoke around 8-10 at a time.
Fillet your fish, removing as many of the main bones as possible. There is a knack to this, cut off the head ( unless you want to hang your fish) and remove the guts then slice the fish open along its underside up to to tail, pinching the spine between thumb and fore finger work from the head end gently squeezing and pushing towards the tail, you may need to pull out the odd bone with small pliers which don't come out. The bones that line the cavity holding the guts will come away if you pull them up with you fingernail to begin with closest to the spine first.
 
If smoking a larger quantity you may want to hang your fish over oak on hooks so leave the head on and cut through the spine just behind the head, then proceed as above cutting the spine off and leaving the tail on. You may want to brine your fish or smoke without, I have tried both, the brined fish will keep longer and take the smoke flavour in a shorter length of time, but are not as healthy for you. Next choose your wood traditionally oak is used but beech or apple or cherry works too, I often put some honey and black pepper on you can also soak the fish in apple juice or cider which is great. The fish smoker take about 12 -20 minutes to cook 10 fish, if doing a larger quantity I hang the fish in a shed with a stone floor and leave them for 8 hours with a fire smoldering below this is critical as this is hot smoking (unlike smoked salmon which is cold smoked) the temperature must be hot enough to cook the fish too around 40 -50 degree C.

smoked fish