Sunday, 30 August 2009

Short Break

I'm taking a short 'break' from this blog to help my daughter settle into school. Back in two weeks!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sweetcorn, Pumpkins, Main Crop Potatoes

Before the leaves start to fade - I wanted to share these photographs with you all, my readership. The mass of leaves - sweetcorn in the foreground - pumpkins and courgettes - main crop potatoes and raspberries behind show just how fruitful the allotment has been this year.
Time for a break between shifts. There were so many bumble bees on these clumps of lavender today.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Foraging for Cherry Plums

Aren't these lovely colours? Blackberries. Red and yellow cherry plums. Little One and Other Half had been out foraging and had found a tree in a local park that was laden with them. Eaten raw, they weren't quite as tasty as some plums I've had - I believe it does vary - but I was nonetheless entranced. We've planted cherry plums on the allotment - they're growing fast, but not fruiting yet - it's too soon. Still - when we do get them - there will be masses, so I've been looking forward to finding easy, quick and tasty recipes for cherry plums.

Jam is the obvious one - but we've got lots of that and wanted to try something savoury. Came across a great-sounding recipe for lamb stew with cherry plums which we're going to try.

Cherry plums have lots of other attractions too. They flower really early in the year, so the blossom is lovely. We've planted them as a hedge and a wind break. They're also used in Bach Flower remedies.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Grow Your Own Organically. Sunday's Harvest.

I've spent a mere four hours at the allotment this week. I'm almost looking forward to the autumn as the weeds are still growing fast and I sometimes I feel I can't keep up. But the last half an hour of my visit made it all worth it. That's when I pick the harvest to take home - and I'm home early today, so I can prepare all this lovely fruit and veg and store some of it - cooked, prepared and ready for a hard working week.

So what have we got? From left to right. Blackberries. Collected in clean tin cans - I clean them in the dishwasher (I consider this an essential item if you're cooking a lot - just make sure it is 'A' rated for energy efficiency). When I get the blackberries home I put some aluminium foil on the top and put them straight in the freezer. The tin cans protect them whilst they're being transported. They never stay in the freezer for very long. A few weeks maybe at most.


These are windfalls. I've got plenty of chutney left over from last year (and it's still good!) - so I don't think I'll need to make it this year again. Instead the apples will go into a series of apple and blackberry crumbles. I check them over, wash them and cut the bad bits out if there are any. I don't bother peeling them, as the skins are quite good and they are organic after all...Then they go into a pan for ten minutes with lemon juice and some sugar. I put the cooked apples into pyrex dishes, let them cool and then freeze them.

I've got crumble topping ready in the freezer too (make it in advance with butter, flour, oats and sugar - you can do dairy and gluten free by using soya marg and gluten free flour). Can't give you exact measurements I'm afraid as I rarely measure anything but if you 'Google' crumble topping you'll find a recipe. Alternatively, phone your mum/grandma/grandad!

So, that means when I need a crumble - I whip the apple base dish out of the freezer, check over some blackberries - put them on the top of the apples, pop the crumble mix on top and off you go. Today's haul will be good for about four of these crumbles I would imagine.
Believe it on not, these are the last of the Lady Cristl first earlies about four pounds of them. There are a few slug holes in them, but not many. Some of them are huge and we're using them for potato salad, and as diced potatoes to add to a lentil stew. (Which I prepared earlier today in my hay box (see previous post).
These are Little Gems, my favourite. For lunches during the week.
The basil is Greek Basil (the one with the smallish leaves) and I'll be eating it in a lovely feta cheese salad this evening.
Raspberries (not in the picture)
White and red. Not many as most are autumn fruiting. But enough for my toddler's supper this evening.
So, I'll be spending some time preparing veg. this evening, and some time cooking. We're in our fourth year of allotmenteering - our heavy clay soil is lightening up now- and the work investment is starting to pay off. We've been self-sufficient in garlic, onions, blackberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, cooking apples, new potatoes and main crop potatoes, raspberries, herbs, lettuce and salad leaves for a whole year now. Nature's bounty.

Monday, 10 August 2009

National Allotments Week

To kick off National Allotment's week here's a link to an article about the cost of food in Britain and what we can do about it, (sent to me by a good friend). Enjoy. Click here to read Martin Hickman's piece called: "We can still feed ourselves, but for how much longer?"

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Remembering Hiroshima and the Peace Declaration, 2009

I've broken my usual rule of posting here once a week at least. I've got some good reasons though. It's Hiroshima Day today - the day we remember the dropping of the atomic bomb and I've been documenting news on global nuclear disarmament on my news blog . Nuclear contamination affects our food sources directly. Here's a small part of the news coverage of the Hiroshima Peace Declaration and the Memorial Service which took place in Japan this morning.