A-Z Foodie Challenge – F is for Flour UPDATE!

I missed a whole section out of my previous post, so I’d like to put that right as well as adding photos that Frances has let me have for her delicious looking creation using flour.

For my birthday this year my best friend Katherine bought me some “unusual” presents, one of which being a very classy egg separator….

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I won’t insult your intelligence by describing how it works but I just wanted to let Katherine know, despite her assurances that IIMG_2094 could just put it on eBay unused, I have used it and very helpful it was too! The first egg I used can’t have been too fresh as the yolk broke and became “bogey-fied” but second attempt, with a fresh box of eggs, worked perfectly and was indeed very helpful as I’m a bit squeamish about eggs (one of those childhood things that I won’t explain). Thank you very much Katherine!

So, from one section of cobblers to another – courtesy of Frances! Her flour recipe looks amazing and I’ve asked her for the recipe.

Frances says “It’s carrot and butternut squash casserole, slow cooked for 4 hours.  It’s topped off with Stilton cobblers which I browned off in the oven for 10 minutess at the end. Delicious and I’ve now made it 3 times!”

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Linda’s gone for the sweet option for flour with some delicious looking Oaty Cranberry Cookies. Check out her blog post for the recipe and let me know if you have a go at making them!

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UPDATE! October in the Garden

Hmmm, well, we’ve actually been away in Tenerife for 2 weeks during October so there probably isn’t a lot to tell you!

Runner beans and sunflowers are no more. Carrots are all pulled and eaten (YUM!) and it’s looking a bit bare out there. Apart, that is, for weeds! They’ve done very nicely in our absence and have pretty much taken over every bare spoIMG_2437t of soil, and joined in and overtaken everything that we had left in the flower border. Still, that’ll give us something to do in the upcoming weeks won’t it?!

The grass had grown massively while we were away but thankfully today has been dry and Kev managed to get out there and get it cut and the edges strimmed, so at least part of the garden looks like someone might at least vaguely care for it.

The pansies I planted for pots in front of the house and to take the place of the sweetpeas in the garden have survived in our absence and are looking pretty good. Some food and they should come on in leaps and bounds I hope.

Kev is, however, stood at the bottom of the garden in my next photo looking a bit puzzled and annoyed. We had assumed that everything would be fairly safe in our absence, given the late time of year, but no, here he is calling me to come and have a look at the bottom of the garden at the purple sprouting broccoli and cabbage….

IMG_2433Which have been completely munched again by caterpillars! I was so surprised! I thought that problem was over and done with (and SEE what I mean by all those flippin’ weeds?!).  Given the lateness in the year, I’m not sure how they will survive. They had been coming along nicely again having been chomped on once but can they do it again?

IMG_2435Fortunately, depending on your taste, it looks like we’ll be having a Christmas full of sprouts though as they are coming along very well indeed. Hurray, or boo if you’re my dad!!

Anyway, as that’s all a bit gloomy I thought I’d leave you with a montage of photos to show how my garden will look when I run away to live in Tenerife!

 

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P is for …. Produce (home made, grown and crafted!)

Many years ago, when Holly was young, I belonged to the local WI Producers Market. When Holly reached “proper” school age I had to leave and get a real job (boo!). Now, however, it feels like time to try something new, or rather to revisit something previously tried.

In the time since I last belonged to the market things have changed. The group is part of the Country Markets scheme and now goes under that title, rather than mentioning the WI. As you’ll see from the Country Markets website, there are around 300 Country Markets across England, Wales and the Channel Islands and their quest is to sell fresh, home grown veg, fruit, flowers and plants as well as baked goods and preserves. There’s also a great range of craft goods – which is the bit I was particularly interested in. I used to sell hand made cards at the market all those years ago and hope to do the same again now that I’ve re-joined (for the handsome joining fee of 5 whole pence!!).

As a testament to what a great group of people they are, many of the producers I knew when I was there nearly 10 years ago, are still there and still producing amazing goods.

Our market is open from 9am to 12pm every Friday in a local hall and the sight of the tables full of great produce before the masses invade and start buying is amazing. Have a look…

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It’s an absolute pleasure to be back amongst such lovely, friendly and creative people and hopefully long may it last.

Perhaps you could use the search button on the Country Markets website and find a group near you to visit or join…or pop along and see us in Honiton!

 

UPDATE! September in the Garden

Trying not to be too groany and moany, but things are coming to an end in the garden. I did take some before photos…..

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…but after this took down the tomatoes and the runner beans yesterday. There were plenty of ripe tomatoes still to be picked so made up a really tasty sauce to turn into bolognese today. Unfortunately though the black tomatoes had, largely, failed to ripen and had a thick white mould on them and had to be binned. Not sure I’d bother with them again.

Our wonderful Cosmos has finally come to an end too. I had hoped to catch it at the right moment and have seeds for next year, but unfortunately things didn’t work out that way and I’ll be down the shops buying a packet next ye2014-10-01ar!

There’s not a lot going on in the greenhouse at the moment. The few winter pansies that did grow from seed are coming along reasonably (until you look at the ones I bought off the market last week!). The chilli and sweet peppers have flowered at last but whether they can stay warm enough to fruit I can only wait to see. I’d not rule out trying them again but ought to start far sooner I think.

The mint has almost finished and needs cutting back. It’s been joined by the pots of hollyhocks which will be going in the garden, if they’re not munched completely! They’ve been a bit chewed since leaving the greenhouse but, other than that, seem quite happy. I’d been blaming the slugs and snails, but perhaps they’ve had some help?!

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You  see what I mean about the market pansies?!

The lavender donated by Carole is doing nicely in its orange bucket and the crocus and tulip bulbs are sprouting already (at last, something early in our garden rather than late!). The gorgeous Countryfile free seeds have finished flowering. They were beautiful and hugely popular with the bees (as had been promised!). The blueberry and blackberry plants seem quite happy at the moment and have been joined by 2 bags of, hopefully, winter potatoes. These have been buried twice already and keep popping up, as they should, so more finger crossing there.

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The leeks should soon be ready for picking – hurray! We have a few carrots and cabbages left and the purple sprouting broccoli, cauli and sprouts are coming along nicely. Hopefully won’t be long before we’re picking the corn on the cob too – mmmmmmm!

I did manage to miss picking a few beans….. IMG_2118

….which is a bit painful! But the freezer is already groaning with those we haven’t managed to eat so I’m trying to be not too sad about it.

I pulled a few leaves from the top of the sunflowers so that I could see the multiheaded little sunflower, just because it seemed a shame not to! Mr. Grumpy Sunflower is looking a bit sad for himself, though the neighbours told me this morning he makes them chuckle every morning when they see him, which is good….I think.

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IMG_2104A quick nose at the flower side of the garden, which gets largely ignored apart from infrequent dead heading – or complete annihilation where the bush up by the bird feeder was concerned! Was very surprised when Kev did that without mentioning it first!

Finally a mention for our hosta, because it gets largely ignored and forgotten. It must be about 16 years old now, had been halved, repotted, moved house and still continues to leaf (?!) faithfully and has been absolutely magnificent this year. It seems very happy where it is (next to the kitchen drain!) in the new garden and has been more wonderful than ever this year. Thanks hosta!

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In the Garden – July Update

I was wondering whether it was worth doing an update for July, but looking back at June’s update and comparing it to how things look now, I’m going to go for it!

Starting in the “greenhouse”, the Snowball Cauli and Purple Sprouting Broccoli which were babies last month are now in the garden. The herbs are all coming along nicely, apart from the rosemary which has failed to come through at all. The red peppers have been potted on once during July and need doing again! I ought to have a look on Google to see how big they’re going to grow I guess! That’s beginners for you!

The chilli peppers have put in a surprise appearance too after my doubting them last month. They’re ready to go into solo pots. The hollyhocks are coming along very well, although seem to have some sort of burrowing beastie in some of the leaves which will need sorting out. The winter pansies looked like a fail but there are a couple of them up now. They stand 2 chances I guess!  We also have more lettuce seedlings just shooting up. The lettuces went so well last time that we’re hoping to get another crop in from seed and also have been given some lettuce plants by mum.

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Outside both the “old” mint donated by mum and the new mint grown from seed are doing well in dad’s planter. They’ve been joined by Basil Bush (not Brush as I call them) and Loveage (which I’m not sure what to do with now I’ve grown it!).

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Both the cucumber and courgette plants have gone mad! I took 2 cucumbers into work today and Holly’s friend took another home with her. Think that still leaves about 6 still growing! We’ve had similar success with the courgette and had a lovely meal with courgette ribbons, fried potatoes, mushrooms, garden peas and cherry tomatoes topped with salmon in sweet chilli sauce the other evening – wish I’d taken a photo as it looked as good as it tasted! The leaves on the courgette are suffering badly from mildew but it doesn’t seem to have affected its performance at all.

2014-08-012We’ve had the potatoes from 2 of our 4 potato sacks and they’ve been lovely. Kev’s been a bit disappointed with the yield from them but I think they’re ideal given there are only 3 of us. Katherine’s tomatoes and sunflowers in bright orange buckets have all moved to her house now so there’s a more room on the patio….just as well as Kev’s bought me another mini greenhouse!

Into the main veg garden, the leeks are coming along slowly and surely. We’ve had some carrots which were stubby and small but beautifully sweet. The beans have been going mad too and we’ve had plenty to eat and already have some in the freezer too to try and keep up with them as they grow!

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Unfortunately the cabbages and the cauli plants and sprouts grown from seed that we put in have been badly munched by caterpillars as has the Yarcombe Chard, which I sadly cut down and ditched this morning. Hopefully we can get them covered up and keep the beasties at bay from now on and it’s certainly a lesson to learn for next year. The sprouts have a long way to go yet before we have veg from them so hopefully the problem will decrease as the season goes on and we’ll have a good crop from them. The hearts of the cabbages seem okay so I’ll just have to wait and see when we cut the first of them.

I love the peas! They look like a funny sort of Christmas tree to me as they’re grown in wigwams and taste every bit as beautiful as I remember from pinching the ones Grandad grew when I was little. Amazingly some have actually made it to the plate although I still fail to see why anyone would prefer them cooked to straight off the plant.

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It’s actually the sunflowers which convinced me to do an update! Looking back at them last month and how much they’ve grown in that space of time is quite mind-blowing to me! No sign of flowers yet though! They’re a bit munched too but looking reasonably okay. The sweetcorn’s come along really well too and the rhubarb, as you may have seen, has been cut down and eaten and this is the second lot of leaves of the season growing now. A quick before and after on the sunflowers….

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Moving onto more flowery things, AT LAST the sweetpeas have flowered! Just when I was thinking they wouldn’t. They smell beautiful and I’m going to have another, hopefully more successful, go with them next year. The Cosmos has been an absolute joy and seems to have gone on flowering and flowering. I’d like to have a go at them from seed next year as well as they’ve given us such pleasure – particularly me being able to see them from the kitchen window when I’m washing up!

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The rest of that side of the garden looks lush and beautiful and any gaps which existed previously seem to have disappeared! I think that both of the bushes inherited from the previous owner will go at the end of the season as they take up so much space and don’t really add that much to the garden (I’m so heartless!).

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The clematis is a gorgeous colour too…..

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Bit soggy after today’s rain, but boy did the garden need it! We have 6 water butts and every one was empty. Hopefully today will have sorted it out.

Final mention goes to the tomatoes which are doing nicely and have lots of tomatoes on which are very firmly staying green at the moment…..apart from the black tomato and just look how that’s coming along!

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Doesn’t it look strange! It’s still green at the back but I’m really looking forward to trying them when they are ready. Hopefully that will have happened by the time I’m ready to do August’s update!