JELLY

What would have been a waste has been turned to something delicious, a savoury jelly.

It would have been a shame to waste the thinned-out apples, we have two kinds of yummy jelly. Perfect with cold meat or cheese….

DIVIDING AND TRANSPLANTING

Some years ago I planted a small sage plant on the allotment – it was a rooted branch on my plant in the back garden. I think it liked it on the farm because when I dug it out it did exactly the same again but even more – I managed to split it into a number of smaller plants, all of them with a good root ball. They are now at the side of one of my net cages.

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It was still too wet for digging so the next job had to be moving one of my thornless blackberries and a loganberry to their new home.

WASTE NOT,WANT NOT

After I harvested my onions and garlic I dug the land and thought – wonder if I could plant something here. Considering it was the end of July – 29th to be exact – I was lucky. Simon had 2 trays of chitted Wija potatoes and didn’t have time or space to plant them. I thought I might have a go as I did something similar a number of years ago. That time I actually bought some potatoes advertised as suitable for planting late so they would be ready for Christmas. I planted 4 rows and they grew very well. unfortunately blight struck when the tops were really lush green and big. I cut the whole lot off and hoped for the best. I eased a few potatoes out the other day and my strategy worked!

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I treated them exactly the same way as I did the new potatoes in the early summer – just scrubbed them clean and steamed them. Served with sprinkling of salt, black pepper, butter and chopped chives. Quite delicious. I’ve got high hope to have them at Christmas.

 

IN FULL SWING

It is harvest time!

As it is so hot these days I started going to the allotment quite early in the morning. The plan is that I will either water the most needy plants with the hose or, on alternate days, feed the ‘special cases’ either with the seaweed extract, comfrey tea or the liquid from my wormery.

It was the turn of the comfrey tea. My, does it stink!! And the smell seems to linger close to the ground, so when I was bending down, I got a good whiff of it. Never mind, the squashes love it!

I managed to pick another large box of strawberries, pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots and a few nice beetroot.

yesterday was a day to thin out the gooseberries…..

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…and I was pleased I had this lovely lot.

Got them home and in no time made a very tasty gooseberry and mint jelly. Goes a treat with cold meat, cheese or a quiche.

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As I was picking the gooseberry I also noticed that the currants are almost ready. That’s the beauty of having the fruit bushes in the net cage – I can take my time picking them, not like in the past where it was a competition between me and the birds. Guess who lost??

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Another benefit of net cages is the ease of growing brassicas. It was the same story in the past – try to stop the birds nibbling the leaves of the young plants so there was hardly anything left. I thought they wouldn’t like kohl rabi. I was wrong. So now the kohl rabi grows in the net cage and nothing gets at it and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.

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A DAY IN THE KITCHEN….

….and the result is a lot of goodies.

First of all I had to boil the apples I picked on the allotment – thanks to the strong wind I managed to find quite a lot. That was done yesterday and it very slowly dripped overninght. I decided to make two savoury jellies – rosemary and garlic. I use a recipe in my favourite book – The preserving book – and use whatever I think might make good jelly. Garlic is a strong favourite.

Next was the making of some soup. As I have a lot of different vegetables on the allotment I try to use them all. My friend Anita recently gave me a great recipe book (you can’t have too many!) and this is the book I use now, very often.

It might not look exciting but it is very tasty. Wilted spinach and Stilton cheese.

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Last but not least was the turn of something quite different. When we went to Brazil some years ago, our friend Lucia taught me how to make their local delicacy – cheese balls. They are very easy to make and once made, impossible to stop eating!001

One good thing about them is that they can be made and frozen; when I need to serve them, say with soup or just as nibbles with wine, I take them out and bake.

All in all, a very productive day.

SELF-SUFFICIENCY

I would like to have a few things to keep me happy and they would ensure that we could be self-sufficient.

Not in the exact order: a cow, some chickens and a few sheep and I would keep all that in a walled garden. Well, a woman can dream…..

But we’re almost there, even without these special items. Today’s harvest was:

I think the big tomato must be the biggest one I’ve ever managed to grow – 181 g!!

And this is just about the start, there will be many more. I found a way of bottling them in Kilner jars, gently cook them with some sliced garlic and olive oil, then add chopped rosemary and basil. When the jars are filled I sterilise them in water bath for about 5 minutes and that way I shall have a good supply of chopped tomatoes for the winter.

I tried Borlotto beans in the past but always used them young. This time I have let them dry on the vine; I will shell them as they dry and then store them in large jars with some silica sachets to reduce the moisture. Again, a very useful addition to winter soups and stews. They are very attractive when maturing, the pods are bright red before they dry and turn dusty purple.

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ALL GO…

on the farm and in the kitchen.

Even though the weather wasn’t at all nice – where has the summer gone??- I managed to get to the farm and do some work. The weeds are doing very well so that is an ongoing task. The courgettes started producing, so did the climbing beans, so I thought:  we shall have our first concoction – my own recipe this time – just throw it all together, add some spices, perhaps coconut milk and see what comes out!

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I’ve got a couple of apple trees there and both have given me lovely fruit in the past. I know about thinning the fruit on the branches and also about the June drop so I waited and yesterday picked all the little apples that fell off and at the same time thinned out the ones remaining. Managed to get quite a few.

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Cut them up, boiled them and put in a muslin bag to drip overnight. One litre of liquid, just right to make some delicious herb jelly. I use a recipe from my favourite book by Linda Brown – The Preserving Book and just use different herbs. Works every time.

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The result are four jars of delicious sage jelly, perfect to serve with cheese or cold meat….

Waste not want not!

GOOSEBERRIES

I have got two gooseberry bushes – one red and one green. As I’m trying to do everything (well, almost) by the book, today was the day of working inside my fruit cage.

In there are the gooseberry bushes but also a number of red-,  white-,  and blackcurrant bushes with some blueberries thrown in for good measure.

The book says that I should shorten the fruit-bearing branches so that the plant doesn’t waste the energy in growing ever bigger but it makes the fruit develop.

That done, I thinned out the gooseberries on both bushes because otherwise I would have have loads of tiny fruit. The thinnings can be used in making jellies so I decided to make more of my favourite – mint and gooseberry jelly. The only change in the recipe I made it I didn’t sieve the cooked fruit to obtain just the liquid, I used everything and call it conserve.

Equally delicious with cheese, meat or savoury pies of any kind.

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NEW POTATOES

I had an old dustbin on the allotment – with holes already drilled so it was obvious that someone grew something in it. I brought it home, put it behing my greenhouse and put some of my potatoes in. They have sprouted and weren’t good for anything else and as I don’t like to throw anything away, I planted them there. It was very early in the year – February I think. If they did well – fine, if not – fine too.

They did well and I’ve got the result for our lunch today, served with home-made pesto, together with a cheese and onion flan.

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AUTUMN COLOUR

Everything outside looks grey and dreary but if we look closely there is some colour in the garden. Yes, I had to search a bit, the flowers look a bit bedraggled but all the same, they are there.