Monday, 29 September 2014

beautiful beetroot

I am just starting to harvest beetroot from our lottie. They were sown late in the season as the first lot failed to germinate. However,it was worth the wait. for these beautiful dark purple globes.
Beetroot is now one of my favourite veggies.
So good in salads, soups ...and baking.

Using vegetables in baking, once a necessity to eke out more expensive ingredients, is now enjoying a resurgence as a way to add flavour and nutrition to cakes and biscuits.

I turned again to one of my best loved recipe books Nigel Slater's Tender vol 1 for ideas and found this lovely recipe for beetroot seed cake.

A change from the more usual chocolate and beetroot combination ( good though that is), this cake is moist and nutty
and the beetroot gives a very pretty pink marbled effect when cooked.

Do give it a go.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

a very english institution.. the local garden show

Our small market town held its garden and allotment show last Sunday.
The local hall was filled with tables laden with carefully nurtured vegetables and fruit of all shapes and sizes and in the junior class an enormous pumpkin almost the same size as its small owner!
There were homemade cakes and preserves too, flower arrangements and even a topiary squirrel!

I plucked up courage and entered some of my preserves:

...and was delighted on returning to the hall a couple of hours later to find that I had won first prize and overall best in class for my blackcurrant jelly!!
And on top of that mr digandweed and I came third in the best kept allotment competition.

It was a lovely afternoon; great fun, a good sense of community and some good-natured competition ...oh and the giant pumpkin and its small owner won a prize too!

Friday, 12 September 2014

lately on the lottie ... early autumn


Autumn is knocking at the door.
 Despite the fact that over the past few days, the temperatures by late morning /early afternoon are those of a respectable summer's day, come the evening, there is a nip in the air and in the early morning a heavy dew clothes the allotment and garden.

Autumn is harvest time and in our part of the world the farmers have already brought in their harvests of wheat and the ploughed fields now stretch as far as the eye can see; the dark soil like crumbled chocolate.

Our own harvest this year has been mixed and looking back it seems it is the fruit that has been most successful this time round.
The Autumn Bliss raspberries planted earlier this year produced a very good first harvest.

 The blackcurrants were plentiful, the strawberries wonderful and the plums abundant....
but the climbing French beans were attacked mercilessly by slugs and the leeks seem to have been munched by something which I suspect may be leek moth.
However, the Charlotte potatoes grown in big bins were delicious and we have some late beetroot and salad onions still to look forward to.
 I planted the garlic earlier in the year, so consequently the bulbs are quite small, but look ok now they have been trimmed and cleaned.
 ( much better I think to plant garlic in the autumn, so I am making a mental note to do so in the next few weeks) 
It seems that growing veggies always involves a bit of a battle with the elements and unwanted wildlife, but nothing compares with the satisfaction of 'growing your own'.
Happy gardening !

Saturday, 6 September 2014


About a week ago, a welcome gift, in the form of a bag of windfall apples, was left on our doorstep by one of our neighbours.

This kind gesture meant lots of fruit to ...

... to make into compote, to mix with blackberries to make crumbles ... and to turn into

In this case, a recipe for spiced cider and apple jelly from one of my favourite preserving books:

Perfect Preserves : Maggie Mayhew


 The ingredients are:

900g/2lb cooking apples coarsely chopped but with skins and cores intact
900ml/11/4 pints sweet cider
2 oranges, juice and pips
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
150ml/1/2pint water
900g/2lb warmed granulated sugar
Put all the ingredients except the sugar into a large pan,  bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about an hour.
Strain overnight in a jelly bag then for each 600ml of liquid add 450g/1lb sugar. stir until sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly until set, about 10mins.


Makes about 3lb of beautiful amber jelly, somewhat like a delicate marmalade and do not fear, if like me you do not like cloves as their addition simply gives a warm background note.
Enjoy on toasted muffins....or crumpets....or scones......or on just about anything!