Saturday, 23 July 2016

Beans - lots of them!

If there's one thing I've learnt so far from having an allotment, it's that no two years are the same.
Summer this year began with copious amounts of rain but very little sun. The strawberries sulked but the gooseberries seemed to love it.
The sun has only really made an appearance in the last week or so.  Consequently, the plums, of which there are many, are still quite green. But looking back through this blog, I see that, in previous years, I was already cooking with them - see plum chutney.

But we have beans: broad, runner and French.
Lots of beans!

Eldest Lovely Daughter, told me of a recipe she had made recently from Hemsley +Hemsley 's first book.
Both Lovely Daughters are interested in cooking and nutrition, following in their Nana Ida's footsteps ( and I like to think in their Mama's too!) 
Eldest daughter's interest is particularly apposite as she has a tiny mouth to feed and tiny taste buds to train.

The recipe she told me about is called Minty Broad Bean Dip:

400g fresh or frozen broad beans (or a mixture of beans and peas - and I think I prefer a mixture)
1 clove of garlic
12 fresh mint leaves
4 tablsp lemon juice
120 ml olive oil
 Parmesan or goat's cheese to taste ( optional, but it does give a creamier result)

Very lightly steam the vegetables for a few minutes only and blitz in a processor with the rest of the ingredients and some salt and pepper.
Add a little water if you think it is too thick.
Quick and delicious!

The second bean recipe I made this week was based on Delia's recipe for Mixed Vegetables a la Grecque.
This was one of my favourite recipes years ago and one I had forgotten about until I was trawling through my cookbooks looking for recipes to make with the bean harvest.
I love the pickled taste that comes from the wine vinegar and coriander seeds.
I adapted the recipe by just using French beans, but of course it is just as delicious with mixed vegetables.

We may have a bit of a bean glut this year chez fenland lottie, but, and I can hardly believe it, so far I have only picked one courgette!
I think I have finally learnt my lesson and only planted one yellow courgette plant this year, but is also an indication of how late the season is round here.

Happy weekend everyone!
The sun is still shining and it's going to be hot!

annjenny x

Sunday, 17 July 2016

summer hols

So we have been away for a few days, Mr digandweed and I. To Yorkshire, where
we stayed in a beautiful airbnb in Filey.

 And Yorkshire blessed us with some lovely sunny weather!

Filey is a quiet little seaside town with a golden sandy beach, some very elegant, Regency buildings, pretty gardens, a bandstand and fish and chips! Everything you could wish for in fact!

Using Filey as our base, we also visited Robin Hoods bay with its tumble of cottages nestled into the steep coastline and further up the coast, the busy fishing port of Whitby, birthplace of Dracula.

Robin Hoods Bay

Whitby harbour

And one evening we drove south along the coast to the rugged cliffs of Flamborough and scrambled down the rocks to the sea. 

Flamborough head

Also on our list of places to visit was Scampston Walled Garden.
Stunningly beautiful gardens designed by Piet Oudolf, gold medal and best in show winner at Chelsea in 2000.
The garden at Scampston with its drifts of herbaceous perennials and flowing grasses was just gorgeous.

Apologies that this post is rather heavy on photos, but I must leave you with just one more - a photo of mr digandweed  running along Filey beach at sunrise on our last morning there.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

gingery gooseberry jam

It's been lovely on the allotment this week; quiet, peaceful with just a gentle, cooling breeze.
And when I've nipped down in the early evening, I've been serenaded by a beautiful thrush high up in the branches of a bush, singing his heart out.

There have been more gooseberries to harvest -more of the green cooking variety and the first of the sweeter, red ones.

It's fast turning into gooseberry overload here! Do gooseberries freeze well?!

I know they make delicious jams and when I spotted a recipe in the latest edition of Waitrose Food magazine for gooseberry jam with ginger my mind was made up!
I'm a huge fan of ginger.
The recipe can be found here if you would like to try it too.

Gooseberries are a good fruit to turn into jam, as their high pectin level means that the jam will set easily.
The result was a lovely preserve full of gooseberry deliciousness and with just a hint of ginger.

The only disappointment was it didn't turn the beautiful pink colour I was expecting.
I'm not sure why, but hey-ho, it's yummy all the same.

Now, I just need a cup of tea and a fresh, buttered scone on which to dollop a big spoonful of jam.

annjenny x

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Hello July!

I'm sorry to be a bit rude to you June, but it seems to me that this year you brought more rain than was really necessary and therefore it is with open arms that we, at fenland lottie, are welcoming July in the hope that she can restore our faith in the British summer.

In this little corner of the land, where rainfall is traditionally low, we are just not used to days of unending rain!
And it's not just me who has been sulking, the strawberries in particular have resented the amount of rain and lack of sun and have responded by turning powdery and rotten before even ripening. The above photo shows a few that didn't succumb to mildew. This year, our strawberry harvest is even more precious than usual.

But there is always a silver lining and it seems that maybe the gooseberries have preferred the cooler temperatures and copious rainfall.

Last week I picked a big bowlful of fat juicy berries, with more to come and the promise of a bumper crop of red Hinnonmaki  berries in a few weeks.

Over on Instagram, I posted a pic of the gooseberries I had gathered with a question; 'what to make with them?'
Lots of people replied with suggestions of cake, jam, gooseberry fool and jelly.
In the end I went for cake. Always a good move I think!
In particular, it was a recipe from Diana Henry that caught my eye. A recipe combining ground almonds, lemon thyme and gooseberries which sounded both unusual yet comfortably familiar.
You can find the recipe here. 

On an aside, have you ever tried lemon thyme?
 I am familiar with ordinary thyme as a flavoursome addition to many a dish, but I seem to have managed many decades of cooking and preparing food without realising the beauty of lemon thyme.
The aromas as I chopped the sprigs for this recipe were just gorgeous; a burst of fresh lemonyness (I don't think there is such a word, but there ought to be!) with complex savoury overtones.
I'm going to have to buy a lemon thyme plant for the garden or lottie so that I can indulge my new found obsession.

Anyway, I can really recommend this recipe if you want to bake a cake that is moist, squidgy and tastes of summer - lovely as a pud or with a cup of tea on the lawn should the sun come out.

And speaking of sun, it is just peeking out here,so fingers crossed.
Hope it is shining on you too.

annjenny x