Monday 26 October 2015

Harvest Monday -

I've been really busy at work again this week so not done much 'extra-curricular' allotmenting or gardening, just keeping to some basic picking.
A cabbage I'd let carry on growing has been producing loose heads, fine for eating (but also tiny snails seem to like it too, which I had to shake out, so many!). I've brought home another small butternut squash and some of its little friends, which wouldn't get any bigger so I thought I may as well see if they ripen at home. I've had a couple of small pale courgettes, just hanging on in there.
A few more toms from the lean-to and some last beans from the back garden. Two of the beans are from the plant which regrew from last year's root, ooh. It only started growing a lot later than this year's beans though so didn't really produce much to eat.
We've eaten a few more of the borlotti beans, I love the colour
I've picked some more chard, it's growing very slowly
We made a nice hotpot thing

I picked a bit of kale and we had it with the courgettes and scrambled eggs, simple and tasty

On my non-working day this week my friend and I (plus her young son) went out to visit another friend who lives out in the countryside. It was lovely and peaceful there with a cornucopia of animals too. Little S really liked feeding the chickens the scraps from our lunch (the chickens didn't like the carrot but pecked everything else right up). I'd love to have chooks one day.

That's it for the week. Oh, we have started making apple cider vinegar about a week ago (apple peel, cores, water and honey) I need to check on it - you're meant to leave it for two weeks to begin with which starts the fermentation process..sounds easy but we'll see if it works!

Linking in with Harvest Monday at Dave's Our Happy Acres


Monday 19 October 2015

Harvest Monday - sort of quince cheese

I haven't been to the plot since Thursday, as I had to work over the whole weekend. So looking back at these pics was quite a surprise at how much has been happening!
Thursday I brought home two more butternuts, they need to ripen a bit more though, one in particular is still a bit green. So I've got them on a shelf in the lean-to where they'll hopefully get a bit of sun. The orange squash was growing in my new hugelkulture bed, and grew up into the buddliea behind - a bit shady so didn't get very big. It's a really weird shape!
At home in the lean-to, some of the sweet peppers are actually quite red! They're on the top shelf so I guess this helped. I have to stand on a stool to reach them /see them properly, hence the nice surprise. I also snipped off my aubergines that only started setting fruit recently, despite the plants growing for the same time as the toms. I think maybe it gets too hot for them earlier in the year )
And I have some toms ripening slowly in there too. The squash is a tiny one from the back garden, I think it was too shady as well.
Yummy peppers. I'm not a huge fan of green peppers so these red ones are a real treat.
Now, this may look like just a splob of veggies but it was soooo tasty - onion, garlic, aub, pepper and toms. It was so good but there was only enough for two portions - the aubs were all picked and used in one day in one meal - better than nothing though. Mmmmm.
In the back garden I picked all the borlotti beans - more that I thought! I then separated them into flat pods ( for eating like runner beans) and swollen ones for podding.

Some went into a stewey thing

Not my own kale though, I must admit
We had a long walk on Sunday up on the coast and fancied a hearty meal in the evening. Jan took charge to make a hotpot, with squash

All my own veggies, yum

With cheesey wedges she made too (Alas, not my kale again, I got a huge bag from the organic veg stall on the market). Jan took the pics too, you can tell cos she's much more arty than me.
Tonight I picked another pepper
Which we had with scrambled eggs and some leftover hotpot filling mixed in (we'd had most of the leftovers for lunch - very filling, and weighed a lot too, my work bag was very heavy!)
On my day off last week I decided to make quince cheese. It started off okay but didn't end that well! I used a recipe from The River Cottage preserves book

The lovely quinces (from my friend's mum's garden)
Give them a wash, chop 'em all up and just cover with water

Cook them up until nice and soft, then leave for a few hours. I then also mashed them against the side of a the pan with a spoon
Then push through a sieve to get out the juice and small particles (if this was for a jelly you'd strain only the liquid off)
Next, weigh the liquid, place back in a clean pan and add an equal weight of sugar (for me this was about 1.5kg). Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour until thickened, then pot-up.
So, all was going okay until the very end, when instead of scooping off the scum (aerated liquid) I decided to splop it all in the jars and then scoop it out (which had worked when I recently made elderberry and apple jelly). But because the mixture was much thicker than for a jelly, some of the scum didn't float to the top and settled itself at the bottom. Sigh! And it started setting quite quickly so I couldn't scoop it all out. This means all but one of the jars have bubbly bits in.
You can see a bit in the pic below. The rest of the jars were too embarrassing so I turned them round for the photo! The bowl has the scum inthat I did manage to scoop off, which I added as a sweetener to a huge pan of stewed fruit, rather than waste it.

So I was a bit disappointed in the end with those. I don't think they're good enough to give away as proper presents. Ho hum. I also feel a bit like I wasted them - the pure quince juice actually had a really nice flavour on its own, so didn't need loads of sugar to make something tasty. Next time (probably next year) I think I'll just use quince for mixed fruit (it's quite a hard fruit so would need cooking first before adding softer fruit like apples).

Oh also, if you're making a proper quince cheese you might do it in smaller portions or in a tray, to slice and have with real cheese or meat (if you eat meat). But I just put mine in jars.

That's been my fruit and veggie week!

Linking in with Harvest Monday with Dave at Our Happy Acres

Monday 12 October 2015

Harvest Monday - more squashes!

Last week I had a mammoth squash harvest, bringing back the biggest butternuts from the allotment. I still had some small ones that I wanted to leave a little bit longer to ripen a bit more. It's been sunny on and off so they've come on well.
Earlier this week. Some beans from the back garden and a teeny patty pan squash too.
I decided to use one of the butternuts as it had a bit of damage that looked like it would start to go soft and mouldy, potentially ruining a major part of the fruit if left to spread.
I got two trayfuls from the one fruit and roasted them with rosemary from the front garden, Mmm.
The roasted squash went into a few portions of soup, and a made-up tomatoey quinoa dish, which also had some extra portions for the freezer as well as lunch the next day. A lotta squash.
On Thursday I went out with my friend Liz to her elderly mum's place in the countryside. I'd been growing some squash plants in her garden as a bit of an experiment but hadn't been to see them for a while. There wasn't much to see when I went back! On the allotment, the squash plants had got huge so I was expecting something similar here but they'd pretty much died off already. It seems that the garden is just too shady - a tall hedge on one side and mature trees all round.
Out of the eight plants, only 4 had harvestable fruits
Not too bad really though for the cost and effort involved - I'd have bought the seeds anyway for the allotment, plus just used a bit of compost for sowing and some chicken poo pellets I added at planting time. I gave away some spare plants which is always nice to do. It was lovely to have an excuse to go out into the countryside anyway. I gave Liz one of the green squashes (muscade de Provence) as a thanks for taking me out there and each time we went I took some cake for us all as a treat as well.
There are two amazing apple trees in the garden - an eater and a cooker. How many apples??!
And look at the quinces!
Lucky me, I got to help myself
And back in Norwich I harvested two more muscades from the allotment. You can see the size difference here - for comparison, the small one in the photo is the biggest one from Liz's mum's! The biggest one was just under 9lbs, like the butternut from last week, yikes!
At the allotment I also picked my first carrots of the year, wooh. That reminds me, I haven't tried one yet.
Yesterday on the allotment I had some surprises. Two large white scallop / patty pans had been hiding away under a leaf. There were also a fair few dwarf beans (the runners are from the back garden). I brought back another small muscade and a butternut as well as some greens.
And a few more blackberries!
Some toms from the lean-to at home. It's looking quite bare in there as I've cleared away most of the tom plants now.
I've also continued to sprout beans, yummy
And used up one of the large muscades. The big ones aren't as well cured as the smaller ones so I'll use these up first. Also it was a bit of a shame, a really huge one on the allot had loads of slug damage and was all soft, so it ended upon the compost heap. This one was ok though. Not many seeds?
Mmm, roast
And a curry from the same batch of roast squash, enough for a couple of days. Squashes are certainly good for bulking up meals!

So I still have a couple of little butternuts that need to ripen / cure. The nights are cold now but there's still warmth during the day if we're lucky. I could've done with leaving some of them a bit longer out on the plot but was a bit worried some might go walkies. It does happen sometimes unfortunately.

This upcoming week I might have a go at making apple cider vinegar, I just saw a recipe which uses apple peel, core and honey. Sounds easy!

Linking in with Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres