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Monday, 31 August 2009

Whoopsie Another Long One!!

Well it’s the last bank holiday of the year and there was a definite change in the temperature on the Saturday and Sunday , for the first time in months I felt cold. Thankfully today on the bank holiday the temps were back up and the sky was clear and blue without a cloud insight.

Saturday disaster almost struck, I fell off the garden bench not far a stumble really, my camera was in my hand and in use at the time and got damaged. I was able to fix it but the shutter that protects the lens when not in use won’t close so now I have to be extra careful so as to not scratch the lens when its off.

In the garden I have been busy weeding a couple of beds that were getting out of hand. Other jobs in the garden all concentrated on maintenance, such as; watering, tying in the tomatoes, pruning back plants off the footpath (my youngest keeps complaining that the plants are attacking her) and lets not forget harvesting.



My onions I grew from seed should have been harvested about a month ago but excepting a few plants they weren’t bending over but Saturday I spied to flower buds so decided to get it done. There turned out to be three with buds only.
Another thing I see no need to waste my onion tops, so when I harvest I always cut off the tops leaving about 5” - 6” of stalk attached to the bulbs, I use them as you would spring onion.

My harvest of mainly tomatoes meant that I’m also cooking lots of new exciting dishes for the family. Sunday I recreated this very tasty baklava inspired dish posted by mangocheeks.

The only thing I did differently was to add salt to taste to the tomato sauce as I found it a little too sweet and I used vegan cheese instead of feta cheese. In the comments of mangocheeks posting, she advised to prepare the dish as individual ‘spring rolls’, to make the eating a little easier. I followed her advice but worrying the sauce would have soaked through I used five sheets which was too much and I think two/ three would do. I’m afraid it tasted so good I forgot to take a picture of the bitten package for you to see, I served it with couscous and garlicky perpetual spinach. The dish was a huge success and I hope to repeat it before the tomatoes are over.

Tonight I prepared another recipe from
mangocheeks blog.

Differences I made was to replace the fresh chillies in the courgette mixture with a whole Hungarian red sweet pepper and because I didn’t have any chick peas flour I used Soya flour (big mistake, I’ll explain further down). The tomato sauce I chose to leave chunky and didn’t puree, I also decided to cook the sauce with a whole chilli in it rather than add chopped up ones (have to think of the little ones tongue, both dishes still had enough heat at the end).

Now it was silly of me to forget that the Soya flour doesn’t really bind, so when I dropped the first three into the hot oil, they quickly disintegrated. To remedy the situation I spread the courgette batter onto oiled baking paper, I also lightly oiled the top and popped the tray under the grill. When the top was golden and crispy I laid another sheet of baking paper onto the surface then upended another tray and flipped it so the top was now on the bottom and the bottom was now on top (I do hope I’m making sense). I then returned it to the grill till the new top turned golden and crispy. PS the three that fell apart in the oil was drained and spread on the surface before I placed it in the grill - waste not, want not.

I served the dishes with boiled potato, sweet potato and cassava with garlicky sautéed runner beans. Hats off to mangocheeks her creations are spot on with my family’s taste buds and the dish was another winner. The tomato sauce tasted like curried green mango a dish from my home island and the differing flavours of the courgette dish’s ingredients blended beautifully.

Now for some pictures:
Crop progress;

Friday saw me netting my largest melon to support its weight.

The borlotto beans pods are beginning to dry, you can hear the beans rattling in this one.

‘The Patch’ is beginning to die back, if you look closely you can see the gems that await me.

My sunflowers have done well this year and would have done even better if I got most of them planted out on time (ho hum maybe next year), most of them weren’t attacked by the local squirrels so I looked forward to harvesting the seed heads to use during the winter to feed the birds that visit my garden. Yesterday I found evidence of squirrel munching on the first ripe seed head. So I removed it and hung it in the shed to keep it safe.
Today I finally got round to gathering and properly storing some of the seeds in the garden. The pic depicts my seed saving staple; a stool to sit on, a notepad to make my seed packets out of, sellotape to secure the seed envelope and a pencil to write the name and year.
Now for some flowers:
More sunflowers.
The garlic chives are blooming.

Today I noticed the water aven plants which are in the boggy area and were in flower late spring are in flower again.

The garden’s wildlife.
The fox cubs that were around a lot till early July suddenly disappeared for most of the summer holiday they have made an reappearance over the last ten days or so, they both look rather worst for wear and I’m sure are very hungry as they are both quite skinny (wheelie bins don‘t offer much free meals).
I disturbed this ‘Silver Y’ moth while weeding.

This ladybug has been resting at the base of this sweet corn cob for days now.

I thought this was a spider but have been told differently that it is a female ‘Leiobunum rotundum’ of the Opilione family which are also arachnids.

Seen today for the first time a lacewing larva, it was busy eating a caterpillar (sorry Maureen).
Two different stages of ‘Mid Instar Nymphs’ of shield bugs.

Well that’s it for now, I do hope you all had a lovely bank holiday weekend, now lets all wish for a great Indian Summer.

PS I've updated my Supermarket Saving Post and boy what a saving August harvests have produced.

Friday, 28 August 2009

My Version of a Tomato Tart???

Well if you have been keeping up to date with my postings you would be aware of the tomato glut that has descended up our home, I'm picking approx 3lbs of tomatoes every other day. Thankfully there are others out there in blog land also experiencing the same bountiful harvest and have been posting their ideas on how to use up all those lush sun ripened tomatoes.

I know I could be making sun dried tomatoes or tomato sauces but I'm not ready to as yet. What I really wanted was more cook and eat now recipes and thankfully another blogger came to my rescue with her tomato tart recipe, she also posted another tomato based recipe last night which I hope to try over the weekend/ next week.

So with the tart recipe for inspiration, I began to search out a vegan version. I found this one and like the author decided to forgo the puff pastry (mainly because I didn’t have any) and instead decided to make a soft pizza base (I normally make thin crispy bases for my pizzas). The only other changes I made was to sprinkle about a tablespoon of reduced balsamic vinegar on the compiled dish before baking.

The pizza dough

The 1st layer: caramelized onions (not as much as the recipe called for, my mum doesn't like them).

The 2nd and 3rd layers thickly sliced tomatoes, followed by olives and capers.

Nicely done after twenty five minutes in the oven.

It was delish with my homemade pesto.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Blog by Pictures

Not so much a day by day post this time more like topic by topic.

So plant or crop/s progress:

Sweet corn tassels are turning brown as of 23/08/09
The French beans are starting to slow down but there are still a fair amount of flowers so I’ll leave the plants alone till autumn.
The borlotto beans were slow to start cropping but there are all manner size beans on the plants now some are ripening.

The dwarf ying yang beans I’m growing to harvest the dry beans which are under the outdoor tomato shelter are starting to dry.

Monday I planted out all the plug plant size Chinese leaves, mizuna, turnips, pak choi and kohl rabi seedlings which were sown about three weeks ago.

While I was out planting out the young plants Monday I saw the following critters:

Lots of froglets were in and around the vege beds but they were generally to quick for the camera but this bigger frog was in the boggy area under a log which I moved when I almost got distracted from the job I was doing. I soon got back on track as I didn’t want to disturb the frog so left the boggy area alone.

This little footnote is for Maureen you may not want to see the following pictures/ video attached so I have written the caption before the pictures and video so you could get the opportunity to scroll pass.

While planting out the pak choi I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, it was a caterpillar wriggling strangely, on closer inspection I realised it was caught by a centipede which was trying to subdue it and drag it under ground. The following pictures and video spell out the DRAMA for you all to see, my kids were well impressed my the centipede’s strength and tenacity. The caterpillar did succumb in the end to the centipede’s poison. And internally I cheered the centipede on as it meant my soil was healthy with pest catching predators Yeah!!!

A male Orange Swift ‘Hepialus sylvina’ he’s a beauty. It was resting on the brassicus netting.

Freyer's Pug ‘Eupithecia intricate’ sorry about the photo quality but the light was shining from behind and when I disturbed it to hopefully encourage it to land on a better surface it flew away.

What’s still flowering;

New sunflowers are still opening.

This heartsease popped up in the asparagus bed.

The weeks harvest to date:



Oh dear there are now two bowls of tomatoes to get through, I‘m not ready to make sauces or sun dried tomatoes with them as yet, so thanks goodness for Allotment 2 Kitchen post on tomatoes last night. As it gave me the inspiration I needed, I hunted down some vegan tomato tart recipes and will be trying one of them tonight for dinner.
The tomatoes are really doing well with no signs of blighted foliage now for two days. All twelve varieties have ripening fruits on them now. And look at the size of the Japanese black trifle I picked yesterday.

I have also been cooking:

Monday night the yellow cherry plums (2lbs worth) I foraged last week was turned into jam using this recipe but I also added cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and ground nutmeg to spice it up as these plumes are much tarter than the red varieties, I got three and a half jars.

I also got round to turning the harvested basil leaves a full nine cups worth into vegan basil pesto. I found with 3 tsp of salt it was a little salty so I’ll probably only use half the salt next time, oh and I didn’t have any pine/ walnuts so used sunflower seeds instead. It tastes great and I froze quite a bit in ice cubes to use in future pasta dishes.

Dinner last night was rice with split peas dhal and curried vegetables - perpetual spinach, patty pan squash and sweet peppers (see picture).

There has been increased bird activity in the garden of late. A large mixed flock of mainly long tail tits, chiff chaffs and blue tits have been visiting the tall pine tree and apple trees over the last few days. The pictures are not great as they are so fidgety its hard to get a good shot.

Long Tail Tit.

Chiff Chaff.

Blue Tit.

There has also been more magpie activity as well.

Here is a juvenile blackbird taking advantage of damaged ripening apples.

Well that's it for now I'm off to the garden to do some pottering.


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