Thursday, 10 January 2019

Flowering in January

Considering myself a vegetable grower I do love flowers too, particularly in the garden at home.  There is nothing to lift the winter spirits than a splash of flowering activity outside your window.. Most are winter stalwarts but they still surprise: 

Winter Flowering Cherry - Vertical view

Winter Flowering Cherry - Horizontal view
Here's one that is lighting up the darkest corner of the garden - on the northern side of an ivy clad fence:

Winter Jasmine - Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminun nudiflorum 2

Other flowers are from stubborn plants which seem to flower throughout the year...

Euphorbia   Hebe!
 ...or have hung on stubbornly through the winter and aren't going to succumb just yet.

Rudbeckia Autumn Colours still hanging on
Other bloggers have been showing off their Hellebores.  Well mine are going to have to wait another year to flower.  These were grown from home saved seed sown in 2017. Just as well as there is no sign of the parent plant this spring!

Hellebores !
I may be a bit previous to call it spring, but there are signs that the plants think it is just around the corner.

The prospect of things to come.

Monday, 24 December 2018

I'm Dreaming of a White - Soup?

A heartwarming bowl of soup

From humble beginnings...

Salsify roots

The tricky part is peeling the roots because salsify turns brown on contact with the air. It's not a pretty sight.  In addition when peeling it weeps lactose - just as lettuce stems do.  Prepared roots have to be dropped into acidulated* water, to stop them browning,  in readiness for dicing straight into the pot.

Not such a pretty sight

Other ingredients are leek (white only) and a potato and in this case our golf ball sized celeriac too.  Green chervil from the garden for garnish.

The good news is that the end result is subtle and unique.  A winter warmer.

*Water with a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon of vinegar.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Festive Treats

We couldn't find any pfeffernusse this year in the shops so we had to make some. 

Never realised how important it is to ice them!

Of course once these had been baked we spotted some on our next supermarket visit.  The freshly made up spice blend made a difference not to mention the freshness of all the other ingredients.  The homemade ones were in a class of their own and have all been consumed. 

On the savoury front taralli are an addictive Italian snack we make at this time of year.  The dough is made with wine, olive oil, flour and salt.  Divided into four  quarters each gets a different flavour. (fennel seed, cracked pepper, chilli flakes and rosemary)  Then each quarter is rolled into a long cylinder. The tricky bit is making them into small rings and dunking them into a pan of simmering water before baking

Dough and the 4 flavourings
 It is best to do the fennel flavoured ones first as the more robust flavours leech into the water and carry over to the next. So chilli comes last.

The finished product

Now it feels like Christmas:

Festive greetings to all visitors!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Kohlrabi Sauerkraut

Take a couple of these


and grate (foodprocessor recommended)

 Mix well in 2% by weight salt.

Pack into jars:

Use a glass weight to keep the pulp submerged.

Set in a cool room with loose lids and leave to ferment for three weeks at least.

Close lids tight and refrigerate.

Persuade your family that sauerkraut is the new wonder foodstuff.

Enjoy with soups, stews, salads, sausages, fish, chips .....everything !

Friday, 7 December 2018

Psychedelic Botanics

We often visit the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh, but never after dark....until now.

In the run up to Christmas they put on an illuminated show that stretches right through the /gardens. 

Some features are familiar, but transformed:

Other paths have been given a completely new take.

It is certainly out of the ordinary.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

A Good Year For The Birds

I just have to share crab apple harvest this year.   These orange apples, on a now leafless tree, are too small to make jelly from.  We leave them for the birds - who devour them when other food becomes scarce in mid winter.  I am sure they get drunk on them because once they get started there is no limit to the antics they get up to as they tightrope/softrope their way along the branches.  Blackbirds and pigeons are the most enthusiastic, but these house sparrows on the nearest bush seem to be keeping a custodial eye on them.

Just in case you are wondering, yes the blue lines are our washing line.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Remember Your Plot?

Days have shortened, temperatures have dropped, rain has been sweeping past and outdoor activities have become less attractive.  It is tempting to just forget about the plot on the other side of town. That's not to say that there is nothing cropping at the moment.  It's just that as soon as your gloves get wet you have to change them before you lose the use of your hands.  So today three pairs of gloves at the ready I harvested

The last of the row of fennel


Swiss chard:

and spinach:




Carrots from under their cover:

and that's a row of salsify to the left which, like the parsnips, I have yet to explore. 

Less photogenic but also picked today Jerusalem artichoke and sprouting broccoli. There's plenty beetroot too and Brussel sprouts to come.  The leeks I am leaving for when things get really depleted.

Nearly forgot to mention the late brassicas planted after clearing the strawberry patch! There's spring greens, kale and mooli in there.   

So all in all I have still got lots of reasons to remember to visit the plot, (just don't ask me to do any weeding).