Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Boys From The Black Stuff

Today I peeled back the "black stuff" or weed suppressant fabric (WSF) and dug up the elephant garlic.

Here's the scene on lifting the fabric:

and here's crop drying out in the greenhouse. 

I had been worried about white rot given the wet summer we have had.  About three had succumbed to some extent but there are plenty of healthy bulbs for storage.

All these came from a single clove I bought 3 years ago.  It cost me £1. After one year I had six cloves all of which were replanted providing me with 2 dozen seed cloves for this year. No shortage of seed cloves for next year!

I would say that the WSF has boosted the yield.  I didn't miss the weeding - there was plenty left to do in other areas!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Gaga Gargoyles

 Prompted by Jo@ awholeplotoflove, I've dusted off my holiday snaps from Normandy (Already seems like a long time ago!).  Here's the cheeky chappy I was reminded of:
Cheeky Gargoyle

 He's on the roof of the Gendarmerie on the mont at Mont St Michel. Far left in the picture below.

Mont St Michel

There were lots of gargoyles in Normandy, many exhibiting distinctly fierce characterstics. These were on the Palais de Justice in Rouen:

Palais de Justice Rouen

And these appeared to be guarding the Cathedral at Bayeux:

The Cathedral at Rouen had so many appendages it was impossible to capture them all:

Last of all I can't omit this chap, who although not a gargoyle was doing a good job representing all ponies pressed into service on the traditional pressoirs of Normandy.  I'm sure they got there share of apples too after mushing them up for cidre/calvados production.  The mill is planted up with flowers now, but someone had decided to create an homage to the tradition.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Traffic Light Gardening

Today's harvest was red amber and green.

I just couldn't resist!

For the record, I picked the last of the broad beans (what a lot from a sinle row sown in April) and the first of the runner beans today.  now how long will it be to the first frost?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Lindisfarne, Jekyll & Dried Onions

Last weekend we visited Lindisfarne  

Not far from the Castle is another national treasure: A walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll

The centre of the garden was a square bed of sedum surrounded by silver leaved plants.  I've never seen this plant being given such a prominant role. The effect was stunning and provided a contrast to the swathes of vibrant colour in the peripheral borders.

Back home it was time to bring the onions in 

 to dry off in the greenhouse.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Blue is the Colour

This punnet of blueberries would retail at 99p in a supermarket.  I value them more because they have taken five years to grow!

If you don't believe that then go to the following link:

This year has been a bumper for other soft fruit too:

But the blueberries take pride of place.

There are plenty more to come...

...before autumn.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Baguette Baguette Baguette

Since returning from our holiday in Normandy I have been making a concerted effort to nail the baguette.  

The nearest town (Tinchebray) had a supermarket but still retained 4 boulangeries along its high street.  Despite our expectations the standard baguette was a bit of a let down.  To make matters worse the "pain complet" was also light and airy and not a proper wholemeal loaf, more a generic British supermarket loaf.  Then we realised that if you kept your eyes and ears open for "method traditionnel"or "pain au levain" there were good quality breads available.

To help me perfect my baguette on my return I added a couple of items to my batterie de cuisine.  I already had the metal baguette tray on the right but (after seeing one in use on holiday) I now have acquired a linen "couche".  It's just a thick cloth that you ruck up to make bed for the loaves when rising.

I've also tooled up with implements for slashing the loaf.  Lames or grignettes:  I'm onto my third and still not really happy about the results. It's really quite a knack to slash the bread without deflating it.   The aerosol is for spraying the loaf with water to help crust formation.

The results?  Well the two in the metal trays were suitably long and thin and crusty on top.  The ones rested in the couche were gloriously irregular but light and crustier underneath (They were slid onto a hot heavy duty metal roasting tray).

Here's an interesting loaf we came accross in France.  It's a brioche dough made into a full sized loaf. I love the decoration.

Now that's a professional loaf.