Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas Panattoni New Year

I was at the plot today for the Christmas veg, but rather more warming is the panattoni I baked today. 

It is probably a whole year since I last baked one so I was well pleased to get a good rise!

Another recent Italian bake has been Taralli.  These are rusky textured snacks made from /flour, olive oil salt and white wine. Each batch is then flavoured with fennel seeds, chilli, black pepper or rosemary. Different family members have different favourites so I am encouraged by requests for more of each! You drop them into boiling water before baking to a crunchy consistency. Then they keep for ages in an airtight container.  I made these a few days in advance. (The rolling is rather labour intensive.)

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, 16 December 2016

No Knead Bread

After making this bread I had to decide how to market it.  It has the following claims.

  • No additives  
  • Simple ingredients (Flour, water, salt)
  • 100% Rye
  • Wholemeal
  • Sourdough
  • No kneading required
You can tell by the title which I decided to go for.  You really just mix the ingredients and pour into a tin and wait.  There is no point in kneading as rye has such a low gluten content.

By the way it takes 2 days to make. It Russian Rye from Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters book,  Provided you don't rush it you get a good aerated bread. The plastic bag, by the way, is there for a reason: to store the bread for a day or two while the crumb becomes less "gummy". It works.

I would like to add caraway seeds but the rest of the household are refusniks on that front. (They will also, to be totally honest, only eat this toasted).

This has been a most encouraging bake and I am might even go for a pumpernickel in the near future!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Pitta Patter Parsnip

Rustling up a batch of pitta bread I was pleased with the results. Can you spot the one that refused to puff up?

Back at the plot there is not much happening since the fall in temperature. It's all swede cabbage and parsnip.  Here's a snap of the first parsnips pulled:

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Problem: The brassica patch has been coming along nicely this year. One of the earliest to maturity was the red cabbage yielding a steady supply of solid canon ball sized heads.  But with other fare on offer supply has exceeded demand and the last red cabbage brought home has been loitering for too long in the vegetable basket.

Solution:  It's time to try sauerkraut, dummkopf!

So I've turned this:

Into this:

The process is simply to shred cabbage, add salt, and pack into a sterile jar.

Now it's a four day wait to let the fermentation process get under way and see what we have got.

In the meantime, just to keep my feet on the ground, I baked a sourdough loaf today. It won't last four days.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

All Potted Up

Following on from my last post here are the potted and labelled results.

All that is left to be harvested now is: Parsnip, Swede, Cabbage, Brussels, Kale, Mooli, Jerusalem Artechoke, Leek,  and the tail end of the Beetroot, Seakale Beet, and carrots still to be lifted. Back at home the stored supplies of onions and potatoes are running down.  Will they last until Christmas???

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Green Tomato Chutney Time

It's time to admit defeat on the tomato front and get chutneying.

That's not to say we don't like green tomato chutney, which is a winter staple in our house - and the shops don't sell green tomatoes!

For the record here was the state of play  in the greenhouse before the cull. Some of the tiger/stripey tomatoes (left) ripened, none of the San Marzano plum tomatoes ripened (middle) and the Sungold cherry tomatoes continued to produce a steady stream of sweet ripe fruit.  These last are too small to chutney and will be brought into the warmth of the kitchen to continue ripening over the coming weeks.

Note to self:  "Start tomatoes from seed earlier next year!"

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Grown in Scotland

Outdoors too!

Today surveying the plot I decided to pick the sweetcorn. It wasn't going to grow anymore at these temperatures.  Peeling back the husks it was a wonderful surprise to find they had ripened from end to end. We started eating them today!

The whole crop

5 of the best
They benefited from a good slathering of butter and tasted wonderful!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Canadian Wonder

The bean pods have been hanging around in the kitchen for a few weeks in their string bags.  It is the ideal place because they keep getting bumped  (either on purpose or accidentally) as people pass underneath. This ensures the air circulates between the pods. As the pods dry out they straighten out and start falling through the gaps in the string bag. Any fallen pods get returned to the top of the pile.  Once they start to open up of their own accord it's time to take them down and pod the lot.  

If you pod them before the pods have dried the beans are prone to mould.  I think there must be some inhibitor in the pod lining that stops that.

The podded beans are popped in a jar for storage until required for Chilli con Beany or Bean Dip at a later date.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Secrets of the Cosmos

Ssshhhh don't let anyone know, but a made a bit of a boob this year. I don't grow any ornamentals at the allotment but I've been experimenting at home.  This year I tried Cosmos for the first time. The seedlings were small and herb like (dill?) by the time I planted them out in pride of place at the front of the borders around the garden.  The lime green clump in the middle of the picture below is how they look today:

Cosmos To The Fore

This is after hacking back half of the clump by half it's height in order to give its neighbours (Calendula, Nigella, Nasturtiums) a fighting chance. To no avail. Checking the seed packet it does say height 120cm.These are a bit more than that even.

Another Cosmos Bed

As always I was a bit slow in getting started with the seed sowing in spring, so sadly one clump in a shadier patch have not even flowered yet!

Once they flower they do have their charm

But next year I will "adjust my planting plan accordingly".

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Hanging Around


A Week Ago
Some progress to report on the greenhouse ripening of outdoor tomatoes.  Sungold: Over a dozen ripened.  Stripey: two have started blushing Sam Marzano: all green.

There is another crop currently hanging around.

These are Canadian Wonder Bean pods.  With the weather turning cold and wet there is the distinct danger of them going mouldy outside so I've picked any mature pods and brought them indoors to hang off the kitchen airer  in these string bags which are ideal for the purpose. They should be ready for podding in a couple of weeks but I will leave them for a month to ensure the beans have dried out properly before podding them.

Together with the Onions and Garlic crops there's a lot of hanging around at this time of year!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A Little Bird Told Me...

Looking up today (prompted by the honking noises) there was a sure sign that winter is on the way:

Skein of Geese

And  then arriving at the allotment there was an unusual "guest" hotfooting it. 

Plucky Pheasant

Never seen one "in town" before

I'm told that the Augurs interpreted bird behaviour as a way of divining the future. I could do with one just now.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Harvest Monday - Reports of Their Demise Have Bean Greatly Exaggerated

Surprised to find that although the cold nights have frazzled the outer courgette leaves the runner beans are still producing some new flowers and pods.  The Joan J raspberries continue to astound! (Today I've taken the nets off the fruit cage to allow the birds the last pickings.)

Monday, 17 October 2016

How Green Is My.... Greenhouse?

Yes I've given up on my outdoor tomatoes, now granted refuge from the elements indoors



Less than a week ago I picked the last of the runner beans and (nearly) the last of the raspberries:

September 2016 has been the warmest on record (globally) but the sweetcorn doesn't seem to have got the message:

Perfectly formed ,,, but immature, as you can see from the one I've picked and stripped. Maybe next year...  maybe not.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How Long.... Can This Be Going On

It is October and the greenhouse tomatoes (grown rather late from seed) have started ripening ...

...and some are still flowering.

(There are over twenty pairs on some of the Sungold trusses)

There's even a chance that the outdoor San Mazarno might yet ripen.


Well maybe once they are harvested and brought into the warmth of the kitchen. Otherwise it will be green tomato chutney time.

I just can't believe how long they (and summer) are hanging on for.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


Last June I sunk a plastic half barrel into the ground

By July the water had cleared and I added a waterlily.  (Foolhardy perhaps as it wasn't a dwarf waterlily)

The neighbourhood rabbit ate the first few leaves, but now the pond looks like this:

There is a balance between the 6 plants (including the floating oxygenator)  which I suspect will be harder to maintain in future years. Still all would be forgiven if the lily were to produce a flower next year! 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Hanging on In There

It's the last week in September and the nights are getting colder (and longer).  The runner beans are still flowering and podding.

Time is running out for the sweetcorn:

The Kabocha  squash in the the foreground never really got going.  But going like clappers still  this row of courgettes

The Brassica patch is coming into it's own

In the background the autumn raspberries (Joan J) have responded to frequent picking by producing more and more fruit throughout September. They have been great. The blueberries have taken fright at the colder nights and stopped in their tracks.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Runner Bean Slicers

With a bumper crop this year I have rooted out my bean slicing devices:

The larger "auto bean slicer" is an homage to the wind turbines now dotted across our countryside. Who can resist the thrill of high speed rotating razor sharp blades?

The smaller "Bean Slicer and Stringer" is actually a more complex engineering feat both de-stringing and slicing in one action.  

Both cut thin slices one diagonally and the other lengthways.

I'm not recommending either as I always revert to using a small sharp knife.

The downsides of these gadgets are that the "auto bean slicer" requires you to trim (top and tail and if necessary de-string) the beans in advance. Any beanpods larger than the twin apertures need to be cut down to size too.  On feeding the trimmed beans through the device while turning the handle it spits out slices of varying sizes in a scatter pattern across 180 degrees. A circular bowl deployed at the receiving end will only catch a small portion of the output and is easily dislodged as you try to angle it for maximum capture. The result of my experimentation was so shamefully and comically messy I couldn't bring myself to record it. Cleaning should be carried out with extreme caution as those blades are sharp and unprotected. One is left with the question: Where is the "auto" in this manual device. If you had two people operating this together and a suitable capture system I guess you could produce a freezer full of beans in record time...

The "Bean Slicer and Stringer" has a better design, incorporating a separate blade for topping and tailing, four parallel slicing blades and two for stringing which self adjust courtesy of one of them being on a spring loaded arm. All blades are to some degree recessed within the plastic frame. The thing is that it strings the beans regardless, and it delivers a lengthways cut rather than lateral or diagonal. Nowadays it could be marketed as bean tagliatelle, but it is unconventional.  If you have long beans you are best to cut them into smaller lengths before feeding through the device. And the feeding is a dilema too. Do you push the length through or resort to pulling from the already sliced side with the risk of breaking them off? Probably a bit of both.

Having had to deploy your favourite sharp stubby kitchen knife you will, I assure you resort to conventional manual processing with it.  While topping and tailing you establish whether there is any string to be strung then cut at whatever angle takes your fancy straight into the pan. Job done! If you really like the idea of bean tagliatelle get the "Bean Slicer and Stringer".

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Layers of Joy

Here's a good idea when your raspberries and blueberries are cropping at the same time:

Layer Cake Topping

The constituent parts before construction:

And here it is all assembled!

I'm about as smug as Channel 4 today !!!

I followed the recipe from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen - That's a wicked lime and passionfruit curd in addition to the whipped cream between the layers.