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.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Life's a Bench?

There's nothing better than a garden bench for drying out onion roots

The slats are ideal for dangling:

Here's crop after drawing back the fabric:

It didn't look too good before but that was because quite a few of the bulbs formed under the fabric!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

All Strung Up

My red onions have matured in advance of the yellow ones (which are still firmly rooted to the ground) so before the rain came again I got them strung up.  Once the tops have dried off I will trim them back.

The garlic has been drying off for a couple of weeks and I have had a good stab at plaiting that.  Functional - but not photogenic!

Friday, 2 September 2016

No, Not Courgettes Again...?

All over the country the cry is going up, and cooks are getting more inventive:

Courgette Cake

I don't have a new fangled spiraliser but you can do a lot with a plain potato peeler...

... or a serrated one:

Courgette Spaghetti
These make excellent fritters.

In a week or two we will be wishing the season had lasted a bit longer!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Any Other Vegetable?

We grow fennel every year, and this year we have had a bumper crop of 20 or more good sized bulbs - that haven't bolted yet. This is one crop where F1 hybridisation really is worth it.

4 to a washing up basin

Years ago (at least 20) our fennel came first in the "Any Other Vegetable" category. Despite changing dietary fashions I suspect it still won't have a category of it's own. Another thing that hasn't changed is that I don't get around to making successional sowings of this crop - maybe next year!