Friday, 30 September 2011

Beans Meanz...Anyone who wants them!

The runner bean glut is starting to wear thin. We are enjoying eating them but after an hour and a half of preparation on Monday night I really had seen enough of them. I am no longer cooking them up into tasty dishes for freezing: instead they are going straight into the freezer and I have my fingers crossed that they don't turn into green slime.
I have given lots to friends and neighbours and the girls will be taking a bag each to harvest festival. And still they keep cropping! Any takers?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Costa del...Lincolnshire?

I've always said I'm not a great fan of the east coast but Sunday may well have changed my mind. I neglected both the garden and allotment (again) and went with family and dog to Anderby Creek, on the Lincolnshire Coast.
We had a beautiful day: the beach is a vast expanse of clean, white sand; the sea was warm; the sun shone and was helped along by a lovely southerly breeze. There are dunes to play in and, believe it or not, the UK's only Cloud Bar (click on the link for details, and here for some great photos which are much better than the ones I took on my phone: thanks and all credit due to danielweiresq's photostream). The girls got into their swimsuits and played in the water for a while. Had I taken my swimsuit too I think I may well have joined them. Dangerous talk for late September, I know!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Self-sufficient. For a while at least

We are at that happy time of year when we are briefly self-sufficient in fruit and veg. It feels good and I feel that I made the right choice in keeping the lottie. There have been lots of times when I have struggled to keep up with things but I guess anything worthwhile requires a bit of effort.
Over the course of the year we have enjoyed lots of lovely things to eat. I'm sorry if this seems self-satisfied, but I couldn't resist a tally:

Grown in the garden:
Not just in the little patch shown in the photo here, but also in pots, in the back garden, in the ground and up trees and trellises too...
Apples - from our two traditional Lincolnshire heritage trees
Victoria Plums
Tomatoes - took ages to ripen but finally abundant
Spring onions - still going strong
Salad leaves
Blackcurrants - just a few as I have just one young plant
Red cabbage
Strawberries - those the dog didn't eat!
Sugar-snap peas - grown in pots. A great success.
Herbs: mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and basil.

From the lottie:
Onions - now all plaited and hanging in the garage
Garlic - ditto
Purple sprouting broccoli - just starting
White cabbage
Fine green beans
Broad beans
Runner beans
Almost ripe: pumkins
And coming soon...sprouts.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hubba Bubba Bonding

I had a fab time with my oldest daughter on Saturday afternoon. Against my better judgement I had allowed her to buy bubble gum with her pocket money for the first time. She has only ever had chewing gum once or twice, never bubble gum, and she was desperate to try it.
But of course she didn't know how to blow bubbles and her efforts were highly entertaining. She nearly spat it out right out on the pavement once or twice in her efforts to form a bubble. It is years and years since I had the stuff or blew a bubble gum bubble and I was no help whatsoever. So I ended up having a piece of cola flavoured bubble gum (yuk) so that I could (a) demonstrate and (b) try to explain how to do it. We both wound up back at home practicing in front of the mirror, barely able to keep a straight face.
All very good natured and great fun. I'm just glad I didn't bump into anyone I know whilst demonstrating my bubble blowing technique. And no, there isn't a photo!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Poor little fella

Alongside the masses of beans, raspberries and spinach on my allotment when I returned from holiday, I made a rather gruesome discovery.
Some poor wee creature had got stuck in the spout of my watering can and had perished there. I always leave the can with the spout pointing downwards having figured that if I leave it upright it will fill with water in heavy rain and something could get stuck inside and drown. It never occured to me that something would scuttle down the spout and get stuck...
Now before anyone starts muttering about this having overtones of dodgy sexual practices, let me just say that I was more than a little upset by his or her demise. And call me a wimp but it wasn't very nice having the shock of finding it.
I know that there are rats and mice all over the place down at the plot (I keep finding little tunnels including one straight out of the bottom of my compost bin). However, we have done some internet research based upon its colourings and its teeth (no, it didn't leave any dental records but its jaws flopped open when I dropped the watering can in shock) and we reckon it was a vole. All a bit sad really. 
I have thought twice about posting this since it isn't very cheerful. However, it does reflect the reality of allotment life, if nothing else.
Look away now if you are easily upset.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Beanz Meanz Mine!

As is probably obvious from the lack of posts, I have been away on holiday. I returned at the weekend to an allotment groaning with produce.
Whilst we were away, kind neighbours watered tomato plants and salad leaves which are growing in my garden at home. I had also introduced them to the lottie and encouraged them to help themselves to anything they fancied whilst I was away, as the raspberries were at their peak, the beans were beginning to crop and the spinach just goes on and on.
They assure me that they took all they wanted but even so I picked and either cooked or froze 2.7 kilos of French beans at the weekend. I also prepared and cooked a similar weight of runner beans. Since everyone tells me that these don’t freeze very well in their natural state I did these in a garlicky and well-reduced tomato sauce.
We ate some of the runner beans in sauce on Monday evening and they were lovely. They have also been delicious simply dressed in a very good extra virgin olive oil with sea salt and freshly-milled black pepper.
Alongside this epic beans marathon was 7 loads (and still counting) of post-holiday washing and finding all the uniforms etc for the kids to return to school on Monday.
All this, needless to say, took ages and I was busy complaining to anyone within earshot that I was feeling exhausted despite having had a lovely 2 week holiday. But this is my crop from my lottie. What am I doing it for, if not to be able to return home overflowing with organically-grown and freshly-picked food to put on the table? In the words of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted: “Maybe I like the agony”.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Blackcurrant sorbet

IN addition to the produce from my own garden and allotment I am also lucky enough to receive soft fruit from my parents' garden in Devon. They grow far more gooseberries and currants than they can use themselves so Mum is always looking for a home for it. Him Indoors has laid down the law a few times to limit the amount I take (I think that had something to do with not being able to close the freezer door on a number of occasions) but I am allowed to accept the occasional donation.
The challenge at present is finding things to do with it which do not involve putting them in cakes and puddings as we have been consuming rather too much of these lately! At the weekend I decided to have a go at making blackcurrant sorbet. Yes, I know sorbet is still a pudding and full of sugar but it is fat-free so that's ok, right?.
Well it turned out to be a bit of a palaver since the currants had to be stewed, then blended in a food processor, then sieved (and we only have a tiddly domestic sieve so that part took ages and required the help of hubby and oldest daughter whilst I got on with the evening meal). In the end I risked the kids' wrath by halting proceedings at that stage, leaving the resulting puree to be frozen into the final sorbet on Monday evening. The girls went to bed bribed with chocolate for pudding and the promise of sorbet for tea on Monday after school, which they duly got and it was gorgeous. I daresay there was even a bit of Vitamin C in it too.

Lincolnshire Sky

Lincolnshire Sky