Sunday, 30 October 2016

An Allotment Foray

It was the last day before the clocks went back and it was dark and damp on the allotment. We had to go up there; I was showing someone a new plot and we really needed to do some Autumn tidying. Sooo many weeds as the weather is still reasonably warm and they just won't stop growing! And we noticed several different fungi have made an appearance...
We spotted this lovely Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus) in the grass by our plot. The spore probably arrived on site in some of the manure. They're edible when in this condition, but it will very soon be a black slimy mess!
This Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula) was poking through the door of the compost bin. It generally grows on wood, so not sure what it's doing in there! Another edible one, but I wouldn't fancy eating it, especially not from the compost bin!
I haven't been able to identify this mushroom, but there are a few of them growing in one of the bulb flower pots. The spore probably came in the compost I used to plant them up.
This is growing on the raised bed and The pinkness on the gills may be a clue to what it is.
I hoped to get a better photo on Sunday, but it looked a mess, so I haven't been able to identify it.
I think this is a type of blewit. I like the spore print which was left by its neighbour!
I welcome any identifications!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Back to the Real World

We've just had two lovely weeks in Puerto de la Cruz, in the North of Tenerife. I think this is our tenth visit. It's so beautiful and we discover new areas and re-visit favourites each year.
This year we found two other vegetarian restaurants in the town! We didn't get the opportunity to go in because we found them late in the holiday, but it's great to know they are there for next time. We went to our favourite vegetarian restaurant, El Limon, twice.
We arrived at a quiet time that day!
It's funny, though a bit sad, that Puerto de la Cruz caters far better for vegetarians than Hungerford and Newbury do between them! It shouldn't be difficult to put this kind of tasty snack on any menu, surely.
The Risco Bello bar restaurant isn't vegetarian, but it has such a beautiful garden to just sit in. The freshly made mango juice provided refreshment while looking at the plants they were selling and watching the turtles and birds around us.
The barraquito (con liquor) was so fabulous we stayed for two.
We prefer to go self-catering and enjoy the interesting fruits that are available fresh from the island.
Dragon Fruit - looks great, tastes great
Horny Melon - looks great, but lacks flavour
A passion fruit. It never did ripen enough to eat. I should have bought a wrinkly one,
but didn't realise what it was till I studied the receipt!
The cactus jam is amazing! So sweet and delicious on toast. A nice 3-course breakfast is a good start before going out into the ~25° temperatures. We always end up walking long distances up-and-down hills.
And cakes for breakfast too - what a great country :-) No wonder all the walking doesn't stop us gaining weight on holiday!
Lunches were generally cheese or salad rolls. And it's good to share with the locals...
Evening meals weren't always at the apartment, but we had tasty ingredients when we did cook. The little local potatoes are full of flavour and the green mild mojo sauce is coriander-y and creamy.
I've brought a pot of the black garlic home. It's almost licorice-like it's so sweet. I need to work out how to best use it. Spanish peppers grow huge, that one was bigger than my hand and delicious roasted.
Other nights we resorted to more off-the-shelf options, but still interesting Spanish (and German) vegetarian options.
Aah, it's kind of good to be home. We look forward to our next visit to lovely Tenerife x
More photos here, if you're interested.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Spicy Veg - thanks to Daniel

I received a thank you gift from someone I'd helped at work - isn't it nice to be appreciated! Daniel had been to Sicily and brought back these lovely spices.
They are meant to be used on pasta but they look so lovely we couldn't wait till we were having pasta, so sprinkled some over our roast vegetables last night instead. (With hindsight, we added a bit too much of the spice - it was VERY hot hot hot!)
Carrots, parsnip (the first this year), beetroot, kohl rabi, pumpkin (small, lumpy kind - thanks Forbes), tomatoes and onion.
That must surely be the last of our courgettes for this year! There's a sweetcorn there for me. We have found that just keeping them for a day after picking stops them tasting so sweet and delicious - the kernels go rather hard, so they've got to be cooked and eaten as soon as possible after picking. 
That will be our penultimate visit to the plot before we go to Tenerife - I wonder how much will still be green in a couple of weeks time...

Monday, 3 October 2016

Food Festival Success

We got to the Town Hall with about an hour to set up the HAHA stand. It's always rather daunting when faced with 2 empty tables and surrounded by baskets, bags and boxes of vegetables. There were a few of us working to get it all done on time, and we were pleased with the result - so many interesting vegetables grown on our lovely site!
A full table-top
The tromboncino squash (thanks Jonathan!), kohl rabi and patty pans provided talking points and lots of people wanted to know the variety of the black tomatoes - Indigo Rose. I had to be honest and say they weren't as tasty as they look though!
Too much for the top of the table
The media table - food pics, site photobooks, 2008-2016 slideshow
and National Allotment Society literature

Jamie's carved pumpkin is always eye-catching. It took a long time to carve, but definitely worth the effort.
And Kerry's tasting section of the HAHA stand is always a welcome site at the top of the stairs! Those savoury scones didn't last long and none of the elderflower cordial went home!
 Our 'giant' pumpkin paled into insignificance compared to the 'guess the weight' one - 76kg!
And I got to listen to Roger Phillips' talk on mushrooms and truffles, so interesting and funny. And a few tasty recipes thrown in for good measure - I think maybe we need to go mushroom hunting again!
Aah, what a fun, long, busy day we had! We were at the allotment before 8am to pick vegetables for the display. It looked like there had been a bit of frost but it was a beautiful morning and the sun shone all day for Hungerford visitors - perfect.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Food Festival Prep

It's tomorrow, so we've got an early morning to pick carrots and other veg that needs to be kept fresh. I do enjoy helping to set up the HAHA stand and then hanging round talking to people about our site and growing our own. We picked some produce today so we could do some preparation.
The top one is our biggest for the pumpkin competition. It's pretty big (over 10kg) but not mammoth so I don't think it's a winner.
These are the only black radishes that grew. We haven't eaten any. They're meant to be very peppery - they look quite interesting.
This is a photo before I burned them!
So now I'm preparing to roast pumpkin seeds (flavoured with smoked paprika) and fiddling with a photo slideshow (which I could have started a long time ago!) along with washing tomatoes - black ones, that never did completely ripen and orange ones that burst if you look at them too long!
I'm looking forward to seeing Roger Phillips (mushroom and foraging fame) along with having some tasty snacks - shame there aren't a few more veggie stalls turning up, but there are some.