Sunday, 24 November 2019

Light My Fire

We had a HAHA Workday yesterday - our first proper visit to the site for over a month! It was great to be working out in the fresh air again. (I hope this video is working, it's using the slow-motion feature on my new phone).
Luckily the rain stayed off for most of the time and all the volunteers did a great job of clearing the site; chopping back overgrown hedges and getting rid of all the rotten wood around the place thanks to a great big bonfire.
It's been such a wet few weeks I'm sure we were all glad to be out. And naturally, cakes were provided by Ted so we had regular tea-breaks and time for a catch-up.
Jamie and I (with help) spent the time clearing our Plot 46A - we didn't do anything with it this year, so we're clearing it for someone on the waiting list. It would have been nice to have a plot in the middle of the site, but we're stick with our original ones for now.
We were pleased to be able to clear all the structures and all the rotten wood was burned. The barrels full of soil were left by the previous tenant, we didn't manage to empty all of them but we'll help the new ploholder if necessary. They have lovely soil in them, but unfortunately there's a lot of weed seed in there too.
The bonfire provided us with some extra warmth as the sun was going down when we left - well, it's November, it was only about 4:00pm.
Over the last few weeks I've been enjoying the last of our harvest of pumpkin and am still loving the dried beans. I must be sure to pick more for drying next year. This meal I had was so delicious, based roughly on this veggiedesserts recipe.
I intended for it to cover 2 meals but ended up going back for seconds and scoffing the lot in one sitting, and with a bit of cheese on top. What a piggy :-)
We've not quite finished all the Dido potatoes - they are a lovely yellow maincrop variety and have been delicious as mash, patties and as wedges. Today's song is, obviously, provided by The Doors - enjoy.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Something Good

It's the time of year when there's plenty of clearing to be done on the allotment, but the weather or the inclination isn't with us at the moment. But I am enjoying making use of the remaining harvests from the plot.
I'm eating my Thai-spiced pumpkin soup as I write this. It's really tasty. I'm not sure how much the pumpkin adds to it, but the Thai spices and coconut milk have given it a lovely flavour and texture.
I also have a big bowl of paprika-roasted pumpkin seeds, they were a nice addition to each spoonful of soup, which reduced the woodiness.
The Jack-of-all-Trades pumpkin that I used weighed 5kg - I only used about 500g of skinned pumpkin in the soup.
I'm saving some to add to a bean stew later in the week (look at my colourful beans prior to soaking - that's the Gigantes plus the edamame and borlotti from last year).
The rest of the pumpkin I sliced up and have left in our kitchen for my colleagues to take home, I notice that 3 of the chunks have already been taken - I don't want to be taking any back home myself!
That's my fridge, not a work one!
We have one more Jack-of-all-trades pumpkin left at the plot, in the polytunnel if it survives. We've had a lot of rain and the temperature reached -4°during the week so I'm glad I recovered these Jack-Be-Little pumpkins the other day. Ones which were left outside have started to collapse. And that's my last Spaghetti squash.
The broad beans have sprouted either side of the plank (you may just be able to see them). It was nice and warm in the sunshine yesterday, so that should encourage a bit more growth before the weather turns nasty and we'll put some netting over them.
So, a song title... a GREAT version of this song by Kate Bush, provided by Utah Saints - perfect.

Friday, 8 November 2019


Mmm, these were my Gigantes beans marinading to have with dinner. They're so tasty. After soaking them overnight they get huge (I know, the clue's in the name!)
I ate them re-heated with these celeriac 'steaks' for dinner - this was an expensive way to buy celeriac, though the seasoning was nice it wasn't nice enough to warrant the price!
I decided to use the remaining celeriac with chestnut puree to make soup. I ground the cardamom this time, to remove the seeds from their pods. I also added an onion, cumin and lots of pepper.
The soup looked nasty and the cumin overpowered the rest of the flavours, so I still haven't successfully experienced the cardamom flavour....
Oh well, try and try again...
On Wednesday afternoon we visited the soggy plot - we've had a couple of cold nights, as you can see from the state of the beans...
and the begonia!

We pulled our last bag of potatoes - Dido. They look good and slug-free. Apparently they should have a 'floury to waxy texture'.
At the back of the polytunnel I can see that our buddleia and bay leaf cuttings are looking pretty happy. They must have some quite healthy roots in the bottom of their pots - the buddleia will be potted on next year
We were saddened that the crowds weren't so big at the Newbury Racecourse Fireworks this year; hopefully it was the weather that put people off rather than the event, which was excellent. I love fireworks but they're getting such bad press at the moment.
The post title is courtesy of First Aid Kit (hooray, I didn't have to use Katy Perry!). This is a rather  nice song, which I hadn't heard before.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Season of the Witch

I've been cooking, I always feel that's worth a blog entry. Last week I cooked one of our spaghetti squash. We still have two left to eat, they seem to be keeping ok - one at home and one in the polytunnel.
I rather like the spaghetti squash, lots of people don't seem to (including Jamie). I only cooked it for about 40 minutes which left the strands firm rather than going smushy. Then I turned the two halves over, forked the 'spaghetti' strands out, added the chopped nuts, cheese and tomatoes and popped them back into the oven for about 15minutes.
Nothing has happened on the plot apart from rain, rain, rain, although when we visited at the weekend, to pick some more dry-ish Gigantes bean pods and drop off some kitchen waste, we saw that the garlic has sprouted already! The weather must have been just right.
And then on Sunday evening I did some more cooking - just soup this time and I actually used a recipe because I wanted to use the cardamom seeds that my friend gave me (Thanks David) and I used half of one of our medium-sized pumpkins.
I made this delicious pumpkin soup - I have to be honest that I'm not sure the cardamom added much flavour. I put 7 pods in, I will try more another time. I did enjoy it for lunches at work this week and I've been snacking on the roasted pumpkin seeds (with paprika) during the evenings - so more-ish even if they are rather woody!
Halloween Night gave us an opportunity for a bit of fun - I do enjoy a wig :-) And we had bloody beetroot & potato mash with a Stahly's veggie haggis for our Halloween meal - lovely.
Song title courtesy of Donovan - Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 20 October 2019


These pictures are from last weekend's Fire Garden event in Newbury, hosted by the Corn Exchange.
It attracted a good crowd and the live music was great.
Lots of flaming structures and mechanical items spotted round the town centre and along the canal.
We went on Sunday evening as the previous two days had torrential rain, as has much of the last week. We only made it to the plot last weekend to pick a few bits.
The tomato plants in the polytunnel have finally succumbed to blight and Jamie cleared them out yesterday. It's quite nice having a polytunnel that we can get into again, though the ripped cover won't provide us with much protection from wind and rain this Winter!
I actually used some of the borlotti beans that we grew and dried last year. I soaked them overnight and then, after cooking, I marinaded them with soy sauce, smoked paprika and some olive oil. Warmed up with a few tomatoes and some of the Gigantes beans made for a couple of very tasty lunches.
Yesterday was actually a pretty warm day with plenty of sunshine so while Jamie worked (and disturbed a few mouse nests) in the polytunnel I did some planting - Cristo garlic is in the raised bed. We got about 20 cloves from these two bulbs.
And then I planted 3 rows of onions - we bought this mixed pack from Thompson & Morgan.
And I sowed two rows of Aquadulce Claudia broad beans. The rows should be close enough so we can use a net cloche if we get any heavy snow this Winter.
Our leeks alongside are the skinniest on site, so I think we'll be eating baby leeks next Spring at this rate!
Over the last couple of weeks we've been eating Erika potatoes - a really tasty white variety. We need to remember to grow them again next year - they were planted in a bag and had no slug damage or scab. And  yesterday Jamie emptied the bag of Estima potatoes - they look good, but we haven't eaten any yet.
Yesterday evening was our annual skittles challenge between HAHA and the Hungerford Twinning Association. There was a good turnout with plenty of food and raffle prizes included. HTA were hosting this year but HAHA won overall - 3rd year in a row, they need to get some practice in :-)
Right now I'm making butternut soup, with a huge butternut grown by our plot neighbour Kate - there's plenty left. I'm roasting the butternut in small chunks. The onion I fried in butter and have added some garlic, turmeric, cumin and soy sauce along with plenty of pepper. With all those flavours I won't need a stock cube.
Actually, right now I'm eating some of it - delicious! But I've just remembered I'm out for lunch tomorrow. Not to worry it often tastes even better a couple of days later anyway :-)
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown provides us with the songtitle.