Saturday, 28 November 2015

Tiger Tiger...

What a horrible day! We should have got to the plot earlier; by the time we got there it was already starting to spit and when we left it was raining hard and blowing cold sharp gusts if wind. Ugh, lucky I had my new German navy parka to keep me warm and dry! (What a bargain from GoArmy - it's such a great coat I feel a bit bad getting it dirty, but I did specifically buy it for the allotment).
Anyway, this is an allotment blog, not a fashion blog :-) but this explains why we ventured out on such an awful late-November day... We had to harvest our tiger nuts (Chufa, to the spanish).
We were pleased to see that some of the tubers (they aren't nuts) had reached a reasonable size and there were some nice clumps of them around some of the stems - they seemed to be better around the edge of the pot, unless they were just easier to see.
We got a pretty good amount - hopefully enough to make our own Horchata de chufa, a lovely sweet milky-type drink which we drink in Tenerife and is very popular in Valencia
They're also quite nice raw, as a snack. They taste very much like hazelnuts but it's tricky getting all the dirt off.
Looks like a tiny spud or bug!
The grassy plant was attractive throughout the year and would be good for a bog garden, as it needs to stay wet all the time, although rather invasive which is why we grew it in a pot.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Chilly Chillis and Eskimo Carrots

Look at that sad little plant.
The temperature went down to -4.8° in the greenhouse overnight marking the end of the chilli plant and the tomatillos.
It's been a cold weekend; not one for working on the plot but I wanted some carrots for soup so we wandered up this afternoon. The sun just peeped out for a short while, but didn't hang round and neither did we!
I pulled a couple of the Eskimo carrots - one of these weighs 500g, so I only need two for 3 days of soup! And we saved some of the red chillis - they aren't very hot but will add a little spice. Clearly Wilkos had labelled the plant wrong, which I'm quite happy with, as I couldn't have eaten them if they were too hot.
The sprout stems have been blown sideways by the recent storms but the sprouts are looking firm and have plumped up nicely over the last month.
The birds were active on the allotment today. The magpie family are ever-present and were having a stand-off with one of the kestrels before they took to the sky for a dogfight.
The kestrel chasing the magpie off

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Pumpkin is not just for Halloween...

... particularly if you grow 6 plants and one of you doesn't like them!
So, I've been lunching on pumpkin soup and pumpkin seeds for a couple of weeks now and am just using the last one to make another batch of soup.
I've used a Thai stir fry paste rather than buying the individual ingredients - it's more economical and easier. Last week's soup included a little can of coconut cream which made the soup extra fragrant. This week I'm roasting the pumpkin with garlic first to ensure the pumpkin flavour gets through the spice.
The rest of the pumpkins haven't gone to waste; I've taken chunks into work for friends and I've also had some roasted as part of a meal, oh, and the bugs and beasties have been enjoying the remains on the plot!

Jack-o-Lanterns rotting away on Plot 3
One pumpkin stored in the greenhouse went rotten because there was a leak directly above it :-( As have a few of the big onions and lots of the silverskin onions started to re-grow because the weather has been so wet and mild. The greenhouse isn't as good for storage as we'd hoped, but we may just need to organise it a bit better...
Pumpkin, squash, onion and garlic
We had a few hours on the plot today - the first dry(ish) day for a couple of weeks. We cleared the runner beans and most of the greenhouse. The pepper is back in the greenhouse and the peppers are finally going red!
We planted up two tubs with layered bulbs for Spring - crocus, narcissus and tulips; topped off with some viola for a bit of Winter colour before the bulbs emerge.
The bulbs should flower at different times to provide some early season colour on the plot next year. Well, that's the plan!
Mmm, the soup was ready before I finished writing this, so I had a bowlful - very tasty, I'm quite glad when Jamie doesn't like my soups :-)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Hallowe'en Feasting

So the pumpkins had their big day yesterday! We gave some to friends and family and we used three for our Halloween activities. We still have a couple left in the greenhouse which I think will be soup (I'm keen on making a thai-style one).
We carved these two during the day and I roasted some more of the seeds - not all of them we'd never get through that many. They're so tasty roasted in a little oil and seasoning, I also added a little turmeric.
I read about taking the hulls off and using the inner kernel like sunflower seeds. The idea of breaking the outer shell beforehand was entirely unsuccessful, so i just boiled them as they were. The hulls didn't slip off easily - in fact it was a real pain and took ages, so I'll stick with the roasting whole method in future!
Our Halloween meal consisted of a starter of purple carrot soup (flavoured with a bouquet garni). And accompanied by cool star-shaped toast.The main was Cornells Delicata squash roasted in rings and filled with chilli Quorn mince.
The allotment site had one Pumpkin Jack as protection against the night's ghouls.

Jamie and I went for a midnight meander and it seemed to be doing its job - no trouble on site apart from two slightly tipsy plotholders ;-)