Sunday, 23 April 2017

Lately on the lottie - April end ...

Mr digandweed and I spent a couple of hours sprucing up the allotment the other day.
I love it when the grass paths are freshly cut.
Everything is looking green and healthy, weeds included!
The plum blossom has gone over now. Last year the plum harvest was a bumper one. Sometimes it seems that the tree takes the following year to recover, so we will wait and see what this year's crop is like.
Lots of beautiful blossom on the apple tree too.
( The beautifully tilled earth beyond the plum tree is our neighbour's plot.)

I planted up a new bed of strawberry plants, as some of the original plants are about 5 years old and didn't fruit very well last year. But I now can't bring myself to pull up the old plants!
I'm also having a bit of an issue with the raspberry canes.
When we planted them about 3 years ago, I had no idea how invasive they would become. 
Despite digging out some of the runners the other week, yet more have appeared. They pop up all over the place, sometimes several feet away from the original canes.
What to do?!
Though they are delicious, I am seriously considering removing them altogether.

This is a busy time of year on the allotment, with seed sowing, planting and weeding to be done
.... and watering. 
So far this year Spring has been very dry and cracks are already appearing in the ground.

I pulled a few sticks of rhubarb to bring home.
And if you have rhubarb, you have to make crumble.

Gooey and crumbly - the perfect comfort food!

The sun is out.
I shall make a cup of tea and sit in the garden awhile.

Happy weekend one and all!


Saturday, 15 April 2017


The weather has been beautiful. New life is everywhere.
The garden is blooming.
and on the allotment, there are buds, blossom and green shoots.

I made a cake for the Easter weekend. You have to have cake at Easter!
Not a chocolate one this year, but a pistachio and rose polenta cake.
It's a fairly straightforward cake to make, packed with pistachios and ground almonds.
I cannot comment on the taste though until we have cut into it and that will have to wait till tomorrow!

We are having a lovely family weekend, with all my little 'chicks' at home here.
Hoping you have good plans too.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter-time.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

April ... and some thoughts past and present.

The month of March seemed to disappear in a flash and here we are in April.

The last few days of March seemed like summer in this corner of the Fens with the temperature reaching an unseasonal 20c on one of the days.
Mr digandweed and I took a trip down to the allotment.
This month marks 6 years of having our allotment and 5 years writing this little blog!
How time flies!
One of the jobs on the lottie  to-do-list was the re-painting of the shed.
It is 6 years since lovely younger daughter first painted it for us and wind and rain had taken its toll.

It seems that at Easter in 2011 when the photo below was originally taken we were also enjoying beautiful weather.

A lot has happened in the intervening years. 
Lovely older daughter got married and now is a mama herself.
Dear younger daughter gained a Masters in occupational therapy and now works with mental health patients.
Last year, of course, was a very worrying time for us with younger daughter's illness but she is recovering extremely well. 
She is back at work full time.  Her beautiful auburn hair is starting to re-grow and it turns out that a short pixie haircut really suits her!

With health and diet still very upper most in my mind and with encouragement from older daughter, I have been experimenting with fermented vegetables.

Why the recent interest in fermented foods?
Well, fermenting as a way of preserving is not new and the process is probably thousands of years old.
But as well as preserving food, lacto-fermentation produces beneficial bacteria or probiotics, which are good for the digestive system and enhance the immune system ... plus fermented foods taste good!
They often have that elusive sour/salty flavour, the so-called fifth flavour - umami.

For more information, I found this article straightforward and informative.

The recipe I followed for Pink Chilli Kraut is from HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY and provides, I think, a simple introduction to the art of fermentation.

Pink Chilli Kraut

recipe from Hemsley and Hemsley

Makes a 1itre jar

1.5 kg red cabbage, finely shredded
3 cloves garlic, sliced
30g root ginger,grated
1 tablespoon sea salt

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and retain for later.
Shred the remaining leaves fairly finely.
Put the cabbage plus the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl and wearing rubber gloves give everything a good squeeze for several minutes.
Leave for a minute or two and then squeeze everything again.
The aim is to produce a good amount of cabbage juice which with the salt should create a good brine.
Pack the mixture into a sterilised jar, pushing it well down until the cabbage is submerged in the brine by at least 2 cm.
If there is not enough brine, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and give the jar a little shake.
Roll up the reserved cabbage leaves and place on top of the cabbage to ensure it remains submerged. This is very important as any exposed cabbage could start to encourage bad bacteria.
Seal the jar with its sterilised lid and leave at room temperature.
After a few days ( mine took about 3 days in a warm kitchen) fermentation should be complete.
Transfer to the fridge and enjoy as a delicious condiment.
Remember to use a clean spoon each time you remove some kraut from the jar so as not to introduce bad bacteria.

I found the kraut quite addictive and a delicious addition to lots of meals, from salads to sandwiches, but one word of warning - if you are not used to eating fermented foods just start with small amounts at a time.
Anymore can result in stomach cramps as I found out to my dismay!

This is just a start on my journey of food fermenting. Has anyone else tried - do tell!

Happy weekend!