Saturday, 22 October 2011

Another passion

Anyone who has read my profile will see that another of my interests is knitting,so now the greenhouse is wrapped up for winter and the nights are drawing in the pins come out.So I thought I would share these socks with you that I have knitted for a friends grandson,he chose them himself!! They are knitted from the toe up-you normally knit socks downwards,they are a Turkish design and have a different pattern on the front and back.I have had a lovely note from him saying he loves them and I loved knitting them so we are all happy.What is everyone else doing along with a bit of gardening still of course?

The dog kept coming in with what looked like red paint on his back -which was puzzling all of us as we dont have anything red.Then the other day I was clearing up underneath the Phytolacca americana(pokeweed) when lo and behold I came out covered in what looked like red paint!This is an amazing plant as it has the most lovely pinkish white flowers from May-June time then these amazing berries this time of year.The one concern is it is very poisnous,now Fletch does not tend to go around the garden eating things but we were a bit worried he would start licking it off his coat.As he likes to lie underneath the plants in this part of the garden I have cut all the berries from low down on one side of the plant.I am sure it will thank me next year and end up growing even more.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lovely suprises

Ok so frost is forcast for most of us this week,I say good-I think this year has been so good in so many ways as alot of things got a proper rest for a change.Dont get me wrong along with most I have really enjoyed this lovely Indian summer,I sat in the garden in my tee-shirt eating fruit sald-I cant believe the size of the second flush of strawberries this year,my last melon,apples,pears,raspberries and all fresh absolutley bliss.
I picked all my remaining tomatoes and made another batch of pasta sauce-ok so I wont have a years supply as we made in Italy but have managed to make 8 jars which I am very proud of.
I have quite a few roses which are still flowering,Golden showers has been flowering since May,I only planted Orange Blush last year and this is its second flush this year,I am sure the scent is better now than earlier in the year or was it just that I was sat next to it eating my fruit salad that I was in this wonderful place thinking is it really october?
Anyway here are some wonderful photos of it sorry scent not attached!
 Just behind the rose I could hear a bee buzzing away obviously trying to make the most of the warmth and trying to stock up for what everyone is predicting to be a cold winter again.He was in this brilliant Aconitum carmichaelii wilsonii group'Spatlese'which with the fantastic low sunlight we have been having looks fantastic

My confused Crinum x powellii is flowering again ,but I think I am going to cut it today and have it in the house as it definetley wont like the cold ,so I think along with my papaver 'Pattys Plum' they will make there way into a vase.

I thought it also best to harvest my Butternut squash ,now last year I grew Avalon which I thought were plenty big enough,but seeing as I got some Harrier seed free I thought I would give it a try.Again I only grew 2 plants as I know they spread and fruit really well.WELL,all I can say I think they were pumpkins not squash!I have not got as many fruit as last year (8) where last year we had 16.But boy this is my biggest weighing in at 2.8kg and the smallest is 1.3kg.

Now we love butternut squash,but there are only 4 of us and with all the best will in the world we cant eat all of this in one go!We roast them in various ways and make soup but has anylone tried them in bread recipes?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Italian Tomato Job!!!!

I have just spent a few days with my bestest buddy who just so happens to live in Italy.She was over in August and was showing me where I was going wrong with my tomato sauce as it always ended up watery,when she just happened to say why dont you come and help us make our sauce?.
Now there was two things wrong with that comment,firstly my husband overheard and secondly I know they make the whole years worth in one go.
So that is how I found myself in 30 degrees,blue skies and generally much better than being in windy blighty.After visiting La Venaria Reale (they are renovating the Palace and gardens) dont be disapointed as we were,the leaflets are all computor generated so they are not as established as they make you beleive.Once established they will be lovely edpecially with the mountains as the backdrop but I think you are probably talking another 5yrs.
Anyway I digress,back to the job I came to do!!!Firstly we set off to a wonderful farmers market where we bought 54kilos of tomatoes,they grow alot of tomatoes themselves but with a busy gift /kitchen hardware shop to run in turin and designing fabric(checkout the pepper on the bag was enormous-and delicious(have bought some seed home with me)
Then they all got washed and dried and left over night (the washing line was very full with tea towels!!

The trick was not to put them too close to the edge of the table as they had a tendency to roll off,once one started that was it and no matter how loud I shouted at them-I tried English and Italian-they did not take much notice!

The next morning the mamouth day I had been warned about started-firstly we top and tailed them and cut any blemishes out,then quartered them.They then went in a pan with a little salt and some washed basil leaves.The trick here is not to stir them,as they come up to the boil you can see water coming up to the surface.This is removed with a spoon and discarded-the trick being knowing when to stop as you dont want to be removing the tomato juice.As we had 54kilos to boil

Each pan once the water was removed was boiled for 40 minutes,occasionally stirring to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.It was then removed from the pan strained and then milled

It is suprising how much more water comes off when you strain it-this was where I was going wrong with my attempts at home!

Again very little is wasted,you keep milling until all you have left is a very dry paste of skin and seeds
It is all bottled after fighting to get the new seals on-there is a knack!Then it all gets sterilised for another 25mins.As you can imagine at home that would not take very long-but to do 54kilos which made 27kilos of pasta sauce-2 kitchens on the go and 4 of us doing it the cooking,bottling and sterilising took us until the evening to compete!


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

More Plum Recipes

The first is a bit of a cheat as I said other than jams and chutneys,but for a really nice jam if you put
100gm elderberries to every
900gm plums
it gives you a really nice jam

Plum Pie
 275g plain flour
75gm cold butter
50g cold trex
2floz water
900gm plums
Grated rind of lemon
1tbsp fresh lemon juice
175g sugar
3tbsp quick cooking tapioca(soaks the juice up)
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp grated nutmeg

Sift flour,add butter and fat and rub until you have coarse breadcrumbs,stir in just enough water to bind.Make 2 balls and wrap and chill in fridge for about 20mins
Roll out and line 9" pie dish
Halve and stone the plums,chop roughly,mix all the filling ingredients then put into pasry case.
Roll out remaining pastry and cover dish remember to pierce top and decorate with any remaining pastry
Brush with milk and bake for 15mins Gas 7,reduce to Gas 4 and bake for a further 30-35mins

Plum & Port Sorbet
900gm red plums stoned and halved
75gm castor sugar
3tbsp water
3tbsp ruby port
Sweet biscuits to serve
Place plums,sugar and water into a saucepan,stir until sugar is dissolved,cover and simmer for 5 mins until fruit is soft
Blend into a puree until smooth,stir in port or wine.
Cool completley then tip into plastic container and freeze until firm around the edges(I usually leave it for 1.5hrs.whisk until smooth again and put back into freezer until solid
Allow to soften slightly at room temperature before serving with sweet biscuits

This is Dahlia 'floorinoor' again given to me by a really nice gardening friend who ordered 5 and did not need that many.Unfortunately hers were killed last winter so I have taken some cuttings,you can take Dahlia cuttings any time of the year.Most say they are best taken early spring when they first emerge

I take them all through the summer by just taking cuttings from the side shoots,try and take them without flower buds,insetr 3 around the edge of a 3" pot in  multi purpose compost,sit the pot in some water for 10 mins and put a bottle over the pot.I tend to use bottles rather than plastic bags as they tend to make too much condensation this time of year and end up collapsing.I use a 1ltr plastic bottle with the bottom cut off,if there is too much codensation in the bottle unscrew the lid.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

summer madness

These are a very few of the very many tomatoes I am picking now,I save all my own seed and from the top they are Purple Ukraine,(originally from The Real Seed catologue-very large and makes great sauce)Legend,(we eat loads of these with mozzarella oil and basil)Crystal Plum(Heritage seed-not so big this year for some reason) and if my memory is working Garden Pearl(Gardening Which trial,very sweet different taste to cherry tomatoes,I grow 4-5 in a hanging basket and eat them like sweets-they are right by the back door!). I have also grown a range of different basil this year,we use basil all year round so I always have a pot on the go but wanted to try something different
Sweet basil-I grow all year round
Greek basil-has a mint after taste to it,really like this one
Purple ruffles-aniseed flavour-my favourite,my only criticismis that its growth is a bit lax
Green ruffles-bitter and my least favourite,much better growth though than purple ruffles
Lime-does as it says very refreshing
Spice-very spicy actually has hairy leaves and looks more like mint
We have had great fun trying them with different foods,some I will let go to seed to save some but I dont think I will bother with green ruffles again
This is Abutilon x Milleri,I took it from a cutting from a plant in Bob Browns garden(Cotswold garden Flowers
He lives in the same village as me and has some fantastic flowers in the garden behind his barn,he had it grown up a wall but I kept mine in a pot last year not able to decide where to put it.I am glad I did as Bob lost his I had taken a couple of cuttings so was able to return him a cutting and gave my other one away to a really good gardening friend.Its growth does seem to be a bit lax in that it breaks on very windy days so I have taken some more cuttings and absolutley love the flowers.This is my favourite shrub,Cercis Canadensis
(Forest Pansy)I love the pea like flowers which come out first then the colour of the leaves which this year are absolutley enourmous!! I had to measure 15cm,it is in a border which has a soak away coming off the shed into it but like everyone else it has not seen much rain this year,I took this photo the other morning when we had just had a shower and the rain was glistening on the leaves like little jewels.
Also like everyone else what to do with the enormous plum harvest other than jam and chutney,so I am going to try and do as many different Plum Recipes as possible.The first one was last night and was Plum Crumble.I can hear you now, that's not different, but it had a very tasty twist.
1lb Plums
4tbsp Dark brown Sugar
2tsp cinnamon
1tbsp water
I put everything into a pan and heated until the plums were soft,I then strained the juice(lovely in my smoothie today)I then stirred in 3tbsp ground almonds
I put everything into a dish and covered with a crumble mixture
5oz flour
3oz sugar
3oz oats
3oz butter
3oz flaked almonds
a few almonds on top for decoration
There certainly was not much left.

Friday, 29 July 2011

 These are Lilium 'Big Brother',it is there second year and the first bloom came out for me on the second day of our village flower festival.I had lots of comments about the size of them,you can see from the fence panel how tall they are and the actual flower size is pretty impressive along with the scent.A friend also bought them and she informed me we were having a bit of a competition to see whose would grow the tallest.I planted mine as a group but she planted hers individually.talking to a lily breeder at the Malvern show she was adviced to feed with tomorite!!! being a really good friend she felt she could not keep this information to herself so I must also confess to using tomorite,on a very adhoc basis though as it tends to live at the top of the garden in the greenhouse.As I said its first bloom came out 10th July and is still going now,it is in a pot  which I move up behind the greenhouses when they have finished for the season.
This is Lilium 'Scheherazade'(orientalxtrumpet) and I just love the color of the stamens as they first come out with the line down them,it does gradually fade,again this is its second season not quite as tall as big brother but still as impressive in its own way.
The poor plum tree 'Victoria' is really struggling this year and another branch has fallen off due to too much fruit.We have taken lots off which is really a is probably about 10 yrs old now,hubby picked some of the first fruit last night along with his first conference pear!We have more toms,courgettes,cucumbers,
radish and beans we know what to do with but absolutley love this time of the year.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Last of the blackcurrants

I picked the last blackcurrants last night and made a lovely coulis with mint in,its divine.
To 8 oz of fruit I add 1tblsp water and 12 mint leaves
Put over a med/low heat and simmer until the fruit explodes
Put through a sieve and add sugar to taste
I had some last night with some melon then have made a smoothie for lunch,with banana ,yoghurt and satsuma it was a really lovely colour.
The blackbirds flew from there next yesterday,the fourth brood we have had in the garden,I went up to collect eggs from the hens and the dog spied one of the chicks sat at the bottom of the yew hedge.I told him leave as being a springer they are intent on bringing birds back to you! the chick had been taught well as he stayed motionless the whole time he was there.I left a few blackcurrants on the bushes for them as they had made it to the top of the garden by the evening.
I sowed some more carrots yesterday and thinned the parsnips out,I also cut the mangetout back so I will get some more pickings later.The salad leaves have gone to seed this year very quickly,the fisrt lot of leaves I had sown I expect to by now but not the second lot.Have sown some more in the hope it wont be too warm-cucumbers-Wautoma has loads of cucumbers on,lucky I have neighbours who enjoy them as well.
This Aeonium Arboreum 'Zwartop' I have planted it in the front garden where the papaver 'Pattys plum' was cut back.with opening the garden for our Walkabout I could not leave a big gap so sunk these in the ground and planted scarlett wallflowers through the.To the right is Nepeta 'Amelia' everyone was commenting about them 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Well the honeycombe is now just crumbs left in the bottom of a tub!-why do they always leave the empty tub and not put it to be washed?Some has made its way to DofE expedition,well it left the house so am presuming it made its way there.
I am aware since starting my blog all I have done is talk about food,so thought I had better change that.Well almost,we had our first parsnips and ruby chard along with our purple carrots-a friend gave me some seed,they were from Sarah Raven-they actually keep there purple colour even after cooking,they are not as sweet as some carrots but have a different-nice taste.The parsnips were lovely,by the end of the season they are sooooo long as we grow them in raised beds but for now they are only 7-8inches long and so sweet.
I also made some hot gooseberry chutney,brain was not fully engaged!I had just lifted the red onoins(red baron) so now have a pink gooseberry chutney! we will have to see in a few weeks when it has chance to mature what it tastes like.Am sure it will be fine-just pink.I have not lifted the white onions yet as the tops had not yellowed off.
It has been a very strange day weather wise,it started so grey and wet that I had to cut some flowers to bring into the house-it is a shame technology is not that advanced that the computor could omit smells,the sweet peas are seed I save every year and resow,the Buddleja is 'Nano' and the Phlox paniculata 'David' I am no flower arranger but just had to have the smell inside as well as out,as I picked them there was some lavender wafting round my feet so I picked that also just to fill in around the edges.I am no photographer either and No.2 son would give me a lecture on how I should have taken the photo but me and my cibersshot are quite happy with the result..
It was so warm and muggy this afternoon but the sky still full with grey cloud I took my waterproof to walk the dog-well this is England,it did end up tied round my waist as it was so warm.The Sweet chestnut has flowers just starting to come out and the tinyest chestnuts just starting to form,there is also a second smaller flush of red poppies along the edge of the newly planted asparagus fields.The skylark - only one brave enough to leave its nest today was competeing with a Whitethroat singing away on the top of the hedge.

Monday, 18 July 2011


I am completely new to all of this and only got into it as my bestest buddy in Italy has got a blog and I had to be able to follow her blogs.So after months of just logging in and checking what she is up to-she designs and is into some yummy fabric designs at the moment.check out have finally taken the bull by the horns and decided to get into this properly.
I have just checked out another site daughterof thesoil and found some really yummy veg growing going on so am going to keep track of that site definetly.
I am into cooking for my hubby and 2teenage hollow legs boys,we have 3 chickens so have plently of eggs and am into making homemade icecream-no I dont have a machine! but yesterday decided to make honeycombe(cinder toffee) which went down very well.I also made meringues as there is always a surplus of egg whites when making icecream,I put some of the honeycombe into the icecream and the rest in a tub,number 2 son thought it would be a very good energy food for his DofE expedition tomorrow but I think no.1 son will have eaten it all before then even though I made him and his dad a big batch of granola bars which were being disposed of before dinner!
I will try and to be good now I have found the time to get going and try to be back soon