Thursday, 3 December 2009
Winter is glorious primordial time of the year on WTA. There's time to rest soil, rest the bones, go inward, contemplate, rejuvenate the soul...and write a Master's thesis! There have been 'gutsy' frosts and snow round these parts (it's snowing as I write this post) and the ground is rock solid. Summer's hard work is still paying dividends in the form of parsnips curly kale, and there's even some good feeds of carrots to be had.
for the Christmas table.WTA managed to provide more than enough parsnips, carrots, Romanescu broccoli, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts pumpkin and runner beans to feed nine at this year's Christmas table. Digging the parsnips and carrots out of the snow was a little problematic but definitely worth it when to came to eating them.
WTA's fresh, 'naturally frozen' sprouts and broccoli
WTA's Crown Prince pumpkins have been a roaring success this year. The Brits have finally caught onto what a eating vegetable pumpkin is (something the Aussies knew yor years!). I've come up with the following recipe for a brilliant Thai-style pumpkin soup I've been enjoying over the last month so. So here it is...
WTA's Best Thai Pumpkin Soup.
1kg of raw pumpkin (peeled)
1tbsp of Thai fish sauce.
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (grated)
1 tbsp Schwartz Fragrant Thai Hot crushed curry spices
3 tbsps Schwartz 'Cook art' green chili, lemongrass & cardamom spice blend
2 medium red onions
1 litre of light coconut milk
1 litre of vegetable or chicken stockMethod
Preheat oven to about 190 degrees c.
Peel the pumpkin and cut into small chunks. Cut the onions into quarters. Place pumpkin and onions in a baking tray and coat with couple of glugs of olive or rapeseed/canola oil. Sprinkle all the spices over the pumpkin and onion Place tray in the oven and bake pumpkin and onions until both are beginning to soften.
Remove baked pumpkins and onions from oven when soft. Transfer to large heavy-based pot. Add chicken stock and simmer on cook top for half an hour. Liquidise stock, pumpkin and onion mixture. Slowly stir in coconut milk and grated fresh ginger. Add fish sauce. Season with sea salt or freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve garnished with basil or corriander leaves.
Steve's 'Acid Fried Blues'
The dark evenings have also given me time to catch with some of the music that inspires my depth psychology and gardening. Western Australian Steve Tallis - http://www.stevetallis.com/ - is one such musician whose music has been feeding me over the dark months. Steve is playing around Paris right now and is definitely worth seeing play if you're in that neck of the woods or indeed anywhere the man happens to performing his 'acid fried blues'.
Listen and grow well!
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Visitors and noteable absences
I as wondering where my mate Johnny Bridgmeister had got to after long noteable absence from WTA this year. I was a little perplexed by his no-shows until but finally got a letter from one of his 'handlers' - one Howard Bigot Johnson this week informing me that Johnny was too busy to help out with weeding due to his commitments to contributing to one http://www.bizarrebridgeworld.blogspot.com/ which has had now taken on the mantle of the blogosphere's NO.1 satirical bridge playing sites!Old Sleningford farm
Went one of my annual off-allotment forays into the North Yorkshire wilds today with Mart the Chief of Staff, Author Jan and the Hearing Scientist today and visited the folks at Old Sleningford farm (see WTA links)to press my own apple/cider juic gathered from apples from Annie's place adjoining WTA. The Sleningford farm crew are a brilliant lot and have set up community apple juice pressing operation that is inspirational in it's social vision and community inclusivity. We maged to get about 18 litres of the most fragrant and luscious apple juice from the 37 kgs we brought with us. The hearing scientist brought along some apple wine we made last year which was generally considered a rather ribald little number, so much so I have been asked to up the apple wine recipe we used by one particularly keen punter of Norther origin. At this stage I must acknowledge the apple wine recipe's source which comes from the legendary C. J. J. Berry's First Steps in Wine Making (Standard Press -Andover).
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
This vegetable show virgin got so excited that he ended up actually arriving at the village hall sans produce and cake a day before the event and had to return home and keep his veg as pristine and fresh as possible until the next day. I had to admit I was totally sucked in by the whole event, running around WTA at 7am in the morning looking for the best examples of courgettes, carrots, salsify, broccoli that I could find. Pre-show preparation involved carefully washing and drying my entries, deciding how `i would display them and then of course making my 'Favourite Cake' entry - which took two attempts! The irony of the whole affair wasn't lost on me as I made my show perapratiions while 'listening' on an episode of The Archers on BBC radio 4 in which the characters where doing the same thing? me thinks ' old foggeydom' could be closer that I think!
In the end WTA took out the following categories:
- Box of seasonal vegetables - 6 varieties. (Pic above)
- Onions (Button's Show Stoppers)
- Courgettes (Soliel)
The hearing scientist's runner beans (White ladies) (pic above) from the kitchen garden impressed the judges and also picked up first prize in their class - something we know Norm the Vet and Captain Ken would have been proud of! Many thanks must go to the hearing scientist for properly making the onions suitable for show by tying raffia around their stalks and then using some dynamic arranging skills to organise the box of veg.
WTA's success even tore Johnny Bridgmeister away from writing now his highly influential Bizarre World of Bridge blog and had him phoning for updates for on how WTA had fared at the hands of the judges. In the end however It was great and a privilege to just be a part of what I reckon is an vital and important part of English country cultural life. The word's of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem 'If' :
And treat those two impostors just the same...
were also enough to help me take a valuable check on the old ego. In the end it's about getting the hands in the earth and staying grounded! Talking of which, my over wintering onion sets and garlic (purple wight) arrived last week and I've arrived home today to find two small boxes of live 'spring greens' seedlings (Mr Fothergills) I ordered a little while back. Author Jan and Mart the chief of staff are also scheduled for a visit soon so I'm keen to have the 'autumn plot' well and truelly in and starting to grow before their arrival.
Show and grow well!
Thursday, 10 September 2009
For the crumble topping
1 cup olive oil
3 cups whole grain rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
To make the crumble topping, combine flower, oats and nuts. Add the olive oil and stir until the mixture begins to form into thick clusters. Spread evenly, on top of apple and blackberry mixture. Bake in an 180C oven for 45 minutes or until topping is lightly brown. Serve hot or allow to cool overnight for a fabulous rustic breakfast.
Digging in the Dirt
Harvesting the last crop of onions for the year has left some space on the upper bed. After digging over the bed I sowed 120 over wintering broad beans (The Sutton) and then sowed another 40 in an adjacent bed which has been left fallow over summer. The Sutton is a shorter variety and supposedly less susceptible to being blown over by winds.
With next year's onion crop in mind , I'm experimenting with growing some of my crop from seed instead of just using sets and have sown about 120 Senshyu Semi-Glob Yellow Onions (Suttons Seeds) in cellular seed trays. The success of the cauliflower crops has also prompted me to sow about 50 'Snowball' cauli's (Suttons Seeds) in individual seed cells. The latest dry spell has left my beans needed some additional watering.
Chickpeas with Pumpkin, Lemon Grass and Coriander
2 tbsp ground nut oil (I used virgin olive oil)
Well done the Rossdorf crew!
Thursday, 27 August 2009
The English bank holiday weekend is like a gigantic signpost pointing toward autumn for me. It's a great time of the year - as is each of the transitional cusps between seasons. WTA is looking fine, although there are odd gaps of bare earth beginning to show where crops have been harvested and autumn seeds sown. The last of the cauliflowers were picked today and it won't be long before the second broad bean sowing will have had its day, stripped of any remaining pods and pulled out. It's gratifying to grow your own but it comes as a bit of shock when you realise how quickly some things get used and the gaps they leave. It's always later than I think on WTA! Still, WTA's pumpkins are pulsating and continue to grow and set fruit unabated. The rough ball onion seeds planted a few weeks ago are beginning to raise their heads above ground.
Thai Cauliflower a la Hom
1 medium cauliflower head divided into small florets
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
6 crushed garlic cloves
1or 2 medium red chillies seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of finely shredded spring onions (or one finely cut small red onion)
1 tablespoon of lemon grass paste
2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil or coriander
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 teaspoon of palm or caster sugar
1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sesame sesame oil.
Heat up your wok or large frying pan until extremely hot. Gently pour in the vegetable oil. When the oil starts to smoke, toss in the chili, garlic, spring onions and lemon grass paste, moving them quickly around the pan for about 30 seconds. Toss in the cauliflower and stir fry for 1 minute. Add your basil or coriander, soy sauce, sugar turmeric water and fish sauce. Reduce the heat of your cooker, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in the sesame oil and sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve immediately.
- Garlic Vallelado (Chase Organics)
- Winter Cress (Chase Organics)
- White Lisbon winter hardy (Chase organics)
- Radar Onion sets (Chase organics)
- Early purple wight garlic (Thompson and Morgan)
Whats going in...
Kale seedlings - Calvanero
Winter Broad Beans (the Sutton)What's gone in...
Onions - white Lisbon.
Browsing through a magazine, which claims to be the "UK's No1 for allotment holders" I came across a column by one Edwin Oxlade, in which Ed bemoans the fact that the "Popular Media" have "lost sight of what kitchen gardeners and prospective kitchen gardeners are really into" and in doing so "have put superficial short-lived appeal before reality". Ed goes onto claim much of the media coverage of growing-your-own is no more than "self indulgent lifestyle froth". I'm no fan of the popular media, but Ed's assertion knows what all kitchen gardeners are "really into" seems rather grandiose. And even if the media's preoccupation about writing on growing your own is self indulgent "lifestyle froth" (another subjective generalisation made by Ed), by my reckoning if it attracts more people to experience or at least try to experience veg gardening then it's fine by me! Short-lived or long-lived the experience of growing-your-own is just that, an experience!
Sunday, 23 August 2009
WTA's first cucumber!
Saturday saw the last of the Parmex carrots and some of the first broad bean planting being pulled out and the ground they were in turned. Both have produced excellent crops and will be definite starters next year. The broad beans were a particular revelation, and I plant to try and double the amount of plants I had this year - broad bean bruschetta has me in its grip!
The carrots below were pulled yesterday and needing a quick salad for dinner, I came up with the following 'recipe'...
1.5 tblspns Sesame oil
Grate three to four largish carrots into a bowl. Add one and a half tablespoons of sesame oil and mix through the grated carrot. Sprinkle with two table spoons of black sesame seeds. Mix the black sesame seeds into the carrot and sesame seed oil.