Bryony's Blog

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!

(26/11/11)

May we introduce you to Little, Bo and Peep arrived today fresh from market. I don't think they'll be any trouble at all...

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WINTER VEG UPDATE

(22/11/11)

FRESH 'CHIVES'

Although the nights have drawn in there are still one or two things you can do to give you tasty bits and pieces for the kitchen.

Our chives have collapsed in the herb bed and since we love the fresh, green, onion taste in virtually everything the way to continue enjoying this flavour during the winter take five minutes to do the following:

Take a small flowerpot, fill it with ordinary soil or compost and snuggle as many shallots as you can on top. Bury them half way - it doesn't matter if they touch each other. Give them a little water, stand the pot on a saucer and place in a sunny window or greenhouse. In a week or so the shallots will begin to sprout green shoots and when these are long enough (about 1" or so) snip them off with scissors and add them to scrambled eggs, sprinkle on soup or sliced tomatoes. These little bulbs will continue to give you a good supply for at least a couple of weeks.

In order to keep a constant source, a week after you have potted one lot, prepare another to take over to have a continuous supply.. When the shallots have exhausted themselves tip everything into your compost bin.

SALAD LEAVES

For those of you who read my blog you may remember when I couldn't garden because of my knee op, in order to cut corners I bought trays of growing cut-and-come-again salad leaves from the supermarket. I split the young seedlings into small clumps and planted them directly into the raised beds. They were a huge success and matured in no time, giving us plenty of salad leaves for weeks and those left to mature hearted up very well.

When Mike cleared the tomatoes from the greenhouse the bare earth begged to be used so I bought some more growing mixed salad leaves and planted these where the tomatoes had been. A week later they are still looking fairly miserable but on closer inspection there are signs of life and the little plants are beginning to settle in and grow. With any luck we shall have plenty of lettuce for Christmas!

If you don't have soil in your greenhouse, only a concrete floor, you can still do this using either old growbags or seed trays filled with compost.

THANK GOODNESS WE HAVE A GUARD DOG ON DUTY!

(19/11/11)

Our neighbouring farmer has recently put his flock of sheep in the field opposite us yesterday they all congregated by the entrance and Charlie woofed so loudly they heard him through the double glazing and ran off!

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WINTER SALAD

It's amazing what we can still pick in the garden. Today's lunch was the following salad:

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the creamy coloured, inner leaves of a scarole
inner leaves of a purple raddichio, washed thoroughly and torn into smaller pieces
freshly cooked beetroot, peeled, sliced and doused with a splash of red wine vinegar
small, round goat's cheese, cut into pieces
basil leaves
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped very finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
small teaspoon of Dijon mustard
juice of lemon
tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Start by scattering your salad leaves onto a platter, top up with the beetroot, goat's cheese and onion.
Pour over the vinaigrette dressing made from the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard) and decorate with torn basil leaves. Serve with crispy French bread.

WINTER PUDDING TIME!

(18/11/11)

CRUNCHY, OATY, FRUITY CRUMBLE

large cup of frozen or fresh gooseberries
large cup of fresh or frozen blackcurrants
large cup of fresh or frozen red fruits: strawberries or raspberries
white and demerara sugars
jumbo porridge oats
wholemeal flour
butter

The whole point of this pudding is not to worry about exact quantities. The above amount will happily feed 3-4 people.

Begin by scattering the fruit into a shallow gratin/baking dish. Sprinkle over some white sugar to taste taking into account that blackcurrants are more sour than raspberries.

In another bowl tip in a cup of porridge oats, almost as much flour and a slice of butter about 1-2 ozs. Mix together with your fingertips. The porridge will prevent the butter from forming a crumb-like mixture and it will inevitably be lumpy, but don't worry this sorts itself out during cooking. Add a couple of tablespoons of demerara sugar, stir and spoon over the raw fruit.

Bake in a hot oven until bubbling and golden brown.

GREEN SOUP

(18/11/11)

This really brings out the flavour of the asparagus but with subtle undertones from the other vegetables.

1 bunch of asparagus
1 large leek
1 potato
1 large stick of celery
clove of garlic
1 pint chicken stock
milk
a little butter or oil
salt and pepper

Wash the asparagus and bend the end of the stalk until you find the spot where it snaps off. Throw this bit away, cut off the tips (about 2'' ) to cook separately, and slice the remaining stalks.

Wash the leek and celery and slice finely. Peel and chop the garlic and potato.

Heat the butter (a dessertspoon) or oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables. Allow them to sweat for five minutes and then add the chicken stock. Stir, cover and simmer until everything is soft.

Cook the asparagus tips in a small pan with a little water but keep a little 'bite'. Don't drain add the tips with the cooking juice to the soup before serving.

Blitz until smooth, add a good cupful of milk, blitz again and check for seasoning. If you are using a stock cube there will probably be enough salt.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of chopped chives and a swirl of cream.

It's been ages...but I am still alive - and kicking!!

(12/11/11)

I have no idea where the time has gone - we are now well into November and I haven't updated my blog for what seems weeks. The days have been a blur shrouded in autumnal mist...Please forgive me!

Dear friends Karl and David dropped in yesterday bearing gifts, as ever. Namely a splendid retro alarm clock for the shepherd's hut to set in case I zizzzzz off and forget what time it is! It will sit perfectly with the other gifts we have been given from so many people, which is lovely.

Karl also gave us a jar of his sun dried tomatoes, along with the recipe. I made some today and they look gorgeous piled up inside a sparkling storage jar along with lemon slices, garlic (from the garden) and bay leaves (ditto). I made a light lunch for the two of us using his.

I cooked a nearly empty packet of shell shaped pasta in some boiling water.

Having raided the fridge, in another pan in which I had added some olive oil, I threw together the white bits of some spring onions, sliced in half, one small courgette cut into tiny chunks, a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed, half a dozen of Karl's sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped and some basil leaves. I let these stew gently for about ten minutes and then added a good squirt of concentrated tomato puree, a splosh of water and salt and pepper. By the time it had bubbled away for a few minutes the pasta was cooked al dente, which I drained and mixed in with the vegetable sauce. A good sprinkling of grated parmesan and, bingo! Lunch in under twenty minutes!