Allotment times. 

  • An early summer mix of rain and heat has been a mixed blessing.  The crops are looking good and we are coming home after a visit to the allotment with some lovely produce. I have grown lots of leafy veg and find it can use this daily in omelette so,  sauces and salads. 

These went into a gorgeous frittatta which was so tasty now my go to quick meal. 

The mixed blessing is that the weeds are as healthy as the crops ūüė£ we are trying valiantly to keep up. I think a full day at the weekend will hopefully make good headway. Luckily the onions are nearly ready to pull up and that large patch will be easier to weed and plant more crops in.

in February I had pruned our red current bushes as read this was the best way to encourage more fruit. Last year I was laughing with debby as I had less than a handful and was a bit heart broken ūüėē.  My lesson! Pruning back hard works well. We can’t keep up with the picking. We have such crops of them I am looking for lots of different recipes.  

It is relaxing work sat taking them off the stalks  sitting in the garden. 

I Have made a lovely red current jelly this week and have 4 large bags in the freezer for jam. My daily picked ones now are going in to making syrup and infused vodka!  

Everyone always laughs at their own glut of courgent especially and I love mine as I manage to get them into every known sauce to man. Lol. Plus the normal fritters which we love. 

This green beauty is a good cropper and I use these in sauces. The yellows one I’m think it would be good for light stews and roasting and we have loads of them. 

A good cropper of strawberries from the allotment where they are growing up through the brick paths have been put towards jam. We didn’t bother with strawbs but they have just grown from previous runners we missed.  It’s been easier to put them in pots at home as I don’t get to the allotment every day. We always grow vegetables in the garden as well as the allotment as a back up and that works well. 

We have gone for corn this year and it seems to be doing well as we have ‘ears’  on each one. ( must update photos ) it’s quite a good size now and am really chuffed with it.  It’s a basic yellow corn as that is my absolute favourite.  I just love this time of year. Cabbage doing well. Lots of chard ready and kale, beetroots are swelling and the squash are ready. ….what more could you want. 

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Allotment spring 

Slowly but surely we are making spring inroads with sorting out each section of the allotment. Pete is digging over part of the allotment that we have not managed to utilise so far. 

This haven for dock leaves was part of a path laid by the previous tenant, so lined with empty rubble sacks, small stones and compacted down. This year dandelions were prevalent and made digging over a difficult task. We are trying to break up the ground and will keep on digging over this year.  

Our greeting this spring was a carpet of dandelion, which we have now removed all apart from two single dandelion living in the mint patch!  I’ve started weeding and digging , starting with the fruit bushes patch, they are absolutely laden this year and will need netting soon to stop the birds and their illustrious mates knocking off with them.  We planted these out last February so this year there is much more fruit than lady summer. We pruned these back hard in February this year and it has had positive results. 



This is the other half, my allotment apprentice, who does not like digging as much as he loves a drill and nails and pieces of wood to play with. He built the fences from pallets so we do encourage him sometimes!  Although the allotment is a bit bare at the moment of writing we have a herb bed, fruit bushes, rhubarb and onions in. We have just planted out our first sowing of green beans as they were a foot high. 

Growing at home for planting out has flourished at home.  We have peas, mange tout, tomatoes, red kale, green kale, cabbages, courgettes, green and yellow. I have done corn, celery, purple broccoli, green broccoli……the list goes on but I have made sure I have covered everything we eat regularly. 


That’s the view in our unseated greenhouse and things are doing well after being potted on.  I love this time of year and just being able to grow things is so therapeutic……so more growing updates soon. 

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Wild garlic pesto

Foraging for wild garlic is one of the joys of spring.  It grows in woods not far from where I live, and the smell as you pass by is amazing especially after the rain.

You can forage responsibly by leaving the roots and taking just as much as you need. I picked about 100 grams which will make a medium jar of lovelinessWP_20170516_007The recipe can be made to your own taste but the basic one is

100 grams of wild garlic, washed

50 grams of Parmesan

50 grams of pine nuts

about 100 MLS of olive oil

salt and pepper

a few chilli flakes if you like

a squeeze of lemon juice.

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pop everything in a jug or deep bowl and whiz !

I used a stick blender as I don’t have a food processor. Keep blitzing until smooth and all the garlic leaves are smooth.

WP_20170516_004At this point you can adjust to your own taste, I added extra Parmesan as I love it. You can add the oil a bit at a time, but ensure you add enough to make the sauce loose in texture.  You need to pop this jar in the fridge. You can use it with pasta, like a traditional pesto, you can add to things like jacket potatoes, as a side to meat or a marinade.  Remember if you keep the jar cold and clean it will last more than a good month.

You can find the full recipe here along with other ideas of things to look for when you’re out and about

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/2017/02/how-to-forage-wild-garlic-and-make-wild-garlic-pesto/

 

 

 

 

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Yorkshire Puddings, the best!

Being a Yorkshire Lass I have a love of the Yorky, for years I would go between home made with the Be-ro recipe, and others, aunt Bessie’s! I then used my Mum’s recipe with more eggs as instructed and loved this. But………… then I watch lots of telly, lots of James Martin, and lots of cooking programmes lol.

So I made my recipe and you can make it according to how many folks you have for dinner that day. I use a normal coffee cup, then there is some left over for the teen child to make pancakes for her breakfast.

One cup of plain flour

pinch of salt

one cup of eggs

one cupof water and milk

Mix the flour and salt, the put the cup of eggs in to flour and whisk like billy ho, trying to smooth the lumps out as you go, and they will go.

This is the  mix without the milk and water in it, nice and full of air.

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Next add a cup of half water and milk, I find if I use all milk it does make a difference to the rise you get. I used fresh farm eggs for this and the yellow is thanks to the gorgeous yellow yolks.

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Once you add the milk and water mix, the colour changes so don’t worry! still full of air and light mixture. I then put the mix in a jug to rest, this can be done a day in advance.

I use muffin tins for the Yorkshires, with vegetable oil, I put the oven on 8 Gas and put a few drops of oil in each muffin shape, apart from the 2 middle ones, they don’t ever get hot enough to develop your Yorkshire properly. JMO.¬† Once the oil is hot and smoking you can pour your mixture in to each one. If you try for about a third full, you will make a light pudding and not a doughy one. I put the muffin pan in the oven and then they usually take about 20 minutes, but I have been known to open the door and turn the tray around, kinda depends on your oven, mine is quite forgiving.

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These beauties are the result, we had 10 and that was enough for us on Easter Sunday, the more folk the bigger the cup!! Enjoy.

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Allotment times

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This was early May and a sad looking allotment waiting for some love, we had even left some canes in over the winter, a bit forlorn and definitely neglected.We planned to get started a bit earlier with weeding this year as we left it far to late last year and as a consequence didn’t get all the growing space we needed.¬†WP_20160417_010

This is our fruit bush bed, we have redcurrants, white currants and blueberries, the difference a couple of weeks has made to this bed is just lovely.

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There are loads of fruit on the bushes, we need to stop the birds from knicking them again after last year!!! we have used some crocheted bunging our friend made us, seems to be doing the trick so far!

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The end of our allotment is our burning bin, I say ours, my other half is known far and wide for his fire starting abilities! The raspberry canes are bare in early May. Last year we must have had about 21lbs of fruit, and as a jam maker it is just brilliant. One of our best crops ever for a little investment from Aldi 2 years ago.WP_20160516_005

Now the mister does not usually weed but we had done about 4 hours this day between us, you can see the amount of weeds in the mint bed, and our cucumber home. On this day I pulled a lot of the mint out as it has taken over, I really want to get the whole bed out to use for veg, so have started a tub of mint from cuttings. I can only say I won’t plant it in a bed again, it is so invasive, but irresistible for the smell. (there is a mint sauce recipe on my blog)

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In early May I started my tomatoes, I decided to do them all from seed this year, and start 3 or 4 varieties, I don’t eat tomatoes! I do however cook a lot with them and use them for jams and chutney’s. Indigo rose intrigues me as it is meant to taste like tomatoes and plums!

these are them in early June, this week. I am pleased with them. untitled

They have been planted on in to tubs and I am for the first time ever keeping some in the green house we had given. I have been told this is the best way, but in my heart a lot of them are going outside as well, we have always had results this way.

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These little beauties are a specific yellow courgette, although every year I have ended up with yellow courgettes from a seed packet of green ones! There were only 8 seeds in the pack and I got seven seedlings which all turned into good growers. Will report on the taste, they are also meant to be prolific croppers! GetAttachment (17)

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Much to my delight we have 7 cucumbers, tiny but there! again this is the first time i have used the green house for this, usually they all go outside and never had a problem getting a great crop! So my market more and crystal lemon cucumbers will be up t’allotment.

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so this is our greenhouse a week ago, I have so very much to plant on and to put up at the allotment, I have peas to go in, and pumpkins, all kinds of squashes. I will update when the allotment is planted up but now……………..digging and weeding for another evening.

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Barter books

Barter books in Alnwick, Northumberland is an oasis of calm, a place to mooch, find a seat and read, or in my case wait. My teen has been going to Barter books for the last 4 years and loves it, she is my pride and joy a book geek. Twice a year when we are on holiday in Beadnell we have to go, and sit and enjoy, then if we haven’t waited enough we have return wait a few days later!!

The thing is about Barter is that the wait is as good as the book selection. You can pull up a chair and watch life go by, pick up a book or your camera and settle in. This is my favourite place to sit, in the snug on a chesterfield sofa, a coffee and a home made chocolate cookie. I love to sit watching these gorgeous lamps swinging in the breeze every time someone walks in, its mesmerising and peaceful despite the huge footfall for the shop.

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Simply the best part of the snug area is you can take your pooch along for the browse, it is a rarity that you can wonder round and have your best canine mate with ya! Even better there are biscuits for dogs on offer as well. You can while away an hour chatting to other folks be they dog lovers or not, finding common ground in Barter is easy and comfortable.

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A bit of history  the book shop is located in part of a superb old Victorian railway station designed by William Bell in 1887. The building is one of remarkable size and grandeur for a small market town. This is because, as seat of the Dukes of Northumberland, an impressive train station was deemed necessary in the 19th century to impress visiting royalty.The branchline, itself, however, was closed in 1968 with the notorious Beeching cuts.(Beeching cuts РWikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Beeching cuts (also Beeching Axe) refer to the reduction of route network and restructuring of the Railways in Great Britain outlined in two reports, The Reshaping of British Railways (1963) and The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes (1965), written by Dr Richard Beeching and published by the British Railways Board.

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The rather wonderful Mr above is posing under the Song of Solomon,
The full reading is worth looking up, its a lovely verse.
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I love spending time looking through the travel books, whiling away a few hours dreaming of planning my adventures, and finding out about the local area to boot!
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The gorgeous centre piece at Christmas next to my favourite indoor chairs, with my teen in the view.
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If you are in Northumberland, this wonderful idyll is so worth a visit, book lovers, people watchers, biscuit eaters, a place for everyone.
The history of the book shop was taken from the website for Barter books and is an easy to navigate site, have a browse of the books, give the shop a ring, they are a brilliant resource for the book lover.
 http://www.barterbooks.co.uk/index.php
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The Old Barn @Esholt Afternoon Tea.

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We bought a living social voucher for this afternoon out, as I don’t often do things like this with my other half, so it was a real treat to do something a bit different for us. Not the usual household cleaning, shopping rush.

The Old Barn is just what is says, a barn, plenty of room, the tables are not to close together, there are comfy sofas to wait until your table is ready, the upstairs is for hire as a party/wedding venue and a fair amount of couples had arranged to be there to have a look on Sunday.

The afternoon tea was with wine, but we asked for a pot of tea instead, and there was no problem topping this up with hot water. Your meal is served on a picnic table, and in summer you can have your afternoon tea outside in a lovely area, we were more after the log fire as it was Feb!

There is so much choice on the picnic table, starting with a delicious cup of hot vegetable soup, which we both enjoyed, served with a cro√Ľton it was a firm favourite.

We then had bucket pie, which was lovely and hot, it was beef and mushroom pie with a puff pastry crust and was just so nice.

bucket pie Although this photo makes it look enormous!  lol. we ate this with a small trowel! part of the experience.

There was a gorgeous chicken and mushroom tart, which was so tasty, the chef manages to put so much punchy taste in these miniatures.

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Forgot to take a photo before we had a bite!

The small pork and apple sandwich with pork crackling was just lovely, I even got my other half’s crackling, I don’t understand non crackling eaters lol.

WP_20160221_012There was devilled eggs, my other half does not like eggs at all so this was a no for him, I had one, but it is mayonnaise, and this is my nemesis so just tasted it, beautifully presented though. devilled eggs

Something I have never tried before and would not have thought would ‘work’ was a small clam shell, with water melon balls, topped with prawn mayonnaise. Work it did, this is actually something I will try to put up at home for a starter in summer. We left that part of our meal for last and used it as a palate cleanser and it worked well. One for the recipe kit.¬†water melon

Puds!!

 

Plenty on the picnic bench to choose from, and my other half’s delight, he is a real sweet tooth chap, I actually gave my fruit scone with jam and cream up for him!!

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A lemon crumble pie was to rich for me but the other half managed 2!! The chef likes sparkles. !

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my favourite pud was the raspberry shot with sparky cherry, I don’t even like cherries but this was good …

you may have guessed I love taking photos and I know they look very close up, but I do love details!

Raspberry shot with fresh raspberries.

I am by no means a milk drinker, and sometimes have to force myself for the sake of the old bones, but this chocolate milk shake, served ice cold was lovely, I had 2 as the OH does deffo not do milkshakes lol. milk shakeWP_20160221_046Mini eclairs were served with this lovely chocolate heart, which was super full of choc flavour!

So I would definitely say go, have a picnic afternoon tea, and enjoy, we will go back soon, we also noticed they do a carvery, which looked wonderful, so may take Mum and Dad out for a meal once her knee is working well again. They are doing Easter meals and Mother’s Day meals which we are thinking about. We noted that dependant on the time of year you visit, the picnic meals change with the seasons.

Just to say our server, a lovely blond young girl, actually shared a sense of humour with the other half, dealt with us beautifully and was there if we needed anything. A fab worker they should be proud of.

I so enjoyed going out to Esholt which is the village where Emmerdale was filmed prior to them building a set at Harewood House. The old Woolpack is just around the corner.

The village has been dealt a terrible hand in the recent floods, the fields and walls are really damaged and look like they will be struggling in the area for months to come.

The old barn at Esholt are on twitter and facebook

 

 

 

 

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Home made mint sauce recipe

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Allotment mint.
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Nothing can beat the taste of home made mint sauce! I have a herb bed on the allotment, and have loads to make into this delish sauce. It’s an absolute wonderful partner to new potatoes, tho as i am not fond of lamb dont know how it partners lol.

Ingredients

bunch of mint
pinch salt
4 tbsp boiling water
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 level tbsp caster sugar

Preparation method
Strip off the mint leaves, sprinkle with salt and chop finely.
Place into a jug, add the sugar and pour over the boiling water, stir and leave to cool.
Stir in the vinegar and taste.
Add more water or vinegar and adjust seasoning to suit your taste.

You can pop this in a jar and keep in the fridge for a week or two.

Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of bbc food website.

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Allotment Diary

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For months and months i have planned to get our first year on the allotment documented, a plethora of things have got in the way, including the allotment!
So finally i have a day to get started. We got our allotment in November 2013, it had not been worked for a long time, and was terribly grown over with grass and weed.
Due to the weather and work we struggled to get a good start, but did get in our paths and our salvaged pallet collars.
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So we went from a field to a field looking like the Somme! We paddled around there for weeks! the Mister putting paths in and a compost pile that had been accumulated over at least a decade, this though filled the majority of our raised beds.
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The start of our flagged path, we rescued a lot of the flags from the area we live in, then went to a reclamation yard for some that had been sourced locally, it was important that as much as we could we got from round and about, even if we paid a small price for some of them.

April 14
The Mister put the path leading down the middle of the plot just for ease, we decided just to have one main path, some pathways made of reclaimed bricks, and some walkways made of rescued pallets, which meant that when we needed to weed, we could just move them and not lose much space.
The intention was to put the bricks between the raised beds, as these would be more of a permanent item.
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The pallet walkways are so easy to put together and for ease are the best form of getting place to place and lifting as you go.
Onion patch full of weeds. June 2014
This photo fills me with dread!! After a week of in May just as the ground should have been ready for planting, I got ill with a chest infection so couldn’t go up to the plot. When we did go up, the onion beds and almost everything else had been taken over by weeds. It took the best part of 2 weeks, every day up there for 4 or 5 hours at a time to get the ground back to how it should be, free for the crops to grow.
This photo is after hours and hours of backbreaking work.
Onions late may 14
The beans, and raspberries all were under seige!
Thought we would never get it done!
The weed man!

We got there!
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Come June/July we had such a fantastic sense of achievement, when we saw our first crops growing and producing.
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Lots and lots and lots of strawberries, such good croppers. This continue until October.
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Our first crop of onions was like magic! my best crop for me of 2014, we use so many onions in our house, so this was our most useful grow.
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Best onions in the world, sweet tasting, fresh!
my first onions 2nd week July 14

One of our other brills sucesses were raspberries, we bought the canes (2nd year) from Aldi and planted them out in the Feb of 2014, amazingly for us, we must have had around 15 lbs of fruit from them, every day when we went up to the plot to work, we worked and then collected, as a jam maker it was so great to use my own produce for my makes.
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As a first year went, we put hundreds of hours in to our plot, it was very much something we did together, which to be honest was the very best part of the adventure.
We continued to harvest until late October, we have had the best onions, cucumbers, yellow courgettes, so many strawberries that they were hard to keep up with.
I have hurt from top to toe and back again, found odd ways to weed to save my body from hell,! spend time with my other half, and tried the best courgette fritters !

We still have a tonne of work to do, part of our plot is stil all hard grass, so that is a priority as it is land we need for crops.

This is our plot a year after we started digging and growing, our winter crops ready to pick were savoy cabbages, kale and herbs, still well worth a trip up to pick and plot again for this year.

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Afternoon Tea with the lovelies.

I was born at Waterton Park in Wakefield, which is now a luxury hotel and wedding venue. My wonderful friend Julie arranged a fab suprise for my recent birthday, she organised for afternoon tea for us in the house.WP_20150320_16_25_40_Pro

As we entered the huge wood double doors, there were two gold men door knockers! One was smiling on the left door and one was grumpy! The staff explained that the smiling one smiled because the door rapper on his head is stuck so no one can use it to knock on the door! the grumpy man has a door rapper that works, and that is the one everyone uses to knock! what a fab story!
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Very grumpy door knocker!
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Afternoon tea consists of delish sandwiches, they are set out on the tray, but you can request different ones if they are not to your taste. I had mini bagels with cream cheese, cucumber and smoked salmon, they were subperb!
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We enjoyed as well, beef and chutney sandwiches which were absolutely beautiful, we did eye up the very last one! who was going to get it.
Spending time with people who want the best for you, and have your interests at heart is a tonic, Julie understands the best and worst of me, and lovely Bev, is always there without fail to offer hugs, virtual or physical!
Enjoying time together is these surrounding was just so good.

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I don’t have a remarkably sweet tooth, however the pistachio macarons were fantastic, I took the small fancies home to the family!

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After our wonderful meal, we took a walk around the grounds of the house, there are some fantastic views, and as I walked around I was listening to my Mum in my head, that’s the room you were born in, that lake is where your uncle came fishing when you were there!!
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A fantastic afternoon with Julie and Bev, and a massive bloomin thank you for treating me Julie, you dont know how much i loved it.

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