Tuesday, 6 November 2007


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I don't think it looks much in the picture, but this is a whole weekends work. We've not taken too many pictures of this area before as it's just been used to park our bikes, but here's one from a couple of weeks ago to compare with. There's a little more work to do to finish it off, mostly involving spreading something rather unpleasant across it.

Next spring, this should become our potato plot for next year. It's quite a large plot so we should get lots of crops in here. This is why I think it doesn't look much in the picture by the way, it looks much smaller than it is, not sure why, maybe it's my shadow? Bear in mind, the side of the shed you can see is 7' long so this bed is easily twice that.

We've both been sleeping very well, we've put a huge amount of physical effort into digging out all the couch grass. There's another reason as well though, there's a great amount of satisfaction to be had from finishing off the majority of our digging work. We have a little more to do on the brassica bed, but I think we're both quietly pleased that next years weeding shouldn't be as back-breaking as this years digging.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Beef stew (& homemade bread)

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So started with the following produce from the allotment:

Carrot, Turnip, Onion

Added some stewing beef (400g), 4 spuds, 1/3 bottle of red wine, 1/2 pint vegetable stock, some garlic, sage and rosemary. Browned off the garlic and onion, then added all the ingredients; brought to the boil on the hob, then put it in the oven (180 degrees) for 3 hrs).

In the meantime, made some brown bread to accompany.

Et viola!


Thursday, 1 November 2007

Let there be light

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This is the latest photo we have taken from the same angle as my most recent blog post "In the beginning". You can see the marked difference between where we started at the beginning of May, and this picture taken half way through October.

Everyone where I work is probably fed up of hearing me go on about how much digging we've done this summer. It almost seems like every weekend we've been out there doing some heavy graft. But, in reality, it's not been like that at all. We took the decision to only partly manage our plot for the summer, so we could reap the benefit of some crops in our first year. Only now is the site starting to take shape as a whole as we look forward towards next season and even more great produce.

I really like looking back through Beth's pictures, but rather than retrospectively blog all of these I'll stop here with the before/after type arrangement and continue on from now. I'm not sure how exciting the pictures will be over the next few months though, as we head into our first winter at the allotment. Here's looking forward to some great veg, and tasty recipies next year!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

G & the butternut squash

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Graham with our sole butternut squash

In the beginning

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While we're only starting out with the blog now, we've been working at our allotment since May 2007. Beth has been taking pictures on her camera phone ever since then so we can see the progress we've made along the way.

This shot, and others Beth took back in the early days show exactly how bad our plot was when we took it over. I'm amazed looking back at this picture just how far we've come in a short space of time. As you can see, we inherited nothing but a load of long grass, and couch grass at that - which is the stuff with really long string-like roots.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Spinach and Ricotta Canelloni

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This is a bit of an experiment, inspired in the most part by Hanan. I'm thinking of starting a blog about our allotment and what we do with the produce, so last night I took pictures of our meal as I was preparing it.

I started off by visiting our plot to pick some spinach leaves, we have a great variety that allows us to continue picking it as it grows, so we can go for the younger tastier leaves! The spinach was heading for the dinner plate in the form of canelloni, much as follows...

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 egg
100g pasta flour (type OO if you can get it)
A good pan full of washed spinach (say a 300g bag if you buy it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tub creamy ricotta cheese
freshly grated parmesan
chilli or chilli powder
1 large tin plum tomatoes
herbs (I recommend basil)

To Cook:
Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 6 (200 C).

Make some pasta (or buy canelloni tubes) with the flour and egg. Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, beat the egg, then fold into the flour. When the mix starts to come together, knead it until it forms a silky smooth ball. Wrap in some cling film and place in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes to cool. Roll the ball into a sheet using your pasta machine.

Make a rich tomato sauce to dress the canelloni tubes. Chop the tomatoes and place in a small pan with some chopped herbs and salt+pepper to taste, you could add a chilli to give it a kick if you want. Put the pan onto heat, reduing the mix down slowly to form a rich, intense tomato sauce.

While the sauce is reducing, heat a little olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and some chilli to taste (you could use a chilli oil instead). When the garlic has softened add a handful of the spinach and allow to wilt, continue adding more spinach until you have wilted it all down, mixing with the garlic and chilli oil as you go. Take off the heat, and allow to cool a little.

Chop the spinach and place in a bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese to form the filling of your canelloni. If you have dried tubes, stuff these with the mix (you can use a pipe bag, or just fingers and spoon). If you have a fresh sheet of pasta, place a line of the mix across the sheet and roll into a tube. Continue stuffing tubes, or rolling until your mix is exhausted.

In a tight fitting oven proof dish, pour a little of the tomato mix on the base. Place the canelloni tubes on the top, then cover with the remaining tomato mix. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with a crunchy green side salad or some garlic bread on the side.