Monday, 6 December 2010

Pumpkin soup

This year was our best pumkin year ever, and so we have had to put our thinking hats on to make sure we use them in new and innovative ways.

This year, I've been making some soups, and so wanted to make Pumpkin Soup. The recipe I used was from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home, the Superb Squash Soup.

What I really like about this are two things:

  1. I grew the whole ingrediants for this from my allotment, window sill and herb garden
  2. It's got chilli in it which gives it a nice bit of kick.
Happy days.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


More Picturesphoto

A selection of this year's pumpkin crop - our best ever year. Now looking for innovative ways to cook them!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cup cakes

For Christmas last year, Simon, Vicky and Imogen got us a whole load of cup-cake goodies. I've had various atempts at icing, never to much success.
So when Amy Lane said that she was running cake decorating classes, I signed up.
After a few fun-filled hours of tuition, here is the result:I'm so pleased!!! Thanks Amy

Pickling beetroot

I like beetroot in my salad/ploughmans. And so, as I grow my own, each year I make a big jar of pickled beetroot. Until now, I've never blogged about it, which is daft as I then check about 3 other sites for recipes and do a mash-up of these and my own style.

So, I grab a big pan-full of smallish beetroot, and boil for 45 mins - 1 hr.

During this time, steralise the jars you're going to store the beetroot in, by washing and drying in the oven.
When the beetroot are cooked, peel (this should be fairly easy as the skin will just come away with your fingers).

Whilst doing this, heat up your vinegar - I use the Sarsons pickling vinegar so that I don't have to worry about spices or any thing.

Slice the beetroot adn add to the jar. Pour over the hot vinegar and put the top on the jar.
Be careful - you'll stain yourself!!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Slow-cooked courgettes on toast

So today is a day for me to try cooking new things with the veg. We had excess courgette, as I forgot to give my mum any when she visited yesterday. So, on the recommendation, I tried the Slow-Cooked Courgette on Toast recipe by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, as per the Guardian website.

So this is very easy, and yes, it does get much sweeter as it cooks down, but probably won't be repeated, too sickly for us . Hey ho, at least we tried.

Beetroot Soup

I've been aware that we haven't posted much about what we do with the delicious produce that we produce. That's because we don't necessarily push our boundaries that often, so what we cook seems obvious to us.

This week, we had quite a lot of beetroot (I picked a load to take to the Alton Allotment Association Show). So decided to make something exciting with them.

I've got the Sarah Raven's Garden Kitchen book, and picked the Roast Beetroot Soup recipe, which I have then amended to fit my own preferences. You might find the book a good (and better) starting place.

So what I cooked is:
Makes about 6 portions

2 large beetroot, scrubbed and leaves off
A few Swiss chard and beetroot leaves, shredded
1.5 litres chicken stock
Dash of Olive Oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 small pototoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A small amount of plain yoghurt


  1. At 180 degrees C, roast the beetroot for 1 hour

  2. Take the shredded chard/beetroot leaves and boil in 500ml of the stock for 5 mins.

  3. In a frying pan, gently fry using the olive oil the shallots, chopped carrots, chopped potatoes and crushed garlic.

  4. Add these to the stock pot, and add the rest of the stock. Simmer for 8 minutes.

  5. Rub the skin off the beetroot and chop up.

  6. Put in a blender together with a small amount of the stock mixture. As you blend, gradually add the rest of the stock mixture. I did this in two batches.

  7. Run the soup through a sieve.

  8. Serve hot with a swirl of plain yoghurt.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Tuesday 31st August 2010 was the 2010 Alton Allotment Association annual show. You may remember last year, the first time I entered, my cabbage came 3rd :)

This year, thought I would try again, but not hopeful as I didn't even have a cabbage to enter! So over the couple of days before the show, I was to be seen picking, cleaning and leaving veg as appropriate, so that I could take it to enter. Here is the produce, ready to go to the show!
During the judging of the show by the Mayor of Alton, we had a quiz. My team 'Lost the Plot' came 2nd (31 1/2 ponts, the team that came first had 32). So I won a small prize for that :D

So after this, it was to go and see the results of the judging, would I have any placements? I already knew I wouldn't win the Longest Runner Bean or Biggest Potato categories, but perhaps something else might get place? Well it did, my courgettes are the 2nd best in Alton :D

Who knows what will happen next year?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Harvest variations

More Picturesphoto

One of the best things about having an allotment is harvesting the fruit and vegatables, the product of the hard work, which starts much earlier in the year, and is sometimes wet and cold.

I have noticed though, despite trying to get a reasonable amount to feed me and G throughout much of the year, it is hard to get the amounts right. One year it may be too much so you grow less the next year, only then to suffer a poor harvest on that. So I thought I would note what has grown well this year and what hasn't. Weather wise it has been an odd year - a very harsh winter, a blazing hot June (duing the World Cup), and then July and August being ok, sometimes storms, sometimes sunny, but never really baking.

What has grown well
Peas (although some failed that were shaded by the spinach)
Lettuce (finally might have cracked this)
Carrots (after an initial failure)

What hasn't grown well
Onions (very small)
Brassicas (not going to be a good cabbage year, cauliflowers failed at the seed level and calabrese and swede aren't doing much either)
Rocket (moth eaten)
Green Beans (already seem to be finished)
Runner Beans (haven't picked any where as near as many as last year)

So the reasons for this? For the failures, perhaps they didn't get on with the weather - the onions I would put in this category). Perhaps not liking the bit of soil they are in - again, the onions are in the clay section of the plot so maybe another factor for them. I didn't manure this year to give the ground a rest so that it doesn't get over fertilised - this is what others do so I'm just following them. Change of type of plant - using a different variety might impact on produce as well.

Will probably never know, and is probably a combination of lots of these factors, will just have to try again next year.

Pickings from today - runner beans, courgette and tomatoes

Sunday, 25 April 2010


More Picturesphoto

This is our first pick of asparagus!!!!

It's been growing on our plot for two years. We inherited a few plants from Skate and Charlie when they gave up their allotment.

Last year, we added an extra 10 plants, so the crop next year will be much bigger, as you have to wait for a couple of years before you can pick, so that I guess the plant has a strong enough root system.

Looking forward to eating this for dinner

Blackbird nest

More Picturesphoto
One of the things we like about the allotment is the wildlife, we've already got slow-worms (or snakes as our nephew Thomas calls them), and we used to have a frog. Well today, we found a blackbird nest, hidden around the back of our compost heap.

Hopefully all will do well, however, it is in a position that if a cat finds it...

Sunday, 3 January 2010


More Picturesphoto

OK, so this isn't from the allotment, but it is me having fun in the kitchen on a day when the ground is frozen and therefore there isn't anything to do at the allotment.

Simon, Vicky and Imogen gave us a whole load of cupcake making goodies for Christmas 2009. This is the first batch