Bit of baking, bit of planting

After I had gone to do our weekly shop I realised I hadn’t picked up any bread. I usually get a harvest grain loaf from the supermarket which has good flavour, but I always feel guilty as we never finish it in one weekend, and by the end of the week its stale and has to be thrown out! So for breakfast I thought I’d get some dough together…

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A small loaf for toasting slices and a few rolls for my lunch during the week (plus they freeze well). This time I followed a kneading technique by Richard Bertinet – different from the usual knuckle and palm of hand method. You make a very sticky dough and really give it a good bashing before first proving. I mean really throw it down on the counter, stretch and fold and then throw again until it’s lovely and pliable. And no longer sticky, just elastic-y! Seemed to take less time and really got a good texture in the bread…

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I’d recommend his book ‘Dough’. I’ve tried the bread and the scone recipes now and I can safely say both are easy to make but with fantastic texture and taste.

Planted some more leafy greens today, for the late summer season. I was tipping the mixed salad leaves into my hand to sow and thought they looked like little sea-smoothed pebbles. What do you think? I liked the effect of their colours against my soil-ingrained hand.

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More Cavolo Nero, Rainbow Chard, Mixed salad leaves, Little Gem lettuce, carrots, radishes, runner beans and spring onions now in today. Fingers crossed the weather holds for a nice autumn crop!

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Hurry up and ripen up!

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I spied these beauties in the garden last night, can’t wait for them to ripen up. There’ll be tomato salads all round; get the mozzarella and basil out! 

Also, massive excitement for me as my squash seems to be getting bigger everyday. I can’t even remember which type of squash it is as the first ones got eaten/squashed so I planted these as a last ditch attempt and they’ve finally done really well. One plant is smaller than the other – they might be different types but the baby plants forming all look the same – yellow and round. I think you’re meant to put the fruits on straw to stop them from rotting where they touch the ground so will look into that as I have no intention of losing them now.

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Must find time to do some more planning for a quick autumn crop and what will over-winter. Maybe a job for the long weekend, that and freezing the last of the blackberries on the garden for a guaranteed autumn full of pies, crumbles and booze experiments.

And finally, Mabel says ‘Hi’. A proper lady as always.

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In full swing…

And so busy with work, garden, and managing to catch some kind of yukky virus that it seems time has flown by and I’ve no time to fit in all the things I want to. I imagined my summer to be full of cordial experiments, baking and being healthy but so far it seems when I just about get one side of life sorted out – seeing family and friends more often, for example – then the balance tips and the rest of the fun and needed elements of everyday life sort of slide by unnoticed. 

But even with the garden suffering from mild neglect we’re getting a few bits and bobs…courgettes and tomatoes abound.

ImageThe chickens are also doing fine – but Sally has gone broody again. I don’t know much about broody chickens or rather, the reasons for it, but possibly something to do with abnormally constant warm temperatures? Anyway she’s happy enough being shunted off the nestbox every morning for a wing stretch and food and drink so we’re not too worried. Even partakes in a snail or two when I go on the hunt…

ImageAnd finally, look what we found in the garden…

ImageA PLUM! On a real, live, plum tree! It’s all overgrown and hidden behind what looks to be a pear tree. Plans are afoot to trim back the undergrowth and in the late Autumn or early Spring we’ll trim it up so it’ll grow back healthier next year.

Oh and one final update. A follow-on from my last post, this is what happened to the first blackberries of the year:

ImageBlackberry and apple crumble, with a twist (home made blackberry brandy, vintage 2012, drizzled on top of the fruit before baking). I can vouchsafe that it was delicious, especially with some fresh custard. 

Next up, deciding what to make with the lb of blackberries now in the freezer; wine, vodka, more pie, jam? Suggestions welcome…

 

 

 

First courgette excitement

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So this was the result of the allotment visit this evening, and I was very excited by it! The first decent size courgette we’ve found so far and a couple of days ago it was tiny like the rest. But with the overnight rain it seems to have gone into overdrive. Very much looking forward to finding a good recipe for it…

Eggs as normal…although shortly after this photo I turned my back and they rolled off the chopping board and cracked. Ooops! That’s breakfast sorted tomorrow then.

I spy with my little eye….more courgettes!

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So we have three thriving courgette plants (and two slightly stunted ones that got planted out too early!) But the three big’uns each have three baby plants developing – 9 courgettes! That’s if I can keep them going and prevent them from being eaten by any bugs, chickens or hungry neighbours! We already had one baby courgette in our homegrown salad the other day and it was so sweet and fresh tasting. Must start thinking of some great recipes to make the most of the fresh ones. 

That’s nasturtium flowers in the background – looking forward to having a few more of them too so I can get some more nice colourful salads on the go!

In other news, we still have no water storage/big containers over in the garden and this week it’s getting a bit unbearable – approx. 55 litres of water carried down from first floor last night and the night before! Mum reckons to get one of those camping water containers that have wheels, now I just have to find one…

First homegrown dinner

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So I came home this evening and ever sensible man had already made dinner (lucky me!). Our first dinner with homegrown produce included: baby courgette, broad beans, peas, Nasturtiums, baby beetroot, kale and chard leaves, radishes, new potatoes and finally soft boiled eggs from the chooks. The roast chicken wasn’t one of ours (or so I’ve been told – I’ll be checking later!) There’s absolutely nothing better than the excitement of having your own food on your plate. And not only that but even a humble soft boiled egg tastes like the best egg you’ve ever had. Fingers crossed the veg starts ripening thick and fast now – I’m impatient for another taste! 

Summer explosion

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I’m not usually one for flowers with no fruit or veg after, but I do like the summery colours you get for a couple of months so we bought some petunias and lobelia in late spring for the front garden and window box, and planted sweetpeas in a pot on the balcony. The last two weeks they’ve been looking stunning – I love opening the curtains to them in the morning, and they make me smile when I spot them on the way home, walking down the street. They brighten everything up!