Thursday, 11 November 2010

New recipe: Eggs, beans and waffles*

Ingredients (for 1 person):
  • 2 potatoes waffles from Lidl
  • 2 eggs
  • Half a tin of baked beans from Lidl
  • Some olive oil (probably also from Lidl, maybe Sainsburys)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tomato Ketchup (I think we got it from Sainsburys)
  1. Stick the waffles in the toaster on maximum setting
  2. Fry the eggs in olive oil
  3. Heat the beans in a pan
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve the whole lot on a plate with a massive dollop of ketchup on the side

*Because sometimes I just can't be arsed with all this organic permaculture malarky.

Sweet potato bread

This is Jay's recipe for a fabulous gluten-free bread. We haven't grown sweet potatoes yet, just all sorts of normal ones and Jerusalem artchokes, which would probably also work well!

2 large sweet potatoes
200 g soya flour
200 g polenta
200 ml soy milk
4 tbsp olive oil
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
seeds (optional)

Boil potatoes, peel and mash. Blend all main ingredients together, then add seeds, and squish into lined loaf tin and bake about at gas mark 5 (180-200C) for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Serve still warm with butter or an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping mix. Great for gluten free vegans and to posh up a simple soup meal.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Beetroot-oo what you believe in

And in my case that would be cake. We'll be growing a lot more beetroot next year - unlike radishes, it doesn't seem like one can have too much of it - we've had it roasted, boiled, grated and now baked. At larger-scale self sufficient communities they are stored in crates of sand over winter to stop them shrinking - seems to work fine if you can avoid gritty meals upon up-sanding. Anyhow, ours have all long been converted!

Maggie gave us some recipes to start with, and this is what we baked:

Moist chocolate cake with a beetroot pink squidge

By any standard, this cake is divine. Yes, the quantity of beetroot used is the only disappointment in this recipe, but it's amply made up for with chocolate!
300 g beetroot, boiled until tender (~30 minutes)
200 g dark chocolate (75%)
200 g butter
4 tbsp hot water or coffee
140 g flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
5 eggs
180 g sugar

Butter a 20 cm cake tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas4.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, the whisk in the sugar.
Bring a few cm of water to simmer in a small pot and rest a bowl on top to heat. Break the chocolate into the bowl to melt and add the 4 tbsp hot water and the butter in small chunks. Mix briefly when melted, transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool a little. Stir in the egg yolks followed by the beetroot. Then fold in the egg whites and the sieves flower, baking powder and cocoa. Do not over-mix. Bake at 160C for 30-40 minutes until firm around the edge but Still a little wobbly in the middle. This will set as it cools. Serve cold with yoghurt or sour cream. Lovely.

Beetroot and buckwheat seed loaf

David's favourite by far - the first gluten and dairy free cake he actually ate most of!
250 g buckwheat flour
5 level tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200 g brown sugar
180 ml sunflower oil
3 eggs
250 g beetroot
120g seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, poppy)
1/2 lemon juice and zest
50 g dried apricots

Line a loaf tin with baking paper; grease with oil or vegan margerine. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas4. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Beat oil, sugar and egg yolks together. Add the grated beetroot, lemon, chopped apricots and seeds. Mix the dry ingredients and sieve over the mix. Add the egg whites and fold together gently but not too thoroughly until just combined. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes. Leave in switched off oven for a further 15 minutes.

This is a moist fruity tea cake that tastes healthier than it probably is... with the added satisfaction of seedy crunch all the way through! The beetroot almost disappears, leaving just the deep earthy taste of wholefood...

Saturday, 9 October 2010


A long day on the plot, digging, weeding, picking and planning. Followed by dinner with Cate, Malcolm, Hanna, David and Sarah. Mostly home grown. Baked potatoes, sprouting broccoli with lemon and garlic, hot tomato and onion chutney, mixed leaf salad, elderberry and apple chutney. And some highly processed cream cheese from the supermarket for good measure, and to buffer our slow descent into veganism.

We made pie out of our share of Abundance Apples.

Malcolm gets the credit for the pretty stars and moon decoration.

All done! Stuffed. Recipes will follow.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Spanish style tortilla with beetroot leaves

Our beetroots and potatoes are doing incredibly well and we've also some onions coming on a treat. Beetroot leaves are surprisingly pretty nice either in a salad, or used cooked, like spinach. Here's a tasty recipe I cooked up for breakfast today that uses all of them:

  • A large potato or two, diced into small pieces
  • Beetroot leaves, roughly chopped (spinach or chard will also work well)
  • A medium sized onion or two
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Put the diced potato(es) on to boil.
  • Just before the potatoes are ready, add a little olive oil to a hot frying pan and start frying the onions.
  • When the potatoes are ready and the onions are part cooked, add the potatoes to the frying pan. You might also want to add some more olive oil to stop the potatoes sticking.
  • While these are cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl and roughly mix the yolks and whites together.
  • Once the onions look like they're nice and translucent and the potatoes are starting to brown slightly, put them in the bowl with the eggs. The smell should be gently teasing your taste buds by this point.
  • Add the chopped beetroot leaves (or spinach, or chard) to the now empty frying pan, along with a little more olive oil.
  • Cook the leaves till they've reduced and softened a bit and then add them to the bowl with the eggs and potatoes.
  • Season the lot with as much or as little salt and pepper as you like and then mix it all together.
  • Add a little more oil to the frying pan (look, I didn't say this was the diet version, did I?) and then pour in the contents of the bowl. Cover the frying pan with a lid to help it cook all the way through.
  • Once it's getting quite solid and the bottom is nicely browned, you need to turn it over and cook the other side (here comes the clever bit...)
  • Remove the lid and place a large dinner plate over the top of the tortilla. Turn the frying pan over, keeping the plate firmly in place. Then slide the half cooked tortilla back into the pan, uncooked side down.
  • Once the other side is also nicely browned, it's ready to eat.
  • Mmmmmm! Tasty!

The joy of organic gardening is...

The joy of organic gardening is finding a nest of caterpillars in your broccoli after you've just taken a bite.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Courgette, apple & buckwheat cake

We seem to have done plenty of the sowing and picking posts, at the expense of the cooking and eating bits (which surely is the best part of allotment gardening) and, I think, have been guilty of straying into the dark, murky waters of smugness and self congratulations on being such worthy urban allotment warriors. Well, pish to that - I'm interested in being a smug, self congratulating, fat and sated allotment gardener, to which end Sarah has been coming up with incredible ways to use the glut of marrows and courgettes we've been having recently.

Here are the before and after pictures of last night's incredible edible.



Not only is it the about the tastiest cake in the world, it's also gluten-free, dairy free and relatively low GI, as Sarah used agave syrup instead of sugar. It's just about the healthiest cake you'll come across.

I'm not privy to the recipe, however, so I'll have to rely on Sarah to do the honours...

[insert recipe here]

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Blighted confusion!

Someone forgot to tell our tomato plants it's the outdoor plants that are supposed to get tomato blight, not the indoor ones:

Beautiful, healthy outdoor tomatoes.

Sad, dishevelled, blight-ridden indoor tomatoes.


Saturday, 31 July 2010

Photo diary: last seven days at the allotment

Nenya and I had a really productive day last Saturday.

I dug two new beds this week. Just have to figure out what the hell to plant in them now!

The broccoli is coming on a treat.

As are the beetroots - I've got my first baby beetroots from the thinnings and reckon they'll make a lovely salad, grated with olive oil and lemon juice.

I think I'm doing something wrong with the lettuce transplanting. Perhaps the secret is to water them before taking them out of the ground as well as after putting them back in?

This Saturday's haul. Not bad for a chaotic first season, I think. We're now self sufficient for potatoes and lettuce, and check the size of that marrow! (it looks much bigger in real life)

The allotment is a former refuse tip and we're forever finding broken bits of pottery, glass jars, clay pipes and so on. It's pretty nice to find some undamaged examples like these, which I dug up last Saturday.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Four months in...

I forgot to take my camera to the allotment today, but realised I hadn't uploaded these photos from a month ago. When they were taken, the allotment was just starting to come together. We'd made good progress, done loads of fencing, digging and planting, and everything was just starting to bloom and grow. It was very exciting.

Looking at them now, I can see how much it's changed over the past month. From looking nice and neat and fresh, the allotment is now looking a lot more... lived in. The dock and nettles have gotten out of control in parts of the garden, the strawberries are over run with weeds, the massive amount of lettuce we've planted is bolting out of control and parts of the garden we carefully prepared previously are now an impenetrable jungle. We're still digging new beds and can't spend the time we need to maintain what we've already planted. And do you know what...?

I love it!

I said to myself from the beginning that the first year would be a serious learning experience. We had a tonne of work to do and we were bound to make mistakes. None of us had managed an allotment or garden on this scale before and I for one am a real novice. As far as I was concerned, anything edible we managed to get out of the garden was going to be a bonus. According to that measure, we've done staggeringly well.

We might not be able to walk on the path up the middle of the garden because of the rampant potato plant leaves taking it over, but that's okay, because I now have all the gorgeous tasting, beautifully scrumptious potatoes I can possibly eat. Today I picked a courgette the size of my forearm (or at least the size of a six year old child's forearm, but still pretty damned big). When I thinned out the carrots the most incredibly sweet carroty smell was released (from tiny carrots less than half the size of a match stick!) and you just don't get that from super market vegetables. I picked my first baby beetroots today and I've been having home grown sugar snap peas, broad beans and broccoli for breakfast the past few days.

There are definitely things we didn't get right this season and we're nowhere near as productive as we could be, but neither are we too far from being self sufficient for vegetables this month. Next year is going to be amazing!

Friday, 16 July 2010

A gardening comedian - inspired idea

The theidiotgardener made me laugh today. The post starts with:

"I went to a local horticultural event, and realised that I've had more fun allowing my Mexican dentist to rip out my bloody teeth! Now, I accept that for some people, gardening is a competitive sport. I also accept that for a few, it's a high brow past-time to be shared with vicars and dried-up husks of old ladies. However, for the rest of us imbeciles, it's a bloody hobby, something to do between life's drunken escapades and our inevitable deaths.

Thinking about it, when gardening events occur, there's not much in the way of "kick off your shoes and have a beer" entertainment. There's a lot of judging, much pontification, and a generous serving of pomposity, and the general public (that's us lot) turn up, pay the entrance fee, and generally mingle with a mixture of ignorance and expectation. So, what's wrong with also chucking in a bit of light entertainment? What's wrong with a few laughs? Why don't we have ... a gardening comedian?"

and gets a little out of hand further down. Enjoy!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Wabbits revenge

Following on from Sarah's post about catching a baby rabbit in the allotment and releasing it into the field next to the allotment, Cate and I found not one, but two baby bunnies in the allotment on Monday evening.

In contrast to the rather cutsie tone of the previous incident, these bunnies were... how shall I put it...? Um, they were dead. Very dead. They were very, very dead baby bunnies. We found the first severly strangulated by the bird netting covering our peas. Most of it had been eaten. Icky gooey bits were hanging out and Cate had to carefully (and very heroically) cut it free with her pen knife (the bunny that is, not the icky falling out bits, you sick puppy).

Which would have been bad enough if it wasn't for finding another dead baby bunny on the other side of the same pea patch later on that same evening. This one had less bits missing, but was every bit as tangulated and dead as its wee pal.

It's the less cuddly side of allotment gardening I suppose, but what was the motive? Was it jealousy? Revenge? Or perhaps a sickening copycat killing?

*[edit] Sarah thought that the original image of a bunny playing with a hand grenade might offend some of our more sensitive readers, so I replaced it with this one. And if this one isn't quite your cup of tea either, then you might find this link useful.

The lie of the land in June

Everything is growing. Everything. Thistles and all. Here are some pictures. Above, chives, red and green lettuces, jerusalem artichokes in the background, and plenty of weeds.
Cate planting out the new internet-order veg box arrivals. The things you can get on the web these days! Front left the potatoes, to the right the lettuce cold frame. Behind that more lettuce, peas and root vegetables, including the radishes below.
Lettuces and peas - I could have sworn they were planted with enough space inbetween plants, but it seems not! Had better start harvesting every second one soon...
Our first zucchini (courgette) - with a wee bit further to go - and the first nasturtium flower of the year! Which ended up in a salad. Ruthlessly.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


So, this little one - or its mum - made it into our fenced in fortress of an allotment, and was rustling under an empty compost bag that I picked up to see what's under it. It froze, as did I for a split second - then I grabbed it. Cate and I cuddled the poor thing (that's one impressive heart rate!) and released it in the field with the horses. This rabbit removal method beats being shot by the neighbours, just hope it doesn't come back now!

I wonder how you go about harvesting angora... A quick search on the internet produces revealing before-and-after shots:
Now angora self-suffinciency would be lovely, but I don't think I'll be keeping a razor kit in the garden quite yet...

beans and broccoli

High time the brassicas and beans went out - so Carol, Cate and Sarah put in a long evening in sunshine until nearly 11pm. Brassicas were put straight out into limed soil. Purple sprouting broccoli. Yum yum!

Bean trenches were lined with newspaper (a la Emily) and filled with manure and soil mix before planting the beans, two to a pole.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Malcolm's veg box

A very excited Cate rang to say Malcolm's veg box had arrived: an internet-order box of seedlings from rocketgardens. Here are the pictures!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Asparagus and coddled eggs

roots (4)

Cate, Malcolm and Sarah met up today to get Cate's early nantes carrots in. We dug a third roots bed, limed, raked and drilled.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

roots roots roots

David, Nenya and Sarah planned to spend Saturday afternoon at the farm drinking tea, eating cake and doing a bit of sowing. Haha. So here's what actually happened:

Nenya dug up a patch for courgettes and herbs, previously covered by paving slabs. Three toads had to be re-housed in the process!

David prepared two more beds for roots and spread lime. 

Sarah raked it in.

We sowed pronto, detroit and golden beetroot, round, autumn king and early nantes carrot, white and pink rabano, radishes, parsnips, spring onions as well as red and while seed onions. It's really starting to look like we're growing stuff now!