Kitchen Garden Photos & A Christmas Chutney Recipe

I thought I would start my blog post by showing you a wonderful sand sculpture I came across this week outside the ‘Richard III’ visitors centre in Leicester.  Apparently it took a lady called Susanne Ruseler just seven days to create it…..what a talented lady!  I think it is wonderful and I found it purely by accident as I walked past:

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This week in my kitchen garden:

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This week I turned my attention to sowing some winter seeds.

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I sowed mizuna, winter lettuce, winter purslane, winter spring onions and corn salad.  I am a tiny bit late sowing these seeds, but hopefully they will be fine.

At the moment they are in my mini greenhouse, as I am trying desperately to keep the squirrels from them.  The squirrels are becoming a nuisence in my garden at the moment, as they keep digging holes to bury the monkey nuts that one of my neighbours insists on feeding them….it also sends Judy (my rescue dog) into a mad barking session each time they come in the garden, so I really need to think about this problem and come up with a solution.

But for now I have used some chicken wire to try and keep them away from my seeds:

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Also this week I noticed the ’60 day’ raab that I sowed three weeks ago was ready to ‘thin out’.  I used scissors as normal to cut away the seedlings that I didn’t want (this stops any root disturbance for the remaining seedlings).  I will need to thin them again at a later date, but for now I left plenty of them in case the slugs and snails decide to have a feast on some of them:

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I have continued to harvest runner beans, tomatoes, beetroot, salads, spring onions and curly kale this week too:

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….And I noticed that my sweetcorn has really had a growth spurt and will soon be ready too:

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“Sweetcorn is ready to pick when the tassels at the end of the cobs turn brown and when you press your nail into a kernel the liquid comes out is milky”

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The phacelia that a sowed a few weeks ago is growing nicely now.  I won’t thin the seedlings out as it is a green manure that I want to grow thickly to keep the weeds from germinating:

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I will chop down the phacelia before it sets seed and then dig it into the soil to add nutrients ready for next year’s crops.

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The rest of the kitchen garden is doing well too and I thought I would be nice to show you some photos that I took this week:

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This week in the home…

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This week has been a very busy week here in my kitchen:

I started by making some more dishwasher liquid as I had ran out.  I make it using soapnuts and it works really well in our dishwasher and it is really easy to make:

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I also made a big portion of spaghetti bolognaise.  We had some for tea and then I managed to freeze four portions.  I always ‘pad out’ my spaghetti bolognaises with whatever vegetables I have to hand, so this one had carrot, runner beans and curly kale included in it.  I find the portions go further if I mix the spaghetti (or pasta) in with the sauce rather than layering the sauce on top:

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I then had a freezer disaster to sort out:

I don’t know if you remember, but a couple of weeks ago our small chest freezer broke and myself and my daughter had a mamouth cooking session to save the large quantity of vegetables that were in this freezer.

Unfortunately this week I had another ‘freezer disaster’…. the door of one of my other freezers was left open by accident.  Luckily again, there was no meat in this freezer as it was mainly full of allotment fruit, homemade cakes, scones and my bread rolls for the week ahead.

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I had been waiting for a spare few hours to make jams with the fruit that was left in my freezer, ready for my Christmas hampers, however this forced me to make them now instead of later.  So I spent a couple of days cooking yellow plum jam, gooseberry jam, strawberry jam and finally some plum and worcesterberry jelly….

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On the positive side, nothing was wasted again and this has created a lot more room in my second freezer, though I am sad to say I now have no fruit or vegetables left from my old allotments……so I must work out how to grow even more fruit and vegetables in my new kitchen garden next year!

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Beetroot from my new kittchen garden:

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This week I also wanted to use up the beetroot and apples that I was given last week (together with my own beetroot), so I made some beetroot chutney:

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……And I also wanted to use the remaining plums that I was given last week, so I made some ‘Christmas Chutney’ which uses cranberries and plums and a few lovely ‘christmas’ spices.  I have written the recipe below if anyone is interested.

  We will use some of the preserves that I have made, but a lot of them will be given at Christmas in the hampers that I make.

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Christmas Chutney With Cranberries & Plums

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500 grams courgettes chopped

500 grams plums halved with stones removed

400 grams granulated sugar

300 grams dried cranberries

600ml white wine vinegar

2 onions chopped small

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp salt

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Add all the ingredients except the sugar to a large pan and bring it to the boil stirring all the time. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved and then simmer for a couple of hours or so, until the chutney is thick and chutney like.

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Pour the chutney into sterilised jars and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of three months to mature.

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Then enjoy it with cold meats and sandwiches at Christmas!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a good week!

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23 thoughts on “Kitchen Garden Photos & A Christmas Chutney Recipe

  1. I like your idea of growing tomatoes just outside your greenhouse. I will do that next year as well as growing them inside. The sweetest small tomatoes I’ve grown this year are called sungold.

  2. I have lots of beetroot ready too so I shall try your chutney recipe. My tomatoes are still quite green despite the old trick of putting a ripe banana in the greenhouse with them? Any tips to help ripen them please?

  3. That chutney looks delicious. It’s actually got me thinking about Christmas. I love that sand sculpture too – very impressive. It’s a shame that you are plagued by squirrels – I hope they stay off your seedlings.

  4. With this peculiar weather I’m wondering if my sweetcorn is ever going to ripen. The silks have gone brown but the kernels are still white. If they take much longer the squrrels/rats or whatever it was that got them last year will discover them again. Hey ho. Lovely chutney recipe and a neighbour has offered me some plums and of course I have no shortage of courgette!

    • Hi Mike and thank you for reading my blog. Yes the weather isn’t normal anymore is it…..a lot of people at my old allotment site had problems with their sweetcorn last year due to badgers distroying it….hopefully I will escape that in my small back garden lol. Plums are great this year aren’t they

  5. What a beautiful sculpture that is! Amazing. I read your chutney recipe – does it really come to a boil, without any water or liquid in it? Are the juices of the fruits enough to boil it? Chutney sounds nice – it’s not something we are used to. I’ll keep it in mind.

    Do you keep your greenhouse up all winter? The plastic cover doesn’t suffer from the cold? Judy looks cute near the tomatoes. 🙂

    • Hi Lisa, I had to re read my recipe as I thought I must have left the liquid out lol, but no the white wine vinegar is all the liquid you need and it tastes lovely (even before it matures). I have left my mini greenhouse out a few times during the winter and it has always been ok (provided it is weighed down incase it is windy), however I have never had a cover where the zip doesn’t break within a couple of years any way so I have had to buy new covers for this reason

  6. Your garden really does look lovely. It’s amazing what you have done. Like another reader has said, Nudy looks sweet next to the tomatoes!
    Best wishes,
    Angela ( Devon)

  7. Great idea to thin out using scissors. I will try the in future.

    I’m amazed by the size of the runner bean plants! Am about to die some winter vegetables myself, so let’s hope for an Indian summer.

  8. What great photos from the kitchen garden, you have done so well, we have been away a week and hoped on returning we may have some red tomatoes, no still green, not been a good year as many round here have the same problem. The cucumbers have produced a steady amount so that was good, beans are doing really well too. Love the christmas chutney recipe, i think i will need to look up a green tomato chutney too lol. Do have a good week.
    Sue

    • Hi Sue, the tomatoes that are ready in my garden are the ‘outdoor girl’ variety, which are always earlier than other tomatoes…..I do have four plants outside that are ‘money maker’ and thought the tomatoes are big they are still green……if they don’t ripen on the plant I will bring them in and ripen them on my windowsill instead as I’m not a fan of green tomato chutney lol.

      Glad the other things are doing well in your garden and I hope you had a lovely week away.

  9. Fabulous recipes I made the plum cake last week – oh my it was delicious, and last night made the Xmas Chutney as I picked a load of courgettes and plums from my allotment at the weekend and was struggling to know what to do with them, so excellent timing, the aromas around the house were devine. You don’t happen to know of any recipes for Hops as my greenhouse/sheds on the allotment are covered in their lovely cascades ?

    • I am really sorry Debbie I don’t know any recipes….but I’ll ask on my blog tomorrow for you as someone may know-keep an eye on the comments people leave.
      Really glad you enjoyed the plum cake and when you open the chutney in two or three months you will have to let me know what you think of it.

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