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Catching Up & An Apple Cake Tray Bake Recipe

Before I start today I wanted to remind anyone that is interested, that my usual monthly blog post of

‘What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In November’ can be found here.

There is loads of information in this post e.g. weather conditions expected, what to sow / plant / harvest in November, jobs to do and pests / diseases that you may encounter this month.

I hope it helps someone out there.

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This week I have started to get back to normal after decorating my daughter’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago.  It has felt nice making bread and cakes again:

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I also caught up with a few jobs I have been putting off.

  I started by flushing my plug holes with bi-carb and vinegar to ensue they don’t start to block up.  It’s great for removing food, hair and soap scum from your pipes.  It’s very simple to do:

I put one tablespoon of bi-carb in the plug hole and then I added three tablespoons of white distilled vinegar and left it for a few minutes to fizz away:

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I then flushed it all down with boiling hot water:

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I also finally brought in the tomatoes that were sitting in my greenhouse ripening.  I put them there at the beginning of October and they have ripened well:

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I left a few on my kitchen window sill to continue to ripen and I have left some out for sandwiches and salads,

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but I have also managed to make some more passatta to freeze:

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In my garden this week I started to use another batch of lettuces that I have been growing under environmesh….I pick the outside leaves of the lettuces so they continue to grow.  They should be fine growing outside under the environmesh for some time yet, before the harsh winter weather comes:

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One thing I noticed in my garden is I have somehow managed to grow a clematis.  I do remember that a clemastis used to scramble through the large photinia bush I used to have in the corner, but I assumed this was killed off when I cleared the area at the beginning of the year.

When I first saw it growing in the summer I twisted the growth around my trellis as I really wasn’t sure what it was (though I did suspect it looked like a clematis) and this week it has begun to flower….better late than never:

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I shall leave the plant where it is as it obviously wants to be there and I will prune it in February.

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I also finally bottled up the wine I made a few weeks ago.  I had a little taste and it is lovely already, but hopefully as it matures it will get even better.  These bottles will be great in my Christmas hampers:

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My lovely sister dropped in this week with some apples from the tree in her garden, as she has had a bumper crop:

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I sorted the apples and I wrapped up those without blemishes in newspaper and placed them in a cool, dark place to store them through the winter:

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I then decided to juice the remaining apples, so I started by washing the apples and then removing all the bad bits:

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Unfortunately there were rather a lot of bad bits and when I chopped the apples in half I found that loads of them were bad in the middle.  I’m not sure if they are bad due to ‘codling moth’ or wether it is the result of ‘mouldy core rot’:

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However, I did get enough good apples to do a little bit of juicing:

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It was a shame about the rotten apples but the juice we did get was absolutely delicious:

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My sister also gave me a few bramley apples, so I made an Apple Cake traybake:

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An Apple Cake Traybake Recipe:

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500g Bramley apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced (leave in water to stop them going brown)

350g self raising flour

280g caster sugar

225g soft margarine or butter

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

2 – 3 tbsp demerara sugar to sprinkle over the top.

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Preheat your oven to 180C / gas 4 / 350F and line a baking tray with greased, greaseproof paper.

Put the margarine, caster sugar, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and then seive the flour and baking powder into the bowl. 

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Mix until all the ingredients are combined and then add a little bit of water to the mixture if it doesn’t drop off the spoon easily.

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Spread half of the mixture into the lined baking tray and then arrange half of the apples over the mixture.

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Put the rest of the cake mixture on top of the apples and then arrange the remaining apples again on top

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Sprinkle the apples with demerara sugar

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Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Ensure the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer….it is cooked when the skewer comes out clean.

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Leave to cool for ten minutes and then slice.

Serve hot or cold on it’s own or with cream or ice cream.

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Enjoy!

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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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Saving Pea Seeds & Moving Raspberries

This week at the allotment it has felt more like autumn, with some wet and breezy days.  One morning this week it was quite foggy too and on this particular morning I noticed lots of spiders webs that looked beautiful with the moisture from the air making then sparkle:

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The allotment is starting to slow down a little bit now and I am harvesting vegetables every three days now instead of daily, however the harvest is still good on those days:

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At the moment the allotment plot is looking very pretty with the calendular and tegetes that line the paths.  They also attract many beneficial insects as well, which is why I grow them:

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But I can’t wait for the final finale that the michaelmas daisies give, that edge my rotational beds.

 When they flower I love the contrast between the purple and the orange flowers and when they arrive in September, I know that autumn is here.

Below is a photograph of the michaelmas daisies last year.  I hope they look this good again:

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This week at the allotment I have been carefully watching my outdoor tomato plants for ‘ tomato blight’.  After we had a few wet days I became very nervous that I would lose all the lovely green tomatoes if I get ‘blight’,  as I do most years.  I have already had lots of lovely ripe tomatoes from these plants and the tomatoes that are left are all a good size, but just not ripe.

So I took the strange decision to remove the tomatoes from the plants and ripen them at home.  So here they are:

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I have also been collecting my pea seeds at my allotment ready for next year.  My dwarf peas and my climbing peas gave a wonderful harvest earlier in the year and so I want to make sure this happens again.

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It’s very easy to save pea seeds.  All you need to do is leave a few on the plants and wait until they are dry and brown:

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I then pick the pods on a dry day and leave them on trays in my house for a couple of weeks.  This ensures that they are completely dry.

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I then take the pea seeds out of the pods and place them into a paper envelope or bag and store them in a dark, dry, cool place until I need them next year.

I find it so satisfying saving seeds and I always get such a buzz when my seeds germinate and produce plants the next year.

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Also at my allotment this week I decided to dig up my two summer raspberry beds that I inherited.  I will buy some new raspberries and plant them in a different place in Spring:

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I covered the grass in between the raspberry rows a few weeks ago to kill it off.

Unfortunately, the raspberries never really did very well.  Some of them looked lovely but would disintergrate when you picked them and the other plants just didn’t produce many raspberries.  Over the last three years I have fed them and treated them very well indeed, however this hasn’t improved them and I can only think that the raspberries are old now and past their prime.

So I spent a merry morning removing their supports and digging half of the canes up.  Due to the amount of compost and manure that has gone into the ground over the last three years, I found the raspberries dug up well and the soil underneath is beautiful.

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I had some spare slabs at my allotment so myself and Mr Thrift laid a path down the side of the new bed, where I will shortly be planting my spring cabbages when I have dug up the rest of the raspberries on the other side:

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At home my attention has turned to winter salads for my polytunnel.

I have sown seeds for mizuna, winter lettuce, perpetual spinach, winter hardy spring onions and coriander for my kitchen windowsill.  I have also sown some more beetroot, which really is too late to sow (and i’m not even sure if it will germinate), but if it does I will plant it in my polytunnel in the hope I can use the young leaves in salads during the autumn.

My seeds are sitting snug and warm in my mini-greenhouse.

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Finally this week at home I have been juicing all the lovely apples that I picked last week from my early apple tree at my allotment.  I must say there weren’t many apples on the tree this year, but the ones I did have were great.

Below is a photo of my trusty ‘apple picker’ that I wouldn’t be without now, as it reaches all the apples on the tree without using a ladder – a great invention!

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 I juiced the apples using a ‘press’ I bought a few years ago.  I must say though, I wish I had spent more money on a much bigger apple press as it does take me quite a while to juice all my apples.

I first wash the apples and cut off any bruised or bad bits and then chop them in quarters and ‘pulp’ them in batches in my food processor (again, bigger ‘presses’ have ‘pulpers’ attached).  Then I put the pulp in the apple press…..

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….and out comes the sweetest, most delicious apple juice I have ever, ever tasted.  It’s also free from any nasty chemicals and preservatives that some shop bought apple juices have in them.

Unfortunately I don’t have a pasturiser so I freeze the apple juice in little plastic bottles that I have collected, so that my family can have the juice in months to come.

The bottles are ideal to pack in lunch boxes straight from the freezer, as they defrost by lunchtime and while it’s still frozen it keeps the sandwiches cool too.

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Just to finish off with, I thought I would show you the strawberries that I talked about a couple of weeks ago.  If you remember I cut the foliage down to approximately 8cm from the crown a couple of weeks ago and it always looks so harsh:

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Cutting the strawberries back in this way helps the plant produce more fruit the following year, as the plant then puts all it’s energy into producing a strong root system.

Below is a photo of how they look today.  You can see that new foliage has already begun to grow back and I will hopefully have lovely strawberries next year:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time next Friday.

What a ‘Whopper’ and Juicing Apples

Today I wanted a swede for tea.

My swedes had been sitting quite happily underneath my environmesh for some time.  I didn’t realise quite how happy they actually were, until I found this one today:

My rather ‘large’ swede, weighing nearly 10 lbs, sitting next to a normal sized apple.

Perhaps I should have entered it into a competition, but I didn’t, I just chopped it up for dinner tonight.

I was very proud of my swede until I found that the worlds largest swede weighed 85 lbs.  It makes mine seem rather small in comparison now.

You can see it here.

Yellowgages

I also picked some yellowgages, which are rather dissapointing this year, as there are so few of them due to the cold weather when the trees were in blossom.

My first two buckets of apples, for juicing

My apple trees are a bit dissapointing as well this year, due to the weather, however, there was enough for juicing.

This is how I squeeze the apple juice:

First I wash the apples

Then I chop off any bruised bits or grub holes.

I chop the apples into quarters and then put them into my food processor and chop into large pieces, (you don’t need to over chop).  You can buy an attachment to ‘pulp’ the fruit, but I haven’t got one.

I then put the pulp into my apple press and squeeze the apple juice out.

I sieve my apple juice and then I put it into plastic bottles and freeze the juice.  I find it easier this way, as I don’t have the expense of buying the glass bottles or bringing the bottles up to the right temperature.  Each bottle contains just enough for my daughters to have at lunch.  I take the bottle out of the freezer in the morning and pop it into their lunch boxes.  It then defrosts by lunch time and while it’s still frozen it helps to keep the lunch box cool too.

I managed to squeeze 29 small bottles and 1 large bottle out of the two buckets of apples.  I will pick some more apples and juice them in a couple of days.

The apple juice is cloudy, but you can pour the juice through some muslin, to make a less cloudy juice.  However, I’ve read by leaving it in, then you are retaining the goodness.

Thank you for reading my blog today.