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King Richard III & A Quick Microwave Syrup Sponge Recipe

Because I live in Leicester, I couldn’t start my blog today without mentioning King Richard III.

For those that haven’t seen the news over the last week, the bones of Richard III were found buried deep under a car park in Leicester some time ago, and on Sunday a cortege carried King Richard III’s mortal remains from Market Bosworth (where he died in the battle of Bosworth) across Leicestershire into Leicester city centre.

We were all very excited as the A47 at the bottom of our road was closed for an hour as the cortege was to pass by.  So we all walked down to see a part of history, as Richard III was the last King to actually die in battle.  There were hundreds of people lining the road waiting when we got there.

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Well I can only say it was very dissapointing for everyone, as the cortege sped by so fast that if you blinked you would have missed it.  I had my camera ready in my hand and I still only managed to take the back of it as it shot by.

It was such a shame for everyone, especially as some people has white roses to throw, but there wasn’t time.

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There had been so much news coverage over the week leading up to the day, which is why so many people turned up to see him being driven past and everyone was under the same impression it would drive past at least a little bit slower.

However, it did all look amazing in the city centre when they showed the coverage on the news…it’s a shame we weren’t in town to see it.

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This week at home I realised that my butternut squashes were beginning to go over and I didn’t want to waste them.  We love butternut squash in our house and I grew loads last year at the allotment.

My last butternut squashes from 2014

My last butternut squashes from 2014

 I really didn’t want to waste the squashes, so I chopped them up ready for roasting and then popped them into the freezer on a tray and then bagged them up when they were frozen.

When they were frozen I tried roasting a few of them straight from the freezer, by just increasing the roasting time and I’m very pleased to say they were as good as they normally are.

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So I now have butternut squash, celeriac, jeruselum artichokes and parsnips, that I just take out of my freezer and roast from frozen (it makes Sunday dinner much easier).

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This week I decided to buy some trellis for my back fence.  The fence was looking very bare, as my cordon fruit trees haven’t grown any leaves yet.

I have been looking for trellis for a while, but what I wanted was always over £10 and I needed four pieces which would make it expensive.  However, I managed to find an expandable trellis in Wilkinsons this week for just £2 each and it matches my fence colour quite well so I won’t even have to paint it:

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It easily screwed onto the fence and I am very pleased with it:

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I shall be planting sweet peas up three of them, but I’m not sure what I will grow up the fourth one yet as this one is in the shade….I will let you know when I decide.

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I had a quick wander around my local nursery last weekend and I found a pot of Tegete seedlings for 60p.  I had already decided to grow some of these plants for my new kitchen garden as they are great to attract beneficial insects to the plot, but as yet I hadn’t managed to find the seeds in the shops.  I’m sure a packet of seeds would have cost me more than 60p.

So I brought the seedlings home and pricked them out.  There were enough for me to grow on and give to my family too.

(You can read how to prick out seedlings here).

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I also bought a tomato plant that was also 60p, but it was a lot further forward that the ones I am growing.  I have potted it up, by planting it deep in the pot, as new roots will then form from the stem and make the plant stronger:

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It will be interesting to see how much sooner I will have tomatoes ready to eat.

My tomatoes sown on the 3rd March

My tomatoes sown on the 3rd March

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This week my broad beans were ready to plant out. They are a variety called ‘Aquadulce’ that I sowed on the 11th February, which was really a bit late as they are an overwintering variety.

I do have a few spare plants that I can pass on, as I am not yet used to sowing seeds in such small amounts.

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It felt very nice to finally be planting something in my new kitchen garden at last.

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I noticed that the ground must be beginning to warm up as weeds are starting to grow, so I hoed for the first time this year.  It was very nice as it only took just a few minutes to hoe the whole plot – this job would have took a whole morning at my old allotments due to the size of them.

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I also decided to tidy up my strawberry patch, that was already in a mess from fallen leaves.  This is the only raised bed I have because this area is full of roots from the Viburnum tinus and Photinia bushes behind it.  The raised bed has been placed over weed suppressant as it was impossible to plant directly into the soil.

I used my homemade compost from my allotment compost bins and the small amount of compost I had made at home to fill the raised bed, so I could plant the strawberries in January that I also brought home from my allotment.  It was the wrong time really to plant them, but they seem to have survived.

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I also removed any of the dead leaves on the plants and gave them a good watering as the ground was fairly dry – I suppose this is one of the drawbacks with raised beds, especially ones that are situated under bushes as well.

(Incidentally, the raised bed will have plenty of sunshire as it faces south, so the bushes are not a problem as far as light is concerned).

Another thing I did was to cut the bushes back a little bit, so it was easier to walk around the raised bed.  I need to give some thought on how to stop the leaves from falling onto the bed and also more importantly, how to stop the bird muck falling onto my strawberries from the birds that sit in the bushes above….I’ll let you know when I’ve thought of something.

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Around my new kitchen garden my daffodils are flowering nicely and I had a nice surprise when I saw an aquilegia was growing next to one of them too.  These are one of my favourite flowers and I can’t quite understand how I missed it when I was digging my plot over.  It obviously is determined to stay and it’s ok for it to grow in the spot it is in, so I’m going to leave it there.

I like nice surprises like this.

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The rhubarb is growing nicely now and the comfrey is just starting to poke it’s head up from under the ground.

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Some of my raspberries are showing growth, but some aren’t yet, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that they show soon and they have survived the move from my allotment.

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So the kitchen garden is coming along nicely.

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Finally I though I would share another pudding recipe that I cooked for my family on Sunday.  It is really quick to cook, taking just eight minutes in my 700W microwave and tastes absolutely lovely (no one ever knows it has been cooked in a microwave either):

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Syrup Sponge Pudding Recipe:

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100g margarine, plus some for greasing the bowl

100g granulated sugar

2 eggs beaten

100g self-raising flour

2-3 tablespoons of milk

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

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Beat the margarine and sugar together.

Mix in the beaten egg then fold in the flour.

Then add enough milk to achieve dropping consistency (so it falls off the spoon easily).

Grease a microwave bowl with margarine and then put the golden syrup in the bottom.

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Pour the sponge mixture on top of the syrup.

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Cover the bowl with a plate and microwave on high for 8 minutes (based on a 700w microwave).

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Leave it to stand for a couple of minutes before turning in onto a plate. 

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream – or on it’s own if you prefer.

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Enjoy!

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

Have a good week!

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A Frittata Recipe With ‘Leftover Vegetables’ And A Week Of Allotment Work

It has been a very busy gardening week at my allotment.

I started by feeding my fruit bushes and trees with ’sulphate of potash’, which is a good feed for fruit and flowers.  I sprinkled it around the plants and forked it into the soil and then I gave them all a layer of my own allotment made compost:

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I also planted broad beans at my allotment.   I sowed the beans in December and they had sat quite comfortably in toilet rolls, in my cold greenhouse at home.  I raked some blood, fish and bone fertiliser into the soil before I planted them  (it is better to rake this into the soil two weeks before planting, but I was a bit late doing this).  I planted two double rows, each plant 20cm apart and approx. 60cm between the double rows:

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Another thing I planted was the garlic I had sown in pots in my cold greenhouse over winter.  Unfortunately, I lost most of the garlic I planted directly into my allotment soil, before Christmas.  I think this was probably due to the constant wet weather we had.  I’m glad I planted the garlic in pots as a backup now:

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Remember my bean trenches?  I finally finished filling the second trench with peelings etc. and I covered the trench with soil.  The runner beans will love to be planted here at the end of May, as they love deep, moist, fertile soil.

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I also received the snowdrops ‘in the green’ that I ordered a couple of weeks of ago and planted them in my new woodland area.  If you have read my blog recently, I ordered these so I can remember my friend who passed away last month due to a brain tumour.  Snow drops were in flower when she died and the snow fell heavily during her funeral and she would have loved how pretty it looked.  It seemed fitting to plant snow drops in my woodland area that will always remind me of her:

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It has been a really tiring week as I started to prepare my potato patch ready for planting next month.  I started by digging up my remaining leeks and parsnips:

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After this, I forked in loads of manure.  When I am moving and spreading my manure, I always wish I was a 20 year old fit male, instead of a 46 year old struggling female!  I find this job such hard work and I’m glad I’ve finished it now.

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Later, I froze the parsnips by peeling them and chopping them into roughly equal sizes.  I blanched them for two minutes and then froze them on a tray before bagging them up.

By freezing the parsnips this way, I can remove the required amount of parsnips from the freezer and roast them from frozen with my roast potatoes on a Sunday lunch time.

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I froze the leeks exactly the same way.  These will be used in soups, spag bogs, chilli’s etc.

You can read how to freeze vegetables here.

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Today, I thought I’d share a really easy recipe with you, that I cooked this week.  It’s a good way to use up cooked vegetables that are left over from the night before and it is so filling:

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Frittata with Leftover Cooked Vegetables:

8 eggs

Leftover cooked vegetables e.g. potatoes, peas, carrots, French beans

1 Courgette (I use ready sliced courgettes that I froze last summer)

1 Onion

A handful of parsley (again I use parsley that I froze last summer)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

A handful of grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

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 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the onion and courgettes over a medium heat, until soft.

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Add the leftover veg and continue to fry until they are heated through.  Add the parsley.

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Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and add the salt and pepper.

Pour the eggs over the vegetables and cook gently, without stirring, until the egg is approximately two thirds cooked.

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Sprinkle the egg with the grated cheese and put the pan under your grill for a further few minutes until the egg is set.

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Slide the frittata onto a plate.

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Cut into slices and serve hot with a nice crisp home grown salad.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back again on Monday.