Tag Archive | Drying basil

Radish In Guttering & Sweet Potato Wedges Recipe

Last week the weather was so hot and my soil was bone dry.  The greenhouse reached temperatures of 45 degrees celcius and I had to quickly put up some greenhouse shading….this week it has rained nearly everyday and there has been floods in the County…what a difference in just one week!

IMG_3811 IMG_3822

Up until the last few years June was always sunny and warm, but in recent years we have had record rainfalls recorded in June and July…..is this climate change or just the seasons changing?

.

This week in my kitchen garden:

.

This week in the garden I picked our first strawberry of the year….and it was delicious (though I did have to share it with my daughters):

SAM_3213 SAM_3220

I also picked our first courgette this morning….we always get excited when I pick the first courgette of the year (even though we know that soon we will be groaning when they are coming thick and fast in a few weeks time).

SAM_3223 SAM_3250

I have one last spring cabbage to pick and eat this week….the cabbages have been in the ground since last year so I always find it quite sad when I pick the last one, however next week I will be planting my curly kale in this area:

SAM_3229

Also I will now start to use some of the onions that I am growing….I planted them close together so I could use some of them as spring onions.  The onions that I leave will then develop into full sized onions:

SAM_3246

.

The rest of the garden is growing well and my broad beans are nearly ready to pick as well:

SAM_3228

My dwarf pea plants are ladened with pea pods ready to fatten up…

SAM_3247 SAM_3248

And I have currants, gooseberries, blueberries  and a few plums growing (I can’t wait to taste these when they are ready)…..

SAM_3242 SAM_3243 SAM_3238 SAM_3237

My cherry tomatoes are flowering well in my hanging baskets….so hopefully I will soon have some tiny tomatoes growing.  As soon as I see mini tomatoes growing on my plants I start to feed them once a week with a high potash feed (e.g comfrey which is perfect for tomatoes):

SAM_3249

I have my first flower on one of my potato plants, however I didn’t get around to earthing my potatoes up this year and I think it is too late now as I can hardly see the soil around them.  It will be interesting to see how much my yield is affected….my old friend at my old allotment site never earthed her potatoes up and she said it never affected her yield….we will see.

SAM_3235

The greenhouse is doing well too.  I have cucumbers and tomatoes growing and I spotted my first peppers growing too this week:

SAM_3226 SAM_3227 SAM_3225

 .

Over the last week in the garden I planted my sweetcorn and pumpkins.  I sowed the sweetcorn in April in newspaper pots and they have grown well, though I am a little late planting them out.  In the space where I needed to plant my sweetcorn was my ‘lollo rossa’ lettuce, which has been providing us with an outstanding amount of cut and come again salad leaves this year and I just couldn’t bring myself to pull them up until now.

SAM_3059 SAM_3129

I planted the sweetcorn and then I planted three pumpkin plants in between them.  The pumpkins will hopefully produce small, palm sized fruit that I can roast, but as I have never grown this variety before I am not sure how big the foliage will grow….so it’s a bit of a trial:

SAM_2974 SAM_3152 SAM_3154 SAM_3153

I have also planted some leeks this week, but unfortunately I did have to buy them from my local nursery as I had somehow missed watering mine when the weather was really hot and managed to kill my lovely seedlings – which I was gutted about!…but at least it proves I’m human.

As normal I trimmed the roots to make them easier to plant and then pushed each leek seedling into a four inch deep hole made with my dibber and then I just watered the hole….don’t worry if you can still see the roots as the soil will fill around the leeks as they grow helping to blanch the stems:

SAM_3207 SAM_3209 SAM_3210

I then covered them with environmesh as last year I lost a lot of leeks to the allium leaf miner:

SAM_3208 SAM_3212

.

Two weeks ago I sowed some more radish.  I decided to have a go at planting them in a piece of guttering as I have read this works well.  I didn’t want the slugs to eat them so I made a ‘moat’ around the guttering in the hope the slugs won’t swim (this was a tip I learnt at the ECO House Garden Forum a few years ago before the ECO house shut)….

SAM_3109 SAM_3110

…..And this week the seeds have emerged and so far there has been no slug damage:

SAM_3245

 .

I have also continued to sow coriander, for my windowsill,  spring onions and lettuce over the last couple of weeks and I have been surprised at how quickly they have germinated:

SAM_3196 SAM_3198

And finally this week in the garden I have finished planting my remaining bedding plants (I couldn’t plant them before in this area as my wall flowers were still flowering):

SAM_3160 SAM_3159

Hopefully they will grow well now and flower soon.

.

.

This week in the home:

.

This week I decided to give the basil on my windowsill a good haircut as it was getting too big.  I placed all the leaves in a paperbag and hung them in a warm place to dry.  In a few weeks I will pass the dried leaves through a seive to remove any stalks and put the dried leaves in a jar to use over the winter:

SAM_3106 SAM_3107 SAM_3108

.

This week I also started some elderflower champagne…. as there are plenty of elderflowers around on our local park.  I have never made it before and I chose to use a recipe they gave on ‘River Cottage Bites‘.  I won’t tell you how I made it yet as I want to make sure it works…..but it smells wonderful at the moment.

SAM_3114 SAM_3115 SAM_3132

.

Over the week I have also been making large batches of food to freeze.  I made pasta / pizza sauces and spaghetti bolognaises and a big pot of soup to freeze in portions:

SAM_3118 SAM_3134

 IMG_3806

.

I have also been trying very hard to use the herbs that I have been growing….

SAM_3010

I have used them in meals such as omelettes etc. and sprinkled them over our roasted vegetables before I cook them.  I have also been chopping a bit of mint to sprinkle over our vegetables when I serve them.

  It is so nice to have fresh herbs to use, especially as the herbs I grew last year in a different place were a disaster due to our local squirrel population digging them up every five minutes at the end of my garden!

SAM_3112 SAM_3111

.

This week I made some sweet potato wedges and they were really nice.  I made them in exactly the same way as I make normal potato wedges, except I only cooked them for 30 minutes on Gas 6 / 200C.

(The normal potato wedges recipe I used can be found here).

SAM_3117 SAM_3123

.

I cooked the sweet potato wedges to accompany a homemade pizza, which I served with homemade coldslaw and salad.  My sister gave me the idea of making the base with half strong wholewheat flour and half strong white flour to make it a bit healthier and she was right as it turned out really, really nice.

I have written the recipe I used in my breadmaker below…..it makes two large pizza’s so I froze half of the dough for another time.

.

Wholemeal Pizza Dough Recipe

.

300mls water

2 tablespoons Olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

340g strong white flour

290g strong wholemeal flour (plus some for rolling out)

2 teaspoons yeast

.

Put all the ingredients into your breadmaker and put it on a ‘pizza dough’ setting:

SAM_3119

Split the dough in half and put half in your freezer for another day:

SAM_3120

Roll out the dough and and place it in a greased pizza pan:

SAM_3121 SAM_3122

Leave to rise for 30 mins in a warm place with a clean tea towel over it.

Spread a pizza sauce over the base.  You can find my pizza sauce recipe here (it’s the same recipe as pasta sauce).

Top the pizza sauce with whatever topping you choose and then mozzerella cheese, either grated or sliced.

Sprinkle with basil and organo to give it an italian pizza taste and cook for 14 minutes on gas mark 6 / 400F / 204C.

SAM_3124 SAM_3126

Enjoy!!

.

Well that’s it for today.

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

Have a great weekend!

XXX

Advertisements

Path Edging And A Few Odd Jobs

After our fence was blown down in the gales last week, I had to wait until it was fixed by our lovely neighbour before I could continue with my new vegetable patch.

In the mean time I caught up with a few little jobs that I hadn’t quite got around to:

I first labled my homemade wine:

SAM_2375 SAM_2373

I then finally sorted the basil that had been hanging in my kitchen drying for ages:

  In the summer my dad gave me a pot of basil from the supermarket and as I didn’t use it up I hung it in my kitchen to dry.  After a couple of weeks I transferred it into a paper bag so the bits didn’t go everywhere as it dried:

SAM_2205 SAM_2206 SAM_2393

The result was lovely dried basil, which I crunched between my fingers to remove the big stems and then I passed it through a seive to remove any remaining twigs:

SAM_2395 SAM_2397 SAM_2398

As there was only a small amount of dried basil I just topped up the jar of shop brought basil I had in my pantry:

SAM_2400

I also then turned my attention to Christmas and made sure that I had everything I needed for my Christmas presents. I only had the odd thing to buy as I tend to buy presents through out the year, either in the sales or if I find something unusual that I know someone would like.

After this I sat down with some lovely Christmas music in the back ground and wrote all my cards.  I like to take my time to do this as I have a few people that I only write to once a year, so I like to tell them what has been happening in our lifes:

SAM_2378

And finally I sliced an orange to dry, ready for my Christmas decorations. I arranged the slices on a piece of greaseproof paper over my radiator and I find they dry in a week or two without needing to put them in the oven.  I usually put a little hole in each one when they are nearly dry so I can thread some wire or ribbon through it.

SAM_2391 SAM_2392

I absolutely love to see dried oranges around the house at Christmas.  The photo below shows the arrangement I made last year for our mantle piece:

SAM_7938 SAM_7937

.

I was pleased to say that our lovely neighbour finished fixing our fence at the weekend and we now have some concrete posts that have been cemented into the ground, to strengthen our fence.  Hopefully this will withstand any further gales we have:

IMG_2826 SAM_2377

SAM_2389

So I removed the rubble from the old concrete and took it to the tip and then I had a general garden tidy, clearing away the bits and bobs I had laying around.  You can also see in the photo above that I put my old chair back in to position ready for next summer too:

IMG_2829

It’s funny what gets dug up when you have work done in your garden isn’t it…..I found a ‘pig with wings’ that I had completely forgotten about, which must be thirteen years old!….I’ve got to be honest I don’t know how or even why I have him, but I’m sure I’ll find a place somewhere for him to go.

IMG_2830

.

So now the fence was complete I could carry on with my new vegetable patch:

The ground wasn’t very level as I had dumped the old grass in a pile when I laid my new lawn in September, so I had to move that before I could start.  I had covered the grass with weed suppressant back in September to kill it, so I just spread it over my new area and I will just dig this into the soil for now and it will probably be rotted away completely by Spring time:

IMG_2839

I had already decided to have wood chip paths inbetween my new beds, as this would be cheaper than buying slabs.  However, I needed something to stop the woodchips from spreading into my beds…..so I brought some wood sawn treated timber to edge the beds and I set about making them:

SAM_2387 SAM_2385 SAM_2388

I have quite simply screwed them together using corner braces and screwed on bits of wood to secure them into the soil.

I didn’t think there was a need to have raised beds as the soil I have is good and it would just be a waste of money to ship in top soil.

I then forked over the area where the first edging was going to sit, removing any weeds as I dug and then I fitted the first edging making sure it sat level and in the right place:

IMG_2846

I then fitted the next edging and repeated the above to make a third bed too:

IMG_2848 IMG_2851

And that is as far as I’ve managed to get this week.

I have two more beds to complete and unfortunately for Mr Thrift, I have three or four more slabs to lay next week (so I need to sweet talk him into helping me again).

.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Green Tomato Chutney and Rainy Day Jobs

At the allotment at the weekend, I moved a pumpkin that was growing in my new woodland area.  The pumpkin wasn’t massive, but it was in the way, as I now need to plant some daffodil bulbs and some English Blue Bells in this area.

.

The allotment is looking beautiful at the moment as my Michaelmas daisys are putting on a wonderful display.

(unfortunately the quality of this photo is not too good as it was taken on my mobile phone when it was raining)

The Michaelmas daisys serve four purposes on my plot:

  The first purpose is to divide my four rotational beds, which are potatoes, brassicas, onions and roots and finally legumes.

The second purpose is they always remind me of my grandad, whose birthday was on September 29th, which is ‘Michaelmas daisy day’.  I never met my grandad as he died before I was born, but my mum said he was a lovely man and has told me so much about him.

The third purpose is the bees.  I try so hard to make sure there are flowers for the bees in every season of the year.

And finally, the fourth purpose is….they just look stunning when they are all out in bloom.

.

It was my father-in-laws 85th birthday at the weekend and my sister-in-law had arranged a tea party for him and we were asked to bring a cake and some scones,

(but not a sponge cake as his birthday cake was a sponge cake).

After much thought, I decided to make a Pumpkin and Orange Cake,  as I had just picked a pumpkin from my allotment.  This is different to a normal sponge cake as it tastes similar to a carrot cake.

You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin and Orange Cake here on my blog.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

I also made some Cheesy Courgette Scones, of which you can find the recipe here.

.

It has been a very wet and rainy day today, so I decided not to go to my allotment and use it as a ‘catch up’ day.

.

On the 6th August I hung my basil in my kitchen to dry.  You can read about drying basil here.

It’s not really been very warm lately and I have found my basil was just not drying quite as quickly as it should be.

As it was nearly dry, I finished it off in my oven by putting the basil on two baking trays.

This only took 1 hour on my lowest oven setting, with the oven door slightly open to lower the temperature even more.

When it was completely dry, I crushed the leaves and removed the stalks.

Just to make sure I had removed all the little stalks, I ran it through a seive.

Then I put it in a sterilised jar and labelled it.

That was another job out of the way, but one job I really needed to do was to sort my three freezers out.

.

This is a job I do every payday, before I do a menu plan for the month.

I started by emptying each freezer in turn and then writing down the contents, as I put the items back in.

The above two photos show the contents of one of my three freezers.

It takes quite some time to do this, but it helps me to save money when I meal plan and nothing ever gets wasted.

.

I was asked at the weekend if I have a good recipe for Green Tomato Chutney.  I never make this chutney as I always seem to manage to ripen my tomatoes on my windowsill.  You can see how I ripen them here on my blog.

However, my dad has been making it for years and it always tastes delicious.

He can’t really take the credit for the recipe though, as it’s from a little booklet by “Sarson’s”, called “Pickle More Than Ever Before”

This recipe makes approximately 1.5kg of chutney

 .

Green Tomato Chutney

450g green tomatoes, finely chopped

350g cooking apples, peeled and chopped

225g onions, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

450ml pickling malt vinegar

100g sultanas

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or ground ginger

275g Demerara sugar

Place all the ingredients except the sugar into a large saucepan

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.

Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then simmer uncovered until the chutney is thick, stirring occasionally.

Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Label and store for a week before use.

.

My lavender hedge at the allotment in July.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

Easy Cheesy Courgette Scones and Drying Basil

Courgettes grow so quickly once a plant starts to produce them and we all have problems using so many of them.  It feels like another one grows when you look away for just a few moments.

So how do I use them?

I use them in omelettes, pasta sauces, curries, soups, spaghetti bolognaise, chilli, pizza sauce, etc.

I also slice the courgettes and freeze them on a tray (without blanching), so they don’t stick together and then I put them in a freezer bag.  They can then be used  in the winters months, in all of the above meals.  I just add them still frozen, straight from the freezer.

Another thing I do, is grate the raw courgettes (with the skin on) and freeze in 340 gram bags (without blanching).  This way I can defrost the courgettes whenever I need to and make the following:

Easy Cheesy Courgette Scones:

450g self raising flour

2 level teaspoons of baking powder

340g grated courgettes (grated with the skin on)

112g margarine

Approx 10 tablespoons of milk

112g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven Gas 7 / 220C / 425F

Put the grated courgettes in a clean tea towel or muslin and squeeze out as much juice as possible

In another bowl rub the margarine into the flour and baking powder until it looks like breadcrumbs

Add the grated cheese and courgette and mix, making sure the courgette doesn’t stick together in large lumps.

Add enough milk to make a soft dough that is not too sticky (add more flour if your dough is too sticky).

Roll out the dough 1cm thick and cut into rounds with a pastry cutter

(do not twist your cutter as this will give you funny shaped scones)

Place the scones on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes.  They should be a nice golden brown and well risen.

Butter and enjoy

Cheesy Courgette Scones

I made fourteen scones and they only cost me 98p to make, as I grew my own courgettes.

  That’s an incredible 7p per scone!

My daughter loves to take a scone to school everyday as a snack for breaktime, so I make a batch of scones every other weekend.  After they have cooled down, I cut them in half and butter them and then I open freeze them on a tray.  When they are frozen I put them in a freezer bag.  This way I can just pop a frozen scone into her lunch box each morning and it will be defrosted by breaktime, ready to eat.

.

Yesterday I picked some basil and it’s now drying in my kitchen.

Basil drying in my kitchen

.

To dry basil, all you need to do is pick it in the morning

( this is when the most oil is in the leaves)

Wash it under the tap and dry it off between two clean tea towels

Hang it up, somewhere light and airy and leave for approximately four weeks

It should crumble easily when fully dried and then put it in a sterilised jar

(to sterilise, place the jar in an oven for 5 minutes, gas mark 4).

It’s as easy as that!

.

Below are some interesting things about Basil that you may not know:

The first written history of basil appears to date back 4,000 years to when it was grown in Egypt.

The name basil is derived from the medieval Latin form of the Greek word for “King” or “Kingly”.

In Iran, Malaysia and Egypt basil is often considered a love token and is planted on graves.

In Ancient Greece and Rome, basil was associated with poverty, hate and misfortune due to the belief that basil would only prosper where there was abuse.

Also, in Ancient Greece, when planting basil seeds, there was much shouting and cursing which later led to the French coining the phrase ‘semer le basilic’, which means to slander.

In Crete, basil was considered an emblem of the devil and was placed on most window-ledges as a charm against his influence.

Basil was ironically also thought to be a useful tool in determining chastity – it would wither in the hands of the impure.

.

The above information came from a website called ‘Ourherbgarden.com’.  Here’s the link:

http://www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/basil.html

.

I hope you enjoyed reading todays post