Tag Archive | Eco House Leicester

A Plant Sale, Comfrey Tea And An Easy Chocolate Traybake Recipe

I hope you all had a good weekend.

Today I thought I’d start by saying a big “welcome” to people that have recently followed my blog.  I noticed yesterday that I have over three hundred followers and I feel very privileged to have this many.  Thank you to all of you that read my blog, I hope I will continue to write things of interest for you.

I love receiving feedback and questions, so please feel free to leave comments on my blog.  If there is anything that I can help you with e.g. any questions about something I’ve written about or any non-related gardening questions etc, please do not be afraid to ask…after all, if you don’t know the answer then I will guarantee there will be lots of other people that don’t know the answer too.

.

The appletree at my allotment

The apple tree at my allotment

.

And now for some sad news….

groundwork

 Last week I received the very sad news that ‘Groundwork Leicester and Leicestershire’ had ceased trading and was set to go into voluntary liquidation.

Groundwork was based in offices at Western Park, in Hinckley Road, Leicester, next door to the city council’s Eco House, which it also manages and which is currently closed.

Groundwork Leicester and Leicestershire was an environmental charity which worked with schools and other organisations to promote a greener lifestyle.  It has closed with the loss of 26 jobs.  This is what the Leicester Mercury said about them:

“Since 1987, the Leicester charity – previously called Environ – has helped thousands of people, organisations and businesses improve their neighbourhoods, learn skills, improve their job prospects and create a greener county.

One of its key areas has been helping students and young people get into work. It also helped to manage the Bikes4All and Allotments4All initiatives.

It has worked with various organisations including councils, schools and universities as well as local and regional businesses.”

You can read the full article in the Leicester Mercury here.

SAM_3147

My friend Rob Carter was regrettably one of the 26 people.  Rob ran the ‘Organic Gardening Course’ that I talked about last year on my blog.  He is one of the most knowledgeable organic gardeners, that I have ever met and what he doesn’t know about gardening, really isn’t worth knowing.

Rob was planning a plant sale this month and volunteers have been helping him to grow plants in readiness.  Even though Rob has lost his job at Eco House, he is still going ahead with the plant sale, which I think is admirable.  Volunteers (including myself) will be there to sell the plants we have grown, all in peat free composts and will answer any questions you have about the plants.

So if you are in the area on Sunday, please consider visiting the sale for cheap, good quality flower and vegetable plants.  After all, unless a miracle happens, this will be the last sale.

SAM_6360

                                      .                  ​

Better news now… this weekend I harvested my first ever asparagus.  I know there isn’t much here, but I’ve waited three years to get a crop and hopefully there will still be some more to come.

It tasted wonderful with a knob of butter melted over it.

SAM_6356

.

My comfrey is growing well now, so a few days ago I made some comfrey tea so it will be ready in a couple of weeks.

SAM_6313

Comfrey tea is a wonderful organic fertiliser which is high in potash and free to make.  The deep roots of the Comfrey plants absorb the potassium from the subsoil. Therefore it is great for using on most fruits and flowers.  I use it so much that I have a water butt that I use purely for comfrey tea.

All I did was collect a few leaves and stalks and wrapped them up in an old net with a rock to weigh it down.

SAM_6314

I tied it securely and lowered it into my water butt and covered it in water.

SAM_6317

I put the lid back on the water butt and I will leave it now for at least two weeks before I use it.

You can find more information about this wonderful plant and how to grow it here.

.

Another job I managed to do at my allotment, was to put some chicken wire on my daughters’ old swing.  I moved the swing a couple of months ago, so you can walk under it, along my central path.

I then planted a Clematis Montana, so it can grow up and over it.  Hopefully, it will be covered in flowers next spring and look beautiful:

SAM_6355

.

Finally, it’s been a while since I posted a cheap and easy cake recipe on here.  So below is a very simple tray-bake (I try to make sure all my recipes are easy to make).

This cake is ideal if you have kids coming for tea, or to freeze ahead ready for packed lunches.  If you freeze them, slice the cake into squares and put them into the freezer on a tray.  Put them into a bag or container when they are frozen, so they don’t stick together.  This way it is easy to take one piece of cake out of the freezer in the morning and pop it into the kid’s lunch boxes still frozen, as they will defrost in no time:

.

A Quick And Easy Chocolate Tray-Bake Recipe:

.

6 oz. of Margarine

6 oz. Caster sugar

6 oz. Self raising flour

3 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Cocoa powder

1 Teaspoon of baking powder

Cooking chocolate and sprinkles to decorate.

.

Preheat the oven Gas Mark 4 / 350F / 176C

Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over a tray, approximately 9 x 12 ½ inch in size.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder into a bowl.

SAM_6329

Add the caster sugar, eggs and margarine.

SAM_6330

Mix all the ingredients until they are combined. Add a little bit of water if needed, to achieve a good dropping consistency (i.e. it drops off the spoon easily).

SAM_6333

Smooth the mixture over the greaseproof paper in the tray and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes.

SAM_6334

When it is cooked, slide the greaseproof paper off the tray and onto a cooling tray and leave to cool.

SAM_6335

When cooled, melt some cooking chocolate in the microwave and spread over the cake and use sprinkles or whatever you want over the top to decorate.

SAM_6337

Slice when the chocolate has set.

SAM_6340

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

Advertisements

An Eco House Event And A Christmas Pudding Recipe.

I don’t normally advertise on my blog, but today I thought I’d talk about a wonderful place in Leicester, called EcoHouse.

Their website can be found here.  It says :

“Leicester’s EcoHouse was the first environmental show home to be opened in the United Kingdom. The House demonstrates how people can live in a more sustainable way, saving money in the process. Entrance is free to the House, although we welcome donations.

The garden is fully organic and demonstrates how to garden for wildlife and food.

The house, café and garden are open to the public Wednesday to Sunday to both look around and seek advice. Guided tours are offered and the training room may also be hired for events and meetings.  For school visits we can tailor tours and activities to a group’s needs to tie into the National Curriculum”

.

There are various events that take place at EcoHouse, that are well worth a visit.  One such event is:

‘Christmas Decorations From The Garden’

Sunday 2nd December 2012

2.00 pm – 4.00pm  

Rob Carter

Rob Carter will be running the event and this is what he says about it:

“We provide a range of green material from local gardens and people use their imagination to make things.  There are always folk who know exactly what they want to do and others copy them, while their own atrophied imaginations are kicking into gear.

The sort of material that will be used, is willow and hazel wreath frames, wooden roundels for table decorations, logs, conifer greenery, holly of various types, dried flower heads, pine cones, etc.”

I think it sounds fantastic.

.

Also, while I’m on the subject of EcoHouse, Rob Carter also runs an excellent organic gardening course:

“This friendly course has been running since 2001. It offers new organic gardeners a grounding in the basic principles and makes strong connections with the worldwide issues of resource depletion and sustainable cultivation. Established gardeners are also very welcome. New gardeners are often excitingly innovative and experience contributes great wisdom and intelligent criticism. The course hopes to encourage participation from the group at all times.  The course comprises of nine sessions in total.”

I personally know Rob and he is an inspiration with his knowledge of organic gardening practises.  I have learnt so much by listening to him.

You can read about the course he runs here.

.

‘Stir–up Sunday’

.

Last years Christmas pudding

.

This Sunday is ‘Stir-up Sunday’.  This is the traditional day to make your Christmas pudding.

The name comes from the opening words of the collect (the prayer of the day), in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:

“Stir-up, we beseech thee” .

On Stir-up Sunday, families would return from the church and each give the pudding a stir and make a wish.  The pudding would be stirred from East to West  in honour of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus.

As with many English puddings, Christmas pudding started out as a meaty dish but evolved over the centuries, via Plum Pudding, into the sweet creation that we know today.

The recipe I have written below is one my eldest sister gave to me.  She has been making this pudding since she was eleven years old, so it is definitely tried and tested.  It is an unusual recipe because it doesn’t contain any alcohol and it doesn’t use eggs.  If you are dairy intolerant, I’m sure it would be fine to use soya milk instead of the cows milk too.

I’ve got to say it is delicious.

.

Helen’s Christmas Pudding Recipe

3 oz. plain flour

3oz soft brown sugar

1 lemon zest and juice

1 orange zest and juice

1 small carrot grated

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ oz. white breadcrumbs

1 ½ dessertspoons golden syrup

6 tablespoon of milk

¾ teaspoon mixed spice

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

3oz suet

3oz grated apple

1 lb. mixed dried fruit

.

Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Mix all the ingredients together and place in a greased pudding bowl.

Cut out two 12 inch squares of greaseproof paper.

Put the squares on top of each other and put a 1 inch pleat in the middle.

Tie the greaseproof paper over the pudding bowl with string.

Steam for six hours.

Either serve straight away or allow to cool and replace the greaseproof paper and store in the fridge.

.

My sister tells me that this pudding will keep in the fridge for up to a month.  However, the pudding tastes lovely the day you make it, so this pudding can be made much closer to Christmas.

I reheated the pudding in the microwave for approximately 13 minutes.  My microwave is only 700w so it may need less time, depending on how powerful your microwave is.  Just make sure it’s piping hot inside.

Thank you for reading my blog today

.