Tag Archive | Halloween

Things To Do In The Kitchen Garden In November & Pumpkin Week

When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.

I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north. Therefore, this is a general guide.

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November:

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Vegetables and salads to harvest:

Kale, celeriac, parsnips (parsnips taste sweeter after a good hard frost though), swede, carrots, red and white cabbages, Brussels tops, Jerusalem artichokes, winter spinach, kohl rabi’s, oriental salads (if they have been given protection), cauliflowers, turnips, Swiss chard, celery, leeks, radish, land cress, corn salad, rocket.

Fruit to harvest:

Autumn raspberries may still be producing if there haven’t been any hard frosts. There may still be time to pick the last of your late season apples too.

Vegetables and salads to sow:

Over wintering broad beans e.g. Aquadulce.

Things to plant:

Garlic. Rhubarb, bare-rooted fruit trees and fruit bushes before the ground becomes too wet.

Jobs to do:

Remove old plant debris and weeds and dig in compost, manure or leaf mould if your ground needs it.  If you operate a ‘no-dig’ system, just spread it over the top so the worms will do the work for you.

Cover late crops with cloches, i.e. oriental leaves.

Add lime to your soil if it needs it, before the ground becomes too wet (to increase the PH of your soil).  Don’t add lime at the same time as your manure, as they will chemically react with each other.

Add all the old plant debris to your compost heap as long as it’s not diseased.

Cover areas that have been cleared if you can, to stop the rain from leaching the nutrients out of your soil over the winter.

Mulch celeriac and globe artichokes with straw to stop any frost damage.

Bend a few leaves over on your cauliflowers to protect them from frost.

Weed around your fruit trees and bushes and remove fruit cages so the birds can pick off any insects or eggs on them.

As the fruit trees and fruit bushes become dormant, it is time to start to prune them (except cherries and plums).  Remove any dead or diseased branches first.

Catch up with jobs that you didn’t get time to do in the summer e.g. painting your shed, making a new compost heap etc.

Collect leaves to make leaf mould.

Continue to fill a trench with all your old peelings, where you will be planting runner beans next year.  This will help retain the moisture in those long hot summers  (the ones we dream of).

Plant remaining daffodil bulbs and start to plant tulip bulbs.

Plan what you will be growing next year and enjoy reading through seed catalogues and ordering your seeds.

November pests and diseases:

Remove yellow leaves from brassica’s as this can encourage grey mould.

Whitefly can still be a problem on brassica’s, so either squash them between your fingers or spray them.

Pigeons get hungry at this time of year, so make sure you net your brassica’s.

Watch out for mice as they like to eat your newly planted broad bean seeds, garlic and over wintering onion sets.

Check your stored produce for rot, so it doesn’t spread.

Remove rotten fruit that may still be hanging on your fruit trees.

Fit grease bands or paint on fruit tree grease, if you didn’t do it last month, to stop the winter moth climbing up and laying its eggs.

I hope this information has been helpful.

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It’s the last day of my ‘Pumpkin week’ and today is the last of my recipes to use up the pumpkin that you scooped out of your halloween lanterns:

Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins

600g self-raising flour

220g soft brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

300g raisins

2 eggs

400g pumpkin puree

150ml sunflower oil

The zest of 3 oranges

200ml of orange juice

A sprinkling of muscovado sugar for the top of each muffin

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 5 / 375F / 190C

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and sugar into large bowl and stir in the raisins.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and then mix in the pumpkin, oil, orange zest and juice.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until there is no flour visible. There will be still lots of lumps left (this is the secret of good sized muffins.

 

Half fill muffin cases with the mixture and sprinkle each muffin with a little muscavado sugar.

 

Bake for 25 minutes until the cakes are firm to the touch and golden brown.

 

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

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How We Celebrated Halloween and Pumpkin Week Continued

I’m really pleased as the BBC has published my recipes on their website.  The recipes are the ones I cooked in their kitchen, live on air, on Tuesday.

You can read them here  (below the picture of Jim Davis).

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Yesterday (Halloween), I spent the whole day preparing for the evening.

I decorated our front room and hallway and put our pumpkin on the doorstep ready for later.

I also made one hundred cupcakes ready for the children that would come ‘Trick or Treating’.

I managed to get some cheap Halloween cake cases and I made fairy cakes and decorated them with icing that had food colouring mixed in.  I used sprinkles and plastic spiders, etc to decorate them.

We all dressed up for the evening and used our face paints to paint our faces.

I bought these face paints when the girls were toddlers and they have lasted all these years and they are still good.

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We had a lovely Halloween meal of Pumpkin lasagne, salad and potato wedges.

I then followed this with Pumpkin and Orange muffins (the recipe will be on my blog tomorrow), Halloween cup cakes,

And finally ‘Witches Fingers’ Jelly.

The children that knocked at our door, all seemed impressed with the cakes.  However, we were absolutely amazed, as all of the one hundred cakes went in just one hour!  I just can’t believe how many children knocked at our door in such a short time.  They were all polite and grateful for them though.

After this, we brought our pumpkin in and switched off the lights at the front of the house, to let people know not to knock.

My youngest daughter had prepared a Halloween quiz for us and some Halloween games for us to play.  One of which was bobbing apples.

Just in case some readers from abroad haven’t heard of bobbing apples, this is where you have to pick up an apple from a bowl of water using just your mouth.  We had fun doing this.

We finished off the evening with a ‘spooky story’ that I had downloaded from the internet for free.

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Pumpkin Week Continued:

To continue with our ‘Pumpkin Week’, below I’ve written another recipe to use up the pumpkin that you have scooped out of your Halloween pumpkin.

Don’t forget that your pumpkin can be frozen to use later on in the year.

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Pumpkin Lasagne Recipe

Spaghetti Bolognaise sauce (you can find the recipe here)

6-8 sheets of lasagne

600 grams raw pumpkin

Half a pint of white sauce (make the same sauce as here, but omit the parsley)

Enough cheese to sprinkle on top.

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Preheat the oven Gas 6 / 204C / 400F

Pre-cook the lasagne in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Cook the pumpkin for a few minutes until soft and drain all the water.  Gently press some of the water out with a fork.

Make a white sauce.

Put half of the pre-made spaghetti bolognaise sauce in the bottom of a dish.

Put half the pumpkin over the bolognaise sauce.

Layer half of the lasagne sheets over the pumpkin and then cover with half of the white sauce.

Repeat the above three steps.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thank you for reading my blog.

Halloween Trivia and Pumpkin Recipe Week

Why do we celebrate Halloween?

Halloween originated back in the 5th century BC.  The Celts celebrated the end of summer and the gathering in of the harvest with a festival called ‘Samhain’, which took place on the night of 31 October.  It was believed that on this night the boundaries between the living and the dead became blurred, and that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth in search of living bodies to possess for the following year.

A large part of the celebration involved the building of huge bonfires, which were thought to welcome friendly spirits and ancestors, but ward off those considered dangerous. People would dress up in animal heads and skins and noisily parade around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

The name ‘Halloween’ came from All Saints Day on 1 November, named by Pope Boniface IV in the seventh century.  It was a day given in honour of saints and martyrs. It is believed that it was the Pope’s attempt to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows, All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated from a ninth-century European custom called ‘souling’. On November 2 (All Souls Day), Christians would walk from village to village begging for ‘soul cakes’, made out of square pieces of bread with currants.  The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors.  At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could help a soul’s passage to heaven.

Now a days, children go trick-or-treating, which means dressing up and knocking at doors shouting “trick or treat”.  If you do not give a treat then the children will play a trick on you.  In actual fact, in England, it’s polite for children to only knock on a door that obviously welcomes ‘trick or treaters’.

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Interesting facts:

About 99% of pumpkins marketed domestically are  ‘Jack O’Lanterns’ used at Halloween.

In the United States, 86% of Americans decorate their homes for Halloween.

Magician Harry Houdini died in 1926 on the 31st October.

The record for the fastest pumpkin carver in the world is held by Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, Ohio. He carved a pumpkin in just 37 seconds!

People have believed for centuries that light keeps away ghosts and ghouls. Making a pumpkin lantern with a candle inside may keep you safe from all the spooky spirits flying around on Halloween.

The record for the heaviest pumpkin grown is 2009 lbs.!  You can see the pumpkin here.

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Thanks to Mrs Yub, one of my regular readers, I have a link here to a website that shows some wonderful carved pumpkins.  Some of them are absolutely brilliant.

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Now I’ll continue with my ‘Pumpkin Recipe Week’, so you can use up the pumpkin flesh that you scoop out of your halloween pumpkins.  Don’t forget you can put your chopped up pumpkin flesh straight into a freezer bag (without blanching) and put it into your freezer, to use at a later date.

Today’s recipe is:

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Spicy Pumpkin Soup

1.4kg Raw pumpkin cut into chunks

2 Medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

2 onions, chopped

1 ½ pints of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon mild chilli powder

A tablespoon olive oil

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Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then slowly fry the onion and potato until they are nearly soft.

 

Add the garlic and pumpkin and continue frying for 1 minute.

Add all the other ingredients and bring them to the boil.

 

Simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes until the ingredients are soft.

 

Blend the soup in a liquidiser or by using a stick blender.

 

Bring the soup back to the boil and serve with some nice homemade bread.

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I freeze this soup in one bowl portions, which I defrost and reheat. I take it in a flask to the allotment and it’s very warming on a cold autumn day.

Enjoy your ‘Halloween’.

Thank you for reading my blog today.