Tag Archive | Patty pans

A Busy Weekend and Crab Apple Jelly

This weekend has been so busy.

I started by changing the covers on our three piece suite.  The weather forecast said that this week will probably be unsettled so I decided to change the covers while the weather was good.

When we bought the suite I particularly wanted removeable covers, so I could wash them.  We bought two sets of covers, a cream set and a brown set.  Because of this, it’s like having a new suite every six months when I change the covers.

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This weekend I picked my first sweetcorn and cooked it under the grill.  It was definately worth waiting for, as it was absolutely delicious, with lashings of butter and lemon juice.  Such a treat!

Our first sweetcorn this year

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This is the time of year that I am preserving and freezing my allotment produce, ready for the winter.

I also did a lot of batch baking on Saturday.  I started by making twenty bread rolls, which I sliced and froze ready for lunches during the week.

Then I made some fruit scones, ready for packed lunches.  I sliced and buttered them and then I froze them too.  I take one out each day and pop it straight into the lunch boxes and it is defrosted by lunch time.

Fruit Scones

I made a big pan full of Patty Pan soup for lunch on Saturday and I froze some of it in portions, ready for my daughters, when they come home from school really hungry.  I figure that a mug of soup is much better for them than a ‘sweet’ snack in between meals.  You can find the recipe for the soup here.

Patty Pans

I also cooked a big pan full of pasta sauce for tea.

Pasta / pizza sauce

I managed to freeze a portion for another day and I froze various small portions which I use as pizza sauce.

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I also made some more strawberry jam, using the strawberries from the freezer.

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On Saturday I attended a ‘Seed Saving Workshop’ which was run by ‘Ryton Organic Gradens’.  It was a really interesting afternoon.

Ryton Organic Gardens run various courses throughout the year and there is loads of interesting information on their website, which you can find here.

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In May this year, one of my friends invited me to go on a ‘Dummy run’ for a Foragers Course they were going to be running from our local ‘Eco House’.  It was absolutely fascinating.  They took me around my local park and introduced me to loads of things that I didn’t know you could eat.

You can see the Eco House website here.

I decided to go foraging for Crab Apples and I wasn’t disappointed.  I managed to find a whole bag full, so I could make Crab Apple Jelly.  Unfortunately, I sort of made the recipe up and forgot to weigh the apples, but this is how I did it.

Crab Apple Jelly

Ingredients:

Crab Apple (I used a carrier bag full)

Granulated Sugar

2 tablespoons of Lemon juice

Muslin or tea towel

 

Method:

First wash and top and tail the apples.

Put them into a large pan with just enough water to cover the apples and add the lemon juice.

Boil for approximately 25 minutes until the apples are soft.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and put your muslin or tea towel in it and boil for 3 minutes.  Take it out of the water and wring it out and then leave to cool.

Tip the fruit into the muslin and let it drip overnight or for approximately 8 hours.  I find it easier to put the muslin over a colander that is already over a bowl, as it’s easier to pour the fruit into it.

The next day put some side plates or saucers in the freezer to check the setting point of your jelly.

Measure the juice. For every 1 pint of juice, measure 1lb of sugar.  Put the juice and sugar back into a large pan and bring it to the boil slowly, over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved.

When you can see no sugar crystals on the back of your wooden spoon, turn the heat up and boil hard until the setting point has been reached. The apples are high in pectin so this will not take long.

To check the setting point, put a small amount of jelly on a saucer from the freezer and wait for a few moments, push the jelly with your finger and if it wrinkles then the setting point has been reached, if not, just continue boiling for a further five minutes and then check again.

When the setting point has been reached, take the pan off the heat and leave it for fifteen minutes while you sterilise your jars.

If there is scum on your jelly, you can skim it off, but I just stir in a small knob of butter which does the same job.

Sterilise some jam jars (gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)

Pour the jelly into the jars and seal with lids.

I use the jars that have sealable lids (i.e. the jars that jam is sold in at the supermarket). This way you don’t need to worry about wax discs to create a seal. As the jam cools, the lids ‘pop down’ and make you jump.

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I worked out that because I used apples that I foraged, my Apple Jelly was just 27p per jar to make.  The cheapest jelly I have managed to find in the supermarket is Bramble Jelly which is 80p a jar.  The supermarkets don’t seem to stock ‘Apple Jelly’ so I think you would need to buy it from specialist shops too.

It is really easy to make and tastes lovely.  You can serve it with meat, or on top of a slice of homemade bread.

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We finished the weekend with a lovely family picnic at Bosworth Country Park.

We played cricket, tennis and fed the ducks and we had lovely family time together.

We then went for a long walk.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

 

 

 

Bargain plants and Green Manure

Today I used the bargain plants I bought last week.

My local nursery were selling Begonia semperflorens and geraniums at a cost of £2, for a tray of 15 plants.  I bought three trays of Begonia’s and one tray of geraniums.  I also bought three dahlia’s for £1.00 each.  So that was an amazing bargain of 63 bedding plants for just £9!  I was obviously very pleased with this.

Today I set about using the plants.  I planted some at my allotment and the others I used to make up my hanging baskets and pots.  My back garden has been a bit negleted lately and these have really cheered the place up.  You can see them on the slide show below:

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Today at my allotment I sowed some ‘green manure’ on three of my empty beds.  The beds had my shallots in last week and they are now drying in my greenhouse ready for storing and pickling.

A green manure is a plant that is grown to benefit the soil.  Farmers have used green manures for centuries to improve soils.  It improves the fertility and soil structure. It helps to open up heavy soils and improve drainage and in light soils the green manure acts like a sponge and stops the moisture from draining away.

Green manures can also be used to help stop the nutrients from washing out of the soil in heavy rain, as they hold on to the nutrients through their roots.  Some green manures fix nitrogen in the soil as well, ready for the next crop you plant.

Green manures are usually used on bare patches of soil that are not going to be used for a while, but it can also be used between widely spaced plants, e.g. sweetcorn, to stop weed growth.

Green manures are good for predators that control pests, as they are a welcome habitat for them.  Frogs and beetles enjoy the damp, cool ground underneath it.

Some flying pests can be confused by green manures.  If you let it flower near to your crops e.g. under planting brassica’s with ‘trefoil’, this will help to deter cabbage root fly.

When you dig in green manures, it stimulates the activity of microscopic creatures that consume the decomposing foliage, which helps to have a healthy soil, which is good for the plants.

As an organic gardener I pay a lot of attention to feeding the soil rather than feeding the plant, as a healthy soil produces healthy plants.

One thing that needs to be taken into consideration, is that as a green manure foliage decomposes, it releases compounds that can inhibit the germination of small seeds, so it’s best to leave it for a while  before sowing.  This does have it’s good side, as it also inhibits weed seeds too.

 The green manure I chose today is ‘phacelia’, you can see it in my slide show above.

Phacelia tanacetifolia is good for sowing between March and September and it takes between one and three months to grow depending on growing conditions.

It is a green manure that tolerates most soils, which is why I chose it as I have a heavy clay soil.

If you leave phacelia to flower, it is a beautiful lavender colour that the bees absolutely love, which is why I have put it in my wildflower area.  The one drawback is that if you leave it to flower it self seeds like mad.

As I am sowing it as a green manure, I will chop it down and fork it in before it flowers, so it doesn’t grow and become a weed to me next year.

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Tonight I roasted the patty pans that I picked yesterday, together with a couple of homegrown onions and homegrown frozen parsnips from the winter.  I just put a spray of oil olive on the baking tray and on top of the vegetables and they were really tasty.  You can see them in my slide show above.

I served these with pork chops, homegrown potatoes, swede, cabbage and peas.  The only thing I paid for was the pork chops.  Therefore this was another frugal meal and the homegrown, organic vegetables always taste so nice.

It’s money saving to ‘grow your own’, but also living well for less.

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I hope you enjoyed reading todays post.

Tomorrow on ‘Bump the Blog’, I will be featuring another blog that I particularly like.

Hope to see you then.

 

Tidying Up My Strawberries and Cleaning the Old Fashioned Way

Today I cut back my strawberry plants.

I’ve had a bumper harvest of strawberries this year, there would have been even more if there wasn’t so many slugs and snails around in the damp weather.

The strawberries are sitting in my freezer, waiting for me to make strawberry jam for my youngest daughter, she absolutely adores it.

I will make jam as soon as I get time.

After my strawberries have finished fruiting, I cut them back and have a general tidy up around them.  Cutting them back helps produce more fruit the following year.  I removed the straw that was under the plants and put it onto my compost heap and weeded around them.  I then cut the strawberries back to approximately 3 inches (8 cm’s) from the crowns.  It always looks harsh but they grow back really well.

Strawberries after cutting them back

This is the second year my plants have fruited so I am not keeping any runners, so I cut them all off.

 Strawberries are best replaced after four years as their yield starts to reduce and viruses and diseases have a tendency to build up.

 If I wanted to increase my stock I would just peg down the runners with a large stone or wire, so that the new plantlets were in contact with the soil.  When they have good roots on them at the beginning of September, I cut each runner from their parent and replant it where I want it to grow.  This way they are settled before the winter and produce fruit the following year.

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Patty pans

Today I picked my first patty pans.  They are from two different plants that I have outdoors.

Patty pans are lovely and I use them in the same way I use butternut squash.  We like them fried in a little olive oil, but they can be roasted in the oven, or you can just make soup with them.

If you pick patty pans when they are the size of your palm, they won’t have seeds in and you can eat the whole thing.

Once the plant starts to produce fruit, they are like courgettes, as they keep coming and coming until the end of summer.

 Amazingly, my outdoor plants have produced patty pans before the plant that I have in my polytunnel.  I have learnt from this and will probably not plant them in my polytunnel again.  I wonder if it was either too humid for the plant, as a couple have just rotted after they started to form, or if pollination hasn’t occurred, which can have the same effect.

  I would be interested to hear from anyone who has problems growing them in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

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Before I left the allotment this morning I dead headed my flowers to encourage more flowers to produce.  I am very pleased with the sweet peas that are growing.  They smell beautiful when I walk through the archway each day.

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Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…

 

Today I am looking at using Lemon Juice:

 

Lemon juice – is a mild acid which has a bleaching and deodorising effect. It also dissolves grease. It is an antibacterial and antifungal cleaner.  As it is acidic and is a natural bleach be careful to test on small hidden areas first and again don’t use it on marble.

Below are some ways to use Lemon Juice:

If you don’t have any vinegar then use lemon juice as an alternative, as it cuts through grease.  Lemon juice diluted in hot water is a great gentle cleaner for the kitchen.

Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and can remove lime scale.  You can use lemon juice on bathroom taps to make them shine.

Wipe lemon juice on a chopping board as it is antibacterial and it will remove stains and smells.

Rub lemon juice on your hands if they smell strongly of garlic or onion as it will remove the smell.

Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge to give a fresh smell to your fridge.

Make a cleaning paste with lemon juice and bicarb.

Make up a polish by using 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice.  It polishes wood well.

Lemon juice is great for cleaning tarnished brass and copper.  Dip half a lemon in salt and this makes an acidic scrub.

Cut half a lemon and dip it in bicarb and use to clean surfaces and stains.

Put a couple of slices of lemon in a bowl of water in your microwave and cook on high for 3 or 4 of minutes.  You will be able to wipe it clean easily afterwards.

Put left over lemons in your dishwasher to give your pots a lovely lemon smell and an extra shine.

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Yesterday I talked about using ‘bicarb’ and I wanted to show you an example of how well it really cleans:

This is my sink before I cleaned it.

I cleaned it with bicarb on a damp cloth and I used an old toothbrush to clean around the plug hole.

Below is the sink after I cleaned it:

This proves that the bicarb really does work and it only took me a few minutes to do.

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This is the end of my ‘old fashioned’ cleaning tips for the week.

I will shortly put all the cleaning tips from the last three days in categories, at the side of my blog.  This way you can refer back to them quickly if you need to.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about old fashioned cleaning methods.  I would love to hear your comments and any old fashioned cleaning tips that you use.

Well that’s it for today.  Thank you for reading my post.

Sweet William at my allotment