Tag Archive | Pumpkin

Introducing Judy Thrift And Some Pumpkin Recipes…

Last week it was half term here and we all went to Portsihead, near Bristol for a few days.  We stayed in a Travelodge and just across the road was a lovely marina, full of boats of all different sizes.

We used Portsihead as a base and spent a day in Bristol and another day in Weston-super-mare and I have got to say we were really lucky with the weather as it was so dry and mild for this time of the year.

Weston-super-mare

Weston-super-mare

The main reason for a visit to this area was so we could take a trip to a little place call ‘Clevedon’.

I had never heard of this place until a few months ago and it was a lovely, small seaside town with a wonderful pier.  You can read about the pier here if you are interested in finding out more about it.

There was a special reason we visited this pier and that was because my eldest daughter is a massive ‘One Direction’ fan and they recorded the video for one of their songs on this pier, so it made her very happy to tread on the same pier as they did.

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Clevedon really was a beautiful, quiet seaside town…just right for eating an ice cream whilst sitting watching the sailing boats on the sea…

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Introducing Judy:

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Our holiday was lovely but we all couldn’t wait to come home as we had a very special lady coming to live with us…….

I would like to introduce ‘Judy’, our wonderful rescue dog:

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We had been talking about getting a dog for a while now, but had decided to wait until after our October holiday.  However, a couple of weeks ago myself and Mr Thrift decided to go and ask the RSPCA what the proceedure was for re-homing a rescue dog and we both fell in love with this quiet, timid dog wagging it’s tail at us.

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website

This is the photo of Judy that was displayed on the RSPCA website

Poor Judy had been very frightened when she first came to the kennels at the beginning of October and was also very anxious.  All we know about her is she is a Jack Russell, Terrier Cross that is three years old and her previous owner was poorly and had to go into hospital, so I think the whole experience has been traumatic for her and she is a little bit underweight.

After we found her, I visited her twice a day at the RSPCA and took her for a walk and by day three I sat down and she jumped on my lap for a cuddle and I knew then that she was definately the right dog for us.

My daughters also visited her after school each day to make sure they took to her too.  She didn’t jump up or bark at my daughters when she first met them, she just wagged her tail which was great for my eldest daughter who has always been a bit scared of dogs.

So on the 22nd October we had a home visit from RSPCA (to make sure everything at home was as we said it would be) and last Thursday 23rd October, we brought her home and she has settled really well.

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She is still a bit anxious (especially of men), but she is having a great time with all the attention she is getting from the ‘Thrift’ family and she now jumps up all of us when she wants some ‘fuss’ and barks at passers by.

We all adore her!

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So I’m sorry to say that this week I haven’t been to my allotment, as I am only leaving Judy on her own for very short periods of time so she can get used to it.  But two things I did before our holiday was I added a new compost bin for my perrennial weeds at the back of my plot:

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As usual, I used strong string to tie the pallets together and lined it with old bits of weeds suppressant.

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I also managed to plant my winter onions which were sown in August.  I covered them in environmesh to stop the allium leaf miner laying their eggs at the base of the allium stems (the second generation lay their eggs between September and November).

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At home I had been drying a heritiage bean called ‘Carters Bean’ that I grew this year and this week I took all the dried seeds out of the pods and popped them into an envelope to store / share them ready for next year:

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Halloween

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I couldn’t finish today without mentioning Halloween.  So many pumpkins are carved and the insides are just thrown away, so I thought I would share a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes here with you:

***Don’t forget the pumpkin flesh can be frozen to use another day****

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Spicy Pumpkin Soup….the recipe is here.

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 Pumpkin and Orange Cake….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin and Apple Chutney….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin Lasange…the recipe is here.

 

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And Finally……

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A Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins Recipe:

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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.

 

Enjoy!

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And don’t forget, with a little bit of imagination you can make some spooky treats for your children and grandchildren:

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I hope you enjoy some spooky Halloween treats tonight.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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My lavender hedge at the allotment in July.

Thank you for reading my blog today.