Sunday 25 September 2011

Looking ahead

There are still flowers to pick in the garden but now I am starting to think of next year's display. I've been to the garden centre to buy some bulbs. I don't have a great deal of success with tulips and I think that the squirrels are to blame. But it doesn't stop me from a bit of hopeful planting. I bought this box of thirty 'Queen of the Night' for only £2.99, how's that for a bargain? Surely the squirrels won't eat them all!

The alliums were good this year, nothing seems to like eating them, so I've bought some more to bulk up my display. I'm also collecting dried seeds from my established plants and putting them in envelopes to keep for planting next spring.

The year ahead always promises to be wonderful. Gardeners are born optimists, don't you think?

Monday 19 September 2011


It's a bit back-endish, as they say up north. High winds and lashings of rain have brought the apples tumbling from the trees. To my surprise, all the pears from my second small tree have hung on in defiance of the weather. I don't know the variety and whether I should pick them now to ripen off the branch, as I do with our other pear tree that has already finished fruiting.

The 'Honorine Joubert' that I bought at last year's plant fair, is flowering nicely,

and the cosmos, 'Purity', still continuing to give a good account of itself. It's one of my favourite annuals.

After wandering round the garden wondering where to plant the rose that I bought at the rare plant sale the other week I decided to put it in a pot. Every blue tinged rose that I've ever bought has given me a few sickly years before pegging out. I'll over winter this one in the greenhouse and see if it will thrive on being cosseted.

At the moment it is sitting outside by one of my very full water tubs!
Colour is fading from the garden and the remaining flowers look rather bedraggled. It always surprises me how, when you bring just a few blooms in from outside, they give such a good account of themselves.

I've stripped the leaves from the tomato plants so that the low autumn sun (ha ha!) can ripen what remains.

They have cropped really well this year, as have the apples.

I'm baking trays of apfelkucken to freeze. I think I posted the recipe last autumn. It's a Victoria sponge cake base stuck with apple segments and dusted with sugar and cinnamon and it freezes really well.

My latest gadget is great! We already have at least three nut crackers. Could they crack our walnuts? Could they thump. But I've treated myself to this one that administers an effortlessly crushing grip.

Just as well - I've still got a sackful of nuts from last year's crop and this year's are ripening nicely. (Only don't tell the squirrels.)

Saturday 3 September 2011

Mellow fruitfulness

Summer has crept quietly away, the days are gentle, but morning and evening the air chills. I've been cutting down and clearing and a bonfire has been burning steadily for a day or so.

Small autumn cyclamen are popping up all over the garden.

It's my neighbour's birthday today so I picked her some flowers.

Happy Birthday, Kim!

Some things have relished the dull, wet summer. I have a wonderful crop of apples, all the brassica are excellent, as are the leeks and onions.
Red onions are one of my staples and I try to grow enough to last me all through the year.

The caterpillars had a lovely time with the red cabbage throughout the summer whilst I was inside hiding from the rain. Only the tough outer leaves have been under attack. Once they have been stripped away there is a clean, healthy heart all ready to be  enjoyed.

Braised red cabbage.

2lb red cabbage, finely sliced.
1lb onions, ditto
1lb apples, ditto
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of wine vinegar
clove garlic
1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
1/4 level teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and cloves.

Place in layers in a large casserole dish, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of chopped garlic, brown sugar, grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon and cloves. Pour over three good tablespoons of wine vinegar, put on a firm lid and cook for 2 - 3 hours in the oven at gas mark 2 (150C). Give it a stir now and then.
Reheats well.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Plum tuckered out

The plum glut continues and I've been casting around for new recipes. This one, from the newspaper, is delicious. There wasn't a photograph, which is always a pity, because I didn't know whether I was supposed to make a pastry rim or not. I did make one and it overcooked and burnt a little on the edge. Next time I shall make just the slightest return, not exactly a rim. Neither do I know if the thinned down redcurrant jelly was supposed to go on top as an even glaze - mine was an erratic drizzle. 
But it tasted good!  I do think that a photograph is a great help, don't you?

I made a clafoutis using plums instead of my usual red or blackcurrants or the traditional choice of cherries. (The recipe for clafoutis is on Miss Cellany's July 'cherries' posting.)
And I made a bit more jam. That's why I'm plum tuckered out!

Steve, at An Urban Cottage has bought a nifty little gadget called a 'spiralizer'. It's a spiral vegetable slicer that he uses for making zucchini spaghetti. His recipe looked delicious so I set to work with my humble veg peeler and produced some strips.

All home grown. You know what they say - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!