Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Cat amongst the pigeons

I saw this in the West End of Glasgow a few months ago. I think it's a good time to share as it's purpose I am sure is to make people smile, somewhat...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Purple Blueberries

Yesterday I showcased some of my allotment raspberries. Today in the limelight are the last of my blueberries from the garden. These will be enjoyed au naturale.
In my younger years, I used to wear a lot of black and dark reds, but as I have got older I now wear a lot of browns and purples. I think blueberries are such a beautiful two tone colour. A colour I would be happy to wear, a bit like these hydrangea flowers growing in Nessie's garden.
Nic of Nipitinthebud says hydrangea flowers remind her of butterflies, I can see why.
See I told you I wore purple, I even have some accessories to match. I felt I had to showcase this little glitzy little evening bag as my mother got it for me. I hope you don't mind.

Weather forecast

It's a public holiday in parts of Scotland today, so I have the day off from work. D and me had decided to go out somewhere for a drive, but the persistent rain and the dark overcast clouds made us change our minds. Instead we are having a lazy day...doing not very much.
A colleague of mine e mailed a link to this picture to me a little while ago. It was taken by some tourist at the Lobster Pot Cafe in Berneray, Scotland. I share it with you to make you smile.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Raspberry Crown cupcakes

I wanted to enjoy the freshness and natural flavours of the Autumn raspberries I picked earlier from Plot 11, but I also wanted something sweet - like chocolate, so I made a compromise.
Chocolate cupcakes lavishly smeared with raspberry jam and then crowned with fresh raspberries. I was so pleased with them, worthy of any regal party.
Make a reliable chocolate cupcake recipe. When made and cooled down, spread lightly with some raspberry jam, then top elegantly with fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

Orange, yellow with specks of green and purple

Finally and it has been worth the wait. My dwarf sunflowers have opened up their little heads. Here is one of them, fragile and raggedly, yet elegant.
I know I harvested some veg yesterday, but today I harvested a little more. Some chantenay and rainbow carrots, a snowball cauliflower that I actually put into the compost bin as it was too gone, a cabbage that the snails were starting to make a feast of, and some Autumn raspberries. And my first apple from the James Grieve tree we planted early in the year in plot 45. I only saw two apples growing on the tree, but one had fallen to the ground early in the year.
I still have scarlet runner beans and climbing beans growing, though not uniform.
I decided to tidy up and weed one of the overlooked brassica beds and look what I found on the plot, silverline Brussels sprouts. I thought these were nine star white sprouting broccoli, as I planted them next to the PSB, but on closer inspection today, I realised they were Brussels sprouts. I really thought none of my Brussels sprouts seeds had germinated. I must have lost track somewhere along the way. It made my day, I am glad that I may yet have my own homegrown sprouts on my plate on Christmas day.
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, will know that I had planted out some PSB this year in March but it was growing early in July. Well guess what, it is September and I still have some growing. Admittedly, much of it has gone to seed, but it is definitely still growing. Look!
I still haven't been given the reason why it is growing so early and have not read of any other blogger encountering early PSB either, so if any of you kind readers has an explanation of why I have PSB growing in the late summer, instead of the following year, it would be most appreciated. For now, I will enjoy what is growing and count my lucky, lucky stars.
My musselburgh leeks are doing grand! I may take a couple of baby leeks out in a week or two. I still have another tray to go into the ground, so that will be a job for next week, as well as some curly kale and cavolo nero.
My lavender and marigolds are still thriving, continuing to add colour to the plot.
I decided to deadhead some of the marigold flowers. These marigolds are pretty much gone, honest. I would not have picked them otherwise.
and some of the lavender flowers that were losing that vibrant purpleness.
In one of the beds I generously planted some fenugreek seeds. It's a green manure, but it's leaf is also edible. I like eating fenugreek, so this will have a dual purpose when it grows.
Okay, I felt I had to share this, just in case you didn't know, but I am sure you do. What you shouldn't put in a compost bin: Nasturtium flowers. This is my plot neighbours compost bin, as pretty as nasturtium flowers are they should never be disposed of in a compost bin, why? because they are self-seeding, therefore, you have them pretty much forever! It may be nice in your garden, but not in the compost bin.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Some green tomatoes

Spent about an hour at the allotment today.
The tomatoes are nearing their end. D picked a couple of trusses of green tomatoes in mind that I would make either 'fried green tomatoes' or a 'green tomato chutney'. We'll see, but it did not happen today. We also lifted some potatoes, we have about half a bed worth of potatoes left. Under the brassica bed netting I also picked some broccoli. Although the broccoli has been good, I have found them a bit on the small side, unlike the big heads you find at grocers, depending on how many seeds I have left in the packet, I may decide to grow another variety next year. Oh and I found one cooking apple on my plot, hey it may come in handy for another chutney!

We still have quite a bit to do at the allotment, so may spend more time there tomorrow, as today we did not really put much effort into working the plot, more looking around and harvesting.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Chilli Cucumbers and Chimichangas

Many of the towns and cities in parts of the U.S of A have their own Canteena Mexicana. The way Indian and Chinese food is popular in the UK, I guess in the USA it is the same with Mexican food. In Scotland, there have been a couple of attempts to open a Mexican restaurant, but have been disappointing and extremely expensive, for ingredients that were relatively cheap such as the tortillas and rice.
I know in London, the first British MasterChef winner 2005 Thomasina Miers has successfully opened Wahaca (correct spelling Oaxaca - it has been changed to make it easier to pronounce) aims to offer authentic Mexican food to Londoners. I really like her approach to food, there is no pretense or nonsense. I am so envious of those of you who can easily access the Oaxaca restaurant or even a decent Mexican eatery where you are. If I lived near one I would have worked my way through every veggie friendly dish there was.
There is one excellent Mexican-American shop in Glasgow, the West of Scotland, Lupe Pintos which I frequent now and again for specialist ingredients, but otherwise spice heads like me, have to make our own Mexican dishes, inauthentic as they are, they serve our fiery appetites well. So here is one of the most popular ones: Chimichangas.
One of the great things about Chimichangas is that once you’ve assembled the main components, you can put them in the fridge and forget about them till it’s time for cooking. Oh yeah, chimichangas are traditionally deep fried, but these are oven baked.

Make the refried beans and the red hot sauce
Make the chive sour cream sauce, which is real simple: 1 pint of sour cream, a small handful of chives, thinly sliced and optional 100g cooked sweetcorn. Simply stir all the ingredients and season. Then chill until ready to use.
Make your own favourite guacamole recipe.
I wanted a vegetable accompaniment, and with cucumbers being in season and at their best right now, I thought why not some chilli cucumbers. I grew up eating spiced cucumbers and spiced tomatoes this way, so this combination was quite acceptable to me, but was a new one for D. He did enjoy it, saying it was both spicy and refreshing!
Chilli cucumbers
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 generous teaspoon of chilli powder
Simply mix the the salt and chilli powder together and scatter evenly over the sliced cucumbers.
To assemble the chimichangas You will need
4 large Tortillas
225g Mozzarella cheese, grated
Optional Lime wedges to garnish
Refried beans
Take a tortilla and fill with refried beans. Fold over. Place on a well oiled tray. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cook in the oven Gas mark 5 for 30 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve on plates along with sauces and accompaniments as desired.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Roasted butternut squash with spiced chickpeas

I have made this dish a number of times now, and it is one of my autumnal after work favourite dishes. In the past I have substituted the butternut squash with sweet potatoes, or used the two together which have worked just as well. The dish also includes my own red hot chillies.
Chillies are reputed to aid digestion, cure asthma even, and are even rich in Vitamin C. Apparently chillies have aphrodisiac properties too! The chilli pepper comes from a pod like berry of various species of capsicum found in Latin America. As you may already be aware, chillies were discovered by Columbus accidentally - it has since become an essential store cupboard ingredient in many kitchens all over the world.
Although Britain has so many 'Indian' take aways and restaurants, many ironically with the word 'Chillies' in its title, as a nation of 'curry' lovers, however, we Brits are still reluctant to experiment with the chilli. Whereas, in places like India or Mexico, for instance it is eaten daily and added to virtually everything. Apparently in Mexico there are more than 2,000 varieties to choose from. The most familiar of these are jalapenos, seranos, and habaneras. When preparing chillies, handle them with care and avoid touching the eyes. Otherwise, you know what will happen - that burning sensation in the mouth maybe sensational, but not anywhere else on the body.

I am submitting this dish to Lakshmi Venkatesh over at Kitchen Chronicles who is hosting this month's edition of Think Spice - Think Red Chillies, which is a blog event set up by Sunita over at Sunita's World.

As this dish of roasted butternut squash is quite sweet, yes even with the spices and chillies, it is still sweet. I serve it alongside a contrasting flavour such as this lemon griddled broccoli. I just steam the broccoli till tender, then put on a hot griddle pan to char a little. Then simply drizzle with lemon juice and some seasoning which includes a gentle sprinkling of chilli flakes too.
If you have any of this left over, and chances are you probably won’t but just in case. Add the remains to couscous and you have some lunch for tomorrow.

Roasted butternut squash with spiced chickpeas
Serves 4
1 small butternut squash
2 – 4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 spring onions, sliced diagonally including the green parts
2 fresh red chillies, sliced
200g of cooked chickpeas
200ml vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of minced coriander
Peel the squash, slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop the flesh into bite sized pieces. Put them into and large oven proof dish and toss them in 2 tablespoons of oil. Roast at gas mark 5 for about 10 -15 minutes or until tender. Then add 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds to the dish and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Then add the stock or water, salt and minced coriander along with the remaining oil and give it a good stir so to combine. Return to the oven for about 8 minutes so the stock and chickpeas are warmed through. Then serve along with the juices. Adapted from Denis Cotters Cafe Paradiso Seasons.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Strawberry Ice Roses

or would you prefer strawberry fields forever?
I have often wondered what the difference was between Sorbet and Granita? As both contain the same ingredients and are dairy free. The main difference between them is texture created by the freezing process. Sorbets are smoother due to the churning, or beating during freezing. Whereas granitas are not stirred in any way while freezing, which makes the texture is somewhat crystalline and are more like ice granules when scraped and heaped into serving dishes. Which ever you prefer, both are excellent thirst quenchers. Although I don't have many strawberries growing now, the small wild strawberries, also known as alpine strawberries are still fruiting.

I made this over a month ago, when the strawberries at the allotment plot were ripening faster than I could eat them fresh. After success with the rhubarb sorbet and the rosemary and lemon sorbet. I had decided to make a strawberry version a way to make the strawberry flavours last through the autumn and winter seasons.

This is also my contribution to Grow your own (GYO) a brilliant idea which was started by Andrea Meyer of Andrea's Recipes. GYO celebrated its Second Year Anniversary last month. I really enjoy contributing to this food blogger event as it supports the principle behind my blog that celebrates the foods we grow ourselves. GYO# 36 is being hosted by Dido of Mowgli Chic.

Strawberry Sorbet or is it a strawberry granita - You decide!
You will also need a large freezer tub.
500g ripe strawberries
175g caster sugar
1 pint water
4 tablespoons lemon juice
First hull the strawberries, then put them in a colander and rinse briefly with cold water. Drain well and then quarter them, before transferring them to a food processor. Blend to a smooth puree, then add the sugar and blend again very briefly. After that add the water and lemon juice, blend one more. Pour into freezer box, cover with lid and put into freezer for 2 hours.
Remove from freezer, put back into food processor and blend until the ice has broken down, pour back into container and put back into freezer. You will have to repeat this process twice more to achieve that smooth texture. Adapted from a Delia Smith recipe.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

French Pear Tart

This is what I decided to do with the pears that I had left over from the jam recipe.
French Tarte de Cambrai a moist, buttery pear pudding cake
Serves 6 – 8
4 – 6 ripe pears
2 tbsp Sugar
For the batter
110g self-raising flour
A pinch of slat
80g caster sugar
4 tbsp sunflower oil
120ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to gas mark 6. Grease a 9 inch shallow cake tin. Peel, core and half the pears. To make the batter, sift the flour and salt. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, milk and eggs. Beat together slowly combining into a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Arrange the pear slices on top, and then sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until golden and puffed.

Eat warm with cream.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sungold Pear Jam

Our allotment neighbours pear tree is mostly leaning on our side, and recently with a gush of wind here and there, we had an unexpected pear windfall to enjoy. Before I picked them up and claimed them, I asked D about etiquette, should I throw these back to her plot or take them as an unexpected bonus from mother nature. He said they’ve fallen on our side, take them unless you want the slugs to have them. So I did.
During the course of the week, I must have gathered about 18 small pears.

I am not really one for eating pears, so yesterday I decided to make this pear jam recipe. It's a good recipe as it shows gives you step by step instructions, except silly me did not follow them to the end. As you will note, my pears are up on one end, well apparently I should have turned the jar upside down whilst it was cooling and this would have distributed the pears a bit more evenly and I didn't use a vanilla pod. Also according to the recipe, it takes about 6 hours, mine didn't take that long, maybe two hours in all.

The sun gold colour looks fabulous just like golden syrup. I think this pear jam would be great on croissants!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Home-made Tomato Sauce

I saw this interesting image at the Museum yesterday and thought it would be great to accompany one of my pickles or sauces recipes.
So here they are, two jars of simple tomato ketchup. The fresh tomato supply is starting to dwindle now, but at least I will have some jars of home-made sauces, pickles and chutneys to enjoy in the coming months. Tomato Ketchup
Makes 400ml
2 tbsp olive oil
225g onions, peeled and sliced
600g tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
75ml white wine vinegar
50g sugar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onions and toss over a medium heat until cooked and a little golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer with the lid for about 30 minutes, until very soft. Remove from the heat and whizz in a liquidiser or food processor. Pour through a sieve into a clean saucepan and simmer, uncovered and stirring regularly for another 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick. Pour into sterilised jars or bottles and cover with lids. Adapted from Rachel Allens Rachels Favourite food at home.

The Recycling Gardener

Here is some of our harvest from plot 45 except for the Autumn raspberries, they came from plot 11. The climbing/french beans are starting to go a funny shape now, I think they are nearing the end too. The baby carrots were pulled out from one of our recycled plastic tubs.
Oh talking about recycling, one of my fellow bloggers Jenn of Recycling Gardener is giving away a book. It's called "Welcome Home For The Holidays". I am not familiar with the book, but according to Jenn it has a lot of Autumnal and Winter Ideas, so how could I resist! I regularly comment on Jenn's blog so entering the competition was not that difficult for me, but if you want to be in with a chance to win this book, this is what you have to do. 1. You must share a recycled tip not already posted on her blog. 2. Share her Blog and the competition with others! And then this is the tricky bit, Have your friend post a comment and say that you told them about the competition. Jenn will pick the winner on the best submitted Recycling Tip and announce this on the 1st October 2009. She will also write an entry about the winning idea and try it out herself!

So what recycling idea did I submit, well it had to be Welly woof woof!

If you do decide to visit her blog, please be sure to let her know that your came via A2K it would be most appreciated.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The old and the new

It's Heritage Open Days in the U.K, except for some reason in Scotland it's called Doors Open Days. Anyway, the idea is you are given free access to hundreds of fascinating buildings across the U.K. Every weekend in September you can explore places that are normally closed to the public. Some open up once a year, some just once in a lifetime...
Can you guess?! Yes, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum that is open pretty much all year round. Are we nuts? This picture was taken from the Kelvingrove Park. I like the way the modern graffiti art and skateboarders playground is set against the grandeur of the Museum.
This picture is taken from Glasgow University, another perspective of the Museum. You can see why we decided to go the the Museum, the overcast of the dark clouds kept threatening to rain, so shelter was very much welcomed. C'mon let me take you into the museum.
Most people equate Glasgow with the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and this is so
but I want to show you what I saw through my eyes. This looks like a scene from The Fisher King.
And this one likes like a scene from the amusing movie Night in the Museum. Am I on a movie set?
I really loved these heads hanging from the ceiling.
Each and everyone with their own expression.
Some funny, some sad...
Some angry, some cheery,
Okay enough of these. May I introduce you to Elvis, or at least a caricature of him.
I saw this piece originally at the GoMA museum.
It was quite popular then and still is, I can see why the Kelvingrove have acquired it. It is a popular photo-shot by all who come through these doors. Am I right Nic?!
I have been to the Kelvingrove a few times, and each time I go back I see something different, something I missed the first, second,third and fourth time around.
There were a number of 'exotic masks' in one of the Children's Learning section for educational purposes. I couldn't resist...
Then I got D to pose as well. He's quite handsome under all that - really! Well I think he is.
Amongst our child play, we were quite serious in our observations or the works displayed at the Kelvingrove. This was a poster depicting the Hindu God Rama. After it's refurbishment, the Kelvingrove Museum has made an attempt to recognise some of the 'migrant communities' living in Scotland.
This is a painting of a Bengali potter who came over for the 1888 Empire Exhibition. I think this is one of my favourite images.
"I Belong To Glasgow" is a song written by the music hall entertainer Will Fyffe, in 1927. It is one of a very small number of pre-war songs still well-known today, and has been covered by number of artist including Eartha Kitt. Around 2005, the song title was adopted by a number of solidarity groups, challenging the 'racial tension' in Glasgow, especially around asylum seekers and refugees of colour arriving from places like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan in the late 1990s. These new migrants dubbed by many as the new Scots were being victimised in parts of Glasgow, some even brutally assaulted. Solidarity groups asserted that these new Scots belonged to Glasgow. Glasgow City Council even designed a poster around this, it was all over billboards, bus stops and buses at the time. The poster depicted people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds, all claiming that they 'belonged to Glasgow'. The poster also touched on another issue: sectarianism on relationships between Protestant and Catholic communities in Glasgow.
These are some more images of migrants from South Asian (Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh) backgrounds now living in Glasgow. Some school girls skipping, the other a Bride. For some brides it is the happiest day of their lives, for most South Asian brides it is the saddest day of their lives as they are leaving the home of their parents - their cradle.
I really loved this painting, sorry it's the best I could do. It depicts the links between the Punjab and Scotland. Click on it to see if you can identify any of those links.
Here's once slightly closer. You can see the Celtic (Catholic) and Rangers (Protestant) football shirts in the back, the Sikh lad and lasses wearing Tartan outfits. It really is an interesting ands intriguing painting.
This image is so true too. Have you watched The Royal Tenenbaums. When I lived in Glasgow during my University years, I was astounded by these tenement flats, so sturdy, unless the flimsy buildings you see these days.
As we left the Museum, we came across this building. It is not that far from the museum, the modern artwork had been removed to reveal some of the original signage below it. This cafe opened in 1890, two years after the Kelvingrove Museum opened. Fascinating, what you can find if you look.