Monday, 25 May 2020

Blooming Roses

I've had a busy working week, so I was grateful for the long weekend.

It gave me time to do some cooking, baking and gardening, as well as reflecting and resting. 
Shelter from the bright sunshine
So here are some photographs of progress in my vegetable garden plot.
Progress on the carrot box.   I will thin these out at some point. 
Broad beans with some pak choi in between (corutesy of our neighbour).  Please don't chuckle at my cane stoppers.  I had some terracota pig canes that I picked up from Oxfam UK many years ago, but someone pinched them (when I lived in a rented accommodation). Anyway, these small cane will save me from losing an eye.  
Neckar gold climbing beans on stick wigwams. I like the naturalness of these wigwam frames as opposed to the canes we buy normally buy from the shops (and it was free, thanks to mother nature).

The blue netting behind is housing our Brassica plants, saving from those pesky white cabbage butterflies.  Beneath it we have Romensco Cauliflowers and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.  At some point these will be joined by Blue Kale.
We have two types of peas - Champion and Telephone.
I have planted out the courgette plants and perpetual spinach.  
So what do I have for Harvest Monday ?! 

I have pulled out all the Rainbow Swiss Chard that had begun to bolt.  
 I've made lots of dishes with it including these Rainbow Chard Pakoras aka Onion Bhaji's.
And Garlicky Rainbow Chard Pasta Salad.I am sharing this blog post with Dave over at Happy Acres who hosts Harvest Monday every week.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Lunch: Lemon Balm Drizzle Cake and Indian Inspired Potato and Chickpea Salad

Some of my colleagues and people I am meeting through Zoom are saying that they are losing track of days, but I am like - Is it Friday yet ? 

I have been busy at home during a crisis trying to work.  In fact, I think I am sure I am working harder from home more than i ever did in the office, unless it feels that way from staring at the computer screen for hours on end. But on balance, working from home means my lunch has never been so good.  

There always seems to be cake of my own making of course! 
I  teased some of you with a glimpse of this Lemon Balm  Drizzle Cake in my In My Kitchen blog post, but here it is in all its golden gorgeousness. 

Lemon Balm also known as Melissa Balm is a lemon scented perennial herb.  I often infuse the  lemon balm leaves (like mint) in hot water and drink like a herbal tea.  It can also be used in a number of recipes  like ice-cream and custard, but here I added it to cake. 
The 'Lemon Balm - Lemon Drizzle Cake' was splendid, with flecks of green lemon balm running through it, I even topped the outside with lemon balm leaves for adornment. Only comment, perhaps it could have been a bit more lemony, but I know whay that was - I did not have enough lemons, so made do with what I had.

Also a change from sandwiches and pasta salads, I made a Indian inspired Chickpea Salad Potato Salad smothered in mild spices and mango chutney.  I don't think my mother would approve, but I know my nephews and nieces would.  It was still warm when we ate it and I liked that as often my salads at work are cold or just room temperature. 
This lockdown potato salad recipe comes from The Guardian to which we subcribed to about a month ago. To be honest we should have subscribed to it a while back as it perhaps the only online newspaper that I consistently read for news, not just recipes. 
And the 'Lemon Balm Drizzle Cake' comes from Mary Berry which you can find online.  I substituted lemon balm for Lemon Verbena Drizzle Cake.  
I am sharing  this Indian Inspired Potato and Chickpea Salad with Kahakai Kitchen, for Souper Sundays,  a space where bloggers can come share together to share homemade comfort foods like soup, salads sandwiches.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Garden Springing into Life and Tuscan Rainbow Chard Ragout

The allotment garden plot is beginning to burst into life.  

So here are some selected pictures.
 Chive Blossoming, just waiting for the bumble bees to come by.
Wild strawberries and strawberries flowers under the apple tree.
The border looks good with natural wood fell that I dragged back with D.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Forest Bouquet and Chilli Peanut Carrot Soup

Exercise for me has been by green prescription: being in the garden, weeding, toiling and sowing seeds in the sunshine.  I know i am lucky. 
I have not ventured far from the house or garden though, but yesterday I left the house for 'exercise' reconnecting with nature, but also to collect some 'sticks' to build bean frames for the vegetable plot.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

May 2020 In My Kitchen

I haven't been to the supermarket once since the pandemic became a reality in Britain and lockdown commenced.  D however has been going every 10 days or so, and bringing back most of what I've scribbled on the shopping list of needs, rather than wants.  So My Kitchen this month is very much like last month it not filled with exciting new ingredients or shiny bright new things, but with vegetables and fruit much of it transformed into edible goodness.  So instead I am going to share some of what I have been cooking whilst in quarantine.  

Clay Pot  Bulgar Wheat and Vegetable Stew - I normally make this One Pot dish with root vegetables, but this time it was with butternut squash and leeks. 
We have been eating lots of soup recently to turn sad limp vegetables into something vibrant and good such as a Broccoli and Horseradish and a stunning Orange and Carrot Soup.  This one is 'Chilli Carrot and Peanut Soup'. I will be sharing the recipe in the next couple of days, especially as we are expecting temperatures to drop tomorrow in expectation of frost.  
We have also been making bread, sadly none of it by hand but in the bread machine.  A change from slathering toast with butter or jam or melted cheese, I made a  'Chorizo' flavoured Pate made with tinned kidney beans, it was really delicious. I am hoping to make it again, I think i prefer it much more than homemade Mushroom Pate.  
I have made Vegan Shepherds Pie with Basil Mashed Potato Topping
I have made this One Pot Vegetable Oven Bake with whatever vegetables I had in the house, including Rainbow Swiss Chard from the garden.
I also made Johanna's Whole Cauliflower Cheese, though my cauliflower in comparison to hers was small and it did not look as amazing as hers. As recommended by Johanna, I served mine with roast potatoes to mop up that unctuous cheesiness.  It was a proper vegetarian's comfort food.
I think every week I have made a cake of sorts.  I will definitely be returning to the workplace heavier than when I left it in March.
My most recent cake bake was this 'Lemon Balm - Lemon Drizzle Cake'.  It was splendid, but more about that later.
I also made this Orange, Almond and Honey Cake two weeks ago, I think.  It was sticky and very moreish.  
Whilst doing a bit of tidying up and going through kitchen cupboards, I came across 81% dark chocolate.  

Of course it was crying out to be eaten.
So I made Nigella Lawson's 'Chocolate Brownies'.  

Of course these were shared, there is no way we could have even the quantity made between us. 
I also stumbled across this flavoured extra virgin oil collection in the cupboard under the stairs.  I had bought it last year, or the year before for my Secret Santa, but completely forgot about it.  Don't worry, my Secret Santa still got something else - I think it was coffee flavourings. So this unexpected gift is now for us to use and I am delighted as we are starting to see good growth on our lettuce and salad leaves growing in the greenhouse, so these will be welcomed indeed.
I mentioned bread making earlier.  We have always been in the habit of bulk buying, hence why we have this large bag of strong white flour. It was purchased last year and we are now beginning to run low, but I am not complaining yet and know I have been fortunate compared to other people who have not been able to get their hands on flour for a while. 
Sherry  from Sherry's Pickings kindly continues to host the In My Kitchen series in these difficult times and its goods to be able to participate and continue to support the event. Sherry also  has a cheerful new logo too which the vegetable grower in me adores. 
Please go on by, I am also looking forward to seeing what you have in your kitchen cupboards in these quarantine days.