Last night’s dinner courtesy of plot 12

allotmentdinner1

I haven’t had much time to get up to the allotment in the last couple of weeks due to Digger Puppy not having had her shots yet. But everything is growing well and I was able to come home with the first tomatoes and courgettes as well as a couple more onions that will need drying out and adding to the stash.

These tomatoes are Sweet Millions and it looks like they’ll be living up to their name. There were only a couple that had split and there are masses more to come, and they definitely are sweet (don’t hate me for cooking some of them, I did eat some raw as well).

I picked the courgettes while they are still tiny because no other bugger in my house will eat them unless I bake them in a cake. Weirdos.

allotmentdinner2

What the %£*^ am I going to do with all these sprouts?

Ah, sprouts. Gwan, you love them really. If you’ve never grown them before then they are super-easy to grow from seed, but it’s a good idea to protect them from the dreaded cabbage white butterflies whose caterpillars will destroy your entire crop in 3 minutes and 47 seconds. This time of year, the crop is ready to eat and so it’s time to figure out what to do with all these sprouts I’ve got.

Now, I don’t always do recipes unless I’m baking or making jam or something where you actually need to get the amounts right, so there’s not much detail here. But hopefully it’ll give you some ideas of what to do with your sprout harvest. Apologies for the rubbish photos- I assure you these all looked a lot more appetising in real life. Try them if you don’t believe me!

 

Honey mustard glazed

honeysprouts

My husband loves these, and he HATES sprouts.

If you’re in a rush then try this one. Boil or steam some sprouts (make sure they don’t go mushy!). Melt a little honey with hot water and mix in some wholegrain mustard. Then glaze the sprouts and serve up with your Christmas dinner. Even the sprout haters love this one.

 

Winter Veg Madras

vegmadras

Winter veg madras. Open the windows- I’m not kidding.

Cold from gardening in January? Warm your cockles with a spicy Madras. Also if your digestive tract has ground to a halt from too much sugar at Christmas, this’ll see you reet. TMI? This is a great recipe for using up Christmas leftovers, and you could add some turkey if you’ve got some of that knocking around. Maybe. I dunno, I’m a veggie. Would turkey work in this recipe? Let me know!

 

Sprout stir fry

stirfry

Sprout stirfry.

Because you can stir fry any veg. A honey, soy and ginger sauce adds a bit of sweetness to counteract the bitter flavour of the sprouts. I sliced the sprouts up pretty thinly for this one. You could serve it with rice, but noodles are better because they just are.

 

Maple roasted with parsnips

roastsprouts

Maple roasted sprouts and parsnips.

I was underwhelmed by these, to be honest. I roasted them whole, because look how titchy they are, but you could slice bigger sprouts in half. Although I wouldn’t bother, the other ways of serving sprouts are all better than this one.

I meant to post this weeks ago, hence the belated Christmas references.

What the $*%@ am I going to do with all this chard?

chard1

Chard is taking over my garden

Sorry, I’ve been too busy stuffing my face with crops from the garden that I haven’t actually done a proper blog post for ages. So here is one.

I grew a LOT of chard this year. I let one plant bolt last year and it seeded around and then I planted some more on purpose because I don’t know why.

chardorama

Lots of chard. Lots.

snailchard

This snail is selflessly helping me to reduce the amount of chard I have to eat. What a champ.

Anyway, I’ve been eating it in stir fries, pasta sauces, curries, stuffed cannelloni, salads, etc etc for weeks. And still there was chard. So I made some pesto. It’s delicious. No idea how long it keeps for, but here is the recipe. It’s really easy to make.

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (add more or less depending on the number of vampires in the vicinity)
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 50g grana padano cheese
  • A generous handful of chard leaves (remove any big bits of stalk)

You could substitute the pine nuts for cashews or walnuts and the grana padano for some other kind of hard, stinky cheese.

Sterilise the jar- I do this by washing it and then putting it in the oven on low heat for 20 minutes. Wilt the chard leaves and let them cool down a bit, then chuck everything in the food processor and give it a whizz. Wait for the jar to cool down a bit before you put the pesto in. Then keep it refrigerated.

pesto

Put on a ribbon and a decorative label and it makes a wonderful gift.

If you’ve never grown chard then I highly recommend it. You can eat it in the same ways as spinach but it’s way easier to grow.

What the $%*@ am I going to do with all these blackcurrants?

blackcurrants

Millions of these.

Last year, I bought this blackcurrant bush. It was sort of on a whim; I had a space for a small shrub and thought I ought to fill it with something productive. The variety is Ben Connan, which is a compact bush that produces oodles of very large blackcurrants. It’s very healthy with no signs of disease, and has produced plenty of fruit despite being pretty much ignored.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw how much fruit there was and panicked a bit- what the chuff was I going to do with it all? I picked them and quickly googled for ideas. I decided the best thing to do with thirsty children around would be to make blackcurrant cordial. I cobbled together my own recipe from lots of others I found online. Here it is:

  • 250g blackcurrants (I threw in a few strawberries that had gone a bit mushy as well. You could use any soft fruit, I suppose)
  • 150g sugar (you could add less or more depending on your preference)
  • 250ml water (you’re going to dilute it anyway so don’t worry if it looks syrupy)
  • 3 or 4 slices of lemon

First, sterilise some bottles by putting them in the oven on low heat for 20 mins. While those are sterilising, boil up the fruit, water, and sugar for 10 minutes, mashing it with a potato masher to get all the juice out. Then, strain it through some muslin into the bottles and keep it in the fridge. I’ve no idea how long it lasts, it gets drunk pretty quickly.

cordial

It also makes a really awesome kir royal when mixed with the homemade River Cottage elderflower champagne that my friend brought over. I haven’t got any photos of this because we drank it all.

But still there were blackcurrants! So I made this jam. As the recipe name states, it is very simple, but you do need a jam/candy thermometer. It is delicious and when I get my allotment, I’ll be sure to add more blackcurrant bushes.

scones

Cornish people, feel free to tell me I’m doing it wrong.