Monday, June 30, 2008
Chocolate and courgette cake
Cooks in a long loaf tin.
- 180g cooking chocolate, melted over boiling water
- 2oog flour (either self raising or add 1 teas baking powder)
- pinch bicarbonate
- pinch salt
- 100g sugar
- 3 eggs
- a splash of milk if it looks too thick
- 2 tabs vegetable oil
- 200g raw courgette, weigh it once you peel it and take out the seedy section. Good for using a large courgette that got away from you.
- Grate the courgette, then enlist the aid of a small child - put the veg in a clean tea towel and over the sink, wring up the tea towel until all the juice has come out of the courgette.
- Next, in a bowl, combine dry ingredients.
- Add the eggs and mix to a thick paste.
- Next, add the melted chocolate and oil, mix well.
- Add the grated courgette and mix. If it seems a little stodgy, add some milk - it should be slightly thicker than a normal cake batter but not too stiff. It should slide off the spoon, not stick in a big lump.
- Line tin with baking paper, bake in a preheated oven 180 deg C for about 45 mins. Test with a skewer, it is a moist cake but should be practically dry on the skewer.
I started by clearing the patch where the broad beans had been. It's the scraggy looking bit where the bin bags are. Also in this patch are some lettuces, beetroots and some rhubarb chard. The next spot down is the onion patch but they are gradually being dug up...
When I started digging I realised it was full of self seeded pot marigolds. I felt sorry for them as always so found myself clearing the jungle that had sprouted next to the tomato bed and popping them in there, along with my Sweet William seedlings. I admit that I have little hope for either of them but they might take. I managed to finish clearing the broad bean patch, and raked it over and sowed the last hope carrots. A mixture of Colmar and Nantaise 2, mixed with radish seeds ( a tip I heard to let you see where your carrot seeds were sown) and sand. Hopefully they will come up, I have kept watering them and the weather is terrific and warm.
I cleared quite a bit of the same block, where the garlic had been, leaving a coriander plant that sprouted up by itself and two scarole lettuces that are seeding (I will collect those). In its place I sowed -
- A patch of rocket,
- A row of parsnips (in the end I just couldn't resist),
- A new patch of peas, Kelvedon Wonder.
- 4 lovely big sticks of rhubarb that immediately went into an apple an rhubarb pie,
- about a pound of strawberries, really big ones too,
- some raspberries,
- 2 yellow courgettes,
- a lettuce (red batavia, delicious, you can see them in the piccie above)
- about a kilo of peas,
- and about a kilo of early spuds.
- the echalotes seem to be developing very well, they still have a bit of green so I will let them keep maturing for now,
- the brown onions also seem to have healthy looking bulbs this year, quite happy about that,
- the first green beans sowed by the kids have developed very well and are in flower. So beans quite soon.
- the gooseberries are looking terrific. Next weekend I want to pick some and make a pie for my English friend (if it's good I will post the recipe).
- the tomatoes are full of luxuriant foliage and multitudes of flowers. There are already baby tomatoes ripening on them. I pruned them a little but I realise that they have grown a bit out of hand.
The weeds are phenomenal, I dug out yards of bindweed, thistles (mostly now embedded in my hands), a little chickweed, dandelion, redshank which is actually a right little bastard, and grass. Worst of all the bindweed seems to have flowered this year, last year it didn't so I am frantic to pull out all the flowering sections in case they seed.
I felt a nice warm sense of achievement when I left it on Sunday or maybe it was just sunburn and extreme muscle fatigue.
Still, getting it nicely set up for winter. Next tasks:
get the leeks in, get the sprouts in their final positions, get some purple sprouting broccoli from my friend (yay!) and plant that, get in some winter cabbage and celery, if I want to be self sufficient this winter. Thin the beetroot and fennel. Do a big tidy of the fruit area which is getting a bit too grassy and fertilise the strawberries. Start a winter salad bed for scarole, and lamb's lettuce.
As said my wise allotment neighbour this weekend "When you work with nature, the job's never finished."
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Clafoutis aux cerises
Clafoutis aux cerises
- At least 500g of ripe cherries (even ones that are a little bit bruised are OK)
- 100g plain flour + pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 heaped tabs sugar (I don't like it too sweet)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tab vegetable oil
Heat oven to 180 deg C.
Wash and tail the cherries but leave the stones in. Place them in the dish.
With a whisk, mix the flour, salt, sugar in a bowl, add the eggs and mix to a thick paste. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking. It should make a thick batter. Add the oil, mix again then pour on top of the cherries.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden.
Of course this uses cherries but you can use lots of different fruit, apples&blackberries or plums are excellent. I even have a recipe somewhere for one that uses pears and a strong cheese in the batter, leaving out the sugar, to use as a starter or picnic dish.
A courgette a day
Then again on the weekend I will also have to have a weed blitz, there is bindweed everywhere and some of it is flowering :-( The pumpkins are rampant! They are growing much more than I thought they would! And there are a few tiny fruit on them! There are a few weeds in that patch but I am not sure they have much of a chance with the pumpkin spreading its leaves everywhere. I will have to train them in certain directions, I would say.
In other news, the first tomatoes are forming, they look terrific. The melons are still a bit sad on their bed but they haven't died so I guess that is as good news as any.
The task list for the weekend will be:
- Dig over the garlic bed and resow a row of winter carrots, and the sprouts.
- Lift some of the tarped area and sow more more beans there, it's getting time for a big bean patch.
- Thin out some lettuce that is growing in a seed bed but now needs planting out.
- Dig over the former broad bean bed and sow a late pea patch there, maybe they will work, I am tempted to net them.
- Pull the leeks out of their pots and prepare them, then dig out the early spuds and replace them with leeks.
Oh and why the title? Because since Sunday, three nice courgettes have grown - one a day ;-)
Monday, June 23, 2008
What can you do in 85 minutes on an allotment?
- Wander helplessly round the beds admiring the creeping bindweed, the 2 foot high thistles and the redshank that is sprouting up all over the shop,
- Slap yourself around a bit and mumble, "stop whining you stupind bint and start digging",
- Get fork and dig over a large bed and plant 14 red cabbages and 7 broccoli plants and then make a quick nursery bed for the brussel sprouts that are crying out to be out in the open. Water the above.
- Stick your hands in among the huge rambling pea bed, get pricked by several thistly weed and pull out about a kilo and a half of peas.
- Dig up two Amandine potato plants and whinge and moan over the fact that there were about 2 spuds per plant :-(
- Go over to the raspberry bushes and be pleasantly surprised by the amoungt of ripe raspberries, about a dozen! (hang on, they were autumn fruiters last year???)
- Kneel down in the strawberry patch (first catch your foot in the netting and rip a nice hole in it) and get about a kilo of strawberries including some real whoppers.
- Pinch a gooseberry from the bush, eat it, wrinkle up your lips and decide that a week or two more would be a good idea.
- Pick 6 courgettes, including one that already got away and will be turned into ratatouille very quickly. There are green and yellow ones and they are beauties.
- Hotfoot it out of there because you are already late for a picnic event and you are covered in sweat, dirt and courgette leaf prickles (bastards).
Monday, June 16, 2008
Peas in a pod
Also more infested with thistles than I had imagined... I hope the neighbours didn't hear the language as I was picking.
In more news:
Rhubarb picked, enough to make a nice apple-rhubarb crumble
a big punnet of strawberries picked
onions weeded (more thistles, bugger bugger)
bindweed is steadily getting into all corners of the lot again and some of it (horror of horrors) has bloody flowers!!! They have been ripped off pronto but they struck fear into my heart.
A good weeding is needed all round but I expect I will get around to it at some time soon. I would also like to sow more carrots, peas and start the bean sowings in earnest ASAP.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I noticed that a stray onion that grow near the spuds is blooming. I might try and save its seed, see what happens. I also left on a couple of the red onion flowers to try with them too.
There is a scarole lettuce bolting too, I might try gathering seed from that.
One of the pumpkins I planted this year was from saved seed. I recently read that this is a bad idea. So I might end up with some weird cross pollinated pumpkins :-( oh well, can only wait and see now.
I had thought of saving some of my broad beans but apparently they cross pollinate really easily and my neighbour grows broad beans so I guess they will be getting chucked out this weekend. Looks like a good place to grow my broccoli that is itching to go in the ground....
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I thought it was almost ridiculously cute ;-)
I guess I prefer to eat them though.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
half an hour allotment
A quick trip with the kids, on a very hot day here, we watered the melons and tomatoes (which are growing like triffids - I noticed the neighbors had put some Bordeaux mixture on theirs, I wonder if I should do the same?), weeded the alliums which badly needed it, and I transplanted some of the beetroot to stop them overcrowding. I replanted about 12 of them so I think I will get a good beet crop. I had thought that my rhubarb chard had died but in fact I found it among the weeds (I hoed around it then) and gave it a water. Might get 3 or 4 plants, probably plenty!
I dug up a garlic to see. Now it is a bit small but it has formed cloves, but it seems too tender inside yet, no papery skins so maybe it has not matured enough. The cloves were however nice and white and healthy with a beautiful fragrance. So maybe garlic is not impossible to grow on our lot, it just doesn't get monster sized...
The peas will be ready for a picking session this weekend I would say, there are lots forming - yum yum our first meal of garden peas (except we all prefer them raw ;-)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
There are LOADS of baby courgettes too, green and yellow ones. I fear that I may become a courgette pest, palming off bags of them to unsuspecting friends and workmates :-)
Monday, June 09, 2008
Still on the weekend we had two goes which weren't too bad, considering the jungle like conditions. The bind weed is really bad this year. On Saturday morning we picked about 3 kilos of strawberries, which went into numerous strawberries for dessert, a strawberry charlotte for friends and 3 pots of strawberry jam. We also picked a lovely dead bird, yuk, a starling I think, it had managed to strangle itself on the netting, poor sod. Luckily it stayed outside the strawberry bushes or that would have been gross. We buried it under the pumpkins (free fertiliser).
Saturday was also picking day, I tried some of the early spuds but I think they need more time, I got about 5 spuds off a plant. So I will leave the others another couple of weeks.
BAd news - the red onions ar ebolting. Sod it, I really wanted those. I have pulled off the flower stems but I feel it may have buggered up the harvest of those. The onions and echalotes are looking OK though. The garlic is dying back, the moment of truth approaches...
Tomato update: there are lots of flowers on them, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will convert into lots of fruit. I tied up the bigger ones.
I sem also to have had lots of success with peas (many ripening now) and the 3 Sisters bed is doing wonderfully.
We brought some lovely thyme for drying, a pretty mixed flower bouquet and some lemon balm to go with it. And the first lettuce from the garden that was small but tasty.
Sunday - more hard work, I finally planted the 9 melon plants. I was fed up with digging so I put them in a lasagna bed. It indluded a lot of home made compost, very rich and full smelling. I am starting to be a wee bit short on space, I still have to put in next week the broccoli and red cabbages and sprouts, that I have reared from seed, and make a bed for the leeks that are doing splendidly in my buckets on the window sill. They can go out this month too.
I tidied up another length of the border, it is now a little more socially acceptable but I need a massive weeding session still. I should hoe and get some mulch down, I might steal a few bags of stable waste from the racetrack. Also will be time to constitute a manure pile for the winter, I will have to start making trips to the pony club methinks.
All in all I am pleased with the progress, even though it is all a bit messy.
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