Today I sowed two pages worth of my notebook, or rather two pages of one of my notebooks. I’m a multi-notebook kind of girl – different coloured covers, different sizes, mostly squared, each with an individual purpose. A small notebook in my bag … Continue reading
We Stacey’s granola. Do you get the message Remember the Promenade Guest Blogs while I took a little country break? I’m finally getting round to making the recipes my friends posted, a) it would have been rude not to, b) I am … Continue reading
I took these photos on the 31st August, I want to try to capture the Crookneck Squash growing under a dense canopy of broad green leaves, capture a glimpse of the bright yellows under the leaves. Capture a glimpse of what … Continue reading
On with the mystery magical tour
G is for Green Tomatoes and Gem Squash
G is for Gem Squash - a South African variety of squash which can be eaten young or stored over winter. A small vining squash that produces numerous Gems. Delicious eaten when boiled (you prick the skin first) for 20 to 30 minutes, cut the top off, scoop the seeds out and add a dab or two of butter, some salt and pepper and if you like it some ground allspice. Eat with a spoon – let’s call it a meal in its own bowl.
And the other G’s? Well there is always Grass to mow and a Harvest of Heirloom/Heritage Green tomatoes to ripen, except if they are called Green Doctor, and are a tasty cherry tomato green with a pinkish-red hue.
H is for Herbs, Hanging Baskets, Heritage or Heirloom varieties
No kitchen or garden should be without Herbs and spices, somehow I never seem to manage to grow enough. But I do enjoy seeing the Coriander flowers, so pretty and delicate, a bonus to bolting herbs.
I grow a couple of tomato plants that are perfect for Hanging Baskets, they are the first to produce and take so little room. teeny red or yellow cherries to tempt the passer-by, or a quick fix for a lunch time snack.
I grow plenty of Heritage or Heirloom varieties be it tomatoes, carrots, beans or peas. Vegetables with a long history, of differing colours, of non-uniformity, of fabulous taste. A celebration in it’s own right.
I is for Icicle Radish, Iznick Cucumber Ice Cold Beer,
You can see I was starting to struggle here can’t you ! I had to reach for my seed packets for inspiration.
I grow Icicle radishes pretty much every year, a firey white long tapered radish, but they have all been snaffled and munched.
What I do still have growing are Iznick Cucumbers, a small snack-sized cucumber that can be grown outdoors. It’s another of the F1′s which I’m trying to wean myself off, but so far I’ve yet to find a great replacement. It’s delicious eaten young, not too seedy and the skin doesn’t need peeling. Perfect for salads but my favourite is to eat them thinly sliced and served with a dressing of rice wine vinegar, lime and a pinch of sugar alongside some stor fried noodles.
And when living so close to the sea there is always the possibility that I abandon the allotment, garden and kitchen and just head out to a bar overlooking the beach for an Ice Cold Beer or Glass of Wine, of course I could have an Ice Cream but can’t handle the dairy. Hey-ho, that’s the way life works out! I’ve Gone to the beach
THE GLUTS are around the corner and I’m getting ready, busy amassing my arsenal of blog recipes to deal with The Courgette Glut. You notice the capitalisation – well that’s how it’s said – with appropriate emphasis. Every year I plant … Continue reading
A classic combination – well it is if you like chocolate cake and gardening!
It’s my allotment’s plant sale / swap this weekend, all our extras and spares our brought down from our own plots and lined up on makeshift tables. Pots and plants of all shapes and sizes - tomatoes, spinach, courgettes, salads, beans and flowers. Always flowers.
We encourage swapping but if you don’t have anything to swap we are happy to take your money, it’s a self managed allotment site so all the funds raised go to helping maintain our site.
And no plant sale would be complete without a cake or two. Previous years have seen scones filled with cream and homegrown strawberries, slices of shortbread, and cakes of every calling – sticky ginger, classic sponges and of course chocolate. 50p a slice. Tempted ? Well that’s the idea.
It’s not a grand affair nor a huge fund raising event, most of all it’s a time for us plotholders to get together, meet a few new faces and greet some older ones. And depending on the weather – please no torrential downpours – we’ll all be outside catching up on the news, swapping stories of how this HAS to be the wettest June on record, and yes munching on a slice of cake or two.
And the recipe? Well in true blogging fashion I popped over to Celi’s blog The Kitchens Garden as I remembered she had made a simple chocolate cake – no mess, no special ingredients or extra fuss. A chocolatey cake with the taste of golden syrup permeating. Aptly christened Mama’s Moist One Pot Chocolate Cake. Perfect for a cool damp June day when you’ve had the kind of day where you haven’t stopped and need to bake something and quickly. The only disappointment in this household was that I only made the one, and refused to pre-cut it – so no pickings!
And when the tables are cleared and packed away, thank yous and goodbyes said I’ll return to my plot and get on my knees and start to plant out a few of these.
I refuse to count how many there are, but they include – courgettes, cucumbers, cornichon (gherkins), summer squash and winter squash / pumpkins. They are desperate to get out of their pots and start spreading out their roots and shoots, besides I need the space back!
Hope you all have a super weekend!
What to call this post? ’Pumpkin re-visited’, or ‘Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween - The Return’, or ‘The cake that didn’t make it to the birthday party’, or ‘The cake that eventually got shared’. You choose!
But whatever I call it I need to write the recipe up and tell a wee story.
I make this cake once or twice a year, a great way to use up some of the huge pumpkins and squash I grow, is tasty, not too sweet, oh and has alcohol in it. Ready?
The recipe uses Grappa to soak the sultanas and we had run out of it. I tried to get some locally but it was a no-show and I really didn’t want to go to a supermarket – I avoid them as much as is humanly possible, in fact if I could avoid them on a permanent basis I would. A bright idea, ask my local Italian restaurant-pizzeria if they could get me some Grappa. Well of course they could, how much did I want? I fessed up and said it was for a cake and all I needed was a shot glass. Well then you don’t need to buy a whole bottle as it its only for cooking, have ours. 2 minutes later, clutching a carrier bag with a bottle of Grappa I made my way home.
Don’t you just love your local pizzeria!
So of course as I’d supped on their Grappa I had to take some of the cake as a thank you – and yes we played the “what is the cake made of” guessing game, and no, nobody guessed correctly.
The cake is very moist, not a crumbly little airy thing, I used a 10 inch cake tin and baked it at 180C for about 20 to 30 minutes and then turned the oven down to 160C to finish cooking. As I said it’s very moist and you don’t want to burn the bottom or the top while the middle remains uncooked, so I find a lower temperature and patience is your best ally. You can either cook the pumpkin as per the recipe, or bake it and then add the butter or as I did and steamed / microwaved the pumpkin and then added the butter.
Torta di Zucca – Pumpkin Cake from Classic Italian Cooking – Valentina Harris
“A traditional and delicious recipe from the Veneto region where humble pumpkins are widely used.” Serves 6 to 8
- 150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 600g, good quality, ripe, orange pumpkin or butternut squash – when peeled I found it was about 450g in weight
- A pinch of salt
- 150g granulated sugar
- 50g crushed (ground) almonds
- 50g candied citron peel
- 50g sultanas, soaked in Grappa until swollen – I use a shot glass full of Grappa and leave the sultanas to soak for about 30 minutes minimum, preferably an hour
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 80g plain flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs separated
- Icing sugar for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease and carefully line a 30cm loose bottomed cake tin.
- Peel and cube the pumpkin into small chunks, then place in a saucepan with the butter and cook gently until the pumpkin is soft.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the salt and mash thoroughly
- Stir in the granulated sugar, almonds, candied citron, sultanas with the grappa and the grated lemon zest. Beat together very thoroughly.
- Sift the flour and baking powder and stir.
- Beat the egg yolks in a bowl until light and foamy, then fold into the pumpkin mixture.
- Beat the egg whites in a separate, clean bowl until stiff, fold in lightly (with a metal spoon)
- Turn the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 1 hour, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
- Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar to serve.
And as the weather is finally promising something that isn’t wet and grey I’m off up to the allotment – a long awaited session calls me. Happy cooking and gardening!
Spring eating is variable, it’s like the weather – changeable. One minute you want something warming and filling the next something light and Summery. Today’s recipe fits Spring weather nicely – light and tasty, adaptable and filling. As I try and decide … Continue reading