We’re off, we’re off, we’r e off in a motor car

We’re off

We’re off

We’re off in a motor car

60 miles an hour

And we don’t know where we are

Do you remember singing that, sitting round the camp fire in your brownie uniform, bobble hatted and knobbly kneed? No? Oh well just me then !

We’re off up ooop north for a long weekend and to celebrate my nieces 18th. The greenhouse plants have been watered, the bags are packed and most importantly the wine gums purchased.

My hometown Manchester will no doubt welcome me with low cloud and rain but family and friends will provide the warmer welcome. But picture me on arrival, getting changed into my glad rags and heels, glass in hand, chat-chat-chat, and then later in the evening A Dancing Queen, aka doing embarrassing auntie dancing, it’s just too easy to embarrass an 18 year old isn’t it?!

And for our return journey I get to pack my brother into the car, he’s coming to spend a few days on the coast – but as he’s a gardener I might just have one or two jobs I need some help with – talk about a bus man’s holiday ! Or maybe that’s mean and we should go for lovely walks along the coast, stop off for some fish and chips and pop into a pub or two along the way? Ahhh that does sound a bit better.

So in the meantime and courtesy of the joys of WordPress I’ll leave you with some peas. Purple Podded (Robinsons’ Purple Podded Peas to be precise). Growing well on the plot – the first handfuls are being picked and eaten. They are another of the climbing heritage peas I grow – slightly squared in shape, not as sweet tasting as some of the others, better cooked into dishes as opposed to eating them raw.

We made a risotto of the peas and broad beans - a chopped shallot, a clove or two of garlic, a slug of white wine, good Arborio rice, vegetable stock and a lot of stirring, And towards the end a knob of butter and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Followed by a simple freshly picked green salad, but more on that another day.

Or how about an even quicker summer pasta of Linguine with broad beans, peas and mint with a touch of chilli oil for those busy, busy days when you need to make a quick meal and have fresh produce to use up.

Toutes a l’heure mes amis

Anymore campfire songs?

One, two three ‘- Kumbayah me Lord, Kum ba yah…..‘ I know I know maybe good old ‘London’s Burning, London’s Burning, Fire, Fire, Fire Fire……. ‘ ooo you are bound to know this one ‘She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes). ……. ‘

Ok it’s still just me isn’t it !

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Radicchio, what do you do with it?

Well eat it of course! Radicchio seems to divide people, there is no middle ground, you love it or you hate it. Well I’m in the former camp. And as most of the Radicchio managed to survive all that winter could throw at it (on an exposed, windy and wet site) it goes up in my estimation and is a definite for my winter grow list.

And it is the winter when they are at their best – the colour deepens, the frost seems to give them that crunch and seems to lessen the bitterness. I’ve only ever really grown them as a winter salad as the summer sown ones get fury and don’t taste a patch on the winter grown varieties.

Radicchio

I”ve grown both a Treviso – the taller, slender closed variety and open-headed varieties. And yes both had bitterness, but not the kind that makes you want to spit it out and swear at it, the kind that has a kick to eat when eaten raw in salads or as I did the other day cooked in a risotto.

The recipe idea came from Sophie Grigson’s Vegetable Bible (a must, in my humble, for any veggie grower) where she gives several recipes and ideas for cooking/eating Radicchio. I went for the Radicchio and Prawn Risotto. And it is so simple,I cooked my risotto up as per my normal way –

Radicchio and Prawn Risotto

  • a handful of Shallots sliced and lightly fried in olive oil with a chopped garlic clove until it is cooked but not browned.
  • Then I add the rice, I do this bit by eye, but approx. 75 to 100g per person, fry for a minute or 2, then a splosh of white wine is added and cooked off,
  • and then I start to add the veggie stock. Now I’m no chef, I also don’t have all day to make gorgeous veggie stock, so I use a weak mix of Boullion and water. So I turn the heat up and add the stock as and when the risotto mix starts getting dry, and stirring, stirring. This bit takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the rice is cooked, and no more water can be added this is when you add your cooked prawns and roughly sliced Radicchio and mix it in with the rice and turn off the heat. It’s ready

The combination of the soft risotto rice, the sweetness of the prawns and the tang of the radicchio proved a great combination

The baby leaves at the centre prooved to be so pretty they went in a salad