Gluts of the week

/Gluts of the week

A Rare Glut of Mulberries

Patience is not a virtue with which I am blessed. It’s why I don’t grow purple spurring broccoli: 9 months in the ground before it crops, you’re having a laugh. And yet this appears the mere blink of an eye compared to the zen-like patience required to grow mulberries. 10 years before they fruit. TEN. YEARS. Mountains have grown faster. No wonder you don’t see them around very often. It won’t come as a surprise, then, that I don’t have a mulberry tree. Happily, more patient neighbours of mine do. And it’s heavy with fruit. I don my least favourite clothes (mulberry juice stains like the blood of Duncan) and steal into their garden with a few bags for my harvest. (Well, yes obviously I had their permission first, what do you take me for?). […]

A Glut of Flying Saucer Squashes

Nope. Not alien spaceships. Patty Pan. The UFO of the summer squash family. Though I have been invaded by them, as you can see. Reliable, easy to grow and astonishingly productive, these are a wonderful alternative to the more humdrum green courgette. And, most importantly, they taste divine – buttery, sweet and without the unpleasant bitterness so common amongst the cucurbit family when left to grow to the size of a rugby ball (or in this case, a dinner plate). Use them just as you would a courgette in stews, ratatouille, grilled on the bbq, popped in a veggie curry etc. Or try these two quick suppers: […]

Cucumber: cocktails, mocktails and a lotta pickle

Never plant four cucumber plants. A least not unless you have an army of cucumber addicts waiting to eat them. I, fortunately, have a spaniel who has developed something of a habit over the last fortnight, but it’s not nearly enough to arrest the growth of the Great G&G Cucumber Mountain. I picked 24 on Sunday. I resort to cocktails and pickle to use them up (not together you understand…though perhaps…) Cucumber and Hendricks Martini 1 tbsp Henrdicks (yes, I know it’s deeply uncouth to write cocktail recipes in tablespoons, but I’m not furnished with the right kit for proper cocktail making etiquette) 2 tbsp cucumber water, see below a splash of Fever Tree tonic to taste an ice cube […]

A Glut of Speedy Strawberries

I think our strawberries live in constant terror. So heavily protected are their raised beds, they must assume the world beyond the netting is riddled with deadly blackbirds just waiting to peck out their seeds before discarding them mangled and squished on the ground, and that, should their protection ever fail, they will be instantly set upon. Their prison is an impenetrable frame of netting with tent pegs standing sentinel every few centimetres and watched by an ever-vigilant spaniel from our kitchen window, ready to pounce at the first sign of a blackbird (and probably snaffle a few strawberries himself given the chance). Still, there are benefits to such draconian measures. The harvest this year is fatter, sweeter and more bountiful than ever. And I’m in need of some quick and simple dishes that make the most of the strawberry glut, but don’t take an age to make. You may recall last year’s (borrowed) harvest which led to an idyllic strawberry afternoon tea (which you can find here), but this year something all-together more speedy is called for. Blueberry and Strawberry Filo Pies […]

How to Eat Local for a Week

Back in May, I gave myself a challenge: could I eat only food grown, reared, made in the Cotswolds for a week? I pitched the idea to the lovely folk at Crumbs Magazine, a terrific local food glossy, and they invited me to write a food diary about it. The rules: – Everything had to be 100% Cotswolds. That it might be brewed, milled or distilled in the area was not enough, every ingredient had to be Cotswoldian. – Cotswolds is defined as anywhere Cotswold Life would feature a property Here’s how I got on: Day 1 Breakfast: plain yogurt courtesy of the beautiful British Friesians at Daylesford farmshop with some stewed rhubarb from the veg patch and Cotswolds honey which I stocked up on, along with many other goodies, at Toast the Cotswolds in Bourton-on-the-Water: a haven for local food fans. […]

A Self-inflicted Glut of Lettuce

I've never been one for heeding a lesson. "Will you never learn?", my Mother's stock response to repeated follies from falling out of trees to poorly chosen boyfriends. But after last year's lettuce [...]

A Glut of Pigs’ Trotters

  "Could you do anything with trotters? I've got a load in the freezer," The Benevolent Farmer Brown shouts across the allotment. "Sure", I reply, oozing with satisfaction at both my thrift and [...]

Rhubarb: the saviour of The Hungry Gap

The kitchen garden is a heartless creature sometimes. This is the season for slaving away sowing, hoeing, weeding, soil improving, potting on-ing. May is when the leg work for the whole growing year is done. It’s when the foundations for a good or bad harvest are laid. And in return for all this nurturing and fretting the allotment gives you, what? Nothing. As we shuffle forth reluctantly into the Hungry Gap, clutching our rumbling tums and wishing we’d never said we were sick of leeks, there is almost nothing for the average gardener to pick in May. The radishes aren’t plump, the PSB has flowered, the pea shoots aren’t podding yet and the asparagus….well, come on…. who has time to grow asparagus for themselves? What there is, is rhubarb. It’s divine at the moment – thin, pink, still sweet, not yet stringy. It is known to some that I get a bit giddy about rhubarb. You can see last year’s rhubarb rants here  and my compendium of bloggers’ recipes here. It’s also one of my top 10 things to grow yourself as you can see here. So you see, I can’t get enough of it (which is fortunate when that’s all there is). So, to a quick and simple rhubarb supper: Smoked Mackerel with rhubarb purée […]

A Glut of Weeds

Regulars will know my penchant for weeds; both the accidental cultivation and more intentional cooking of. And a mild, wet April creates the perfect climate for wild garlic, nettles, cleavers and the like to glut – Christmastime for the foragers. Last year at around this time, the G&G household was fed almost entirely on weeds. That is, it was until a rebellion was threatened and I was forced to branch out. You can see some of those wild garlic and nettle recipes here and here. This year, I venture to field two exceptionally tasty weed dishes at the G&G table in the hope of making the most of this free glut without an ensuing mutiny. Weedy Chicken Kiev   […]

And the Organised Shall Have Leeks in Abundance..

Those with greater restraint and foresight than I will still have leeks in their allotment. Gorging and under-sowing saw my harvest vanish before Christmas. However, with a little planning, a prayer against allium weevil and a spot of succession planting, the organised allotmenteer can harvest leeks from August to May. And in the depths, as we are, of the Hungry Gap, the humble leek becomes something of a saviour. If you have a glut of leeks, here are a few ways to use them, some old favourites, some new beaus: Carpaccio of sea bream with confit leeks […]

A Sage Harvest

Perennial herb pruning season is nigh. The rosemary bushes are burgeoning, the sage shrubs are rampant and the blacksmith is sharpening my shears in preparation for the annual cull. (Ok, I made that last bit up, but wouldn’t it be charming if that still happened.) Our sage has become particularly unruly and I’ll be cutting it right back almost to the base, leaving only a few shooting points. A kill or cure option no doubt, but they do turn terribly straggly and unkempt if you don’t show them a firm hand. The result of said firm hand is an armful of furry, fragrant leaves that need either using up. I can’t bring myself to compost such as harvest, so here is some sage advice for anyone in the same situation (oh come on, you surely can’t have expected me to hold off for long. Just one tiny, weeny pun? No? Ok, no more, I promise.) Sage Tea […]

A Glut of Sunshine: A Thai allotment and the meal it grew

Ah sunshine. That most elusive of luxuries at this time of year here in Blighty. The buds on the trees, the snowdrops in bloom, the lighter nights are but a tantalising reminder of that long forgotten thing called Summer. Well the g&g household could stand it no longer. So this week we shut up the greenhouse, packed the kitchen sink and travelled to Thailand for a week of sunshine. And, as it happened, some allotmenting and cooking too. Def. Busman’s holiday (noun): a vacation or day off from work spent in an activity closely resembling one’s work. The resort we visited (Aleenta Hua Hin) not only had its own kitchen garden, but also offered the opportunity to spend a day perusing the food markets with the chef and then cooking up some lunch in the restaurant kitchen. Predictably, I jumped at the chance. First stop: the market and an array of fruit and veg I’ve never even imagined before: a million varieties of aubergine; grapes the size of plums; mysterious little mango-apricot creatures, fresh green peppercorns; live eels, dried squid… you name it. We taste everything. Apart from the eels. […]

A Guest Glut for Ross & Ross

A dank and dirty February is torment to kitchen gardeners. Seed catalogues have been thumbed, greenhouses scrubbed and all are itching to get planting for the new season. But instead of carefully nurturing a small army of seed trays, most, me included are stuck inside watching potatoes chitting on a rain-spattered windowsill. There’s only one solution: comfort food. And with little to sustain us in the veg garden, I turn to the lovely and local Ross and Ross Food.  Very kindly, they sent me some of their preserved goodies to sample in return for writing a guest spot on their blog. And no, no one paid for any coverage or kind words – how vulgar. It was no chore at all to trough through their terrines and chutneys. Better that than chasing the empty seed trays that are blowing around the allotment. You can see my guest spot on the Ross & Ross blog here. And the recipes are also here below: Ham hock terrine with a crispy soft boiled egg […]

Glut of Cookbooks: Days Eight to Ten – Rarebit, Snaps and Saffron

Into the heavy lifting of this 10 day challenge and I’m starting to feel the effects of cooking a new recipe every day. It really takes some organisation. Anyway, I’ve kept up with the cooking, though I’m behind with the blogging. But you weren’t counting were you? You were? Well don’t. It’s not a race. Day Eight is a warming, simple supper for a wet and dreary Thursday evening provided by Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 2: Rabbit and Apple. Rabbit? No Rarebit really, but he calls it Rabbit. And why not. His recipe. He can. […]

Glut of Cookbooks: Day Six & Seven – Bambi and Butter

I was given, as one is, the fore leg of a young deer a while ago. I thanked the benevolent hunter warmly but promptly vac-packed it and stuck it in the freezer having no clue what to do with it. […]

Glut of Cookbooks: Day Two & Three

Day two of the cookbook glut, and a warming supper of ras-al-hanout chicken with pearled spelt and cabbage from Nigel Slater’s Eat. I confess that whilst I’ve loved his ideas, I’ve not found this book very specific in its instructions. I suspect that the Twitter-inspired urge to keep the copy short and snappy has been at the expense of clarity. For example, if one were to, as instructed, add the powdered spices to the pan after quickly browning the chicken, the result would be spices burnt to a crisp. No matter, the combinations of flavour in most of the recipes, including this one, are an inspiration despite the gaps in the practicalities. […]

A Glut of Christmas Leftovers

There's little more satisfying than a festive leftover

The Dawn of the Black Radish Harvest

A cracking little winter harvest

The Slow Depletion of Sloe Gin Barrels

Been a while. Sorry. But the reason is a just one: gin. Sloe gin. Aside from shoveling the odd tonne of mushroom compost, there’s not much activity up at the allotment. My estrangement from brussel sprouts (they’re always blown) and my acrimonious break up with leeks (the allium weevils got there first) mean I’m a little short on veg gluts. (And why is it, by the way, that growing veg always feels like a volatile romantic entanglement? Is it just me? It is? Oh, right.) No matter. The hedgerow will provide a glut: they are covered in sloes. But before I can justify making the annual batch of sloe gin, it’s become something of a tradition to make sure the current sloe gin stocks are suitably depleted. And being around countryside folk for whom a bottle of sloe gin is an ideal gift-to-take-to-dinner-party, we have a far few bottles. And hence the delay in this post. For there’s only so much sloe gin one can use in a week without incurring side effects. And I should also add that it’s virtually impossible to take half decent photos of the food you’ve made for your blog post whilst sampling said sloe gin ingredient. Hence the lack of photos this week. Still, I’m glad (if a little jaded) to report that the sloe gin glut is conquered and here’s how: […]

Pumpkin Recipes for Grown-ups – No ghosts, ghouls or trick-or-treating toddlers invited

It doesn’t take much pumpkin to constitute a pumpkin glut. I have just one this year, but, at 6kg, one is plenty thank you. I confess I didn’t grow it myself. (Come on, of course I didn’t. Do you imagine I’d be nearly so nonchalant about its staggering weight if I’d nurtured it to 6kg myself!) It’s an heirloom variety called Rouge Vif d’Etempes and  was grown by more skilled hands than mine. They’re a good doer this variety: tasty (not like the watery, sweet sickly things you buy to carve from the supermarket), big and the best bit is that they turn orange when they’re quite small so you can stagger the harvest. Other pumpkins remain an obstinate, and inedible, green until they are fully grown. Once peeled and de-seeded, my 6kg darling yields around 4kg of flesh. Perfect for big batch cooking. Rather like any of the recipes below: Pumpkin and Sage Risotto […]

A Brief Beetroot Postscript

The last of the beetroot glut series. And, very quickly, I promise… This is nice. […]

Beetroot and….. Vodka Sorbet Recipe

Bleakness comes by degrees I find. In sharp relief to the record summer we had, the current drizzle seems decidedly bleak. However, it’s not really until the depths of February that one really starts to feel one is living in a Russian novel. Still, bleakness enough there is to inspire an Eastern European palette-cleanser. And what better fodder of bleakness than a good warming bison grass Vodka and the earthy, hardy flavours of Detroit beetroot? […]

Beetroot Week: Beetroot and Apple Remoulade

I’m very grateful to beetroot. I’ve not had the most fecund of growing seasons, but the beetroot, despite a shaky start, has been the most prolific and certainly the most pest-free crop this year. Unlike the courgette glut, which warranted a second Glut of the Week slot simply because it bullied it’s way to the front, threatening me with 3 kilo marrows, the beetroot gets a second slot because it is a jewel – a blessed, understated gem of loveliness – that just waits quietly and keeps cropping, sure that hard work alone will make it favourite. We’ll begin with a light lunch recipe: Beetroot and Apple Remoulade. […]

Kale and Caterpillar Recipes

Green curly dwarf kale is a late season staple in my allotment. I should clarify: it’s the kale that is green curly and small and there is, sadly, no green curly dwarf so honoured as to have a kale named after him. Anyway, it’s a goodun – hardy, easy to grow, prolific, tasty, nutritious. Just one problem. Caterpillars. And not caterpillars like those the poor broccoli suffers. With those beasties, at least you know you’ve got them, eating, as they do, everything and leaving your broccoli a stumpy skeleton. Oh no. Kale caterpillars (I really feel it should be Kale Katerpillars, don’t you?) are stealthy little buggers. To begin with, they’re kale coloured. Plus, they hide themselves in the curly edges of the kale and surreptitiously venture out, under cover of darkness no doubt, to nibble at the young leaves before retreating to their hiding place until the next raid. Upshot is – they’re virtually impossible to spot, even when cleaning the freshly picked leaves. But it’s ok because they are quite obvious once the kale is cooked and on the plate… Mostly because they turn white when cooked. Anyway, they pick off easily when cooked, and the g&g household seems to have survived this method during the recent kale glut. Here’s what I did with the kale and caterpillar glut: […]