You would think, by now, I might have run out of things to say about beetroot, wouldn't you? I've covered them in detail here, here, here and here. Oo and here too. Perhaps there's a beetroot marketing board I should talk to... And yet here we are in January and I find myself blessed, still, with beetroot from the patch. Admittedly it's a bit battered and woody in parts, but it's still perfectly good for juicing, smoothies and, in the weather warrants today, soup.
I know. I need a virtual slap on the wrist, don't I? I've been more than pitiful in my blogging of late. And for that I am sorry. But I have a terrific excuse. No the dog didn't eat my laptop (though he is sat a my feet as we speak with his feed-me-you-never-feed-me-it's-suppertime-feed-me face so it's not inconceivable). The excuse is this: I've written a book. A BOOK! I KNOW! I'm a bit excited about it all. And I've got some recipes from it for you...
The G&G cup of bucolic idealism was overflowing this weekend at the gloriously twee Chadlington Apple Day - a village celebration of the apple harvest. The sun shone on straw-hatted men pressing apples, rosy-cheeked children apple bobbing and WI ladies selling jars of apple sauce (I might have made that last bit up, but surely it was classic jam and Jerusalem territory). But for a badly knitted cardigan I could have fallen into a Miss Marple novel ("golly, the Reverend's been drowned in a cider barrel!")...
I'm at The Big Feastival this weekend teaching Parent and Child classes for AEG. The weather's been glorious (so far...) and the classes have been a hoot - blimey we certainly have a [...]
There's nothing subtle about jam-making. Not in my book anyway. Just big, intense flavours and twee, chintzy jam lids. This week I've been let loose in my neighbour's envy-inducing fruit cage to strip the redcurrant bushes. They are enormous and I pick nearly 6kg from just one plant. Back in the kitchen there's only one thing on my mind - redcurrant jelly....
There's been too much cooking of late. I've been feeling the need to get dirt in my fingernails rather than pastry. To get the sun on my back rather than chefs' whites. And the patch has noticed my absence too, becoming, as it has, a bit weedy around the edges and ever so slightly petulant....
Milk. I've always loved the stuff. From the little glass bottles with rusks at playtime and to my adult remedy for sleeplessness straight from the bottle lit by the glow of the fridge in a dark kitchen.
The broad beans are home alone this week as G&G pays a visit to the bright lights of London Town. As well as being slightly overwhelmed by how many people there are in our [...]
G&G has switched off the hob, folded away the tea towels, watered the greenhouse and has gone on a study trip this week. I'm at River Cottage on the Devon/Dorset border to [...]
Allotmenting has undoubtedly shaken off some of its fusty image over the past few years. But for many, especially city-dwellers, growing your own food is still the preserve of retired folk with moth-eaten [...]
There was a proper landmark moment in the G&G patch the other week. A moment that signified the end of the old growing season and the start of Spring with all its hustle [...]
Time for the second instalment of my Meat Free Week. The latter half of the week was a little more work-filled than the first, so the odd mundane supper of cheese omelette and pesto pasta slipped [...]
It’s Meat Free Week this week and I’m getting on board and going veggie for a week. Not that I’m a particularly carnivorous beast anyway. Nor am I with the more extreme veggies (hey, you said ‘lunatic fringe’ not me…) who think all meat is murder. I just, as you know, like my veg and will happily support anything that encourages us all to eat more of them. As it happens, it’s also National Butchers Week which might seem a coincidence so comical it’s almost ridiculous, but actually they both have much in common. Both encourage us to reflect on how much meat we eat, where it’s come from and how it lived. And if you, as I do, subscribe to the principle that we should spend more on buying less meat – reducing volume but increasing quality – then two sit quite happily together. Both encourage more conscientious consumption of meat – happy days. Anyway, enough politics. To the kitchen, where the first half of the week has been a feast of greens… […]
My memory is not what is was. At least, I remember it being better than it is now. Or I think I do. Maybe I don't. Have I forgotten that too? Anyway, I'm [...]
A week of drab weather, a lingering cold and far too many puddings (see our Instagram page for evidence), has left me in need of greens. And with my Nutri-bullet addiction coming along [...]
My love affair with rhubarb is well documented. I blame my father, a fully paid up rhubarb fanatic. Perhaps it’s hereditary. Or perhaps it’s the years of low level habit forming routine: regular rhubarb crumbles, a weekly bag of rhubarb and custard boiled sweets, that cat and dog cartoon of the same name being an unmissable fixture in my TV viewing… Either way, addiction has passed from father to daughter as you can see from past posts here and here. Oh and here. But nothing beats forced rhubarb – the most anticipated season of all for the rhubarb connoisseur. Coaxed into being amidst the dark Yorkshire winter, it has an elusively short season (late Jan to March), a very peculiar growing method (see below) and a protectively small growing area (the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle). It’s the most difficult and most delicious of all veg – the blue crystal meths of the vegetable world. […]
Peek through the kitchen window of any rural idyll this week and you'll find kitchen gardeners across the land hunched over their heirloom kitchen table, graph paper and seed packets spread about, Labrador [...]
January (mud, wind, rain, cold) brings little to allotment life besides the satisfaction of digging in compost and the occasional pleasure of uprooting a leek or two for supper. Fortunately, the citrus season is upon us (well, not us, Seville and beyond) with all the zest, zing and lip-pursing tartness we need to shake us out of our January lethargy. Bergamots, however, are an often overlooked citrus fruit of the Dec-Feb harvest variety. And I spotted some in Daylesford this week, so here we are with an exotic glut. They’re overlooked partly because they aren’t terribly easy to find (Natoora sell online), but also because they are shrouded in more than a little mystery and confusion: […]
Rarely can it be said that I get a rush from frugality. However, when it comes to leftovers there’s something immensely satisfying about making a meal from stuff that would otherwise get binned (and probably result in one of those annoyingly sanctimonious stickers the bin men leave on your rubbish saying, “no Food Waste please” when they can’t be bothered to take your rubbish away. There wasn’t any! It’s in the Food Waste Bin! Where it’s supposed to be! If you’re referring to the smear of butter left on the wrapper I disposed of in Household Waste, then I think you should consider a career in forensics. And whilst we’re at it, when did food waste become a proper noun?! grr…sorry. sore point). Christmas, then. The ultimate leftover challenge. There’s just so much food isn’t there? Aside from the usual turkey which is relatively easy to use (broth/curry/stirfry), it’s the bits around the edges like stuffing, Christmas pudding and cranberry sauce that offer the most exciting quandaries. (Though I draw the line at my Father’s recommendation to put cranberry sauce in Nutri-bullet smoothies… too far, pa, too far). Here are my leftover offerings for this year: Stuffing Meatballs […]
Christmas stockings. Usually filled with frivolous trinkets and chocolate. Not in the G&G household, oh no. It must have purpose to make it into a G&G stocking and, no, silly giddiness doesn’t count as a purpose. Humbug. For example, last Christmas I was given a selection of beetroot seeds in my stocking – Boltardy (classic red), Chioggia (pink and white stripes like seaside rock), Golden Detroit (yellow) and Blankoma (white). Now that’s a stocking filler! I duly sowed the seeds directly into the patch from May onwards, staggering my sowings to ensure I’d have a long harvest. And, low and behold, they have been incredible. I mean, I know I can harp on about the wonders of beetroot (see links to past beetroot rants below), but these were genuinely knock out. Very reliable, delightfully sweet and beautifully coloured – easy to grow and a joy to pick. They are however, still coming thick and fast. And they need to be lifted or eaten before they reach melon size or they’ll be woody. So, it’s back to the beetroot glut recipes – some new, some from the archive. […]
Nothing from the veg patch this week as I’ve been distracted by gin, for which regulars will know my weakness. I blame my Mother. Introducing me as she did to Gin O’Clock: a nightly tradition that continues throughout the entire maternal side of my family. Not that anyone need really be blamed at all since a daily G&T is the most civilising of habits and to be encouraged. Well done Our Ma. You will rightly assume then that I am thoroughly enjoying the resurgence of decent gin – and tonic for that matter. Small batch, artisan, quirky brands abound. And, heaven be praised, the Cotswolds now has one too. Cotswolds Dry Gin is a traditional London gin with notes of lavender (from the Cotswolds), bay leaf plus the more usual citrus and juniper. And it’s knock out. I’m not usually one for neat gin (what? You’re surprised? Heavens, what do you think of me?), but this is rich, flavoursome and rounded, making it ideal for cooking with since it imparts those wonderful aromatics upon all it meets. As I found out… […]
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?). […]
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: […]
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 […]