Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fruits of Our Labours

Having an allotment is great fun, but,at this time if year, it does have a kind of downside. Picture the scene; the sun is shining, the bees are busily buzzing, and you are harvesting your ripe produce: lettuce, radishes, courgettes, raspberries, beetroot, potatoes , peas, beans etc. Everything in the garden is lovely. Then, when you return home laden with your freshly picked bounty , the reality sets in. What are we going to do with all this food? You can't eat it all, you can't give it all away, you can't freeze some of it, therefore you have now got a lot of work to do to somehow preserve it from going 'off''. Blanching, jam making,pickling, bottling, preserving, chutneys, oils, vinegars the list of activities you didn't realise you were going to have to master when you first took on a plot. is almost endless. However, looking on the bright side, Plum has just found a recipe for Rumpot which involves no cooking just lots of alcohol. Sounds just like an activity I can relate to.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Bunch of Sweet Peas

Today, I realised a dream, I brought home a really good bunch of heavenly scented sweet peas. I was first taken up with the idea of having an allotment from a book called 'A Bunch of Sweet Peas' by Henry Donald (Canongate). It was a short story about a vicar who entered a sweet pea competition and it caught my imagination. Firstly, the book was beautifully illustrated, a lovely story and the competition pages became addictive; I had to grow my own, then I got carried away and wanted to grow everything of my own and so I am.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh, No, Courgette.

We have an abundance of courgettes on the lottie, both yellow and green. After trying various recipes we have come to the conclusion that, as Dr Samuel Johnson said of the cucumber, 'you should wash it, slice it, dress it with pepper and vinegar and then throw it out as good for nothing'. I heartily concur with his sentiments.

The Corn is as High

The corn really is as high as an elephants eye in a quiet corner of Warwickshire; you would think you were in the movie The Lost World if you stepped down my cousin's garden. When we went there on Saturday for a barbi, the corn was taller than Our Angie (mind you she is only 5ft nothing) Everything, and I mean everything, Lesley has planted is sooooo big it is totally unreal. There are giant courgette plants and jungle sized salad leaves, she can't even get to the broccoli as it is at the back of the plot and there is no way through!! I'm sure all us allotmenteers would love to know how she does it!! Even more annoying, there aren't any weeds. Grrrr!!!
P.S We had a really nice barbi, listening to frogs croak, and watching bats flit, (God knows how big they are) in the late evening and John promises to tell us some tall tales from his and Angies's travels in the RV in Denver where he bought Plum a genuine Navajo necklace from Monument Valley.

It's Been a Funny Old Week

This is planned to be a regular Monday column, providing, of course, that something funny happened in the previous seven days. Last week, it was Monday, when we logged on to Hazel's blog. It is hilarious, ( I hope it is supposed to be). She is a really talented writer, and we hope she will be doing some things for us if she has time. Reading her blog inspired Plum and I to start our own, and we are glad that we did.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Not Quite Masterchef (2)

Yesterday, with the help and advice of Plum, I took my first tentative step into the culinary wilderness. The attached picture is a Lakeland Lemon Teabread, the topping is lemon icing.. It can be sliced and served spread with lemon curd, however, we usually eat it plain. Not bad for a first attempt if I do say so myself.


Friday, July 25, 2008

A Surplus ! - And Now an Apology

The previous on line recipe called for half a tin of chopped tomatoes, not half a ton. We are indebted to Mrs Murphy of Catterick for pointing this out. Apparently she only twigged that something wasn't quite right when Mr. Murphy, home for his tea, remarked that his casserole was 'a little bit on the tomatoey side'. Fortunately she was able to dispose of the surplus at the nearby army barracks.

Knocking Spots Off

So the death knell has been sounded for another great British Tradition. I refer, of course, to the news that the pub game of dominoes no longer has enough supporters to make continuing the league worthwhile. Do you remember
when every pub had a darts team (no longer acceptable due to health and safety regulations, you may have your eye taken out), a shove halfpenny board,( that disappeared with decimalisation) bar billiards, skittles etc.
These days ,according to one of our local landlords, you are more likely to find a group of ladies ordering pots of tea, surely that's what cafes are for?, than to see men propping up the bar supping pints of ale. What with the smoking ban as well, it won't be long before even drinking beer will be banned from your local.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Molly, Our Jellicle Cat

Introducing Molly, (stage left) who just like T.S. Elliots Jellicle cat is small, cheerful and loves to play in the hall by the light of the moon. We have had her almost nine months, she came from Team Rescue and fitted in right away. She loves everybody, but most of all her five furry friends who live around us. They call for each other, play all day together and she brings everyone of 'em home for dinner at various times of the day. They are, in no particular order of favouritism, Henry,(in the photo playing peep-po), Elle C, Will, Ferret and Bea. She may not be so popular soon as she has just discovered a Dovecote very, very nearby. The good news is she is so small and they are too big to go through the catflap.

Not Quite Masterchef

When it comes to cooking, I am definitely not a New Man.
When I was growing up, Mother did all the cooking and therefore all I had to do was eat whatever she put in front of me. After we were married, Plum was already a good cook and so I still didn't have to. Over the past forty years I have managed to cook porridge, toast bread, boil water for tea and coffee and pour milk over cornflakes but that is the sum total of my culinary efforts. I do, however, act as sous chef (see I even know technical terms) when we are preparing meals and I am a dab hand at washing and drying up.
I am an avid watcher of Masterchef, Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith etc and so I have some idea of what ingredients go together to make a meal and in theory, therefore I should be able to cook. There comes a time, however, when a man has to do what a man has to do and, as Plum has a special birthday coming up and she has expressed a wish for an Italian evening, I have committed myself to cooking dinner for her on that day.
I have already looked through Jamie Oliver's book and have some idea of what I could possibly do, therefore I am, with Plum's help, going to take the bull by the horns and give it a go. I will keep you posted as to if, and how, my culinary skills progress, so watch this space!!!


Monday, July 21, 2008

The Meat Draw

By way of a welcome to the first (of many?) reports from the wilderness, here's something never encountered before. A Meat Draw is obviously not in the same league as a sock drawer- the spelling's a dead giveaway. You're ordering drinks at the local and you're asked if you want a go at the Meat Draw, which has recently been reintroduced. It transpires that this is a kind of raffle, with meat as prizes. So, we have a pop for a quid and, lo and behold, come away with the second prize of a mixed grill. This comprises four sausages,two gammons, two lamb chops, two steaks, two slices of black pud, four rashers and half a dozen kidneys. Enough to last us a fortnight.

Keep a look out for further editions of Cool Up North where you'll find the latest and weirdest stuff from up North!

Old Arthur

If you think this is a little odd, wait until next time when you can find out about the Slug Roast

Down at our Lottie

This week we have been bringing home our own bacon so to speak, from our allotment that we took on just a year ago. Never did we imagine that in such a short time, we could achieve so much. If we could keep a few chickens and perhaps the odd pig I bet we could be almost self-sufficient. I say this after harvesting our first strawberries which weighed in at 20lb. 24 lettuce, radishes galore, courgettes, broccoli, peas, potatoes, carrots, rhubarb, blackcurrants and redcurrants and wonderful smelling sweet peas. All this and it's only July. There is nothing so satisfying as growing your own and if it wasn't for the slugs (which we will be roasting next time) it would be absolutely perfect. Plus we have the small shed from where we will be watching, listening and making notes and hoping that you out there will join us for awhile and telling us your stories and anecdotes.