Friday, 29 June 2012

Gooseberry and Ginger Compote

I thought it would be a good idea, I thought I was doing the right thing and not being wasteful, I thought it would a lovely surprise.... I can not cook, I am not a domestic goddess but I am truthful and so here goes...

Carrie's Gooseberry and Ginger Compote.
Loads of gooseberries
Some ginger in syrup
A liberal sprinkling of granulated sugar
No shame.

I don't think there are many occasions in this world were a recipe comes with a disclaimer, well in this case I am breaking the mould - following this recipe could make you sad and feel like you have wasted an afternoon. There, you have been forewarned...
Originally the recipe came from a good place but then I didn't quite have the right ingredients or the right frame of mind or patience or natural ability.

To begin with I had these gooseberries, which I have already shown you when I plucked them fresh from the lottie bushes. Well here is that photo again and a much more down to earth one...

I took these promising little babes and washed them, topped and tailed them and put them all snug in a bowl together. Me, using a knife is a miracle in itself, I must say I was nervous but I had classical music on and it became really rather meditative. I was listening to the fantastic Camille Saint-Saens and the best piece of music in the world 'The Swan' from 'Carnival of the Animals'. You may not agree that this is the most fabulous piece of music out there, but I can't help you if you're wrong....

Then I chopped up the ginger (definitely not fine enough, though that is a macro photo!). Now if you have looked at the highlighted recipe above you will see that it required 'crystallised ginger', well I couldn't blasted well get hold of any so I was using Ginger in Syrup and it wasn't the same thing at all but I fought on gallantly.

So you add all this into a saucepan and plonk some sugar in (to taste - I added more later on) and just about nearly cover it with water.
Let it bubble and simmer for 10 mins (At this stage it's super burny hot so be careful, don't go saying I didn't warn you! If you decide to be an eejit I would recommend having an ambulance and a trusted plastic surgeon; preferably one whom you went to school with and who will help you out for free, on standby) then turn the heat down. Or it will burn (don't ask me how I know that, I just do!)

Then you are meant to let it gently simmer away until it is reduced by roughly half. My Nana always put a dollop on a dish and then ran her finger through it, if it staid parted by that finger furrow it was almost done. This did happen with mine but it still wasn't getting to the magical finger furrow AND wrinkle stage and I got bored and smelt burning......

So then off the heat and into jars to cool down and set more (or not) and there you have it Jam Compote!

Andrew tried some and his face was a picture. First of all he got a big chunk of ginger in his mouth which he wasn't expecting and then it wasn't sweet enough and he stuck out his tongue and there was some mild coughing...he took a drink and ate some crisps and that fixed it...

So Yay me! I'll not be doing that again in a hurry; or if I do I may follow the recipe.

Good night xxx

Ohh a fancy blog button to share

I was asked today by a delightful man if I would send him my html share button. Well, I didn't have one so whilst my 'jam' was simmering away I made one and here it is for you all to look at and maybe even use on your own blogs. (You don't have to, I shall not be upset!)

Simply copy the html (computer code) bit and put it into your html gadget thingy in the layout section of your blog and my wee photo should come up :)

So hugs and stay tuned, I have photos and a recipe for a tasty compote in the works... xxx

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Where is Summer? Why here, in this post :)

So the weather is being crappy and we are all feeling like we are living backwards; each day is more autumnal than the one before. The plants aren't growing, (well the weeds are but that is a different matter), the wind is rough with new babies we have so carefully tended to and the alll grass pollen still somehow manages to end up in my nose and eyes even though it's been raining so much. To be honest owning an allotment is a love/hate relationship and the love hurts, it really can hurt us deeply. No matter how hard we try, we just never manage to grasp control over the situation. The amount of love we pour into it ends up being reflected back on us with the same ratio of pain and sucks.

I hope you are all doing better than us. Here we are in a little bit of a depression and the words we all dread to think were in fact spoken aloud today....'I feel like we should just give up'. Of course we aren't but the idea can be very appealing.

So to cheer us up and to show some love for the beauty and colours that we did witness 2 weekends ago, I am going to share some photos. No advice, no boasting, just simple reflection.

a parcel shelf of promise

cherries ripening (fingers crossed)

plums fattening up - this excites me

Californian Poppies are so happy

Artichoke and Snail :)

flowers and berries, beans and bees

stunning rose petals

a wild bouquet of loveliness (and hayfever)

nettle tea, fermented for a year now - stinky but oh so good (and our gnome)

perfect little allotment scene

stunning healthy roses in another plot - what's their secret???!

same plot as before - one of 2 horses!?? What talent, what jealously.

Brassicas - pigeons KEEP OFF!

The gooseberry thinnings

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Have I told you lately that I LOVE you??

Here is what I would show you if you came to visit us this weekend. My favourite things in the allotments at the minute, my loves, this weekend is all about LOVE.

1st you would see the Welcome sign and the pretty flowers on the shed :)

2nd I would show you my honeysuckle, it smells amazing!

3rd We would dander down to the fruit arch for some shade (for naturally it would be a sunny day) and we would have a lolly each :)

4th Maggie would give you a rose because she's big softy

5th You would get to pick broad beans with me and come home and have a lovely fresh, zesty risotto :)

Or 6th You could pick some turnips, potatoes (check out that weird one which is two grown into each other) and some super tasty green garlic...
little 'Purple Milan' turnips are the best ever!
But 7th you see, I probably won't be there....I'm all lovey dovey you see .... on Sunday I shall be married to my bestest friend ever for 7 years. So on Saturday we are going to have a lovey dovey day and go to a fancy restaurant that night and on Sunday, another lovely dovey day and a trip to the museum (and then the lottie).

 Happy Anniversary Andrew  -  love you more each day

Thursday, 14 June 2012


There's a tree across the way, a tree that lived here before us. It's a boundary, it and it's friends, that shows the cut off from these new houses and fields that lay behind. This tree and it's neighbour are getting buffeted my the wind, they move and bend seemingly disproportionately to what the weather is actually like. Every time they sway I feel a little sick, I have a bad intestinal area today and it feels like the trees are a metaphor for the churning going on down there and the nausea in my stomach.

Laying here wondering when the next cramps are going to come or the next series of shivers, even though I am roasting to the touch, isn't pleasant. But let me tell you this - I don't mind being sick, conventionally sick. It's easy. Like those trees I can just bend with the forces of nature, take the beatings in my stride and people empathise.

Depression and anxiety are different. Every day I fight a series of battles alone, unseen and without the grace of these bending and swaying trees; which will come out unscathed in the end.

Why is it that I can openly tell you that I have diarrhoea and not feel embarrassed (this is poo we're talking about here - yuck!) when for 2 days and nights this week I was truly sick, hearing screaming in my head (auditory hallucinations) and I felt I had to keep that to myself. Why? I really needed help. On those days I'm that tree that crashes down but doesn't make a sound ~ there's no one to even hear it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why don't the plants love me back??

Sunday afternoon was fabulous, a glorious day at the lottie and hardly a soul there so I wasn't even panicky = result! BUT as I was cutting the grass and moving along between plots the grass pollen attacked and I was vanquished, left as a sniffling, dripping, itchy mess; completely bowled over :( Why?? Oh Mother Nature, why!!

I cut all that my hand and let me tell you, you cannot think when doing work like that. It is fabulous; menial work yes - but you have no room to think negatively - the mind is clear :) Plus I met a gorgeous frog in amongst it all, sadly he was very camera shy.

Anywho, I got my medication from the Dr. today and by the weekend I shall ready to once again go to my plots. But it's so cruel, my anxiety and depression hasn't been that bad the past few days, yet I still couldn't/can't go and get in an hour of Allotmentherapy - life can be so nasty sometimes. Boo and indeed Hiss

However - I shall not let this get me down :) No dear reader I have photos from the weekend and the pollen therein can not affect me through the laptop screen. So here we go, let us bathe ourselves in the beauty.....

I am loving the flowers on 14b, both my Poppies are doing really well, the red one is flowering as you can see, even though it went through a big move in the winter from one plot to the other, the purple one has loads of buds and I can barely wait :) I left the chives and the big artichokes to flower, the bees adore them and I don't eat them so its a win win situation. And ohh! look at the all the blossom on the blackberry (or as I like to call it the brambleberry - which makes life awkward for me sometimes when I call my phone my brambleberry too hahaha) Then the 3 roses, well they are now 2 :( Remember the photo I put up of the white 'Polar Star' covered in green fly and aphids, well it was worse and we just had to get rid of it, it's never been the healthiest plant...aww well I have an excuse to buy more :)

Another bed we have left for the bees is the now bolted purple sprouting broccoli - oh isn't a mecca for insects over there :)

Here is that updated photo of the garlic - so proud of it! Yet here is a photo of one of the apples that has fallen victim to the 'June Drop' and I just heard a moment ago that loads of leaves have suddenly fallen off the cherry tree.

Ahh, Nature, she teaches us so much. We can worry ourselves stupid about things but truly we are not in control, never are, never will be. Gardening is a roller coaster and such a get metaphor for life.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A good boast at 24a; weeds out - plants in

Okay, okay, I was a bit ranty in the last post, sorry. Sometimes I think you just need to get some issues off your chest and I feel much better and much more positive now, so thank you for indulging me.

I am going to be much more cheerful this time as I have happy photos and good raves about 24a (don't talk to me about 14b, that is being tackled tomorrow!) After a bad start to the year things really do seem to have caught up and the plot is filling up rather nicely thank you :) I'll start off with the fruit arch (cause I am super duper proud of it) at the bottom of the plot. Oh my lordy! the trees are doing so well this year, I think they have finally established and we have apples, pears and for the very first time, plums all set and growing!!! I hope we actually get some of each, it's been an impatient wait so far. The arch is now covered and if we ever get a really sunny day ever again, this is where you'll find me, in the shade - pale and interesting is the look I'm going for (I simply do not tan!)

And up beside the fruit arch is the Summer Raspberry patch - oh my, they are so heavy with fruit, though not one is ripe yet... I'm tapping my toe waiting.. however they are incrediblly healthy and a metre away there are new plants growing in the main path which I had to rip out - they're like a weeds those plants! They and the Blueberries growing behind them are going to have to be made bird proof - I am not sharing them this year again, in fact I blasted well didn't get 1 blueberry the past 2 years, grrrr.

The Cherry tree  ('Stella') has loads of fruit this year too. It did last year though to be fair and then it all got a bit too warm one day and they all fell off, to say I was disappointed is an understatement, I remember just standing there staring at the ground with my heart in my throat (honestly, it's daft but I was tearing up). I am trying not to get too excited but it's really hard - for goodness sake I have a Cherry Blossom Tattoo, my photography bussiness is called Cherry Blossom Tattoo - I bloomin' love all things Cherry! (apart from Cherry Coke but that's just because I hate Coke)...

The Garlic!!! Happy??? Heck yeah! This time last year it was looking good but there was rust, this time, no rust!! They just keep getting better and better - 'Gault's Wight' I call them, but then I am a total geek :p (This photo is almost a month old now - they look so fabulous now, I can't believe I forgot to take a pic!)

We (and by that I mean Andrew) had a terrible time trying to get Sweetcorn to germinate this year but in the end we have enough and have planted them out 2 sister style ~ Sweetcorn and Squash (under plastic bottle cloches) together as is our way :) Fingers crossed, I do adore corn on the cob. There is going to be a huge squash bed over in 14b as usual but I'll talk about that some other time.

Spuds are still doing great - we had to keep the fleece at hand though but this weather is so messed up but if the earlies I dug up last weekend are anything to go by, we should have a great crop (I'm pretty sure they're 'Sharp's Express' here). We also have second earlies in too ('Estima') - looking healthy.

I thought this was interesting...on the left are leeks that were sown in March, on the right ones that were sown in April - can you see a difference?? If anything the newer ones are stronger and a richer, deeper green colour - just goes to show, you shouldn't worry about getting everything planted, nature will catch up, she has her own rules!

Well my lovelies apart from all that there are great hanging bunches of redcurrants on every plant, little healthy rows of turnips and parnsips and lovely looking lettuces and spring onions. Just don't mention carrots to us, it's a touchy subject......

I think I have waffled and boasted enough - I'm off for a nap :) xxxx

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Petite Brunette seeks free (organic) weedkiller, bug killer and blow torches!!!

I didn't order this weather!! What the heck is going on? It's raining, grey, blowy and darn right miserable out there, plus I have a blanket wrapped round me to help me feel cosy, it's JUNE! I have been trying to figure out what the word is that I have been looking for and I have it now....I am irked, blasted well irked.

So in the vain of this irk-y feeling I am going to moan, oh yes my friend, it is time to get something off my chest.

As I shared (with fanfare), we are now into our 5th season on the Lottie and all is going quiet well for the Gaults. But there is something that has been annoying me for quite some time now, something that has been getting up my nose, under my skin and rubbing me up the wrong way... THIS! >> There are so many people that have seemingly become bored with their soil 'toy' after so long and have let their plots go to gardening Hell!! To be honest I am fuming, really rather red in the face and though a non-violent person I could happily smack some butts!

Look at these examples, only the ones that surround our own plot! There is a waiting list for crying out loud and people have these in this state! ARRRGHHHHH. I know that any reader of my blog will be angry too and I thank you for your collective empathy for my present state.

We are naturally getting all the weeds of the day on our plots because of these plots and my hayfever (which up til now has been in check) is going mad with all this grass that has just been left to go to seed. I feel like getting tape from the Police and cordoning off these plots as crime scenes!

If that wasn't bad enough the green fly and aphids have returned in force. Yes I could squish them betwixt my fingers but seriously, with this many on one rose, it would be a green goo bath and I am just not strong enough in the tummy for that. Plus, there are no worms, none and only a smattering of ladybirds - they have abandoned us, left us to fight for ourselves and oh, woe is me!!

the Honeysuckle was sprayed with something - look how pretty it is now though!
There I feel much lighter for getting all that off my chest. I have so much to tell you about or wonderful plants that I could burst but patience my darlings, patience....For now let me show you the baby potatoes I dug up on Monday. These came from a couple of left over plants we had plonked in the ground whilst we waited for the Strawberries to come; now they're here was Goodbye spud plants and Hello tummy :)

Boiled and crushed with added homegrown garlic and peas - yummy!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Excuse me! - here's a real reason to party ;)

Lordy! 2012 is a huge year for the UK and at the moment it's all about the Queen's Jubilee; 60 years on the Throne deserves recognition and I am loving the extra long Bank Holiday ;) Soon it will be all about the London Olympics and the world will be glued to their TV sets, including me at times. BUT there is a big reason, a huge reason to celebrate and that is this......

.....we are into our 5th Allotmenteering Season!
Happy Allotment Birthday to 24a!

I just wanted to log on this evening and say a huge, massive thank you to each and every one of you who has followed our story so far. We have so much more to explore; Mother Nature has so much more to teach us and I personally have a lot more growth ahead of me. It gives me great pleasure and strength to think that you will join me and hopefully continue to leave comments. I can truly say that writing this blog and documenting the progress we have made has been life changing and I am rather excited to see what happens next.....

So in the spirit of celebration and in a sense, a bit of a deep and thoughtful reflection I have upgraded the whole kit and caboodle and I hope you like it. I love you all - I mean that from the bottom of my heart xx