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It’s fair to say that last year we mainly grew potatoes on our allotment – in fact, that’s all we really grew apart from the odd strawberry and some herbs. We have been pretty shocking about keeping it up these past few years, it just seems we’ve had one thing after another pop up in our life and staying on top of the allotment always seems to get pushed further down the list.

Having Tilly now has made me think how much I hope to spend time this spring and summer on the allotment, just her and Buddy during the week, pottering, weeding, sowing, planting.  I imagine Tilly laid on a blanket, the dog next to her, and me digging.  Or once she is sitting up and shuffling around, eating flowers or dirt.

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But for now, our allotment is a bit of a sad mess and empty of all it’s potato harvest as of the a recent weekend.  We went down late afternoon, the sun was beginning to set, the trees looked like they were on fire from the sun’s glow and we had three rows of red skinned potatoes to dig up.

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My boys at the allotment

From the beauty of Greece yesterday, to the slightly drearier shores of the UK today.  This past weekend we actually got down to our allotment and planted four rows of Charlotte potatoes.  We always seem a little behind on planting our potatoes, but were reassured when our local farmer told us he was only just getting his in the ground.

Digging in potatoes

In the process of uncovering the soil Mr Rigg came across a frog.  First he thought it was dead, turns out it was just enjoying the heat beneath the plastic that had been covering the ground (at least I think that’s what it was doing).

After an attempt to pick it up it leaped down a hole and disappeared.  It made me realise there were a series of ‘tunnels’ that had been created in the soil and I wondered if this was the frog who had made them?  Anyone know?

Frog in a hole

There was also a bit of time for sitting and reading – Buddy was busy on bee patrol…

At the allotment

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I was inspired this morning by one of my favourite food blogs Country Woodsmoke to share a snippet of our Christmas feasting – this was our Christmas meal yesterday snapped briefly before it all disappeared.

We had a roasted turkey thigh (perfect for two, and all delicious dark juicy meat), roasted carrots, parsnips and shallots, goose fat potatoes, and finely sliced sprouts tossed with crispy bacon.  I also had a good dollop of homemade bread sauce.

This was by far the tastiest and most enjoyable Christmas dinner we’ve ever made.  Happy Christmas everyone!

Yesterday’s prize-winning potatoes became yesterday’s dinner.  First we popped the first prize-winning, homegrown potatoes onto skewers, rubbed them in olive oil and salt and then baked them until they were beautiful and fluffy inside.

We slathered them with a mixture of cream cheese and spring onions (with a touch of sour cream to loosen it up), and piled sliced salami and grated Parmesan on top.  It was all we had left in the fridge but tasted pretty good.

Of the four items we entered at the produce show (pumpkin, 3 potatoes, raspberry jam, and sloe gin) we won two first prizes!  One for our jumbo pumpkin…

And the other for our 3 potatoes – which we were really surprised about and very pleased…

Sadly our sloe gin and raspberry jam didn’t get a prize, but I did make them pretty labels…

And the sloe gin was snaffled up by one of our local councillors…

Yesterday we spent a couple of hours at the allotment digging up our potatoes – I can’t believe the amount and size of some of the potatoes we dug up.

So just from one row…

We dug up this overloaded basketful of gorgeous red skinned potatoes…

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Our first potatoes dug from the allotment, already eaten this week as baked potatoes with plenty of salt, pepper and butter, and the tiny ones in a pasta dish with green beans and pesto.  I know it’s a bit late to be digging the first potatoes, but we were a bit behind in getting them into the ground this year.

This afternoon we went to the allotment to finish digging over a bed, plant a couple of fruit bushes and water.  We enjoyed a nice cup of tea, made in our Kelly Kettle, and ate brownies.  It is so peaceful at the allotment, yet still a nice buzz with people tending their plants and harvesting their crops.

We don’t have much to harvest on ours, just a few months ago it was an overgrown wilderness of weeds, the result of neglect due to us planning our wedding.  Thankfully, we have started to get back on top of it.

The photo on the left was taken on 10th June, the photo on the right today, 31st July…

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I am so happy to be back in my little blog home – it has been far too long and I have missed sharing my food adventures.

Since getting engaged back in September 2009, we have been steadily planning and preparing for our wedding.  As the date drew nearer – 21st May 2011 – I have just had little time to do much else (whilst juggling it along with my job and my website).

Here’s a picture of some of the cakes our family and friends made for our wedding – the big white one in the middle so beautiful decorated was made by my Granny!

To save me rambling on for too long, I’m going to do some bullets of what’s been going on in our lives for the past few months I’ve been missing from here, and then aim to follow with a nice post and recipe for a fab barbecue we had over the weekend:

  • Most importantly – we got married!  On 21st May 2011, I married Mr Rigg in my home village in Gloucestershire – we had a beautiful, rustic country wedding, with a party in my parent’s garden, lots of local cider and perry, AMAZING food (lots of it local) and just an all round fab day.  If you’re at all interested, photos and details will follow on my website.
  • We honeymooned in an incredible Canopy & Star’s hideaway for a week and took Buddy with us (more details and hopefully a couple of foodie posts on this to follow).
  • Sadly, Mr Rigg’s lovely Granny who was always so interested in what we were doing passed away.
  • After spending an exorbitant amount of time and effort getting our allotment covered in manure and getting rid of all the weeds over the winter…we have neglected it and it is now overrun with weeds – we are totally and utterly the worst looking allotment – gutted.
  • Although we haven’t got a lot growing (and the radishes all matured as we headed south for our wedding), we have got a couple of healthy pea plants, some small beetroot seedlings, potatoes growing (only just!) and quite a few courgette, squash and pumpkin plants.

I am just so happy to ‘be back’ and can’t wait to get growing and cooking some decent food – and to share it all!  I’ll leave you with a picture of my overgrown garden…

Perhaps an unconventional Christmas meal, but with only two of us to feed a turkey or goose would be too much, and with some exquisite stewing venison in the freezer from Dunham Massey it seemed only natural to have venison stew.

We bought our venison from Little Heath Farm a few weeks ago when they received a delivery from the National Trust property just down the road.  It is nice to know that the main ingredient in our Christmas meal came from within 5 miles and most likely had a lovely life roaming the parkland at Dunham Massey.

With a large part of my University days spent studying Native Americans both in the UK and Canada, it seemed only apt to follow the recipe for venison stew from Jamie’s America book.  Based on a Navajo stew, this recipe is incredibly delicious and is the second time we’ve made it.

My only addition was to make some parsley and suet dumpling, which I popped into the stew towards the end of cooking.  There is something very moreish about dumplings – I think I could eat a plateful drenched in a couple of spoonfuls of stew liqueur.

Mash potato was made with our allotment grown potatoes, which must be said have been a bit disastrous.  Whether it’s the variety, how we’ve grown them, or how we cook them, but the potatoes just disintegrate into soupy glue if not watched carefully. 

I have learnt that the trick with them is to watch them carefully in the water, looking for the moment when the outside starts to break down, but leaving them long enough to make sure they are almost cooked through. 

This time I put it through my wonderful French mouli that I picked up at the carboot – it was fantastic!  With the help of a little cream (maybe a lot…) and butter, and some seasoning, the mash turned out all right.

What did you eat for Christmas dinner?

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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It might be autumn but Tilly still loves a homemade ice lolly after her tea, so I cooked the blackberries we picked in coconut oil with some fresh figs and elderberries, then blitzed it up and pushed it through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. I mixed in coconut milk (made from coconut cream and water) and popped them into my lolly moulds. This mixture tasted delicious, like a fancy blackberry crumble, autumn in an ice lolly :) #wapf Little fingers checking out the corn we picked earlier. Plus an organic minute steak, buttery mash, and a mug of fresh peas from the farm shop. Only ate the steak :P We also picked a few ears of corn for our tea - I showed her how to pull back the husks and poke a nail into a kernel to check if they were good.

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