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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…
Sweetcorn fritters are part of my childhood memories. When I was younger my neighbour’s house was always full of lots of kids and she would often feed us all – sweetcorn fritters, simply made and cooked quickly on her Aga were what I remember her making us.
The making and cooking of them is just one of those childhood memories that will always stick with me, all us kids crowded round a big wooden table digging in to the hot fritters as they came off the stove. So with sweetcorn season upon us this is what we had for dinner.
With a new but delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cookbook we dug into a plateful of hot fritters with a green salad, hot radish sprouts and a simple tomato salsa. The fritter batter contained polenta and flecks of fresh (and homegrown I might add!) red chilli and fresh herbs from the garden.
No Aga in sight, I used one of my favourite cast iron enamel frying pans and they crisped up to a gorgeous golden brown.
As I mentioned previously last weekend we headed down south to Hereford for a friend’s wedding. On our journey home we decided to take a leisurely trip stopping off at food place along the way. We didn’t really have a plan, just to see what we found.
The first place we came across we whizzed past, which is funny because it’s such a huge blot on the landscape it’s hard to miss! In the midst of countryside as you head out of Hereford you come across a HUGE ‘barn’, if it can be called that, which reads ‘Oakchurch – farm shop’.
We entered this building with some apprehension and were greeted by what I would describe a confused food-cum-home-cum-DIY-mega….something-or-other! It’s identity to me was unclear, it was utterly bewildering. Imagine a farm shop supermarket and that’s part of the way there.
There was a huge meat section, cheeses and produce – all local the labels told us; there were wines, beers and a selection of local cider and perry; there was a whole section dedicated to homewares (china plates and mugs, jam jars, bread boards, baskets, and every baking item under the sun).
We came away with a small bottle of local perry and a couple of packets of greaseproof bags (ideal for wrapping up edible Christmas goodies). After visiting a friend of mine we crossed the River Wyre at a toll where the lady collecting money looked like she should have sold us some eggs and home produced honey as well as our crossing!
From there we travelled via Eardisley and pulled in at the last minute to a natural cider and perry producer called The Orgasmic Cider Company – who couldn’t resist but stop at somewhere with a name like that?! A friendly man told us about their different types of cider’s and perry’s and we tried some before buying a bottle to take home.
Our next foodie stop was Monkland Cheese Dairy - here we found a small shop and cafe selling homemade cheese, and a selection of preserves, chutney, bread and other local goodies. We tried some of their different cheese and settled on their Oak Smoked for Mr Rigg and their Garlic & Chive for me.
The last place we visited was the Ludlow Food Centre, the one place I had planned to visit in advance. The food centre is a large red brick and black timber clad new build that is light and airy inside. It was bustling with people and on entering we were greeted by buckets of gorgeous locally grown bouquets, and local fruits including Victoria plums.
There was lots of local produce to choose from with pumpkins and squashes, purple beans, and sweetcorn. There were modest meat, cheese and deli counters. There were some delicious looking breads (even bread shaped like a tiny teddy bear!) and all the normal store cupboard items.
We bought some sourdough bread sprinkled with poppy seeds, sweetcorn, Victoria plums, a bunch of local flowers, the first of the Hereford apples, two types of sausage and streaky bacon (at least that’s all I can remember!).
For lunch we ate in their Conservatory Barn Cafe – cheese and chutney sandwiches and a sausage roll for Mr Rigg, and for me roasted red pepper soup. It was nice if slightly uninspiring food, but it tasted good. I was very tempted by their ‘award winning’ Victoria sponge cake, but I resisted knowing that we had a tupperware of homemade chocolate cake in the car.
Today for lunch we had our first sweetcorn of the year. After stripping away the leaves and feathery bits, I popped the sweetcorn into boiling water (not salted I read) and cooked them for about 5 and a half minutes.
The corn was drained and then I added a generous knob of goat’s butter to the pan, popped the lid on then gave it a gentle shake to melt the butter and coat the corn.
Finally all that was needed was a good sprinkle of sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. This is my absolute favourite way to eat corn on the cob – it brings back so many good childhood memories. If I can find enough good quality locally grown sweetcorn the plan is to eat as much of it as possible (just like asparagus when it’s in season).
We have just had a day away in Hereford for a wedding, and visited some interesting foodie places along the way – I shall try and get something up soon about where we went. Oh, and our camera is on the blink…which is not good news!
Our allotment is beginning to take shape – finally it looks like an allotment. That might sound funny, but it’s true. Until the other week it wasn’t much more than a strip of motorway verge. All overgrown and unloved.
Now it has a small lawn (currently suffering under the baking sun) for us to sit and eat lunch on, a herb garden (thyme in full flower), potatoes about to flower, sunflowers, courgette and pumkin plants, slender sweetcorn plants, and the beginnings of bark pathways. It is so exciting!
So the Mexican party last night was lovely, lots of sombreros and homemade ponchos, Maria brought maracas, and we ate a lot of chilli, baked potatoes, tortilla chips and wraps. Ours friends Katie and Kate, who’s party it was, have just finished doing their back yard and it looked stunning – they’ve painted the walls a cream colour and trellis in a mossy green, they’ve put some decking down and built raised beds that are full of interesting plants. It was just a really lovely place to sit out with friends.
Here are some pretty flowers and herbs from my garden that I made into a posy for our friends as a gift. This little bunch was so fragrant – with lavender, sweetpeas, marjoram and mint – I would definitely recommend using popping a couple of sprigs of herbs into a bunch of flowers.
Today has been another warm day in Cheshire, so N and I headed straight down to the allotment to trim the long grass, water and put in a few more plants I’ve been growing from seedlings.
The strawberries we inherited on the allotment are plumping up nicely, we are just waiting for then to start blushing and turning red…and hope the rabbits don’t get to them first!
The purple sprouting broccoli (the green plant towards the back of the pic) has shot up since we last went down, and Maria’s brussel sprout plants (the purple plant in the foreground) are looking equally healthy. Even the three smaller plants that aren’t enclosed by my snazzy wire fence are doing well and haven’t (yet! touchwood!) been decimated by the rabbits.
I also discovered a number of small cabbage white caterpillars on one of the broccoli plants, so I have carefully pinched the leaves off, brought the caterpillars home and have lovingly encouraged them onto some of my nasturtium plants. Mad you may say, why didn’t I “dispose” of them you ask, well I like butterflies and I’m happy to sacrifice some of my nasturtiums for them.
Some of the sweetcorn (like this one) are doing well, others look a bit piddly, but rumour has it we’ve got rain this week, so hopefully that might pick the smaller ones up a little.
N cleared a patch of ground where pumpkins had previously been grown, and I planted four Uchi Kuri pumpkin plants that I have tended from seed. In between them I also dug in a couple of nasturtiums because I just love the way they trail and ramble over everything and their jolly flowers.
So overall the allotment is looking pretty good, taking into consideration that this year we just haven’t had the time to clear and tidy it properly. Rather things are just growing between the tall grasses and weeds, but growing they are. Next year we will work on making it look pretty and neat.
I must admit that although I did have time to post last night after the stinky boyfriend went to bed, I instead curled up on the sofa with a very cuddly bunny to watch recorded episodes of the Great British Menu. Borage was unusually friendly last night, and even relaxed enough to rest his chin on my arm – he even had a little snooze and did lot of eye fluttering and paw twitching…I can only guess he was running through lush green meadows in his dreams. Funny bunny.
It was only two weeks ago when I posted my April garden update and yet the garden has changed so much since then – the photos were in fact taken at the beginning of the month, but still the changes are notable. The incredibly warm sunny weather we have experienced recently has probably has something to do with the growth spurt. I realise my last garden update was pretty dull, so I have taken lots of photos this time – I do enjoy documenting the changes that the garden goes through as things sprout, grow, fruit and eventually die back.
Those delicate little lettuce seedlings that I bought and carefully protected under improvised cloches are doing really well, with gorgeous glossy leaves. You might notice I’ve suffered two losses of the green batavia (one rotted early on, and the other snapped off, but left a couple of tiny leaves which seems to be recovering well if a little behind the others):
It is becoming very difficult to resist picking these luscious frilly leaves:
The first set of radishes are starting to plump up nicely into small rubies:
These are small cos lettuces that I have sown from seed:
And beautiful burgundy coloured red oakleaf lettuce:
This is one of my raised beds. I have planted to rows of peas, and in between them rows of different salads – some baby leaf, some whole lettuces.
The peas are doing so well and I can’t wait to shell my first pod and pop the first pea into my mouth:
I adore the way they curl their tendrils around the pea sticks and twine. You can almost watch them stretching out their delicate tendrils, and wrapping their fingers around whatever they can find.
I have sown two types of spring onion – ‘Guardsman’ for salads and ‘Paris Silverskin’ for pickling. Both rows are looking healthy:
The tiny carrot’s have unfurled their frothy green foliage :
The rows of oriental saladini and baby leaf salad are starting to form their individual leaves – some round, some spiky, some lush green, others deep purple:
Enough of salads and onto fruit. My strawberry and raspberry ‘jungle’ has transformed from just a month ago:
The wild strawberries are flowering and the raspberry’s have sent up lots of new suckers:
I will certainly be netting my blackcurrant bush this summer – last year the birds got most of the fruits:
In the ‘greenhouse’ the seeds that I have sown are coming along. There are sweetcorn seedlings:
Uchi Kuri squash:
And my first cucmber seedling has sprouted:
I will leave you with this lovely shot of Mr Blackbird sitting on ‘his’ spot as he does every evening as the sun sinks, singing his beautiful tune to us.