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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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This is what our allotment looked like last week when we went to see it…

It was heart-wrenching to see it so overgrown with weeds, especially when we put in so much effort over the winter to de-weed it and feed it with lots of manure.

So we pulled a lot of the easier weeds out and strimmed the rest – leaving it looking slightly but not a lot better by the time we left…

At least the potatoes and courgette/squash plants are doing well – and some gorgeous poppies have sprung up, which you can see we left.

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?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Mr Rigg, Buddy and I spent this morning down on the allotment attempting to work off the copious amounts of rich food we have eaten over Christmas.

Though the jobs involved shifting poo and digging out a small oak tree, and at one point the rain came driving down, we had a good morning.

The large mound of manure has now gone and the allotment looks very neat…if very brown and slightly smelly.  We relocated four rhubarb crowns from the middle of the allotment to the bottom, to sit happily with the other rhubarb plants.

I cleared quite a number of ratty looking raspberry canes from the end behind the ‘shed’ (should be called a shack really), and together we dug out a small oak tree (one more to go).  I know it sounds terrible to be digging out an oak tree, but the allotment officer advised we should before they get too big.

Before we left we lit up the Kelly Kettle – its first use, despite being Mr Rigg’s birthday present back in May. 

With the bottom part filled with newspaper and tiny fir cones, it soon got the water boiling and we enjoyed a cup of herbal tea in our new enamel ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mugs.  Perfect for allotment picnics!

Mr Rigg is away in Edinburgh this weekend on a stag do…last I heard was “still up” via text sent at 3am this morning…

Buddy and I are having a much quieter weekend at home.  So far we have trimmed bushes in our tiny front garden, massacred the raspberry canes at the end of the garden, picked a small bowl of loganberries, followed a rumour that a farm nearby sells homegrown flowers at the gate (they do, just none today), and planted winter hardy leeks at the allotment.

Sadly I forgot my camera today when we went to the allotment, but thankfully I have some photos from my last visit looking very much the same.

Everything growing on the allotment seems to have doubled in size since I was last there.  The courgette and squash plants are trailing and spreading everywhere…

The sunflowers are starting to flower and have lots more buds just waiting to pop open…

There is masses of camomile and my pink Cosmos are thick with flowers…

The onions have been dug up and left out to dry – which has been difficult considering the rain we’ve had…

Lots of ladybirds everywhere – I love them so much…

And this cheeky rabbit who clearly thought he hadn’t been spotted…

I came home with a basket laden with onions, one giant green courgette, a single burnt orange sunflower, and handfuls of Cosmos and camomile to brighten up the living room…

This week I am taking a few days off from work and have left Mr Rigg and our menagerie of animals behind in Cheshire.  I am visiting my family in the Cotswolds and trying not to get too hot in this almost unbearable humidity.

My mom’s garden is full of bee’s swarming over her lavender hedges, whilst everything else is looking a little thirsty.  We’ve done a bit of shopping, sat for a while to chat and drink coffee and strawberry lemonade (delicious) in Made By Bob, took Alfie the family deerhound for a walk in search of a little owl that is nesting in an old tree (sadly we didn’t see it), and ate a scrummy courgette risotto.

Tonight we are planning a summer vegetable pasta dish, using vegetables from my mom’s allotment – the last of the broad beans, French beans and an assortment of courgettes.  All mixed together with a health glug of good olive oil and lots of garlic.

We also rescued a rather forlorn butterfly from the village church, who was covered in cobwebs.  We freed him from the dust and webs and set him on a bunch of purple wisteria flowers – he happily tucked into the nectar and I took a few snaps.

Will be back towards the end of the week no doubt with a full round up of making clotted cream ice cream, homemade scones, strawberry jam and other bits and pieces!  But for now, I’m enjoying not being tied to the laptop.

This afternoon we popped down to the Walton Lea Garden Party in Warrington.  We went last year and it’s always a lovely opportunity to go and enjoy their pretty walled garden and buy some gorgeous homegrown vegetables and fruit. 

We had a nice wander round the walled garden whilst munching on teeny tiny cupcakes – literally a mouthful.  I so enjoy seeing vegetables and fruit growing in such a beautiful old walled garden and going to the Walton Lea Project is almost like going to a National Trust garden.

Everything is looking a lot more parched and dry than last year what with all this steaming hot weather we’ve been having recently. 

But there is some gorgeous vegetables – like these stunning onions, all of which are for sale in the shop…

There is also a lovely selection of bedding plants and some good sized fruit bushes (redcurrant, whitecurrant and jostaberry) for a very good price – I would like to come back and get a few for the allotment.

We came away with…a selection of yellow and green courgettes, a punnet of redcurrants (destined for the pot to make a relish to go with a bacon and brie sandwich Mr Rigg fancies) and a punnet of blackcurrants (possibly for blackcurrant cordial)…

They were out of blackcurrants when we arrived, so whilst we enjoyed a stroll around the walled garden, someone went off to collect us a punnet of them!  Where else do you get service like that?!

And this gorgeous bunch of sweetpeas picked from their walled garden – and for only £1!

Not food, but another of my loves – vintage things.  So I wanted to share this find anyway.  A vintage style Post Office cabinet – how lovely is this, and all those handy cubby holes!  Available from The Allotment Shop.

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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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