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Barbecue at the allotment

We’ve eaten quite a few dinners at the allotment over the past week, much like our anniversary meal they’ve been utterly blissful.

Before we left I made a quinoa salad with cucumber, radish and dill, which was then finished off at the allotment with grilled fennel – I’d seen the recipe here and it was delicious, very refreshing which is just what you need in this weather.

Quinoa, cucumber, radish and fennel salad

Mr Rigg grilled some sausages and chicken, and we ate simply but well.

Allotment barbecue

We drank sparkling elderflower from enamel mugs…

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I’ve made chopped salads before and love the simplicity of the concept – chop a whole load of salad ingredients together with a splash of dressing.  Yup, that’s it.  It appeals to me when I’m working at home and want a quick but healthy sort of lunch. 

It may seem daft to sort of mush up all those lovely ingredients into one pile of finely chopped salad, but I think it actually does something to the flavour.  By chopping things together the flavours begin to mingle to create something new and wonderful.

For this green salad, I started by chopping together lettuce (a crisp crunchy lettuce like cos or baby gem work best – soft leaved lettuce will just disappear into nothing), cucumber, spring onions, and parsley (but you could use herbs and a mixture would be lovely).

Then I chopped up an avocado and mixed everything together in a bowl.  Next, I made a hollow in the salad and added my dressing ingredients – a place of mustard (I used Dijon), vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Then give everything a really good mix together so that all the ingredients and flavours can start to mingle.

At this point taste it and adjust the dressing flavourings to taste.  You can also add in other bits and pieces – I crumbled in some Cheddar cheese.

Finally, I mounded it into my bowl and topped with a generous sprinkle of crumbled Cheddar.  A fantastic way to eat a lot of vegetables – in this case a lot of green ones – and a different take on the salad.

What do you put into your chopped salad?  Pieces of crispy bacon appeal to me.

Today as part of our holiday at home, Mr Rigg, Buddy and I drove up into Lancashire for a day of walking and eating.  It was a fantastic sunny day (which is was a welcome surprise!) and we started with a long walk from Hurst Green.  We followed a Tolkien-inspired trail which can be downloaded here.

It was a lovely walk, which took us through lush fields of cows, past the turrets and observatory of Stoneyhurst College, down into damp woods with mossy streams, past fields of sweetcorn and rushing rivers. 

There were lots of cute calves like these ones…

And this sweet one!

Buddy – who it seems has never seen a stream before – slowly built up enough confidence to paddle. 

This walk takes you through a landscape that it said to have inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and you can definitely seem glimpses as you pass through this countryside.  I am a huge fan of the books so it was exciting to do this walk!

After our long hot walk we rewarded ourselves with lunch at The Three Fishes – one of Nigel Howarth’s country pub’s. 

We have eaten at The Highwayman Inn up near Kirkby Lonsdale which we really enjoyed – I had a ploughman’s platter with scrumptious piccalilli –  so it was easy to decide where to eat on our day out.  Plus there is a huge emphasis on local and seasonal food.

We sat at a table outside so that Buddy could sit with us.  I drank a cool chocolate milkshake and Mr Rigg a pint of ale whilst we waited for our food.  Chocolate milkshake takes me back to my childhood and I still love ordering it now. 

To start Mr Rigg had Three Fishes Fish Soup, Wicked Mayonnaise, Butlers Tasty Lancashire Cheese, and Garlic Croutons.

The soup was rich and fishy with a good kick of spice, the Lancashire cheese was crumbled and served in a tiny terracotta pot, and the ‘wicked mayonnaise’ was blushed red with flecks of fresh chilli.

I chose a dish from their seasonal menu which was a Salad of Cracked Wheat, Sweet & Sour Bank’s Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Garden Peas and a Yoghurt & Cucumber Dressing. 

I wish I could eat this salad everyday for lunch – it was so delicious.  The salad of cracked wheat, broad beans and garden peas was studded with fresh herbs and red onion, and topped with cherry tomatoes that had been cooked just until bursting.  Then drizzled round the edge was this cooling dressing of yoghurt and cucumber.

Mr Rigg’s main was from the seasonal menu – Gazegill Farm Organic Sandy Oxford Black Pork Faggots, Girolle Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potato, Broad Beans and Garden Peas.

Neither of us had tried faggots before but Mr Rigg enjoyed them and the tiny morsel that I tried was delicious, but probably an acquired taste – very different in texture and flavour to something similar in shape like a meatball or burger.  Mr Rigg said it was coarser and a stronger flavour like that of liver.  It’s always nice to try something a bit different.

And for my main I pigged out with an Elmwood Platter of Local Seafood which included: Port of Lancaster Beech & Juniper Smoked Salmon, Lancaster Smoked Kipper, Hot Smoked Trout, Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Picked Cucumber, Beetroot Relish, Horseradish Cream, and Homemade Bread. 

The smoked salmon with speckled with tiny capers and shreds of red onion, the potted shrimp fragrant and warm, the smoked trout went deliciously with the sweet earthy beetroot relish, and the pickled cucumber cut through all those flavours of fish. 

The smoked mackerel pâté was light like a mousse, a tiny mouthful on a toasted circle of bread, topped with micro herbs.

I have never tried kippers before, and although it is a very strong flavour and perhaps not something I would order on its own, as part of a platter like this it was delicious.

We had initially planned to stop eating here…but I was too tempted by Raspberry Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream

…and Mr Rigg easily gave into the lure of homemade Milk Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Ice Cream with chocolate sauce.  Not a good shot of the ice cream, Mr Rigg was very protective after I nabbed the first mouthful which got me in a lot of trouble…

Both were absolutely delicious.

Our lunch was finished off with a glimpse of Nigel Haworth himself who arrived at the pub just before we left.  If you’re in Lancashire, do make sure you stop at one of Nigel’s country pubs – we can certainly recommend the food from both The Three Fishes and The Highwayman!

I’m not one for putting photos of myself on here, but I love this picture of Buddy and I out on our walk…

Happy holidays!

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I have always grown cucumbers, ever since I first had a garden of my own even though it was just a little yard.  I lovingly tended the cucumber seedlings on our bedroom windowsill, but that lot didn’t survive our two weeks away in France…unsurprisingly.

Again, last year I lovingly tended another batch of seedlings, this time with a perfect growing space – our funny little glass lean-to at the back of our house.  It’s perfect for starting seedlings off as it’s like a greenhouse.  I thought I would finally grow cucumbers and enjoy the fruits of my labour…that lot grew huge, long tendrils that reached the roof, curling up the string that I’d provided for them…but I’m not great at nurturing, and I didn’t water them enough.  All the cucumbers that started to develop just dried out.

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So this year I have tried again.  This year I decided I would plant them outside, and if they survived and bore fruit great, if they didn’t, oh well.  I like plants that just get on with growing, I’m not really great with needy plants.

This is a photo of my cucumber and nasturtium bed.  I have planted three cucumber plants into one of N’s beautifully built troughs.  Along with them are two Banana Split nasturtium plants, and some odd calendula’s and white daisies that have popped up from somewhere. 

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And hidden beneath this mass of leaves and jolly orange flowers is this…

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It looks like a well toned manly green thigh.  Maybe a rugby players thigh….Anyway, I hope it tastes good.  I will be so disappointed if it doesn’t.

Any suggestions on how to eat it – other than just taking a big bite of it :O)

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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.

Borage watching tv

Borage watching tv

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):

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It is becoming very difficult to resist picking these luscious frilly leaves:

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The first set of radishes are starting to plump up nicely into small rubies:

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These are small cos lettuces that I have sown from seed:

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And beautiful burgundy coloured red oakleaf lettuce:

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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. 

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The peas are doing so well and I can’t wait to shell my first pod and pop the first pea into my mouth:

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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.

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I have sown two types of spring onion – ‘Guardsman’ for salads and ‘Paris Silverskin’ for pickling.  Both rows are looking healthy:

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The tiny carrot’s have unfurled their frothy green foliage :

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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:

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Enough of salads and onto fruit.  My strawberry and raspberry ‘jungle’ has transformed from just a month ago:

strawberrybed

The wild strawberries are flowering and the raspberry’s have sent up lots of new suckers:  

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I will certainly be netting my blackcurrant bush this summer – last year the birds got most of the fruits:

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In the ‘greenhouse’ the seeds that I have sown are coming along.  There are sweetcorn seedlings:

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Uchi Kuri squash:

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Jack-Be-Little pumpkins:

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And my first cucmber seedling has sprouted:

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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.

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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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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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