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We had an unusual but lovely tea on Sunday – hot buttered crumpets with homemade quince jelly and a plate of exotic fruits.  Mr Rigg and I had eaten quite well the rest of the weekend (including a lovely meal out on Saturday night with Mr Rigg’s uncle) so we weren’t that hungry.

So we toasted some crumpets under the grill (our toaster is broken…has been for months…the new toaster I want costs about £50…too much for a toaster I’m told…) until they’re really golden and crisp. 

My friend Jane makes the best crumpets and she always puts them in the toaster a couple of times until they’re really crispy and only a little bit soft right in the middle.  Any less and you just get a soggy doughy mouthful – yuk!

Once toasted, I liberally buttered them – lots of butter is a must with crumpets – popped them on a pretty blue and white plate (this makes them taste better, I promise) and top with homemade quince jelly.

So you see, despite my lack of regular posting we have been busy making lovely food – like making quince jelly for the first time.  Just without a camera I’m rather embarrassed and ashamed of my phone camera pictures.

We also had a plate of fruit – pomegranate seeds (we drank the tiny cupful of juice that came out in little shared sips) and feijoa fruit.  Ever heard of a feijoa?  Me neither.  Unicorn had a basket of them, these small green fruits and they were described as tasting of mint, pineapple, strawberry, guava…they sounded too intriguing not to buy a bag full to try.

The instructions I had on how to eat the feijoa were to leave until they were tender when squeezed – then they were ripe.  Simply cut in half and eat like a kiwi.  Firstly, the fragrance of this fruit is incredible.  Utterly bewitching.  The taste is equally wonderful, and beyond description – quite unusual even.  If you see them whilst out and about, my advice is to buy yourself a bagful and try them.

On quick investigation they are native to South America, also known as the pineapple guava, and the pulp used in some natural cosmetics as an exfoliant.  Fascinating stuff.

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On Sunday we entered a couple of items into our local produce show.  Sadly I overcooked my lemon drizzle cake and it came in a miserable fourth…gutted.  My marmalade didn’t even come anything – I won’t be trying that Country Living recipe again.

Thankfully we got three 2nd place awards – for our giant yellow courgette, a pretty arrangement of hedgerow berries, and a plate of fruit scones.  The recipe for my scone’s comes from my colleague and friend Jane – who makes the best scones ever.  No question. 

My version of Jane’s fruit scones had a ‘lovely appearance’ but I lost marks because I didn’t tidy up the edges (i.e. pull off the currants that were sticking out…) and they needed a pinch of salt.  Hmm.  I’m not sure I can be doing with winning 1st prize if I’m required to carefully tidy up the edge of my scones, and besides, I like rustic food.

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!

The little sister and I picked a bowlful of my first homegrown raspberries and a couple of wild strawberries.  It was so exciting – my raspberry bushes have gone mad this year, with tons of fruit.  Photos taken by me, but with my little sisters camera – I want it!

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At the bottom of my garden, nestling in amongst a forest of leaves beautiful fruits are starting to blush.  This evening there were just enough for a small bowlful of strawberries.  More and more alpine strawberries appear as you rustle through the leaves, and some are as big as N’s thumbnail.  Their flavour is so intense I just love them.

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Recently I have taken on an allotment.  It’s in the small town next to us, about a five minute drive away – I put my name down on for all the allotments in our town, and the next, because I was told it would be about a three year wait (!!!) for allotments here.  Back in February, when I’d given up all hope on the allotment front, I received an email from the council and went to visit a couple of allotments that had become available.  For a start, the plots were a lot larger than I imagined the would be – a full plot is 250 square metres!!  The first plot I was shown was overgrown and had been unloved for over a year – this one filled me with fear, I just didn’t have the time to sort it out.  The next looked more manageable, so I signed up and I now have an additional 125 square metres in which to grow.

my new allotment

my new allotment

There are a lot of raspberry canes at the bottom of the plot, in amongst the rubbish.

raspberry canes and rubbish

raspberry canes and rubbish

And quite a lot of rubarb.  It’s quite exciting to be given a plot that already has things growing on it.

rubarb coming through the weeds

rubarb coming through the weeds

A couple of weeks after I’d taken it on and still hadn’t been down to do any digging, I was beginning to think I’d taken on too much.  I finally managed to spend a couple of hours there on Monday last week and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

freshly dug raised bed

freshly dug raised bed

I dug over a number of the raised beds that were left by the previous owner, and put in all my garlic and shallots, and half the onions I’d bought. 

rows of garlic, shallots and onions

rows of garlic, shallots and onions

N dropped in on his way home from work on Friday afternoon to check that they hadn’t been decimated by some naughty bunnies (wild ones, not the cheeky pets this time), birds or mice.  They were fine – thank goodness! – and still sat neatly in their lines.  I’ve never grown shallots or onions before, so I shall keep you posted with how they go.  I adore all things onion-ey and couldn’t live without them in my kitchen, so I am looking forward to the day in autumn when I can (hopefully!) cook some of them.  Garlic I haven’t had much luck with in the past, so fingers-crossed I’ll do better this year.  If anybody has any garlic growing tips – please leave me a message in the comments as I would love any help I can get!

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Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world – at least, it’s probably my favourite out of all those I have visited.  It is somewhere that I would happily go back to over and over again.  I don’t really enjoy spending time in cities, having lived most of my life in the countryside I find them very claustrophobic, but Barcelona is different.  It has an underlying calmness that runs through it streets, despite the hustle and bustle of city life.  I would recommend it to anyone.

Peaceful park :: Barcelona ::

It has a fantastically rich food landscape, with beautiful cafes, tapas bars, patisseries and markets on every street.  There are small bakeries selling baguettes, simply filled with a smear of fresh tomato and Serrano ham, ideal for the weary tourist.  There are so many tapas bars to choose from that it’s hard to recommend one.  We found one we liked in the Barri Gothic area and went back more than once – it was nice to go in the second time and for the waitress to recognise us.  One of my favourite dishes were garlicky haricot beans. 

selection of tapas :: Barcelona ::

There are stalls at ‘La Boqueria’ market with tables piled high with exotic magenta pink fruits with a cluster of black seeds, halved and sold with a spoon for a healthy snack on the move. 

Fruit stall :: La Merchat Boqueria, Barcelona ::

Then there is the Christian Escriba Pastisseria on La Rambla. 

Christian Escriba Pastisseria :: La Rambla, Barcelona ::

 It is a stunning (much of Barcelona is stunning) small bakery – described on their website as a cake shop (www.escriba.es) – which has a small cafe, and tempting displays of pastries, cakes, chocolates, tarts, and other tasty things. 

chocolate display :: Christian Escriba Pastisseria, Barcelona ::

Last time we visited we had brekfast here everyday. 

Pastries and Spanish hot chocolate :: Christian Escriba Pastisseria ::

Should I ever live in Barcelona, my life would be happy but somewhat short lived if I breakfasted here everyday.

*I am going to try making my own Spanish style hot chocolate – I will post a recipe once it has been tried and tested!

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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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