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One day I hope to make this meal again, with everything but the sausages grown in my garden or on our allotment.  I do believe that the best food is made with what’s available seasonally and from an idea of what it is you want to eat.

What started as a simple meal (and possibly one of our favourites), of grilled sausages, new potatoes and salad, turned into something a bit more interesting.  The sausages came from the fab new Kenyon Hall Farm Shop, the new potatoes were boiled and violently shaken with salty butter and lots of mint from the garden.

But it was the salad that became something far better, using up odds and ends from the garden and the fridge.  To a bowl I finely sliced spring onions, added a splash of white wine vinegar and some salt – I like to do this to take the edge off the onions.  Otherwise I find that all you can taste is onion.

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We are busy picking platefuls of raspberries, loganberries and strawberries from our garden.  The first of the raspberries appeared at the end of June, which seemed really early to me – anyone else finding that their raspberries are out earlier this year?

For all the cursing I do during the year about the raspberry canes that pop up in all the wrong places (like the middle of my raised veg beds!), and all the promises I make to pull out all of them over the winter, I can’t help but leave them when we get such a bounty during the summer.

The strawberries have all but disappeared from their original location (overtaken by the raspberries) but have sprung up in unlikely places.  If you pull back their parasol shaped leaves you discover lots of very sweet fruits – a wonderful surprise.

The loganberries are prolific growing over an archway, but I find if I don’t pick them in time many of them that still look ok have yucky little white maggot/caterpillas inside them – those ones go on the bird table.

We have too many raspberries and loganberries at the moment to eat, so I bung them in the freezer until a time when we have enough to maybe make some jam.  The strawberries are fewer so those we are eating.

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?

This was one of those cheats lunch that feels incredibly satisfying.  We went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up a bag of onion and potato bhajis from one of the stalls, and from these our lunch was inspired using up some bits and pieces.

The other week we pulled up the last of the carrots from the garden – these were scrubbed, sliced into lengths and roasted in the oven tossed in a little olive oil. 

Once soft and starting to crisp at the edges, you take them out and mash them roughly with some ground cumin and dried oregano.  A final touch of crumbled feta cheese and fresh mint.

We warmed the onion bhajis up in the oven along with a couple of naans from the freezer – I used a new technique learnt from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals of scrunching up a piece of baking paper, wetting it then wrapping up your naans or tortilla wraps before putting them in the oven.  They come out beautifully soft.

In true Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals style we served everything on a wooden board, with a small bowl of Greek yoghurt and ate the lot with salad and much finger licking!

Still on the phone camera – new camera to come soon I hope!

Last night’s dinner was something I dreamt up and I’m so delighted with the results I had to share it with you.  The amounts are largely guessed as I do a lot of “made-up” cooking by looking and tasting, rather than measuring.  I’m sure – should you wish to make it yourself – that you will be able make it your own and just as yummy.

I couldn’t resist using lots of chives – my plants are full and healthy at the moment and are treating us to another display of pretty purple flowers.

Warning – these photos are taken with my camera that is broken…the screen is broken but it turns out it still takes pictures…I just can’t see what I’m photographing – as a result my photos are not very well composed or focused!

Baked potatoes with honey roast smoked salmon, cream cheese, wholegrain mustard and chives

Feeds 2

2 large baking potatoes
approx 135g hot smoked roast salmon
200g cream cheese
couple of generous spoonfuls of wholegrain mustard
bunch of chives
sea salt
black pepper
olive oil
splash of milk
purple chive flowers (optional)

First of all bake your potatoes – my favourite way to cook baked potatoes is to rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before baking them on skewers – the end result is gorgeous slightly chewy and crispy skins.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese with a splash of milk to loosen it.  Stir in the wholegrain mustard and snip in lots of chives.  Leave some chives to decorate at the end.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.  Finally, gently stir through about two thirds of the flaked salmon – don’t overmix as you don’t want the salmon to break down to mush.

When your potatoes are baked, remove from the oven and cut them in half.  Scoop out all the hot potato into a mixing bowl and pop the empty skins onto plates.

Mix most of the cream cheese mixture into the hot potato – leave a little if you want to dollop on top at the end.

Once the potato is mixed into the cream cheese mixture, spoon it into the potato skins.  Dollop on the remaining cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining flakes of salmon.

Snip over some chives and top with chive flowers – just pull the tiny purple flowers away from the green bit.  Eat with a crisp green salad (we’re loving red-tinged Little Gem lettuces and Lambs Lettuce at the moment) – I squeezed over a little lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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…

There is something so lovely and comforting about being able to wander to the bottom of your own garden and pick something for dinner.  Last night I decided to pick some of the yellow sunburst squash that I have growing in my vegetable patch. 

These UFO shaped squash are so pretty – although mine are looking a bit sorry for themselves.  They’ve started to rot a bit where the flower blossomed with all this rain we’ve had recently.  Also, the ones I usually see in my local grocery are much more yellow – mine are a bit pallid!

None-the-less they taste lovely.  So I picked a few and brought them inside to be eaten within half an hour of picking – now that’s pretty special.  Beat that supermarket giants!

For tea we had scrambled eggs on toasted bagel with garlic fried squash, oregano flowers and Gruyère.  Fresh flavours and very tasty – and I love the yellow from the eggs and squash flecked with the purple from the oregano flowers.

Scrambled eggs on toasted bagel with garlic fried squash, oregano flowers and Gruyère

Feeds 2

A couple of small yellow sunburst squash
2-3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
5 medium eggs
Handful of oregano flowers and leaves
Gruyère cheese
2 bagels
Butter

Heat a frying pan with some olive oil.  Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan – softening it gently.

Thinly slice the squash and add to the garlic.  Fry until soft and starting to turn a little golden and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make your scrambled eggs – here’s how I make mine.

Put your bagels on to toast and butter them once they’re ready.

Add the oregano leaves to the scrambled eggs, mix together, then spoon over the bagels.

Take your fried squash and place on top of the eggs and grate over some Gruyère cheese.

Finally, sprinkle over some oregano flowers and eat!

These are the last of the berries from my garden: blackcurrants, raspberries and loganberries.  Although there are a few loganberries still ripening, the raspberries and blackcurrants are all but finished. 

We’re heading off to Yorkshire this weekend to visit Mr Rigg’s family and be joined by my parents.  A restful few days awaits and someone else to do the cooking – and very good cooking it is. 

I will pop this small bowlful of berries into the freezer, and cook with them over the coming weeks (at least that’s the plan!). 

Whilst picking the berries I was dreaming up different ideas of what I could do with them, and my favourite idea so far is a sort of late summer berry crumble or pie

I have spotted blackberries turning deep purple in the hedgerows, so think supplemented with a few of these a crumble or pie would be lovely.  Plus we have a tub of homemade clotted cream ice cream to finish.

Is anyone else starting to feel that summer is waning and autumn is approaching?  Maybe it’s just the warm, wet and windy weather we have had recently in our part of England that has awakened a longing for stews and pies.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope to be back afresh next week to catch up on all that I’ve promised to post – this week has been unnaturally busy and I’ve barely had a chance to breathe.

I’m not doing very well at keeping up with … well … updating!  There’s so much I want to share and yet I must find more time!  And so many promised posts and recipes … I haven’t even finished off my food memories of Italy (part 1 and 2), and that was last September!

Note to self: must try harder.

On a jollier note, we had a scrumptious and so SO simple tea of roasted summer vegetables.  This is my idea of cooking, of eating, of tasting.  And what a Nigel Slater way to eat dinner – just a plate of roasted vegetables and some hunks of good bread to mop up the juices.

In my pan of delicious roasted vegetables were the following: baby orange peppers, red pepper, yellow cherry tomatoes, red baby plum tomatoes and homegrown yellow courgette.  All cut into similar sized chunks, drizzled with good olive oil and roasted. 

The added extra that make this dish really simple were liberal dollops of sundried tomato paste, hunks of buffalo mozzarella, finely chopped garlic, a sprinkling of dried herbs, and some good old fashioned seasoning (salt and pepper). 

I also whizzed up lots of fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a good handful of grated Parmesan which was drizzled over everything towards the end of the cooking, and extra served fresh.

All this was munched up with gorgeous foccacia bread from Jane’s Handmade Bread – bought that morning at Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market.

You can’t get better than that!

With my head full of thoughts of food for the week ahead, I thought I would start with a quick weekend round-up. 

Friday saw more of Mr Rigg’s incredibly good homemade pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella, Serrano ham and rocket.  An unbeatable favourite.

On Saturday we spent lunchtime collecting a HUGE tub of homegrown raspberries at the bottom of the garden.  I am amazed by how many there were – and there are still lots more to come that are ripening.

Mr Rigg and I made some of our delicious homemade granola – I will definitely post more on this as it’s a staple in our house and best enjoyed on a base of plain yoghurt and fruit purée (even the purée was homemade this time!).

Last night we ate an omelette with eggs from Abbey Leys filled with grated yellow courgette, baby plum tomatoes and shredded roast ham.

Packed lunches for this week include bitter lettuce and pea soup – an excellent (if slightly grassy tasting) way to use up the garden lettuce that is beginning to go to flower.   Toasted pitta bread with lashings of goat’s butter is needed in my opinion to help this soup go down…!

Tonight we made a Nigel Slater inspired grilled tomato pasta sauce with roasted tomatoes, garlic and a dash of cream.  He is a genius.

We must also use up the gorgeous local gooseberries we bought to make gooseberry fool.  They are blushed a claret red so should make a deep coloured fool.

And for the week ahead – maybe a chicken tagine with fennel and preserved lemon and homemade blackcurrant cordial.  A plan is needed and some shopping doing.

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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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