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Breakfast of homemade soaked granola and raw milk

Recently I’ve been trying to wean us off cereals – by wean, I mean I’ve just stopped buying it, which for poor Mr Rigg has meant going cold turkey on cereals at breakfast.

If you’re interested why I’m keen to steer away from cereals it’s because I’ve come to realise that there isn’t much good in them, despite what they like to tell us on their TV adverts.

Soaked granola with seeds, nuts and dried fruit

We had this lovely recipe for granola that we used to make, which was delicious both with milk and yoghurt.  The only problem is that I’ve also developed an interest in how grains were traditionally prepared, and how they used to be soaked before drying.

This is because things like grains and nuts and seeds have enzyme inhibitors in them, which unless soaked first, prevent us from absorbing all the goodness in them like vitamins and minerals.

Honey nut and seed granola

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I so desperately want to have the time to write here again – I have a camera full of photos and lots I would love to share, I just don’t have the time.  I think I might pop!

We have, however, managed to plant some seeds last weekend – carrots, salad leaves, beetroot, radish, parsley, and peas…and today we spotted the first green pea shoots poking through!  So exciting!

After a breakfast of croissants, stocking opening and snacking on multiple treats, we don’t normally need much more for Christmas day lunch than a big plate of smoked salmon to share.

Father Christmas (thanks Mr Rigg’s mommy) sent us a gorgeous side of smoked salmon, and what couple be easier than thinly sliced seeded rye bread, thinly smeared with salty butter and spritzed with lemon juice.

Sometimes I like to grate a little lemon zest over the top, but this time I took some inspiration from my new Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals book and sprinkled over some crisp green cress. 

That little bit of greenery helped lift my feelings after so much rich and sugary food.

All helped down with a nice glass of special fizz, bought all the way back from a holiday in the Loire Valley.

13/01/11 – somehow this post was published as January 2010…rather than January 2011 – I just found it in the wrong place!

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.

Last weekend I planted my first vegetable seeds of the year…peas…broad beans…little gem lettuce…and Angelica (a first for me).

As you can see the first signs of life are poking through – how exciting!

Pea seedlings

Pea seedling

Pea seedling

This past weekend has been largely spent outside in the garden.  The weather has gone unusually warm for this small wet island, not that I’m complaining, so I welcomed the opportunity to get outside and into my garden.

cherry blossom about to burst

cherry blossom about to burst

Last spring N built me four raised beds at the end of our garden for growing vegetables.  Because they were built so soon before the growing season, we literally built them and that was it.  All the grass between the beds got really long and difficult to cut during the summer and was a haven for slugs and snails!  Then over the winter it just got patchy and muddy from us walking on it.

before and after of raised beds - April 08

before and after of raised beds - April 08

So over the winter we decided that this year we would lay some anti-weed membrane and cover it with bark chippings to tidy it up a bit.  The weekend before last we managed to dig over all the grass around the raised beds, and this past weekend we successfully laid the membrane and covered it with bark chippings.  The layer of bark chippings is pretty thin due to our funds drying up, but soon we should be able to buy a couple more bags and finish the job off.  It looks so smart and completely changes the shape of how our garden feels – wider rather than long and narrow.

raised beds - March 09

raised beds - March 09

Just before Christmas I saw a beautiful picture in a book of a weathered picket fence covered in purple flowers and small orange pumpkins and knew that it would be a perfect way to keep my naughty bunnies out of the vegetable bed.  It was fine last summer once everything had got going and the plants were abundant because the bunnies could chomp their way through the parsley or hide in the pea plants and no one would notice a few bits missing here and there.

Borage eating veggies from the garden...

Borage eating veggies from the garden...

But at the moment when there are tiny seedlings and shoots are starting to emerge they are a nuisance!  They just decimate everything.  The poor chives – these vibrant green juicy blades that are poking out of the rich brown soil – they just get mown down leaving only an inch or so remaining.  I’m sure it’s very good for my bunnies digestion but not for my tiny plants.  So now I am saving for a picket fence, have saved in my Ebay list seeds for the Cup & Saucer plant which was the one in the picture with the large purple flowers and am armed with a packet of ‘Jack Be Little’ pumpkin seeds.

some of my indoor seedlings

some of my indoor seedlings

The other success from the weekend was sowing lots more seeds.  I feel so much happier now that I have planted another set of seeds, just knowing that with a little bit of water and tender loving care tiny shoots will soon appear.  In the garden I put straight into the ground a row of rainbow carrots (yellow it turns out are even sweeter than orange carrots), a row of ‘Guardsman’ spring onion, a row of ‘Paris Market Baron’ carrots (round and stumpy), and a row of ‘Paris Silverskin’ onions (perfect for pickling).

broad bean plants

broad bean plants

At the back of our house we have what can only be described as a sort of lean-to, badly constructed conservatory type boot room.  The previous owner had his washing machine plumbed in which took up most of the space, but we use it to store anything and everything, and during the spring and summer it becomes Seedling Central.  One-third is brick, and two-thirds is windows, a back door and a plastic roof.  It’s perfect for starting off seeds as it gets so warm, much like a greenhouse.

the beautiful plant after which naughty bunny 1 is named

the beautiful plant after which naughty bunny 1 is named

So in an assortment of trays and pots, I have planted from seed peas, broad beans, leeks, and a selection of lettuces.  I have also started off some dwarf sunflowers, borage, cosmos, and some special blue sweetpeas called ‘Charlie’s Angel’ from N’s mom.

newly planted dwarf sunflower seeds

newly planted dwarf sunflower seeds

I am so excited to see the tiny seedlings from my sowing session a couple of weeks ago springing up, and the broad bean plants are doing incredibly well – there is something so satisfying about their sturdy green leaves unfolding.  More updates to follow on how my seeds do.  Happy planting!

tiny lettuce seedlings

tiny lettuce seedlings

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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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