Welcome to our allotment blog. We've got a plot, now we're trying to figure out what we're doing! So please join us - put the kettle on, sit back, and dream about Living The Good Life...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cooking stuff

Yep, I know I said I was going to make tomato and onion chutney, but hey, it just didn't happen. Instead, I made a couple of pots of simple yellow tomato sauce (see pic - it's just loads of chopped toms, onion, salt and pepper and oregano, all cooked until it reduces into a big yellow mush) which we've frozen, and then a whole load of really, really, REALLY tasty spiced onion and apple chutney. Mmm.

My mum gave us a bag of apples from her tree, and though they weren't technically cooking apples, I thought I'd give them a go in chutney. Along with the big bag of onions from the local shop for one pound something, it was all a bit of a bargain.

I did a quick search online for Nigella's Spiced Apple Chutney - which my good friend Sian made and gave me a jar of at Christmas (and my, it is GOOD, more please!) but couldn't find the recipe, so I just got a bit of inspiration and then made some chutney with whatever I had in the kitchen cupboard. Couldn't be bothered to go out and search our local shops in the vague change they might possibly have a mouldering bottle of white wine vinegar tucked at the back next to the tins of ghee and henna, or a packet of golden caster sugar hidden behind the
garam masala and methi leaves; so normal vinegar and normal sugar it is.

So for all you recipe fans (!) here's my Spiced Onion & Apple Chutney one.


(NB I have a habit of making things by just chucking in a bit of this and a handful of that, which makes it very hard to translate into actual measurements - this is my best guess...)

  • good glug of olive oil
  • approx 20 small onions, peeled & chopped
  • 15 apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • half tsp smoked paprika
  • half tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp oregano
  • generous sprinkling of salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 600g sugar
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml malt vinegar


Put olive oil in a BIG pan. Chuck in onions, apple, garlic and give them a good stir 'til they're well mingled and just warmed through. Chuck in everything else and stir and stir. You won't see much liquid at first but a lot comes out of the apples when they start to cook. I cooked mine on a low simmer for a couple of hours until it had reduced down a bit and was brown and glossy and sort of caramelised. It's spiced, but not spicy, but I guess just put in less paprika if you want to avoid any kind of warming tang.

Now it's in the cupboard for a few months to mature or, urr, do whatever it is that chutneys do when you're told to leave them for a few months.

It's the paler chutney at the front, by the way, the really dark stuff in the taller pale-blue-lidded jar, and the one to the right is good ol' onion chutney, made in February. (February! Gah! Better get eating!).

And yeah, I know, the pic isn't great - but have you ever tried taking pictures of jam jars in a dark store cupboard when you can't see what it is you're taking a picture of? But never fear, blog-readers! I'm getting a new camera for my birthday in, ooh, about a week! Woop woop!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Gardening guilt

I have a confession. We've cheated a bit. Ok, maybe not really, but I feel like we have.

We went to a garden centre yesterday morning, and I got distracted by the little trays of veg. Now, I've been thinking for a while that we should have sown our winter and spring veg back in May, or June, or July, but we just never got around to it. And while it's not like we'll starve without our own home-grown winter greens, it'd still be nice to have some that we'd grown ourselves.

We did sow some leeks a few months ago, alongside the swedes and carrots, but haven't ended up with half as many as we really wanted. So into our basket went a tray of little leeks. And as for red cabbage, well, that's a Christmas essential, so we obviously needed a tray of those too. And we had some purple sprouting broccoli last spring, but haven't sown any this year either, so a tray of those as well please... And what's this? A sign saying 4 for £10? Then we definitely needed to get a tray of cauliflower too, even though they weren't very successful last year, with all but one mouldering away on the plant. This year, they'll be fine, I can feel it.

So, £10 later and we were the proud owners of many, many baby leeks, 12 red cabbage, 14 PSBs and 12 cauliflower plants. Yey!

Down at the allotment in the afternoon Adam discovered that one of our compost heaps has produced some rather fine compost, (never thought compost would be so exciting, but it just kindof appears from nowhere!) so he hauled out a few bucketfuls while I attempted to transplant the little leeks into the seed bed for a bit of fattening up alongside their slightly larger brothers and sisters. Then Adam dug over a couple of empty beds which I'd - coincidentally, and handily - weeded last week (see - it must be fate!) and in all the brassicas went, with a good dollop of compost underneath. We also netted the tops of the beds so that the pigeons
can't eat them and maybe it'll stop some snails too. I also relocated the little brussels sprouts plants to the same bed as the caulis, as they were in danger of being swamped by the artichokes.

We picked a courgette, more beans, dug up some more potatoes and have another big bag of yellow tomatoes. I'll definitely have to make something this weekend or they're in danger of going to waste. Maybe pasta sauce... Yum!

Sunday, 13 September 2009


The yellow tomatoes are ripening - I picked a big mixing bowl full yesterday, along with a few red ones and a few cherry tomatoes from our grow bags in the garden. Yum. Now I have to decide what to do with them. I'm thinking about making some tomato sauces to freeze and maybe some chutneys too - the local shop is selling sacks of onions at a ridiculously low price (I'm not so bothered about our lack of onion success this year now, seeing as how they're so cheap to buy down the road!) so some tomato and onion chutney could be just the thing. And it'd be nicely matured by Christmas.

Did lots of weeding yesterday, tackled the four worst beds which had the biggest weeds on. What's the phrase? 'One year's weeds, seven year's seeds'? In that case, we're doomed... we're going to be weeding forever.

Adam's away this week so I took it nice and easy, had the radio on, and stopped for an egg mayo sandwich and a cuppa for lunch in the sunshine.

Peggy Sue's managed to find a way of escaping the chicken coop. We saw her jump up onto the top of the cage door, so we put some bamboo canes across the top to stop her begin able to flap and flutter up there, but she's still found a way to get out into the garden. Hmm, I'll have to keep an eye on her...

Monday, 7 September 2009

It's a double!

Peggy Sue's first egg - her very first - yes, that exact same one as in the post below - was a double yolker. FAB!
Contributed very nicely towards a tasty omelette. Thanks, chickens...

Since then her eggs have been smaller, no more doubles.