Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Fame at last!

Woohoo! FAME!

Following on from the last post re the Knobbly Veg campaign, I sent off a photo from lottie of the loveheart spud, dug up and photographed by Nick earlier in the year. It is only now on the delicious Knobbly Veg Gallery :D

Meet 'Knobbly Veg 14'...

A proud moment indeed!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

We love knobbly veg!

Just read an article in the latest copy of delicious magazine. "We all love a comedy vegetable..." - yes, yes, we do! And it is true, the freakily-shaped veg tastes as good, if not better than their more beautiful relations. Take a look at the article & support the campaign here.

This image is fab!

Saturday, 25 September 2010


I should be at the allotment today but I'm not!

I've booked next week off work so I am taking some time to chill. It has been insanely busy at the day job. Designing books for kids takes a lot of hard work you know! We've been prepping for the annual book fair where all our new ideas get showcased to buyers. We spend a good couple of months intensely working on covers to sell these new ideas. Our office is one of 3 - the smallest of the bunch with just a handful of designers, me included - 7 of us. We did about a third of all covers produced (just under 400 this year, I think) which is a big achievement as there are around 20 designers in the medium-sized office, and around 2 or 3 times as many as that in the 'big' office! I've also been in charge of orchestrating the whole thing - keeping tabs on illustrators, commissioning, fees, invoices, designs, feedback from our bosses... all the while getting not one, but TWO books off to print at the same time! No wonder I am pooped. I just couldn't face next week at work and Friday just gone was our official book fair deadline, so I made a break for it!

I am off to see my folks in Lancaster later on today for a while. It is my dad's birthday Monday so we're looking forward to a zoo trip (family tradition!). Maybe I'll make him a courgette cake?! I'm hoping the weather is alright as I've heard whilst we've had a reasonably nice spate of sunshine, they've had rain and gale force winds. Think I'll pack some warm gear and my waterproof! I'll be back later in the week to tend to the allotment - see if the butternut squash have grown much since I last saw them budding up, and dig up my 'rooster' spuds, along with other jobs. I also want to make some glassy goodies too. 'Back to the Future' is being shown at the cinema (HUZZAH!) so I'll be seeing that and out for a friend's birthday meal.

In between all those things, I plan on chilling. I find this very hard to do, getting 'lazy guilt', but I'll give it a good go!

Hope you're well doing whatever you are :) I am now off to make a batch of veg curry with squash, spring onions, green tomatoes, runner beans and a pepper. It will be based on the veg spaghetti curry. Something for the freezer.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ohhhhhhhhh, now I get it!

After all my pontificating about what a let-down 'Vegetable Spaghetti' was I simply had to cook it! Now it all makes sense. The chunks I'd cut the flesh into got made into a curry and, low and behold, look what happens...

It breaks down into strands that look like - that's right kids - SPAGHETTI! ha! That'll teach me to waffle on :P

The curry I made was this recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3982/tomato-squash-and-spinach-curry

I used home-grown tomatoes too - windowsill-ripened, of course! :) It is mighty delish! Something that could almost be made totally from lottie veg. I added some natural yoghurt this time but creme fraiche works well too. Do give this recipe a go. I've already made it with patty pans, but courgettes, pumpkins, sweet pots, marrow, any squash or even spuds would work.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Green Tomato Soup

(serves 6)
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 lb green tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 oz potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pints stock
  • 1 tin beans like barlotti/pinto/cannellini (I used the equivalent in dry lentils - around 1/2 mugful)
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage/thyme/mixed herbs/whatever (I used 1/4 tsp sage & 1/4 tsp mixed herbs, 1 bay leaf)
  • salt and pepper (JUST ADD PEPPER! My soup was too salty - forgot the stock has salt in it)
  • a handful of rice (I used easy-cook brown - 1/2 a mugful)
  • 125 ml single cream or a splash of chilli sauce (optional) (I used around 250 g natural yoghurt)

1. Fry the tomatoes, potatoes and onion in butter until softened.
2. Add the beans, stock, herbs, rice, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
3. Simmer for 30 mins or until the veg is tender.

4. Blend the soup and return to the pan (I like it a bit lumpy).
5. Stir in the cream/chilli sauce, etc and reheat. (I didn't reheat it - it was still piping hot!)

Vegetable Spaghetti

Well, I didn't really want to harvest this yet but some pesky woodlouse was doing a good (bad!) job burrowing through it. I couldn't very well leave it to be consumed by nature so I took my first veg spahetti home. Here it is. A decent size. I understand you are meant to harvest these when they are yellow/orange so a bit premature :( Ho hum.

It was relatively easy to cut into it as I guess it hadn't formed a very hard skin. I am not saying it was a piece of cake - I'd compare it to cutting into a butternut squash. The smell was lovely and sweet, along the lines of fresh sweetcorn.

I was expecting more 'spaghetti' but I am guessing you get more of that as it matures?? There were lots of seeds amongst the tendril bits which were a bit of a pain to get out.

Well, a bit disappointing on the 'spaghetti' front if I am honest but then I do think it has been picked far too early. Nice flesh though.

Alas, the 'spaghetti' did not appeal too much to me so I have to say it got chucked. It had already started to go brown by the time I was done prepping the rest of the squash.

I've saved the flesh for a curry. Will see how it fares in the taste test :)

There is one more vegetable spaghetti squash still growing so we'll see if that one, left on the vine longer to mature, will be any better...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Um... what do I do with it all?!

It's been a busy w/e doing my glass work. Sorting out a brochure, sending a company images & info for their website, making new glass, taking & editing photos... So, not much lottie time for me.

I didn't get out 'til about 7pm Sunday and only had a little time to do some weeding before it went dark on me. There was lots to harvest. Look at the silly amount of tommies I have.

Only 2 plants as well, planted directly in the soil with no special treatment - they are 'moneymaker'. Most are still green so I will see if I can ripen in batches - not enough windowsill space to do them all at once! Some are like apples! I am very surprised at how well they did this year after the tommie failure of last year.

Just look at the stupid amount of veg in my car boot! Tomatoes, courgettes, marrow, hooligan pumpkins, patty pans and a bucket o' runner beans. Took me 3 trips up and down stairs to get it all into the flat :P

This pic shows it a bit more organised in the kitchen. Looks like I have a busy week ahead! The runners went into the fridge as they go off the quickest. Next to sort is the tommies I think.

What a lot o' veg :P

Friday, 10 September 2010

Nom nom :)

So, bad Steph (again!), not been down the allotment for a while. I am sure everything is still growing away but I expect it is looking a little jungle-esque! I am planning on a salvage mission this w/e to put things back to rights and harvest what's ready. As usual, I've been busy with other things. I'm currently putting together a catalogue of my glassy goodies & working on commissions.

Last night I cooked up some of the veggies hanging around my kitchen, as it looks like a harvest festival! The pic above shows some roasted 'Hooligan' pumpkin seeds. I didn't really know what I was doing but they turned out reet grand. I added a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at Gas5 for about 10-15 mins. The ones I didn't munch last night will make a tasty snack at work today. Waste not, want not :)

With the fine-looking 'Hooligan' pumpkin itself, peeling was a no-go so I sliced the little devil into two, added a touch of olive oil and roasted it too. Looking forward to scooping out the innards for dinner tonight :) Muhahaha! Ahem.

Don't suppose you remember the 'bell boy' pepper I got from Sainsbury's a while ago? Well, this is he. Look, FINALLY, the little peppers turned red. In a way it will be a shame to eat them. The plant looks great in my lounge in this red pot.

Another 'FINALLY' - the tonnes of tomatoes I've got from the 2 plants at lottie are turning. These ones are ripening on the windowsill. I am probably going to harvest all the remainder at the weekend & windowsill-ripen them too. Batches of tommie sauce ahoy methinks. The green ones I picked a while back are still lanquishing in the fridge. Also on my to-do list but they seem ok.

Hopefully next post will be photo-filled & actually down the allotment! I am also hoping to pick some blackberries this weekend. All this is weather-dependant of course. Fingers crossed for at least no rain!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Marrow surprise, Hooligan harvest & Bilberry bonanza

I'm a week behind on this post. Bad Steph! Ok, so last Thursday I went to lottie to check it out and harvest the goodies. What a nice view from the car (above)!

It was raining a little so I tried to clear some of the weeds from around my sweet william, red lettuce, dwarf & broad bean seedlings. Then the rain got heavy so I gave up on trying to do that and grabbed the harvest I could before getting super-soaked! You can see at the top of the photo the area I weeded and the mass of weeds at the bottom of the pic :(

My vegetable spaghetti is looking good. Looking forward to trying this. I have waited a whole year as last time it didn't work.

I have LOADS of tomatoes on my 2 plants, but all of them are green and not looking like they'll turn. So I picked a whole bunch to make into various soups, jams and whatnot. They're in the fridge right now. Just need some time to make them - bit busy with 'Handmade Heaven : Funky Fused Glass' at the mo, re-photographing things and making new goodies.

I harvested some tasty goodies - beetroots, green & yellow courgettes another MAHOOSIVE marrow which I didn't even spot growing and was lurking beneath the leaves - it was a bit of a surprise I can tell you!, runner beans...

...patty pans, hooligan pumpkins (both upside down, drying here) and a couple of banana peppers. Alas the peppers were all soft and tasted horrid so they went to compost heaven.

I went to visit my folks and took the MAHOOSIVE marrow with me. I weighed it on my mum's kitchen scales and this made me laugh - 'ERROR' - I think the scales were saying "too heavy! get it off, get it OFF!" :)

So I took it to the bathroom scales. I think it was about 8.5lbs! A monster. 

Look how proud I am of my 'marrow bowtie' ;)

My folks and I went out to harvest some wild goodies. Free food - who wouldn't!? I picked my first ever bilberries. Absolutely delicious! A few may, or may not, have fallen into my face... ;) Hehehe! They're very stainy and quite time-consuming to pick as they only grow in ones or twos, hidden in the leaves of the bilberry bushes.

My mum said they were quite expensive to buy and I now understand why. The three of us were picking for around two hours and got this 700g-ish haul. I looked how much this would cost to buy and calculated it was around £32! Nice :)

We also picked 1500g of rowanberries. Lovely!

I'm at my big bro's place in Kent this w/e. We're about to go for a walk so I'm going armed with plastic bags in case we come across any blackberries or other fruity goodies. He has a plum tree in his garden so I am taking some of those. Just have to shin up a ladder! I've already added some plum jam & chutney recipes to the recipe list. Hope you're making the most of all the fruit & veg ready at this time of year. I really need to get in the kitchen and preserve all my goodies.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Popularity of chocolate courgette cakes and muffins

Ha! Well, post a photo of cakes on facebook and you get recipe requests :) I've had 2 today from old schoolfriends which is really great. I hope they enjoy making them. I've had so many great comments on the taste of these cakes & how moist are. I have to admit to having 3 of the muffins today - can't help myself. At least they are crammed full of veg... I know one colleague defo had 2 today, if not 3 as well. The same colleague wanted to kiss me when I told her I'd made them gluten-free, just for her benefit & said she'd dream about them tonight ;) She went from sulking thinking they weren't GF to a super-big grin! Bless her. She's the one who invited us to 'tea' tomorrow. Looking forward to that. I tend to make most things GF - my mum has coeliac disease, so it is just easier to keep GF flour for when she visits. Probably does me good too. Everyone I've tried these cakes on loves this recipe - esp me!! Dead easy too, so get baking :D

 Mary Berry. Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY / telegraph.co.uk

Speaking of baking, my hero, Mary Berry, was on tv tonight. The Cotswolds, cake and MB all in one show? Fab! Did you catch it? No sign of courgette cakes, but one beetroot one! Series link here: The Great British Bake Off

Cricket, & chocolate courgette muffins

A bit of a random combo this post...

Not at the allotment, but nature-y so posting about this grasshopper cricket (corrected by science geek little bro!) hitching a ride on my wing mirror after work today. He/she did pretty well hanging on 'til dual carriageway speeds! Impressive little blighter :)

My friend @ work just invited us all over to hers for lunchtime 'tea', so thought I'd try the Chocolate Courgette Cake as muffins. Adjusted the time to 20-25 mins, filling the cases 3/4 full and they worked a treat :) These are the GF versions. I may or may not have had to taste test one...

Also tonight I cooked up this marrow and the jumbo yellow courgette. Made a tasty ratatouille again, with some chorizo thrown in :) The smaller yellow courgettes went in the muffins.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Why I don't like yellow/golden courgettes...

  • They don't taste of much, unlike green
  • They're quite slow-growing & not very prolific, unlike green
  • They don't break cleanly off the plant, unlike green
  • The skins are thicker than green
  • The seeds are much bigger and more coarse than green
  • The flesh is reasonably pithy, unlike green
  • They go off quicker than green

  • They look pretty

Hmm. Green courgettes all the way for me next year!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Rainbow Haul & Delicious Dinner

Went up to the lottie for a harvest and a poke about today. Lots to sort out there but that's for another day. Picked some goodies and what a pretty, colourful selection. I expect the courgettes will get turned into chocolate cakes (got a bit of an obsession with them now!). The marrow will be ratatouilled I think as I love that taste and texture. The gooseberries have gone in the freezer. They're marvellously translucent now - very, very ripe and sweet. I ate a few that burst in my hands :) The solo kohl rabi is a bit pathetic. If I grow them again, they'll need more water but I don't think I will bother next time. The purple radishes were grown for their colour really - radishes don't really do it for me! Silly eh. The patty pans on the front-left are a slightly different that the other yellow patty pans - paler and taller. There's a normal one in there too. The green beans are prolific, as per usual. But I love them so it's all good :)

The purple radishes are very pretty - almost as if they've been painted with ink.

I decided to roast up the patty pans, radishes, some (supermarket) onions, 
as well as the beetroot that was languishing in the fridge with some oil & rosemary.

Everything took on a lovely pink colour from the sweet beetroot :)

I had a portion with some lottie green beans. Yum yum!