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 /

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!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Chocolate Courgette Cake - nom nom!

  • 120g butter (softened)
  • 150g chocolate spread (Nutella, etc. I used 'Mr Choc' from Lidl - great name!)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 350g plain flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbs cocoa
  • 500g courgettes, peeled and grated finely
    (use the food processor if you have one, done in a jiffy!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(*I've made this with normal plain flour, as well as gluten-free plain flour and it tastes almost the same either way. I did add some xanthan gum to the GF version, as per packet instructions.) 

1. Line a 20 x 35 cm cake tin with baking paper and set oven to 190deg C/350deg F/gas 5. (I have made this in a 23 x 23 cm and a 20 x 25cm tin and both worked fine.)

2. Mix the butter, chocolate spread and both sugars together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.


4. Fold the dry ingredients into the mixture, then stir in the grated courgettes and vanilla.

5. Pour into the lined cake tin.

6. Bake for 35-45 mins, then check with a skewer to see if it is cooked through. If cake mix sticks to the skewer, cook for a further 5 mins each time until the skewer comes out clean.

normal cake left, gluten-free cake right

For some of the cakes I made I put in a filling of chocolate spread and allotment-grown-blackcurrant jam. Nom nom!

The cakes are super-moist and absolutely delicious! I defy anyone who dislikes courgettes to be able to taste there is a vegetable in this tasty treat :) Hope you enjoy making your own. At work, they DEMANDED I make another cake, soon after the first one I made was eaten! I had a non-filled cake, warm, with custard but it would be equally nice with cream or a chocolate sauce...

This is a tried & tested adaptation of this recipe. I ditched the oil and replaced it with chocolate spread, and didn't bother with the milk as there is plenty of moisture in the courgettes. I've made 3 cakes so far (2 gluten-free) and I am currently in love with their moist chocolatey goodness!