a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Saturday, 11 July 2009

using what you've got - cooking

pulled the first of this year's beetroot from the garden yesterday. baked the roots as usual, probably to use cold in salad or sandwiches, but was wondering what to do with the rest.I often add young,clean leaves to salad but we have so much lettuce at the moment that it seems pointless. I've seen recipes for cooking the stems and leaves but never tried them, so, last night, we decided to give them a try. the recipe said boil for 5-6 mins so I added them to the saucepan at the end of cooking broad beans and cauliflower(also from the garden). I was a bit worried about the other veg turning pink -though this might have improved the cauli which was a bit slug damaged- but there wasn't that much colour leakage. the water was an interesting purpley shade but the other veg were ok. how it all tasted is what matters though - slightly odd as,it being a leaf, I was expecting a cabbagey taste and was surprised that it tasted of -you've guessed- beetroot. having got over this strangeness, I enjoyed it. the taste is not as strong as boiled beetroot and some people may prefer it.
my parents never eat beetroot other than cooked and pickled in vinegar - is it an age-related idea? I've tried it various ways including soup (though I find some bortsch recipes too strong in beetroot flavour) and a Nigella Lawson cake recipe and believe it's much more versatile than a lot of people think.

Friday, 10 July 2009

using what you've got - cooking

this week we've had a glut of lettuce. all of them - the red salad bowl, the clarion(a green butterhead type) and the little gem are running to seed so either they have to be eaten up somehow or thrown away. there's only so much lettuce you can eat in salad, only so much you can persuade the neighbours to take and I can't imagine it would freeze very well so it was out with the recipe books. first we tried lettuce with peas and pasta,in a cheese sauce - this was a proper recipe so it turned out to be a success though neither of the daughters would try it. then we had a stir-fry with some of the red lettuce - this wasn't as good, the lettuce was stronger and tougher, perhaps should have been cooked for longer.so back to the pasta idea, this time pork with a tomato based sauce and it turned out very well. maybe it's a good idea to try to think "outside the box" with surplus food, certainly it's better than wasting it

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

using what you've got - cooking

seem to have spent the last couple of weeks in a constant state of making jams and chutneys. I've made 2 batches of my "own recipe" gooseberry chutney, 3 jars of gooseberry marmalade, 4 jars of gooseberry,raspberry and redcurrant jam and, today, 6 jars of "mixed berries from the freezer" jam (all unearthed during de-frosting). have also stewed and sieved the thinnings from the apple tree with some blackcurrants to make a lovely cloudy pink purée to flavour yoghurt.

can't bear to part with it? - sewing

some years ago my youngest daughter had a pair of funky jeans, with frayed edges and embroidered flowers. when they grew too small, or she grew too big, they sat in the spare room waiting for a new lease of life. my first thought was to re-cut them into a skirt, but this project took so long in the making that my daughter grew between measuring for the skirt and it getting finished. for a while, she'd been saying " that would look good as a bag", so,for her birthday, I cut the skirt back up and turned it into a shoulder bag, and hopefully she thinks it's turned out well.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


I've only discovered freecycling in the last year but I think it's one of the most useful things ever. as our youngest daughter was abandoning her baby toys we found we had lots of things,a little worn and tatty but with life left in them. we no longer knew anyone with children small enough to appreciate these things or even a toddler group that might have liked them and so a lot of things ended up in the dustbin.
freecycling provides a way of finding homes for such items. in the last few months we've re-housed the high chair, a toddler trike, hot wheels cars, children's cooking items, a child's ironing board and books. we've also discovered that we have other things that people may like -for example, when lifting and splitting plants in the garden, I now always offer them on freecycle; we have found people who wanted our elder daughter's hair curlers and curling tongs, a bumper and various car spares.
of course you can also pick things up from freecycle - in the past few months we've collected things like - plant pots, roof insulation that someone was removing, welsh linguaphone course,a video recorder, various types of craft materials, old needlework and heritage magazines and lots of books including a new copy of Nigella Express.
today I am heading out to pick up some knitting wool.

Friday, 3 July 2009

using what you've got

my parents have 2 gooseberry bushes full of unwanted fruit so naturally, when offered some, I've picked-my-own(and some for them). I picked the first batch a fortnight ago and decided to turn it into chutney- we get through a LOT of chutney and pickles- but couldn't find a recipe that matched my store cupboard. So, on the "use what you've got" principle, I took my free fruit, some home-grown and dried chillies, some ginger in syrup(normally for stir-fries), a mix of demerara and common granulated sugar and malt vinegar and, after a while boiling away, have some excellent chutney.
a second helping of gooseberries have gone to make a rather strange-looking but good-tasting marmalade with the help of home-frozen organic orange peel, which gives most of the flavour. some of the gooseberries have had to go to the freezer- I would have preferred to jam/chutney it straight away - storing in a jar isn't a constant drain on the electricity, but the weather this last week has been far too hot to stand over a hot stove.
if you want a recipe for either of these then please leave a comment below. we would love to hear from you.