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

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Use it or lose it!

  Two attempts, this week, at trying to make something out of 'useless' food;

First a couple of whopper cucumbers found lurking at the back of the greenhouse under all the foliage. Both green cucumbers had hard knobbly skins and didn't look at all pleasant to add to salad or sandwiches. I've already made a stash of marmalade this year with surplus cucumbers, and experimented with piccalilli, so wanted to try something else and settled on 'bread and butter pickle'.

Basically, cucumber and onion are salted for a couple of hours,then drained and added to hot vinegar spiced with mustard seeds, fennel seeds and turmeric - the latter gives it a rather odd yellow colour that I'm not sure if I'm fond of.

Now it has to sit in the fridge for a while to let the vegetables 'pickle', so I can't test it for a week or so.

Meanwhile.... something sweeter. A couple of days ago I made curry which required coconut milk, and not having the tinned version to hand I made some by steeping dessicated coconut in boiling water. Having used the water as 'milk' I was then left with the remains of the coconut. it isn't really all that flavoursome by this point by I've tried using it in cakes before and it's ok. This time I made muffins  - with an extra little bit of 'use it or lose it' involved. In the baking cupboard, I found glace cherries (probably from last year's Christmas cake) with a 'best before' date of end of September. Phew! Just in time!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Nothing's going to waste...

 The full size corn cobs have all been harvested, prepared, blanched and popped in the freezer.

 But before the plants were thrown in the compost bins, I checked for tiny side-shoots. On the stalk they look worthless, and don't look much more promising when picked but inside are tiny baby corn cobs, perfect for stir fries.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Free lunch- and quite a few dinners - 2 weeks to 21st September

Lots and lots of colourful salads this couple of weeks - yellow tomatoes and beetroot look particularly lovely together I think.

There's still a constant supply of tomatoes and cucumbers, some radishes and courgettes in the mix too but no lettuce so making do with spinach, cabbage and american land cress.

I found an unopened jar of last year's courgette and tomato chutney - a good home-grown, home-produced addition to spice up salad sandwiches and wraps.

And to keep the 'grow-your-own' theme going through dinner - a tomato, broad bean, courgette, pepper stew with sliced potato topping

Sausage bake with home grown potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onions

and a spicy tomato and pepper filling for wraps.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Using up some of the glut

It's been another good week at the allotment -which means far too many cucumbers again.

Time to get out the preserving pan!

First my standard cucumber preserve - jam, or marmalade, maybe, as it's heavily flavoured
with lemon bits and pieces hoarded in the freezer after using the juice or zest (I hate to throw anything away!)

That didn't use up enough of the cucumbers though, so I decided to try something new, that would also help me use up other bits and pieces from the allotment - piccalilli.
This didn't go according to plan though...

I got all the veg prepared and ready; small onions not big enough for anything else, runner beans (I already seem to have a freezer-full), cucumber of course, some surplus courgette and a tiny cauliflower barely bigger than a piece of sprouting broccoli.

 All the veg has to soak in brine for 24 hours.....so while it did that, I popped to the shop to get some turmeric, a necessary ingredient for the next bit.

When the time was up, I drained the veg and started making the mustardy sauce - at which point I discovered there wasn't enough mustard powder in the cupboard!!!
Off to the shop again, only to find they didn't sell mustard powder - all I could buy was the ready-made paste. To hopefully get round this, I made the sauce with the full amount of turmeric and about half the mustard, and when it was cooked added a couple of teaspoons of the mustard paste. I've no idea whether this will work, only tasting will tell.

For now, it looks ok though there does seem to be a lot of sauce to comparatively few vegetables. Now it needs to stand for three weeks before the great taste test.....

Monday, 15 September 2014

Cardigan progress...

A few evenings of watching TV has my autumn knitting project progressing quite well and the pattern is now quite clear.
The cables are quite simple and small enough to avoid using a cable needle. 
I'm hoping I haven't put in too many lacy patterns as it is intended as a winter cardie, but maybe even the holes will trap warmth.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Free lunch - 2 weeks till 7th September 2014

 It took me so long to get last week's photos organised that I thought I'd run two weeks in to one.

There hasn't really been a lot of interest in the past fortnight's lunches anyway - just a LOT of salad variations mainly involving cucumber and tomatoes which I have a surplus of. I have no home grown lettuce at all so mainly I'm relying on spinach or cabbage for greenery (one day though I cheated and ate shop-bought iceberg lettuce). Luckily there's been a little variety with radishes cropping again and the pulling of the first of this year's beetroot.

One day turned out to be cold enough to have soup! A sort of minestrone of tomatoes, onions and the first of this year's corn.

And I'm trying to imaginatively use up the tomato and courgette surplus for evening dinners - here with our greenhouse peppers and some chorizo slices I turned them into fillings for wraps.

We've also started lifting carrots and parsnips so here they are with last year's frozen broad beans ready to be added to a tuna bake with a home grown potato topping.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hoarding for Winter

After yesterday's allotment trip, today was all about finding ways to preserve the crops through winter. First and definitely the easiest is popping things in the freezer - but even the big chest freezer in the garage is starting to groan under its load. Even so,it's the best way I think to save the sweetcorn, chopped into mini cobs and blanched first. I think there's more this year than last; so far about 3 times the amount shown here and a lot more still to be picked!

Then on to the more troublesome courgettes and tomatoes. I already have some of each frozen, plus one of the courgettes was a bit too overgrown and soft, so I decided to try an old chutney recipe that I haven't made up in quite a while.
While it used up most of the spare courgettes (1 1/2lb) it didn't make much of a difference to the tomatoes (only half a pound)

 Being a small-ish quantity, I just used a big saucepan and didn't bother struggling to get the preserving pan out.It's an easier recipe than some - courgettes, tomatoes, onion, garlic (all home grown), sugar, vinegar and spices thrown in the pan and boiled.
it turns the normal murky brown of chutneys when cooked but tastes different to my usual rather sweet varieties. I just wish I'd managed to find two medium sized jars, instead of one little and one large!