Thursday, May 31, 2012

Top Tip of the week!

We are still in the midst of exams and are relieved that we have a week off next week with half term. I  have managed a couple of quick trips down to the allotment to water the plants. My french beans are up and eager to get growing.  The greenhouse is getting going and with 13 tomato plants at the last count- I don't think I have room for more! but you never know!
Anyway top  tip for this week involves plastic bottles. You know the large fizzy bottle kind- empty of course! The smaller plastic bottles also have their uses. our-good-life suggests using them for plant protection and indeed they use them to protect their lettuce plants and also as bird scarers. I  cut them in half and use them as mini greenhouses for the cucumbers and the courgettes and they worked a treat. Now I use the tops upturned so that the screw top end is planted into the ground and then use this as a water reservoir when watering- providing water to the roots of the plant ! photo to follow tomorrow!
 The smaller bottles are used upturned on the the top of the bamboo canes to prevent eye injuries!!
Photo to follow! have a good weekend  and i hope to catch up with you soon!

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Mr H and I got up to this weekend!

We had a busy sort of weekend. Elder daughter returned from Uni with a large amount of stuff accrued over the the year. Her uni seem to finish so much earlier than the others. It may be because Brunel is hosting some of the sport teams  during the Olympics. We have soooooo much stuff in the hall- the cat has got twitchy thinking we are about to go on holiday! and I  will have to squeeze all her  stuff  in somewhere until the autumn. Not sure where at the moment. I will just have to keep nibbling away at the pile.

Mr H managed to get down to the allotment after I had a visit. We seem to do everything in shifts these days and  we are like so many other parents  just like passing ships. My back has been playing me up  again which is telling me I need to restart doing my pilates exercises. I definitely know when I haven't done any for a while.

 I digress , all I managed to do was water the lettuce, beetroot seedlings, the baby cabbage plants and my sprouting beans with umpteen trips to the water tap with my watering can. I had intended planting some beetroot I had grown in modules, some more cabbages and some onions sets I  also had started in modules but somehow couldn't find a trowel. There is one down there - I keep for emergency when I forget to bring one. Things keep hiding from me at the moment- I'm sure it will turn up sometime.

Mr H on the other hand worked like a trojan. He cut the grass, re-trimmed the edges and reclaimed some of the planting area that had been taken over by grass. He retied the rope edging, cleared the corner known as death valley , which was full of broken trellis, canes, rubbish . I now have somewhere to park the wheel barrow! I in return have been given the challenge ( apparently should I choose to accept!) to clear and sort the shed. This is full of netting at the moment and every time we open the shed, netting tries to entangle us and ensnare us. This will be this weeks challenge.

I took advantage of a few hours peace and quiet and finished a couple of cushions for the garden furniture.

I love the fifties type roses - don't you! Mr H isn't so keen but he isn't really into furnishings that much - more structure and furniture. The rest of the family gave the thumbs up so I'm happy with that.

I hope you all had a good weekend. I just love this sort of weather and I am trying to make the most of it! Let's hope it lasts a little longer!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Foodie friday on a Sunday !

I had hoped to post some pictures as well as writing this belated post but for some reason every time I try to down load the photos the computer seems to freeze. So just he recipe then ! One of my daughters has become vegetarian and a friend gave us this recipe. We made it this week and I received the thumbs up. I halved the amount and made three burgers. We cooked one and froze the the other two. Sorry the amounts are in cups - so possibly an American recipe.

Curried cashew burgers - 6 servings
2 cups water
2tablespoon water
2-4 medium carrots peeled and diced
1/2 cup red lentils
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw cashews
6 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

Put 2cups water, carrots, lentils and 1/4 tspoon salt in a saucepan and simmer fr 12-14 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Drain in a colander pressing out he excess liquid. Allow to cool - approx 20 minutes

Toast the cashews in a nonstick pan over a low heat until golden. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and curry powder and remaining 2 tablespoons of water and cook for 1 minute NAND leave to cool.

Pulse the cashew nuts in a processor, add the lentil and carot mixture and pulse again until it starts to stick together but retains some texture. Transfer to a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper .
Form into 6 burgers and cook in a pan over a medium heat until evenly browned and heated through (approximately 4 mins each side. Serve in pittas and some cucumber and mint raita!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Food Friday hasn't been forgotten!

Many apologies but with the demise of Isla Mai and my services needed as a taxi driver today ( from 12.30 until 8pm) I haven't been able to make my Friday post . Have no fear it will appear tomorrow. I'm just catching up on the Chelsea Flower Show on BBC2 - how I wish I had been able to go this year. May be next year!! I loved the garden with the silver caravan in it , wouldn't that make a fabulous home office? I tried to drop a hint but Mr H didn't take me seriously. Until tomorrow.........

And then there was one.......

   We have some sad news:

Isla Mai in the snow-" it tastes soo good!"
It is with great regret to say that we had to say good bye to Isla Mai last night as she moved on to chicken heaven. Our rhode island red cross was a funny inquisitive totally loveable chicken.

Hiding in the bushes!

Stand up straight I think they are going to take a photo!
She was the chicken who wanted to ride on Mr H's lawn mower ( and it isn't a sit on kind :)) when he was cutting the grass - the noise didn't phase her ! When we cuddled her she would make a happy cooing sort of noise quite unlike the others!
I love my greens

Especially when they are M&S leftovers!

Oh how we will miss her - and now we are left with only one chicken! The least affectionate one, the one that thinks she is a cockerill and shouts at the slightest thing! Maybe she might become more docile now , who knows- all I know is that she has lost her two pals-

Whats this white stuff again?

On no they have the camera out again!!

and I think she will miss them  too :(

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top tip Tuesday - lettuce plants

I hope you had a good weekend. We had a great weekend - I had one working freelance-always good for the finances. On Sunday , we had the Watercress festival in Alresford. This festival celebrates the watercress that is grown in the town since the 1870s. Sometime later it was transported to London by steam train and Alresford now has the Watercress steam trains. The train line runs from Alresford through to Alton and you are able to connect to the British rail line which oes to London Waterloo ! So we have a good watercress heritage !
We had a lovely time mooching around the stalls. It was very busy and thank goodness the rain held off! There were lots of stall selling local produce - meat, pickles, chocolates,asparagus , tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, lavender, plants for the garden. And as it was a festival celebrating a food item there were lots of lovely stalls selling burgers and sausages and other ready to eat consumables.
There was plenty to entertain everyone with craft stalls, cookery demonstrations , watercress eating completion which my daughters boyfriend had entered. ( sadly didn't win but a great effort considering he doesn't like the stuff normally ! Sorry I don't any photos but my phone died just as we arrived and I hadn't wanted to lug my normal camera round - so many apologies!
So top tip today is to do with lettuces. If you are like me and have had your recent sowings of lettuces munched by slugs and you want to get ahead with lettuces whilst you are waiting for your new slug controlled lettuces to grow. Then do as I did - purchase a container of living lettuce from the vegetable section of the supermarket. I accustomed mine to the out doors for a few days in the container. Then divide up into little clumps. I have in the past divided them up almost singly and planted these. They take a week or so to recover but will grow on to be individual lettuces.
This year I have divided them up into little clumps and planted them into containers. I hopefully will be able to select odd leaves from each of the plants later for salads. You get a bargain number of plants for as little as a pound!you need to make sure you purchase the living salad that has lots of different leaves, not the one that looks like it only has four plants in it! I'm off to water the ones I planted yesterday........

Friday, May 18, 2012

Foodie Friday- banana jam

This is for Janie from Hedgecombers - probably too late for her glut of bananas but may be useful for next time! I like Janie ended up with rather a lot of bananas one weekend when I had got a good deal at the market and my parents brought more when they came to stay. There is only so much banana loaf , banana and custard you can eat ! It doesn't help when one of the members of the family doesn't like them so isn't able to help with the glut.
I resorted to the Internet and my jam making frenzy was taking control and I found this recipe( I think it came from an Autralian blogger called Mat) , I'm afraid it is in cups so many apologies:
1/4 cup lime juice or 1 medium lime ( I have used lemon juice same amount)
3 1/2 cups diced very ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Chop the banana and mix withe the lime juice. Add the sugar to the water in a saucepan and stir until dissolved and then bring the syrup to the boil. Add the banana and lame mixture to the syrup and heat over a low heat on a smoker . Add the cinnamon and cook for about 30 mins until it becomes thick. Then spoon into sterilised jars.

This is lovely on buttered toast or even as a filling for a cake. It is almost caramel like - sort of banoffee like . Yummy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top Tip Tuesday- removal of glue from Jam jars

Things at home have become quite disorganised and this has spread into my blogging. I have been thinking about this  and as far as blogging goes I will try each week to give a top tip on Tuesdays. The tip can be on anything , so I will have to search far and wide for them!

My younger daughter has turned vegetarian and hope to share some of my recipes that we are trying with you on a Friday and this will be called Foody friday- I will of course be sharing non- vegetarian recipes with you too !

  So to my first Top Tip - I have Fiona from the Cottage Smallholder to thanks for this one. In one of her blogs she mentioned how difficult it is to remove glue from some jam jars. In my experience it always seems to be the jars that are most ideal for the job or are the prettiest ones!  

In the past I had developed a system that involved lots of hot water, lots of washing up liquid, an old fashioned metal pad and a humungous amount of effort . This did improve things somewhat but wasn't entirely satisfactory. And then Fiona put up her post!!!!!!!  and all it involves is that magical WD40!

I had a play yesterday as I had the perfect jar- it had contained thai curry paste. It was ideal as I  managed to remove most of the label  in hot water but the glue remained attached and very tacky.  This is the jar after the label was removed but still tacky:

This is the photo after I had used some WD40 on an area:

and  dadaaaa- this is the final result- a clean glass with out too much rubbing. 

As I was working I kept thinking that it wasn't working and  then very quickly the results became apparent. Thank goodness for WD40 and Fiona from the Cottage Smallholder !!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

And the winner is............

The winner of my giveaway lavender bag is ..........

Drawn by my son and the name is......

Janie from Hedgecombers- so well done Janie- I will need an address!

Thank goodness the rain has stopped for a little while at least. Fred our cat was on our back doorstep this morning, sunning himself on the door mat. Typically he moved as soon as I headed for the camera but here's a photo of him in a less sunny place.

 Th epatio is north facing and has got so slippery over the past week. It will do it good to have the sun on it for a while. I think today will be spent in the garden. What are you going to do today?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Top tip for your planters

At the weekend when it was raining I did some blog surfing and came across the blog Vertical Veg. Wow this man produced so much in his London  home. He planted planters on a roof terrace, window sills, front garden , in fact anywhere he could ! and the produce he grew! He even kept a log. One of the things he used was self watering planter. He talked about ones that could be purchased however he described how to make your own and you can find the information here: self watering containers. So I made my own- unfortunately I forgot take photographs  but I will the next time  I make one.
I used the 3litre milk container but I didn't have any spare yoghurt pots so I used orange juice containers instead. Luckily we had some old pond piping in the shed -so I used that too. This man is so inspirational- take a look at his blog...........

Monday, May 7, 2012

Allotment time!!!!!

Hurrah its been dry for two days- or rather almost dry but good enough for me to get some work done on the allotment. I escaped on Saturday afternoon. I dug, weeded and planted:

1) the rest of my onion sets,
2) sowed some white beetroot ( I forgot to take the red ones with me). I thought that the white ones might be good roasted in with mixed root vegetables and maybe ok in cakes!
3) sowed lettuces: little gems and some mixed salad leaves, rocket ,  some spring onions and some sugar snap peas.
 Then on Sunday - another stint!!!!- This time I had a lot of digging to do - as I needed to plant where the potatoes were last year! As usual we had missed some and they were regrowing. I had  nipped  in the morning to a DIY store for some slug pellets ( we can't find the ones from last year- put away safe for the winter!) and happened to pick up some brassica plants on the reduced stand.
 So in the afternoon planted:
1) broccoli plants- we had these once before and did well with them- and the youngsters eat them :)
2)Cabbage plants- I think these should be good in coleslaw
 and sowed some red beetroot , called cylindra- which are a long root  beetroot- great for pickling.
I also picked up - sprouting broccoli and also brussel sprout plants but these will have to wait until I clear another part of the ground.

So all in all a busy two days! How did you get on - did you have any dry weather? I know Kent had more  rain- My Dad said it rained for nearly the whole two days! Hope it was ok for you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Vintage bags and Fab Vintage

While all this rain has been happening I have been busy indoors. The lovely new shop called Fab Vintage in Winchester has recently opened and are  stocking a good range of vintage clothing to suit all pockets.
They have recently taken some of my friend Debbie's furniture which I highlighted in my post about the Vintage market and what is so delightful is that they have taken some of my vintage cushions and a couple of my bags to try.
My first bag is a messenger bag made from what I believe is uncut Moquette which was around in the fifties/sixties. I definitely remember my Mum and Dad had a settee with this fabric on it.

Sorry about the quality of the photo!

Being fascinated by the name I thought I would do a little research. Apparently Moquette originated in France. It 's well known for its durability and hardwearing properties and was often used in carpeting and upholstery. It often comprises of mainly wool with a small amount of polyester in it.There is a smooth version which in carpet world is like a Wilton and a uncut version like a Brussels carpet. Apparently it is still made in Yorkshire using traditional methods. It was used on the  seats of the London underground tube trains! So now we know!

The second bag was made as I was asked to make a bag with a Union Jack theme. Although I don't think this what was envisaged I think its worked out quite well. All of the fabrics used and the button were vintage or upcycled. I love the button - very sixties don't you think?

Hoping for  a dry spell...........

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Allotment update

I was so excited I had an hour free and I heard the allotment calling. My basket was ready- I have a basket for the front of my bike and it was already primed with my seeds, gardening gloves, trowels, and onion sets. So off I set, the only problem that it was forecast to rain , so rain gear and wellies were also popped into the boot of the car.
I managed to open the shed before the first down pour came. I squeezed myself into the tiny minuscule space by t he door that was free and waited. Rain blowing through the gap. How I waished it would stop . A hat would have been useful! As soon as the deluge eased I popped out and managed to plant the broad beans plants and that's pretty well how it continued. So I had to retreat tot he greenhouse where I planted some more onion sets in module trays, I sowed beetroot and lettuce and that's as far as I have got. Hopefully a more productive week this week!
I definitely need to sort the shed out so that at least I could shelter in there comfortably ! Maybe if I get a dry day!