Monday, 31 December 2012

on the eve of a new year....2013

A pot of pansies on our patio just outside the kitchen door, bravely withstanding the wind and rain that has lashed down on them over the past weeks ...
..and on closer inspection, new life, new beginnings; the first shoots of some miniature daffodils poking up through the pansies.
How wonderful to know that whatever life brings us there is always fresh hope and the chance for a new beginning.
Wishing you a fresh new 2013!

Monday, 24 December 2012

FLFF day 10

Merry Christmas from annjenny and mr digandweed x
I hope you all have a very happy and peaceful Christmas
  ... and let's raise our glasses to a year of happy veggie growing in 2013!
 (picture courtesy of mr digandweed!!)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

FLFF day 9

We love marzipan, but not the over sweet icing, so here is our cake - marzipan with a fruit and nut topping.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

FLFF day 8

Our errand the other night was to deliver some of our Christmas cards to the neighbours. We finished our short walk at a lovely thatched cottage just up the road, festooned with Christmas lights. The couple who live there put on an amazing light show each year to raise money for a cancer charity in memory of their son.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Thursday, 20 December 2012

FLFF day 6

In our family we like the Christmas meal trimmings, - bread sauce, stuffing and ... Delia's cranberry and orange relish almost more than the turkey!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

FLFF day 5

winter fens

Photo taken on a lovely frosty morning a couple of days ago, just up the road from here.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

FLFF day 4

Mince pie and cuppa to keep me going whilst wrapping presents. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ten days to go .... to celebrate, I thought I would post a festive picture each day in the run up to the 25th. I'm calling it my Fenland lottie festive feast!

Fir cone and log decoration on our windowsill.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Some of the delicious things .....

.... that have gone into my homemade mincemeat.


It might seem a little excessive to make homemade mincemeat when it is so readily available in the shops, but it is so delicious with a rich, fruitiness and none of the bitter aftertaste that some commercial mincemeats have. Plus it is ridiculously easy - simply a case of mixing all the ingredients in a bowl


and putting into a jar! 

As well as the traditional little mince pies, I've also made this rectangular mince tart. I pre-baked the pastry case and then filled it with mincemeat. It's going in the freezer until Christmas, when I will cover it with a macaroon topping before finishing in the oven and serving with cinnamon custard.

I love Delia's cinnamon ice cream recipe and often just use the custard base as a sauce.

Here is the recipe for the macaroon topping;
 2 egg whites
75g caster sugar
125g ground almonds

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then whisk in the sugar and fold in the ground almonds. Spread the mixture over the mincemeat to cover it completely.
Bake at 180c for about 20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar when cool.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

winter wonderland walk

....and the whole forest would give itself up to jollifications for weeks on end'
C.S. Lewis: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe
Last night mr digandweed and myself felt we had walked through a wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia.

We walked along paths lit by lanterns,

through glades illuminated by wonderful colours

and through forests glowing with light. .

Along the way we heard beautiful music and met magicians
performing wonders with light.
Where were we?
At Anglesey Abbey for their Winter Lights event.
Truely magical!

Monday, 26 November 2012

watery world

 This is the magical transformation that has taken place over the weekend on washland a few minutes walk up the road from here.

Water as far as the eye can see.
A wonderful and peaceful scene, with wildlife already occupying their temporary home.
This is a flood plain for the nearby river and is next to washes which are important RSPB reserves, so no properties are affected, but huge sympathies to those whose homes are flooded and who face a distressing clean up.

Monday, 19 November 2012

plotting and planning

Apart from the leeks and parsnips, the allotment is looking a bit bare....

 Time, I think, for some plotting and planning.

allotment plan 2013 

  • the blue rectangles represent the raised beds and show what I will grow where to ensure good crop rotation.
  • the 'splodges' down the right hand side are fruit bushes - blackcurrant, gooseberry and rhubarb.
  • the 'splodge' at the top is a dwarf plum tree
  • the strawberries are already planted out into the new raised beds
  • potatoes - I think along with favourites Charlotte, I will try a more unusual variety such as Pink Fir
  • After the success  of the butternut squash, I might try varieties like Munchkin and Harlequin
  Some veggies such as potatoes, green beans and squash are favourites/must-haves, but I have gaps in the above plan for new varieties to try for 2013. I might give chard and celeriac a go.
Does anyone else have any must-have varieties which they grow each year?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The last of the shallots

With just a few of our shallots left and needing to be used ..
(I think the very wet summer meant the shallots did not dry out thoroughly and so have not stored particularly well) .. I decided to pickle them using a very simple recipe from Delia's Happy Christmas. 

Click here for the recipe.
I halved the recipe to make a half litre jar.
They have to be stored for a month before eating, so should be ready in time for Christmas!

Friday, 9 November 2012

two more veggie suppers

using our parsnips and butternut squash from the allotment.

This is one of my favourite standby recipes adapted from this Delia recipe. It is warming and comforting, just right for colder nights. I use a combination of any veg I have to hand; this was made with carrots,leeks,parsnips and squash. I have found that a few minutes under a hot grill to melt the cheese and give a brown, bubbling top are all that is needed, rather than the 20 minutes in the oven that Delia recommends.
( dare to contradict Delia!)

The second recipe is roasted butternut penne with pistachio pesto from a wonderful blog I have been reading called Sprouted Kitchen. It was truly delicious and the addition of smoked paprika and nutmeg to the squash gave a beautiful colour and extra spiciness.

Meanwhile, two more attempts in my quest to cook Jamie's 15 minute meals in the allotted time; the first was Golden Chicken with braised greens and potato gratin and the second Sausage Fusilli with creamy garden salad. Both recipes made very tasty suppers. I especially love his vegetable and salad combinations, although the dressing for the garden salad had too much mustard for us.
 But did I complete them in the 15 minutes?
Well, no! The first recipe took about 35 minutes and as for the second one - I was nearly in on time but lost a good 5 minutes trying to open the jar of peppers!
No pictures this time. I was too exhausted after flying round the kitchen to take snaps, but both mr digandweed and singing-girl (who was home for the week) pronounced them to be delicious!

Sunday, 4 November 2012



I love firework night. It heralds the beginning of the winter festivities with Christmas close on its heels.
There is something very cosy about wrapping up in woollies to watch the sky light up with a myriad of multi coloured stars whilst clutching a warming cup of soup or a jacket potato in your hands.
In our house it is something of a tradition to make mushroom soup, jacket potatoes and gingerbread.


This is the recipe I use from the New Covent Garden Book of Soups.
My gingerbread recipe is a favourite that I have been making for years from a book called The Cranks Recipe Book.
Cranks was a chain of vegetarian restaurants. The first one opened in Carnaby Street, London in 1961 and I remember going there, as a child, with my parents. At the time vegetarian food was seen as, well- cranky!- but my mother,in particular, was well ahead of her time in being interested in wholefoods and healthy eating. Now only one restaurant remains near Totnes, Devon, but there are still cookery books available .The Cranks Bible has lots of really interesting vegetarian recipes.)
 The gingerbread recipe is very simple and produces a moist, sticky cake.
Happy Bonfire Night!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

beautiful weather, beautiful city

Cambridge is a lovely city, made all the more beautiful yesterday in the autumn sunshine.
King's College
punts on the river cam
tiny church behind Kettle's Yard

As well as enjoying the cafes and shops we were there to visit two exhibitions. The first was Winifred Nicholson at Kettles Yard and then the snow country: woodcuts of the Japanese Winter at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
The latter exhibition was the one that really caught my imagination, particularly the prints of  Hiroshige. They seemed very peaceful. Almost monochrome except for touches of blue, very detailed yet somehow uncluttered. This was one of  my favourites.
A stroll around the market followed with its enticing stalls :
Aubergines and .....

....these amazing squash!

And no trip to Cambridge would be complete without a delicious Chelsea bun from Fitzbillies!