Monday, 30 July 2012

Five go to the folk festival

It was a bright and sunny day as the five intrepid friends set off on their adventure with much laughter and frivolity.  Before long, they had arrived at their destination - Cherry Hinton Hall Cambridge, venue for the Cambridge Folk Festival.

Soon, they had found a pleasant spot and sat down to enjoy food and drink and wonderful music. There was Danish band Habadekuk with their toe tapping rhythms; the beautiful voice of Scottish singer Karine Polwart and spine tingling harmonies of The Staves.

 They clapped and tapped to the astonishing Seth Lakeman.

Then this happened:

There was thunder, lightening, hail and rain ..... lots and lots of rain.
Before too long the area was a quagmire.

"We are certainly having the full British summer music festival experience, with all this mud" one of the friends remarked. The others all agreed and determined to carry on regardless.

There were more musical delights. Joan Armatrading thrilled them with her rich vocals and Lau and Kan entranced with their virtuoso instrumentals.
Until at last, tired and more than a little damp and muddy around the edges, the friends set off for home and their warm, cosy beds ;)

Friday, 27 July 2012

Here's a novelty ...

for the first time this year we have had to go down to the allotment to water everything. Temperatures soared at the beginning of the week to 25c plus and have stayed there.

We put the sun umbrella up and had a drink.

Our potatoes seem to be ok despite the blight. These are the first of the maris piper.

The butternut squash is growing well.

Back home and it is cooler tonight. We are about to watch the olympic opening ceremony. Who will be lighting the cauldron?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Culinary heroes

This picture 'Delia, Delia, I need inspiration' by Susan Torrington was given to me a while ago by my sister. The picture now sits on my kitchen wall next to the spice rack and some favourite wooden spoons.

Delia has been a lifelong 'friend' in the kitchen! I remember watching her first ever cookery programme Family fare back in 1973 whilst I was still living at home and just before I went to university. When her Complete cookery course: part one first came out in 1978 I rushed to buy it followed by part two in 1980 and part three in 1981. I read them from cover to cover as though they were novels and they are still the first books I turn to if I want an answer to a particular culinary question.

Over the next few years, as tv cookery programmes began to  pop up like mushrooms on the different channels, I remember seeing Nigel Slater on what was a Christmas cookery slot I think. I was given a copy of his book The 30minute cook (you see Jamie, you were not the first!) and shortly after that Appetite . If any of you have this book you will know that it gives a blueprint for a recipe such as - deeply savoury noodles as hot as you like- and follows it with variations. It was the first book ( being deeply conventional as I am!) that opened my eyes to the fact that you don't have to follow a recipe to the letter, but can adapt it to suit your ingredients and mood.

But it is Kitchen Diaries, Tender vol.1 and Tender vol.11 which are my most favourite Nigel Slater books. They are big books and I love the feel of the weight of them in my hands. I love the beautiful, pared down photographs that illustrate them and most of all the dense prose on each page. His recipes are simple and easy going, but his writing is delicious! These really are books to read like novels, to enjoy the evocative descriptions of his garden and the plants that grow there.

More recently, I have become a fan of Jamie Oliver, for his sheer enthusiasm and passion and the way his food always looks so appetising.  His series Jamie at home ( must get that book sometime!) shows what lovely things can be made from veg that you grow on your own plot.
In recent months,  Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall has joined my list. I took a while to warm to Hugh - too much meat for me- but since singing-girl gave me a copy of his book River cottage veg every day last Christmas, he too has earned his place on my book shelf. See here.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The sun is out ....

Oh ..... but not for long .......

This 'summer' we are all having to learn to be opportunists and make the most of any dry, sunny moments we get. Although the cambridgeshire fens is a watery landscape, criss-crossed by dykes and rivers, it is usually one of the driest areas of the country and so all the rain we have had since April has been rather a shock. You can see some stats here.
The pictures at the top of the post were taken in our garden which although small is south facing and so captures all the sun's precious warmth. This year I am growing tomatoes in a hanging basket on the pergola in our garden ; one tumbling tom yellow and one red. Despite the cold and wet weather, I am hoping for a good crop.

In other news, we received some more, slightly different advice about our poorly potato plants and so yesterday, during a dry spell, mr digandweed went down to the allotment and removed the foliage but left the tubers in the ground. We are still hoping to have some delicious potatoes!

Friday, 13 July 2012

What is this?

Oh no! It looks like the dreaded potato blight. Almost overnight, our healthy looking potato plants have been reduced to this.

Ours are not the only plants to suffer. A quick tour of other plots showed a similar story. The extremely wet weather so far this 'summer' has taken its toll. We have been advised to dig up all the potatoes and store them. So as soon as it stops raining, that is what we are going to do. I hope you other growers out there are faring better.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tennis and beetroot

Last Sunday whilst Andy Murray was in gladiatorial combat on centre court, I eased the tension by making supper at the same time and rushing to the sitting room when the roar of the crowd signalled a particularly spectacular point.
Amid all the excitement, I managed to make roasted beetroot with goat's cheese using the first of the beetroot kestrel.
I had already consulted River Cottage for a recipe.
Here are the different stages.

Washed and scrubbed.

After cooking in foil.

Ready to go!
Mr digandweed and myself can recommend it!

Sunday, 8 July 2012


The rocket potatoes are finished now and about a week ago we started digging the first of the charlottes. Having made the comparison, I think I prefer the buttery taste and firmer texture of the charlottes and at the moment they are my number one favourite.
Having enjoyed several platefuls just on their own, I made a salad with them adapted from this waitrose recipe
They made a delicious supper with a mixed salad.

And in other news - proof at last that gardens and allotments are happy places.

Monday, 2 July 2012

the first and the last

.... the first of the salad onions - apache-

mixed with the last of the rocket potatoes, some mayo and homegrown parsley to make a potato salad.

Delicious for supper with cold chicken.