Saturday, 25 July 2015


July is coming to an end and we have certainly had some very hot, dry weather.
On the allotment we have been busy picking and harvesting.
It has been a good year so far.
There have been lots of salad leaves. This year, I grew them under netting which kept off the flea beetle, but the hot weather meant they bolted very quickly.

There were yet more gooseberries and blackcurrants.
I made a lot of the blackcurrants into a puree by lightly cooking with a little sugar and then sieving; nice for breakfast or pudding stirred through yoghurt.

Then there are the beetroot; this year a variety called rainbow, which are a mixture of white and stripey roots though I still think I prefer the normal crimson beetroot despite their ability to turn everything within sight a deep purple.

With the idea that simple is best, I mixed grated beetroot with a little creme fraiche and creamed horseradish and we ate it with smoked mackerel.

The revelation this year have been broad beans, a first on the lottie.
A fresh, young broad bean eaten straight from the pod soon after picking is a thing of joy!
Nothing like, it turns out, the slightly bitter, tough-skinned ones available in the shops.

As a change, after several meals of eating them lightly steamed, I also made them into a dip -  a recipe called garlicky broad bean puree from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book Veg every day.

Yesterday was a day of almost continual, torrential rain; excellent for the gardens and allotments but not so good if you have just set out on your summer hols.

Wishing you a good weekend, rain or shine.

Monday, 20 July 2015

here ... and there

It's been a very hectic few weeks.
It started with attending a sourdough bread making course ( more of that another time), followed by a kitchen makeover chez fenland lottie and then a couple of days away in our favourite seaside town.

Whilst in Southwold, mr digandweed took to running along the beach at 6 in the morning.
I stayed in bed with a cup of tea.
Southwold has a lovely harbour on the Blyth estuary.
The seagulls hold meetings there before swooping out to sea to catch their tea.

For the rest of us, acquiring a fish supper is much easier thanks to the array of wooden kiosks which line the shore, all selling freshly caught fish.

From the harbour, we took the rowing boat ferry across the river to the pretty village of Walberswick and had gooseberry and elderflower ice cream in the lovely shady garden of a tearoom before walking back to Southwold over the Bailey Bridge.

Back home, the gooseberries on the allotment were turning a beautiful pink.
We picked bowlfuls.

And I turned them into a gorgeous ruby coloured jam, following Delia's recipe.

Of course, home-made jam requires some home-made scones  ...and a nice cuppa.

We finished our weekend with a trip to the Great Fen community celebration and a wander round Woodwalton reserve.

There were masses of this huge daisy like flower (about 80cm tall ; flowers about 7cm diameter) growing along the damp grassland.
We looked it up on our return home but couldn't work out what it was.

But whatever its name, the bees loved it!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

blackcurrant 'beena

Summer has arrived and with it record breaking temperatures.
The weather has lurched from an unseasonable 'shall-we-put-the-heating-on' cold to 'fling-the-doors- and-windows-open' hot.
The sun and heat has meant the fruit on the allotment has started to ripen at an alarming rate; strawberries and blackcurrants by the bowlful which very soon will be followed by the gooseberries.

I decided to make the blackcurrants into a cordial which with the addition of water and ice could be turned into a refreshing drink.
In the River Cottage Handbook on Preserves Pam Corbin has recipes for fruit ' beenas (named, as you might have realised, after a famous blackcurrant drink).

I used 1kg of fruit simmered in 600ml of water until soft. This was then tipped into a jelly bag and left to drip overnight.
To each litre of juice, I added 700g of granulated sugar and heated gently.
(This seems like an inordinate amount but the syrup is to be used well diluted.)

When the sugar had dissolved, I continued heating until the temperature registered  88-90c on a sugar thermometer in order to sterilise the liquid.
I then poured it into bottles which had also been sterilised by immersing them in a large pan of water and bringing to the boil.

The cordial has a beautiful rich colour and with the addition of sparkling water makes a super refreshing drink for this hot weather.

Or drizzled over ice-cream with strawberries, mango and banana, a gorgeous  summery dessert.