Saturday, 21 May 2016

update ....

I love the soft pinks and blues, the colours that seem to abound in the late spring/early summer garden.
We are in the last full week of May and the garden has that fresh bloom of youth;
zingy green, perky leaves, buds unfurling into their full glory.
Beautiful and gorgeous!
This is a little posy of flowers plucked from our garden the other morning, comprising -

clematis montana: which has clothed our fence in a glorious riot of blooms for the past month.
pelargonium citron: which survived the winter outside in a pot and has now been flowering for several months.
brunnera looking glass: this is a new to us plant, bought at the open garden the other week and just right for a shady spot in our garden. I love the vivid blue flowers reminiscent of forget-me-nots.
marguerite: a single and double variety in lovely shades of pink.

On the allotment, everything is looking good too and picking up pace after the cold April.
There is blossom on the apple tree and the promise of a bumper crop of plums judging by the profusion of tiny embryo fruits.
The beans - runner, French and broad - are all doing well and after what seemed an eternity the beetroot and Swiss chard are staring to germinate.
Strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants are growing well and I will soon be planting out courgettes and butternut squash.

But although there is lots of new growth, there is not much to harvest yet, save some lovely chives and mint. And handfuls of mint went into this midweek salad, a recipe from Jamie Oliver's book Everyday Super Food.

The salad uses quinoa. 
Quinoa is a very nutritious wheat-free complete protein. 
Since it has so many health benefits, I am learning to love it ( there is something about it which I initially disliked ) but in this recipe it forms a good base for a range of delicious tastes and textures.

For one (very generous portion )
cook 60g of black or red quinoa, then chop and add the following :
1/4 of a small cucumber
1/4 of an iceberg lettuce
1/2 a carrot 
1/2 an apple
1 tomato 
1/2 of a red chilli
2 large sprigs of mint
1 small handful of spinach
Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and spoon over 1 heaped tablespoon of natural yoghurt and 1 teaspoon of hot chilli sauce, add some leftover cooked chicken and toss everything together.

This is a good recipe and one which I imagine could be easily adapted to swap different veggies.
I will be trying it again.

 Hoping you enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Mr digandweed and I are off to London for a couple of days.
Back soon!

annjenny x

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Lately ....early summer.

May ... such a beautiful month.
There is nothing to rival the bright, lush verdant green of new growth that May brings and the soft pink and white of confetti -like blossom. Nature at her most beautiful.
 May is also the  start of the open garden season.
And visiting other people's gardens is one of my favourite things to do.
Last weekend, on the sunniest of days, mr digandweed and I visited a beautiful garden in Northamptonshire.
The lovely, manicured gardens contrasted with a pretty woodland walk accessed via a little wooden bridge and provided very welcome shade from the unexpected heat of the sun.

In our own garden, everything is bursting into leaf and flower too.

Feeling very summery, I decided to have a go at making elderflower jelly.
It is still too early for foraging elderflower blossom, but this jelly can be made with bought elderflower cordial.
I used this recipe but adapted it slightly. I found I had to increase the amount of gelatine to 5 sheets as the first batch refused to set. But my second attempt gave a delicious jelly with just the right amount of wobble and was delicious with coconut yoghurt.

Hoping the week ahead is a good one!

annjenny x

Saturday, 7 May 2016

aquafaba 'mayo' and asparagus.

I was first introduced to the notion of aquafaba a few weeks ago via Kellie and her lovely blog food to glow.

A trawl through the dusty filing cabinet of my mind should have taken me back numerous decades to a former self : a schoolgirl in brown uniform, a hot, stuffy classroom and Latin lessons, for the term aquafaba is from the Latin words for water and bean.
It is a word coined by an American software engineer named Goose Wohlt, who just about a year ago discovered that the thick gloopy liquid from a can a chickpeas - the stuff that is usually unceremoniously tipped down the sink - can be whipped up to make an excellent vegan alternative to egg white.
I know! 
It sounds totally unlikely, so I had to have a go!

 And it is indeed true.
I based my 'mayo' on Kellie's recipe (see link above) but used a mixture of sunflower and olive oil and chives instead of garlic.
It turns out that aquafaba mayo is totally delicious!

The consistency of my 'mayo' was pourable rather than spoonable, more akin to a hollandaise sauce and made a lovely summery accompaniment to some lightly steamed asparagus.

So if you are unable to eat eggs or more specifically, raw egg white or simply have a yearning for home- made mayo but are completely out of eggs, then aquafaba is the way to go.

And on the subject of asparagus, the glorious moment when the first British asparagus arrives in the shops for its short but delectable season always prompts me to think that maybe I should try growing some on the lottie. On a little stroll yesterday evening around the allotment site, we only found one plot ( out of about 90 ) where asparagus was being grown.
Maybe the fact that a fairly large amount of space has to be dedicated to its cultivation for only a short term return discourages people from growing it. 

But like strawberries, the first asparagus heralds the arrival of early summer and the weather at the moment, in this little corner of the fens, is just gorgeous!

Happy weekend everyone.

annjenny x

  • p.s. If you are interested, there is an official aquafaba website and even an aquafaba facebook page.
  • pps. Aquafaba can also be used to make chocolate mousse, meringues and waffles amongst other things, bit I have yet to try these!
News Flash ..... I found that after a couple of hours in the fridge the mayo had thickened up and mr digandweed loved it!

Sunday, 1 May 2016


I found some beetroot the other day, down on the allotment.
They were in one of the raised beds almost hidden under some hefty weeds.
I brushed off the soil and took them home, not expecting them to be very tasty. They had after all been in the ground for upwards of 9 months.

But after scrubbing and chopping, I was surprised to see they looked remarkably good. 
So I made a cake. A chocolate beetroot cake. A birthday cake for mr digandweed.

This is not the first chocolate beetroot cake I have made, but this recipe may well become one of my favourites.
Ridiculously easy - it is one of those ' measure and blitz everything together' type recipes - it produced a moist and deliciously chocolatey cake.
It also uses heart healthy rapeseed oil and quite a lot less sugar ( if you ignore the icing) than similar recipes.

The recipe is here, if you would like to try it.
And so we had a birthday tea with both lovely daughters and their partners and our very dear Tiny Girlie.
There were mini sparklers on the cake and a rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
A jolly time was had by all.

Meanwhile April has come and gone. The last few days have seen hail, arctic winds and frosts, but now May is here and the forecast for the coming week is much better.
I'm going to plant out the runner beans.
 I can't wait any longer! 
They have taken over the dining room and are twining themselves around everything and everyone ( that last bit may be an exaggeration )

And finally, some pics of my newest allotment helper.

Hoping you all enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

annjenny x