Spiced Autumn soup

Now the weather has turned chilly, it is the perfect time to use up some of my autumn harvests with a delicious and hearty bowl of soup to warm the cockles.
This is an incredibly simple recipe that anyone can make, the part that takes the most effort is cutting the veg up.

Firstly I chopped up the vegetables, leeks, garlic, munchkin pumpkin, butternut squash (these were all home grown) carrots and parsnips (these were shop bought, as I sowed about a bazillion seeds and the number that germinated were a big, fat zero!) and added them to the pan with a little oil and sweated them off for a few minutes.

Next up, the spices. I added a teaspoon each of Cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and paprika and stirred this into the vegetables.

I then put water into the pan, about a couple of inches above the vegetables and crumbled a couple of vegetable stock cubes in and let it simmer, giving it a stir every now and then.

After about half an hour, I added a third of a packet of red lentils and let it simmer for another half hour, again stirring every now and then.
When the lentils had softened and cooked through, I used a stick blender to blitz everything together, and served it up with some hot, buttered crusty bread.

This is the perfect soup for those cold, winters evenings, hearty with a slight nuttiness from the lentils, and gentle warmth from the spices and utterly delicious.

Toodle pip for now.

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Dirty rotten scoundrels

Some bad news to start the blog with……..my plot was broken into, they ripped the front of my shed off and chopped a hole to get in. Unluckily for them, there was a big board in the way so although they were able to get in, they couldn’t get anything out, so they didn’t manage to steal any of my tools, just created a massive headache for me as I and to tidy up the mess they left and Mr Inker fixed the shed for me.

they also trampled on my sweetcorn, so I had to rescue as many cobs as I could and then clear the rest of the destroyed plants from the bed. On a side note, the sweetcorn was delicious.

Now, back to the pretty stuff.
One of my allotment neighbours gave me some dinner plate dahlias that he had picked. They were spectacular and as big as my head!
This is what I love about my site, everyone is so friendly, always there with a helping hand, the offer of a cuppa and always sharing spare seeds, plants or veg.

I also managed to harvest some goodies. I picked some apples and blackberries, more on them later, some borlotti beans, leeks, french beans and the first of my munchkin pumpkins, I am so looking forward to trying this.

With the apples and blackberries, I decided to make some simple tarts.
I started by chopping the apples into small chunks and tossing them in cornflour, I popped them in a pan with the blackberries and some sugar and bubbled it all up until the blackberries oozed their delicious juice, the apples became soft and the juice became thick and syrupy.

Now, don’t tell anyone but I cheated on this next bit and used ready made puff pastry. I cut it into rectangles, scored lightly around the edges to create frames, and pricked the middles with a fork.

I then piled the apple blackberry mixture into the middles, trying desperately to avoid the edges, I was mostly successful……well, vaguely successful. Brushed the edges with beaten egg and popped them in the oven, gas mark 6 for about 15 minutes until the edges had risen and were golden brown.

I served them with extra thick cream, they may not be the prettiest looking things and I am certainly no Delia, but by golly they were yummy and went down well with everyone.

So, there we go. We may have started off on a sombre note, but cake really does make everything better, add a nice cup of tea to that and the world really is tickety boo!

Toodle pip for now.

Garden bargains galore

The growing season is well underway and I have had some successes and some spectacular failures, including my sweetpeas which in fact turned out to be just peas, and the courgettes that just failed to grow.

I also paid a visit to Poundland and got some great garden bargains, some practical but mostly decorative items, but as I have mentioned before, I want my plot to be an attractive space as well as a productive one.

I was super pleased with my haul, especially when everything is just a pound each, apart from the milk churn, but even that was a bargain!

The flowers and wildlife are rife on the plot at the moment, and I love seeing the beautiful colours dotted here and there.

One of my little projects was to utilise a large roof slate that I had been gifted, so I used my acrylic paint pens and made an apt sign for the plot

And finally before I bid you toodle pip, I will leave you with the results of wearing my sandals to the plot. Please try to tear your eyes away from my funny little toes (I was born with them like that) and behold the glory of my bad tan! spectacular isn’t it?

Until next time, toodle pip for now.

The fruit cage arises

Just in front of the compost bin I made, there was a large space. It was just filled with couch grass and surrounded by small trees that had been planted before I arrived. Mostly Hazel I think, but I discovered a cherry tree and an apple too (wahoo!).

I decided this would be an ideal space for fruit, so I duly cleared it bit by bit and planted raspberries (Yellow and red Autumn fruiting), blackcurrants and yellow and red gooseberries.

Now all these delicious fruits will be just too tempting for the birds and I want to be able to eat what I grow. A friend of Mr Inker said he would build me a fruit cage to protect the precious berries. so one weekend he came along and set to work.

Doesn’t it look amazing? All I need to do now it cover it with net and we’re good to go!

I have been busy myself with lots of planting, and of course weeding. The site is unfortunately riddled with marestail, so it is a constant battle with it as this stuff has been around since prehistoric times.

In my perennial bed, I have planted Babington leeks, Perennial leeks and perennial nine star broccoli. Now it is called broccoli but it is a sort of cross between a cauliflower and a sprouting broccoli in the fact that it produces a small head of cauliflower and numerous smaller florets. Let’s see how I get on with this.

I also planted out lots of other goodies that had been nurtured in my small half greenhouse at home.

Alongside the middle arch I planted some climbing French beans and some borlotti beans. The maypole, I planted with sugar snap peas, which will hopefully scramble up and create a green wigwam.

It was also a momentous occasion for me as I made my first harvest. I was able to pick some of the broad beans that had overwintered and a couple of leeks, the leeks were only small but delicious nonetheless.

Before I say toodle pip, I will leave you with a bee bum.