Friday, July 31, 2009

Great Scott, great harvest!

Scott was all of 1 years old today. A bit mesmerised by all the excitement and when everybody gathered around and sang a very loud Happy Birthday he cried, not with happiness but terror! From the expression on his face I am sure he thought we were all mad, but a few minutes of cuddles from his Daddy he recovered enough to smile and forgive us for scaring the daylights out of him.
We had a great harvest yesterday from the plot, 2 cauliflowers, courgettes,white turnips,parsley, broccoli (enough to put in a stir fry), some rudely shaped carrots, these were ones Kathryn was trying out they are supposed to be small and fat but were put into the ground in peat pots and I don't think they liked it.Lots of spuds these are Home guard still.
We are coming to the end of the first and second earlies in this bed and next move on to the main bed with British Queens and Kerr's Pinks which so far have escaped any blight
Summer 2009 is continuing to be a total washout and in the process of evolution those of us living in Ireland may begin growing webbed feet and fins!I cut yet another bunch of Sweet peas from the garden at home, they continue to flower despite wind and rain. I have had about 4 big bunches of them and their fragrance fills the kitchen in the morning. A scent of summer if not the sunshine!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frittata

We have not been out to the allotment again for a few days due to the weather. Yesterday we went to Robert's Cove as we had a few hours of sunshine, we had just landed when thunder and torrential rain found us.It did clear for a while so the kids got a couple of hours on the beach searching the rock pools for crabs!On the way home I had to drive through a thunder storm with lightening flashing and hail stones battering the car! I had made this frittata a few days ago using some of the smaller new potatoes and of course some courgette!They are being sneaked into everything lately. I also used half a head of the red cabbage and cooked it with oil, white wine vinegar,an apple,red onion and brown sugar.It was not an earth shattering taste but OK. I reheated it the next day adding another dash of the vinegar and it had a better taste.I notice my photography is getting a little shakey!
The frittata ingredients cooking in oil. Chopped new potatoes,courgette,peppers and onions. The beaten eggs were then added and cooked before putting it under the grill for a few minutes to set the top.It is actually a very filling dish and great for using up leftovers in the fridge as any combination can be used.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seeking New Zealand Pen friend

While going through old boxes of photos and papers I came across an old bundle of letters and cards.I wrote to a girl in New Zealand as a pen friend many years ago when we were both young mothers with small families.The photo is of Peter and Daryll Moore and the address on the letters is Taranaki,New Zealand.
Pen friends were popular back then in the days before the world became smaller through the computer age.Seeing the post man arrive with a letter or package was always exciting.
The letters began in July 1970 and the last one I have is dated April 1974, they began all of 39 years ago!Daryll had 4 children at the time, Cathryn who would be around 43 years old now, Jennifer who would be 41 and twins Bruce and Brendan who would be 39 probably with families of their own now.
We exchanged letters, cards, knitting patterns and small souvenir gifts of our respective countries.I have moved house a number of times since then and maybe Daryll has too. I know some blog readers from NZ stop by from time to time and maybe someone would know something.
Its a long shot but I will wait in expectation!
The cutest blog on the block I spent ages last night turning my blog into a 3 column page and changing the background with TCBOTB templates. I was able to follow their clear instructions and hey presto but I need to change the margins between the centre and side panels, maybe someone would have some ideas on how to go about it. It seems a waste of space to have everything squashed in the middle and large empty margins at the sides!
Where in the World is...Bilbo I have just read my comments to the previous post and to my surprise Anna has broken the momentous news that Bilbo is coming to the Emerald Isle to me!To find out about Bilbo and his journey around the world go to Anna Flowergardengirl blog where he is currently residing and getting the grand tour of the South.He began his worldwide travels from Dirt Princess in Alabama, he has been travelling the world from April 2009 to October 2009 and the story and pictures of where he has been are all on her blog HERE
I have had an eventful few hours getting all this news and putting the blog together!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Our 15 minutes of Fame!!

What excitement on the plots this morning when we learned that TV Chef Richard Corrigan and his film crew were going to pay us a visit!Saturday mornings are usually one of the busiest mornings on the allotment at this time of year as plotters tidy up and take home any produce that is ready for the weekend.It rained heavily but we had sunshine between the showers and when the film crew arrived the sun stayed out as if by magic so the plots looked their best.Daughter Kathryn and myself with Richard who is holding a cauliflower from Brian's plot which he was taking away to cook this evening. I must say he is a very pleasant man and dare I say it not a bit like his TV persona!
The film crew with Zwena, they walked through all of the plots and Richard was very interested in what everyone was doing.They spent over an hour with us but this will probably be condensed down to a few seconds for TV.Corrigans City Farm which is about fostering allotments and growing your own food will coming back on air on RTE 1 in the autumn
Angela and Peter have the plot next to ours and Richard and Angela exchanged recipes for Broccoli soup.Angela is passionate about food and loves cooking.
After the film crew had left we all repaired to the tearoom for a natter.Zwena had made brown scones with homemade blackcurrant jam,Angela had made a lovely moist Lemon cake and I had brought some of my raspberry/blackcurrant muffins as well.We did not forget to harvest anything ready to go, Potatoes which I think are Kerr's pinks, MORE courgettes,and a red cabbage which I am going to try with one of Angela's recipes.More blackcurrants were ready to be picked also.
A beautiful Gladioli which had opened since we were last out.
It was not all fun and games ,we got through quite a lot of work also.The Brussels sprout bed was uncovered and weeded, all of the yellowing leaves removed and it looked very businesslike when we had finished but I forgot to take a photo of it.I wrapped the Self Blanching Celery with hay, I banked it up around it and tied it in place. This is supposed to help the stalks to turn a lighter colour,the article I was reading said to use straw but there was none to hand so hopefully the hay will do the business.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fruit and veg to go!

Kevin and I spent about 4 hours out on the allotment today, we were the only ones out there until late afternoon when Mike and Christy came along.The veg harvest for today was potatoes in the bag, I think these are the Homeguard.5 courgettes,2 cauliflower,2 globe artichokes,Kevin's crop of onions and thinnings of carrots and white turnips, not a bad days bounty!His Mom cooked one of the cauliflower for dinner and was singing the praise of organic veg.I know by now that what we grow tastes so much different from what we buy but the cauliflower is a real eye opener as to what fresh veg should taste like! I did not put in too many plants ,not wanting all of them to produce together but so far they are developing two each week which is fine.Kevin with his crop of onions which he is very proud of, he has better onions than I have! I showed them how to put in one onion set and the kids did the rest themselves.
Aoife's pumpkin the biggest of them on the pumpkin patch so far.All of the plants seem to be only producing female flowers and most of the pumpkins are dying off at golf ball size?
One of their sunflowers has opened , there are sunflowers all over the plots and when they are all in bloom will be stunning. We are having a sunflower competition as well as the pumpkin competition.
The runner beans are in flower but are slow to bulk out, they seem to be the same on all of the plots that have them this year.Another casualty of the inclement weather but they may catch up if it improves over the next few weeks.
The lavender plants are next to the greenhouse and are in flower, these are new plants this year as I took out the ones I had for the last few years they got woody and too big for where they were. These will be harvested soon and dried to make lavender sachets.I showed Kevin how to peg down his strawberry runners into new pots for next year.He has 6 new plants , here he is watering them carefully.
I weeded the leek bed and earthed up the first row of leeks.They have been in place for some weeks now and have suddenly thickened up. I still had some in a seed bed and have now put them into their final bed.I made a deep hole with the shovel handle, held the plant in the hole with just a couple of inches above ground and filled the hole with water.
I thought I was seeing things! Embryo Brussels sprouts showing on our plants. This bed will now get some serious weeding and netting ,hopefully tomorrow.
The fruit harvest, the branches of our one blackcurrant bush were weighed down with nice fat black fruit and we spent nearly an hour picking them.It yielded 1,800 grms and a lot more to ripen soon.100grms of raspberries ,the end of our harvest from our bushes this year. The mange tout were donated by Mike, we did not grow these this year but after our pea disaster we will have them in next year.
I was browsing through blogs last night and came across this recipe for raspberry swirl muffins by mangocheeks on Allotment2kitchen.I thought just the thing to use up the amount of raspberries I had.I did not have muffin cases and could not get any in nearby shops so mine are large queen cakes but are delicious!
The raspberry ones turned out so well I thought I would try them with the blackcurrants, they also turned out lovely. The blackcurrants burst open while baking and look and taste yummy!
I had the 2 globe artichokes earlier, just cooked in boiling salted water and dipped in melted butter, delicious but each time I have them I wonder how anybody figured out how to cook and eat them?!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Grandson!

Little or no gardening done this week or blogging either and for a very good reason, a new grandson arrived on Friday 17th July. This is not so little Jack Brandon White on fri evening just a few hours old. He weighed in at 9 lbs!
Jack after arriving home yesterday, a very good baby who eats, sleeps and smiles at everyone when he is awake.
The three amigos,big brother Kevin,Scott and new brother Jack.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Internet Problems and a glut of veg!

Our internet provider Eircom was the butt of a hacker attempt over the weekend.I thought it was my computer because on two evenings I had tried to visit blogs and they were taking so long to load up I gave up.It then became public that a hacker(s) had targeted Eircom.It is a mystery to me what satisfaction these people get from making our lives a misery with their games. Some people are housebound and their Internet is their means of communication and small businesses who work from home are also affected by it.
The weather was not the best so we had not been out to the plot for a week!I did not intend going today but coming home the sun was out so we headed up to see the damage from the wind and rain.I had not taken my camera so photos were taken when I got home. We had a glut of fruit and veg to gather.A bucket full of spuds from 3 Charlotte tubers, I am definitely going to put down a lot more of these next year,great taste and no slug damage or blight.5 courgettes, 2 of which were a bit on the big side.2 huge cauliflowers and about 6 more smaller ones which will be OK to leave for a few days.3 lettuce,another 700 grms of raspberries, a handfull of strawberries, 900grms of beans, 3 onions and some Dill.
Aoife volunteered to pod the beans for me, she loves popping them!We had a big bag of them but when shelled just 900 grms of beans. I blanched them and put most of them in the freezer, I also froze most of the raspberries.
I made a Raspberry Roulade (Posh name for a swiss roll). I folded some raspberries and strawberries into the whipped cream and filled the swiss roll with them.This is what was left by the time I thought of the camera!

I made a Quiche for dinner using our veg with a potato salad from last nights left over potatoes and the dill, with a big bowl of fresh salad.
One of the wet days I made biscuits,the recipe said use rolled oats but I used jumbo oats I had in stock, lovely chewy crispy biscuits, I covered some of them with chocolate.
Upside down Pineapple cake, something I had not made for years but found the recipe again.
The cake is turned out on a plate upside down.
Hopefully the weather is improving a little as the plot needs lots of TLC after the last few days.
The peas were eaten by rabbits or birds , I was expecting a huge crop today as they were a good size the last day we were out.I pulled up all of the plants and we had about 7 undamaged pods from the lot!Note to self to net over them as well as around them next year!
We cut all of the dwarf beans, I cut the stalks and left the roots in the ground as they fix nitrogen in the soil.
Most of our celery has gone to seed!
Red cabbage is the next to crop as they are setting good hearts now, I have never used it before so I must Google some recipes.
Blackcurrants are finally turning black and there is huge crop of them on the one bush.
I will take the camera the next day for a complete update on what is hot and what is not!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Who is building the ARK?

We are rapidly going under with rain, rain and more rain!What has happened to Global warming?We had one beautiful week of summer so far this year apart from a few odd days here and there. On Saturday last we had 40 to 50 mls of rain fall on us, the ground is sodden and sports and festivals have had to be cancelled.I took my camera as far as the door to take these photos of my hanging baskets, they do not really show the curtain of rain falling.
On sat evening we had some very strong gusts of wind also and my two mini greenhouses blew over,one forward and one to the side, minimal damage done to the tomato plants as I heard them going so braved the elements to get them upright immediately.We have not been out to the plot so the slugs must be having a field day unmolested in ideal weather for them!The weather forecast is more of the same for the coming week.Its a great little country if we could only put a roof over it!
No gardening so I tried Kathleen's Chocolate Brownie recipe.I was lucky it lasted long enough to take a photo of it. Definitely one I will be making again.I also made two apple sponges but forgot to take a photo of them and now it is too late,one french student, one son and one grandson put paid to them fairly fast.
They have also spent the weekend on the computer so I have not had any time to visit blogs which I will correct later this evening.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Digging for Plenty

Our harvest from yesterday,3 cabbages which the slugs had chewed through the outer leaves, I would not normally pull 3 heads at the same time but if I didn't the slugs would have had the lot!Another 500grms of raspberries and I dug the first of the Charlotte potatoes which looked slug and damage free
What a difference a year makes!Last August we cleared all the high grass and nettles behind the greenhouse and discovered this old cold frame there.
Same view this year!All the teazels have been cleared and the cold frame has been planted up with our courgettes and sunflowers
Our sweetcorn bed after I weeded and replanted some corn yesterday. I grew what I thought were squash from seeds in the seed swap but from the look of some of the plants most of them are courgettes and maybe 3 which look different. We are going to have courgettes coming out our ears, I better start Googling some recipes for them!
I bought these sweetcorn in Mahon Point market yesterday. Some of our original plants look like going to seed early so I replanted these. They were 1.50e each which is not bad for such strong plants. I have seen much smaller ones on sale for 2.00e.I spent ages weeding and soaking the ground which was very dry and guess what? I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain!
One of our plotters, Rosie with her first digging of Sharpe's Express which look clean and damage free.Rosie is one of our original plotters with two plots on the go.
Our new plot yesterday which is looking nice and healthy and growing quite a lot of produce.
Our Charlottes, not a worm hole in sight, I cooked them for dinner last night and they taste great too. They are much bigger than the other earlies but that may just be due to being in the ground longer.
A close up of the cold frame with the courgettes. One of them is huge compared to the others, there are 3 plants in there and 4 sunflowers. I put in one outdoor cucumber there which is not doing so well so I am going to transplant it to another area.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mahon Point Farmers Market 1

I did a post on Mahon Point Farmer's market when I began blogging and decided to visit again with my camera. This market is held every Thursday from 10.00am to 2.00pm it has been voted among the top five markets in the country by the Bridgestone Guide 2009. I go from time to time and it is always packed and some stalls sold out later in the day, so I was there today at opening time.This is a view of the market from the Tesco carpark on the upper level
The market was getting busy with the serious shoppers who knew what they were buying
O'Driscolls of Schull in West Cork.
The queue built up fairly quickly, this is one of the stalls that is usually sold out if you come later.All fish is caught locally around the coast, no imports here!
The smell of fresh strawberries was overpowering from Rose Cottage Produce,Co laois
Brehenys Bellish Ltd,Conall Breheny on his stall selling home produced, soups,relishes and sauces and dressings, his Lemon Oil dressing has won a Gold Medal at the Great taste Awards in Ireland and England.Based in Ballyvourney they are at markets in Tralee,Kenmare,Listowel,Limerick and Schull also.Sales were brisk while I was there and most people were obviousley return customers.
Magpie Cottage Goats Cheese
Hamming it up for the camera, their cheese is produced from their own herd of Nubian Goats.
Natural Foods Bakery
Supersprouts, these two young people produce their organic sprouts in West Cork and gladly give out samples and recipes, they have a website at www.supersprouts.org
Ballycurraginny Farm
Some of the olives and produce on offer.