Monday, August 31, 2009

Wedding Pics

A very quick post to ease myself back to blogging after a weekend celebration for the wedding!I had my camera with me but did not take any photos as there were cameras clicking all day and night.These are just a few informal ones taken during the day.We partied friday,saturday and Sunday,the happy couple have now left on a three week honeymoon to Thailand and Vietnam and we are in post wedding blues mode!Myself and Michelle dancing
Walking from the car up to the hotel,Bridesmaid Gillian Michelle and myself sporting THE hat.We had a beautiful Triumph car which was the same vintage as myself!The sun shone for most of the day which was remarkable enough this summer.
Eldest son Kevin and myself
The bride and groom checking out the wedding cake which was made of individual cupcakes with a top tier of chocolate biscuit cake smothered in white chocolate icing.Unusual and delicious!Michelle has a glint in her eye which says 'this is mine,all mine'!
Weather permitting I will be out on the allotment in the morning to see what is growing and what havoc the the weather has wrought in the last few days.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wedding Bells and Roses

The blog has been very quiet this week and the plot is fending for itself as we are busy preparing for a wedding! Michelle is getting married to Stephen on Saturday so gardening is taking a back seat until early next week at least.Photo is her nearest the camera marching in a St Patrick's Day parade some years ago.
Michelle with her Irish dancing medals even longer ago!Everything is ready, my hat finally got sorted today so next photos will be of the wedding.
I have not had much time to visit other blogs but I will get back on track next week.
Rose of TraleeThe famous Rose of Tralee contest is celebrating 50 years this year. Girls come from all over the world who have Irish ancestry and this year's rose is The London Rose, Charmaine
To read all about the Rose contest and maybe enter for next year see here

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Things to do on a wet Sunday!

The rain continued for most of the day and there has been severe flooding in some parts of the country.The sun did break through in the late afternoon but I had sequestered myself in the kitchen by then.I blanched off the runner beans in salted water for a few minutes and then refreshed them under cold running water to stop them from cooking any further.I ended up with 6 freezer packs with 200grms in each
The beans were cooked off in small lots, here some in the pot and the next lot waiting its turn. I topped and tailed them and sliced them vertically to give them a uniform appearance. I think the 200grms is about right for defrosting for a meal. I will do this with most of the beans so we will have fresh veg during winter too.
The glut of courgettes has made me look online for recipes to make them last over winter also.Scarlett the Heavenly Healer suggested Ratatouille to freeze. I looked at the BBC Goodfood website and bookmarked a few interesting recipes and found this one for Ratatouille.It does not mention freezing it but I cut the last cooking times from 20 minutes to 10 to allow for reheating after defrosting.
It does not look very appetizing but smells and tastes delicious which is what counts.When defrosted cooked chicken can be added for the final cooking times.It can be served on its own with parmesan cheese sprinked over and some nice crusty bread. I will do an update after defrosing one of them.
The link for the recipe is Here

Photo shows one dish bagged for freezing and two more dishes cooling before bagging.I am using freezer bags to freeze since reading about it on Lynda's blog. It is a great idea and saves lots of space in the freezer, which is filling up what with frozen fruit and veg.
I spent a productive wet afternoon in the kitchen apart from doing 2 posts also!

Veg to go

I paid a quick visit to the plot yesterday, as it was wet and windy I was just going to harvest anything that was ready to go. I came away with quite a bit, I did not attempt to dig potatoes as the ground was so wet and mucky.
I took 4 of our Chioggia beetroot,3 small courgettes,broccoli,parsley and some coriander leaves and 60 more runner beans.
I realised I was counting the beans about halfway through picking them so carried on doing so.They are cropping very fast and beans that were tiny a couple of days ago were now 7 or 8 ins long.I am going to blanch and freeze all of these for the winter.
The first lot of leeks need earthing up again soon and the others are putting on some growth at last. We staggered the leeks this year and so far they are growing to plan.
Only 2 of the celery plants are growing as I pulled out the ones gone to seed and these 2 seem to be developing white stalks as they are covered in with hay.
The courgettes are slowing down production at last.
Today is wet also with gale force winds blowing so I don't think I will be visiting the plot unless it calms down a little in the afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carrots and courgettes

These are the carrots which Kathryn grew from seed in peat pots.They are supposed to be suitable for rough ground, they do not grow with a tapered root just fill out fat and round.We did leave them in their peat pots and the carrots seem to have grown around them into the most weird shapes!
Love is...carrot companions!
A great pair of legs and an egg timer!They tasted sweet and tasty regardless of their shape. I think kids would love to eat these funny shapes rather than the boring EU graded varieties.

Margaret's Stuffed marrow recipe.
Kathryn passed two of our jumbo courgettes on to Margaret,a lady who lives in West Cork.Margaret used to live in the UK and finds it impossible to buy marrows since she came here.
Stuffing:Sausage meat,chopped onion,TBS Tomato puree,knob of butter,pepper
Mix all together in a bowl and leave to one side.
Marrow:Peel skin in stripes,cut in half,scoop out centre of marrow to make a hollow,fill hollow with sausage meat and place other half of marrow on top,wrap in tinfoil and place in dish
Cook for approx one hour in a moderate oven 175c/350f or gas mark 4
Sauce:saute finely chopped onion in a little oil until golden brown,reduce heat,add 2 tbs of flour,stir to make a paste adding a drop of water,1/4 tube of tomato paste,stir to mix.
Dissolve a chicken stock cube according to instructions,slowly add to sauce stirring all the time.Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickens.
Side Dish:Peel and dice potatoes,par boil and then place in pan with some oil,when almost golden brown add chopped bacon or bacon lardons,chopped onion and fry until everything is cooked through.
Looks and tastes delicious!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Did I mention....

....we are putting courgettes in everything?!On Sunday when I was out in the allotment, Angela my allotment neighbour was there. I told her to take away the red cabbage as she wanted as it is not now or ever going to be a favourite veg of mine.I got a phone call on Tues to say she had left a cake in the tearoom fridge for me. I knew it was her COURGETTE cake.I will get the recipe and post it soon.The cake is moist and chewy with I think either a cream cheese or yogurt based topping and is absolutely delicious!More courgette ideas on the way.
After spending Sunday on the plot and taking anything that looked edible I had no intention of going out for a couple of days.It was raining heavily on Tuesday morning but when I got the call about the cake we went out.The rain had stopped but the ground was still wet, I decided to have a quick check on the plot and look at what had snuck up in a couple of days.
Lots of runner beans,some of the ones I pulled on Sunday were a little tough so I am going to harvest them asap from now on and just blanch and freeze them, 4 more courgettes but these ones are small, no more leaving them for another day or two to develop into monsters.Our last cauliflower and a good bunch of swiss chard so I had a fruitful visit!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Little bit of Everything

I went out to the plot at 11.00am meaning to stay until lunchtime but did not leave until 4.30.Lots of cleaning up and more weeding to be done.
I cut back the old raspberry canes and took about 4 branches off of the blackcurrant bush.The end of our blackcurrants and a few raspberries plus about 10 fat blueberries were the tally from the fruit bed today.
The bag was laden coming home with 5 MORE courgettes,The first of our runner beans, white turnips,a head of broccoli,red cabbage and I dug some of our British Queens which look OK.
The bean plants have finally taken off, lots of flowers and when I had a close up peek at them lots of beans too.
A cluster of beans hiding in the foliage.
Our total onion harvest.The last ones I put in are the biggest.These were ones which I had left since earlier in the year and when we had the extra space I put them in.
Aoife's pumpkin is forging ahead of the competition!The ones I had hand pollinated are still on the vines and doing OK
Our Brussels Sprouts are almost ready to be used by the look of these.A couple of the plants are ahead of the others, I cleaned the bed and moved the fruit cage down to the sprouts as they need a higher frame now.Some slug or snail damage can be seen on a few leaves.
The snap dragons are multi coloured around the plot and the Coriander can be seen back left going to seed which is OK as we can use them.
Blight struck overnight a couple of weeks ago on the Late main crop of Golden Wonders.I sprayed and Stephen cut down the stalks for me.The British Queens and Kerr's Pinks got it this week and blackened quickly.Most of the spuds on the plots have blight by now and everyone was busy cutting back stalks today.
The potato bed after scalping the stalks!I left about a foot of stalk showing to mark where they are.The fruit cage in situ on the Brussels sprouts now and I moved the frames from the cauliflower to the Broccoli.There is still one cauliflower plant which I bent over the leaves on to protect the head, it does not need the netting for the next couple of days.The first row of leeks can be seen, I should have earthed them up today but did not have time so they will have to wait until during the week.
There were lots of white butterflies hovering around looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.Plotters came and went during the day and it was warm,dry and peaceful with just the occasional crowing of the rooster for company.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Courgettes with everything!

I have not been out to the plot for a few days ,Gemma went up yesterday and found these two monsters lurking!I have been putting courgettes in everything for the past few days. Having 3 Italian students staying helps, one of them is a vegetarian so I am cooking up lots of veg dishes.
It is a bit fraught cooking Italian dishes for the natives but so far they have went down well. I had cooked a veg lasagne one evening and these are the ingredients for a veg & pasta dish.Our own beans,carrots,courgettes,onions,I had to buy peppers and tomatoes as ours are bordering on a disaster at the moment.I cooked off all of the veg and added tinned tomatoes and passata and left to simmer. The pasta was cooked separately and added at the end to the veg sauce mix.This is how the students said to do it.
( Fuzzy Photo)Some students bring a gift to their host family,usually a bottle of wine but these students brought food which is typical of their home in Trentino in northern Italy. A big section of Parmesan cheese,I shudder to think what it would have cost to buy here, a chunk of Parma ham and 2 bags of pasta.I think the Italians are very like the Irish in temperment and the 3 students have settled in well and are enjoying their stay. They have visited some pubs to hear traditional music and are going on a tour at the weekend to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and the Cliffs of Moher which are in the running to become the 8th wonder of the World!
They also have a sweet tooth and love chocolate with or on anything. They are very appreciative of home baking and these chocolate cupcakes went down a treat!This and other mouth watering recipes on Cupcake Creations

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blogger problems and Bilbo

Blogger will not allow me to upload pictures to my post! Internal error it tells me, I will try again tomorrow.
Bilbo has landed in London and Matron has given him the royal tour , to see his adventures log on to Matron's blog Down on the Allotment.
I will log off for now and see if Blogger recifies its internal errors.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Drying Lavender

Well it is back to work after all the excitement of Bilbo visiting, he is now on his way to matron of Down on the allotment blog, if you want to follow his adventures in London.I took my package to our local post office early on Saturday morning only to be told we in the Republic no longer have postal collections on Saturday! What a retrograde step in the middle of a recession when we should be encouraging business to our country.This and our sad record of rolling out broadband country wide puts us in the league of banana republics!
Our allotment harvest is getting colourful at this time of year, some of our chiogga beetroot,more courgettes, cauliflower,potatoes, the girls pulled all of their onions to take home, and bunches of lavender.
Potato Blight we thought we had escaped it but no,it struck within 2 days!The British Queens looked far, but our late main crop of Golden Wonders were blackened. I did not have the camera with me that day to photograph them. I sprayed all of them again but I will have to cut down the stalks of any affected ones to try to save the potatoes underneath.All of the plots had blight in varying stages,some had escaped so we will have to compare notes to see which ones did not succumb
I tie the bunches with rubber bands as they contract as they are drying and fall out of string ties, a lesson learned last year.
I slipped the rubber bands over the hook of a clothes hanger, one with pegs for skirts is ideal.
I pegged a pillow case over the bunches and they are now hanging in my wardrobe to dry.For a couple of weeks my clothes will have a lovely lavender scent while it is drying out.The lavender falls down into the pillow case and then just roll the case around with your hands and any remaining lavender comes off easily.
These are new plants so I have not as much as last year but I will make some sachets to put in drawers or make gifts with.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bilbo on a Whistle Stop Tour of East Cork

Bilbo brought us some much needed sunshine from Carolina!I took Sinead,Aiofe, Kevin and Bilbo on an educational tour of east Cork.Cork City is the second city of the republic and a natural harbour, which is shown on our coat of arms for the city. We celebrated our 800 years of a city charter back in 1988.It is the gateway to the west of Ireland and Kerry with an international airport and ferries to the UK and France.Cork is the largest county in Ireland and full of surprises if you leave the motorways and main roads and take the smaller roads to discover the beauty of our rugged coastline and hidden treasures.
Our first stop was Blarney castle,even though tourist numbers are down due to the recession the carpark was full and a queue had already formed to go in.The Blarney Stone is famous and has been kissed by people ranging from Sir Walter Scott to Mick Jagger!
I have put links to the places we visited if any of our readers would like further information on any of them.
Blarney is an unspoiled village and still boasts a walled in village square.On to the town of Midleton, home of the Jameson Distillery which is still producing Irish Whiskey. Bilbo is at the largest Pot Still in the world which holds 32,000 gallons.He is impressed!
In the Land of the Little People we were hard put to find any but I remembered this little cottage with gnomes and Kevin posed with Bilbo.
This is the coastal
fishing village of Guilane, you have to know where it is or else just stumble across it as there are few if any signposts!A number of thatched fishermans cottages are clustered on the hillside and some are used as holiday homes now.This one is getting a new thatch on.
Another thatched cottage,the two pheasants on the roof are made of straw.
Crocosimia grows wild along the paths and roadsides, this is up the cliff walk.
Another old cottage still in use
We went on to Cloyne, home of the famous hurler Christy Ring.Hurling is one of our national games and is played by the different counties ,culminating in a big final in Dublin in September every year.Sinead and Bilbo are dwarfed by the monument erected to his memory in front of his local hurling club.
Christy Ring's grave, no big tomb here, his final resting place is as unassuming as the great man was in real life.
The round tower is part of the village of Cloyne.These are dotted all over the country and there are various opinions as to what purpose they served many hundreds of years ago. Next stop Ballymaloe HouseThis is the home of Myrtle Allen,mother in law of Darina Allen (Tv Chef)who in turn is mother in law of Rachel Allen (TV chef), all involved with their families in producing and cooking organic food.The house is an hotel set in over 400 acres of farmland.No, Aoife is not sticking out her tongue, she is trying to master the art of blowing bubbles with a mouthful of gum!
A quick journey took us to the Ballymaloe cookery school which is world famous.There are beautiful kitchen gardens and walks and we spent the remainder of the afternoon there.The herbaceous border leading up to the shell house
The hens have free range around the gardens, all types and colours and a few cockerels too judging from the raucous crowing which could be heard.
The interior of the shell cottage, this is a chandelier made entirely from shells!
The sundial in the maze garden, Bilbo was plotting his course!
Where on the chessboard is Bilbo?
There are arches throughout the orchard with apples and pears growing up around them, all laden with fruit.
Just a sample of our day,the links provide lots of further information on the various places we visited.
Leave a comment by 1.00pm on friday if you are interested in hosting Bilbo,he will be posted off in the afternoon post.