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Adventures in Food – Simple Pear and Ginger Pudding

We had a lot of pears all at once in the Meddwl Coed house, so I stewed most of them and stashed them in the freezer. This is a recipe that uses up those stewed pears – all the recipes I found seemed to be quite complicated and involved stem ginger and fresh sliced pears, so I adapted one slightly to make it simpler. It makes a nice cakey squidgy pud!

 

You will need :

Mixing Bowl

Saucepan

Oven-proof dish or pudding bowl

Whisk

 

85gm Golden syrup

175gm light brown sugar

150 ml milk

100gm butter

175gm self-raising flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp cinnamon

2tsp ground ginger

4 large tbsp stewed pears

1 egg

 

Put the sugar, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan and heat until it simmers, stirring frequently until all the sugar has dissolved. Put aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 180c / gas mark 4

Cut the butter into large chunks and put them in a bowl. Add the flour, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger and blend by hand (as if you were making a crumble mix) until the mixture assumes a fine crumbly texture. Butter the inside of your pudding basin and sprinkle 1tsp of sugar in the bottom.

By this time your syrup mix should have cooled down. Pour it into your dry mix and add the egg. Whisk vigorously until you have a smooth batter. Then add your stewed pears and stir them in.

You should have batter with lumpy pears in it by this point. Pour this mix into your greased pudding bowl. Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour – adjust cooking times according to the eccentricities of your own oven (make sure you don’t open the oven for at least 50 minutes or your pudding will sag and collapse!) If you can skewer it and the skewer comes out clean then it’s ready.

Eat hot or cold, serve with custard or ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventures in Food – Tomato, Pumpkin and Basil Soup With Daikon

What to do with four large pumpkins after you’ve made pumpkin pie?

One of our challenges at Meddwl Coed is to come up with new recipes for the things we grow so we don’t just eat the same old meals with whatever happens to be in season. Soups are good because you can experiment, and experimenting led to Roz’s lovely Broad Bean Soup earlier in the year.

So having made a pumpkin pie a few weeks ago, my eyes turned to the next pumpkin on the ripening shelf. What could I do with it?

Well, this uses a whole pumpkin and also daikon, which I’ve substituted for carrots here because I’m not very keen on carrots and also haven’t managed to grow any with any success (yet!).

 

Tomato, Pumpkin and Basil Soup with Daikon

Serves 4-6

 

You will need

Large Stock Pot

Blender

 

1 small-medium pumpkin

2 cans of chopped tomatoes (you can use fresh if you have them. We don’t. #tomatofail )

900ml of vegetable stock

1 large or 2 small Daikon radish (mooli)

1 onion, finely chopped

Generous handful of button mushrooms, finely chopped

2-3 chopped garlic cloves or a big squirt of garlic puree

Dried Basil.

Cooking oil or butter

1tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

Sprinkle of paprika

1tsp sugar

 

Method

Quarter your fresh pumpkin, scoop out all the stringy pumpkin guts and seeds and set them aside for other recipes.

Cut pumpkin into large chunks, put in the stock pot, add enough water to cover it and bring to the boil. Boil for about five minutes, then drain and set aside to cool (this can be done well in advance)

When pumpkin chunks have cooled remove the peel with a sharp knife and put them back in the stock pot.

(This is also how you prep a pumpkin for several recipes, including pumpkin pie)

Dice the daikon finely (no need to peel it, the peel is very thin and apparently has lots of good nutrition in it) and chuck it into the stock pot with the pumpkin.

Make up 900ml of vegetable stock (two stock cubes) and pour it into the stock pot. You can also use chicken stock but I wanted to make this veggie, so chicken stock was out!

Bring it to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and mushrooms until nicely browned.

Once onions and mushrooms are browned add the tomatoes to the frying pan, and chuck in the garlic, paprika and the basil according to your tastes. Heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the contents of the frying pan to the stock pot with the pumpkin in it, and blend. You can transfer to an actual blender, or you can use a stick blender. Blend to a consistency you like, whether that’s smooth or lumpy!

If you’ve used a blender, then once you’re done transfer back to the stock pot. If you’ve used a stick blender then you’re good to go.

Add salt, black pepper and sugar. Bring the soup back to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve this warming, hearty autumn soup with garlic bread or fresh croutons.

The End of Season Round-Up

It’s been a while since I blogged here, sorry.

We have now had the allotment for 11 months, and as the year has just turned to autumn, with the pears over and the apples ripening, I thought I’d let you know how it was going.

There have been a few non-starters (leeks, sprouts), but there have also been a number of notable success. The courgettes in particular have kept going and going, and every time I think they’re over another two or three pop up. Succession planting of courgettes next year might be the way to go!

Despite putting the potatoes in late they have had a good showing – we planted Albert Bartlett Roosters, which are a lovely red colour and make a nice fluffy potato. Good for mashing! I’d like to try some heritage potatoes next year, Thompson and Morgan sell one that’s BLUE, and the idea of blue mash really appeals to me…

Allotment with dogs

Pumpkins have been amazing. It’s not a great climate for pumpkins here but I managed to get four decent sized ones from the seven seeds I planted (and they survived moving house, balanced on my knee in a plastic bucket). What we didn’t know until afterwards was that pumpkins have a chemical in their roots that inhibits the growth of bindweed, so next year it might be pumpkins all the way!

What else? Chard has been brilliant, runner and broad beans gave us a good harvest, carrots have been a bit of a non starter but we got a few on the third attempt… It’s all been a bit of a steep learning curve but it’s been fun, which is the main thing. It’s saved us a few quid, we’ve been able to share food with friends and we’re eating something generated from the allotment most days, even if it is only a little bit.

I’ve just put in cabbage (Durham Earlies) and some over-wintering onions for next year, and the Giant Winter Spinach is beginning to sprout (it’s supposed to take over from the chard, but our chard is like the Terminator and it absolutely will not stop….)

Hopefully soon we will close our land deal and we can think about putting in raised beds and beginning to plant on the site for next spring. But for now the allotment trundles on towards winter….

Adventures in Food – Nasturtium Jelly

Nasturtiums are one of my favourite flowers to grow. They’re easy, don’t need much fussing over, they’re very attractive, make good companion plants and you can eat almost every part of them – what’s not to like?

Nasturtiums

Nasturtium leaves can be used in salads or just eaten while mooching around the allotment – they have quite a peppery flavour. The seed pods can be pickled and used like olives or capers, apparently (not tried that yet!) But what I’m concentrating on today is the petals, which can be used to make a rather nice jelly.

The difference between a jam and a jelly is that a jam has all the seedy bits left in and is opaque, while a jelly is clear and translucent, or at least it should be. The red currant “jelly” we tried to make was quite definitely jam!

 

5oeqp1rL.jpg large
Crappy phone pic, but jelly is on the left and jam is on the right.

 

 

 

So, jelly made from nasturtium petals – not as hard to make as you’d think! Most of the recipes I’ve found online for nasturtium jelly are from the US and use pectin, but I used jam sugar and it seemed to work out fine, so if you don’t have ready access to pectin then jam sugar is your friend.

You will need

3-4 sterilised jars and lids

Muslin or cheesecloth or similar

Heat proof jar for stewing

Saucepan

 

2 cups of nasturtium petals (just the petals, not the stamens in the middle of the flower)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

3 1/2 cups of jam sugar

 

To sterilise the jars, place them (and their lids!) in a large saucepan of cold water and bring it to the boil. Put the lid on and let it boil for 15 minutes. Be careful when handling hot jars, and remember the rule of preserving – hot things go in hot jars and cold things go in cold jars.

Pick two cups of nasturtium petals – nice fresh ones, not the ones that are beginning to go over. Rinse them in cold water to get rid of any bugs. Put the petals in a heatproof jar. Boil two cups of water, pour them over your nasturtium petals and leave to settle and cool overnight.

What you will have in the morning is kind of a nasturtium tea – the colour will vary accord to the colour of your petals. Strain this tea through a muslin or light cloth and you should be left with a translucent coloured liquid with no bits in it – it’s really interesting to see the way the colour leaches out of the petals and into the tea!

Place your tea in a saucepan and add two tablespoons of lemon juice, and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Add 3 1/2 cups of jam sugar and return to the boil. Allow to boil for 5 more minutes. I gave it the occasional stir, I don’t know if you really need to but it didn’t hurt.

You might see a kind of foam developing on the surface of the liquid. I think this is something to do with the pectin reacting. It’s nothing to worry about, just skim off any foam that develops (when I tried it there wasn’t much, but there may be more if you’re using pectin rather than jam sugar, so that’s something to be aware of).

Pour the jelly into the sterilised jam jars – be careful because the jars are HOT! Make sure you wipe any spilled jelly off the rims of the jars before tightening the lids. Can be stored in a cupboard on in the fridge after opening – apparently it’s nice with cheese and crackers but we has it on home-made spelt bread and it was very tasty, so it can go sweet or savory. It’s up to you!

 

Plastic Free July

oranges-2100108_1920This month a campaign is running to raise awareness of plastic pollution and in particular the scourge that is single-use plastic. We must all be aware of the problem by now, so instead of making you miserable by reminding you about the giant floating islands of plastic in the Pacific or the huge number of disposable coffee cups thrown away in the UK, in this post I’ll focus on positive steps you can take to reduce your plastic footprint, and that go beyond the obvious ‘avoid bottled water and disposable spoon’ advice.

We in the Meddwl Coed house have tried a number of new things over the past weeks and months to help us move away from a dependency on supermarket shopping, as part of our One Planet preparations. (To achieve a One Planet footprint, which we must do to be allowed to build on whatever plot of land we eventually buy, we have to grow our own food and process our own waste.) Here are some things that have worked well:

  1. Buy fruit and veg that comes in its own skin.
  2. Re-use your old fruit bags. If you forget, we found that Morrison’s in Patchway were more than happy to find some paper bags for us to use – it’s always worth asking! This also works for cheese and meats from the deli counter!
  3. Take tins or tubs to the butchers and ask them to put your meat inside. You might want to take some grease proof paper for them to rest the meat on for weighing.
  4. Get your bathroom essentials from Lush, who have a range of ‘naked’ products. I’ve been trying out their shampoo bar, and been really pleased with the results. I have hard-to-manage curly hair, and went in to this fully expecting a headful of frizz due to the lack of conditioner, but it’s worked beautifully.
  5. For the more adventurous, try cleaning your teeth with bicarbonate of soda and a bamboo toothbrush, or if you’re really after the back-to-nature experience try a tooth twig! I haven’t finished with my old toothbrush yet but will be giving this a go pretty soon and will try to remember to report back.
  6. Get into home baking. We’re lucky to have time at home for this kind of thing, but if you can fit it in at all, making your own biscuits and cake saves on a bundle of packaging.
  7. Find a local milk supplier who sells in glass bottles or will fill re-fillable containers for you. Farmers Weekly has an interactive map you can use to find a supplier – we’ve had delicious raw milk from Dora’s Dairy near Swindon and will be trying out the Old Green Dairy near Bristol as soon as our supplies run out again.

It’s never too late to take action, so if you want to join the Plastic Free July project, you can do that here. If there’s anything you’re really struggling to find, contact us and we’ll see if we can help!

 

Allotment Dairies – July 1st 2017 Picture Post!

The allotment is looking pretty nice at the moment. We brought the onions in and replaced them with some lavender plugs. Chard and courgettes are doing well and we have flowers on the pumpkins

Pumpkins

 

and the nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums

 

The dogs came along to help today. Charley proved adept at digging up hidden bindweed roots and absolutely didn’t slip his harness and try to escape when it was home time, no siree… Charley loves to dig SO MUCH!

Allotment with dogs

 

Lyra lay under the gooseberry bushes and had a kip in her role as allotment supervisor.

All that helping was clearly exhausting

Charley sleepy

 

as you can see

Lyra sleepy

Meet Abby

Young-ish lady, late 30’s, not stylish and slightly down at heel, WLTM madly ambitious green living-types for travel and adventures….

Abby 1
Check out those curtains…

 

This is Abby. She will be our tea base and home-away-from-home for the indefinite future. She is very…cosy 😉

Pictures from the inside as and when. Thanks to Deirdre and Paul for naming her and passing her on to us after doing her up and having many happy travels with her. Looking forward to many years of adventures with Abby!

Adventures in Food – Banana Rice Fritters

After making rice milk we were left with quite a bit of raw rice pulp left over. It could go to Pinky and The Brain, but we decided to do something else with it this time…

Banana Rice Fritters

You will need

Mixing Bowl

Frying pan or deep fat fryer

 

2 x bananas

2 x teaspoons of honey

Leftover rice pulp from no-cook rice milk

Mash the bananas, the rice pulp, and the honey in a mixing bowl. You might want to add a little bit of water if it seems dry and hard to work with.

Form the mixture into fritters or little fat pancakes and fry them in oil – I found that using more oil is better as otherwise the rice soaks up the oil and they stick to the bottom of the pan. I don’t have a deep fat fryer but I think they would cook nicely in there.

Serve immediately, on their own or with (suggestions from the peanut gallery), brown sugar, golden syrup or vanilla ice cream.

A good way to use a resource that might otherwise go to waste.

Adventures in Food – Broad Bean Soup A La Roz

When you have a lot of broad beans you need to think of new and interesting things to do with them. This is Roz’s Broad Bean Soup recipe, which serves six (leftovers can be frozen and re-heated).

You will need :

Large Saucepan

Blender

 

500gm Broad Beans (podded)

200gm Peas

Handful of chopped spring onions

3 x medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly

1 x vegetable stock cube

Teaspoon of chill powder, black pepper, garlic to taste

(Optional) Swirl of cream or olive oil or a sprig of mint to garnish

 

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 1.5 pints of water and simmer for 15 minutes.

Blend when soft.

Serve with garlic bread, bruschetta or a warm crusty roll or three.

 

This makes a nice smooth soup that is very tasty on a summer evening!

 

Trouble with Tomatoes

As you might know from this previous post, I struggle with growing tomatoes. Which is annoying, because they’re one of my favourite foods and I eat them all the time, and it would be really handy if I could grow my own.

This year they have grown bigger and had seemed to be doing better, but in the last week or so they’ve started looking limp and sad and they’re obviously having a hard time. It’s been warm so I’ve had them outside, but now I’m wondering if they’d benefit from being moved back into the summer house on a permanent basis.

It doesn’t help that Pinky and The Brain managed to knock one of the large pots (the Ace) over and then trample through it, so I lost a few there. But the cherry toms are also struggling and looking sad. Any tips for reviving dismal tomato plants? Or should I give them up as a bad job and try again when we get a greenhouse?