The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Allotment Tales // The Courgette Glut

I have made...

Warm courgette, feta and pine-nut salad, with chilli, lemon and mint.

Courgette, Tomato and Parmesan Muffins
Italian Courgette and Parmesan Soup

Courgette Chutney (more on this tomorrow)

Courgette, chickpea and coconut curry
Courgette fritters
Courgette and pesto pasta (at least fifty times!)
Lemon and poppyseed muffins, using courgette instead of butter

We've given countless courgettes away to family and friends.

So how can this still be sitting in my kitchen??!

Please help! If you can think of any more (preferably freezable) courgette recipes, we've still got about 3kg to go!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hearth and Home // Returned and rested...

...after a wonderful holiday.
Thank you for your well-wishes - I hope you have been enjoying the last few days of August.
Back to school for me tomorrow - how time flies!
I will be back later this week with allotment and kitchen updates - keep your eyes peeled.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Gone flying - back soon!

Dear lovely readers and followers,
B and I are off on a much needed vacation. Not too far over the horizon do we fly, but we shall be enjoying some much needed respite in a land of no-modern-magick.
Blessings to you all for a joyful week filled with sun and laughter.
We hope you will wish us the same.
Love and light.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Hearth and Home // Lemon, Blueberry & Poppyseed Muffins

I have discovered a really tasty way of using up some of our courgette glut!

These healthy muffins contain very little fat or calories, thanks to the secret ingredient which acts in place of butter: grated courgette. Thanks to the rice flour and almonds, they are also wheat and gluten free.

You will need:

* Muffin tray (and cases if you prefer)
* 160g rice flour
* 180g ground almonds
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 60g poppy seeds
* 3 medium free-range eggs
* 160g fruit sugar
* 250 g grated courgette
* Zest of 3 and juice of 2 large lemons
* 100ml buttermilk
* 150g blueberries
* Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 200c and line the muffin tray with cases. Combine dry ingredients (flour, almonds, baking powder, bicarb, salt and poppy seeds) in a bowl and set aside.

2. In another bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until a light creamy colour and consistency; then add the courgette, lemon zest and juice, blueberries and buttermilk.

3. Quickly stir the dry mixture into the wet and fold lightly, so as to keep as much air in as possible. 

4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly (they tend to stick to the muffin cases if they haven't cooled properly) before enjoying with a steaming cup of tea. Delicious for breakfast! 

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Allotment Tales // Onions

For our first year of allotmenteering, we have done pretty well with onions, in spite of some worrying moments. We tried two different approaches: before we knew we had secured an allotment we planted some red onion seeds in a planter on the windowsill. These grew well - the seedlings are whispery thin - and we eventually knew we would have to plant them out for more space. 

Image courtesy of Vegetable Garden Guide

Once we knew we had the allotment plot, we planted these out with lots of space between them and also bought some white onion 'sets' (tiny bulbs, each of which will grow into an onion) to plant. These grew more like a bulb would, with a thick shoot to begin with that very quickly developed into tall onion plants.

Sturon Onion Sets 3 kg
Image courtesy of Garden Direct

The seedlings and sets were planted out in late April, early May and by July were starting to show signs of decent sized onions poking up through the soil. Apparently, we planted our onions too deep, because we couldn't see much of the bulb protruding - most other people at the allotment, by this point, had onions almost sitting on top of the soil. 

As the month progressed, we started to notice the leaves drying and blackening. A neighbour mentioned that this is a sign of blight and the onions at our allotment seem to be prone to it. I am unsure whether it is powdery  mildew or onion leaf blight - if anyone recognises it, please comment to let me know! However, the neighbour assured us there would be nothing wrong with the onion bulbs, as long as we pulled them up quickly and dried them out - they may not last as long as unaffected onions, but would still be tasty and perfectly fine to eat.

We now have onions strung up around the whole house, to try and dry them out so they keep as long as possible. This is easily done by chopping off the leaves so a stalk of around 2 inches remains and simply tying string around the stalks. 

Our onions are fairly mild tasting and absolutely lovely. We tried them in Nigel Slater's recipe for baked onions with parmesan and cream (number 5 on this list): very naughty but delicious with a side of garlic spinach and some home-cooked potato wedges. 

What are you harvesting and cooking up this week?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Wheel of the Year // Lammas

Lammas, which falls in the Northern Hemisphere on August 1st or 2nd, marks the half way point between Litha (Midsummer Solstice) and Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) on the Wheel of the Year. Its name derives from the words 'loaf-mass' because it is a celebration of the first wheat harvest. 

Traditions which have passed down across the centuries, still associated with this day, are harvest festivals, wheat weaving (making 'corn dollies') and bread baking. It is a time of year where we begin to reap the rewards of our hard toils and harvest the fruits of our labour. 

For B and I, Lammas falls at the time of our 'anniversary', so we always mark the day in celebration, saying thanks for the rewards of the work we put into our relationship; this year, of course we also have to say our thanks to the sun, rain and earth for the abundant harvests they have provided for us in our allotment.

Lammastide blessings.
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