I can’t believe I’ve only had my allotment for seven weeks! I am staggered by how much I’ve achieved already. In fact, almost every spot of earth is full right now!
To have gone from this patch of bare earth to a productive plot in that time just goes to show what you can achieve when you put your mind to it (and an awful lot of elbow grease too!)
I’m trying out all sorts of things, fruits, vegetables, salads, flowers, it’s all going on! I should be able to actually eat something within the next week, all I’ve had so far was a radish the size of a five pence piece when I was thinning them out!
I got a little carried away with my shed, but it’s a lovely space, Darcy has a little bed in there so he can hang out and supervise and I put tiles down on the floor so it’s always cool for him. I’ve got everything I need, when I eventually get the chickens I’m planning on having fresh eggs for breakfast here every day.
I even had a go at building my own greenhouse, they didn’t make one in the size I wanted so I cobbled one together with my ever developing DIY skills! It’ll do the job for now, anyway!
Stay tuned for some recipes using the produce I manage to grow, I’ve gone for loads of radishes as they’re so quick to grow so 101 things to do with a radish may have to start soon! Oh and if you have any hints and tips for how to fight back against the slugs with a small curious dog running around do let me know!
I came across a box of soft shell tacos in the supermarket and couldn’t resist whipping up these simple chicken and pepper tacos for dinner the same night. I don’t often find soft shell tacos in stock, often making do with the small own brand tortillas as an alternative, and I struggle with crunchy tacos (and baguettes for that matter) so when I do find them I seize the chance!
This is a great recipe to have at hand as by cooking the herbs and spices a little first then adding the chicken on top you get the effect of a marinade or spice rub but without any of the associated time or effort. Winner!
1 tsp puréed garlic
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 large chicken breasts, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
Soft shell tacos
Guacamole/salsa/sour cream to serve as you prefer
– Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan then add the garlic, tomato and all of the spices in a little pile in the middle and let it sizzle a little.
– Dump the chicken on top of the spices and quickly stir it around so it’s coated.
– Add the pepper and lime juice and stir occasionally while cooking for about 5 minutes.
– Heat up your soft shell tacos and prepare them as you like. I’ve suggested lettuce with guacamole, salsa and sour cream but mix it up! Mayo works well too. I also like to serve mine with corn on the cob as a side.
Ok, I admit it, I’ve gone full on “The Good Life” recently. Following on from learning all about Beekeeping I volunteered to help clear ground for an apiary allotment site near my house and found out that there was a small starter plot up for grabs. Well, grab it I did!
This is what I started with. About 5m x 16m of weed suppressed ground. I have spent the last few weeks digging and fencing and working away.
There was an awful lot of digging. The ground didn’t have any weeds, which was a blessing, but it did have a load of crushed plastic pots, a shovel, a rake, a fork, a pickaxe and a hammer all rotting away, along with what might once have been a green house base? Anyway, it all needed clearing and levelling and the clay soil enriching.
I’ve also developed a naughty habit of buying the Amazon 1p plus postage books on gardening. In fact I’m awaiting delivery of a few more that caught my eye this week!
This is where I’m up to: fences built, beds marked out and paths laid. I’ve crops in the ground and I’m preparing to build a chicken run at the far end so I can have fresh eggs too! More on that and the epic shed move soon!
I can’t remember where I first came across the recipe for French Yogurt Cake. It’s always just been there. But I never once felt the need to try it. There were always more exciting, more challenging cakes to try. Why go back to basics with a cake intended to be made with the help of toddlers?
This is why, my friends!
Beautiful, light, fluffy cakes that are the perfect teatime pick me up… or breakfast, coz it’s got fruit and yogurt in and that’s a breakfast food, right?
And, even though I possess no toddlers of my own (Darcy isn’t too good at baking, even though he loves the tasting part!) I can say with my limited knowledge of the species that this would be an absolutely brilliant recipe to bake with kids. No faffy weighing, just measure everything out using a yogurt tub and mix it up. Simple!
And so quick. The thing that takes the most time about this recipe is waiting for the oven to heat up! (Or sometimes it’s the pressing need to pop to the Co-op as you realise you’ve run out of eggs half way through!) We all know there are some days when you just want to get something in the oven without any hassle, these can be whipped together and out of the oven in less than half an hour (although I assume if you do choose to involve kids it will take longer…)
Don’t delay, give them a go today!
1 x 125g tub natural yogurt
2 tubs self raising flour
1 tub golden caster sugar
1/2 tub rapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon, grated*
~ 1 tub frozen raspberries
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180C.
– Prepare a tray with 6 mini loaf cases. Alternatively you can make this as a large loaf and just increase the cooking time.
– Put all of the ingredients except the raspberries in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Use the yogurt tub to measure out each of the ingredients.
– Divide equally between the mini loaf tins. (Space them well as this mixture rises!)
– Scatter the top of each cake with frozen raspberries.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (If cooking as a large loaf 45 minutes to an hour)
– Allow to cool until just warm them devour! Also excellent when you allow them to fully cool before consuming!
Instead of Lemon and Raspberry these can be adapted to any flavour you like. I have also had great success with Chocolate Orange, just replace the lemon zest with orange zest and add 2 tbsp cocoa powder and a tub of chocolate chips instead of raspberries.
This Sausage and Red Lentil Stew started as a riff on Cassoulet… but it just isn’t Cassoulet. It’s lazy girl’s cassoulet! It’s still deliciously comforting and a filling but not too stodgy recipe to bring some tomatoey brightness to these dull February days!
It can work well with any sausages but I will say that my preferred ones are either Turkey (which are getting harder to find!) or sweet chilli sausages, which are just delicious in anything you put them in! I would steer clear of chicken sausages though, I just don’t think they have the depth of flavour you want here and they get lost with the vibrancy of the tomato.
8 sausages of your choice
2x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 clove chopped garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper, chopped
5 tbsp red lentils
1/4 tsp salt
- Brown the sausages in a large, lidded pan first.
- Add the remaining ingredients, give it a stir, pop a lid on it and leave it to simmer for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the water level, make sure you keep stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan. If you need to add a splash more water do so.
- Leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving as this will be HOT!
These Vegan Hot Chocolate Spoons are a lovely thing to make as a gift, or just to keep on hand for those chocolate cravings that spring up from time to time!
They’re quick and easy to whip up, you just need to allow time for them to set.
I’ve tried mine with Almond milk, which is my go to dairy alternative, and also with regular cow’s milk, which obviously negates their Vegan heritage! But they’re delicious either way! What you always need to make sure of when you’re working with chocolate is that you enjoy the chocolate you’re starting with! If you start with a delicious chocolate then you will end up with a delicious finished product.
Makes ~14 spoons
200g dark chocolate (make sure it’s vegan!)
50g coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
– Melt the chocolate either slowly in a microwave or over a pan of boiling water, whichever method you prefer. Heat it until 90% melted then take off the heat and allow the last lumps to melt with the residual heat.
– Stir in the coconut oil and the cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
– Pour carefully into an ice cube tray so that each hole is just filled, clean up any spillages so you have a clean edge.
– Place in the fridge for 10 minutes until starting to solidify then poke the spoons so that they stand upright. You can leave them to set at room temperature too but this will take a lot longer.
– Put them back in the fridge until fully set, an hour will do it, them unmould and place in plastic bags to keep them.
– To use, simply pop into a mug of hot milk (alternative) of your choice and stir!