Last weekend, Ashley and I decided to dig up all of the onions at the allotment. We had planted red and white onions, about the same amount of each. They had started yellowing and most were looking a very good size, they spent a day or two out in the sun and then we put them in the greenhouse to finish drying as the weather has been a bit up and down. A couple had gone to seed and so hadn’t really developed a bulb but overall a good harvest. We also put in some time clearing weeds that we’re starting to take hold on the newly vacated potato bed and around the onions. I’m a little ashamed to say that we haven’t really been to the allotment much this week – the plants in the greenhouse are going to be feeling a little sorry for themselves! And I expect the weeds will have used the time to ‘stretch their legs’! When will we learn to go there more regularly?!
I’m hoping that the weather is now warm enough to get some late runner and dwarf runner beans in the empty beds, also a fresh sowing of chard and possibly some peas. There should be plenty of room in the beds for the cauliflower and kale that I thought I’d try out (that’s if the seedlings have survived the recent neglect).
I think tomorrow will have to include a visit to the poor, abandoned allotment! I expect there will be courgettes galore, Swiss chard to be picked and maybe even some peas ready for picking! We had some peas the other day in a stir fry – they were quite small so not really worth removing from the pods so I cooked them whole, they were very yummy! I wonder how long until Ashley is sick of stir fry allotment veg?! I must look up some other recipes to use the veg – I’m not the worlds best cook I’m afraid!
One of life’s greatest pleasures (for me) is to be able to forage free plants and berries and turn them into something delicious! At this time of year, hedgerows are filled with delightfully scented Elderflower. Earlier this week, on a lovely sunny afternoon, I took a walk round what is technically ‘wasteland’ just at the end of our road – it is actually a haven for wildlife and plants. Every year, this piece of land (which was once part of an RAF base during the Second World War) provides us with as many blackberries as we can cope with, apples, Rowan berries and more. Right on the edge of this, I spotted a rather large elder tree heavy with buds and flowers. Ashley and I have made elderflower champagne in previous years, some successful batches and some not so great…and one bottle that found it’s way to our mechanic by way of thanks for some work he did, and ended up blowing the cupboard (in which it was being stored) door off!! (A box of chocolates was then needed as an apology to his wife who was left with the sticky clean up!) Something that I really wanted to try this year was elderflower cordial. I found a recipe here and it looked simple enough so I got started!
I started off by stripping the flowers from the stalks. A little bit of a tedious task but sat in the sunshine with the radio on, it wasn’t too bad! I was actually using half the amount stated in the recipe as I wanted to see what it was like before making big batches. Once that was done, it was just a matter of leaving it to steep overnight with the lemon zest. I didn’t have a lime so I just omitted it, hoping it wouldn’t affect the flavour too much!
The following day, I finished the recipe off by straining the liquid off, heating it and adding lemon juice and sugar. The mixture is then simmered and bottled – really quite simple! Whilst bottling, I tried to pass it through some muslin cloth to strain out the lemon ‘bits’ that were floating in it – only for aesthetic reasons really – but it was taking a REALLY long time to drip through so I abandoned that. After taking a few photographs, I poured myself a little and diluted it with water. Yummy! I can honestly say that making this was a pleasure and what a treat to be able to sample it immediately! Ashley enjoyed a glass as soon as he was home from work and I think he’s a fan too! Since then, I’ve been enjoying it diluted with diet lemonade and it is utterly delicious! It can be used for making other treats too, such as jellies and I’ve spotted a recipe for a jam that uses it – I can’t wait to try that one!