Friday, 19 May 2017

Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos

Hello Friends ~~~

I've been looking for something a little different to give my taste buds a lift lately and this is one of the recipes I've come up with. It's still a work in progress, but then I do love to play with my food!

As a vegetarian I'm always looking for different ways to cook with pulses, beans and grains which I love, and which form a staple part of my diet. So, yesterday, I went on one of my Fridge Raid meals and tonight I made a tweaked version of last night's Fridge Raid. I'm calling it Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos.  This is a cold filling.  Here's what you'll need ~~~

For two servings:
1 can Butter Beans, drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled
50 grams of cheese {Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or any hardish cheese of your choice ~ I used Harlech, a lovely cheese flavoured with horseradish, from my local deli} grated.
4 spring onions {salad onions, scallions} thinly sliced
A generous pinch {to taste} of chilli powder {optional}
A generous pinch {to taste} of smoked paprika {optional}
A pinch of sumac {to taste and optional, but I like the slightly sour taste}
A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or some of the pickling juice from a jar of Pepperdew or similar
Olive oil
Spring of mint, chiffonade
Pinch of Chipotle flakes, for presentation, optional
Taco shells, or soft tortillas to serve

Here's what I did next:

In a large bowl, using a potato masher or a fork {which gives you control over the texture} mash together the avocado, butter beans, cheese, spring onions, mint and seasonings. When all mashed and blended, but still with some texture, slacken it off with a squeeze of lime {or lemon} juice and some Extra Virgin olive oil. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Heat your taco shells or tortillas according to the packet directions and fill with your butter bean mixture. Sprinkle over the Chipotle flakes if using. Serve immediately and enjoy ~~~

Bon Appétit ~~~
Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Blossoms and Blooms

Hello Friends!

It was inevitable, I suppose, and last Tuesday evening with the most quietest of pings my back went into a spasm and I've been in pain ever since. Thankfully, the weather is inclement so I am not actually missing out on any gardening time, and with strong winds and heavy rain, possibly thunderstorms, coming in the next few days it gives me an enforced stay indoors and time to heal. ~~~sighs~~~

So, this morning, after a day and a half of chilly winds and soft, gentle, constant rainfall, the garden is looking brighter, refreshed and restored {only wish I could say the same about myself!} and here are a few photographs I took on a short hobble around the lawn and borders {I couldn't manage the few extra yards down to the berry patch, but I'm sure all the work of recent weeks is being quickly undone after the rain!} ~~~

I think everything is looking good, but it's the bits in between that you don't see that I fret about!

I have managed to find my old Instagram account, and if you are on there you may like to make yourself known. Some of the photos will be the same, there will be different ones too, and it's just another social media platform, as we all like something different, so here is the link for you, if you are interested ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Daisy Chains and Sunshine

Hello Friends ~~~

I hope it is as sunny and springlike where you are today ~ although still a little chilly, it is a beautiful day here with a lemon curd dollop of buttery yellow sun in a pale, blueberry~kissed sky, with silky smooth wisps of whipped cream. Next door's Copper Beech dances and prances with a glistening glimmer and shimmer of beaten bronze, a perfect match for the blue sky above, and with temperatures in the high 50's I shall be very happy to be doing even the simplest of chores outside today.  Here are a few photographs from the coast path taken recently ~~~

One of the sweetest flowers of spring and summer has to be the innocent daisy that are daintily sprinkled across our lawns ~~~

Won't you join me on the lawn this afternoon? There will be tea and cake, and we shall sit on the grass and make Daisy Chains. My lawn, not yet mowed, is a green sky full of sparkling, silver stars in their own green firmament, kissed with the glistening dew of an early morning sunrise ~~~

Until next time ~~~
Deborah xo

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Quiet Visitor to the Garden ~~~

Hello Friends!
For the past ten days or so the weather has meant no gardening {only if I really, really had to} as it has been very cold and very windy. I'm not a fan of gardening in twenty to thirty mile an hour winds!  However, it has been a lovely spring day today, the sun shone brightly in a boldly blue sky, and cottontail puffs of clouds scurried along in the not too insignificant breezes that billowed and blew the cobwebs away ~~~ a perfect afternoon for a few hours weeding in the garden, so booted and suited in my gardening togs off I went and carried on the job of clearing the raspberry patch ~~~

I had not been clearing very long when I discovered I had a very quiet companion. At first I thought it was a leaf, but then I realised it was a beautiful Angle Shades moth {Phlogophora meticulosa ~ which sounds rather like a spell from a Harry Potter novel!}

With a wingspan of about 45 ~ 50 mm, it is a fairly common moth, especially in southern coastal areas, with distinctive markings and looking not unlike a withered leaf {great camouflage}.

It would not let me go! It clung on to my gloves, and despite my best efforts refused to fly away to the safety of nearby cover, so moth on hand I came and found my camera and took some photos of the obliging little creature.  Here are the best ones I managed ~~~ to see a larger image, just click on each image ~~~

Eventually, the dear little thing decided it was best if it listened to me, so I released it quietly into a lovely patch of brambles and nettles ~~~

Until next time ~~~

~~~Deborah xo

Monday, 1 May 2017

Merry Merry May with Cake ~~~

Hello Friends!

Happy May Day!
Tis the Merry Merry Month of May!

Oh, yes, there must always be cake ~ and the cake I will share with you later.

Everything is waking up in the garden, and getting ready for a Springtime Garden Party. As I wander through the garden I wonder and ponder at the miracle of life surviving the winter months: the evergreen trees that never give up their colour, such as the yew tree and the camellias; the bare branches of deciduous trees, dormant since their autumn glory, and now bursting open wildly into a myriad shades of green; shrubs and plants of all kinds that dropped their leaves but kept their berries and seed heads to feed and nourish the birds all winter long; plants that disappeared only to reappear with sturdy new shoots above the soil, continue the cycle of life; and tiny green seedlings sprouting everywhere, evidence of last summer's flowers renewing their vow to return ~~~ and so it goes!

Here's what's blooming in the garden this week ~~~

Aquilegia Columbine

Cowslip Primula Veris

Osteospermum Cape Daisies

Seed head of Pasque flower

Seed head of Pasque flower

A beautiful demon!

Well hidden in amongst the leaves of the Arum lily

Arum lily

Spanish bluebells

Aquilegia Columbine

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom and plenty of it!

My 'free' mint plant going from strength to strength each day now! How quickly it grows.

The return of wintry weather has brought a halt to most gardening jobs for a few days at least, but we need this rain badly and there are always plenty of happy things to do inside the cottage while the winter has a final fling outside ~~~ such as baking cake, for there must always be cake ~~~

Last Monday evening, the programme "Paul Hollywood's City Bakes" came from Reykjavik, Iceland. Of course I was glued to watching it as I lived there for four years and it was a real trip down Memory Lane to see the beautiful Icelandic land that is so dear to my heart. Every weekend I visited the town of Hveragerði so I could buy island~grown tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, lemons and more grown in their geothermal greenhouses! I watched with great interest as he visited a local baker who uses the free, geothermal energy to bake delicious barley and rye bread, and rich fruit cake ~ all baked, or steamed, in the steam rising from the volcanic vents!  Later, he visited with the Mayor of Reykjavik and in his home made the traditional Laufabrauð which I wrote about here in December 2016.  Then, with lots of other explorations into Icelandic cuisine, he made his own version of a sponge cake using the unique Icelandic ingredient Skyr, which is a high protein, low fat dairy product similar to yogurt.  So, I just had to make one, and the recipe can be found here.

Well, this is my verdict. It has a good texture rather like a pound cake, so good with a cup of tea. According to the recipe, you bake it in two 8" pans, but I think it will bake well in a Bundt pan with and temperatures adjusted accordingly.  It is not the most elegant looking of cakes, rises to quite a dome making it difficult to fill, so I might halve the recipe and bake one layer, then cut it in half horizontally to fill it. I think you could use a thick yogurt, such as Greek style in place of the Skyr. The recipe says to serve eight, but it is such a deep cake it would easily serve twelve, or more. I found it rather bland, so I maybe ground cardamon would be a good alternative to the ground ginger, especially if serving with coffee {cardamon and coffee go so well together} ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo

Sunday, 23 April 2017

When April Showers ~~~

Hello Friends!

When April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May
So when it's raining, have no regrets
Because it isn't raining rain, you know
It's raining violets ~~~

We all probably know that sweet song from the film of the same name, and we do, indeed, have many sweet showers of rain in April, and we also get some very sharp, sudden downpours too ~ the sort you really do not want to be caught out in!  There's much truth in it, for all gardeners know that the business end of gardening really takes off in April, whether you are a lawns and borders gardener, or a grow your own fruit and vegetables gardener, or, as I am, a mixture of both, and we need that rain to help bring our seeds and plants to life.  So far, though, our April has been much drier than average, and this weekend and into next week we have an unexpected cold snap descending upon us from the north, with plummeting temperatures, the strong possibility of frosts, and the Met Office is not discounting the possibility of snow ~~~

So, shall I share an update on my "Raspberry Patch of Shame"?  Well, I am no longer ashamed of it!  If you recall, last year my back decided to do its own thing twice, both at key times in the garden, so even the most basic maintenance just didn't happen ~ so the weeds, and everything else took off! I admit, the prospect of clearing it was daunting. It looked a complete mess, a thicket of overgrown Loganberry, brambles out of control, a thatch of couch grass {and you know how that climbs and goes viral!} rampant honeysuckle clambering in from next door, sycamore saplings, ivy, countless weeds the names of which I know not, and somewhere in amongst all of that are my raspberries, blackcurrants, and gooseberry. ~~~Sighs~~~

Where to begin? What to do first? Oh, the word "overwhelmed" didn't even begin to come close to what was going on in my heart over the parlous state of affairs ~~~ so, I stood at the top end of the thicket, armed with sturdy gloves and secateurs, and did the only thing I could do ~~~ grabbed for the first offending bramble I saw, traced it as far back to the root end as I possibly could, cut mercilessly through the vine and began to pull ~ and I pulled, and I pulled, and I pulled ~~~ eventually, the other end of the vine came into view as it made its way along, ripping everything with it's thorns, until finally it was free and I cut it into smaller pieces and started a pile of weeds for the compost bin.  After that, it became easier to find the roots of everything that needed to be removed, so the clearing continued, little bits and often, and that's the great thing, once you make a start it is always easier to continue, in fact it becomes almost addictive ~ just one more vine, just one more weed!

Soon, I had a place to stand, still surrounded by chest~high brambles, but a place nevertheless, I'd gained a foothold! Before I knew it, I was moving merrily along, chopping and cutting my way along, and suddenly, not only did I have a place to stand, but a large patch was emerging, big enough to really move around in, and so it continued until the entire patch is nearly free of all the things that aren't welcome!

A cleared spot to stand from which to move forward, and some of the stones from my old rockery that will now be used to build some new retaining walls

How dry is the earth? Another spot in which to stand, half way down the patch

one of many piles of pruned and pulled weeds for the community garden composting bin

It was then I realised I was standing where raspberry canes should be! Oh! No! Disaster ~ the raspberries and blackcurrants do not look as if they are doing very well at all. I seem to have lost a lot of the canes, and I can only put this down to the fact that there were so many competing weeds, and raspberries do not like competition.  The Loganberry is cut right back and will be maintained this year as a tamed shrub, and the gooseberry looks quite happy, although it is not as big as I'd hoped, or expected but it did not have a fair chance last year to grow.

The Logan Berry which may be a Tay Berry {long story} pruned into a shrub!

This spot was previously full of raspberry canes but they are tenacious and will recover soon

The small gooseberry bush ~ it is clear around but does not look like it here, I know

The next thing is to get the ground as clear as I possibly can and then I plan to strew a good mulch {I am using Strulch} over it all to surpress the weeds. I know it will not stop them, but I am hoping it will slow them down enough to enable me to dig them out or cut them back enough to discourage them without the use of nasty chemicals on my fruit crop.

Bags of Strulch waiting to be strewn {I will need a lot more}

Other things that have been happening {and I'll talk more about these later} are the weekly chore of mowing the dandelions and daisies lawn, general weeding and pruning of the borders, and moving a few plants around.  I have a very wildlife friendly lawn, as you can see here ~~~

In the meantime, here are some photographs I've taken of what's blooming in the garden ~ and which will hopefully survive the coming cold snap!

The seed head of a Pasque flower. Soon there'll be a summary post with all of them for comparison ~~~

Osteosperum, aka Cape Daisies, in the bright sunshine looking so fresh and pristine

I found a "primula" in the border and I potted it on to give it a chance ~ Imagine my pure delight to find it is a native Cowslip ~ the fragrance of which is incomparable {well, maybe to that of Gorse}

A very special Cape Daisy with a beautiful centre, see below ~~~

Aquilegia in bloom already!

Arum Lilies in bloom too ~~~

I love ferns as the croziers slowly open and unfurl to reveal their magical fronds

Native Hart's Tongue Fern

The recently tended Dwarf Clematis responding well to the TLC and some warm spring sunshine

another type of Cape Daisy

Plenty of Dandelions in my wildlife friendly garden!

My free mint is also responding well to the TLC ~ soon there will be a pot full for tea!

Finally, how gorgeous is this bright purple against the pristine white on this stunning Cape Daisy flower in the bright sunshine?

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo