Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Feta and Courgette loaf

For the lovely Annie at Annie Chowela (Knitsofacto) here is the recipe for the Feta and Courgette loaf.

3 eggs
5 tblsp olive oil (or flavoured oil)
75ml milk
2 tsp mint sauce

180g self raising flour
110g cheddar

150g grated courgette (about 1 medium one)
2 spring onions
garlic clove
100g feta

Fry up the courgette, spring onions and garlic and then set aside to cool.

Mix together in a jug the wet ingredients - milk, oil, eggs and mint sauce
In a mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients - flour and cheddar

Then add the wet ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.
Add the courgettes, spring onions and garlic and mix thoroughly.
Crumble the feta into the batter.  Don't worry about the lumps, it's supposed to have lumps.

Pour into a well buttered loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes at 160 C (fan), 180 C, 350 F, gas mark 4.

Depending on your oven it may take more than 50 minutes but test by slipping a sharp knife into the loaf - it should come out clean if it's baked through.
Cut into slices and eat.   It should stay fresh for about 3 days - if it lasts that long.  Enjoy!

You can also adapt this by leaving out the courgette, spring onion and garlic and replacing it with sun dried tomatoes and olives or peppers in oil.  All are delicious.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Old Blighty

Finally after months of nurturing, watering, stringing up and much adjusting of the automatic greenhouse louvres; we are starting to get crops.

 Beautiful, earthy rainbow chard.
A delight and a joy to look at and eat.  A fairly new delight for Jean-Luc who still can't quite believe the full flavour of home grown veggies and leaps upon each new item with the cry of 'oh now can I use this tonight?'  or 'have you photographed it?'. 
I wonder why he thinks we're growing it if not to use but am thrilled at his enthusiasm for these humble yet tasty vegetables.

Our first cucumber of elegant proportions. 
This was combined with yoghurt and mint to become a cool and soothing raita which accompanied leftover lamb curry and chickpea and pepper curry.

Courgette (slightly overmatured) - another willing victim for my courgette and feta loaf, mwah ha ha.

and now we come to the sad, sad reason for the possibly puzzling title of this post.
Scroll down dear reader but please try to control your cries of dismay at the poor creature I place before you.

Yes this poor tomato is but one victim of the terrible plague which is working its way through the innocent crop in my greenhouse.  My tomatoes have........... BLIGHT!

I don't know if they were infected when I got them, whether we over watered, whether the greenhouse was too humid.  I don't know what's gone wrong but something has.  
I've spent two evenings picking out all the infected leaves, stems and fruit;  the tomatoes look fragile and denuded but I'm hoping that this will keep it under control if only for long enough for the tomatoes that have already grown to ripen up.  

I guess my harvest isn't going to be quite as epic as I'd hoped - in fact it may be almost non-existent.
The good thing is I've learnt from this.  Not to be so greedy and cram so many plants in next time; to space them out more to allow the air to circulate; to keep on top of thinning out the side shoots and nipping out the tops; not to over water them and basically not to think that tomatoes forming their own personal jungle is a sign of health and well being.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Baking Hot

Despite it being outrageously hot these last couple of weeks I've still been trying to keep up with baking - madnesss I know in this heat but for reasons best known to my inner idiot while others are mixing salads I'm easing baked goods out of the oven.  Not masses and not beautifully finished show cakes; but simple loaf cakes that Jean-Luc assures me are delicious.

A lovely home made loaf.  I do want to get into baking bread again, I used to and I don't know why I stopped.

 Courgette, mint and feta loaf - a delicious way of using up a glut of courgettes.  It's quite a wet, dense bake due to the cheese, eggs and milk but is a really tasty treat.

Free range scrambled eggs with chives and courgette loaf for lunch.  I love the vibrant yellow of free range eggs.  It was delicious. :-)

Lime drizzle cake - a fantastically fresh tasting alternative to lemon.  I left the sugar crust off the top as I wanted that fresh, zingy taste and boy did we get it.  

Ok this one was a bit special.  I'd made a ginger cake with chunks of syrup ginger in it but it obviously needed a bit of something to jazz it up.  A ginger syrup drizzle was the obvious choice but ginger and ginger seemed a bit too ...gingery.  So i decided to add a teaspoon of honey and then spied a secret ingredient sitting on the side and added a fair splash of that to the drizzle mixture.  The result was deeply yummy and had Jean-Luc in raptures; so much so that he was telling his mates about it down the pub! 
Oh the secret ingredient?  Jack Daniels honey whiskey.  It went unbelievably well with ginger and honey.  And we finished it all too quickly.  A good excuse to make some more and for buying more JD. :-)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Jungle Fever

There's nothing like it.

The heat, the humidity, the smell of green growing things all around you.
The dappled light shining through the leaves, the feeling of hidden eyes staring at you through the dense vegetation.
The sound of water as it drip, drip, drips through the canopy.
The knowledge that if you step off the path you could be quickly lost.
The uncertainty of the path ahead as you peer through the green wall of leaves and stems.

Yes I've been into the greenhouse and the tomato plants definitely need their leaves thinning out.
In a greenhouse that is 8 feet long, their leaves are so dense I can't see the other end of the path, let alone the back glass wall.

I'm fairly sure if I listen carefully I can hear parakeets squawking in the distance and the steady chant of ant work parties as they move deeper into the jungle to build more sugar cube temples.

I think some well judged defoliation is needed, if only so the tomatoes can ripen up; oh yes there are some in amongst all that leafage.

Sensational Sunset

This spectacular sunset was the view from our bathroom window yesterday.

A positive symphony of colour as the sun sank slowly below the horizon.

A sublime display by that consumate artist - Nature.

Enjoy. :-)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Ta Dah!

Well here it is! I finally crocheted something for my sister. It's a rucksack.  I got the pattern from Simply Crochet.

The pattern has a lovely texture and looks really complicated but it's not.  The body of the rucksack is worked on the round as a continuation of the base so the only real joining you do is the flap to the body (and all the fastenings of course).  It's recycled cotton yarn denim blue worked on a 4mm hook.  The yarn was lovely to work with; very soft yet robust enough to make a firm base and dense body - no change dropping out of this bag.

I'm really pleased how it's worked out.  I do hope she likes it.

I added some simple flowers to hide where the flap fastener is attached to the flap.

I also added some beads spelling her name as the toggles on the end of the cord.

My sister isn't a girly girly and I'm hoping this isn't a girly rucksack.  I've tried not to embellish it too much.
More importantly it should be large enough to carry a book, a purse and a coffee travel mug; the measure of a good bag in our family.

Happy Birthday lovely sister. xxx
(slightly belated 'cos I didn't want to ruin the surprise :-))

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Coffee for everyone

This weekend it was the Coffee Walk in our village.   This is a procession of witness which the children from the local churches and youth organisations all take part in.  Apparently it's called the Coffee Walk as traditionally after this parade tenants of the local almhouses would go to the coffee house to pay their yearly rent.

These days no rent is paid and there is no coffee house in the village; instead a large part of the village gathers to watch the procession and have a beer (or several) at the local hostelries - all five of them.

The weather was wonderful; the bands were stirring and the floats beautifully decorated and the local kids utterly adorable.  All in all a good village event.

The band sets off to the church to meet up with the procession.

The procession starts.

The WI and local Brownie/ Cub/ Scout groups with flags and fabulous quilted bannes.

Small children having a great time on horse drawn floats -  I have to say the kids all looked amazingly cute and either took it very seriously or waved and grinned like crazy.

A fantastic day for the whole village.