To The Strugglers, To Me, To Us

So, here we are again, another ramble. You know, what? Sometimes I just feel almost silly here typing at a screen to people I’ll probably never see, may never interact with in any meaningful regard, will never know what impact, or lack of, these posts might make to them. I mean if I started this with: Heya, Spanky, would it even matter? It’s the message that matters, the intention to bring something worthwhile into existence, right? I hope so and I’ll continue to believe it. Don’t worry dearest of readers, I won’t lower the tone of the blog’s style so drastically. We’re here today to talk about a subject near and dear to me, in other words: Me! Yeah, this isn’t a post where we turn the Is to Us-es, er, you know what I mean. We need to do this and we all know this. No, that rarely resonates with me, we’re all too individual and all too similar too. We’re a complex mess of everything wonderful and awful. There’s that we again, sorry about that. How did we make that mistake? Heh.This is just a little look at where I am in my free-food journey. My healthy travels. My life in regards what I eat. Without any further ado, let’s start.

Dearest, Spanky.

Kidding. I’m not going to lead gradually into a listed version of my thoughts, I’m going to barrel ahead full speed with hopes for clarity. There came a point in all this, the weight-loss, the healthy eating, the, well, everything, when I realised that the life that was, as well as most of the person that was, no, that’s not a fat joke, well, it kinda is, was no longer. It had been purged, or perhaps usurped, or it just went quietly into that good night. All these new habits, now firmly cemented, all this new, though no longer new to me, food, this new…-ish body, still a work in progress, no surgery yet, sadly, all of this new has become the everyday, the mundane, dare I say, ordinary? There is still a struggle, but its the everyday struggle everyone faces to a different degree. This life has simply put become mine. How? I have no idea, time, effort, a stubborn unwillingness to quit. So I thought I should look at the things that have become so vital to me. Perhaps they’re the things that have created this life, this person, perhaps they’re an after-product of all those time. I have no idea, maybe in a few more years I’ll understand it all better. I wouldn’t hold your breath, curious reader.

*Picks up crumpled note* Oh, geez, ahem. Oops. I had all this worked out while eating cereal and now it’s gone. Let’s try getting it back. You might think I’m being facetious, you don’t know how bad my memory is. Alright! The first thing that strikes me as funny is all the staples that I have acquired. I mean staple foods, no staples for injury, I’m not that clumsy. There are foods I just stock up on without thought, mostly the basic foodstuffs that many would ignore. Bananas, apples, frozen berries, blanched vegetables, nut butters, spices, herbs, yoghurt. God only knows what else. Or I would if I could muster the effort to think more, this will suffice. So often these seemed for others. Now they’re mine, or I’ve made them my own. They’re no longer bought to be healthy, or with intent to someday eat, now they’re just a part of the kitchen, sitting there in their assigned places. I could no more neglect to eat my daily banana than I could to think up a suitable comparison for this analogy. This didn’t happen without effort. There are staples I don’t like, ones I just tolerate because they’re not terrible. Vegetables I learned to eat because they could be stored or frozen. I tell you, learning to freeze fresh produce, to store food, to make it from scratch as easily as you’d think up a clever end to this sentence, took time, but it was worth it. I no longer cook and ask why I should, I’d feel odd if I wasn’t preparing my own food day in and day out. I’ve made shortcuts for myself, made it easier by rote and practice, I’ve helped it blend in as part of my everyday routine. The aberration would no longer be me cooking a meal, the opposite would be. I still think of it as work, but it’s work that I now do without much conscious thought and certainly without any thoughts of stopping.

I wish I could articulate this all better. I feel for those struggling to get to a point where they no longer feel that any food related troubles are impossible to overcome and endure. Not to say it’s easy, just to let you know it gets better, different too, trust me on that if nothing else, Spanky. Another aspect that strikes me is the giving up of the ephemeral, the transient, the, wait can those be given up? My head hurts. What I’m getting at is this: If you rely too much on mixes, pre-packaged foods, on exact and specific brands then you’ll have trouble when they go and they all go, trust me. Only I stay by you, only I endure, only I am the last modest person in all this! Well, that went awry. Basically eat fruit, seeds, nuts, vegetables, those things rarely vanish. I can’t count the times that I was caught short because a brand was no longer available, the more specific it was and the more reliant I was on it the bigger the issue it became and the more demoralising the whole experience was. My flour disappears? Now I can survive, I’ll be angry, but I can manage. How? Well, I started by eating everything I could. You ever look at a butternut squash? It’s oddly shaped. People have no idea what it is. How to prepare it can be a mystery shrouded in further mysteries. But I bought it, probably in trepidation that I’d be asked what I was doing with that odd vegetable. Oh, the looks, the questions I’ve gotten when pulling out some unheard of, unfamiliar food. People are a nuisance is what I’m driving at. But stick to it, you’ll open up pathways to better places, to more enjoyable meals and to better health. There is no greater feeling than walking into the free-from section, knowing what everything there is, and watching another struggling. You walk up to them, Spanky, and you look them in the eye and you how what you do? You cock a snook and run away! No. No. I’m joking. You just know that you’ve done well to get where you are.

I’m checking for typos and sense, one of which may be plentiful, the other less so. I suppose lastly I look at the person I am, have I really changed so much? Probably, I have skills I never would have thought I could obtain, interests I never knew existed. So much has changed, but it doesn’t feel alien, it feels natural, like there were gaps in myself that needed to be filled. In dealing with all these problems I’ve acquired more than I overcame. It’s not the dramatic rebirth so many claim, maybe it is for them. Who am I to say? I’m just a slightly better me. But any degree of improvement is worthy of celebration, right? Yeah. There are things I’d have done differently, times I wish I could undo, so much to say that I just can’t articulate. Now though, if nothing else, I’ve given myself the time, the life, the self, maybe that’s the word, to look at all I want and try to realise some of my hopes, my dreams. No matter how simple. If you’re struggling, with weight, with food troubles, with, well, anything, then remember you’re struggling to be happy. There’s no greater struggle, it’s probably selfish, surely it is, but it’s deserved, so much can lead to misery, if you’re fighting to be happier, then you’re doing the right thing. I don’t know how to get there, it’s probably be something I always have to fight for. Worth it, worth every damn minute of this journey we call life. I’ll leave it at this, press publish and then wonder if I should just delete all this. I won’t though, not now. Maybe once, but these words, how ever little import they contain, deserve to be left out there, floating on the great expanse of endless stories that is the internet. Thanks for sticking with me for a while, you’re a good egg, Spanky. Okay, I’ll stop.

Imperfection Complex and Nun’s Curtains

 photo WP_20160824_010_e_zpss8wsohqx.jpgStep in, forget to place second block and fall over.

You know it’s funny, I was reading an post about perfection the other day, at Healthy and Psyched, a wonderful blog, and fast forward to today, muddy and gardening again, squatting down to fiddle with something and I realised what had been holding me back. It wasn’t me striving for perfection, as you can well see I’m hardly anywhere near perfect, but it was the idea that I wasn’t good enough. It’s like I had a copper axe that would cut a tree in five swipes, but there is a silver axe that can do it in three, a gold that can do it in one, I played a lot of Harvest Moon, sue me, and then I get to wondering if I should even bother. I grew up knowing the usual braggarts, the: “I have a better this” or “I would do it this way”, but they never did, they just wanted to hear themselves talk and I foolishly believed them and didn’t believe in myself and consequently didn’t try anything. So I looked at the mess of weeds, carpeting too much of this garden and thought: Why the hell not? It can’t be any worse. And here we are, we’ll skip the psychoanalysis, I know what’s wrong with me already, garden has finally been 1/4 dug and finished. Well, mostly, the ground work is done, grass dug, raked, weeds removed, the matting down, borders placed. I just need flowers, flowers and more flowers! Jack, he of no faith in himself, has excelled, it isn’t perfect, no, it never will be, but it’s done and done well if I may say so. So, I’m getting back to my usual rambling style from here on out, but I felt it needed saying.

 photo WP_20160824_001_e_zpsdhich12f.jpgJust a bit more plastic for in between the pots, maybe more bark.

I’m filled with coffee and a sense of accomplishment. I spent five hours today, in wellies no less, how in good God’s name does anyone spend all day in those? my poor feet, but I can say that there is matting covering one quarter of the garden. There is a border all around, which may in time get a lick of paint, so my mother can strim with ease. I’ve bent more wire for pinning today than I’ll ever need to again, I hope. I use a 3mm thick wire, some bolt cutters and these hands, which I’d raise if they were so wobbly. I’m mostly using the permeable matting on this side. There are going to be a lot of pots and wall planters, so lots of water will be pouring out and over. The less stagnant water the better.

 photo WP_20160824_002_e_zpsdc837631.jpgEven this yellow poppy bush, I think that what it is, got covered.

I got the old, new actually, lump hammer out and hammered nails into the softer concrete to hold the matting down. Moss grows in abundance at the base of the wall, weeds all over so hopefully this stops them running wild and leaves them to more manageable quantities. I took the wood for the angled part from our shed, there was an old partition there, so there are nails in it, I drove those into the ground and used an express nail to drive it firmly down. I know that’s not how express nails work, but it worked for me! I have to drill holes in our path border next to screw down planters that someone, Naru!, keeps knocking over. Not everyone is screwy enough to screw down planters, but apparently Jack, your forever friend, is.

 photo WP_20160824_005_e_zpstcn0tu3t.jpgGooseberry bush atop bush – Photo by Jack

Something different? Yeah, I moved the barrel yet again, it’s the last time, I swear on that ridiculously heavy blue pain in my neck. The bulbs will fare better with less crowding and more light. I still have to plant them, I bought giant lollypop sticks to mark them. I’ll find a use for the glass someday. It’s an inch thick, maybe I’ll find something to make a table out of it with. It reflects the sky, that’s something, right?

 photo WP_20160824_004_e_zpscxqoitzk.jpgThat pot hides a stump. I’ll sort that later.

More matting! I have to change plans as the second rain barrel won’t fit. I’ll use guttering in reverse that side, so the water flows to the back, not flowing up into the sky. No, I don’t think you’re an idiot, you idiot. Oh, er, wait…come back you idiot! Heh. Sorry, any way, The  big plank of wood came from the base of the greenhouse frame. Probably shouldn’t have been there, but it’s mine now. More express nails driven through holes and it protects the matting, my head from tripping and bashing and it looks decent. Hey, it’s recycled, that’s good. The barrel will be risen on blocks, tapped and have an overflow pipe installed in time. That makes it sound fancy, it’ll be a cut off hose pipe and a hole. All the matting is pinned down to prevent injury, tearing and weeds creeping out through gaps.

 photo WP_20160824_003_e_zpsybt8axgy.jpgDon’t be koi…oh, wait that’s a carp. Darn.

I have to clean up those blocks. But this is pretty much done. I may put a few flowers around in pots, but I want to be able to walk around easily. The seconds barrel is going where the tree used to be. Same as here tapped and all that. It’ll mean there’s a barrel at either end and in the middle of the garden. I forgot to take a photo, but where the plastic is was dug up, weeded, look in the barrow, shaken and raked and cleaned up. That took some work, there were so many weeds. I think it looks good so far. I’m still looking at recipes, I made cottage pies yesterday, a bit of butternut with lots of harlequin, today was butternut pasta sauce. It never stops, does it reader?

 photo WP_20160824_006_e_zpsigbsf2bn.jpgWalk up here and strawberries!

See the plastic? It was better for here, I pierced it with a fork, so it should be fine. I can slash it if needs be. Now I should be able to walk up, pick strawberries all in a row, rather than all over the garden. I put the frame I made to use too, it’s for training a rose up all the rubbish at the end of our garden. A long story, curious reader, it’s a mess in there, I hope the roses will clamber and climb and cover it. Oh, we found a load of bulbs that were so covered by weeds they couldn’t grow. There are red flowers and daffodils, which will be re-potted and scattered about. There was a curious bird checking it all out, maybe it’ll take up residence in the house next year.

 photo WP_20160824_007_e_zpsxrb74lnj.jpgRoses for…all the rubbish?

Okay, the gross side. This part of the garden is reserved for dumping grass, weeds etc I hope to one day use all the compost there, but for now I’ve set up blocks to stop spillage and am piling cardboard over it to stop it getting too sticky. It smells already, but it’s in a corner no one bothers with. As this side is kind of useless I decided to not use matting and plastic might cause water to pool. So, I used what generations of gardener have used in these cases: Nun’s Curtains! There’s a pattern on the other side. They’d have been tossed away otherwise. It should keep the weeds down and allow the wheelbarrow to wheel in easily. It’s all pinned down too. So that’s it for today. The weather is supposed to be getting bad again. I’ve done a lot in two days so I’m glad for a break.People might laugh at our hodgepodge garden, but when all the flowers re in bloom, the bees are buzzing to and fro, the vegetables are growing, the fruits are setting, well, it should be all worthwhile. I’m only one person and I’m doing the best I can. It’s better to try if nothing else. See you all later.

 photo WP_20160824_008_e_zps1uggklej.jpgNun’s curtains, ah yes, the old Nun’s curtains gambit.

 photo WP_20160824_009_e_zpsxszntjrs.jpgDon’t put that online! – My Mother

Rhubarb Classification and Bottomless Buckets

 photo WP_20160823_006_e_zpsrgfvolty.jpgI got it filled! Just need a little potting compost  to top it off.

Renovations are still under way, dear reader, my schedule is all over the place and I’m having trouble with my back. That’s the funny thing about back pain, not funny humorous, that’d be mean, there are kinds that lay you up and leave you unable to do anything, I’ve had those in my time, but there are pains that just slow you, bug you constantly, but let you carry on as normal, or close enough to it. I’d gladly do without this. But I’m not here to complain, well, I was but I’ve stopped, I just came here to blow off some steam. I’ve carved up my newest squashes, second set no less, combined them with a little butternut and made more cottage pies. I love harlequin squash much too much. I’m afraid this post might be even less clear than most. My brain is a little hazy and as you well know I’m prone to rambling. So, is rhubarb a fruit? Or a vegetable? Wait, *Googles* So you see, ill-informed reader, Rhubarb is a vegetable. Heh, well now we know. Oh! I’m still eating cauliflower, I don’t like it, but I’m still eating it, I’ll get used to it eventually. It was cheap so I blanched a whole heads worth of florets. My freezer is bare in parts and packed in others. I need to make more bread. I did use the golden nugget squash for gingerbread, which reminds me of something I’ll get to in a minute, it turned out really soft and springy. Now, there’s been one thing that’s been bugging me, the consistency of batters, or rather describing them to you, baker extraordinaire reader, what conclusion I’ve come to, mostly concerning buckwheat flour in all it’s uses, is that when you add water and it mixes easily then there’s enough liquid. When you first add a liquid it takes a lot to get it to blend with the flour, but as you add it and mix it it all starts to blend quicker. I’ll look into this and see if I can update some recipes with the facts.

 photo 2016-08-20 16.40.44_e_zps5xablqvy.jpgA eight, or nine, foot weed. Not a tree, nah, weed. Huge weed.

Look it’s Jack! “That’s you.” Yes. “You’re Jack.” No, I’m me. How can I be Jack if Jack is Jack and I’m me. There goes my readership. Sunken in it’s prime. Sorry. You’ve peeked behind the curtain and it turns out that the wizard is a humbug, or just a normal person. Hey, like the wizard in the Oz series I’ll get better! Maybe. I loved the Oz series, if you’ve never ventured beyond the first book you’re doing yourself a disservice. The exploration of a world without death is one of the best aspects of the Oz series, and no I’m not joking, Baum was at his best when his characters were plentiful and his worlds open and varied. See, now this is a book review blog. No fear not, just go read the Oz series, all eleven books, far too few, sure others took up the mantle, but there’s only one Baum. I managed to uproot that horrid tree. It took one chop from a shovel and then I pulled it up with my bare hands. I have no idea what kind it is, but it never did anything. Just grew taller and kept slapping me in the face. No, no, I wouldn’t hit you with a shovel for doing that, fearful reader. It found a new home, so there’s a happy ending. I swear no matter how much I do there’s always another job waiting. I’m taking my time and doing my best. I have bulbs waiting to be planted, I have the space and pots at the ready so next month should be fun.

 photo WP_20160823_007_e_zps2cbowyvp.jpgAnd thus ends…hmm? Bottomless? Oh, yeah.

What has Jack wrought? Well, you see. Erm. Do you remember my rhubarb patch, let’s simplify this and say you do, well, I uprooted a lot of it and expanded the bed. Tossed my own compost in there too. Then I put down bottomless buckets, planters and plastic crates that will be filled with bulbs and have been filled with raspberry seedlings, the back three, and rhubarb, the front big blue, then I’ll cover the soil around them with some plastic. That should stop weeds and stop the raspberries running wild. If nothing else it’ll be easy to uproot anything that fails. The bottomless aspect is so the roots can travel downwards as much as they require. It may look a bit silly, but all the things there are being recycled. I had to scramble around to get it all, even the wood border was prized off from a wall in our shed. The nice thing is you could put small pots in-between as you want too. Let’s hope it works, I’ll know in a half year or so. Yeah, that’s it I guess. I have to find a new book, I always hum and haw when picking. I have to do this about three times a week, depends on how much time I have to read, and every time I take ages picking a new book. I have so many just sitting on my Kindle and it’s hard work I tells ya, then again so am I. Until later.

Harlequin Squash, Sausage and Sage Stuffing

 photo WP_20160821_001_e_zpsznvqrh68.jpgIt’s rather colourful, isn’t it?

Okay, let’s start at the screw up and then never again mention it. The balls didn’t pan out, the stuffing was perfect other than that. Just follow the recipe and you’ll be fine. I never make mistakes, dearest reader, I merely travel a different path than the one intended. Okay, I make plenty of mistakes, but I try to learn from them. Thankfully this worked really wonderfully, it just didn’t get the crispy outside I wanted. So I used my knowledge from all the times I’ve used it as a topping for cottages pies and we’re good. Handy, huh? Now, there may be some confusion as to what constitutes stuffing, everything you know is wrong, the end. What? I was kidding…for all you know. This is my Mother’s potato stuffing recipe, the potato is replaced with glorious Harlequin Squash. Now, if you’ve never had an Irish Mammy, then you’ve never heard an Irish Mammy’s recipe. I have it typed out below, but it’s basically:

“Well, however much you want. How much do you eat? That’s enough, unless you want more. I have no idea”

Etc Etc, writing down recipe or exact amounts aren’t common methods with Irish Mammies. At least not mine. Thankfully it passed the test with her too. There aren’t a slew of Traditional  Irish recipes, I have a handful here and there, but it’s a problem of a lot of Traditional Food being so basic it’s near impossible to adapt to my diet or it comes from a packet and you can’t exactly replicate that. There’s always confusion to what we eat. Simple fare and foreign dishes seem to sum it up. Chances are you may have a weird idea of the Irish. I blame movies. This stuffing is a real Irish recipe, simple, but versatile. It can be a side dish, balled if you use potato, probably I’m not one hundred percent sure, and can be used to stuff a chicken or a breast. If you can eat potato just swap it for the squash. Other squash won’t work the same here. Not to say you can’t, they just won’t taste the same.

 photo WP_20160821_002_e_zpsqx9b7oig.jpgFoil trays because the kitchen is being renovated and it’s a holy disgrace.

The stuffing, like anything baked with this squash, is creamy and much too good. Sage and sausage really is a great combination. I think fresh is best when it comes to sage in this recipe, but you could try it with dried, reduce it to a third of what you’d use in leaves. It was really hard to get suitable sausages for me, I had to buy them in Marks and Spencer’s and they’re really costly. I can’t eat added starches, so it has to be all meat and little else. The availability of ingredients made this recipe a must try. I had fresh sage growing, harlequin squash cured and sausages in the freezer. That’s a rarity. As I say below you can grill the top for a crispy layer and you can ball it, but they won’t crisp up. They still taste the same it’s just messier than scooping it into a dish. This doesn’t freeze due to the sausage and sage. It’s nicest fresh anyway.

 photo WP_20160821_005_e_zpsrusvfoz5.jpgBack to helping with renovations tomorrow, so quick dinners it is.

Ingredients

125g Harlequin Squash, Cubed
1 Pork Sausage
1/4 Large Yellow Onion
4-6 Fresh Sage Leaves, Chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Method

1. Steam the Harlequin Squash and place into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Chop the Onion finely and fry in Butter until translucent. Add the Sage and fry for one minute. Add the Onion mix, the meat from the Sausage, discarding the casing, Salt and Pepper to the Harlequin Squash and mash everything together.

3. Scoop mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth down. Bake at 200c (Fan) for half an hour. For a crispier top grill for the final 5 minutes.

Bonus!

 photo WP_20160821_010_e_zps0xab8ppl.jpgBuckwheat Muffins. Peanut Butter and Raspberry…that’s been in the freezer a while.

I ran out of muffin liners and as I’ve been having trouble with them sticking too I thought I should find an alternative. Other than flouring that is. I went to Google after a think and lo and behold, me close, heh, The Kitchn had an interesting idea. Making my own liners meant two things: Firstly I’d have them to hand at any time and they’d be less likely to stick. Mine were rough and did leave dents in the muffins, but they just unfolded when I took the muffins from the trays. Not one bit of stickiness. They take a bit of work to make, but one the whole it’s worth it. I just thought I’d share this as it was handy and actually worked, unlike a lot of tips on the internet. See you next time.

A Poetic Intermission

 photo WP_20160820_001_e_zpsmew03dk0.jpgJust a bit of silliness incoming. Haiku, ho!

Five seven five rule
How long can this last reader?
Let us all find out

Competition won
Many sensible things were bought
Fillet Steak for Jack

Are these really true haiku?
Well this is a recipe blog
These are close enough

What has Jack done now?
Trees uprooted with bare hands
The bears mind not at all

 photo WP_20160820_002_e_zpsnktuvwpx.jpgHopefully I’ll have a new recipe tomorrow, dearest readers. Just screwing around to blow off some steam.

Cyril was dead inside
The next generation lives
Squash growing with hope

Haiku for a post
Syllable Counter simplifies
Awful poetry pours out

Squash growing on the vine
Take all you need to grow strong
Come again one day

Rain Sun Rain Sun Rain
Rain Sun Rain Sun Rain Sun Tears
Today’s forecast

 photo WP_20160820_003_e_zps6b3izbzr.jpgAs always, thanks for dropping by.

Verdant hues fading
Blossoms cannot share colour
Cyril, who stole your smile?

 Changeable weather
Plants cannot thrive any longer
Final fruits are here

Jack came to plant crops
Seeds of happiness grew too
Now he harvests his joy

The kindness of a like
Fills me with complete happiness
Why are you all so good?

Buckwheat Flour Cookies 2

 photo WP_20160819_001_e_zpshawieewh.jpgThat title. I can’t think of any other name. Grrrrr.

You know the expression: Robbing Peter to save Paul? This feels a bit like that, I’ve taken: Buckwheat Flour Cookies and turned it into a hand…created? Crafted? Whatever, you no longer need an electric mixer to make these cookies. They also use white sugar instead of brown. There’s no discernible difference between the two. They’re crispy when freshly baked and softer when cooled completely. Funnily, although buckwheat is a heavy flour and strong tasting to boot these are light and don’t taste strongly of buckwheat. The sheer volume of sugar probably helps with that. Sugar is evil etc etc Moderation. You don’t come here for me to preach, you come here for the sparkling repertoire and…

 photo WP_20160819_002_e_zpsdo1poy3o.jpgWait! Come back!

Since you rub this to form the dough it comes together a bit faster, less messily too. You see creaming and rubbing, t-that’s l-lewd, aren’t going to drastically affect this as there isn’t any gluten to be worked or to trap air. If you’re unfamiliar with each techniques effects in regards to gluten, he said pretending he knows anything, basically: Rubbing will create a stronger dough, which would mean chewy or tough cookies, but crumbly dough because the butter will melt and form air pockets, think puff pastry. Whereas aerating the butter and sugar would stop the sugar spreading too much when it melts and it traps air creating a lighter structure which the gluten holds. Roughly any way. Here the buckwheat just collapses, but remains light enough to be tasty. Buckwheat is good, but it isn’t as necessary to be as fancy as when using wheat flour. Not to say it doesn’t always matter, just here it doesn’t. There you go, go forth and believe I have any idea what I’m talking about.

 photo WP_20160819_003_e_zpsgzk27chs.jpgI have white Painted Sage Flowers! Naru need a brush.

There’s constant fluctuations in the weather these last few weeks. Mostly thunder weather so I’m a bit wobbly. Sorry if any of this isn’t up to snuff. I react oddly to this weather: I’ve been dizzy, my arm hair went wild for a while, I’ve been hyper and tired and my tooth is aching. I have no idea why weather does this to me. Things are busy here, I’m helping with home renovations, but I hope to have some new recipes sooner rather than later. I have squash sitting in the shed, just waiting to become something. These are the last of the first batch. Hopefully the second will grow too, this weather makes me weary, but I hold out hope. Okay, see you soon.

Ingredients

225g Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
112g Butter, Chilled and cut into Chunks
105g Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Medium Egg

Makes 21 Cookies.
150g Icing Sugar and 37g Butter make perfect amount of Buttercream.

Method

1. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Add the Flour, Sugar and Baking Soda to a bowl and set aside.

3. Rub the Butter into the Flour Mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs, then beat in the Egg and Vanilla Extract, with a fork, until combined. Knead together in the bowl until a soft, but not sticky dough has been created. Form into a ball and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 175c (Fan). Scoop 1 Tbsp worth of dough and roll into a ball, flatten onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch between Cookies, and repeat until all dough is used up. Place one tray in the fridge if baking in single batches. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden and slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on tray for 10 minutes and then remove to wire-rack to cool completely.

Burnt Scalps and Popped Hips

 photo WP_20160814_005_e_zps7rkswqta.jpgBe gone, tall purple flowers! Next year: Lilies.

Oh, dear reader you’re a sight for sore eyes, but as I can’t see you I’ll assume it’s true, you’ve surely missed me, right? Again, I’ll assume and be happy in my ignorance. Where have I been you wonder? Rightfully so, I’ve been in the garden. Hmmm, I’m always in the garden? Well, not all the time, sometimes I’m in the kitchen and, look, I have a wonderfully varied life, nah, I’m not buying it either. Your forever friend Jack has been doing his impression of a beast of burden. The garden is getting a major overhaul and I’ve been hauling all the rubbish away. As you can see above the messy bed has been dug out, the lily bulbs have been re-potted and, cough, ‘neath the loamy soils lies the remains of towels and carpets past, yes  really, I covered those with weed-matting and bark, I hope it’ll suppress the weeds and flowers that plague that spot. As I’ve often repeated, a mantra at this point, low-maintenance is my goal, my hope, my aspiration, my prayer. Oh, let it be true.

 photo WP_20160814_003_e_zpsvxdcbngy.jpgSomeone else makes a mess and I clean it up. Okay I made it too.

 photo WP_20160815_003_e_zpskp1vzdwq.jpgThe sheet is being used to stop weeds, hey, it’s free.

Now, you, that’s you there, dear reader, might be saying to yourself: Well, you can wheel the barrow, you can shovel the soil, but what of the mind, dearest Jack, what of the potential of those little grey cells?, to pilfer a turn of phrase. Well, as I’ve often said: I’m not as green as I am cabbage looking. Look below and behold, no, not me!

 photo Cp1BgDfW8AAbz_B_zpswre8apjx.jpgTwo become one.

 photo Cp1BSB1WYAAondx_zpsb5qrjhbt.jpgOne becomes, er, one.

Okay, the top is a bit of a cheat as they just slot together. Those are the two grow-houses, photos from earlier on in the year admittedly, they’re rather worse for wear after all this time. Thankfully the frames are fine. They’re getting ready for transfer to the greenhouse. Which is getting there, albeit slowly. But the crowning achievement, the feather in my metaphorical cap is the bottom photo. That’s the walk-in grow-house, if you’re not as tall as I am at least, now converted to staging. So, you scornfully scoff, big whoop, you just connected the shelves, true, true sceptical reader, the top two parts were a cake-walk, a doddle, the remove of sugary products from infants, but here’s the trick: That bottom. Again, not mine! The raised part is made from sawed off roof poles, a total of thirteen poles, measured and cut by hand. The middle is two of the connectors glued and zip-tied together to give support, a shelf that even a heavy boot pressed onto it failed to buckle. So, yeah, not too bad, I didn’t want to see it wasted and due to the blocks raising the greenhouse the shelves wouldn’t get light at the lower level. It seems really solid, I hate to waste when I can help it and this was a gift. All joking aside, it took a lot of fiddling to get right, but I think it should be really useful. It’s funny what you can accomplish if you just try. I’m nothing special, but look at all I can do. Imagine what someone talented could create if they just tried.

 photo WP_20160816_022_e_zpssf8z7zqc.jpgThe smallest of the raised beds.

Even though it was scalding hot, hence the title, I did manage to drill and line two of the wooden planters. I think they were used to transport furniture or something like that. The liner is what they wrap hay in. Not too expensive and really strong. A couple of holes for drainage and it was ready. I placed it over that old stump as nothing can be grown in the ground in that area. I scrabbled around looking for more blocks to support it. I even used a rod from the greenhouse. I’m currently filling them with soil from all over, which will be topped with paper and compost from the compost bin and finally good potting compost. Come next year the whole lot should be a dark rich soil. I’ve seen it happen in the bulb bed, this is just a larger version.

 photo WP_20160816_034_e_zpsh4tmmf5j.jpgThe pole.

 photo WP_20160816_033_e_zpsullfq8yu.jpgThe surprise!

I bet you were wondering what became of the cover from the grow-house? Well, it’s now a cover for germinating seeds and helping soil to break down. It fit the two beds perfectly, I actually took it into my head just after taking the photos and it was the work of just a few minutes. A clothes peg will hold it down if needed.  I have no idea what will grow here, carrots and onions are planned for the second. There’s a third, but I’ll wait until I clean out the space for it. There’s quite a bit of work in drilling them and lining. They’re stained inside and out and hopefully the liner and drainage holes will help prevent rot. These are all peoples rubbish and now they’re my treasures. I feel there should be a proverb for that. Ah, well.

 photo WP_20160816_020_e_zpsdwkuj63j.jpgJust give Jack your rubbish. No, that’s not right.

 photo WP_20160816_032_e_zpsqsbonvyo.jpgGarbage for Jack. No, nah.

 photo WP_20160816_021_e_zps40uhjesj.jpgOne man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Eh, it’ll do.

 photo WP_20160816_027_e_zpsssubsoyo.jpgButternut squash, everywhere.

 photo WP_20160816_031_e_zpsiw2xgqxb.jpgStupidly long vines.

Well, it turns out squash can indeed climb, they’ve taken to the wigwams really well. There hasn’t been any fruit set, but I’m rather hopeful as there are a lot of blossoms waiting. It’s hard to say what they’ll do. It’s my first and last year trying squash this large, they’re just too big. It’ll be fun if they do set fruit and it reaches maturity, but it’s a long-shot. The other squash are doing amazingly. The harlequin are setting second sets of fruit and the golden nugget are growing really large. There’s still a lot of work left. If I get it all done this year I should be able to just enjoy it next year. I’m buying my bulbs for next month, a mix of whatever I can get at reasonable prices. This has been fun as always, I hope to be back with new recipes. I’ll see you when I see you. Later.

 photo WP_20160816_029_e_zpsn0xrryjz.jpgCyril! You’ve finally become a mother. Congratulations.

 photo WP_20160816_030_e_zpstfzduehf.jpgCatch up squash done good.

 photo WP_20160816_025_e_zpsevxitzdg.jpgTwo sets are growing close together like this. They’re gaining their pattern and growing simultaneously.

 photo WP_20160816_026_e_zpsba20vmue.jpgThey’re supported on pots and trays and whatever comes to hand.

 photo WP_20160816_023_e_zpst30vqw7w.jpgBig ole golden nugget.

 photo WP_20160816_024_e_zpsyioa7l6q.jpgLittle ones too. One is pear shaped.

P.S: I may have popped my hip when sitting down. I really have no words. Ouch, maybe.