The Call of the Garden

 photo WP_20170428_020_e_zpsfdq3y85j.jpgI need to take cutting from my sage. That was all this was originally.

If I fall asleep at any point in my maundering please rouse me, I have good reason to be groggy. I have been a’gardening. I hadn’t held out much hope for today. I put down broccoli seedlings, I even had to make my own cabbage collars because they’re apparently a scarce resource, treasured by the idle rich and withheld from the toiling poor. I used fairly flexible cardboard. I hope they’ll be okay. As I was saying I hadn’t expected to do much, but when I was out there the sun stated to shine, but that’s been happening on and off this last week, the sun appears and just as quickly vanishes and the temperature drops. Still, ever optimistic person hat I am I lathered on the sun-block and headed out. The sun held and hours later I’m the proud surveyor of two beds containing forty five vegetables! Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. I felt that I was losing space the more I worked, but today I’m content. I have dozens upon dozens of peas and beans down, some sowed later so they’ll take time to appear. I even have the first four harlequin squash transplanted out. So, for this post let’s take the easy way: A picture here and here and and unrelated story, not all unrelated, but at least not in any order.

 photo WP_20170428_021_e_zpskk0ctetg.jpgI thought you were dead! I say that a lot in my garden.

I have a fun story. I’m often amazed at how enduring plants can be, you expect it with weeds, but I was looking at the red onions and thought I spied some more garter weed, some potatoes too, once planed never alone it seems, the pulling of which seems to be slowing it, but instead of a weed there were two onions starting, almost three months later. I couldn’t believe these little shoots, neatly in a row, that’s how I knew they were onions, had taken this long to grow and hadn’t just rotted. It’s necessary to be patient when growing.

 photo WP_20170428_019_e_zpsalkzhxys.jpgMy ginger isn’t doing so good, but I’ll plan a tomato in the pot later.

 photo WP_20170428_012_e_zpsjzwsczh2.jpgLettuce seems to grow best shoved in a small pot.

I still have to plant my Brussels Sprouts and Purple Broccoli, which takes at least a year to grow!, into pots. If I get a decent weekend I’ll make a start on that and on filling more squash pots. I am thinking of maybe, just maybe, going for more than ten squash plants. I haven’t decided fully yet. The one litre pots were perfect for starting squash seeds in, the roots were just starting to wind back on themselves. One root was as thick as a shoelace and had dozens of tiny roots running along it. There’s also a smell unique to squash, I don’t know if it deters insects or something. I must look it up.

 photo WP_20170428_011_e_zpswjsj4eyx.jpgAll the tire bulbs are starting. I’m very excited for the Persian Daffodil in the centre.

 photo WP_20170428_018_e_zpszagfwwji.jpgSpinach looks so strange. I had to marvel at the odd looking seedling.

Just in case someone out there wants to try it out I shall tell you of the tumbler beetroot project, Aka Yellow Wonder Under Cover! The one I uncovered a few day ago is standing upright and starting to put out more leaves. The ones I rudely pulled and moved aren’t doing so well. I think I’ll let the others get bigger and then move some when I separate all but the centre one. It looks to be a success. I might try it with carrots next.

 photo WP_20170428_014_e_zps47rgts80.jpgHarlequin F1. The best squash ever grown anywhere.

I love the discount store. I bought so much feed and you can really see the effects. Everything is flourishing and growing wonderfully. It takes more than feed, but under-feeding will show. Funnily my local supermarket stocks the same feed at double the price! I think I’ll stick to the discount store. There’s so much here that I end up going through liquid feed by the case. I have the granulated feed in with the vegetables and squash. Still need to get more. It’s costly, but worth it and much better than some of the things you could spend money on.

 photo WP_20170428_015_e_zpsnqclrh6r.jpgThe cornfowers are getting big.

 photo WP_20170428_017_e_zpso0caiwvf.jpgParsley is starting to, it’ll make pesto until the basil appears.

 photo WP_20170427_007_e_zpsbp3vakpn.jpgThese were being thrown away. It took ten layers of stain just to get them to look like this.

 photo WP_20170428_001_e_zpsoiuskb05.jpgLooks nice though. You can get lucky and get a lot of things free, especially if you’re willing to fix them up.

I have one regret I need to rectify this year: I never took a runner from the cascading strawberry plan when I had the chance. I assumed I had all year and discarded the only runner it sent out. The odd weather meant I had plenty of berries, but no babies. I have to wait until the berries start so I can identify the plant, and I will mark it or the future too, and the I keep an eye out for the runners.

 photo WP_20170428_013_e_zpsoyyehyfh.jpgI still think of this as salad corner. The horseradish can’t be touched until next Autumn.

It’s honestly amazing what you can grow in such a small space. Without the rampant weeds and random bushes overrunning the garden, a few carefully placed pots and planters and planned out beds and you can grow so much. I’ll have so much I might struggle to get it all into my freezer. I do like having enough as there will probably be loses, I’m taking precautions, but you never know. Mother nature can be fickle. Still, it’s very rewarding to step out and spend so long checking each section and seeing all that there is in every space. Every year this place will improve. Compost will enrich the soil, the flowers will multiply and I’ll probably be forever fiddling with new ideas. The experience I’ve gained is the greatest reward in all this. I know so much more than I used to and that’s enabling me to push the limits of my garden.

 photo WP_20170428_010_e_zpsyxuoz8mk.jpgSee this looks so neat and tidy and that’s a problem.

 photo WP_20170428_009_e_zpsrv23wcb3.jpgWhy? Because this looks drunk! If it keeps the butterflies out I’m good.

I never ask questions, do I dear reader? I should engage with my readers, but I’m not naturally inquisitive about other people. But, let’s try it! Er, are any of my dear readers doing any gardening? Is there anything you’d like to share? Oh, great, now I sound like a counsellor. You’re good people dear reader.

 photo WP_20170428_007_e_zpsgqqubtux.jpgHello, onions! I’ll put a few pots around the bed eventually.

 photo WP_20170428_008_e_zpswuvtdnyt.jpgGetting there.

I do often remark that there are these bursts of activity that can overwhelm you, but then when you’ve carefully separated, covered, watered and planted out just have to hang around and wait. I’m actually really pleased with all that going on this year. I’m not the most confident person and I do have to try to remember that it’s not bragging to take pleasure in the fruits of my labour. It’s why I enjoy sharing these photos on the blog with anyone will to look. See you soon dear reader.

Everything But The Squeal

You know the one about using all of the pig in cooking, everything is used to respect the animal and to avoid waste. Using everything but the squeal. I’ve often sat here, really thinking hard, trying to put to, I was going to say paper, to text what makes my diet work, what makes it a success. All too often I fall into the trap of trying oversimplify or coddle imagined readers. What if I inadvertently turn them away from the weight-loss success they might have achieved is what taunts me while I think, but another voice, a more vicious, cruel one pipes up and reminds me that if they fall so easily then it isn’t my fault. That voice is my own and I know how had this kind of journey towards health and well being can be, my own has often been hellish, harsh and it doesn’t always show in these recipes. If they fall then that’s on them, I blamed no one whenever I fell, I just got up ad kept going. There’s a balance in these recipes, the ingredients used, everything really, that as been crafted with so much work, tempered by time and my guided by own needs so that it works only for me, but there are parts that if it were possible to separate them and clarify them, they could help others too in their searching for their own paths. I am again trying my level best to do just that. Grand sounding, but it’s just the ramblings of someone who really wants to help, to share and to do a little good. Words are often all I have, dear reader, let’s hope I can put them to good use.

There are unwritten rules that I follow in my recipes, whether creating or using. The first is that there will be no leftover ingredients. Each recipe uses similar ingredients to avoid waste. It’s too easy to not think of the full week ahead when meal planning. You can end up with a delicious, healthy, filling recipe on Monday that leaves you with ingredients that will expire before Friday. This leads to a second issues, but I’ll finish this first. The other reason that by using the same ingredients over the week in different ways is that you can get a good balance of foods even if you don’t have the greatest understanding of nutrition. If every day features a little of the same then you don’t fall into the trap of junk meals. Meals that don’t contain enough of the necessary minerals, fibre etc to keep you healthy and happy. The same or similar ingredients used over the week can make it much easier to balance meals. If you’re only using high fibre pasta or seeds then there isn’t a day when you’re failing to get the necessary fibre into your diet. Don’t do that, just use what ever is to hand and you’ll end up unbalanced. High fibre one day and low on another might mean an upset stomach and that won’t fade the next day, it knocks on to another and another. It’s not just fibre of course, but it’s a good example. So, in my way if you have pastas of different types you make sure they have high fibre or you have an additional ingredient to boost it. No aspect of the meal should be lacking. I think of food as fuel, as medicine before I think of the enjoyment of food, though that is important too. So, say with the need for high fibre pasta, I use chia when making corn pasta for example. Both the pasta and chia are long lasting. There’s no need to worry about waste, why is waste so bad? Well say you had a pasta dish that utilized cream and cheese, but you couldn’t use all of either and they both expire quickly. Well then, that leads to our next issues to watch out for.

The necessity of additional meals to utilize excess ingredients. So, you have cream. It was just one meal, a little less healthy but not bad, right? If you end up with leftovers, as I’m always cooking for one I have to be extra careful, you might end up deciding on making a dessert to utilize that cream, you’re just using the excess, no harm, right? Well, you see it depends how often it happens. If you’re too often using up ingredients and taking in more food than you need, especially junk food, then you’re going to struggle. Cream isn’t going to be all you use, is it? That’s why I limited my baking to once a  week. The solution is as above: Carefully chosen healthy ingredients, especially ones that are long lasting to lower the risk of buying and snacking on unhealthy foods. It might sound overbearing, but if you cut out the idea that every meal has to be a gourmet feast for the senses and follow the idea of better eating for better health you will see the benefit. Not to say you won’t want to go all out on occasion, but you need discipline and experience to work it into your diet. I often make elaborate recipes, enjoying the whole process, but it’s still within the limits I’ve set for myself. You can’t always see those limits. This is mostly sacrifice, there’s no easy way. I gave up  lot of foods that I knew weren’t good for me along with everything else I gave up. This all sounds miserable I admit, but we’ll end it on a positive note.

Limits aren’t always as limiting as they first seem. You look at all I omit from my diet and you’ll surely weep for me, but when you look at what I use and all the applications I have for each ingredient then you’ll see that creativity and combinations of those limited ingredients makes it so I can often be said to be eating more enjoyable food as well as healthier food than a lot of others. It has taken me years and years of hard graft to get where I am. I know a lot of people will follow the faddists before they even consider listening to someone telling them that it’ll be tough. They fall, all too often. It’s the reason that the percentage of successful weight-loss falls so rapidly over time. I might be an aberration, but I won’t fall. I know the rules of my life, I’ve written hem after all, I follow them and I will never stop following them or  ever stop attempting to share them to help others. Now dear reader, that’s enough seriousness for one night. If it weren’t nearly midnight I’d go down the garden. If it weren’t so cold even that wouldn’t stop me. Take care.

P.S A bonus ramble has surfaced. I found an old status that isn’t exactly about the same topic, but it fits nicely. Excuse the writing style, it’s just a simple Facebook post from a year ago, but as I say it fits well here.

I think the biggest problem with being overweight is that you can still feel fine. I never felt how bad I really was until I lost the weight. The damage is being done constantly whether or now you feel the effects. This coming from someone whose abdominal muscles have literally split in two and whose knees would have probably blown out eventually. I think there needs to be a better balance in our perception of weight and weight-loss. The camp that wants all fat gone, and will take any extreme, is as troublesome as the group who refuses to acknowledge that even some weight-loss, no matter how seemingly insignificant, though no part, no matter how small is insignificant when it comes to your health, is necessary for your health and happiness, same goes for the opposite where too much weight loss is just as bad. Sometimes when you see an article that gets weight-loss and shoves it into a cramped definition (like, every second article) you just want to smash the writer’s head into a desk repeatedly. It’s not a black and white issue, it’s a whole kaleidoscope of greys (Damn fifty shades of grey for ruining that phrase) . Strike a balance and take responsibility for yourself, whilst also remembering that others won’t take the same path as you and they may be just as right as you are for choosing another way.

It Came from the Garden

 photo WP_20170425_007_e_zpshu02hxvu.jpgWild Summer Flowers in a globe.

So, dear reader of mine, I often see comments in the vein of: There needs to be more garden posts, please give us more. All the time I read these…What? You’re looking at me in askance, do you suspect Jack of fibbing, of bare-faced subterfuge!? Okay, you caught me. Though I don’t see any complaints either so I think all things are in balance. The one beauty of these posts is that the recipes might lag, but the garden fills in the gap. The only challenge is making it interesting, or at least trying to. That and those titles, I have nightmares about uncreative titles, dear reader. I see you’re admiring my globe, a bit of whimsy. It was originally part of a grave decoration and no, I did not rob a grave, I haven’t sunk that low…yet. Though the desire for new flower planters runs deep, six feet deep. I joke, I guess you could say that gallows humour is a great undertaking. I think the globe covered a statue, but it was thrown in the trash area, gently I suppose, flip it upside down, rest it on part of a broken bird feeder, a little soil and seeds and viola! As they’re wild seeds I hope they might not need deep roots. Fill the globe too much and it spoils the effect, flip it upside-down and it might smother the plant.

 photo WP_20170424_004_e_zpsipbqttu6.jpgPink anemones have started to pop up.

 photo WP_20170425_002_e_zpssweqfarm.jpgNetting to protect from butterflies…and hailstones.

 photo WP_20170425_001_e_zpsveofnmmv.jpgThe next area is getting ready.

Today’s weather was reminiscent of rapid channel-changing, that, streaming-generation readers, was a thing we did before streaming (And ad-blockers). You see there were these things called adverts and they were the bane of couch-potatoes everywhere. First came hail, then high heat, then snow, more heat, hail, heat, cold and on, and on. Thankfully the netting protected the newly standing cabbages. It also meant that any work was piecemeal as I had to dash in when the stones became too heavy or the wind too wild. Though listening to the rat-tat in the safety of the greenhouse was fun. I’m still amazed by the difference in the soil amended by compost. It’s so dark and rich and easy to work with. The composting might be a pain at times, but it takes the sting away from preparing so much vegetables in the week. One domino knocks another, the broccoli stems I’m discarding today will feed next year’s broccoli. Which is what’s going down next, along with the Brussels Sprouts. I’ve  resurrected my hosepipe bamboo cloche rings, this time I use them right!

 photo WP_20170425_003_e_zpsfrg3ks0p.jpgJust after this photo was taken I noticed the last flower seeds had started and removed the  plastic.

The seeds in Naru’s garden are Carnations, Royal Mallow, Sweet William and Straw Flowers . While the centre are English Geraniums. I do think that in some ways Naru helped pushed me towards gardening, I think without her beside me all he time, as it often felt and was, I might have found it too lonely a hobby before I became hooked. Nothing funny in this paragraph, take it easy on Jack, dear reader, his heart is broken. But I am glad the promise I made was kept. She loved the garden loved to smell every newly blooming flower, always gently mind, and I see no better place to mark her life than a miniature garden of her own.

 photo WP_20170424_003_e_zpsosl57bg0.jpgNarcisus Poeticus, which might be the first ever daffodil.

For a small flower it has a mighty strong smell. I had no idea what they would look like when they bloomed, I wanted to keep it a surprise. I seem to have chosen my bulbs well as they keep appearing when others have died back. I also uncovered some beetroot, the bottom two are some seedlings that needed to be thinned, but still had roots. They’ll mostly likely die, but you never know. The top one is now uncovered and I keep an eye on its progress. The tumblers have worked well so far, it’s now time to see how this beetroot fares uncovered. The roots are a lovely shade of yellow already. Fun times. See you again soon, dear reader.

 photo WP_20170425_008_e_zpsnxyc8hv9.jpg

Banana Mango Curry Sauce

 photo WP_20170422_002_e_zps6pchqabt.jpgPreparation is key. Only the best prep will make a delicious banango curry.

Sure, I should call this Mango Banana as the mango is in greater quantities than the banana, but the banana has a stronger taste presence. Did I just use the phrase: “Taste presence”? Dear reader, I have worries about my sanity. I think I’m starting to become a food blogger! What? I am? Oh, well, that’s okay then. So, you might be wondering why I’m sharing yet another fruit curry sauce. There are a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted a veganised version of my Sweet Mango Curry, just because really, no greater reason than that. There wasn’t much to tweak, most of my recipes can be adapted to be vegan, many already have because of my insatiable curiosity. I wanted to try sous-vided chicken and a pour over sauce seemed the best idea, truth be told sous-vided chicken would be great for sandwiches, but the overly tenderized chicken was lost in the sauce. I’ll just add that the recipe is vegan, my use wasn’t, I won’t feel I have to keep mentioning that. I’d rather we look through the ingredients and their effects and reasons for inclusion.

 photo WP_20170422_003_e_zpsmznug6fz.jpgIt’s nearly al fruit so you don’t need to cook it too much. Or to mush.

The other reason I wanted this as a pour over was it could be made in a frying pan rather than a pot and because the ingredients don’t need that long to cook it could be made faster. I also wanted a reduced sauce as the mango sauce is usually overflowing and not everyone wants that much sauce. I mostly do single servings so I accept that sometimes you do with a bit more than you need, or than is visually appealing. See, everything has a reason when you’re creating a recipe, you just have to know the reason why certain ingredients are being used, the best way is of course to keep trying every recipe that’s available to you. A fruit curry wasn’t something I was familiar with or had ever eaten if I’m not mistaken, but now not only do I have a few recipes, I’m also making my own. I worry less about recipes being too similar these days as variety helps keep me happy and on track. Even if I never return to some recipes I still enjoy the process of creating them, sharing them and breaking down the different elements and techniques that make up the dish. So, again, why did I use what I used?

The fruit is there because I’ve always sought a way to include more fruit into my diet without the need of disguising it. I find that when I used to eat smoothies for my fruit I’d end up making a much too large smoothie with too many additional ingredients, all of which mask the natural sweetness of the fruit, which in turns makes you less likely to eat more. That’s just me mind, there are plenty of recipes for healthy and balanced smoothies. My path to more fruit, more vitamin C too, supposed to help with histamine intolerance, no harm if it doesn’t, was just a little different. That’s the way these kind of trials go. You have to find your own way and you can’t always make yourself fit what you feel is the norm. Fruit in curry works best for me. Maybe it’ll work better for you too.

 photo WP_20170422_004_e_zpsinmmjnfc.jpgI drew a line with the  spoon and it refused to slide back completely.

Why hemp? Because of the unique billowing texture it brings to the curry. I find it can feel too filling at each mouthful, yet the feeling never lingers, it’s more of a psychological one: It feels very rich and decadent and I’m attuned to avoiding too much food like that. I won’t say it’s a vegan cream or anything so hyperbolic, but it gives a wonderful depth of texture and thanks to the spices the flavour of the hemp hearts are masked and they in no way spoil the flavour of the other ingredients. I feel hemp hearts are vastly overlooked and underutilized in cooking and in general. There seems to be a preference towards hemp protein powders, but I like whole food whenever possible.

 photo WP_20170422_006_e_zpscyzeoabz.jpgMy kitchen timer broke and nearly ruined my rice. I bought a new one…finally.

You can possibly tell that this uses a single serving of my Sweet Nightshade Free Curry Powder which I like when using it to increase the sweetness of a dish, but I find that it doesn’t work as well as a general curry powder, but since I have two that can be used like that already (Here and Here) you can just make use of its uniqueness. It’s a shame that so many recipes rely on pre-blended spices or just uses general terms when calling for spices. You know the ever ubiquitous “Curry Powder” which usually means one with nightshades and if you replace it you will greatly alter the dish. At least if they tell you what it contains you’ll know whether your substitutions will work. I find nightshade intolerance is the hardest part of my diet on the whole. There are just some spices that can’t be replaced and you sometimes have to take a different path entirely to get new recipes.

I haven’t really touched on taste, have I, dear reader? It is a sweet curry, don’t think the onions and garlic will drastically alter that. The spices give it a sweet pop, while the banana give it a fruity undertone. I find the mango the least flavoursome aspect of it. I have substituted the honey in the original with maple syrup, it adds a lot of sweetness, you might have to adjust to preference. I did mention hat the chicken was too ender when compared to the sauce and I think tat what might work best here would be something crunchy. Maybe roasted vegetables as you can cook them separately and just stir them into the sauce when it has reached the desired consistency. You can also freeze this sauce, perhaps freeze it into individual portion for a little fruity kick.

That’s a lot of writing to break down such a simple recipe, eh, dear reader? Still you never know when a seemingly dull bit of knowledge might be useful to someone out there. I do often wonder how many of these recipes are tried, I have had comments, none bad as far as I can recall, but there’s a large disparity between comments and views. I make these recipes because I enjoy it and because I need to eat too. But if they happen to help that’d be pretty great. Perhaps there’s another me out there that needs the help like I did all those years back and they won’t have to struggle as much as I did. Who know, dear reader? I’ll see you later.

Ingredients

75g Fresh or Frozen Mango, Chopped
1/2 a Just Ripe Banana
160ml Coconut Cream
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Cut in Half
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Shelled Hemp Seed
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

For the Spice Blend

1/4 Tsp:

Ground Cumin
Ground Cinnamon
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cardamom
Ground Ginger
Ground Turmeric

1/8 Tsp:

Ground Cloves
Ground Anise
Salt
Black Pepper

Can be frozen.

Method

1. Heat Olive Oil in a pan and when warm add Onion and Garlic stir and let cook for 5-10 minutes, on a medium heat, or until soft.

2. Add Coconut Cream, Spices, Mango, Maple Syrup, Banana, Hempseed and then stir together and simmer uncovered until mango is soft.

3. Pour everything into a blender and blend the sauce until smooth and return to pan. Cook at a medium simmer until sauce reaches desired consistency while being careful not to let it burn.

Japanese Delinquent Gardening

 photo WP_20170421_020_e_zpsknf6xk7r.jpgLook there, I type whilst gesturing at the screen. Purple potatoes starting.

Apparently I’ve adopted what’s known as yanki zuwari in my gardening. You can safely Google that, let me just double ch…yeah you’re fine. I can’t kneel, JACK KNEES TO NO-ONE! JACK IS KING OF….ahem, yeah, I’ll actually just fall over if I do. Balance issues when you’re my height are pretty common. So, squatting saves my back, the plants I’d inadvertently crush and everyone’s a winner. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t we just have a gardening post? Isn’t Jack wonderful? One out of two isn’t bad. A lot can change in a day. I’ve been experimenting with sous-vide cooking, successfully thankfully, but as far as recipes go it’s just me slow cooking meat for twelve hours. Fork tender beef is great, as is the gravy you can make with the juices. I’m trying a new version of curry recipe tomorrow, making it a vegan pour over. If it works then that’d be nice, if not I’ll know how sous-vided chicken tastes. The recipe is vegan, I’m not, but I do my homework when catering to other diets, so it should be fine. If you do find mistakes then speak up, dear reader, nothing more bothersome than an incorrectly marked recipe.

 photo WP_20170421_018_e_zps4u9tfoby.jpgWow, the bamboo I planted is really grow…I’m joking. Get back here! Stop planting those sticks.

Can you grow bamboo here, no! I have enough…I mean it. As you can see I have been busy, I’ve planted out my cabbages and some cauliflower that I hadn’t realised I’d hardened-off. I misread it as cabbage, no problem. I did end up with a larger variety due to a mistake in the order, but it’s fine by me. Albino broccoli is albino broccoli, right? The cabbage had to be a certain type and size, a small head, tightly packed. Can I be an obnoxious bore, or teacher if you’d rather? Be careful when purchasing seeds online, check the varieties in Google. The photos and descriptions don’t always match up and you can end up with plants that aren’t suitable due to size, weather requirements. Get a few articles together and compare between them.

 photo WP_20170421_019_e_zpskzzt4wvb.jpgBerry bushes are really flying it. I got some cheap pellet fertilizer so they’ve finally been fed. Weeds are doing wonderfully too…

Now that I have one year under my belt…What belt? The one I’ll smack you with for interrupting me! I know a bit more about planting out. Luck is still a factor and supposedly we’ll be getting a cold spell, to match the imagined warm weather we were promised this week I suppose. I have prepared though. I have fleece netting to protect the seedlings if needs be, but since they’ve been hardened-off well they should be okay. I have slug pellets scattered all around, but not around the plants, I want to draw them away and them let them die away from my seedlings. It’s worked well so far. Though complacency will cost you. Jack is vigilant. I also added sugar water to the seedlings to help with transplant/root shock and each has a cabbage, or brassica, collar to protect against root fly. I need more and might have to make my own. Another point to Google.

 photo WP_20170421_022_e_zpsln7k23jn.jpgPotatoes are really huge, though I like when they don’t pop up in surprising places.

I will sort out some cloche rings (Birthday present), and some rough bamboo ones too, but they’ll come later, I want the plants established a bit before I cover them. It’d be too easy to have them eaten and not even notice when they’re covered with netting. It’s butterflies you have to watch for. They lay eggs and just forget it. I don’t use spray pesticides so I have to cover, cover and cover. I’ll take it day by day and make changes as needed. When I had them growing last year some of them bolted and I was just about lucky enough to have replacements. So this year I’ll keep a few of the seedlings, I have so many!, and pass around the rest. I have the other section to plant yet. I think broccoli, more cabbage, the purple broccoli might go into pots as it’s harvested as needed. I also want a few Brussels sprouts, just a few as they’re such slow growers.

 photo WP_20170421_021_e_zpswcrhz8qz.jpgAsparagus. Did I make the tee-pee tee-hee joke?! No? Oh…

The all tee-pee is for runner beans, whilst, yes, I could use while, but I like whilst, just get o’er it, the smaller one is a split between more pea onward and sugar snaps. Whereas the tee-hee is for school girls of all ages. Phew, I almost missed a chance to make a stupid pun. A lot of this is going to have to be adjusted as I go, today I might think one way and another I’ll have to think again. It’s going well, worrying about imagined failures isn’t going to help me any so I’ll try to keep those bugbears away. I had a nice surprise today in the greenhouse. Another table king squash has started. I might yet see the full quota of five. Yeah, I’m aware that that isn’t that exciting, I just love squash. More than you, dear reader? Why, how could you ask that? Of course more than you.

 photo WP_20170421_016_e_zpsdkrtenqb.jpgThese are hyacinth, right? Mystery bulbs until the last, eh?

I think I might see the rose garden in full bloom this year. The bareroot transplants are doing really well and they all seem healthy. It’ll be a few years before the whole lot really comes into its own, but compared to the wild and weedy mess it once was it’s really great. I can’t wait for the rose-like ranunculus to bloom. I’ll be patient, but the first bloom of a flower is really special. A reward for the work put in. I seem to have all my smaller Summer bulbs starting, you can see some oxalis deppei if I’m right, starting above. They’re in the tires, on the walls and in a few pots. They sold out quick, but I snagged all I needed for a flowery Summer.

 photo WP_20170421_005_e_zpsntfphuss.jpgRose buds, rose hips?, are starting to appear.

I think for the next few days there’ll be a flurry of activity followed by more waiting and watching. I’ll enjoy it for now. I’m setting up the vegetable area for future use. There are a few weed fabric paths being added to help with weeding and not dragging soil everywhere. I think it’s the best use of he space there, I often say that if I grew one hundred cabbages I’d wish for a hundred and one. I grow what grows and I’ll be content with that. Until next time, dear reader.

 photo WP_20170421_017_e_zpsotw5vlap.jpgA early starting Dahila. The first I’ve seen at least.

Studied Stupidity

 photo WP_20170420_010_e_zps3rl5mpg6.jpgIs this even real or Is this just an elaborate prank on Jack?

What? You think that yours truly, Jack the ever audacious, is faking?! You think I do know what I’m doing and have been learning. How…how…did you know? Okay, yeah I think I do know more than I did last year, a lot more if I’m honest, but to temper that, and to keep me humble, there’s still so much I have no idea about. Gardening is complex and involved. But anyone can get in and learn, look at me, I’m actually doing it. Sure, it often feels like falling down a waterfall in a bottomless bucket, but occasionally the cataract slows and the bucket steadies and this metaphor has gotten away from me. What? No, I’m not implying anything about your eyes! Don’t make you hit you with a thesaurus, again, dear reader.

 photo WP_20170420_011_e_zpse8ja5k2q.jpgThe Shirley seem to deepen in colour as they age.

Now, I have spoken before on my compost bins, rather too frequently for a recipe blog, but that’s life, sometimes you’ve got to talk compost. Beats all that bull…Woah! Family-friendly blog! Anyway, I added a whole wheelbarrow’s worth to my vegetable patch a few months ago and covered it, last I dug it it was soft, rich looking, still a bit rough. I’ve dug it again in preparation for the Cabbages and Brussels Sprouts and I tell you, no word of a lie, that it was like sinking a warm knife into butter. Put that knife down, dear reader, you’ll listen to compost talk because I’m a deft hand at swinging shovels and digging holes. Hmmm? Threatening to murder my readership? Where did you get that idea? Must be those cataracts. Anyway, the soil was so wonderfully workable, whenever I found a weed I could shake off all the soil and get to the root and get rid. It’s been turned and forked, scattered over it is fertilizer and tomorrow I rake it and then plant. There has been a lot of learning and working to get here, but it’s wonderful to look at he fruit of my labours and even better to be able to share them with a captive audience. Don’t pull at that chain so, it rattles me.

 photo WP_20170420_003_e_zpsawzh4aw7.jpgDeeply hued and rich. Unlike Jack who is pasty and poor.

 photo WP_20170420_004_e_zpsdcvowm8w.jpgThese had a growth spurt while hardening-off. You have to time it as best you can.

I think now that I’m marking the beds and the pathways it’ll be best to line the paths with weed-proof fabric. The beds are the best use of he space as far as I can see. There will be a second teepee once I get even more bamboo poles. I have no idea where all I had last year went to, I think they’ve been shrinking as I seem to have all but the required size. If you were a true friend, dear reader, you’d have dashed over when I found myself in need. No, no. It’s too late now, but as the saying goes: What’s some bamboo between friends? That’s not a saying? You sure? Well, I suppose I’ll take you word for it. It’s all I’ll get from you anyway…no, I’m not bitter. Just bamboo-less.

 photo WP_20170420_005_e_zps5yohqljq.jpgNext in are some harlequin squash, purple and green broccoli.

 photo WP_20170420_007_e_zpsktytvvu7.jpgThe purple heart ranunculus started! I’m very excited about these.

There’ll be work all over the Summer, weeding, feeding, screaming obscenities at stunted plants. The usual. I feel that I know more this year and know when to worry and when it’s not worth worrying. I hope everything will go well, dear reader. In truth I felt that there was a presence missing, there’s an emptiness in the garden without Naru, I’ll just have to fill it with new life. I’m glad I took a chance on few seeds a few years ago, they’ve grown into something amazing. They even turned me into a gardener. Funny how life changes. Fear not, Jack might be a little more informed, but he’ll ever and always be the most humble, incredible, outstanding…hey! Get back here!

Quinoa Flour Savoury Waffles

 photo WP_20170419_002_e_zpsxq7i5px4.jpgI’ve yet to try the novelty plates.

Ah, dear reader, welcome to Jack’s Mansion of Waffles! That’s all the waffle jokes I’ve got. Yeah, back with yet another flour and another couple of waffles. I had hoped that these might have shared the crustiness of my Quinoa Bread, but sadly no crust. I will try frying them in butter eventually just to see how well they crunch up, either that or toast them. So, like with most promising recipes the future will hold wonder whilst the present just holds, well, waffles. Good waffles. I’ve had no troubles with stuck waffle so far, plenty of oil in the batter seems to work really well. These are similar to the previous recipes, the difference here is that these have less of a crispy texture and more of a skin, but inside they’re absurdly fluffy. It seems to be the most amazing property of quinoa flour when used with flaxseed and a lot of liquid. The batter here will be very runny, much moreso than waffle batter usually is. More of what a quinoa crepe batter would be. There’s a future recipe. I didn’t bother with sugar, I wanted these for sandwiches and you can always add sweetness afterwards, though sugar, white seems best, in the batter does help the waffles crisp up more. Another recipe that proves you can do without a lot of extra additions when using free-from flours, assuming you have the knowledge to use them or the patience to learn. See you again soon, dear reader.

 photo WP_20170419_004_e_zpskiqinfac.jpgI mostly use these as change up from bread.

Ingredients

150ml Water
100g Quinoa Flour
1 Large Eggs (70g to 75g in shell)
50ml Olive Oil
10g Ground Flaxseed
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt

Makes four waffles.
Can be frozen.

Method

1. Beat Eggs, Water, Olive Oil and Salt until frothy using a whisk.

2. Add in Flour, Flaxseed and Baking Powder then whisk until a smooth, very runny batter has been formed. Rest for five minutes.

3. Turn on Waffle Iron. and when heated add enough Batter to warmed Waffle Iron to fill the plates, close and cook for 7-10 minutes until waffles are golden brown and the bottom is crisp. Remove with a rubber spatula and let cool for a few minutes, Waffles will soften slightly as they cool. Repeat until batter is used up.