Plants To Pierce The Heavens

All the beautiful flowers look almost fake.

Last of the pea onward from the main planting.

I’ve scheduled a lot of posts recently. I have no idea in what order either, I was trying to vary them and I may have some where the dates don’t make sense. It’s the first of August, after that you’re on your own. I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that these dwarf plants I’m being sold are just regular sized plants. My green-house is now half tomatoes. I walk in and I’m engulfed by tomatoes. I’m nightshade intolerant, why am I growing so many tomatoes? Oh, yeah, bitterness. I suppose the flip-side of this is that I’m growing so many tomatoes! See the exclamation mark? I’m so joyous over the crop of inedible, to me, fruit. Okay, teasing aside, I’m glad the green-house is working out. I think the tomatoes and chillies are helping the basil too. I have a small bell pepper growing to, the plant is now twice as tall as it was supposed to be. I also have seven feet artichokes. No flowers yet, maybe next year. Then they’ll be eighty feet high and blocking out the sun.

They’re real, really…real.

I think I’ll be lucky enough with squash again this year, they seem to have been pollinated when the weather was fine, the second fruits aren’t likely to be as large as the first, but considering the size of the first crop that won’t be so bad. I still swear by the coffee cup lids, they even stop the discolouration in some cases, it’s cosmetic, but a perfectly unblemished squash is a beauty to behold. I also think tat I’ll see a few carrots, they weren’t planted very well, the first batch was and a heatwave decimated them, but they prove that transplanting works when small and that a little roughness doesn’t hurt them. I harvest a few carrots and there’s hope for the future. I mean my future, your future is still bleak. I’m kidding….stop crying.

I have yet to try a table king. Tomorrow I will see what they’re like.

By the time you read this I’ll probably have eaten a few of them.

I have a few later season crops. I just saw my first runner bean flower. There aren’t many plants and some were pretty roughly planted, but I’d like to see a few. The sugar-snaps are still going, the main batch of pea onward is done and I’m done with this variety. It just isn’t worth growing. It’ll be enjoyable choosing a new kind next year, Maybe another purple podded variety. Easier to find them that way. My sweet potatoes are spreading out their vines at a healthy rate, they’re more on the side of novelty, but I’d regret not giving them a try. There are still a lot of flowers yet to bloom, I’e tried to plant it so I’d have colour for most of the year, it seems to be working okay so far.

These peas had germinated in the pod.

Peas cover weeds and when they dry I’ll compost them.

I know I told you about my purple potatoes, I just can’t remember how much. I was gifted two small seeding potatoes. I split them, planted them and learned a lot in growing all these potatoes this year. One thing I’ve gleamed via observation, tearing the roots apart teaches you a lot is to fill the container with potting compost and fertiliser to 1/3 full, press the potatoes a few inches down. The roots will spread around the bottom, but no potatoes will form that low. I wondered why I was told to  do this. Now I know. Next year I’ll add all the feed that low and see what the yield will be like. It’s all a learning experience, dear reader, I’m enjoy it and I hope, sincerely, you’l enjoy reading about it.

Three kilograms of potatoes.

They look painted. Almost too waxy to be real. I keep saying it, but it’s true.

They’re purple through.

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And Then There Were Plants

 photo WP_20170418_009_e_zpsjsnor2ft.jpgThese cathartic haiku
Observing verdant growth
Let stress float away

 photo WP_20170418_006_e_zpsjnicrewe.jpgElegant tulip
All dressed in midnight hues
Who do you mourn for?

 photo WP_20170418_008_e_zpsxoyjwhxt.jpgCor blimey, look here
Stone the crows, black inside and out
Lovely! God bless my soul!

 photo WP_20170418_001_e_zpszpqdvbpe.jpgAll is balanced
Never too serious, reader
Life is too short, smile

 photo WP_20170418_002_e_zpszbl5ny9u.jpgThese rescued flowers
Have found new life in my garden
Nothing better than free

 photo WP_20170418_003_e_zps1ynja9hg.jpgI hope for flowers
China Asters covered
Or, perhaps, just weeds

 photo WP_20170418_010_e_zpseokqqqqn.jpgLupins and lilies
Onions and more garter weed
Not for long, damn weed

 photo WP_20170418_011_e_zpsbu67y7x5.jpgOne pink anemone
I forgot to photograph
Take my word for it, please

 photo WP_20170418_012_e_zpskln1lntn.jpgHyacinth fade away
You’ve joined the crocus in rest
Tulip, stay a while

 photo WP_20170418_013_e_zpssjtoswwl.jpgGladioli gladly grew
Nerine just starting to show
Anemone wasn’t dead

 photo WP_20170418_014_e_zpsgowv59p8.jpgSummer and Spring part
A place for Autumn in there too
Winter as well

 photo WP_20170418_015_e_zpsrgcvvnvy.jpgPromised garden
Begins slowly to take its shape
Flowers for my best friend

 photo WP_20170418_017_e_zps5trqz8ou.jpgThe table king is late
The harlequin are running wild
Nine fools and one king

 photo WP_20170418_016_e_zpsyzuta4mr.jpgNothing as it seems
A Strawberry no berry at all
Science is confusing

 photo WP_20170418_019_e_zps7wnxwhmy.jpgArtichoke growing
Exotic immature thistle
How do they taste

 photo WP_20170418_020_e_zps3eyjmci7.jpgA tumbler beetroot
It actually worked, well then
Jack smug for a while

 photo WP_20170418_022_e_zpsxziwwsqe.jpgCabbage, Brussels sprouts
Getting ready for planting out
Brassica aplenty

 photo WP_20170418_021_e_zpsr8rcbgbn.jpgImprove the soil each year
Rotate the crops, smother those weeds
Enjoy every step

No Matter How I look At It It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Gardening

 photo WP_20170114_001_e_zpscrua4ehj.jpgOld bulbs sprout anew
Blue yellow sleep within these shells
Come forth new flowers

We had a slight cold spell, which thankfully I had early warning of and prepared properly. I gathered up every piece of plastic I had around and covered my newly sprouting bulbs, how I wish bulbs budded, the alliterative possibilities,  now that it’s over they’ve been uncovered and have had a growth spurt. It’s still cold, but warmer than it was. Will you come with Jack, dear reader, to walk and talk of plants? To peer at and praise these simple children of nature? Will you read these all too human haiku that are the silly follies of Jack? Will you ignore the bottomless mayonnaise buckets with the raspberry growing in them? Aye, you will stay with me for a while. The grape hyacinth that started as forced bulbs, reminds me of birds in cages for some reason, something too sad therein to contemplate, silly I know, have started again, I thought them lost, but there they were with the daffodils just waiting. They’ve gained a better life now, with space to grow and thrive.

 photo WP_20170114_005_e_zpsbh328z5s.jpgPull back the covering
Who is now awakened?
It’s Darwin’s tulips

I can’t remember what that black container was, I also can’t remember a time the bottom wasn’t broken. It’s gained a new life too as a bottomless container where weeds and rhubarb once battled for supremacy and nutrients. I think there’s a lily in there too, I can’t pull it until I’m sure. It might be one of the immature parts of the bulb. These tulips weren’t there when I covered this and it’s only been a few days. Things happen fast at times in the garden and other times interminably slowly.

 photo WP_20170114_006_e_zpsfcjphi49.jpgLeaves come again
Purple as the fruit promised
Blueberries one day

I’ve tried blueberries before, but I seem to have little success with cold stratification, this was a berry plant I planted out while it was still active. The leaves fell off in December and I thought it might be lost, but when I uncovered it it was as you see it now. I should cover everything and then pull it back with a flourish like a magician, it seems to work well. If I could get one well established plant I could take cutting and, though it would take years, get a few blueberries bushes growing. The raspberries look well too.

 photo WP_20170114_002_e_zpsskdwjvp9.jpgLilies in orange
Pots of black and soil of brown
Variegated hues

 photo WP_20170114_003_e_zps3gwdnqyb.jpgIs that a weed there?
A mean stinging one, beware
Pull it with gloves

It looks as if the separated lilies aren’t any worse for wear. They were in the ground and pots a long time, but the bind-weed was spoiling the  ones in what was once the wild garden, now rose garden, and the potted ones had been stuffed in a small pot for years and were much too cramped. I like bulbs as they start when normally there’d be nothing to look at in the garden. I’m out there every day regardless, but it’s much nicer to have company. That sounds somewhat pathetic, dear reader, pretend you never read that. I just found out that some of my bulbs for February planting have already sprouted so I’ll have to get those down too. They’re peacock orchids. Not real orchids, but a pretty white flower nonetheless.

 photo WP_20170114_004_e_zpsw01jvqfj.jpgThere King of The Striped
Green ring within a black ring
At the centre tulips rest

I hope the full circle grows. The warm weather might help. This might be a waste of a bottomless pot, but with bulbs there’s nothing stopping you from moving them at the end of the season and when they’re in pots you don’t lose any.

 photo WP_20170114_008_e_zpsryihshaj.jpgArms held out in cheer
A new hat to celebrate
Joyous gypsy girl appears

I’m pretty sure that the gypsy girl. One seems to have stumbled, but a crooked flower is still a flower. I wonder how long it’ll take for the whole planter to fill up with these flowers? Worth waiting for.

 photo WP_20170114_007_e_zpswf7cfbm0.jpgThe hard work has paid off
Green shoots, their verdant splendour
Fill my soul with pleasure

It’s funny how little flowers interested me until I started growing, often just trying to, them myself. I think it’s the investment in your time, the gamble of nature and the elements unpredictability and the sheer joy of seeing something you’ve planted come good. I still have to choose seeds for the latter part of the year’s flowers, for the while I’ll just marvel at these tenacious little flowers.

 photo WP_20170114_010_e_zpsy8nfjt4m.jpgWhite bells ring out loudly
Little flowers stay with Jack
For a while at least

 photo WP_20170114_012_e_zpsstyzuw8h.jpgCheap little roses
Not meant to live for too long
Instead you will thrive

 photo WP_20170114_009_e_zpscnzfwbah.jpgBe not shy little flower
Jack’s hands can be clumsy and awkward
But they’re full of love

I’m getting sentimental in my dotage, dear reader. Still, there are worse ways to spend your time, sharing the garden is a little pleasure you’ll have to forgive me. When there’s something new it’s hard not to want to share the experience. The herbs, fruits and vegetables are still a ways off, but when they come there’ll be recipes and stories to share. I’m popping on and off eBay searching for interesting seeds. If anyone has any suggestions, please remember we’re not blessed with very hot weather here, I’d be really glad to hear about them. I don’t mind if they’re flowers, vegetables, fruits, whatever suits. Do you have a favourite flower? A preferred vegetable? Let me know  below. Thanks for dropping by.

Gravy Gravy Gravy

Ah, overfed readers, I hope you’ve all had a good day. For me this year has been one of the most enjoyable in recent memory. Perhaps it was being in possession of a more variegated selection of recipes, perhaps the many thoughtful gifts that I received or just the general geniality of proceedings. I won’t question it, just be thankful for it. A slight fun event is upcoming: I shall be going to a book-store to purchase a book! Between the public domain, oh my treasure, next to you, dear reader, naturally, and online stores I’ve had no reason to avail of book-stores. But I’m in possession of a voucher and I will be going in blind, it’s not a large store, but a books a book. Speaking of which: The title is a book reference. But you didn’t come here to talk books, I’d talk turkey but it’s all been gobbled up. So let’s talk gravy. And let’s muse on muses.

Do you, or does someone you know, like gravy? Do they like my Cashew Butter Gravy? No? probably not. I don’t think it’s as popular as it’s rich, decadent deliciousness deserves. I had a variation, due to the lack of cashew butter in the house,  today with almond butter, but a pinch of Poultry Seasoning, some juices and it was heavenly. I  have played with the idea of using it in other ways, it was born from an accident, as are many, no shame there, as I used  cashew butter in a nut curry and it was flavourless or almost so. What it lacked in taste it made up for in richness and thickness. So, I’ve been think about using it in a sweet capacity. I hate to talk theoretical recipes as it can make you feel as if I’m promising something I might never provide. It’s also been done, and probably done better than I ever could. You’ve seen it in the wonderful and technical Bûche de Noël au Café (Sans Gluten). I always mention my inspirations. I can’t do much, but I can always credit a source.

So, what can someone like me do with a gravy to make it a sweeter sauce? Well, an egg and sugar would be necessary, right? I’ve never made custard, unless a packet counts, but I have made curds galore. And a wheat-based Pastry Cream, with a roux because why not make it complicated? So I’d follow that though and go for a double boiler to avoid scrambling the egg. Now the question is whether this is even worthwhile. I don’t like waste or making too much of anything. I have no one to fob my disastrous or humongous culinary creations off on. I’d probably use peanut butter as a cheaper alternative. A huge tub runs the same cost as a small jar of cashew butter. If it made a decently rich “custard” then I’d probably make a flourless nut cake, perhaps with a buttercream surround and fill the centre in with the sauce. The thing about all these desert ideas is that reality assert its hard-headed self. The ingredients can be costly and might be better used in more practical applications. The sugar wouldn’t be too bad, but the more complex it becomes the more sugary it’ll end up being and my self control can be mighty, but I will eat it all if it’s there, so my poor system would end up sugar shocked. I’m just sharing this to give an idea of how recipes come about here. And to share a few neglected recipes.

I did hit a bad spell of chocolate-conditioing. What’s that? A made up term. This time of year was always about tubs of chocolate, chocolate in all forms imaginable. You have to imagine that over two decade of that leaves an imprint. So I sat there today craving like, like an addict, wanting it, knowing it would be destructive, but wheedling and whining. I needed it. I deserved it. And you know what? No. No, I don’t want that. There’s too much bad attached to that substance. So I pushed it aside and carried on reading, twitching intermittently, and I’m okay now. It’s the way I’ll always be. I actually didn’t have a dessert today. I knew I’d overeat at dinner, moistly on vegetables, but still, so I left it out. I’m glad I did. I used to, probably still do occasionally, eat for the sake of eating. It comes from food making me ill, undiagnosed everything, you know how it goes, and wanting to just get rid of it all. Why eat it later, just be sick now and get rid of it. That was a terrible way to be and I’m better now, but the vestiges still remain. That’s life. This turned out longer than I’d intended. I lost a snowdrop to gale-force winds today. That’s an absurd statement, but it was my first. There are others, but you never forget the first. So, here, recycled Twitter haiku. Or human haiku as I’m told the simpler form is called.

They did not quietly sneak
They howled, capered wildly
They scattered the snow

Winds recede, I stand
The snowdrop lays unopened
My heart breaks for the flower

Jack’s anger is quiet
Enduring like the winds that blow
But wilder than they be

The bulbs and wind return
Time passes and they remain
Will Jack last like them?

I’m be doing something fun in the coming week. Whether it be a nut butter custard, a cake or cookies I have no idea. If nothing else it’ll be fun. Thanks for your support everyone. I hope you’ll stick by your forever friend in the New Year. I will be looking at new seeds soon so there will be “Jack” posts scattered here and there, like the seeds they’re unpredictable. Until we meet again.

Nightshade Free Sweet Curry Powder

 photo WP_20161214_003_e_zpsmnjptbyu.jpgOriginal can be found here.

Hello, dearest reader, here I am again, humbled by my own proximity. No, that isn’t right. I am a pearl in the garden of modesty. No. Now I’ve started laughing and can’t remember what I was saying. I am ever and always myself and forever here for you, that is, unless I’m not. Not here, I mean, I’m always me. Except when I’m Jack. I’m the acme of confused ramblers. It’s hard to flesh out a post about a spice blend, but somehow I make up a decent word-count. So, I’ve spoken about the lack of nightshade recipes, or rather nightshade+ recipes. I came across this by accident. This is my third curry powder blend. It’d not bad, it does have a slight hint of sweetness, nothing major, but it’s different enough to warrant saving for future use. I do wonder how common nightshade intolerance is, I’ve had it since I was born. Babies might be prone to spewing, but I’m told I went above and beyond. Always making the extra effort, that’s me. So we’ve gone from pearls in gardens to nauseous infants. You don’t usual see such wondrous combinations. I’ll leave you an absurd haiku and I’ll see you anon. No, I’m not calling you anon, it means later, yes I know it’s also used online. Shush!

From the mouths of babes
Spews not shiny pearls for the garden
Please, no more potato

Ingredients

1/2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp Ground Cardamom
1/2 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
1/4 Tbsp Ground Cloves
1/4 Tbsp 1/4 Tbsp Anise or 1/4 Tbsp Fennel

Method

1. Place all everything into a jar. Shake to combine. Store in an airtight jar.

Don’t Cry For Me I’m Already Bread

Is it still Halloween? Okay, Happy Halloween. Dear reader, you might have read about how I feel there isn’t much out there for longer-term coeliacs, or people coming out of the new stage of diagnosis or discovery. Now, whenever I’ve spoken about it before it’s been fairly serious, but today I’m going to share a bit of the light-hearted side of my journey. I’ve said my memory on the early days isn’t great, I gave up a lot quickly and that has its traumatic downsides. But here I am, humbled  by my majesty. I’m better, far, far better than I was. So, today, tonight rather, I’ll be talking about the three stages of Bread-Death. What am I talking about? Read on, dear reader, and we’ll figure it out together.

Stage One: It’s Like Tasty Sawdust!

Gingerly poked bread
Crumbles beneath a harsh word
Do I butter this?

Okay, I’m being mean here, there are gluten free breads that are delicious, probably, but my experience, and it seems to be matched by many online, was that gluten free bread was pretty disgusting on occasion or bland and hard on others. Gross out time! It is Halloween after all, I won’t be graphic, when I first purchased my first (And Last) loaf of gluten free bread, I wasn’t aware of my nightshade intolerance. Yeah, and being the odd kid I’ll always be, my stomach revolts at nightshades, unpleasantness ensues and my first loaf of pre-made bread became my last. I remember it was dry, crumbly and just bad. Eventually I found a mix I could eat, but that was just this gluey thick bread. That was back in the days before I realised I don’t tolerate gums or added starches. So that was my experience of gluten free “bread”.

Stage Two: I Don’t Need Bread! The Death of Bread.

Who goes with bread now?
Not I, nor Yeats, we need it not
We have corn tortillas

Eventually I started to branch out, wraps, pancakes, Oatcakes were a major staple of my diet, which is a shame as I’m allergic. I spent months in a state of constant itch. So I didn’t need bread, who needed bread? This isn’t actually a bad thing on the whole, it made me explore alternatives. I can’t remember a lot here, told you: memory trouble, but I’ll never forget you, er, dear reader. Eventually I figured out that my histamine intolerance was causing the rashes and other issues. So oatcakes were out and it was scary. Three times I’ve had to ditch foods that had become staples of my diet. Each time I had less and less to work with. I might have been fiddling with baking bread at this stage I’m not sure. I do remember trying a premixed flour that I could tolerate, at the time at least I thought I could, and it was awful. Tasteless and just wrong. It’s probably what pushed me, at least in part, towards single flour recipes. They work for me at least. Oh! I used to eat bread made with all flaxseed, it was…mushy. Edible and it did me good service, but I wasn’t sorry to retire it. Oh! (Seriously I should rewrite this, but: don wanna) Rice cakes with mincemeat in sauce on them, that was terrible. I was doing this on my own, mind. Mistakes were made. I’m amazed I’m still here.

Stage Three: Ah Screw It! I’ll Make it Myself!

Batters thin, thick, runny
Sometimes bake perfect
Deny the other times

The final stage, for me at least, and let me tell you it’s delicious. Soft, light breads, without gums, added starches, binders or anything that would make me ill. Now this didn’t occur overnight, it took years of work. I had to learn and lot and hone my skills time and time again. Every failure pushed me ahead. So here I am, I have more bread recipes than I could use at any given time. All with something different about them: Different flavours, texture, nutritional  values. This is the positive part, just in case you missed it, this is where I arrived even with all my limits, with bread far better than anything I could buy. Far healthier too. Is this the way for you to go? That depends on what you want and how happy you are in your life right now. I like how things are, I can adjust my recipes, add to them, change it up as often as I like. This is a good place.

So, that’s it for today. A little glimpse into the past or potentially your future. There really needs to be more from long time coeliacs, especially those who really have it together. I’m probably not the best to talk  about this, I muddle things up quite often, but I might as well type it out. You never know who’ll need to hear it. Feel free to share you bread stories in the comments below! See you soon.

Bury My Bucket In The Backyard

 photo WP_20161009_002_e_zps9ht2okso.jpgHaiku post again?
This is a recipe blog, right?
“All is illusion”

Wood stain for borders
Just needs some decorate bark
Wild garden tamed

Are these haiku bad?
Yes, but Japan forgives me
This I know Why? Because

 photo WP_20161009_001_e_zpsfdfht0fp.jpgPlanters of dark oak
Filled with soil awaiting
Their purpose next year

Old beds cleaned out
Sheet pinned down to kill weeds
Expansions, new plans

A comma cheating?
Don’t tell on Jack, dear reader
Scold not your old pal

 photo WP_20161009_006_e_zps8mqhcfrb.jpgWeeds thick along the wall
Dug out, line with weed matting
Sink buckets, wood edge

No bottom bucket
Maybe garlic Perhaps salad
Anything but those weeds

Cinnamon Basil
Strawberries frozen when fresh
Made into chia jam

 photo WP_20161009_003_e_zpsimk1ggaj.jpgChillies ripening
Weather unpredictable
Take what I can get

Growing for family
Sharing fresh produce with friends
The garden has many gifts

Where has it gone to?
Deleted photo of jam
Imagine red mush

 photo WP_20161009_005_e_zpsagbccvxb.jpgHow much is left now?
I need six more to finish?
Oh come on! Too hard

I think of pumpkins
Growing vertically again
But in the ground this time

I read, I garden
Occasionally I post posts
Thrilling, aren’t I?

 photo WP_20161009_004_e_zpsyierz1hu.jpgPeach, Rambling, Pink, Odd
Still Growing inexplicably
Live Strive Thrive Grow strong!

Title? Lyric from song
Sung by Ariel, Icon for Hire
The song? Rock and Roll Thugs

Last one? These are done?
Bit of fun, eh, dear reader
Until we meet again