Go Home Compost, You’re Drunk

It is me, again and always, a toiling son of the soil. Did you wonder at my, well, slight, absence? Did you sigh with melancholy as you sat at your looking-glass? If failing that, did you squint sadly into your tea and think of me? Did you hope for Jack to come and whisper at the grate? No? Oh, you mean you didn’t wait around for my posts, while refusing to peruse all others?! Why you, wait for it, flibbertigibbet! I was hoping to have a new recipe, but the recipes haven’t been forthcoming, even though I’ve been going forth after them. It’s been dreary here, but that hasn’t stopped the gardener’s spirit from straining to be out. I’ve been doing a bit here and there and I thought I could squeeze a post out of my meagre comings and goings in the garden. Oh! I have an announcement! Trumpet trumpet please! The blog has exceeded the two hundred and fifty follower mark. So what can I say, but you’re welcome. What? Oh, okay, thank you. No, seriously, thank you. I’ve never had any real aspirations outside of sharing the recipes here with as many people as possible. This is just a wonderful surprise. I hope you’ll all continue to support me.

 photo WP_20170130_001_e_zpsmdch1tsf.jpgDo you want to come out? “MAYBE”

Teenagers, or octogenarians depending on how you look at it, can be fickle. Even more so when they’re deaf Labradors. You go out without them and they angrily trot after you and then lick your compost stirrer. Said compost is breaking down well after a beer soaking.  You invite them out and they play it coy. I imagine her thinking very loudly at al times, which means I’ll more often than not be cracking up at what I imagine her thoughts to be. I’d be lost without my friend, Naru, often known by many different affectionate terms, like baldy-bum, biddy-boy, me nunnies etc. When she could hear she had no problem with a multitude of names and long maundering conversations and now I wouldn’t break the habit if I could. She can tell what I’m thinking and I her, that’s enough for us. I tell you, dear reader, missed the appellation, eh?, in thirteen years I have never tired of her. Let no one tell you an old dog isn’t as good, if not better, than a puppy. They’re a joy. I know someday there’ll be a little garden, resplendent with flowers, to mark her memory, but for now we’re the gardening duo. I, Jack, the toiler, the worker, the dreamer. Naru, the smeller, the examiner and, occasionally, the compost imbiber.

 photo WP_20170127_001_e_zpsf9ol28nn.jpgPrimroses and bellas, with cyclamen from last year.

The planters contain, let me think, freesia and Dutch Irises. Buying from the discount store has its benefits, lots of bulbs is nice. I do have a few more choice bulbs to be planted, but still a wide selection is nothing to be scoffed at and I’ve had success with them often. Affordable isn’t the same as cheap, spendthrift reader. I hope over the coming months that the flowers will spread, but not crowd. This is finished and fed, so now I leave it and just weed it occasionally.

 photo WP_20170129_001_e_zpskguz8cet.jpgGarlic, the gardener’s lazy friend.

I keep forgetting that garlic droops. Every time I freak out and them remember. As long as the centre is straight it’s fine. I’m a worry-wart, I must admit. I like growing garlic, I keep saying it’s not worthwhile, but it’s enjoyable to see something growing that you have to do so little with. I am fertilising it this year. I was erratic with my feeding last year and the bulbs weren’t very large. I’ve been told you feed them, once a month roughly, until about May and let the bulbs swell. It’s always a case of knowing nothing and being content and lucky. Then learning a little and fretting endlessly. I have a lot to learn yet.

 photo WP_20170129_003_e_zpsqoe8dyxq.jpgI saw the crocuses open! A bad photo, but he best I could manage. They’re starting up again, but the wind ravaged these.

 photo WP_20170129_008_e_zpsmu4ppg3b.jpgThat’s how you grow pots. You mean you didn’t know?

I planted Dahlia Unwin and Ranunculus Rhubarb and Custard in the long planter. The two pots are heathers. Warwick Flame and a Spring Flowering heather. The pot? Why it’s…an empty space! I didn’t have enough bulbs and I didn’t want to plant over another bulb eventually. So the pot is a place holder, not to be confused with a pot holder. I actually have another type of Dahlia, it’ a…lean in closer: BISHOP OF LLANDAFF! Sorry. I have coveted my neighbours dahlia, well, some person’s garden near the shop, for a while. Funnily I chose it for its vibrant red colour on the package, but not until it was in my hands did I recognise the ol’ bish. That’ll be planted next month. They’re perennials so I should have them from here on out, but I have to coddle it a bit. Worth it, trust me.

 photo WP_20170129_002_e_zps0ywbivo1.jpgSomething, changed? Why yes.

 photo WP_20170130_004_e_zpsrzooumqv.jpgOh, you want to know what.

The glass table didn’t work out, I decided to call an end to the test. Instead I’ve planted potatoes in pots. It’s a bit early, but they’d started and the packaging said February. I kept the soil dry and used a fertilizer. I didn’t realise it was powdered, I assumed pellets. There was a cloud of something unpleasantly fragrant and poor Jack had to scramble away. Thankfully I got there in the end. I filled it about halfway full, I’ll hill it up as they sprout. The soil will compress as it gets wet so it’ll take a lot of potting compost to fill these in. With the table gone there’s a lot more space, fear not for the strawberries, they’re safe. I do wonder how no one else’s garden is so messy as mine. I even brushed up the dirt, but it never looks so clean and classy as those online. Eh, produce will grow the same as long as it’s tended with care and consideration. The exterior doesn’t matter, says the man with a light dusting of fertilizer. I bought more of the coloured pots while hey were reduced, something like twenty five Euro off. They add a splash of colour.

 photo WP_20170129_009_e_zpsjib9cbro.jpgThe oldest and the yellow.

I worry about the oldies, but I still want runners from them if can get them. They’re a hardy plant, strong leaves and good fruit. If you look in the corner, you’ll see a laurel branch, which, due to the marvellous resilience of nature, had taken root. I uprooted it without realising it had rooted, but I shoved it back into the mess that’s hidden off camera. It can grow and fill a gap. The barrel in view is filing with rain water now the tap is closed. I am still red-faced over that farce.

 photo WP_20170129_006_e_zps1czcskxd.jpgI snuck, sneaked?, the other yellow strawberries onto this side.

These are starting to show some new life. I have about, hmmm, twenty five or so plants. There is a beautifully sweet cascading one in there, I didn’t get runners last year due to the odd weather, but I will be keeping a diligent watch this year. I think containers are best, if you decide to grow strawberries, they’re easy, really easy, do remember the runners will spread everywhere. They’ll take from the mother plant and leave it less productive. In a container they can still root a few babies but you can find and cut the cord easily. You can buy them as bareroot plants, babies or already established plants. They take a year to set fruit, the yellows don’t handily, but after that, with minimal care, you’re in strawberry heaven.

 photo WP_20170130_006_e_zpslgtt8hde.jpg“I WAITED FOR YOU! WHY DIDN’T YOU BRING ME?”

I thought to myself, as I squatted planting seed potatoes in the blustering wind and punishing cold, how I’d never imagined I’d be doing this. I think anyone who needs a little more outside, perhaps peace too, in their lives should consider taking up gardening. I read it somewhere that gardening is a form of worship. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? Pews of sod on which to rest, the gentle voices of the birds to sermonise and a congregation of plants all attentive to the sun. Who am I to consider these things? I’m just a gardener. Handily, it scales, a pot or a plot, it matters not. If, like Jack, you get carried away then all the better. You’ll feel a deeper connection to food once you’ve seen where and how it grows. I think that, though there are rules and truths, there is a lot of luck in all this. The weather is fickle, the seeds are little vacillators and stealing from garden centres is frowned upon so money is a necessity, but it’s worth taking the chance. Any success, no matter how slight, measures far greater in your mind than a failure no matter how vast. There are so many plants, vegetables, flowers, you could spend a lifetime trying all variegated varieties and never even scrape the surface. So I’ll leave you. Happy I am, amongst my reused pots, my cheap bulbs, my castles in the sky and the promises of so contained within many little seeds and slips. Until later, dear reader.

Vegetable Medley Pasta Sauces

 photo WP_20170117_013_e_zpswnvortqj.jpgI’ll freeze these then pop them out and bag them.

I’m getting ahead of myself with the plural, but all things in time, I’ll eat my way through the two I made today, the below recipe is the full one, and then I’ll try other combinations of vegetables. I might even try roasted or charred vegetables. I’m still learning how to eat vegetables, that might be laugh-worthy, but when you’ve never eaten something it’s daunting to prepare and alien to your taste buds. I don’t subscribe to the idea of hidden vegetables. You know, the practice of sneaking and disguising vegetables into meals. I feel it gives you a feeling that they shouldn’t be there and eventually an excuse to exclude them. I find what works best is to try everything, if you can tolerate it, even just barely, taste wise I mean, not as a food intolerance, then stick with it, you’ll get used to it and will find ways to make it more palatable to your tastes or you’ll eat it for its health benefits. I could leave cauliflower out, I’m not that fond of it, but with all my limits I want to introduce as many vegetables as possible and I’m sticking to that plan. I’m also reducing my sugar intake as I’ve mentioned. It’s going well. When I first started, all of this, that seems to be the best summation, I went and cut my options down to the bone, the most basic, healthy diet devoid of any extraneous foods, that foundation is what helps me now when I need to cut out. I don’t feel I’m owed sugars, or entitled to junk-food. I also prefer treat days, designated days for baking or buying junk, rather than a cheat day, I limit what I bake and buy, a cheat day wouldn’t allow that for me. Limits, not to hold me down, but to make me soar.

 photo WP_20170117_012_e_zpst4c2bmzk.jpgToday was an orange vegetable day.

I walked away from this post and now I’ve lost my train of thought. I’m drinking a juice box. This is a novelty. There’s no sweeteners or colouring in it, which is surprising. There is sugar, terrible, terribly delicious sugar. I said I was cutting down, not out, now get away from my juice box! It’s mine! You get your own. It seems as if everyone in Ireland has conspired to get sick, there are way too many bugs around. Your forever friend has been hit with a nasty bug. So I went the food-as-healing route and drank a raw carrot and turmeric smoothie, which aside from honey and water is he ingredient list. I don’t know if it helped, but it didn’t hurt. I have also been on he search for suitable pain relievers, head pain occasionally hits, but all I’ve found is a rub on stick that seems to help somewhat. Medication and I don’t mix, at all, pain I can deal with, side effects, too numerous to mention, I can’t. This album is really great, what were we doing again? Can I have another juice box? Is this a regression or a digression?

 photo WP_20170117_014_e_zps7sck2vvc.jpgI made curry with the three orange vegetables too. For freezing and eating on lazy days. Rice too.

So, let me tell you the secret of this sauce. It’s, hold onto your minds, they’re about to be blown, it’s actually a soup! Tricked you, it’s actually really dull. This is pretty much just a thick soup, as is the original, but when coating a pasta it works really well, as a way to get vegetables into you it’s very handy too. I’ve found, even with the addition of spice mixes, that just butternut wasn’t exciting my palate, so I thought that a mixture, a medley of vegetables, might be more interesting and more easily varied. I also want to add some carrots to a few of my meals and this and a curry seem to be the ways I enjoy them most. As far as taste goes it’s just the sum of its parts, nothing much more than that.

 photo WP_20170117_016_e_zpsuxzjuxfh.jpgBefore: A wet sloppy mess.

 photo WP_20170117_017_e_zpsn7ufsrvb.jpgAfter: Muffin Tops I suppose.

I also needed a breakfast option. So I took my Peanut Butter Cookies, substituted the sugar with a banana, I’ll add all that to the recipe page. See, this is where I struggle: Are these sugar free? Are they no added sugar cookies? This is why I hesitate when tagging recipes as sugar free etc. I’ll learn some day. These turned out fine, I find that a bit of protein rich nut butter sees me through until I can eat a right meal. So, that’s it for today. At least we have a few new recipes to add to the blog, that’s always fun, right? I have one more thing to try before the week’s out, so keep an eye on the site. No promises, it might be a bust. I’m tired and want a juice box so I’ll leave you. Weep not, for I’m always right there in your heart. Just call me the Jack of Hearts. Or not, whatever suits. Geddit? Suits…never mind. Later.

Ingredients

Orange Medley

400g Butternut Squash, Cubed
200g Sweet Potato, Cubed
200g Carrots, Diced
1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
12 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
500ml Water/Chicken Stock
Olive Oil for Frying
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Can be frozen.
Makes 4 Servings.

Method

1. Heat Olive Oil in a pot and add the Butternut Squash, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Onion, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes or until Onion is soft.

2. Add Stock to pot and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer and let cook until everything is soft. Then, if, desired, leave to simmer slowly and let reduce to enhance the flavour.

3. Add the contents of the pot to a blender and blend until smooth. When using add to a pan and heat until warm, cook for a while if sauce needs to reduce and thicken, then toss Pasta in sauce and serve.

Variations

 photo WP_20170120_003_e_zpssttj330e.jpgTry to use vegetables with similar roasting times or use separate tins.

Roasted: Use up to 1000g of Vegetables. Add everything, but the Stock to a roasting tin, roast at 200c for 40-60 minutes until vegetables are tender and caramelised to your preference, be careful not to burn the Onions or Garlic. Remove from oven and add to a pot with the Stock boil for a few minutes until everything is soft and tender then blend.

After Six Years…

…I’m still here. Six years of what? Is everything an appropriate answer? No, oh, well, of my journey. The journey I started alone and kept at by myself. Of losing ten stone, or 140 pounds if you’d rather, of keeping it off and never slipping up. Of going head to head with three major food intolerances, diseases, whatever and starting my whole life from scratch. I’m not spilling my guts here, I’m one to keep a lot to myself, but you don’t need to know everything. I’ve talked about the pain, the, the suffering, no other word dear reader, but let’s look on the positive side here. I went from a mess to the me you see in these posts. The baker, the cook, the gardener, dearest Jack in other words, the DIY’er and more besides. The struggler, the striver, ever pushing towards being just a bit better. Never perfect, but never needing to be. I’m not sure what to say here, what do you say? I could be an utter terrible person and try to sell my life as a diet plan, I’d die before I did that, trust me on that. I’m just here, a simple person, I did more than I can often comprehend and as to how, well, I don’t know. A terrible answer, but the truth. I just looked at the alternative and then decide to fight.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you all for your continued support, it really means a lot and though I might be reticent at times, other times you can’t shut me up,  that’s me and I’m learning that that’s okay. I’m also learning I don’t have to be a bastion of any community, nor is there a need to be an advocate, saviour, take your pick. I’m just me, if I help people then great. I’m always careful to never be reckless or irresponsible, but I can stop, pull back whenever I want. That’s been a huge lesson for me. I guess what I’m saying is it’s never too late to change your life and that it doesn’t have to be this huge all encompassing thing. All I’ve done, as huge as some of it was never made me feel that different, better sure, but not a different person and none of it was a cure all, it just helped. Little pieces connecting, joining and making it easier to be happy were what comprised this journey. There’s more to do and I’m okay with that. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but well, that’s okay. I’m heading into my seventh year and I’m still willing to learn and share what I can. As I always say, it still holds ever true, if someone like me, a hugely obese mess, could fix his life then you can too, but don’t look to be perfect or to become anyone’s idea of the ideal you, just try to be a little happier, be prepared for a lot of pain and hardship, but know that that all goes towards the end goal. Grit your teeth, dig in your heels and stand firm, face towards your joy and start working towards it. There aren’t any short-cuts, but once you’re here you won’t mind the journey it took. Then repeat it all again and keep getting better. Dearest reader, thanks for stopping by. Dearest me, thanks for hanging in there. We’re doing okay.

Banana Flour Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread

 photo WP_20161201_014_e_zpswifws8sv.jpgThe batter is thicker.

This might be a bit muddled as I’m still not feeling all that well. This recipe is basically this one redone. I’m just using up my banana flour, it’s edible. Fast too. It’s a springy, slightly dry loaf that is pretty much my last resort when using new flours. I know I shouldn’t run down a recipe, but it’s mine, I can do that and I wouldn’t sell you on a recipe that wasn’t worth much. You can eat it and you won’t die, that’s about it. I’m being a  bad blogger, but forgive me for I know exactly what I do, but I have the recipes. Bribery? Tut. I like to think of it as blackmail. Okay, yeah, rant below, recipe below that. Below all that is me passed out. Until later.

 photo WP_20161201_017_e_zps6hzph779.jpgI just popped it out of the tin and cut it. Don’t do that. Not that it matters.

This isn’t a clever, intricate recipe. If anything it’s the most basic kind of free-from recipe, it’s comprised of ingredients that can be interchanged without altering the end result, which might sound impressive until you realise the end result is just, well, being edible. So it means that the ingredients aren’t being used to their utmost. It’s a matter of utilitarian baking, use what you have and end up with the same end product. It’s similar to recipes you see from companies trying to push their product. They’ll use one ingredient, whether a combination, or another ingredient would be better, to the detriment of the recipe just to sell you on the product. That’s their choice, but you see then we have the assumption that nothing better can be made, I mean, if you’re new and your first exposure to free-from baking is company’s recipes, and will likely be, then that means you’re starting from an erroneous position and will need to learn from scratch to get better. I’m not being arrogant here, it’s not that I’m some kind of expert, perish forbid, but I know what I’m doing and I started the same way. It’s just now I can look at these recipes and go: Oh, yeah, no that’s just not good enough. Serviceable is fine, but that shouldn’t be where we stay. You can eat better, much better, with the same amount of work, you just need a better understanding of the ingredients and anyone selling you on a product or service might not be able or willing to help with that. I’m dizzy, I’ll hope this isn’t taken as offensive. Just my point of view. If someone like me can do as I’ve done and continue to do then you can do it too, dearest reader.

Ingredients

Wet

125g Natural Peanut Butter/Almond Butter
100g Hokkaido Pumpkin Purée or Other Sweet Fleshed Squash
1 Medium Egg (60g-65g in Shell)
1 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Dry

1 Tbsp Banana Flour
1/2 Tsp Pumpkin Spice
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

Can be frozen.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175c (Fan). Grease and line the bottom of a baking tin.

2. Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Add all the wet ingredients to a bowl and beat together, using an electric mixer, until smooth. Then add the dry and beat until mixed completely. Scoop into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway if necessary, or until a knife comes out clean. Loaf should be golden brown and firm.

4. Let cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Curry

  photo WP_20161015_003_e_zpsiyyt3a8b.jpgSo much sauce. Just the way it should be.

You know I sometimes drive myself crazy trying to tell if I should post a recipe. All of these recipes are presented as I use them. I spend way too much of my time thinking of all the possible people using these recipes and I wonder if I should adjust to cater to these imagined dependants. Which is silly, isn’t it? I like sharing the recipes, but I’ve never had a recipe tailored to me. When it came to nightshade free curries I was on my lonesome entirely. I like to think that any recipe is appreciated and if you want to eat you’ll tweak it to fit. If not, well then: Phooey to you from me! Now that I’ve lost half my readership, I hope I’m joking!, let’s see what we’re stuffing into our gaping maws today, dearest of remaining readers.

I said on Twitter I was going o try flat-breads and curry with pumpkin. The bread was a bust, steamed squash doesn’t work like roasted. We have an appropriate recipe already so I focused on the curry. Just adding pumpkin to a curry wasn’t an option. I admit I struggle with flavours, I work better when I have a grounding from a current recipe to work with. So I went by what I already knew matched pumpkin: Warm spices, pumpkin spice, garam masala and sweetness. So I went with my garam masala blend. I added the trio from pumpkin spice, leaving out nutmeg and allspice and with a dash of honey I had an idea of what the recipe would be. All theory at that stage. All my curry recipes come from my original recipe which isn’t all that different from most curry bases. It’s simple, but it works well. the onions have to to soften, the coconut reduces, and in this instance helps almost poach the chicken, and it also times well when cooking rice. That part’s for me mostly.

So I wanted a warm pumpkin curry. Did it work? Yes, it was really lovely if I may say so, no one is more surprised than I. It had a warm, almost a tingly heat, which in nightshade curries is non-existent, I imagine it’s thanks to the cloves and had a lovely taste of pumpkin too. If you can use a good quality pumpkin, mine wasn’t great, but it was decent. The pumpkin is cooked entirely in the curry so you lose nothing as far as taste goes. Don’t panic if it’s lumpy before blending, as long as the pumpkin is suitably soft, hence the need for the boil after adding the coconut milk, it’ll blend fine. This was based on my Sweet Mango Curry, I love how tender he chicken is and even though it doesn’t cook long it’s always cooked through fully, piping hot too thanks to the final boil. There is a lot of sauce, this, with vegetables added perhaps it would be suitable for two people. I work with what I have and it suits me as I like a lot of sauce. It’s really silky too and that warmth was really surprising, you could adjust the spices to suit reducing any of the trio to lessen the effect. When cooking taste can be adjusted on the fly, I still struggle outside the exacting nature of baking, but I’m learning my way. If you have a bit of pumpkin leftover maybe you’ll try this. I’ve gone through three medium pumpkins so far so I might need a break, though there are small ones in stock now. I might have a problem, dear reader. Until later.

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, Chopped
100g Raw Pumpkin, Cubed
160ml Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk
1/2 Yellow Onion, Roughly Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Cut in Half
1/2 Tbsp Grated Ginger
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Garam Masala
1/4 Tsp Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1/8 Tsp Cinnamon
1/8 Tsp Ginger
1/8 Tsp Cloves
1 Bay Leaf

Method

1. Heat Olive Oil in a pan and when hot add Onion, Garlic and Ginger mix and cover. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, on a medium heat, or until translucent.

2. Add Coconut Milk, Spices, Pumpkin and Honey then stir together, bring to the boil then reduce to a medium heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

3. When 10 minutes is up use a stick blender to blend the Curry sauce until smooth or add to Blender and return to pot when smooth. Add the Chicken and Bay Leaf and bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Cook uncovered for final 5 minutes. Increase heat if a thicker Sauce is desired, but be careful of burning. Remove Bay Leaf before serving.

The Sudden Appearance of Pumpkin Spice

 photo WP_20161011_001_e_zpslhuxgdfe.jpgThe tray was packed to the edges when I started.

I think the chronology of this post might be slightly out of joint, but that’s just part of the thrill ride that is Pep’s Free From Kitchen, right, dearest of the dear reader? As you can see I’ve been a-roasting pumpkins again. When I roast it I want to remove as much moisture as possible so when I use it in doughs and the like I can control the moisture better. This was another cooking pumpkin, sadly they never give the name of the variety. No Hokkaido pumpkins this year either. These are trying times. So today I’ll be talking about pumpkin recipes I’ve tried, er, today. But first I just want to bother you with a book, or rather a trio of book recommendations. I won’t spoil them, I won’t even read summaries if I don’t have to. I like going in completely blind. If you like fiction mysteries set in the modern era then you have to, no if and buts, literate reader, read, in any order: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Touch and The Sudden Appearance of Hope, all by Claire North. I really enjoyed them. Now I’m starting a book by the author of Hanako’s Route in Katawa Shoujo called The Zemlya Conspiracy. I think it’s a dystopian tale, but it’s Hanako’s author! That’s all I need. That probably doesn’t mean much to you, but I’m sure you’re happy for my hype. You’re a good egg like that.

 photo WP_20161011_002_e_zpsjuxxurea.jpgFood blog? Always sometimes often.

Now, I am not a food blogger. Wait, no, I am, but not in the usual way. I don’t ever seem to fit a mould like others do, in anything really. I’m not disparaging them, if anything I’m praising them. Wonderful photos, concise and clear purposeful posts, contests, social media engagement and I’m just sitting here telling you how I stuck roasted pumpkin into everything. I’m me, Jack in the Garden, me in the kitchen. I try whatever I can, push ingredients to their utmost potential, they’ll never look as fancy as others could make them, but they’ll taste great and I’ll push them further than is sensible. I assume you support this blog, outside of a sense of masochism that is, to see me, just me, doing what I do best. Testing the limits of limited ingredients. So to start we have Roasted Pumpkin Spice Tortillas or wraps. It’s a tweak of my buckwheat tortillas and is already on that page, just roll to the bottom. You’re all really great people. I’m addressing you in a lump, but it’s a sincere lumping, a heartfelt lump.

 photo WP_20161011_003_e_zpsmrth03de.jpgI forgot to take a cooked photo!

My head isn’t droopy, concerned reader, I have no neck issues, it’s hanging low with shame. I…well you see, I ate it before I took a photo! It was so good as a flatbread or tortilla. It tasted so good, chewy and that kick of spice was wonderfully warming. It also makes crackers if you’re so inclined. As to the why….why not? I like putting pumpkin spice into recipes that no one else is doing. As ubiquitous as it is its savoury applications are lacking in some regards. So I’ll stick a big foot into the fray and give you an absurd assortment of uses for it. This was just the beginning, all done today too. I also wandered out into the garden and dug up weeds, removed placed and pinned a roll of weed control matting. It looks so tidy. As I was digging, Naru, the Labrador, decided that she was going to help and plopped herself down on top of the weeds and I had to rake around her. she didn’t seem perturbed. That dog is my best friend. She’s a character. She loves wandering about smelling the flowers. This run of matting is for the planned squash boulevard, a straight line of ten squash pots. I still have a lot to do yet, but it’s enjoyable to do a bit here and there and see it starting to come to fruition.

 photo WP_20161011_004_e_zpsfyczzphm.jpgRoast Pumpkin Soba. All found here.

Ah, soba, that ephemeral pasta that dries out within minutes. Perfectly flexible and then a short while later a cracked mess. The perfect soba needs to be cut and plunged into boiling water. Don’t bother trying to be clever, dear reader, I’ve tried. It works best made fresh. As you can see if you’re looking at the recipe page I’ve taken many a liberty with soba. I’m sure Japan will forgive me, mostly due to the fact my readership is very rarely found there. This actually turned out really well. You could really taste the pumpkin and the dough wasn’t that hard to get thin, not chia thin, but close enough to make some slippery strands of noodles. You know the problem with me and food? I’ll try everything at once. I made wraps, noodles and a sauce, more of a dip I guess, more on that in  a minute, and ate it all in one go. These would be better separate, I know that now, but it was fine try it all at once for me, probably not true for anyone else. I’ve learned to turn off my taste-buds, to blank it out and just shovel in food when necessary. Again, not a great food blogger, I’m just an experimenter. You have to admit that roasted pumpkin soba is kind of interesting, right?

 photo WP_20161011_005_e_zps8rkbrrwg.jpgWhoops. Need to type this up. Tahini Sauce found here.

Cold noodles, warm chicken and what was really more of a dip. See, what did I say? Take it separately if you want to try it. Maybe make the wraps into crackers for the dip. What dip? Oh, yeah, I forgot. It’s Roasted Pumpkin, which I have to keep copying the same instructions for as it needs to be so very dry, though for the dip there’s more leeway, wait for it…PUMPKIN SPICE Tahini dip. Even white girls are looking at me in askance. I’m being humorous, you know, white girls addiction to pumpkin….spice…don’t leave me, dear reader! Ahem. I’ve pushed the envelope and it’s fallen off the table. But, you know what?…*Leans in*…It was good. Chunky, hence the dip designation, but you could taste each element, the sweetness of the pumpkin and the maple syrup, the harsh note of the tahini and salt, the garlic and spices warmth. On the end of a Roasted Pumpkin Cracker it’d be great. Sorry to make you go to the individual pages, but there are numerous variations on each and it’d be a shame not to plug them too. Food is food, the rules are there to be messed with. Hand me seemingly countless limits and I’ll hand you back recipes with interest. Now, if you’ll need me I’ll be in the garden, with Naru. We have work to do, her and I. Until later.

Strange Weather in Ireland

 photo WP_20161002_011_e_zpsxccmnjgs.jpgStart at the end and confuse everything.

Ah, Dank Rebar, no that’s not right. Disabused Ramparts? Er, Dishabille Rancour? Oh, wait, Dear Reader, that’s the one. It’s me again, well, it’s always me isn’t it? If it ever isn’t then you have my permission to worry. So, why am I back again? Well, cheap squash and unpredictable weather patterns. I’ll start with the squash this time around. The bread is Hokkaido Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread minus the pumpkin because there’s nary a pumpkin to behold, don’t hold them too tightly, they frown on that in supermarkets, around here, but butternut was thirty two cents a piece. So I made a butternut squash version of my Peanut Butter Cookies, no egg needed. This is vegan, gotta look after my vegan pals. Now everyone and their dog has this recipe in some form or other, but do they have seven variations!? Probably, still, it’s nice to have a quick cookie recipe with so many different options. It’s an under-loved recipe. Dear to me, Dear Reader, but not to many others sadly. Go there for the new version. And, yes, you guessed it: Pumpkin Spice! They’re chewy and crunchy, a great combo. My version doesn’t use as much sugar as some as I once made myself very ill with a heavy sugar-laden version.

 photo WP_20161002_001_e_zpswchf7jr2.jpgYou’ll need the electric mixer, they go to crumbs rather than a ball.

 photo WP_20161002_004_e_zpsgzdctmtk.jpgJust mush it together.

 photo WP_20161002_005_e_zpsadaqjaze.jpgI’m being a real jerk sending you to the page, but it’s worth it.

I never know how much information is too much in these posts. People are kind and it’d probably take more than a chain of garden posts to send them into a tizzy. The weather has been so weird. The sun was shining again today so I got to work again in the garden. I keep making work for myself, or finding it at least. I installed an over flow pipe in my barrels and sealed it in place, in other words: Shoved a sawed off hose into a hole I drilled and rubbed silicone on it. Walking around in the rain isn’t so bad, but doing that with a power-tool in hand isn’t such a great idea. Hence the numerous drill-based jobs. I lined up my planters using a very special technique: I used a spirit-level and a long bit of metal. So simple, but I never thought to do it. All the work on the greenhouse has taught me a trick or two. Can I be odd, odder rather, for a moment, patient reader? I often-times think of the mes that were, the fat-me etc, usually I think of them as dead and buried. These days I like to think they’re still here inside me, no longer a miserable reminder of hat I was, the struggles they faced are still here, but I feel them cheering me on, spectral spectators standing on the sidelines watching all this unfold, infused with colour, pale but striving towards iridescence. You don’t get away from past troubles that easily, sadly. Still if pain was going to do me in, it’ll take a lot more. I’m a tough nut, so have no fears, Jack will stay here.  I do have be be careful in cold weather as my hands start to ache. I’m being smart, gloves aplenty here. I’m excited for next year, I’ll need a lot of flowers to fill all these planters. At least I’ll have the space to start them now, eh? Okay, I’ll see you soon.

 photo WP_20161002_006_e_zpskyqq53ob.jpgTwo brackets for baskets on both sides and that should finish it.

 photo WP_20161002_007_e_zpsybrkdj8u.jpgI’m letting that cure then I pin it down and put up a bracket to hold the guttering. I found it in the dirt, but it’s still good.

 photo WP_20161002_009_e_zpsreagfpgi.jpgThese pots have a secret.

 photo WP_20161002_008_e_zpsshtueqb8.jpgThey’re screwed down! No more mess when the wind hits. Or Naru.