Monday, 25 October 2010

Cheap lunches for work - Souper!!

I've grown some really fantastic Squashes and Pumpkins this year, and I like to put them to good use. My Squish soup is notorious at work, so here's me making a batch yesterday.

I started with a large Iron Bark squash (approximately 3.5kg). I put it in a roasting tin in the oven at 160 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes, til it was soft when gently prodded. This is it with the skin being stripped off after cooking:

Meanwhile the stock veg (carrot, celery and onion) were softened in a stock pot in some olive oil, then about 500ml of stock added. Sometimes I use homemade chicken stock, this time it was a Kallo organic stock cube - they're not too salty. The stock volume isn't a fixed thing, it depends how thick you like you soup and how watery the rest of the ingredients are. I like to use less liquid at this stage because I can always add it later, once its been pureed.

Once the squash has cooled a bit, I peel off all the skin, halve the squash and scoop out all the seeds and add the flesh to the stock veg. I also add a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cumin, a pinch of chilli powder and some freshly ground black pepper.

Then it gets blitzed down with my trusty Sainsbury's Basics stick blender (£4.99 - bargain!!).

This time I ended up with 10 servings for the freezer, that's two weeks worth of work lunches for the price of some seeds and a stock cube - another bargain!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

What a stunning weekend!

Wow, the weather has been fabulous this weekend, so I made the most of it in the garden and at the lottie. 
Saturday afternoon I took down the 'summer' baskets from the front of the house. They really were on their last legs! The baskets have a coir liner, which I have then lined with a piece of compost bag with holes poked in the bottom. This time I cleared out the old plants and scraped out about half the compost, but left the ivy and liner in place.

Then I added fresh compost, and planted up two colours of pansy and two white ericas into each one. Then gave the ivy a bit of a haircut.
...not bad! And a darn site tidier than the remnants of the summer baskets that's for sure!!
Today, the weather continued to be fine, infact it was even better, as the strong breezes from yesterday had dropped right down. I took the opportunity to pop up to the lottie and plant out my onion sets and shallots. Normally I miss that window of warm dry weather, the Autumn rain sets in and it becomes too wet to plant them out. I end up having to wait until quite late in the year before doing this and the little bulbs sulk in the cold wet soil until the spring, so I am really chuffed that I timed it so well this year. I wore a fleece to walk up to the allotment, but once I arrived I decided it was t-shirt weather. Here's the lottie in the middle of a tidy up... I pulled up the remaining broad bean stalks and supports from bed 1 (in the foreground). Gave it a jolly good weeding , dug it over a bit and then applied Blood, Fish and Bonemeal.

I lightly dug this in and then planted out Shallot Jermor and Golden Gourmet, and 50 Onion Radar sets. Bed 2 got a similar treatment once I had pulled up the last of the pumpkin and squash vines, and here I planted out 100 Shensyu onion sets. I also hacked back a bit of the horseradish foliage (the big green blob in the middle of the picture). The leaves will die back naturally soon, but I needed to get a bit more light to the beetroot growing just to the side of the horseradish. I think we'll have to lift and divide the horseradish as its just a bit too happy where it is, it may try to take over the world soon!! I also applied a dressing of blood, fish and bone to my seriously pathetic leeks! I thought that the recent rain would have really got them off to a flying start, but they've made very little progress in the last month and are still no thicker than a pencil. I had a similar problem last year too.  Last year I bought plantlets of 'Autumn Giant' (phah, that's a joke!) from Sutton Seeds. This year a kind neighbour donated about 100 young Musselburg plants to me.  I just hope the extra feed will get them going again, otherwise I'm at a bit of a loss.