Monthly Archives: October 2013

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Stuffed marrow

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Thought I would take the opportunity to bring in my marrows.

Storms are headed toward the UK with 90mph winds forecasted so baton down the hatches. Bring in what you can would be my advice or else it’s going to get bashed to pieces out there.

I checked my sprouts are all firmly in place too, they hate being swirled around in the wind, if they aren’t firmly planted they will sulk and open their sprouts into tiny cabbages on their stalks. Which I have to say, taste fine but won’t store.

So back to the marrows, I have given them a wipe down to remove any mud from them dried them thoroughly and will store them in a cool place. They really do store excellently. I did an experiment 2 years ago to see how long they would store for, and I got one to store for 18 months! How unbelievable is that!?

They just don’t like a damp environment to keep them dry and cool.

These bad boys will be either stuffed or made into marrow chutney, and don’t forget to keep the seeds for next year! Why buy new ones when you can just grow your own!

Stuffed marrow recipe

Preheat an oven so it’s pretty hot I go to about 200 degrees

Slice and de seed one marrow by carefully slicing lengthwise making a boat. (Keep some big fat seeds for next year)

Fry some mince, I usually use minced lamb.

Fry onions and yellow peppers

Add to the meat, onions and yellow peppers some stock and add garlic and tomato purée to taste. Plus your favourite herbs, I use Rosemary.

When it starts to thicken up fill both sides of your marrow boats

Line a baking tray with tin foil to save on cleaning time!

Carefully put your marrow back together and wrap in more tin foil.

Then bung in the oven for a couple of hours turning occasionally.

To test if it’s cooked through use a knife to pierce the marrow, it should just slice through like butter, if not keep in the oven!

Serve with boiled new potatoes and more gravy.

That’s how we stay nice and warm on a winters day in the North West of England. X

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Oh my gosh… My first result from my RHS course

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I haven’t studied in a very long time. My last exams where about 20 years ago, but I still remember the terror as if they were yesterday.

I suffer from nerves very badly, I think people assume I am super confident. After all I present a breakfast show on the radio across the North West of England. Outside of London it’s the most competitive market, surely I am filled with a huge ego and confidence that explodes from every pore?

No, not one bit! I am quite the opposite, think of me more as a swan swimming in a lake, calm on the surface but under the water I’m paddling like crazy.

I signed up for my RHS course hoping to pick up a few little tips to help me in my allotment and was terrified by the prospect of doing exams. Well I got my first result this afternoon, I had to double check there hadn’t been a mistake! 99%!

And now in typical Vix worry mode, I’m freaking about about my next one! Maybe in the next couple of days I will get a letter telling me there was a mix up in my results… Me 99%?

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The last of the Purple Potatoes

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All dug up and ready for storing. I love purple potatoes, these are called Purple Majesty and they taste wonderful!

I love the fact that they contain such high levels of antioxidants keeping my family healthy. They say vegetables with a deep purple colour are rammed with a chemical called anthocyanin which protects your cells. I found steaming them kept their colour better and that’s the name of the game, keeping all that colour so your body can absorb as much as possible.

So here’s what’s left from my potatoes bags I will give them a little brush down and pop them into a sack. I’m rather glad I did potato bags this year they have worked a treat. Usually the slugs destroy my potatoes which I plant in the raised beds. So I’m going to loads more of these potato bags next year… Oh next year you seem so very far away.

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Home made oven dried tomatoes or tomato Jerky

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I’ve made them into sauce, I’ve done chutney, I’ve frozen them, so now I’ve dried them for ‘homemade sundried, well oven dried tomatoes’.

I’m known locally as the tomato lady, as the old folk see me totter up the road with my basket giving them away. I’ve had so many tomatoes this year it’s crazy, I cannot give them away fast enough, before more ripen.

I was running out of ideas, when a flash of inspiration hit me. I can dry them nice and slowly then pop them into a couple of jars filled with olive oil.

So that’s what I did.

Washed and sliced in half lightly sprinkled with sea salt and chilli flakes and put on a low oven, all day! Yes all day!

Just before it was time for my daughter to goto bed she helped me pick the best ones which we put into jars then filled up with olive oil.

Nice and simple and they tasted good just dried we called the dry ones ‘tomato jerky’. They were so sweet and chewy! They didn’t make a storage jar and we stuffed them into our mouths lol, and anyway like I said they were ‘less than perfect’… Honest!

If your thinking of giving this a bash, get loads of tomatoes as they dry flat. I did two baking trays full and even though we did eat quite a few, you can ram loads into a jar. And keep the oven warm but not too hot or they may burn.

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Campanula garganica still flowering!

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Usually by October my Campanula are done but they are still going!

They are a great plant perfect for rock gardens and grow like little round green cushions of foliage with flowers from June until September but never October!

They are naughty little fellas and will set seed into the surrounding areas or pots but they are so pretty I don’t care.

But seeing them flowering still is strange, I live just off the Pennines in the north west of England and believe me we aren’t blessed with great weather, so I’m not sure what’s going on there; but hey flowers are always welcome!

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Phew! That’s the sunflowers sorted!

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One of the big successes of the year have been my sunflowers. They have been utterly amazing!

And snipping the heads from them after they have set seed was one of my best decisions, as they set another flower into action. I never knew that, for years I’ve left them to it, but dead heading keeps them blooming away.

So I spent the afternoon picking seeds from the best seed heads and took a couple huge seed heads into local schools to start a sunflower growing competition with the kids. Hopefully we should have a bit of a giggle with that next year to see who can grow the biggest one.

The best I had to offer this year was 8 foot tall, with a stem as thick as my hubby’s wrist and the head on it was bigger than a serving plate! Obviously I kept the seeds from that one.

But look at my collection from the different ones I’ve grown! Now I just need to keep my daughter from eating them and next year I shall grow even more.

Oh and just incase you are wondering, my bird feeders and tables are full too, share the bounty that’s what I say!

Roll on spring 2014 for the sunflower frenzy!

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Digging update

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Four beds dug and covered in well rotted manure ready to be tucked up for winter.

It was a great weekend in the UK to be out, the temperature was around 17C which for October is pretty amazing. Flowers are still blooming and Autumn colours are glowing, it’s simply lush.

One of the nice things whilst I dig, is my local friendly Robin who is getting so tame now. As I dig and put down manure he comes over looking for worms. I cannot help but think he is from my nest box last year.

We had a Robin family in our garden, their mother and father were very tame too. I remember I had to pick one up, who after fledging, decided to hop into our laundry room and sit on my dirty washing. I popped him back outside and mum soon came over to give him a worm and no doubt tell him off!

I will try to get a picture, but it’s one of those annoying moments when your phone is elsewhere when he appears. I daren’t leave it in my pocket. It will get dug into one of my raised beds! (I’m talking about my phone not the Robin)

Anyway 4 beds dug 12 left…. Who needs a flipping gym!?