Thursday, 14 June 2012
broad beans and baby new potatoes we have been harvesting and you have a pretty perfect dinner. Next time it stops raining I must dash out and sow the next lot of salads to keep the supply coming - and to mix up the ingredients of my salads!
Sunday, 10 June 2012
I hope the drought conditions are called off soon, despite all this rain I have had a taster of watering the garden using watering cans and it is hard work. The water butt also empties out much faster than the time it takes to fill so I'm not sure how we would have coped in a long, hot, dry summer. Last year, to save on our water bill, we saved shower water in the bath and used it to water the garden - so we are well prepared with water saving if the drought ever does turn up. What are your experiences of the drought so far?
I love the contrast in the second picture of the bright green beans against the red bowl, the beans look so fresh and appetising. Sam cooked them up by blanching them for a couple of minutes and then adding them to a pan with some strips of streaky bacon and garlic. He finished it off with parley and mint - both from the garden and they were lovely. There really is nothing like eating something a few minutes after you've picked it from the garden, knowing exactly how it was grown and how much love and care was put into the growing. I am savouring these moments when I get them because I think with the difficult weather we have been having, I may have some disappointing harvests, or rather non-harvests this summer.
We have decided to make and do as much as possible to keep costs down and one of the things we are doing is making some of our own food and drink. We got really into foraging last year and we wanted to include something we could make from foraging (ie free) for the wedding. So this week I collected some elderflowers and had a go at making elderflower champagne. It was actually pretty easy, or at least the recipe I used was.
First I collected six heads of elderflowers, I put these in 4.5 litres of cold water with 2 sliced up lemons. I left this to steep for around 2 days although you could leave it for as little as 24 hours. I then strained the liquid through a muslin cloth, added 2 tablespoons of vinegar - the recipe I used said that cider vinegar would be best but I didn't have any and neither did Asda so I used white wine vinegar instead. I also added 750 grams of sugar and stirred until it dissolved. It smells delicious and although very sweet at the moment, it tastes pretty good too. I bottled the champagne in plastic bottles (apparently this is better than glass because it can't explode!). The lids are only gently screwed on to stop fruit flies and other beasties getting in. According to the recipe, I now need to leave the champagne for about 2 weeks, tiny bubbles are already starting to form which is a good sign apparently because it means the natural yeast in the elderflowers is working on the sugar. When bubbles have stopped forming I will need to screw the lids on tight and leave them to carbonate for a couple more days. Then all that will remain will be to chill and drink! According to the recipe the champagne will become drier the longer it is left and will most likely be too dry after about three months (not that booze ever lasts that long around here!). This means that to make it in time for the wedding which is in August next year, I will need to make up enough for all our guests around the end of June/beginning of July. We will do several taste tests with this batch to see exactly when it is perfect for our tastes. I can't wait to try it now!