Friday, 18 October 2013

Eating More Potatoes

Two blogs in two days! This is unheard of...

... but last night I cooked more of my home grown Potatoes and it is such a pleasure to do this, fresh and tasty food from your own garden, that blogging about this element of growing food is almost my favourite (close behind that moment when the seedling first pokes its head through the soil and you know something is growing....).

I didn't even finish my Potato harvest last night so you may well have another one of these to look forward to soon :)

I chose to eat the scabby Potato last night; this is caused apparently by the fact that I have grown these in potting compost which is too rich for Potatoes.

After a few seconds of scraping with a knife the Potato is ready for chopping...

My choice today was to slice the Potatoes really thinly.

Waste not want not; I saved the oil and butter fat from the day before and, with the addition of plenty of black pepper, I roasted my Potato slices as you can see here, sizzling nicely.

On a whim I threw a few slices of Chorizo into the baking tray to add some flavour to the end result.

Pork Belly Slices frying away - still pink so not ready for eating yet.

And here is my dinner - and it was VERY tasty, the highlight being the Potatoes obviously.

So there you are; I still have a fair few tatties left over and may bake a couple of them over the weekend.

There are still other bits and pieces of progress going on; the Ghost Chili is STILL putting flowers out though I think I won't get much more out of it.

The Begonia is flowering really nicely; every week or two I think "that is it, it is over" and then in the morning another lovely bloom.

A couple more Begonia blooms; lovely.

So there you are; I probably won't make it three blogs in three days but you never know.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Two different meals

So it has been a while since the last post but this doesn't mean things haven't been happening; I have just been doing different things.

The blog post today is split into two parts, based around me eating two different meals components of which I have grown myself.

First of all, a lunch... cheese and tomato butties.

Four slightly over-ripe tomatoes freshly plucked from the plant in the front room.

Fresh barms with cheese on and the tomatoes as in previous picture, just gratuitously really.

Sliced and placed on the barm and ready for squashing and taking to work.

It's great making your own butties, but particularly good when they are made with things you have grown yourself. One day maybe it'll be my own bread and cheese too.

So that is part one, the second part is slightly more involved as today I cooked a meal and it was a great success and so I am going to try and record exactly how I did it for posterity. I only took pictures of the elements involving my own produce, unfortunately, but the processes are not complicated so if you want to try this for yourself, go for it.

So, the reason behind my cooking was to harvest and start eating the last of the potatoes in the yard.

The bag with the Rocket Potatoes in, ready for harvest.

I do love harvesting Potatoes the way I do it, which involves digging my hands into the soil and feel for tatties; these came out particularly well so I took a picture.

My harvest wasn't as good of these as of the last type I pulled up, but still I had more than enough for this meal, and will be finishing them off tomorrow I reckon.

I am cooking Rosties Hasselbacks (whoops misnamed) with the potatoes; something I picked up on my most recent trip to Bulgaria. You have to slice the Potatoes most of the way through but leave them attached at the base. Slice them as thinly as you can, but be careful not to separate any of the leaves. They should be raw, and definitely NOT par-boiled..

While I was slicing them Potatoes I had poured a generous amount of oil into a roasting dish and added a large nob of butter, and then put them in at about 200 degrees C to start melting. This pan is too large for the four potatoes I am cooking; Ideally the potatoes should be sitting deeply in the fat and butter however I didn't have the correct pan. The area which is covered with oil is probably too large already so use the smallest deep pan you have.

Here I have added the Potatoes to the not-very-hot yet pan. The process here is to keep basting the potatoes using a large spoon every five minutes or so. I also gave them a short turn standing on the sliced side but this was because the pan is bigger than I wanted so they were not as submerged in oil and melted butter as I wanted. These will not over cook so do not worry about starting them early; the longer they are in the better as they stay exceptionally moist, but then the tops crisp off nicely. Gorgeous.

Onto the other part of the meal, which I didn't photograph as I was only taking pictures for this blog and not a cooking one. My plan was a pork based oven bake type thing. First of all I chopped a large onion and started frying it in oil and some black pepper over quite a high flame and while this was sizzling (and being tossed every now and then) I took some strips of Pork Belly and sliced the strips into cubes. As soon as this was done I added the pork to the pan and fried them together. Finally I sliced half inch long sections from a "Chorizo Iberico" flavoured with smoked paprika and added these to the frying pan.

Next I took a leek and sliced this up into about inch long sections. I took a square casserole and separated the leek rings, spreading them evenly over the base, and sprinkled with a little olive oil. By this point the Pork was nicely browned off and I poured the lot over the top of the leek, making an even layer.

To add some interest I took a Crossley Special chili and sliced it carefully into rings and then scattered these equally over the hot Pork and Onion mix.

Finally I sliced a whole red pepper and placed the raw on top of the dish.

Once this was completed I sprinkled a tiny amount more olive oil over the lot and then put the casserole onto a shelf in the middle of the oven. During this process I was, of course, remembering to baste my Potatoes.

Similarly to the Potatoes, there is no real rush to remove this from the oven and you can cook it as fast or slow as you want; the Pork has been fried and everything else just needs heating or, if you leave it for about 25 mins like I did, it softens down nicely and everything is moist and lovely. You could probably leave it for even longer if you want.

The final element of my meal was the Cabbage and I had chosen a Savoy cabbage as I love the texture. Normally I would steam Cabbage but today I decided to fry it in butter. A generous amount of butter (about the same as I put in with the tattiees) was dropped in the frying pan which I had used to do the meat earlier (less washing up, and a chance to recover the last of the flavour burned into the pan) and the Cabbage was added before it melted. Pretty quickly this was sizzling away very nicely and then I had a brainwave.

Bacon bits!

With a rush I cut one rasher of bacon into bits, put the heat on really high under another frying pan and crisped them off before adding to the Cabbage.

Serving time was dictated by said Cabbage and about 2 minutes or so later I turned all the heat off and plated up.

It does not look the most elegant meal but it was amazingly tasty and this is proven by the fact that we both polished it off with no left overs at all.

So there you are, not just a gardener :)

If you try this, please let me know what you think.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ghost Chili etc

The past couple of weeks have definitely revolved around the Ghost Chili and therefore it is fitting that I am able to write an update starting off with this excellent plant.

My friend (he after whom the Crossley Special Chili is named, and who gave me the seeds for my attempt at growing some) invited me for dinner last week to have an excellent pasta dish cooked with the Ghost Chilis. It was epic and really highlighted why these are Chili plants which you should grow; undoubtedly they are very hot but this heat has an amazing flavour and, while you are crying, you are also making appreciative sounds because of their flavour. He was also nice enough to gift me a couple of whole chilis from his glut and we had half of one of these in an excellent tuna and rice dish with the same results; sweat and pleasure from the taste.

So my advice is; grow some yourself but if you are, remember to keep them in larger pots than you would have thought as they get dwarfed very easily if you don't pot them up early and often.

So, onto my update:

 The Ghost Chili plant has LOADS of flowers on it, and more coming all the time. I have just started manually moving the pollen around with an ear-bud and this does seem to be encouraging something more than just flowers...

... as you can see here. The red Chili appeared independently, but the (very blurry) green one at the front (and another couple) have all started since I went round with my promiscuous cotton bud.

Finally some delight from my Gardeners Delight Tomato, this is the only fruit I have achieved and it is slowly but surely ripening.

On the front room windowsill the Moneymaker Tomatoes are like a forest, and have a lot of fruit and still some flowers.

These ones are ripening nicely and will probably be put into a dish very soon.

Finally the aforementioned Crossley Special Chilis are still hanging onto their leaves (though they are dropping quite a lot now) but a couple of the plants have just got a new lease of life and put out LOADS more flowers. This is very strange as it is very late in the season. I reckon I will just keep watching these and looking after them and maybe I will get a late harvest.

So, that's that. No more pictures for today.

Keep growing.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


I have been looking out of my kitchen window at my Potatoes for the last few weeks thinking "mmm they were tasty last time, I really should get another harvest in" and today, finally, I built up the momentum to get out there and dig them all up.

What a great success it was too!

Here are some pictures I took whilst harvesting.

Here is a Potato just nestling in the soil waiting to be extracted gently and eaten. Mmmmmm

Here I am harvesting the Potatoes. They are so easy to get, you just push your hands in and pull them out. I could probably have harvested just enough for tonight and left the rest but I got excited.

I got some big ones and some little ones.

This one did not look very good. I decided to just throw it onto the left over pile. The next people in this house are going to get a treat as all this good compost is being thrown under the bushes where the soil is frankly not very good at all.

I pulled all of these Potatoes out of the ground! This is a lot more than the last time I harvested.

I've washed all the Potatoes and put them in this bowl. I won't be eating all of these tonight though, that's for sure.

Home grown Mint in the pan with the Potatoes.

The other idea I had today was to use some of the Mint in with some oil, mash it up a bit, and then coat the Lamb Steaks with this Mint Oil.

Chopped Mint leaves and olive oil in my pestle.

The Mint Oil spread on the Lamb Steak.

And here is my dinner; absolutely beautiful with a hint of mint on the Lamb (it would have been better if I'd had this idea last night and marinaded them in the mint oil, but you live and learn; next time) and the Potatoes tasted so very lovely indeed.

Finally, can someone help me identify what these are on this Potato. I have a few which are covered in them; they appear to only be on the skin and scrape off quite easily but I didn't want to eat just in case it would be bad for me :)

A load of weird growths on the outside of the Potato.

So there you are, what a pleasure to be eating my own home grown Potatoes, and to have grown so many I have enough for more than one meal from this bag.

Keep up your own growing people!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Eating a Tomato

After such a long time away from updating this blog, it is good that I have another thing to write about.

Actually, I reckon I could get a bit better at adding to this blog for another couple of weeks yet, before winter finally sets in.

As I was taking the pictures for the update post yesterday I noticed that a couple of the Tomatoes were starting to feel a little soft; getting overly ripe.

So, this evening, as part of my meal I decided to pick those fruits and incorporate them into my meal.

The three ripest Tomatoes just picked. You can see the middle one was very over-ripe and tore slightly as I was detaching it from the vine. The other two were only just starting to go that way so detached much easier.

I decided to fry the softest of them, as you can see here next to my very nice looking Pork Chop. The other two I baked with the chips but I didn't take a picture of that.

And here you have it. The Tomatoes were so tasty; super sweet and added some much-needed moisture to the Pork Chop which was a little lean for my tastes; I prefer a chunky bit of fat around the edges to add flavour and juices.

So there you are, it's the best thing in the world to think "I want Tomatoes with my dinner" and to be able to go and just grab them.

I've one other thing to add; since the photograph yesterday (and my comment that I thought it didn't get enough sun to flower properly) the smaller Geranium has flowered!

One lovely bloom on the smaller Geranium.


Anyway, that's all for now.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A much delayed update

Hi there, it has been ages since I posted an update on here.

I have a very good excuse though; I spent the last two weeks house sitting for a good friend, watering his wife's Tomatoes, and generally taking a weight off.

But I am back and I have a post with some pictures of progress which is happening in the few things I have managed to grow this year. I have been amazed at the progress other people who I've met through this blog and other means have managed to achieve. You know who you are and you are now an inspiration to me.

Anyway, on with the update...

Since re-potting the Ghost Chili has gone from strength to strength. As you can see here it is now quite large. I am worried that I am a lot late in the season though. A large number of flowers appear to be producing fruit but I'm not totally sure about that. I should have potted it up much earlier.

This is the one large-ish Chili on the Ghost Chili plant.

This is the Geranium which I was drowning in an earlier blog post; it has done much better since I have drastically reduced the amount of watering it was getting. I think it is not in a sunny enough position (and I have run out of sunny positions now unfortunately) to get the full bloom but it was an important lesson to learn.

My update goes outside for the first time for a long while and this is one of the Carrots which is growing; It is green; is this usual? Should I be moving this or covering it up or something?

The Parsnips have grown well in their little container, which is great; I did not think that either the Carrots nor Parsnips would be successful in containers.

The only sad thing about this picture is I will not be here to see it flower. I love Foxgloves and wish I'd tried to plant one earlier. Oh well, there's always my next location :)

Chives have, as previously, proven themselves to be really hardy and easy to grow. This, which was nearly dead, is now well established and I expect it to come back again after the winter.

I have come home to find that loads more Tomatoes have appeared on the Moneymakers in the front room. I hope the sun stays out long enough to ripen these off.

There are a fair number ripe now and nearly ready for picking and eating; I may have a salad this weekend.

Finally for this update, the Crossley Special Chilis which are fruitful as they were last year, and still flowering. I think I need to harvest these and try and dry them, though doing so in a house with no airing cupboard, and it becoming cold and unsettled outside, this does present a problem.

So there you are. I'd be very keen on advice about the Carrot which appears green?

And any hints and tips for drying which don't involve radiators, airing cupboards or hot dry days :D

Keep growing