Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Planning Spring Planting

The snowdrops and crocuses are in full bloom in our garden, and it's been raining for three days straight. This can only mean one thing...spring is on the way! This is the time to start planting & preparing your garden.
We've been busy planning, preparing the vegetable patch and flower beds, buying seeds, and planting. They're very messy and you may or may not be able to read my handwriting, but I've scanned in a couple of pages from my notebook with the list of the things we have to plant and a rough sketch of the vegetable patch and how we're organizing it this year. Not everything goes in the vegetable patch, though--I'm sticking my artichokes in with my flowers in front of the house. This is the first time we've tried artichokes, and we have two varieties to plant, so I'm really excited about those. We're starting a lot of things off in little pots in the convervatory.
So for everybody else out there who's busy weeding and planting and so forth, good luck! Happy spring everybody!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Competition Reminder

I just wanted to remind everybody about the Easter Recipe Competition.

This competition is looking for the best Easter competition. It can be sweet or savoury, but must be vegetarian. Also, your chances of winning are better if you include pictures and an explanation of why it's an Easter recipe and not just a recipe.

The winner (and possibly runner-up) will be featured here on the website. Also, the winner will recieve a cookbook as a prize.

The deadline is April 1st.

Please either post your entries here on the site, or email them to

Good luck to everyone and I look forward to your entries!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Our Most Delicious Idea Yet

Some of my ideas in the kitchen turn out better than others. Some days I have great ideas for something to cook or bake, and it just doesn't work. Every once in awhile, though, we have just the right ingredients and a sprinkling of inspiration, and make something truly, mouth-wateringly extraordinary.

This humble-looking pie is, in my opinion, our most delicious idea yet. So here it is: Plum Crumble Pie.

Pie Shell (I cheated and used a pre-made one)
Plums (We used a nice dark purple variety with firm, sweet flesh)
Rochester Organic Mulled Berry Punch
Ground Almonds/Almond Flour
Flaked Almonds
Brown Sugar
Butter (room temperature)
Vanilla Extract
Flour (You can use wheat or white flour, or even an alternative wheat-free flour)

1. Wash the plums, then halve them and remove the stones (you can leave on the skins). Then cook on a medium heat with a splash of the punch until soft, stirring regularly. [The punch is a mixture of juices and spices that adds a really rich flavour to the plums, but if you can't find Rochester punch or something similar, you can try adding spices to taste and a little juice or water.]

2. Make a crumble topping. You can find exact recipes for this or play with the proportions, but I tend to just start adding things to the food processor and taste testing it. Mixing it in the food processor blends the butter through it nicely without ruining the consistency by making it too smooth. Add about 3 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract, as well as a sprinkling of cinnamon. Blend. Taste, and add more liquid/dry ingredients, sugar, etc. if needed. Then hand mix in about 1/2 cup flaked almonds.

3. Put the fruit in the pie shell, then spread the crumble topping evenly over the entire top. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 1/2 hour.

4. Enjoy! This is delicious served hot with cream, ice cream, or custard, or eaten cold (perhaps with vanilla yogurt for an indulgently delicious breakfast).

The mixture of the almonds in the crumble topping creates an almost marzipan-y sweetness, but it is offset by the spiciness of the fruit. This is heaven in a pie shell.