Autumn Treasure

  
There’s something about the change in season, from Summer to Autumn that I just love. The crispness in the air, the last remnants of warm sunshine on your face, the magnificent colour changes in the leaves, bumper crops of apples and the rich pickings of blackberries in hedgerows… what’s not to like?! 

Something I absolutely love to do at this time of year is to go out for nature walks. To soak up the season change, marvel at the rich colour tones of the leaves and forage for nature treasure to make Christmas decorations from. I did this last year, well, I found loads of treasure but didn’t actually get round to making the decorations.

Doh! 

This year, not only did my squad of magnificent treasure hunters gather in loads of items, I found 10 minutes today to try a little experiment…

  
A mini acorn (not quite sure if they’re acorns) garland to hang  on the tree! 

  
I’ve got bags of them along with pine cones, cinnamon sticks and mini sleigh bells.. I think the hot glue gun is going to get quite an outing! 

Happy Autumn everyone 🍁

  

Sole Survivor 

  
I know, I know…it’s been a while. Despite my best intentions during the latter half of 2016, I have neglected both the plot and the blog. Today I am determined to rectify both of those counts! 

The last half of 2016 was brilliant. I had a fabulous holiday, went to River Cottage, walked the entire length of Hadrians Wall and celebrated my 40th birthday, all before Christmas and New Year. 

  
  
   
 
  
Turning 40 has had a surprising effect on me. I had thought that I’d hide myself away with a bottle of wine and a take away and simply deny the milestone. The surprise was that I didn’t hide…I embraced it! I’m pleased to say it’s made me more focused, not only on what I want to achieve in the future but all of the things I’ve put off doing. 

No more! I’m a list maker, and in this, my 40th year, I’m making a list of all the things I’m going to do and allotmentry and regular blogging is definitely high on that list! 

Today I thought I’d make a start and face the allotment after the spell of abandonment. I was fearful of what might greet me…

“Have the brambles reclaimed the entire plot?”

“Has the allotment turned into a jungle?”

“Will I be able to tell where the vegetable beds are under all the fallen leaves?”

“Will feral cats be living in the shed?”

The good news is that no, the brambles haven’t reclaimed the entire plot however there are some huge canes to be dealt with, I can now see where my paths are after sweeping up tonnes of fallen leaves, no, it’s not a jungle, it’s just a bit messy and thankfully no feral cats were found in the shed! 

  
Last year was admittedly a poor growing year for me. I had clearly underestimated the destructive force of the slug and snail population and a large quantity of my vegetables were destroyed. I had pretty much given up on the growing season and totally forgot that when the slugs had eaten all my squash plants, I’d planted out my leeks…  

 
Lo and behold…I give you the sole survivors at the allotment! 

  
I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see my leeks still standing! They’re not particularly big, ok, a lot of them are rather skinny but they are all still there, they’ve not bolted and there’s not a hint of leek rust either! 

I’m going to leave them standing in the ground for a few more weeks to see if they grow any more but if not, I’ll dig them up in the spring when I’m turning the beds over and enjoy a whole host of leek inspired dishes! 

Now that I’m back into the growing groove, the only thing left to do is to start planning this years vegetables! 

Bring it on! 

Take a walk on the wild side

  
I did it. I ate the mushrooms. After conducting some carefull research into  the pros (tasty treats) and cons (stomach cramps and possibly being poisoned) I came to the conclusion that the mushrooms growing in nature corner at the allotment were indeed the safe and tasty variety Morel. 

After collecting them on Sunday evening I brought them home, in my brand new vegetable trug, along with some of the micro salad, rhubarb and herbs I’ve been growing. 

  
To prepare them I cut them in half and soaked them in a container of water. Some of the advice suggests simply brushing them carefully with a small paint brush to remove debris but after seeing a tiny slug creeping up the side of the container I’m pleased I opted for soaking! It must’ve been seeking refuge in one of the mini crators on the mushroom. After an hour or so, I dried the mushrooms off and wrapped them in kitchen paper overnight. 

  
I love mushrooms. Being vegetarian I use them regularly in everyday cooking, so I was keen to use them in one of my favourite dishes…risotto. I love using porcini mushrooms as the base flavour in risotto, they’ve got a wonderful texture and a real earthy-ness about them which I think works perfectly in this type of dish. The Morel mushrooms were added to the mix and a mushroom feast was had at tea time. 

  
The mushrooms tasted good, not too strong and were surprisingly soft, I’d expected them to be firmer, but were still a delight to try. 

Now, I can’t take all the credit for the tasty wild mushroom risotto, actually I can’t take any of the credit…my sister cooked it, added some micro salad, tossed in a chunk of Stilton, threw in some cannilini beans and served it up… it was awesome.