Showing posts with label cucumber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cucumber. Show all posts

26 Sept 2012

What a week for a holiday at home!

Veg Patch view Sept 2012
Before the stormy weather, a view of my little veg patch garden taken ten days ago. 
Top left, under the tree, is one single Striped Pyjamas spaghetti squash plant. ~ 
I've taken a few days off work this week, mainly to give myself the time to have a tidy round the veg garden, clearing, pruning, sowing (broad beans, flowers) and planting bulbs (tulips, daffs, onions). I'd anticipated pottering in warm sunshine.  Well, that didn't happen, did it?  Not that I'm complaining: I've seen news reports of floods in the North and photos of the terrible damage all these storms have wreaked.  I hope that gardening friends across the UK have made it through without the trauma of having their homes and gardens damaged - the worst I've experienced here in London is the loss of tall sunflowers (literally snapped in half) and 48 hours of rain which started last Sunday.

Sept basket harvest
~ Rainbow veg:
Purple potatoes, green achocha, orange bell pepper (tiny), yellow cucumber, red chillies ~ 

Luckily, the day before the deluge, I decided to start digging up the spuds growing under the fruit trees. These potatoes prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch: I didn't plant even one of these, they're all left over from the first batch popped in the soil in 2010! It seems there will always be one little tuber left behind to grow on next year.

There were no markers but they're easy to identify: these are Blue Danube, a maincrop potato with good blight resistance, vigorous and with pretty purple flowers. Last year the potatoes were small and I boiled them.  Not good as they fell apart in cooking.  Apparently, they're best roasted! Or sautéed. Or baked, which is just as well because this year, having left them in the ground for a good while, I've had some whoppers.

Blue Danube spuds

I'm hoping for some better weather later in the week as I really want to get my bulbs in.  There's also a good post over at Garlic and Sapphire about which flower seeds can be sown now in order to get a head start on the flower cutting garden next spring.

But, if the weather doesn't cheer up, I can practise my plant sketching. My garden design course requires that I learn four plant idents by this Friday; the rest of the first day was all introductions, student handbooks, library visits, cups of tea and where are the toilets! So far, my heart is still in the kitchen garden and I was glad to get back to my veg patch for some thinking space at the end of the day.  

I think we were started off gently as the plants to remember are all fairly common: Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed Susan), Echinacea purpurea (coneflower), Verbena bonariensis (Vervain; a favourite at Chelsea last year) and Penstemon 'Firebird'. The first task on Friday morning will be to collect a pre-cut sample flower and sketch it.  It's been a while since I wielded a pencil so I'm getting some practise in beforehand and the rainy weather is perfect for that!

Salvia Amistad

To end with an uplifting image:  this bed of salvia and lavender signposts the path between the graphics studio and the tea room in the Capel Manor gardens - no getting lost with this bright splash of colour! 

2 Jul 2010

Cool Soup for Hot Summer Days

Everyone enjoying the heat?  Yes?  … I 'm quite enjoying it -  but not necessarily when, as last week, I'm trying to sort out the architectural structure of the VP: digging holes, moving raised beds and laying brick paths. (I'd be a pathetic labourer, far too wussy.)  My forays into the Veg Patch are a little less impromptu than usual, planned so that I'm not toiling away in the heat (as I was last weekend when I felt distinctly peculiar by the afternoon) - the veg patch is between two blocks of flats so it gets very early morning shade and again in the evening.  My plans don't always work and I've managed to get both heat rash and sunburn on my feet this week by gardening in sandals (oops, forgot the suncream).  And it looks like it may continue, at least for another week in London, according to the BBC …

If this is true, I thought I'd have a go at this cooling summer soup, found in a vegetarian cookbook* from the library.  I'll have to let you know how it turns out as this will be my first attempt at it, but it looks good to me - probably tastes like a big bowl of runny Tzatziki.  (Of course, you could always put the cucumber, mint and ice into a jug of Pimm's and enjoy the Greek yogurt with a dish of strawberries and summer fruits … or do all three!)

Chilled Cucumber, Yogurt and Mint Soup

-- image © 'Meat Free Meals' 
For 6 bowls, you will need:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) Greek Yogurt
  • a generous handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 125ml (4 fl oz) cold water or light veg stock
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 ice cubes and mint sprigs to serve
1.   Leave a chunk of cucumber to grate later for decoration. Coarsely grate the remainder and put in a large bowl with all the other ingredients for the soup and mix together.  Chill for up to 12 hours. (I imagine that means you can eat it sooner if your happy with the degree of chilled-out-ness.)

2.   Before serving, stir the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the soup into six bowls.  Into each bowl add an ice cube, 1 Tbsp of the reserved cucumber and a few mint sprigs.

3.    Try eating as finger food, mopped up with rolled up tortilla.  Best enjoyed while sitting in the path of a cooling breeze!

(*Adapted from Good Housekeeping ‘Meat Free Meals’, pub. June 2009)
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