Sunday, 20 April 2014


Well it's pouring with rain and as misty as anything and it's not that warm either. However, I'm tucked away indoors drinking tea, eating chocolate and working on wedding invitations, so I'm happy!

I wish you all a happy Easter, wherever you may be.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

And The Planting Begins

This week saw the start of a great tv programme on the BBC called The Big Allotment Challenge . It's said to be the gardening version of The Great British Bake-Off.  Nine pairs of gardeners are given a patch of ground in some scenic gardens of a country house and they compete against each other with weekly challenges.  The couples seem to have been picked because of their different approaches to gardening, such as the couple who garden bio-dynamically (with the moon's phases), the couple who use llama poo from their pet llamas, the glamourous couple and the couple who like to achieve the best results with the minimum amount of work.  I can identify with all of these approaches but never seem to quite achieve what I'm aiming for so hopefully some of their tips may rub off on me.

This week it was all about growing radishes and sweetpeas and was interesting to see the different approaches and attitudes the teams had, all convinced theirs was the best way!  The programme's commentary was also useful as gave a good "beginners guide" to the best approach.

This has been really good for me because at the start of each growing season, I get a little overwhelmed by what to grow and where to start.  This year I've decided not to buy any new seeds at all, but to use up the supplies that I've been storing over the past couple of years (I hardly ever use up a whole packet of seeds in one season).

As the focus this week was on radishes and sweet peas, I rummaged through my seed collection and found 3 packs of both and have now got them planted up.  Apparently, having just reached a full moon, this is a good time to plant rashishes, being root vegetables, but I don't think its meant to be so good for sweet peas but these do take a while to grow so there's not really any time to delay...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Q: how can you tell a happy cyclist?

A: by the insects on his teeth!

I was reminded of this little joke today as I cycled past the lagoon and noticed the many little insects who were taking the opportunity of a lift by attaching themselves to my trousers! Not particularly pleasant but at least it indicates a rich food supply for the many birds who live on the lagoon.

I currently have computer problems in that the desktop pc I usually blog from is on XP so nolonger supported by Microsoft and on top of that it's over 12 year's old and has been slowly grinding to a halt. So until I manage to upgrade, my next few posts will have a different feel to them as I blog from my tablet.  Expect to see more photo montages like these taken today on my seaside ride into town.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Carrots For Breakfast

In my last post, I mentioned having your 5-a-day (as in daily quota of fruit and veg as recommended by the World Health Organisation for maximum health benefits).  However, there was news in the press this week to say that 5-a-day should be the minimum and this should now be upped to 7 a day (but even better up to 10 a day!).

As a vegetarian, I do eat quite a lot of fruit and veg already but sometimes don't always manage 5 a day but this has now made me re-think my own diet and I have decided to put more effort in!  This week-end, I opened the fridge door and was confronted by a surplus of carrots, and so created a batch of carrot and coconut (gluten free) breakfast muffins, which were pretty delicious though I say so myself!

Here's how I made them:

1 individual portion size coconut yogurt (use the pot as your measure)
1 x measure of vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 and a half measures of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp runny honey
3 x measures of gluten free self raising flour
half tsp baking powder
1 medium to large carrot, grated

Method (makes approx 12 - 15 muffins):

  • Empty yogurt into a mixing bowl, add vegetable oil and sugar using the empty yogurt pot.  Mix these ingredients together
  • Add the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla essence and honey
  • fold in the flour and baking powder
  • gently mix in the grated carrot
  • spoon into muffin cases 
  • bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C (180 degrees for a fan oven) for 25 - 30 minutes.  Cooking times may very depending on individual ovens, so use a clean knife to test - if it comes out clean, they're done.
Most of my recipes are gluten free since I gave up eating wheat and gluten last year, but this recipe should also work well with normal flour.

If you're interested in knowing more about the latest on 7-a-day, here's a link to the BBC newspage

Friday, 4 April 2014

Frozen Banana Desserts

Banoffee Frozen Yogurt

There are recipes to be found for quick banana ice cream which involve just one ingredient (banana), a freezer and a food processor.  The recipe is so simple and the result is soft churn banana ice cream.  I tried making some but I don't have a food processor and my blender couldn't handle the frozen banana so I came up with my own version - actually several versions based along the same theme!

For each serving, you just require one ripe banana (this is a great way to use up very ripe bananas) and a tablespoon of Greek-style yogurt (because of its thicker texture and creamy taste).

Version one is a Banoffee Frozen Yogurt.  

For each serving - peel the banana, slice finely and put into a container or freezer bag and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and mash with a fork, mix in the yogurt.  Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with caramel sauce or maple syrup.  If you like, sprinkle with a topping of chocolate chips or flaked nuts.

Peanut and Banana Frozen Yogurt

Version two is a Peanut and Banana Frozen Yogurt.  Follow the same method as above, but also add a teaspoon of peanut or almond nut butter.

Version three is a Tropical Banana Frozen Yogurt. This time, add coconut yogurt to the banana instead of plain yogurt and decorate with chopped pineapple.

These recipes are so simple but really delicious, include at least one of your five a day and are a much lower fat alternative to ice cream.  Once you start making them, other ideas will no doubt spring to mind!