Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cake experimentation

We have a lot of parsnips at the moment. An awful lot. We have had to dig them up from the half allotment today, as we are giving it back shortly, so we can concentrate on the whole plot.

Don't get me wrong, I love parsnips - roasted, in soup, in rosti, mashed with potato as a topping for cottage pie, and so on. But, if you can make carrot cake, my reasoning went, why not parsnip cake? And so, by the power of Google, I found a recipe.

I made the cake. It smelt good (it contains cinnamon and who can resist the smell of cinnamon?). I took it out of the oven. It looked good. (Apologies for the photos - it's rather dingy today).

We waited for it to cool, and for it to be time for afternoon coffee. A slice of cake with coffee on a Sunday afternoon - lovely.
One mouthful - SomeBeans appeared polite and said nothing. For a moment.
Ummm. Have you ever accidently eaten soap? Except not normal soap, but soap that has something very bitter added to it, to discourage foolish people from eating it? No, probably not - neither had we.

Have you heard of the song by Tom Lehrer - Poisoning Pigeons in the Park? Hope the pigeons like it more than we do...

Roast parsnips for dinner tonight.

We have a glut of leeks at the moment, too. Anyone for leek pavlova?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wot you looking at?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The first one gets the adirondack chair with the sumptuous cushions...

Somebeans has a Chinese work colleague (hello Luoluo if you are browsing here!) who told him about the names given to people who comment on a blog. It's a bit like turning up at a party - the ones who get there earlier get the comfy seats whilst others are doomed to stand or to slump in a corner somewhere.

Apparently, the first person to comment is said to be on the sofa, the second one to be on the chair and the third one to be lying on the floor.

Translate this into more horticultural speak, and we could perhaps say that the first person to comment on a gardening blog nabs the adirondack iroko chair with sumptuous hand embroidered cushions, the second gets the deckchair (comfy to sit in but dangerous to put up and hard work to get in and out of) and the third gets the white plastic chair, liable to snap if you move too suddenly. Anyone arriving later is doomed to sitting on the lawn, probably on one of the many ants nests that we seem to grow here with great success.

So, the race is on - who is going to get the comfy chair and who is doomed to ant bites all evening?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A few days late

It seems that a few flowers were feeling shy and did not want to appear in time for GBBD. But, given a little warmth and a little sunshine they have now been coaxed out of their bashful buds. Small, but all the more wonderful because of it - concentrated beauty.

This time just under two years ago, I was writing about sowing seeds far too early.

This time just under a year ago, I was writing about sowing seeds far too early. Interesting to see that the dwarf narcissi were out this time last year. They're several weeks behind this year.

This year, I haven't sown any seeds yet! It may take time, but I do eventually learn from my mistakes. But the shining sun is making my fingers itch to go and sow some...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Déjà lu

Not a gardening post, but something that came to me the other evening, as I started re-reading a book for the umpteenth time.

There are some books I return to time after time, despite having read them so often my eyes have nearly worn the print away. Winter nights are often the times when I do this, especially if I've had a hard day at work and my brain is still buzzing with all the problems of the day. Lazy summer afternoons sitting in shade in the garden may also see me reach for these favourites.

They are warm and comfortable, with the happy knowledge that there are no surprises to unsettle me during the read. It also doesn't matter when I near the end of these books. sometimes I'm enjoying a book so much that I don't want it to end. With these books, I don't mind reaching the end, as I know I'll pick the book up again in the future and enjoy it once more.

Books on this list vary in the frequency of re-reading - some may be read again after one or two years, others may not be revisited for three or four years. Top of the list is My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell - responsible for all magpies being referred to as Magenpies.

Another often revisited friend is Last Chance to See by the sadly missed Douglas Adams and also Mark Carwardine, looking at endangered animals around the world.

A book that I have read three or four times, and that is rather apt at the moment, with it being 200 years since his birth, is a biography of Charles Darwin. Fascinating insight into his life and times.

Finally, a book that will become of my déjà lu favourites, once I can bring myself to read it again, is The Time Travellers Wife. It is so sad that at the moment I can't face reading again yet, but it is such a good book that I know I will do at some point.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Not much flowering at the moment chez Mouffetard, at least not much which is readily accessible and doesn't involve lying down in mud to photograph. so behold - a Hellebore.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A study in red

We've never grown Hippeastrum (amaryllis) before. It has been great fun watching the dried looking bulb spring into life; the stem gradually lengthening, and finally the petals unfurling. So meet 'Red Lion'. It's ridiculously photogenic.

A shock of colour in a cold, white February.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Come Dine with Me

VP has come up with a meme which has required an awful lot of thought this evening.

Several guests have already been snaffled by other dinner party hosts this evening - my first thought was for Charles Darwin, but he's busy regaling VP with tales of the movements and habits of climbing plants.

My next thought was for Geoff Hamilton, but the Garden Monkey has got there first.

So, I then thought of the patron saint of guerilla gardeners - Ellen Willmott; being described as cantankerous, I'm sure she'd make an interesting dinner party guest.

I'm sure Bob Flowerdew would be a good laugh, as long as there were strict house rules on where he deposits his recycled cider. And it might be cheating slightly but I think David Attenborough might just be sneaked in - he has made programmes about plants, and has had a huge influence on my life - watching Life on Earth as a child opened my eyes to the natural wonders of the world.

Have to admit, it would be quite good fun to invite Alan Titchmarsh too. He may be a bit annoying at times, but his programmes have taught me a fair bit over the years, and it's always entertaining to see how his hair style changes. Not to mention his sideburns.

Not sure that I'd invite these two to dine with us though.

Thanks for exercising my brain this evening VP!

Compact and Bijou

SomeBeans has been busy. As we are giving up half an allotment and concentrating on the one allotment, we have had to do a little shed building. We bought a new shed, as we aren't big into skip diving, and so can't easily get hold of the raw materials to build your traditional allotment shed. So, a flat pack shed doesn't have so much character, but it does the important stuff, like keeping rain out. Hopefully.

The current shed on the half allotment has some character and enough internal iron bracing for it to withstand hurricane force winds. Not quite so sure about the new one.

Old shed - no, I'm not stood on one leg, it really does lean like that

The new shed has had quite a hard life so far - being too big to fit in the car, and not having the time to hang around the allotment to have it delivered straight there, SomeBeans had to take it to pieces, and then reassemble it when it had been taken down to the plot. So, the boards were prised off, the floor cut in half, the sides taken to pieces, carefully labelled, and then put back together again. Hopefully at some point in 2009 it will be dry enough to put some preservative on it. But I'm not holding my breath.

So, behold - a shed we can actually stand in, if not quite large enough for a garden party...

New shed - not quite such a character, but room to swing a cat. At least a relatively patient cat, who doesn't mind a few cracks round the head

We're just waiting for the spring winds, and fully expect to go down the plot one day and see a pair of stripey stockings with ruby slippers at the end sticking out from under the shed.

Thank you SomeBeans!