Monthly Archives: August 2011

Plums galore!

For the past 11 years, our little plum tree has given us nothing more than a handful of small, bitter plums… but all has changed this summer!  This year, the boughs are literally creaking and breaking under the weight of hundreds of gorgeous, big, juicy plums!  I don’t know why it’s decided that this is the year to provide for us (perhaps it enjoyed the hot, dry spell we had earlier in the year?) but whatever the reason, I’m extremely thankful and determined not to waste a single plum. 

I’ve eaten so many fresh plums and bowls of stewed plums this week that I’m going to start to look like one soon. 😉 

Lil’ L has never been a big fan of fruit but he was at least willing to try a slice of plum…  and he actually liked it!  To engage him more in the joys of plum eating, I decided to involve him in the baking of a plum crumble.  To make it exciting and memorable for him, for the first time ever I let him use a knife and gave him the job of cutting up 25 plums. ( I thought the handling of all those plums might help with his fruit issues. 😉 )  It seems to have done the trick as he was full of enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to try the crumble. 

We ate a large bowlful as soon as it came out of the oven and the verdict…. “mmmmmmm, delicious”.  Success!  Another fruit to add to his small, but growing list of ‘likes’. 🙂 

Our nutrition-packed, dairy-free crumble recipe can be found here.

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Growing Fruit & Veggies

A hike up Little Solsbury Hill

Apologies for the lack of posts this last week, but I’ve been spending all my time with Lil’ L, packing lots of activities into each day and having great fun!  As a bonus, all the activities have been free! 

One of his current favourite activities is devising local nature walks.  He draws a map, I pack a bag with some snacks and the camera, and off we go.  He’s the guide, and I follow.  Last Wednesday, he decided that we were going for a hike up Little Solsbury Hill.

Here's my tour guide

Along the way, we saw lots of beautiful wild flowers…

and insects, including butterflies, bees…

and crickets.

We also came across this giant mushroom… or is it a toadstool? 

As with any great nature walk, this one involved lots of beautiful views…

and the odd challenge…

Cows and calves sitting on the footpath. They were soooo cute!

or two…

You can guess what came next…

Yes, I slipped and Lil’ L found this hysterically funny.  I’m glad I’m such a source of amusement. 🙂  I’ll try washing the pumps but I’m not holding out much hope for them. 😦

If Lil’ L and I are out on our own, we always get a bit lost… but that’s all part of the adventure.  We were glad to finally find the sign that showed that we were actually on the right path.

All in all, we had a wonderful hike round this beautiful hill.  When we got home, we treated ourselves to a piece of ‘almond butter rice crisp treat’ which we’d made in the morning.  Angela from Oh She Glows posted this gorgeous recipe, which is basically a healthy, nutritious version of rice crispie cake.  It uses wholegrain rice puffs, almond butter and brown rice syrup.  I was having trouble getting hold of brown rice syrup in our local shops, but I finally found some online at The Healthbay.  We love to keep the crispie treat in the freezer, which gives it a nice, cool bite.

Angela, I hope you don’t mind us borrowing your pic… but our treats got eaten way before I had time to get the camera out!

Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats from Oh She Glows

 After treat-making and a 3-hour walk, it was time to have a sit down.  Lil’ L decided he would like us to snuggle on the sofa and watch his current favourite TV show…  Jo Frost’s Extreme Parental Guidance!!!  Bet you didn’t expect that!  Is it normal for a 7 year old to love this programme so much???

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Walking & Hiking

Hard work (and play) in the orchard followed by scrambled tofu on toast

Last Friday, armed with a pair of hand shears and secateurs, Lil’ L and I started to clear a large area of brambles and nettles in the orchard that had actually grown taller than us!  By lunchtime, we were starving and so we decided to make one of our all-time favourite lunches… scrambled tofu on toast.  This lunch is quick to make, super tasty, healthy and very filling (so great after a big workout!)

As the weather was so nice, we sat outside for our lunch.  As you can see, Lil’ L was ravenous…

He’d finished his lunch before I even started mine!

 

Here’s the recipe for scrambled tofu on toast.

Lunch was followed by more hard toil in the orchard.  This carried on for the whole weekend, but we were really pleased with the results.  We’ve revealed a large area at the bottom of the orchard that we’ve never ventured into before because it was so overgrown. 

This is the bottom left-hand area of the orchard that we cleared.

We’re now planning to plant bluebells and other woodland plants, and install a rope swing on the oak tree.

This is the bottom right-hand corner of the orchard that we cleared.

I’ve actually grown biceps this weekend with all the chopping I’ve been doing with blunt shears.  It was hard work, but loads of funs and very rewarding. 🙂

While we were chopping weeds, M was progressing with Plan B for the veggie patch.  Plan A failed miserably as the butternut squashes started to get munched as soon as we removed the cloches.  (Plan A involved placing coffee grounds and clippings of rosemary around the plants.  I’d read on the web that slugs and snails don’t like coffee or rosemary… but ours’ weren’t put off in the slightest and just slimed right over them 😦  )  One night, in the pouring rain, I dug the squashes up, took them back up to the house, and planted them back in pots.  I don’t think they would have survived another night with the slugs! 

Onto Plan B… this involved 1) tidying up the area around the veggie patch and removing stinging nettles, logs and anything else slugs and snails enjoy living in, 2) covering the area around the raised beds in shingle with brambles on top (to stop the cats pooing in it), 3) sticking copper tape along the top of the raised beds, and 4) placing stakes and wire with pieces of shiny metal tape around the entire veggie patch to deter cats and birds.

The first night, we left one tiny area of shingle without a bramble on it… and the cat pooed on it!!! Unbelievable!!!  The next day, step 4 (the wiring) was put in place and this seems to have deterred the cat.  At some point this week, I will try planting the squashes again and see what happens. 

Meanwhile, the plum tree is doing extremely well.  In fact, it had far too many plums on it this year and a few boughs snapped. 😦  The slugs are enjoying eating them though, so maybe the ‘plum fest’ will encourage them to forget about the veggie patch. 😉

We’ve also got hundreds of apples growing in the large apple tree.  They should be ripe in a few weeks and I can’t wait to start making apple crumbles, eve’s puddings, apple cake and apple pies.  Yum!

Lil' L's shot of the apple tree

The courgette (zucchini) plant is doing much better now… largely thanks to a resident ladybird, plus I’m bringing it into the back porch every night to stop it getting munched by woodlice.

In return for our tender loving care, the plant has rewarded us with some beautiful flowers…. and it looks like 2 baby courgettes have started to grow.  Yay!!  Let’s hope they manage to make it to full size.  That’ll be a first for us! 

How’s everyone else getting on with their veggie growing?  Have you reaped any bounty yet?

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Filed under Dinners, Growing Fruit & Veggies, The Garden