Monday, 29 August 2011


 I only took one quick photo of these Damsons, because I was that desperate to get them washed and into a couple of cauldrons before they started to deteriorate any further, so I apologise for the out-of-focusness of the photo.  I visited The Ayleburton Village Produce Show on Saturday with Trousers, so as to support my Glorious Friend Gloria, beautifully bumping into my friend Emma, with her lovely husband en route, and whilst there, I had a lovely chat with Gaynor, who, herself also joined the 'Organising Your Village Show For the Very First Time' Club.  And to cut a very long story much much shorter, I only have approximately six Damsons on my baby tree, which let's face it, isn't remotely capable of being turned into anything other than a jam sandwich for your favourite garden gnome at the bottom of your veggie plot....... and she offered me as many as I wanted, (Damsons, not garden gnomes?)albeit the crop having gone 'past their best' so to speak, so I spent the best part of lunchtime today on my hands and knees on her Orchard Floor, harvesting The Good Ones.... I've told you - Damsons!).  In the same fuzzy photo, I've got my third crop of top quality Lemon Verbena leaves drying, to store in airtight jars for winter use in Cakes & Tarts, Teas & Tinctures, and the fresh ones still on the two plants growing in pots, I've got designs on steeping in Olive Oil for a zingy punch to add a certain Je ne sais quoi, whatever that means? she said with tongue in cheek, whenever I'm desperate for a Lemony smack round the mouth in the darker months of my English Kitchen.  Did I tell you that I adore the taste of Lemon? Also in the same bleary photo, you'll notice that I've got Calendula (Pot Marigold) petals on a tray, and I had huge success with drying them last year, to bring the colour of Saffron to my cooking, when you don't necessarily need the actual flavour of it, in dishes to delight.

 Getting incredibly wise to the fact that I spend a fortune on feeding my garden birds for most of the twelve months in every twelve, and finding that waving a white flag to 'come in peace' to harvest the fruit that I've tended, and is ripe for me to pick, it's a little like being in an English episode of the cartoon 'Whacky Races', and that Mutley Dog sniggering at every juncture.  This year, Wellie's gone that extra mile to secure herself a useable crop of the Conference Pears, and they're in the safety of The Funny Farm now to ripen to her hearts' content, so Wellie, herself, this year is Doing A Mutley .!
Yet again this year, there's no proverbial white flag needed when it comes to the Crab Apples, because it's a stunningly Beautiful crop, which, lasting well into the Winter, provides Wellie, and her birds with a Bountifully useable crop.....
I'm not quite sure exactly which naughty little schoolboy named Jerusalem Artichokes: "Fartichokes", but I do know that my favourite Irish Chef, Denis Cotter calls them 'Sunchokes', which makes much more pleasant sense to me, given that they resemble Sunflowers above the ground.  Leaving the personal problem of the Duvet-Lifting Competition to you and yours' giggling in the privacy of your own home, and for your own amusement to when they're harvestable in late Winter, and Beyond!, as Buzz Lightyear might say.....  However...... Only having just started to grow GLOBE Artichokes from seed this year, and having removed 'The King' from the centre earlier, to put it's energies back into next years' growth rather than this, I just couldn't help myself on one or two of the plants, and decided to let a few of the Baby Chokes grow large enough to preserve in oil, once I've chargrilled, or otherwise.  Shame not to?!
Would somebody PLEASE put one of those white jackets with the wrap-around arm thingies onto me, and take me away in a Welsh Ambwlance?!..... No, I beautifully live on the Welsh Border, absolutely love it, I'm not Welsh, and I'm not insane Children, I'm just addicted to preserving what I've lovingly grown so that nothing goes to waste in the leaner months, or 'the hungry gap', as us horticultural peeps have fashioned with words to disguise that we're facing the prospect of buying another thousand litres of oil 'at that price', and if anyone reading our blog has just won the lottery, or IS The Sultan of Br...Br..Gorgeous Wealth.....
You DO have to make yourself smile though........

Think of making a homemade Pizza dough from the depths of your cupboard when you're in need of a culinary hug?........ and then waiting for it to prove....... and it isn't up to anyone but yourselves to adorn your own 'in your own very special way'...... Now WHAT is more exciting than that? .....To open up your Larder Cupboard, or walk into your own Pantry to rediscover what you've preserved from your own plot when everything was plentiful: Chilli-Oil, Oven-blushed Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Roasted Passatta, Sweet Peppers, Sweet'n'Sour Borlotti Beans, Chargrilled Globe Artichokes in Olive Oil, Herbs from the freezer.....Wild Garlic Pesto, ... the list is endless, and  I've even stretched to making my own Nasturtium Seed Capers of Garlic Chive, French Tarragon & Dill flavours this year,(so far) to cover a multitude of sins, just because I can? 
Which brings me round to the subject of Sorrel.  Do yourselves a favour by putting a packet of seeds for this lovely lemony-leaved herb on your Christmas List.  'Trust Me', I'm A Gardener? not being able to buy the leaves in any useable quantity from anyone, it makes sense to grow it for your own use in salads, sauces, soups and savoury tarts.  (10oz. of in fridge for savoury tart tomorrow, so don't let me forget, eh?!)
But I'm not going to even remotely 'go there' with Savoury Tarts in this particular blog update, because I could talk about it for hours, with its' endless possibilities for a beautiful homemade dinner, and I refer religiously to the very brilliant Tamasyn-Day-Lewis's Art Of The Tart book in my kitchen when I'm in need of inspiration for any kind of comfort for my dear heart and I.

Whilst we all strive to eat freshly and seasonally from our own plots, or the generosity of other peoples', and love to cook from both, storecupboard ingredients to preserve for our own benefit should definitely make a recognised 'comeback', because, quite honestly, to make the simplest of any of these preserves from what you already grow, is not Rocket Science my friends.  And I'd like to proudly Stick My Hand Up, and say "I DO"!

  I notice that the Great Tits are greedily harvesting all of my Sunflower Seeds as they ripen already so soon, which I'm a bit miffed about, because I was going to squirrel those away for them for when Mother Nature, and Himself Upstairs have an almighty pillow-fight and I can't get to the shops to buy birdnuts? !

The birds of our gardens always seem to 'tell us' whether we're in for a mild or a harsh winter, me thinks, according to what they harvest, and when.  And I do try and take notice of them, honest I do.  But I'm thinking that it's only the end of August right now.... the hedgerow berries are way ahead of schedule, my freezers are already full, and with the berries ripening ahead of time, they'll be needing 'a sleep-over' at some point in Wellie's freezer to break down their cells for use before any real Jack Frost arrives to do that for me naturally if I'm going to make them into anything gorgeous in a jam jar.

The nights are definitely drawing in.  BC, my such-loved and beautiful black panther of a pussy cat, is curled up between the draining board and the magimix as I sit here typing.
She'll stay there now, but I have to go.
I hope that you've enjoyed it once again.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waste Not Want Not

With the Colder Months creeping up on us so soon, and the likelihood that we'll be wanting to save some Pennies here, and hugely more Pounds there, to heat ourselves, and eat healthily, now is the time for me to make music from every corner of our productive Kitchen Garden, because what you DO with that produce now, preserving it, and storing it away for use over the next six months or so, is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
I've got a Tamasyn Day-Lewis tomato sauce on the go on the right, and on the left, are all the beautifully-flavoured skins and peelings, leaves and celery strings that you'd normally chuck onto your Compost Heap.  Having quite enough on my compost heap right now, thank you very much,  I don't need to waste beautiful flavours there.  I prefer those flavours at this time of year, to be hugging each other in my kitchen, with not a jot of a recipe in sight, for my own Vegetable Stock, for the base of one or two of my own soups or sauces, that I can then freeze.  It isn't clever to chuck stuff out if you can make good use of it in your kitchen first Children?

I can take or leave a lot of these so-called Telly Chefs, but, Tamasyn Day-Lewis blew my frock up with her Book: 'The Art of The Tart' (ISBN 1-84188-132-5) published way back in 2000 or so, because she took a twist on Simon Hopkinson's version of a Tomato Tart, and made it her own, with A Saffron Custard and it works superbly well if you happen to grow kilo upon kilo of your own tomatoes, onions, garlic and celery.... which I generally do, and did this year successfully with Celery, but bonkersly not at all that successfully with Garlic, and I still can't identify where I went so hugely wrong?..... I'm no expert, but when you find certain recipes that you adore, and you can use them in 'a multitude of sins', make Shed-Loads, and preserve it to the best of your ability, I can't think of a single reason why I wouldn't just go 'all out' to preserve my produce in this direction, for a later direction to tickle our tummies.  And my particular point here is that, with every kilo of homegrown tomatoes, I couldn't possibly 'go wrong' by making this sauce.

And, of course, having successfully last year dried the Calendular/Marigold Petals, for a Saffron Substitute, Wellie is totally now up for a Nasturtium Seed substitute for A Caper Preserve.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Absolutely Seamless. And I Take My Hat Off To Them With Knobs On.X

And this is the kind of real reason in my heart of hearts that I felt compelled to take over organising our OWN local village show to keep this part of village life alive for maybe one more year.?  When you get invited to come visit someone else's Show, and you get to learn New Tricks, at even the shortest of notice (last Friday evening)...this is just what you want to find........... something to aspire to.

 I learned an incredible amount from each and every one of those Judges, learning what they look for in a Photograph, an 8 year olds' Seedtray Garden, a Weird Shaped Vegetable, and why it isn't dead good to put a cake with icing on the schedule!

 No word of a lie, I walked into their Village Hall, and my jaw dropped to the floor.  I'm going to sound 'bitter and twisted' here now, obviously, but their Village Hall is magnificently spacious, and does justice to the sheer amount of entries that they have staged, and our modest hall couldn't support that number of entries, surely?  (See Wellie look at her newly bulging files, and deduce that we were only about a hundred Entries less?!  High Five Babe!)  And have I not always said to you Children, it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it.....

Which definitely brings me onto how hard my predecessors have worked over the last twenty years to make The Itton Village Show what it is today.  Particularly, in terms of our Photographic Section of The Show, with its popularity growing year on year to the extent of needing a whole kind of 'Cool Wall' of The Hall to accommodate them all, and I said to these lovely people today: Just watch this category grow..... it's a subject very close to peoples' hearts these days.  On a purely personal level, after he'd finished judging here with Leslie,  I was delighted to find that their Photo Judge and I shared so many constructive comments on what makes A Good Photograph.
Medina, Marvellous Marmalade Queen, and myself, will be touching base this week here at The Funny Farm, and I can't wait to show her the photos I took, and get her thoughts on where that might lead us in our endeavours for next years' Show.
I'm thinking, just hearing the excitement in her voice on the phone this evening, that we're going to be like two kiddies in a Sweet Shop?!

Anyway.... Life..... not always being The Box of Chocolates that you want it to be, Wellie had to take BC cat to the vet, with her having had fisty-cuffs with one of the local farm cats of an afternoon t'other week.  (The Cat - Not The Vet?  Pay Attention Children.......)  And not being a parent myself, I've always favoured not letting your baby girl out till they were at least 35?, but with a cat, I think you'll find that she's only about 10, and sometimes you have to cut a bit of slack now and then, and let them kick their 'Kitten Heels' off?
Now that I look back on the event, I think the biggest mistake I made was actually waking her up out of a deep sleep in The Shrubbery, and shoving her unceremoniously into a plastic Cat Basket.  Because not only did she have that very serious medical condition of 'A Hurty Paw', but it doubled up into 'How Very DARE You!', and she just 'kicked off' once we got into the Vetinaryaryary Surgery, actually 'ROLLING' her cat basket on the reception floor in anger.  (see normal people don riot gear, and 'Mummy Blob' just raise her eyebrows?)
Naturally, given that it was a £50 vet bill for the two injections, being intolerant of accepting tablets from anything that resembles a human hand, there's been no Sweets, nor Pocket Money since her Tantrums and Tiaras began, and it's just a boring old salty foot-bath for the hurty paw, but still acres and acres of love and cuddles, then another boring old salty foot-bath, cuddle, bath, cuddle, bath, bath, bath, bath until she pays Trousers back the money?

Do you remember now when Wellie told you she  used to walk across The Severn Bridge and back again Kids?
Well Wellie's just about to have to do the very same sodding thing again now due to her own stupidy.
Having suffered pain for a year or so, and my doctor, qualified osteopath, completely and utterly put me back on the road for good with Prolotherapy Treatment, Lumbar Injections, because of dodgy sacro-illiacs, and then I horticulturally 'cocked it up' the other week with a four and a half hour digging session.
To say that I feel like A Complete Tit, would be an understatement.
I expected the cold shoulder from my doctor, and for him to deny me a second chance of Therapy.
Instead, we talked about the variety of maincrop potatoes that we were growing whilst he did the Lumbar injections.

And that kind of 'takes your mind off' when you've got an important 'OUCH' happening....

In terms of  'Ouch', him and I now know every single variety of 1st Early, 2nd Early, Early Maincrop, and Late Maincrop Variety that the both of us are growing this year.  AND whether we've harvested and stored them, or if we've just cut the haulms off and buried them in the ground for now.., which isn't normally the kind of conversastion that you HAVE with your Doctor.
If I could botttle that thought, I'd make a killing, and no mistake.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

 I totally cheated this year with growing Celery, because I'd never grown it before, and I saw a thingy of seedlings growing in our local Homebase, and, taking 'a punt on it', I got tempted into trying to grow it for the first time.  A challenge, and I cannot begin to tell you how 'chuffed' I am at the results. Don't be fooled need to keep this crop WELL watered.  But given that our water comes straight out of a spring in the ground, and I'd planted it in the vicinity of my Celeriac, I was doubly up for it.   I now have 10 or 12 top banana Heads to cook and preserve with, particularly because I protected them by growing the seedlings through big empty fizzy water bottle casings, so that soil didn't get into their hearts. And, whilst I'd mused on whether they were 'self-blanching' or not, I needn't have worried, because they've indeedy done themselves proud.

Because when you've just got fruit falling from the trees onto the floor, it makes your heart ache to not pick them up...  I am very out there at least twice a day on The Orchard Floor, and what I can't process or freeze, is a crying shame to me, and no mistake.....  In this bowl, are endless supplies of small Greengages, that I've found a Sarah Raven Greengage Sorbet Recipe for today.

 I did also today phone Monmouthshire Council about that Food Hygiene Course that I'm desperately wanting to do, and they've sent me a list of courses available starting up in the next kind of Now, so I'm really excited about taking part.

Being an intelligent being, my icecream-scoop means more to me than scooping icecream?  I use it every time I preserve fruit and vegetables into my jars, because you can scoop up what you need to 'dollop' into the preserving jars, but at the press of it's lever, it also 'cuts off', and 'finalises' what you want into that jar/tub, or whatever it deploys , and if you have one, you need to experiment..... it's an amazingly underestimated piece of culinary equipment Children......

Monday, 15 August 2011

Shall I go for a Culinary Hug?

 Now ya see me.......
 Now ya don't... And it isn't my beautiful little chocolate-brown Black Panther of A Gardening Cat that I'm referring to neither.  It's what us Horticultural Peeps call potato haulms/top growth. Largely, as I was saying to my friend 'The Marmalade Queen' this afternoon on the phone, I cut the haulms off because there were clear signs of Blighty on the foliage, and not wanting the disease to transfer down underground to the tubers themselves, I'm more in favour of this course of drastic action than digging the Maincrops up yet (unlike Terry Walton of BBC Radio 2 Allotment fame, who did that the other week on the radio).  The reason that Wellie can't follow in his brilliantly muddy footsteps, is that, whilst the Mayan Gold HAVE set their skins, so would be perfectly 'diggable' to store for the coming winter, my Pink Fir Apple maincrops are still, like two Bunnies in Love with a big warren to fill, producing babies.  And having had a ruddy good 'furtle', those I harvested have not yet set their skins properly, so will not be viable to store.  (Considering Anya 2nd Early, so close to Pink Fir to take it's place for an earlier harvest?)
To cut a long story short, I've piled on the mowings from The Orchard to completely cover my underground crops, and I'll have another furtle in a while to determine when is a more appropriate moment.

Excuse my cat, she's just A Very Big Show-Off children?  Unlike her mother, she's just Me,Me,Me,Me,Me!  Me Miss!  Please Pick Me Miss!  Yeah, right!
 Actually, I like the way the sun and shadows make my cat the star of her grassy stage here.  I must show her this when she bounces onto the kitchen table in an hour or two to cozy-on-down with Mummy Blob as I type (why does it take me ages to write these blog updates, 50 years young, can't get on with technology, perfectionist, and a grumpy old woman: IT JUST DOES, Okay?!)
And please don't suggest that I 'get out more', because I'd like to 'stay in more'?  I absolutely adore what I do in my spare time, I adore growing, cooking and preserving, and being in such a gorgeous, gorgeous space on this Funny Farm too?..... (See Wellie seriously looking into making her own cheese from the unpastied cows' milk from the farm when she's done a tad more reading?  Only for Trousers and Myself, obviously......)

Go on, throw something else at me to cook or preserve with!  I asked the very adorable Trousers this evening to look up where and when I can, this Autumn, go on a course to finally get Statificates for a culinary Health'n'Hygiene Course (might have to lose the cat on the kitchen table though, which would be a dreadful shame, eh?!) because I'm sure that my meagre talents are wasted on just the two of our Tummies, and I'd love to put the knowledge, and the one hundred and forty one cookbooks I have to a more financially rewarding purse?  I LOVE it.....

 If you're an avid follower of Wellie's Funny Farm Blog Kids, you'll know that I expect a knock at the door from the Welsh Heddlu jolly shortly, because inadvert,inadvert, I didn't realise that I was growing Poppies that you need a license to grow? and never a truer word was spoken, when I read somewhere Donkey's Years Ago, that a Poppy Seed is perfectly viable, dormant in the soil, for well in excess of 50 years.
Even if the Heddlu were to knock at the door, I'm confident that I could swing it with a Poppy Seed Biscuit?

I chose to take the photograph below because there were Funny Farm Swallows perched along the wires, and, until Trousers uploaded the photo for me, I wasn't sure if I'd captured them, or they'd decided to fly off at the last minute, and make Wellie look like A Prize Plonker?  Either way, I love taking evening photos in this N/NW space, because it's when most of us are winding down after a hard day, and Mother Nature seems to be sat back with a cup of tea and a biscuit for a short while that you can catch her 'unawares' when she isn't looking, snapping every inch of what you feel is YOUR photographic pedestal.
 Okay then.... Trousers chose this photo of The Cat for me to put a feline full-stop to today's blob update, and I'd like to 'paint-ball' the myth that blokes aren't at all soppy and gooey?
Trousers absolutely adores this cat, and this cat absolutely adores Trousers.  When he gets home after a hard day, she is right there with him.  The two of us call that: "Daddy's Cat".  When she's with me, it's "Mummy's Cat".
To be perfectly honest Boys'n'Girls, it can change within the blink of an eyelid at any given moment?!
But as long as my little girl is a happy girl, I care not.  When a cat isn't even 'yours' and she choses to come live with you, that's the only thing that's important.  Not having been blessed with children myself, she is every single thing that I could ever have wished for instead, and no word of a lie.  Trousers, showing childish tendencies on numerous occasions, will have to cuddle up second, even though he is the most importance of my entire life.

Whilst I'm here, I must just say 'Hi' to Medina's friends that she's put a nod to in the direction of our blog for them to view the madness that goes on in this space, because I love it when the grown-up silliness of my blog is enjoyed by just one, and then beautifully passed onto another like-minded soul for yet another to giggle at.
Talking of which, I never ever thought that I would stand before you, and 'fess up' to fame that I'd mentioned my very favourite Irish Chef, Denis Cotter more than ten times on my Funny Farm blog since I started 'wittering on' for these last couple of years?, but Trousers was SO 'blown away' that Denis's girlfriend, Maureen, left a comment for me on my 'Light, Shade, Shape, Form, Fun ' blog update a week or two back, that he's suggested to me that Denis might want to take a restraining order out against me?  Naturally, I'd be 'thrilled'......Equally importantly, I am so looking forward to cooking some of his beautiful recipes for these special friends of ours'. and squirreling away our own Funny Farm Summer Harvests, so that I can cook more of his recipes in the depths of our very British Winter. 

I have honestly said that Trousers and I aren't Vegetarian on a number of occasions, because I mean it?
Just be true to the food that you adore, and deal with food on your own level.  I absolutely ADORE cooking with vegetables, and that's why I grow our own, and adore Denis Cotter in the same sentence..  I'm not going to be 'banging on' about Denis in every single blog-update (okay then....every 'other' one?!) or he really will think that I'm worthy of a 'get this girl locked up!

Medina is vegetarian, whilst Ian isn't.  That, to me spells a Dinner Party Challenge, and I know just how to please both of these people all of the time, or shoot me.

I'm Wellie.....
Pleased To Meet You.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Allo, Allo, Calling Blightie Old Chap?

All of you living 'abroad', whether it being in the next County, the next State, or the next Country from me here right now will never understand the Blight Space that I am in right now..... it's a risk never worth taking, unless you disregard the importance of storing a Potato crop that you might want to use in the winter.   Eh?  Which is just exactly why I've harvested everry tomato too? To be perfectly honest.
 One of the reasons that I adore where Trousers and I have chosen to live, is that there's a life very Welsh, with such an English hint, and isn't ruled by a certain cheese, or a hoody.  It's a beautiful Village feel, if you stand your own ground, taking your own life in your hands, but, with quirkiness that I simply adore to be amongst, and having just 'put to bed' my first Village Produce Show, I've witnessed the beauty of villagers already half way through their next Embroidery for the 2012's Village Show already so soon.  You see where I'm coming from Children?!
I did spend time this week pricking these seedlings out to 2" apart, as the seed packet suggests, but I'm sure you've got better things to do than listen to me talking about that, because if you didn't grow it from seed yourself, in a month or two, you'll be paying a fortune for these from your local Garden Centre.
And there I rest my case......

Trousers uncovered my mate 'Tippy' here today/toady underneath the discarded Potato Haulms on the grassy paths, and Trousers, I have to fess up to you, does not do Moving An Amphibian, Clearing Up Cat Sick, or Giving His Girlfriend a Kiss.
So, 'Tippy' and me got t'gripps with a bunch of lawn-mowings, and an empty flowerpot.  We had 'words', and by the time I came back to scoop him up, before Trousers did with the Briggs'n'Stratton, Tippy Twinkle Toads was beautifully tucked up, where I wanted him,  with a couple of wayward slugs.

When I 'bag' a goodly amount of fruit from The Orchard Floor, it's because I've  actually really worked for it.  At least twice a day I walk my Gardening Cat into The Orchard.  Her and me spend quality time sourcing these lovelies.....  ?  Don't be fooled into thinking that these fruits just 'arrive on my doorstep'
Trousers mowed the whole of the kitchen garden today by Himself.  Woopy-Doo Children, and when he'd finished, Wellie mowed The Orchard,raked it to be certain of newly-dropped Orchard Floor, and then she promised Him Raspberries for Tea?
And why wouldn't I? XX

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Grown, and Sewn With Love

 More's the pity......but this isn't a Funny Farm 'Lamb Chops', because Trousers won this particular Leg in The Village Produce Show Raffle back in early July (although I think you'll find, Trousers my darling, that your friend Pipster still thinks you 'half-inched' His Raffle Ticket?!)   It was kindly donated as a Raffle Prize by Mr. Roger Raffle Him Very Self, who actually reared it.  Trousers cooked it to perfection today, studded with Rosemary and Garlic, picked a small and tender Cabbage from the kitchen garden, whilst I pulled some Carrots, and tipped out the remainder of the tub-grown Lady Cristls, Maris Bards and Red Duke of Yorks.  Being of sound mind, I know that we didn't roast 'the red ones', so whichever of the other white Tatties that he parboiled and roasted, I'm here to tell you that they roasted up a treat; fluffy soft on the inside, and grown-up crispy on the outside, a bit like myself..... with homemade Goosegog & Mint Jelly, which was surprisingly, but thankfully very very moorish indeed.

Trousers was in full culinary flow, searching out a Strawberry and Rhubarb recipe to tickle his own fancy..... within the blink of an eye, plumping for an Abel & Cole recipe of 'Strawberry & Rhubarb Bread'n'Butter Pudding', which is winking at me from the corner of the kitchen table as I write (Himself is watching A Ball Game on the television).  Given that I have a very small tummy, and it's way too full already, the pudding is holding up a banner saying 'Wellie's Breakfast'.  Ooh! I can't wait to wake up tomorrow!  (Actually, Children, thinking about it now, perhaps it wasn't such a bright idea to slosh my homemade Strawberry Rum over the top of it as it came out of the oven?)  Ah, what the heck.... Not a Bob Geldoff nor a Boomtown Rat in sight in Wellie's Kitchen of a Monday, so provided I don't get up too early, I could make it Brunch, no?!
Having cleared the grass-clipping mulches from the first'n'second early tatties, I've begun to earth up my first attempt at Sweet Potatoes underneath the Strawberry TableTop Planter.  I'm thinking, that with the Strawberry 'Runners' now almost reaching ground level, that they'll begin to root nicely now into the warmth of that extra comfort blanket.
I'm still perplexed as to how Cabbage Root Fly has managed to nobble some, and not others of my Cauliflower seedlings, when all of them have got Collars on - Bonkers my friend, or wot?
 The Cabbage White Caterpillies are having a feast too, so I'm starting to reduce the nuts in the birdfeeders now in order to direct their attentions to 'the free stuff'.  And whilst harvesting The Tub Tatties today, the ants were sprouting wings in front of my very eyes in the depths of the compost.
 Now don't make your own story up Kids, but Trousers does like a nice Pear, none better than poached in Red Wine, so, given that the Pears are completely 'top heavy' here in their first cropping year, this will be one smiley man latterly.  I've got designs on 'bottling' them (or 'canning' as you American and Canadian peeps say) in a Christmas 'Mulled'  kind of way, because of course no Pear likes to wait around for any man: when it's ready, it's just ready, use it, or lose it, okay?

I know - there's a Globe Artichoke in every photo...  Largely because I had an excellent germination rate, and if they've bothered to germinate for me, they've earned a place in our garden (see Wellie get her How To Prep'n'Cook a Globe notes out for next year, because surprisingly, I never yet have).  I love to learn to do new things, don't you?

And this epitomises everything that I love about my Kitchen Garden, because there's so much stuff growing, to harvest, and to just plain enjoy looking at every day.
It's at times like these that I'm thankful to have spent the time 'designing' the backbone of the garden, giving thought to the shape of the beds, the labyrinth of paths that were ultimately to lead you by the hand to discover round every corner.  Yet if you view it from above, as Trousers has shown previously from upstairs windows, it takes on a whole new beauty.  It is every inch of the beautiful Patchwork Quilt that I set out to make, lovingly, and seasonally, sewn together with edible stitches.

Thank you very much for being with us once again, and please do read the previous blog update, which is also new this weekend for your entertainment.

Have a great week.
Your Wellie.X.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Preserving, Propagating, New Fancy Pantry, and Potential Pants

 Naturally, you've got to take a dry day or two, or three for harvesting your precious Allium crops, and having been far too late planting my self-saved garlic cloves in the spring, with each and every one of my babies having chosen to die and go to heaven, I'm giving my onion harvest a Huge Hug instead, and, pictorially here, I'm 'putting the cart before the horse', because I've been 'smiled on' and have harvested a shed-load more onions than space....
Underneath our garden gazebo-johnnie was my chosen place to dry them all, so, being a bit inventive with the ornamental garden sack truck, the mangle, the arbours and arches, the gates, and whatever else to hand was potentially spreading the load.  But still, with the sheer weight of the alliums under the gazebo, we've had to do a 'Heath Robinson' bodge-it'n'fix'support-system, a propping up of a garden pot on top of a kitchen stool, and a scaffolding plank underneath, so that the Garden Zeebo didn't collapse around the 'bus ticket ears' of our Gorgeous Gardening Cat whilst she's sleepies under it on the table, or one of the chairs of a nighty-night-time.  For those of you not knowing the term 'Bus Ticket' it means that another has taken a couple of chunks out of the edges of one's ear (normally, two fighting felines....) Although, to be perfectly honest, Trousers and I feel much the same about each other on a regular basis, sometimes adoringly, and at other times, Mrs. Bobbit comes to mind, but please don't phone The Police, because we love each other?!

I might just reassure you, that Trousers is feeling much improved from his health scare, but we are both monitoring it on a day by day basis.  Every time he clutchess his 'man boob', I've died inside.... So we  have an understanding now that if he does that twice, and tells me it hurts, Wellie dials for an Ambwlance.

Where I previously had Plum Tomato plants in pots (now transferred to around the gazebo)  I'm thinking ahead to next year now, and I haven't had way too many Wallflowers growing in my garden since Trousers and I first moved to this part of the West Country or Wales even in such a long time, and I absolutely adore them.  The air that they perfume, and the blooms that you can cut to bring into your home is just adorable. And not having a seedtray big enough for a whole packet, I decided to dedicate my 'tabletop planter' to germinate them, because thereafter, I can always germinate some fleece-covered quick cut'n'come-again salad leaves, rocket, and the like, before we're too badly into inclement British weather. 
I think, children, if you look very carefully, that there are a few naughty pawprints evident, even though Herself and Myself had very serious words about the fact that this shouldn't happen?!
 Right, I'm going to 'fess up' to you now, because for months on end, I've been mentally beating myself up that I am SO untidy.  Honestly, no word of a lie, it's driving me completely nuts, and it's been driving Trousers crackers as well (The Cat has been very dipomatic, and not said a word, for which I'm eternally grateful....)  So, having started to build these Pantry shelves myself an eternity ago, enjoying a tad of DIY myself, as I do, I hadn't finished them..
And to be perfectly honest I really really needed 'SuperTrousers' to fly in and help me out of a sticky situation with his Drill, Screws, 4b2's and batons.....  When a Girlie is trying to preserve everything that moves right now in the vicinity of the Kitchen Garden, fresh as a daisy, there's no time to lose.
I hadn't realised that 'SuperTrousers' knew quite as many rude words as that Children?, but we got there in the end, and may I just say, my darling Sweetheart, I cannot thank you enough, and I really truly mean that, because you've just made my dream come true of having my very own, and very first 'Walk In Fancy Pants Pantry'...

Unfortunately for Wellie, last week, I stood before my Doctor, and he quite rightly told me that I was 50 years of age, and it was about time that I engaged my brain, adding for good measure, that "You're A Twit"....  At which point I guesssed that he wasn't best pleased with me?
You never really want disapproval from your own Doctor, but I hold my hands up, because on this occasion, I did wrongly dig for 4 hours solid, didn't do two hours one day then another two hours another day, nor did I alternate which foot I dug with, and I did mow with that heavy mower on that slope .....
I only say this, because I am more than incredibly cross actually with 'myself' for putting others before me, which unfortunately, I seem to do on a regular basis.
And now of course, I find myself in the unfortunate position of having jeopardised all the good work that my Doctor did over those months putting my body right after nearly a year of constant pain.  And until Him and I meet again, which is rather urgent, I have no idea whether he is able to fix me once again, or whether I've shot myself in the proverbial foot for a long time to come.
Bloody Stupid Girl Wellie...

...might make a cake or some pancakes

Monday, 1 August 2011

Babs's Annual Alzheimer Hog Roast Fundy with Friendies

Trousers and I love to support Babs with this event when we're able to, particularly this year, because her gorgeous husband, Derek, sadly died of his illness a few months back, and even though I knew him for the shortest time of two years, he was a particularly special 'Twinkle' to visit whenever I popped into their home, as Barbara herself always is.
Which is why I decided to put our friend Lyn as the first photograph here on this weeks' Blog update,  because the sheer fun written all over her face tells a thousand stories of how much fun she, and totally the six of us had yesterday afternoon. 
Trousers and myself, Pippy and Lyn, and thank you so much to Ian and Medina who agreed to join us to make it that much more special.

Trousers and Pip are 'two naughty little schoolboys' and went over early in the proceedings to the Ladies' Lucky Dip Stall, pulling out a Dip each for Lynnie and I, all wrapped up in Happy Birthday Paper (see an episode of Vicar of Dibley children?!)  and naturally, us two girlies were unsuitably thrilled with our new bags, not quite knowing if they were Washbags, or Handbags......? and so decided that, if Wellie 'puts them aside for 2012 Itton Village Produce Show Raffle Prizes' and puts a date sticker on them, every time they get recycled, we could track their whereabouts for quite a number of years, or even decades to come?!

Trousers childishly sprayed Pip with the spurious perfume from Lynnie's Lucky Dip winnings, and he spent the rest of the day smelling like A Tarts' Boudoire, Crackling, Apple Sauce, the most gorgeous Lemon Posset Pudding, and Meringue.  Incidentally, the meringues are the best meringues in the entire world, and you will never ever put a more moorish meringue in your mouth.  So contact me for a ticket for next year, and you too could have this much fun.  I dare you!  (I'm watching you all from UK, Ireland, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and the like, so don't be shy in sticking your head up above the parapet, because it would be lovely to meet you, especially if one of you from Ireland turned out to be my favourite all-time vegetarian chef, Denis Cotter.  Obviously! (see Wellie faint.....)

Ian, you're incredibly photogenic, but I apologise, and please humbly forgive that Trousers snapped you without your permission?....X.

At the end of the Hog Roast, any meat surplus to requirements was sold off to any willing Porker at £1 a bag, making yet more money for the Alzheimers Trust, and I suppose I can forgive Trousers 'for charity' just this once, given that he got carted off from work in an Ambliance last Thursday morning with a suspected Heart Attack, phoning me from Gloucester Royal Hospital to tell me as much, scaring the living PANTS off me in the process....(Ian, Medina and myself agreeing yesterday that the Welsh for Ambliance was Ambwlance, with a WubbleYew),  then deciding: who cares, let's have another glass of wine?!)  Which made a mockery of me wanting to kill Trousers myself, boys'n'girls if he continues to smoke and eat the junk he does in his van at work, but it's only because I happen to love him that I want him to take better care of himself when I'm not there to do it for him, so that he can look after me in my old age, him being my Toy Boy, eh?!
 What with the bags of Hog, the Washbags, Spurious Perfume, Candles, Box Set of 12 Disco Legend DVDs, Bags of Hog Roast, and with Pip winning his second food hamper of the afternoon, Lynnie was adamant that they had no more room in the car to take it all home? And what one would do with a Globe Artichoke at this lateness in the afternoon was anyone's guess.....?  At which point, I gave her the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that Trousers had won in the raffle for me, because she admitted that she'd drink it, and I can't stand the stuff, and I acquired that box set for next years' Produce Show Raffle.  Sorted!
 Okay.... now I want to introduce you to my friend Medina, and to straight away, and categorically assure you that she isn't feeding her chooks with red wine-laced corn?!  Trousers and I had given Ian and Medina a ride home after Babs's fantastic Hog Roast, and the four of us spent yet more quality time together in their beautiful, beautiful garden.  How lucky they are to live in such fantastic surroundings, and I'm really looking forward to spending time with Medina putting together the Schedule for the 2012 Itton Village Produce Show, because not only do they keep Chooks, they grow all their own Fruit and Vegetables, their borders are well-stocked with shrubs and herbaceous, and looking into keeping Bees as well, (with the newly-named 'Swarming Norman's' help)....... all of which is why I chose her to help me put my first 'proper' Village Produce Show on the Itton map, since Pat and Alan Beattie have, I think, properly retired from it now.
...and she'd never tell you herself, but she's 'The Marmalade Queen' ?! because, quite frankly, her own was far superior in the 2011 Show, and she has the Statificates in her laundry room to prove it, because I've seen them..... High Five Sweetie!

Thank you for watching again kids, and hopefully catch you next time I'm here.X.
Bless You.X