Friday, 2 August 2013

Gardening is a dangerous business!

It is a fact that the best laid plans can so easily go wrong. I was planning to spend the summer tending my plants, cooking delicious meals and catching up on all those things that have been put off for so long. Then it happened. I was down on the allotment early one morning planting out the last few tomatoes when I fell down a hole next to the path. Agony followed by a trip to A&E - result a broken ankle. The good news is that it is not in plaster but the sexiest footwear so at least I can take a bath. So I am spending many happy hours lying on a daybed listening to Radio 3 or 4, knitting and willing my bones to knit back together.

Being housebound means that I cannot go to the supermarket and spend money which will contribute to my aim to live cheaply. And the allotment is starting to be very productive. I have managed to make blackcurrant syrup (delicious poured over vanilla ice cream), raspberry and redcurrant jelly and filled the freezer with strawberry granita. A few weeks ago we celebrated the arrival of the first courgette, now we are overwhelmed with all shapes and sizes. I have made lots of ratatouille and mixed vegetable soup, both cheap and filling. I try to use ingredients that are organic and have limited impact on our carbon footprint. The soup has been made almost entirely with home grown vegetables and so costs pennies. We shall eat it with home baked bread. This is food that I can make whilst sitting on a stool in the kitchen. Luckily sweet pea (my lovely daughter) will be back from baking herself in Ibiza next week and will take over the kitchen - and she can cook a banquet using just a few leftovers.

Things I have learnt recently. I can iron sitting down. Sheets are just as good to sleep in when they are not ironed. If you take your glasses off you can't see the dust. Himself tells me that it is not good to show Mr Dyson to the carpet too often or the carpet will wear out! If you are incapacitated, it is good to do it during the BBC Proms season - some great concerts this year. And I have some wonderful friends who help with lifts to knit and natter, shopping, visit me and bring cake, send me cards and flowers and listen to my endless whinging - thank you all.

I am convinced that Belinda cat thinks my time spent resting my ankle is purely to enable me to devote myself to her comfort. She sits next to me whilst I knit and listens intently to the radio and my thoughts uttered outloud on the writer of patterns when things go wrong. I have managed to finish a hot water bottle cover I started about 5 years ago, a pair of socks, my sister in laws birthday present (it was last February) and spent a happy hour or two sorting, stroking and admiring my stash of yarn. (Knitting readers will understand that this is a very pleasurable pastime).

It is my plan for the next week to rest my leg so that it recovers before my holiday in September and The Great London Yarn Crawl on 21 September ( I shall also be dying in the garden (yarn that is) - but more about that next time.

Vegetable soup (aka End of the Fridge Soup)
The ingredients below can be varied as to what you have lurking in the fridge or vegetable baskets. Leeks are a good addition and so are squash if you don't have a courgette left. Swede, turnips etc are also good although I wouldn't recommend beetroot. The number of onions, carrots, spuds etc is also dependent on your taste buds and what is available. A great way of using up the end of things. I often add a tin of butter or haricot beans to stretch it. Freezes well.

2 onions
2 carrots
2 spuds
a few tomatoes (or a tin of chopped ones)
a couple of sticks of celery
Stock (vegetable, chicken or just plain water)
Couple of cloves of garlic
Large pinch of mixed herbs, or some thyme
Salt and pepper
Large knob of butter - or a splash of olive oil

Chop up all the veg and sweat gently in a large saucepan or stock pot in the butter/olive oil.
Add stock or water to cover.
Add salt, pepper and herbs.
Bring to the boil and simmer gentle until veg are cooked - about half an hour to an hour.
If you cut the veg up very small you can eat it as it is with some grated cheese on top.
Turn it into a puree with a blender and maybe add a dollop of cream/crème fraiche 
Process through a mouli (this is my favourite).