Sunday, June 22, 2008

Todays blooms




Smoked Eel and Beetroot



Beetroot is one of the few surviving plants on our allotment that hasn't been munched by greedy, gluttonous slugs and snails. I think that our plot, being positioned next to the rolls of old rotten carpet and waste ground is asking for trouble. When I walk up the path and, towards the old timers in our allotment group, I notice they have beautifully formed, perfectly pristine lettuces growing in the neatest rows with no trace of  gorging snails. But it's OK, I'm not bitter or envious, despite once thinking our plot was being sabotaged by people sprinkling weed seeds all over our once ,very neat raised beds. I guess it's just a slightly irritating learning curve of what to grow and what not to bother trying to grow.

So it's a good job we like beetroot as much as we do, as this is going to be our bulk crop this summer along with the fennel, which so far, is also doing mighty fine.
Beetroot raw, grated with carrots and mixed with lemon juice and a peppery olive oil is my favourite way to eat it. I also love it roasted with rosemary and garlic then cooled, sliced and eaten with horseradish and a strong cheddar in a sandwich. Or, like I first mentioned, grating it raw and mixing it with creme fraiche, dill and Dijon mustard and topped with deliciously meaty, smoked eel. If you're put off my eating eel because of the way it looks alive, don't be. When smoked, it is really tasty with a firm texture and deep oily flavour - excellent with beetroot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A relaxing get-away


Two weekends ago, Stu and I stayed in a yurt belonging to some friends of ours. It is set in a beautiful secluded meadow in Suffolk, surrounded by mature trees and acres of pasture. I think it was the most relaxing (child free) 24 hours we had had in four years. We sat and read books and the Saturday papers and cycled to The Low House in Laxfield, where we ate well and watched the locals arrive in 007 themed costumes before cycling back with a bit more speed than we arrived.

I was pleased to have some quiet time, as the previous week I ordered a book from Amazon called the The Creative Family, written by American blogging Mum of three, Amanda Soule.  I don't regularly read her blog, Soule Mama but I was aware of it. Other blogs were raving about this book and the reviews on Amazon were very complimentary so I bought it. I wanted to get on the  'good mama' band waggon instead of being the grumpy selfish one I so often am. I read this book while at the yurt, and I have to say, I turned into a holistic, patient, creative, positive and gentle Mama almost instantly. Wow, the wonder of books and the gentle persuasion of words and pictures.

So while we were listening to nothing but birds chirping in the glorious meadow -

I tried a bit of rope knitting with fencing steaks...
(Not easy).

... Stu climbed a oak tree and fitted a swing...
(It made my heart race and I worried that an ambulance would never find us)

... and we ate breakfast in the fresh air and gently drizzling rain.