First frost

Was going to transplant some rhubarb today, but the ground’s still hard from last night’s frost. Weather report says tonight will get to -2 in Edinburgh.

Not too worried about the rhubarb as Joy Larkom reckons mid- to late Winter is the best time to transplant.

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Rhubarb and ginger jam FTW

An unexpected first prize in the other jam category with my rhubarb and ginger jam! I am very chuffed with that.

The 'other jam' category - looks like two other entries had already been removed

The 'other jam' category - looks like two other entries had already been removed

A colleague gave me a 1970’s recipe and I modified it to include real ginger rather than powdered stuff, which added a nice warmth to the jam. I also used an unrefined sugar and dropped the amount in the recipe, which gave a more rounded sweetness and not too prominent. And I simmered the jam until the rhubarb stalks disintegrated into their fibres. (You need to do quite a lot of simmering ‘cos rhubarb has very little pectin in as it’s a stalk not a fruit.)

We got to the hall quite late and so didn’t have much time to wander round to see the other exhibits and chat to friends. Caught a glimpse of David Somervell, who’s recently been featured in an article in the Guardian newspaper, and am very happy to see someone who’s working professionally to reduce CO2 emissions and also living the life.

She who knits and the daughter entered the tombola and won a huge book on Italian Cooking — Italia in Cucina published by McRae books. A quick skim shows it’s got a wide range of dishes made with simple ingredients, the instructions are clear and the photos are good. The organisation of the book makes no mention of the rhythm of antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti e contorne. Nevertheless, it’s got several recipes for gnocchi and for minestrone so I’m happy.

what we came away with

what we came away with

my rather weedy garlic is at the front; the winner looked so good

my rather weedy garlic is at the front; the winner looked so good

The rocket starts

Nice family trip to the plot today — a low impact way to spend the bank holiday Monday.

The rhubarb’s still going strong and now the rocket and spinach are ready for harvesting. It’s nerve-wracking, really, ensuring that the food’s not wasted. And I can see the blackcurrants swelling but still green, the garlic strong, the beans in flower; more picking and preserving needed throughout the Summer.

Today’s work: weeding, weeding, weeding; planted a row of peas with the girl; planted 25 French beans around the tepee.

Planting peas with gusto

Planting peas with gusto

Today’s haul: 1.8 kg of rhubarb that’s gone straight into the freezer in 300 gramme bags; 125 grammes of spinach that’s maturing in a dahl sag for tomorrow night’s tea; 250 grammes of rocket that she who knits made into a jar of pesto.

Picking rocket with the girl

Picking rocket with the girl

Rocket pesto - we put it through the hand blender next

Rocket pesto - we put it through the hand blender next

Back to cookery…

I am more at home with cooking, so today we made jam. Well, I made jam and the girl helped with the labelling.

Three jars of jam. An apple and roses in the background

Three jars of jam. An apple and roses in the background

Three jars of rhubarb and ginger jam, each with two labels

Three jars of rhubarb and ginger jam, each with two labels

We now have 7 jars of rhubarb and ginger jam in the understairs cupboard. In a moment of clarity, I’ve realised that I’ve used up perhaps 10% of the rhubarb. The last jar from 2008 is dated 15 June, so that means I may have to make jam every day I look after the daughter from now until the holiday on 5 June…

tidying up the plot

The warning letter says I’ve got to get the plot tidy before 26 March, so I’ve been down to the plot twice this weekend.

Yesterday: mended the broad bean supports; dug over the bed for leeks; rooted up the bramble on the side of the plot; cut back the oregano; and cut the grass on the paths. Made it back home in time to watch the Scotland-Ireland match, ordered take-away curry, had a bath and was in bed by 9:30.

Today: finished digging the bed by the compost bins (it’ll probably get peas), and dug in a barrowful of manure; answered a master composter question; cut back another bramble; weeded the rhubarb and put manure around the crowns, which are just starting to poke out off the ground.

That’s 5 hours of work this weekend, and I suspect I’ll sleep like a log again tonight. But for now, I’m going to brew some coffee and listen to the Food Programme on Cuba and Urban Gardening.

Almost the last of the blackcurrants

When clearing out the freezer over the holidays, I found 300g of frozen blackcurrants from last July. I threw in a handful when I stewed some apples over the weekend, and tonight I’ve stewed another tablespoon and had it with vanilla ice cream. Adds a touch of Summer zing to the Winter, and I’ve still got enough for one more dish…

Another find: I’ve also got 2 jars of rhubarb & ginger jam left.

And with the light levels returning, I’m feeling more optimistic about getting down the plot and spreading some lovely manure on these two areas.