Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours...

Having a neighbour who is also a keen gardener must be a little bit like having an allotment - there's always someone there to chat to (rather than doing any actual gardening), you swap tips and discuss ideas, but most importantly, you can swap plants and produce. The most important thing to remember is to pay attention to the sorts of things that your neighbour grows that produce a glut and make sure not to grow these yourself but grow something else for an exchange.

I shall certainly be applying this principle next year as we've had quite a few plants and a very nice pumpkin from our neighbour since she moved in last October. For a brief, halcyon period, we even had fresh eggs from her hen-keeping enterprise, until she sent them back after six weeks as she felt they weren't able to roam freely enough in her garden (and they required more work than she'd thought they would!). In return I've baked her a few cakes (making good use of those free eggs) and gifted a tomato and a sage plant, but I think we've benefited more this year. I promise to try to make amends next year!

I've never cooked with pumpkin before (obviously I've cooked with other squash, I've just never had an actual pumpkin!) so I was quite excited and determined not to waste any. I've made pumpkin soup (some to eat this week and some to freeze), a pumpkin and sage dough from which we've had some breadsticks, some rolls and some to freeze, and I'll be using up the last of the pumpkin flesh next week in a pumpkin tagliatelle recipe we have in our kitchen calendar, of all places!

I'm quite pleased with the dough, which I created by referring to two recipes and a bit of luck, so here's the recipe:

250g plain flour
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
400g pumpkin, cut into small cubes
a good handful of sage leaves, chopped

1. Put the pumpkin in a pan of water and cook until tender. Drain it, taking care to reserve the cooking liquid, and then puree in a food processor or by rubbing through a sieve.

2. Mix your flours, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the puree, chopped sage and the oil then start to slowly add the reserved cooking water until you get quite a wet dough - I used about 300ml.

3. Tip out your dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until it becomes less sticky and more elastic - you might need some extra flour, but try not to add too much.

4. Put your dough in a clean bowl into which you've added a splash of olive oil. Coat the dough in the oil, cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave to rise until doubled in size - about 2 hours.

5. Tip your raised dough onto a floured surface and knock it back. Now shape into rolls, a loaf, breadsticks or any other type of bread, leave to rise again and bake as appropriate. For rolls, you'll need to leave them for an hour to double in size and then bake at 200 C for 15 minutes until golden.

Very, very good straight from the oven....

Oops - BLW Sept: Days 26 - 30

I realise it's been October for a few days, but I got a bit behind with my BLW September blogging - here we go with the last 5 days of the month!

Day 26
Breakfast: Toast with Lurpak unsalted spreadable butter and homemade marmalade.

Snack: Homemade fruit scone with Lurpak unsalted spreadable butter.

Lunch: Apple and rice cakes.

Snack: Grapes.

Dinner: Eggs florentine with bacon and salad.
A very easy and quick dinner, involving steaming some spinach, toasting muffins, poaching a couple of eggs and making a 'hollandaise' sauce by adding lemon juice and hot water to mayonnaise! Topped off with some Waitrose Duchy Originals unsmoked bacon done under the grill and a bagged salad of seasonal leaves (Waitrose again). The baby enjoyed most of it and even had a bit of bacon.

Day 27
Breakfast: Porridge with homemade apple butter.

Snack: Wrigglies.
[See Day 25]

Lunch: Left-over North African squash and chickpea stew.
Enjoyed just as much the second time around!

Snack: bread sticks.

Dinner: Fusilli pasta in a homemade tomato sauce, with tuna fish and runner beans.
The beans came from the garden and were getting a bit tough, so only the inner beans were really eaten.

Day 28
Breakfast: Toast with Lurpak unsalted spreadable butter.

Snack: Organix biscuits.
We ate these at our baby signing class and made a huge mess because they'd gone a bit soggy in the tin... oops!

Lunch: The last of the North African squash and chickpea stew.

Snack: Grapes.
I've given in now and just prepare a lot of grapes and let her eat until she stops making her 'more' noise...

Dinner: Chilli with rice and creme fraiche.
This was from the BLW cookbook and has been a hit before. I usually make it with chunks of meat, but tonight we had it with mince and this seemed to slip past her 'meat radar' more effectively!

Day 29
Breakfast: Fruit scones with Lurpak unsalted spreadable butter.
I made the scones the night before with sultanas and raisins.

Snack: Ella's Kitchen pear puree.
The snack today was scheduled to be some homemade fruit muffins, but I didn't have any eggs in the house the night before and we had our swimming lesson this morning, so just had to grab something out of the cupboard. We got this Ella's Kitchen pouch free with an Ocado delivery and actually, she quite enjoyed it, so I might look at some more of their things to have in the house as 'stand-by' food.

Lunch: Left-over chilli.
Just eaten as it was, without rice but a nice warm, filling lunch after swimming.

Snack: Grapes.
We keep getting these in our organic box, which is great as she loves them, but they're British-grown so are quite small and seeded so are a pain to prepare (cut in half, scoop out 1 small seed, repeat ad infinitum).

Dinner: Pancakes with herbs and cheese.

Day 30
Breakfast: Toast with Lurpak unsalted spreadable butter and homemade marmalade.

Snack: Organix gingerbread man.
The first time we've had these and although they're small it was apparently quite a good snack as it took her ages to eat (head, arm, leg 1, leg 2...)

Lunch: Savoury flapjacks with cheese and red pepper.
From the BLW cookbook - I made some cheese and courgette ones earlier in the month for snacks, but actually, they're quite filling and even making half the recipe makes a lot of flapjack so I thought we could have them for lunches this week.

Snack: More grapes.

Dinner: Roast pork, roast potatoes, carrots and runner beans.
This is the first time she'd had pork and she did have quite a good suck at the meat, but still preferred her vegetables.

And that's it for BLW September - hope you've enjoyed it and I'm sure there'll be future posts covering our Baby-led weaning journey.