Tag Archives: Wales

Clean Green Space

4 Apr

allotment 1a

We’ve just had our letter from the local council giving us permission to go to our allotment during the lockdown. We’re so lucky. We’ve had the plot about 12 years and it’s not been easy – a very heavy clay soil, surrounded by woodland. A few times we’ve considered giving up but I’m so glad we stuck with it because now it’s a godsend. We were there for nearly 3 hours today, getting exercise, fresh air, sunshine and growing food. It’s just below Oystermouth Castle and you can see the castle behind the trees in the first picture.

allotment 2

Because we’re overshadowed with woodland at either end, it’s hard to grow crops in those areas so I’ve created a small woodland garden between the shed and Compost Corner. The hellebores and primroses are in full bloom but the little daffodils are dying back. The wild garlic is about to flower and the arums are flourishing. The apple and plum trees are just budding.

allotment 3

This is the view that greets us. There’s a wooden shed hiding behind the greenhouse. There’s loads of wildlife here too. The birdsong was beautiful today and we’re visitied by foxes, squirrels and badgers, who are very fond of sweetcorn. We’re so lucky to have this space at the moment. I really feel for people who live in the larger congested cities with no access to clean green space.

 

Cheesey Baconey Comfort Food

29 Mar

bacon bread 1

More pandemic cooking today – comfort food to the max! Here’s a yeast free Cheese and Bacon Bread recipe by Gwynn Galvin on the Swirls of Flavor website  that my mate June sent me on Facebook. It’s an American recipe which gave me a chance to use my fancy schmancy set of Joseph Joseph measuring cups.

First, preheat your oven to 180C, 350F or gas mark 4 and grease 1 large or two smaller loaf tins with vegetable oil. Snip the rind off three rashers of streaky bacon and cut them into small strips. Fry them until crispy. Put 2.5 cups of plain flour into a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Add 4 teaspoons of baking powder and a cup of grated strong cheddar. Meanwhile melt 4 tablespoons of butter.

It’s wild garlic season and although the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of garlic granules, I substituted this with half a cup of snipped wild garlic leaves and added these to the dry ingredients and mixed them in with my hands. Beat one large egg and measure out a cup of milk.

Pour all the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl – that’s the melted butter, milk and beaten egg and mix them in gently with a large metal spoon. Don’t overmix as this will make the bread denser. Put the mix into the loaf tin/s and sprinkle some more grated cheese on top. Bake for about 45 minutes for a large loaf or 35-ish for the two smaller ones. They should be golden brown and if you stick a metal skewer into the centre it should come out clean. Leave them in the tins for about 5 minutes then remove them and cool them on a metal rack – the one from your grill pan will do.

bacon bread 4

I served the bread still warm in thick slices with home-made root vegetable soup. It is LUSH!

You can find the original recipe here

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food

28 Mar

nutmeg

Comfort food tonight. Rice pudding, made with coconut milk and agave syrup rather than the traditional cow juice and sugar, but nutmeg is a must. I grate it fresh and stir it through the pudding before I cook it. I microwaved it for 30 minutes, which is a lot quicker than in an oven, but it doesn’t seem to get a skin this way. Lot’s of people don’t like rice pudding skin but I love it.

On the left, the ingredients mixed and ready to go into the microwave at full power for half an hour. Then served up hot and creamy with a dollop of home-made jostaberry jam.  It was lush!

 

 

 

Survival Kicking In

27 Mar

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I seem to have gone into some weird default setting, a deep seated survival instinct. I’ve been wondering why I’m finding it so hard to do any art at the moment – surely the greatest crisis within living memory would kickstart some creative ideas? But no. Instead I’m digging my allotment, planting seeds, picking crops, cooking, preserving, using up leftovers, recycling, storing.

Art is a higher function. Food is a basic need. Something deep seated has been triggered and the energy I would normally be putting into my studio is now going into my kitchen and allotment. Today I bottled some rhubarb and made rhubarb cordial. We’ve got a glut of rhubarb this year. Normally I’d be making crumble and upside down cake with it but Husb has decided to give up sweet things for a while because he thinks he’s putting on weight and I can’t take cakes around to friends and relatives because we’re on lockdown. There’s loads more in the ground ….. tomorrow I’m going to make rhubarb gin.

Growing and Baking

26 Mar

amelanchier

Husb and I are taking advantage of the enforced national lockdown to spend time on our allotment – it’s one of the few places that has been sanctioned. It’s great, we can drive there and avoid people and it’s so huge that it’s easy to remain isolated. We’re practicing the enhanced hygeine and getting so much work done, getting crops ready for the coming months.

The allotment is on an old site at the top of a hill behind a Norman castle, with woodland bordering the site along two sides so it’s a bit dark at the top and bottom ends, but it’s worth it because the place is so idyllic.

We have some crops ready to pick – rhubarb and wild garlic, Ramsons, that’s self seeded onto the plot from the woods. Sorrel is nearly ready too. I’ve been digging over some of the beds and preparing for beans and leeks while Husb has been doing maintenance to the shed and raised beds – and clearing out a rat infestation in the shed!

scones

We were home by lunchtime and I carried on with some work from our home office while Husb made cheese scones. They’re lovely.

Plants from the top: Amelanchier lamarckii, or snowy mespilus; a Mirabelle plum in the foreground of the photo of the allotment; rhubarb; loganberry flowers just budding; plum in full flower.

 

Cooking Game Of Thrones Style

25 Mar

squash 2

Day two of lockdown and I turned into a psycho cook, channelling Game of Thrones with a butternut squash …….

Hack a squash in half with a big dagger. Lay them side by side on a metal tray and roast them in a furnace until you can squeeze their flesh easily.

Flay and dismember two onions and cast them into a cauldron of hot oil and saute them until they are soft.

Scoop out the fleshy innards from the squash and cast it into the cauldron with the onion. Scald it with boiling water.

Add vegetable stock. Okay, I know vegan stock isn’t very Game of Thrones, but hey, I’M NOT JOFFREY!!!! Pulverise it with a masher, blender or liquidiser and smash it into small pieces. Boil it in the cauldron a bit more until it’s thickened.

squash 8

Serve it up at the Red Wedding. Or for your supper. Whatever.

 

Rhubarb And Beansprouts

24 Mar

Today started weirdly. I’ve been pretty gung-ho about the coronavirus so far but when I got up this morning (I didn’t want to get up) I stayed in my pyjamas for ages and comfort ate from a huge bag of salt and vinegar crisps. But then I pulled myself out of it and got stuck into sorting out the garden – it needed a good clear up after the winter. I picked a tidy crop of rhubarb as well – haven’t decided what to do with it yet – crumble, chutney, bottled and gin are the options.

rhubarb

I also started off some beansprouts. I had a box in the pantry that I’d forgotten about. They’re a quick crop, 3 – 5 days and there should be a decent amount and they’re really nutritious. I’m still finding it hard to get motivated to make art, but there’s plenty to do in the house and garden which seems more appropriate for the times really.

 

The Digital Cat

23 Mar

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I’ve been using a free Markers app on my Galaxy Samsung tablet (note 8) for a few years now but there was one drawing tool I had not used so I’ve been having a go with it this evening, using Sparta Puss as a model. She looks impressed, not!

 

 

Paisley Daps

22 Mar

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This coronavirus situation is weird for me, creatively. I seem to be unable to do anything meaningful, I have no ideas about how to do some art that is relevant. It will come with time, I suppose – I hope. In the meanwhile, I need to just knuckle down and practice. So I drew my paisley daps on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 using a free Markers app. I haven’t used either for ages, it’s a bit of a clumsy programme but to be honest I can’t be bothered to learn a more sophisticated programme, I prefer to create art mostly in the real rather than virtual world. But the tablet is easy to pick up, no need to go to the cupboards and get my materials out and set up a work station.

caastle

I’ve been spending more time cooking and working on the allotment, survival instinct I guess. Our allotment is in a gorgeous place, behind Oystermouth Castle and we’ve had a good few days, dry and sunny, and the site is so big that it’s easy to practice social isolation.

 

 

 

 

My Creative Other Half

19 Mar

Faux glass 1

I was out and about in the city centre for most of today, shopping from the excellent Swansea Market and local grocers, who had plenty of food. So many people are going to supermarkets and ignoring small, local shops and markets, which is a shame because locally they have plenty of most things. And there’s the lovely smell of food cooking in the Market, from the cafes still open and serving hot meals (that they’re now offering to deliver), to the bakers making fresh Welsh cakes on hot griddles. There are a lot of homeless people in temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation in the city; they have to go out during the day so it’s great that they can go and get hot food in the market.

I bought some laverbread from the Market for tea …

 

laverbread

 

Anyway, while I was out, it was Husb’s turn to get creative and he made a faux stained glass panel, from coloured plastic sheets and a roll of self-adhesive lead strip. It was dark outside when he installed it so I’ll have to wait for daylight to get a photo and blog about it. Tomorrow ….

 

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