And then there was light.

This winter has been long. I knew it would be, fighting with dark demons that appear in the dead of night and stay till dawn is quite exhausting. It is a process and there seems to be no way to escape it. It is over six months now since hubby left us. I wake thinking of him and go to sleep thinking of him along with many, many moments during the day. I’m still listening for his car to come and go on the drive, for the sound of the key in the lock, along with all the other little idiosyncrasies that sounded like him. It is interesting how the mind in grief is still listening. I wonder when that will quieten down. Even the allotment cat is still looking for him. She greeted me today and then ran off around the corner, tail high, and I realised she had gone to greet hubby when she came back a few moments later looking a little sad.

In some ways I am evolving. For instance I buy better coffee! Hubby used to drink six or seven cups a day, the whirr of the bean to cup machine was never quiet. So as you might imagine the quantities of coffee beans purchased was often on an industrial scale. I only drink one cup a day and having recently joined a friend at a local coffee shop, that particular coffee was so good it played on my mind and I had to go back and buy some of their beans. Then finding out they used a local Artisan coffee roaster, I ordered a variety of beans from them. I’m looking forward to my morning coffee from Monsoon Estates, it really is the simple things that can give joy.

I gently celebrated the spring equinox on Monday, the struggle between light and dark, death and life, has been very real this winter, so it felt right to momentarily mark the occasion when light and dark was equal of (roughly) 12 hours each. Now we will see the days get longer and time spent at the allotment will greatly increase, just as soon as the wind and rain dies down… Although yesterday I was strimming in quite a gale, so as there was no one else up the allotment I sang Really Loudly as I was strimming along, I wondered if they would come and lock me up in the loony bin, it was brilliant.

Over the last month or so there has been, weather allowing, bouts of intense activity at the allotment, which included several days digging and one momentous day of cleaning the greenhouse, she shines like a shiny thing now and I couldn’t be more proud of my endeavours.

Son no.1 helped me clear and organise the shed at the allotment on Mother’s day, it really was the best of presents and has enabled me to get on with the enjoyable process of planting seeds. Unfortunately I have misplaced my order from the allotment society, especially when an allotment committee member went out of his way to collect them and bring them to me. I’ve obviously put them somewhere safe… but I really wasn’t well at that time and widows brain must have been in full force because I haven’t the faintest idea where they are. I’ve reordered with Suttons and hopefully they will be with me in the next day or so.

But of course I do have plenty of seeds to be getting on with and have spent an enjoyable evening making paper pots.

Mainly because the parsnips and beetroots were such a roaring success. I’d always read that root vegetables had to be sown directly into the ground because if you tried to prick them out you would risk stumping or forking them and that would not be ideal. But then I had this idea last year of paper pots, mainly because I find it so difficult to hand weed, especially when the weeds seem to germinate and grow faster than the parsnips and it’s very difficult to see them to keep them clear.

And boy did they grow. Sometimes I had stumped them, but it didn’t matter, they still grew huge. The best parsnips I have ever grown.

And this tray full that I could barely lift was provided by just three parsnips.

That chicken lasted me two weeks!

All homegrown, parsnips roasted with the chicken and rosemary, honey and thyme glazed carrots sown in the autumn and the first of the purple sprouting. I just finished the last of the soup yesterday. There is something very satisfying about using every scrap of a chicken, that you truly honoured the bird, that not a morsel was wasted.

I love purple sprouting, I do, I intend to grow much more of this. Is there anything prettier at this time of year on the allotment? Especially when the brussels did so poorly this year, I thought it was just me, but another allotment holder confirmed he had had a poor year too.

Although I think this really shouts that spring has sprung – my rhubarb is springing up.

And that is where I shall leave you for the moment. Should you need me, I will be in my happy place.

And breathe.

We are almost at the end of the festivities. Apart from New Years Eve, which is often just an early night and a loud film to block out the sound of the fireworks so the dogs don’t get too hysterical it is finished. And although normally I do love Christmas I am glad it is at an end. It has been so painful on so many different levels and there have been many occasions that my sons and I simply broke down. But there has been good stuff too.

My lovely boys both joined me for Christmas Eve, which was wonderful, we had a lovely few hours.

I am sorry I look so peaky, I was on the last day of antibiotics for a chest infection that I’d had for three weeks. I am very glad to tell you that they did the trick and I am feeling much better than I did. Unfortunately that and the rain had stopped me going up the allotment to collect my Christmas veg, but fortunately I managed to secure a cancellation from the Waitrose delivery service and was able to get everything delivered. Which is why we had this delicious looking bird.

Son no.1 and I spent hours pottering in the kitchen on Christmas Day, it was a lovely time and we eventually sat down to eat at about 5.00 pm. There were plenty of leftovers! Some of which have gone in the freezer and some of which will be made into a chicken and mushroom pie tomorrow, I know that non of it will be wasted.

Do you see the black pudding? An unusual addition to the Christmas table but one I adored. Son no.2 came home with a carrier bag full of black puddings he had made for us. I couldn’t believe it, two different versions. This one is his original and I am going to beg for the recipe, it has a sweet note to it and is delicious. The second versions have a curry flavour and I am very interested to try them. We have shared them and my half is stashed in my freezer for a rainy day! (we are having plenty of those!)

Once we had recovered we had some home made Christmas pudding fried in butter and flamed in Brandy with ice cream and cream! Oh the decadence.

The next day I basically didn’t eat until 8.00pm where I managed a few morsels of cheese and crackers before calling it a day and an early night.

Today my thoughts have drifted towards the start of the allotment year and I am glad of the soothing rhythm of the year, it grounds me when my thoughts are flying through the air, the smell of the earth as it changes during the year gently calms my anxious mind and I am grateful for it.

Suspended in time.

It is nearly two months since hubby died. The rawness of the first days has slightly softened, but the pain is still sharp and frighteningly unpredictable. My brain computes the loss, my heart waits for the key in the lock and the heavy clump of walking boots as hubby makes his way to the kitchen having returned from the plot.

The paperwork seems to be never ending, not helped by the postal strikes and the bank who seem to make one cock up after another, then there is our internet supplier who can’t master simple requests and many other myriad facets of family life that need to be informed, then often, reinformed as one finds out that it wasn’t sorted and needs yet another phone call, These often involves three quarters of an hour listening to music. I spent three hours one day this week listening to piped music having been passed from one office to another. It beggars belief on how elderly or sick widows who are not internet savvy cope, or those deep in grief but who can only take a few days off sick because of financial implications. There is no doubt that the Tell us Once government wrapper to tell most of the important organisations helps, but that seems to be a sedentary beast, nearly two months later and I’m receiving a phone call asking to speak to hubby from a council office.

The plot, very productive with a good range of both late autumn and the start of winter produce, seems to be drowning. The warm weather of which we are all grateful brings swathes of heavy rain filled clouds which then prevents one from continuing the tidying up process for winter. Off course this means that I have plenty to eat, of which I then don’t. It is a complicated process to cook and eat for one when deep in grief, especially when much of our life together has been taken up with cooking and then learning to grow fruits and vegetables. Hubby and I bonded over our love in the late 80’s of Keith Floyd and Ken Hom and spent many a happy Friday evening/Saturday cooking meals we had seen that week on the latest chef TV series and then showing off our new found skills to happy to sample and very eager guinea pigs. This was our happy language, until all of the problems of eating that oral cancer throws at you, my own needs put on the back burner having very much concentrated on hubby and Dad. Now it is very much an emotional process, to enter the kitchen and look at the lovely ingredients to decide to then cook, with love, for just me. And dear reader, often I have just grabbed a packet of crisps and walked back into the living room, having very firmly closed the fridge door, and that has happened more days than I care to mention.

So after the annual blood tests, which highlighted that my diet was definitely adrift, I am working as hard as I am able to get myself back into the groove of eating and sometimes enjoying, (although everything remains tasteless – without joy) green leafy vegetables and nourishing soups, with the occasional ragu, and memorably the spark of happiness when I baked a cut and come again Irish tea bread. It is not much, but it’s a start.

I remain resolute not to have the central heating on until Christmas and not even then if I can help it! A couple of weeks ago I had the coal fire on which is a far cheaper way to warm the house and as long as this weather remains warm I can save my pennies for when we get a cold snap. At about 13 or so pounds a day to warm this house, that is the way it is going to be this winter. I have found the use of an electric throw invaluable. At a cost of five pence per hour, it is great to warm the whippet, not the room and I then have one which I put on whilst getting ready for bed and it is all toasty as I hop into bed where it remains on for an hour while I read. It really is brilliant and I thoroughly recommend them.

I am thankful for good friends and family. They know who they are. That check on me, sometimes twice a day, just to make sure I am okay. I say I am, they know I’m not, it’s an unwritten farce we play. They give me just enough space to try out my new widow fairy steps, whilst giving a gentle tug on the imaginary reins to remind me I am safe, that it is going to be okay. I am grateful, thank you.

There are no words…

That can even begin to describe just how much our hearts are truly broken. My darling hubby, my rock in nearly all my adult life is gone. Our children struggle with their own grief whilst being gentle with mine, we are all in such pain.

Our boys are back at work now, and I have the allotment. It was the first place Son no.1 and I went to after the dreadful 6.00 a.m. phone call to say hubby had left us. We went to spend time with him and then came back and spent our next few hours at the plot. It was exactly the right decision as we sat in stunned silence, exhausted after the previous months, letting nature wash over us.

The plot is slowly starting to take shape again and I know hubby would be proud of the way it’s coming along, he’d kept it so beautifully this year, we had said to each other it was the best year we had ever had. It was so verdant green with our continuous watering, I know hubby was so happy in our little plot.

So I go up there and do a bit, it makes me happy, until it makes me sad because my minds eye is watching and waiting for hubby to walk up the track, and then I cry big fat tears. So I rest, and let it flow, until the idea of another job to do forms and then I do a bit more.

And that’s what I’m going to do, maybe forever.

Goodbye my darling, safe journey. x

Mid June at the Allotment, 2022.

As some of you may know my hubby started radiotherapy on Boxing day after quite invasive surgery on his mouth. The last ten months have been difficult and I suspect will be in their various challenging ways for the months to come. This is one of the reasons for my radio silence over the last few months. I haven’t felt able to witter on about seemingly unimportant things while my lovely hubby has been going through the wars. However his surgeon and oncologist remain positive, even though hubby has all sorts of very alarming conditions on what seems to be an almost daily basis and so it is I have considered that now is the time to carry on my witterings about the life I love, the last ten months have been far too grown up for me.

And so we turn to the allotment, well I have to tell you my loyal set of readers that the allotment this year is… Magnificent. Seriously, it’s just Magnificent. The idea of the paper pots filled with compost and then a couple of seeds of the root vegetables beetroot and parsnip, which were then thinned to one single plant has come up trumps. We are now enjoying tennis balled sized beetroots, this early in the season that have such a delicate taste that we are both giddy with delight. Beetroot normally taste to me at least quite earthy. I don’t mind this, it is just part of their complex flavour profile, but these that have been grown in compost and their root is still firmly in the middle of their tiny pot of compost have such a clean and vibrant flavour it is quite remarkable. We have still to find out how the parsnips have coped with such a method. Their leafy tops are the best we have ever had, but I fear that because they are a long root that this method will have easily stumped them. But we are not growing for the show bench, we are growing for the pot, so if we have stumpy fat parsnips for the kitchen then so be it. It is far better than no parsnips at all which is what has happened for the last few years, with their slow germination and almost impossible to see where they have germinated through the ever invading tiny weeds that have sprouted.

The courgettes are now starting to grow, I will soon be in the middle of preparing for the freezer and making delicious courgette chutneys again. We have had a very generous amount of mange tout, I am hoping to pick some peas in the next day or so, we have had pounds of strawberries and many, many globe artichokes. We picked the rhubarb this year for the first time and I have made pots and pots of rhubarb, strawberry and orange jam, which is absolutely delicious.

The blackcurrants, redcurrants, blue berries and blackberries are ripening. I have discovered that the mystery tree is indeed a cherry and I can now find out how to prune it. The broad beans are as strong as they are tall, which is nearly four feet and I am looking forward to many broad beans in my future. The corn looks strong and the pumpkins are galloping along. The brassicas which were washed out last year, which was so upsetting are doing well, we have had the delicious brokali, a cross between broccoli and kale, which is a very vigorous grower and in the next day or so will be enjoying the first heads of the true broccoli. The tomatoes are just about to produce their first ruby red offering and we have eaten many delicious cucumbers along with little gem lettuces. Failures are only one so far, Chinese cabbage, which did so well in all that rain last year, has bolted. It has had water every day, so this is not the vegetable for us. We are waiting for the new potatoes to finish flowering, so another couple of weeks for those.

Already thoughts turn to next year and always with my ear to the ground I was alerted to Wilko’s half price flower and vegetable seed sale. I missed it last year so was very pleased to be able to spring into action and pounce at just the right time. We have enough seeds to fill an allotment and are only missing some of the key elements which will be readily filled by the allotment seed catalogue later in the year.

And all sorted with the old seeds ready for next year, or maybe this year if we decide to over winter some broad beans.

In other news, I started a herb garden this year to have by my kitchen door. Having found that it is all very well to have lovely fresh herbs at the allotment but often as not I have forgotten to bring a bunch of sage, rosemary or mint home with me and then may well rely on an earlier dried version. The plot will still give me a large amount for drying.

We have ten herbs here, some soft which will need replacing next year and some hardy, all apart from the rosemary plants whose seed failed grown by me. Rosemary, Basil, Coriander, Spearmint, Sage, Parsley, Chives, Garlic Chives, Dill and Thyme. I used Budget Seeds for my herb bed adventure. I have always felt it quite ridiculous to buy herb seeds that have 400 or a 1000 for well over the £2.00 per packet, I am not going into business, selling herb plants! So when I came upon this company I was very pleased. Mostly they are 29p a packet, so this whole venture, combined with old terracotta pots, two wooden planters from an Amazon find and some compost has not cost much money. I will definitely be looking through their stock again for next year.

Well that is me, catch you next time.


Having realised that hubby was not going to be able to partake of his usual diet this year I started to process the pumpkins for storage slightly earlier than usual and managed to freeze all those that were left, which was quite a few, in January.

By the end of the week I had fifty 500 gram bags of gently roasted sweet pumpkin in my freezer. Which is slightly daunting! But then if I use one a week, it’s a years worth and if I try to occasionally use two a week, I should just about finish them before our next crop.

The pumpkins I choose to grow are a lovely culinary variety called Crown Prince, so far, every other pumpkin I have tried has paled into insignificance compared to the sweet taste of this fine example. Pumpkins are packed full of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and high in fibre and their bright orange colour means they are packed full of beta carotene which is a powerful antioxidant. A power house of a vegetable that just happens to satisfy and taste good and is equally happy in sweet and savoury dishes. Is there anything more versatile?

So there has been a little more experimenting this year.

There have been souffles which were then twice baked, with a spinach base and cream sauce.

There was a lovely recipe passed onto me by Noelle, Corn Bread with Leeks and Feta by Diana Henry. Which came just at the right time as I had roast pumpkin in the fridge and leeks freshly dug from the allotment. I didn’t have the feta but a lovely selection of cheeses looking for a job to do. It was absolutely delicious and one I must make again very soon.

Pumpkin scones have been made and enjoyed, recipe from Soup, Broth and Bread by Rachel Allen.

There have been pastry rolls stuffed with a pumpkin, chestnut and stilton filling ready for drinks and snacking over Christmas. They went down very well.

There have been many pumpkin and potato topped cottage pies, which are so tasty. I think Dad enjoys the novelty value of an orange topped pie.

Along the way there have been many roasts and soups, pasta and rice dishes but tonight (which was the inspiration of this particular post) I realised I had hit the ultimate with a two course pumpkin meal.

Firstly, I made a version of a humous which was homegrown dried runner beans along with home grown haricot beans (in their bean format – I grow white beaned runners) soaked for 24 hours and then cooked until nicely soft, made into a humous with peanut butter (having not found the tahini, but any port in a storm) good olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, cumin, hot smoked paprika and water to slacken with a generous amount of flakey sea salt. It was very good.

Then generously applied to some home made sour dough that had been toasted, with a dusting of more hot smoked paprika and a spritz of lemon along with some toms and cucumbers to munch alongside.

Which was followed by a piece of my first ever pumpkin pie. Hubby thinks I’ve made a pumpkin pie before but I can’t remember it. This pastry case was baked blind before filling and I used evaporated milk as that is what I had to hand. Basically it is made like an egg custard with the addition of good amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin. Dad really wasn’t sure when hubby took him some, but then really enjoyed it – I knew he would.

So that is the end of my culinary pumpkin adventure. Well, not the end, I’ve only got about 30 bags to go!

Belated Mother’s Day Feasting.

I really hadn’t realised it had been so long until Noelle popped a little message through, thank you Noelle. After much navel gazing i’ve decided that the only way forward is to record all the best bits and we are just going to ignore all the gritty stuff. Agreed?

Soo, Son no.1 was tied up looking around Bristol Mother’s Day weekend, as he has a fabulous new job to go to. I’m gutted. But he assures me it is mostly working from home and he is not intending to move just yet. So the weekend after he came on Sunday to help with the rotovating up the plot and to shift some muck from the bottom of the track. I had intended to go and help do some pricking out of the cabbages, but it was too cold for me, only 4 c, so I stayed at home and cooked.

Firstly I slow roasted a joint of beef that had really been in the freezer for too long and was a little past its best, so roasted with an inch of water in a cast iron pot with its lid on in the oven and sure enough, it became tender under the long and gentle moist heat. I allowed it to cool before slicing wanting it to form the centre piece of a long lunch and to have the option of a dressing that I make which involves coriander leaves, chilli, garlic, fresh ginger, soy, sesame oil, black rice vinegar, a little sugar and a spritz of lime. If that doesn’t wake the beef up, I don’t know what will.

And that was all of the plan that I had, the boys went off up to the plot and I then just pottered. Pulling ingredients out from here and there, thinking what would go and what wouldn’t. You have to also bear in mind I hadn’t been shopping for over a week.

A day and a half ago I had started to soak some home grown haricot beans. So I cooked those off and gave them a salad dressing of french mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and dried mixed herbs. At the same time I started off some rosemary focaccia, made with my own dried rosemary, this time with a commercial yeast for speed.

I found a butternut squash in my fridge and prepared that and put it in the oven for roasting along with some lovely red peppers.

Son no.1 had called earlier from the supermarket as he was on the way over and asked if there was anything I wanted so I requested some salad leaves and cherry tomatoes.

And as I looked at all my dishes I thought maybe a little crunch was needed so I quickly sliced a lovely sweet Spanish onion and dressed it with a little red wine vinegar and sugar.

My thoughts then turned to pudding. And I knew we still had a rather large stash of blackcurrants from the summer. They are my favourite of all fruit and I guard them with my life, lest they end up in hubby’s porridge during winter. So I quickly put together a crumble topping with almond and that could be put into the oven just as I was serving lunch.

By that time nearly two hours had passed and just as I was pulling the rosemary focaccia out of the oven and basting the butternut squash for its last twenty minutes the boys were back home, pink faced and happy with their work. Just enough time for hubby to nip to the shops for some good vanilla ice cream.

And may I say, it made a delightful plateful.

And the blackcurrant crumble.

In all its blackcurranty stickiness

was sublime.

And to while away my morning with I had the company of these most gorgeous flowers, which have really brightened my mood. They are really so beautiful. Carefully chosen by son no.1

After such a lovely lunch we chatted away all afternoon, until it was time for our son to leave. Needless to say I packed him up with a tasty supper and hearty lunch for the next day, carefully hiding the leftover blackcurrant crumble at the back of the fridge!

It was such a lovely afternoon, one I will treasure always.

The start of 2022

Hubby started his radiotherapy on Christmas day bank holiday Monday, yes I am confused this year too. It is going well, he’s eating well and has actually gained a kilogram over the Christmas period which the doctors were very pleased about. He is getting tired now though and although I have expected it, I hadn’t expected such lethargy so early and do keep pushing him as he has a long road to travel and I don’t want him to lose muscle tone, or too much muscle tone if we can help it.

So, we are in self imposed lock down again. If we can get through his treatment without him catching covid and having an interruption to the treatment so much the better. Well the doctors think it is pretty vital actually so into lockdown we have gone. Which of course is very difficult when you have an aged father, although he is taking it well and hopefully, fingers crossed remains in fine fettle for the next six weeks.

I’m glad we have finally got a date and started the treatment, there have been a few little bumps in the road as you might imagine and starting treatment has eased the stress of at least that.

Fortunately I have a war time mentality and the freezers and cupboards are always well stocked, so we need little to carry on apart from a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables once a fortnight supplied by Oddbox, a delivery service that fights food waste which I am trying. Which will be a very useful supplement to our frozen fruits and vegetables from the allotment, our pumpkins and our fresh brassicas, brussel sprouts and leeks up the plot, along with jams and pickles that have been made during the year. I have a supermarket delivery booked for the 14th of January, but shall cancel if we don’t need it. Every contact with another person brings such risks.

But within that I do need to exercise and as I’ve had to put my swimming on hold due to the risk of covid I have taken to walking more than normal, so Rupert has perked up as his regime has completely changed and rather than a quick trot around the block, he is being taken far afield, and as a mature dog now, he’s really enjoying it. I’d quite like to get back to my twenties and walk for hours on end, but that might be a bit unrealistic, but I’d certainly like to get up to an hour and a half walk, possibly two on a good day. We shall see.

I haven’t seen the plot for a couple of weeks, Christmas and then rain, rain, rain. There is no point even trying to get onto it when there is water laying in the road, I’d just sink into the mud. It is going to get colder in the next few days, I am reading that as drier, so hopefully I’ll be able to get going on it, if only to plant some broad beans in a tray for the spring. Not forgetting to set the mouse traps for the hungry mice, who adore broad bean seeds.

My knitting brings comfort, but losses too. Practically every time I finish a hat it gets swiped. So far I have only managed to keep one for myself, I’m just finishing another so maybe that will make two. The recipients seems very happy, so it is all to the good.

I must get back on with the quilt, I became side tracked from it earlier in the year when son no.1 stayed so I needed to tidy the sewing room/guest room and haven’t restarted again.

Wishing you all a happy new year, may the next year be so much better than the last.

Christmas 2021

As with all Christmases since the start of the pandemic this one was no different in the sense of confusion as to what to do. For health reasons we needed to try and make sure hubby does not catch covid so we basically cancelled Christmas yet again, but then, a ray of sunshine poked through our dark cloud highlighting its silver lining and son no.1 was allowed to come home for Christmas as he’d been working from home and had been self isolating for the last five days.

Just before he came home I had finished the Christmas cake decorating. I think that was reasonably successful.

The top cake for us and the penguins for Dad. Hubby is well into the cake now and I’m not sure if it will last until new year!

The Christmas tree was very nicely decorated by hubby this year, I think he did a wonderful job.

It may be a little wobbly, but it is very well loved and makes us both very happy to see it twinkling in the corner of the room.

This year I decided to try and grow some paper whites.

And they surprised us by beginning to flower a couple of days before Christmas. They are getting a bit leggy now so I think they need a little more gin to slow down their growth.

Son no.1 and I managed a Christmas walk to feed the ducks and walk by the lovely houses by the castle.

The onion bagels have been made, so it must be Christmas Eve,

As were a big batch of pumpkin, chestnut and stilton rolls, which were very popular with hubby and son no.1.

On Christmas morning we managed to nip round to my Dad’s to say Happy Christmas and managed a quick selfie.

We managed a quick selfie too.

I think the turkey was the best we have ever had.

And hubbies Christmas pudding was a triumph.

And Christmas must nearly be over as the last of the turkey has been made into a turkey and ham pie with homegrown leeks and mushrooms.

We had a lovely few days, feasting and relaxing, it was the best of times.

Corn bread with leeks, pumpkin and cheese.

My good friend Noelle shared with me a very successful dish that she had just made using as her inspiration a recipe in The Telegraph by Diana Henry, Cornbread with leeks and feta. As soon as I saw who the cookery writer was I knew it would be tasty having dabbled with three of her books, A bird in the hand, my first love hankered over for nearly a year from the Books for Cooks bookshop in Notting Hill’s famous bookshop, who doesn’t need a new recipe for chicken every now and then. How to Eat a Peach, a lovely recipe book bought by son no.1 for Christmas having heard about its beauty on Radio 4 one day while travelling for work and he remembered it and purchased it for me. A delightful book that I love to while away a warm sunny afternoon with. And From the Oven to the Table, which is my kind of rustic simple cooking that is bunged into the oven and left to its own devices filling my home with tempting smells and then filling hungry tummies until contented all from one dish, what could be better.

And so I read further and realised that I just happened to have, with slight adjustments to the key ingredients the doings to make a lovely savoury dish that would do justice to the pumpkin that had been roasted earlier in the day, the homegrown leeks freshly pulled from the allotment and an assortment of cheeses that were sat quietly in the fridge waiting for their moment of glory.

My Ingredients

350g leeks

450g onions

500g cooked pumpkin

35g butter

3 tablespoon virgin rape seed oil

350g assorted cheeses in this case Saint Agur, Camembert and a lovely strong cheddar, grated or chopped into small pieces

175 g polenta

2 tsp baking powder

4 medium eggs

oven 180 c

I prepared the onions and sautéed them in half the butter and half the oil until they were very soft and brown on the edges and then added the finely chopped and washed leeks and sauteed them until everything was soft. Added 280 ml of boiling water to a pan and added the polenta and baking powder and stir well, add a little more water if it seems too stiff and dry but not too much as the cheese and eggs will loosen it. Then add the cheese and beat whilst still hot and add the still hot leeks and onion, next add the roasted pumpkin that has been mashed up and stir really well and then add the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste, but remember the cheese will contain salt so be careful not to over salt. Using a tablespoon or so of the remaining oil grease a baking dish of 30 cm by 40 cm and transfer all of the mixture and pop into an oven for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and using a butter knife pop the rest of the room temperature butter onto the top of the dish and as it melts spread it around the top and pop back into the oven for another 15 or so minutes. Leave it to cool slightly before cutting.

I’m very grateful to Noelle that late afternoon for sharing her inspirations as I just happened to have all the ingredients to hand and hadn’t really thought about our supper. Barry was able to enjoy his piece and went in for seconds and I had mine with a hearty salad, which was glorious. The left overs were delicious and not a scrap of it was wasted. We will do this again, it was so easy and very tasty. Next time perhaps with a little crispy bacon and sweetcorn if the pumpkin has not been roasted.