September and Hygge seem bound together like autumn and fallen crispy colourful leaves. The concept of snuggling under wool blankets or hand made quilts, enjoying hand baked buns, colourful autumn walks or just being still while looking deeply into the white hot and orange embers of the first of the autumn fires. Hygge epitomises the enjoyment of leaving ones wet coat and sodden boots at the back door and indulging in the simplest pleasures of fluffy slippers, cozy jumpers and mugs of steaming hot chocolate, hopefully with the odd marshmallow or two just starting to ooze its sugary life enhancing goodness.
Now that the heat of August has gone, I feel my energy rising and my creativity starting to return. Its a good feeling and one I have been waiting for. Two weeks ago I took lots of photos of the allotment and simply haven’t posted them. I’ve been a bit like that most of the year, reader, its me, not you. I’ve still got a lovely set of a female warbler feeding its young in the reeds, that remain unprocessed and they were taken sometime deep in the spring.
So for the month of September, I intend to post more, much more, enjoy the hygge and just let my creativity flow where it will.
So, what was the plot up to two weeks ago?
This is a Crown Prince pumpkin, they are the most delicious of pumpkins with a lovely nutty, honey flavour and deep orange smooth flesh, they really are a prince. We have managed to grow four and at the moment I am keeping my eye out for first frosts, they need to be safely gathered in long before that happens, but at the same time, the sweetness comes from being left on the plant as long as is possible. If you do come across a lovely blue pumpkin on your travels, whether that be Waitrose or your local vegetable stall, buy it, its bound to be a Crown Prince. Don’t worry about what you’re going to make with it, you’ll find many ideas later. Don’t worry how you are going to get it home, trust me, you will. And don’t worry about whether you will finish it, again, you will, you may need the aid of a freezer to store some pumpkin risotto, but you won’t leave any to waste, they are absolutely delicious.And after that introduction, let me tell you we have many of these lovely little butternut squashes. I don’t know how many because they hide under the leaves, there will be real treasure to find. And they will store well, and will make beautiful roasts, soups, curries and risottos as well. I always think eating the bright orange flesh of pumpkins and squashes boosts me up just when the day light is at its weakest point of the year. Even with all that white mildew our courgette plants are still throwing them out at us. We are leaving a few for marrows at the moment having tried a few we had failed to capture earlier in their development. Their flesh on long slow cooking, over an hour and a half, nearly two on a low heat in the oven turns into a beautiful buttery soft flesh, it makes delightful eating. And one of my best ideas has been to stuff them with all those little bits of left over stew or curry or risotto that gets popped into the freezer, it all becomes a wonderful meal that has cost next to nothing, has taken practically no time to prepare, and tastes like I’ve spent hours in the kitchen. Its a win, win.Summer cabbages are doing well, although I suspect some will bolt before we have had chance to eat them all or had chance to give them away. They are sweet and lovely and I must dust off a few Russian cabbage recipes, they seem to be very good at using cabbages. I once stuffed a loaf with cabbage and egg, before baking. Lets say it was interesting… Other brassicas are doing well, the cauliflower as usual are fighting their tendency to bolt, but we are at least keeping up with them in the kitchen. It looks like the savoys will be good come winter, the black kale is doing well, but the flea beatle is really having a go at them this year. I am hoping they will grow a few tender leaves after the beatle infestation gets knocked back by the cold. And the brussels look well on their way for Christmas lunch. Apples are coming along, I may try them this week to see how they are getting on. Fresh apples straight off the tree are a real treat. Our toms are doing well, lots of varieties we have tried this year we have been very pleased with. And even though I’ve had gluts, everyone is happy to have a few tomatoes, warm from the greenhouse passed onto them and the others I have used up quite nicely in ragu’s and stews. We have our own blackberry bush, with huge thorns. The blackberries are nice enough, but its in the way of the greenhouse and there are plenty of blackberry bushes surrounding the allotments. It’s last year, say farewell. The beetroot is at long last starting to do well, it is quite delicious and we never seem to have enough boiling away to keep up with demand. And some of the parsnips have taken so we will have roast parsnips on Christmas day too. Its the small things that make me happy. Corn on the cob is doing well, what a treat! Butter is all that is required. And I have left some of the french beans on to form haricot beans to store for home made baked beans and minestrone soups, which are just wonderful made from the outer leaves of savoy cabbages or brussel sprout tops, the last of the tomatoes from the deep freeze and lashings of parmesan with a good home made sour dough to dip into and chew the caramel crusty flavours. Soon it will be the last of the runner beans. I try to make the season last as long as is possible by starting them early, getting them out as soon as possible, balanced with the risk of not letting them get touched by any frost and planting at least two more beans per plant, while planting them for these to spring into life and take over just as they are tiring. I am still getting the odd flower, but we really won’t be getting much more. Deep sigh, it was good while it lasted. I like to take a turn around the allotments at this time of year. You’d think that all of the allotmenteers would be taking advantage of the free bounty on offer, but I often come across bushes that have been hardly touched. I love blackberrying, it takes me back to my childhood in an instant, of long afternoon walks on my Uncles farm, blackberrying with wicker baskets for the ladies, old ice cream tubs for the children, men laughing, women chatting, children and dogs running though the edges of wheat fields that were taller than them and golden ready for harvest. Perfect days, wonderful memories. Treats to take home this evening, and very nice they were too. Along with some beetroot for boiling, it never lasts long. and the tops are delicious used as spinach. Until the next time, farewell.