So here's a whistlestop photographic tour of the things that have made it – and a few of the things that didn't – in all their fresh, graphic glory!
|An abundance of apples (till the wind blows!)|
|Baby beetroot plants – just peeping through|
|Blackcurrants galore, as usual – shame we don't like them!|
|Broccoli's a bit sparse hereabouts – we love it, but sadly it
doesn't seem to do very well in our garden!
|Spot the baby butternut squash. Or at least Dobbies sold it as
a butternut squash - it looks like a courgette plant to me!
|One of our three cauliflowers – the slugs have
slurped up the others :-(
|We have nothing to do with the wild cherries - the tree
does everything itself :-)
|One courgette on the way – and hopefully
a few more to follow eventually...
|The gooseberries that never were... A greedy garden
pest has decimated many of the branches of our goosegog
bushes. HG thinks sawflies are the nasty nibblers.
|Baby grapes just forming, courtesy of polytunnel resident
Vinnie the Vine. We have to keep plastic "doors" shut, though,
or the cheeky birds nip in and help themselves!
|Lovely mixed lettuce leaves – slug free so far...|
|The parsnips look as if they're at a ceilidh and waiting ready
for an Orcadian Strip the Willow dance to start!
|Though the row that our neighbours' hens decided
to turn into a dust bath doesn't look quite as good...
|Peas on the vine...|
|... and peas in the pod|
|Our Rooster potatoes are looking nice and healthy|
|In fact, you could say they're blooming!|
|HunterGatherer has put nets over the rasps and soft fruit –
to try and keep the beady-eyed birds at bay!
|But one bird still managed to snatch a raspberry... grrrr!|
|Between next door's marauding chickens and the resident
slug population, our strawbs are taking a bit of a pounding.
|To avoid the birdy beaks above and the slippery slugs
below, I've had to pick strawberries unripe and ripen them
indoors, but then the berries are just not as sweet.
|Tayberries are a cross between red rasps and blackberries
– they're a bit bigger and very tasty, too!
|Nothing like as many tomatoes as last year, simply
because HG and I were both really busy with work during
that crucial period when the dreaded chickweed
decided to engulf the polytunnel. It smothered a few
of the tomato plants, but at least a couple
survived. No chutney this year, I fear...
Living near Kinross positions us at a first-class culinary crossroads, with ready access to fresh produce from Perthshire, Kinross-shire and Fife. Foodie events offer a perfect opportunity to sample the local delights and Crail Food Festival on 14th/15th June is a veritable celebration of all that's wonderful about East Coast fresh produce.
Last year, my brief was to write about Seriously Good Venison and the Pittenweem Chocolate Company. This year, my remit was to muse about smoked fish, so I put together a rather tasty (without wanting to "angle" for compliments) recipe for a Seriously Smoky Fish Pie. Enjoy!
|My New Year's resolution was to eat more fruit – surely
raspberry chocolate counts as a fruit?!
|One of our best wedding presents, nearly 24 years ago, was
an electric raclette grill from a kind German friend. A
brilliant way to enjoy cheese with family and friends :-)
|The Swiss way: just melt the raclette cheese (ours came
from Loch Leven's Larder near Kinross) and serve with
baked potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and salad. We
also had home-made chutney (see below for photos
of the making of said savoury delight!).
|Keeping up the continental theme... This lovely French cake
arrived in the post after Christmas – an edible New Year's
greeting from friends in France. Most welcome :-)
|As the old year closed, I had the privilege of attending an old
schoolfriend's 50th birthday supper, prepared and served
by her four children. After a delicious stew, our choice was
banoffee pie, lemon posset or a platter of cheese. Wow!
|And of course, there was birthday cake - better still, a
chocolate birthday cake. The sponge was as light as a
feather (so it was definitely safe to have two pieces!).
|Roo's Leap certainly believes in kicking off the way they mean
mean to go on: this giant plate of nachos was just for starters!
|Chicken satay for main? Don't mind if I do...|
|And of course no meal is complete
without a hot fudge sundae...
|Oops! Mustn't forget the gorgeous
birthday cake (rude not to try a piece...)
|And talking of chocolate cake, DD1 made this one for
one of her best friends at Uni this week. Just as well they're
safely down in the deep south, or I'd have been tempted!
Continuing the theme of delicious dining in January (which will conclude next Friday night with the local Church Burns Supper, just to round things off nicely!), I was lucky enough to be invited to a local friend's house for a girly supper just two nights ago. Fortunately for the seven guests in attendance, our hostess is blessed with the culinary equivalent of green fingers (floury fingers?!). The meal was absolutely superb – and the dining-room looked pretty darned good, too...
|No table I have ever set looked as lovely as this: the centre-
piece was comprised of twigs decorated with white flowers
and tiny tartan bows. What a hostess!
|After sampling Arbroath smokie on oatcakes for starters, I
tasted quail for the first time in my life: it was served in a port
jus, with chestnuts and skirlie. Fiddly to eat, but delicious!
|This orange and fig trifle was simply one of the best deserts I've
ever tasted. Fabulously fruity (large chunks of fresh orange),
with the cream nicely complemented by the slight tartness of
the pomegranate seeds on top. Pudding heaven on earth...
|You may remember I mentioned serving home-made chutney
with our raclette supper. We'd had a glut of green tomatoes
from the polytunnel, so it seemed criminal to waste them.
|And in go the raisins...|
|Here's the finished result – it doesn't look anything special,
but (to my incredulity!) it tastes pretty good!
Last but not least, here’s a brief summary of what the furry, hairy and woolly critters hereabouts have been up to of late…
|What a wuss of a puss! FatCat slunk away, tail between his
legs when new cat on the block Horace arrived "in town".
|FatHorse and the chocolate sheep enjoyed a little winter
sun on their backs - their paddock is a mud-bath most
of the time at the moment, thanks to relentless rain.
|Breakfast's been served up, so it's heads down at the trough!|
|To our amusement, the new kids next door (owners of
Horace!) have nicknamed Mungo the tup (ram) "No go"
because of his fearsome horns.
|"You just can't get the staff these days,"
reckons FatHorse each breakfast time.