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I love grilled vegetables in my salads and recently my sister suggested using green beans which I have to admit I would have never considered but we had a big crowd and a big bunch of beans that needed using up. If you have read some of my previous posts you will also know I love roasted garlic and that is what makes up the dressing of this delicious summer dish.
I recommend using a cast iron griddle pan to make this dish, you don’t want to loose your green beans in the BBQ. The roast garlic doesn’t take long in the oven but it something you can make ahead and you can roast several bulbs as before you know there will so many things you want to add roasted garlic to such as Romesco Sauce, Garlic Mayo, Cesar Salad dressing… trust me the list goes on.
2 large courgettes cut into 1.5 cm oval slices
As many green beans as you can hold in two hands, topped
5 shallots skinned and sliced in thick rings
For the Dressing
1 bulb of roasted garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
Optional – handful of parsley or two sprigs of rosemary leaves picked (these impart very different flavours but both work well.
Get you griddle pan heating up and start slicing your courgette, lay the pieces on a plate and brush with olive oil. Put the oiled side down on the griddle pan and then brush the side facing up before you flip them. I like my courgette to be warmed through but still have a bite so just 2-3 minutes each side on a hot pan. If things are burning then adjust your heat. You can put them whole into the salad bowl or slice them. Then then griddle your onions and beans. Once everything is grilled toss together with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.
This makes a great side dish or a wonderful lunch on grilled sourdough bread with herby cheese spread.
We love cole slaw around here and warm days bring back the craving for quick refreshing food for lunch. If you think that you don’t like cole slaw but have only ever bought it from a shop then at least try this once because it is a completely different experience. One of the things I hate the most about a store bought cole slaw is the mayo to veg ratio so you will find my recipe to be lighter and more flavour focused. So here is a fast easy recipe that will be enjoyed with any summer BBQ, leftover cold meat or as a great picnic side.
2 medium carrots grated
Half a sweetheart cabbage thinly sliced
Large handful of coriander roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon of toasted blank onion/nigella seeds
For the dressing
1/2 a lime squeezed
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper
I like to make my dressing in a bowl and then pour over but if you are trying to use less dishes then just put it all in a bowl a mix.
If you don’t have lime you could always use vinegar, I would go for a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for this recipe.
Slaw is usually best when it has sat for at least 20 minutes to let the veggies soften. The thing I really love about it is that you can put anything in. I will be posting more slaw recipes as the summer goes on with a variety of delightful combinations. Watch this space!
The weather has been fabulous and has provided a boost to us and all of the the wonderful wild things living up here. We decided the best way to get the garden in shape for the season was a family day of weeding, digging and planting. We reshaped the whole vegetable garden two years ago when we moved the poly tunnel and it is really coming together now. With all the changes we have made we are hoping to have a bumper crop of food this year. There have been many mistakes but we have learned from them which is all part of the process. If you have been following our blog you will know that wind is a big issue but we now have more wind breaks around the whole garden then we ever have before so that is also a battle we hope we have at least half won!
Hannah and Gavin came along nice and early on Saturday morning to give us a hand getting some of the big jobs in the garden done so we could start planting things. We started off by weeding and digging over a small mounded bed which we then planted out with our first batch of potatoes. Then we moved the layers of old carpet that we had covering two of the 3 long mounded beds and piled in all on the centre bed which we won’t use this year. Hannah and I planted the edge bed with some of the seedlings from the propagator and with a selection of seeds. James and Gavin stood around chatting a posing for photos.
After all of our hard work we had a lovely lunch of pasta with garlic and fresh greens from the garden. Of course there is tons more work to do but overall it is starting to come together.
My cousin and her family came up to a visit this Easter and I always take their visit as an opportunity to do a project with them that is something meant for kids but that I really want to try myself! So last year we made fairy gardens in small trays and pots and this year we made Unicorn Bark!!!
What is Unicorn Bark you say!? It is basically white and coloured chocolate melted and poured on baking paper with sprinkles on top. I am not even sure how I discovered this but as soon as I did I knew I needed to make some. The most challenging part was melting the chocolate, not that we don’t have lots of experience doing that (we make chocolate truffles every year for xmas) but we were all feeling a little impatient. Our top tip would be to leave plenty of time for this and make sure you don’t get the chocolate too hot. The best way to melt chocolate is in a dish over a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. I am sure there are a bunch of videos out there all about it so I won’t say any more on that part.
The best part of course is the decorating and you can use anything edible that you want. I was amazed by the choice of sprinkles out there in the world today and of course you can use gummy candies, marshmallows, popping candy, pretzels and more. Everyone really enjoyed making it and eating it too. With the colour scheme you could have called it Easter bark but unicorns are just so in right now!!
We have had success getting seedlings started in our propagator and we are preparing beds for planting out. The weather is really warming up and we are still getting some strong winds but our new addition to the wind fencing in the form of pallets is working well. Several of the beds are made with old corrugated tin that we have half filled with compost so that the high sides give extra protection as the young plants are finding their roots. We haven’t had much success with beans yet because of the wind and slugs but we have a few ideas in mind to tackle these issues so hopefully we will get a healthy harvest this year. A new addition to the veg patch is the asparagus bed which we are all very excited about however it can take as many as 2-3 years to produce so we will have to be patient. For now though here is hoping for another hot summer.
It’s the first day of Spring so I thought I would document what was blooming on this day of 2019. Having such a hot (for Scotland) summer last year and another mild winter has had an effect on the growth of many of our favourite plants. We were all surprised to see the first heads of Red Hot Pokers already showing. There are two pink Camellias by the house and one is losing it’s blossoms while the other is just at it’s peak. The daffodils have been up for a while and at the big old pink cherry tree at the bottom of the house garden had never looked so beautiful. Spring is always an exciting time of year and despite having some pretty wild storms blowing through we have had some fabulously warm calm days in-between.
We were back at it yesterday, planting trees on the edges of the upper meadow to help create wind defences for the vegetable garden and for the meadow depending on which way the wind is blowing. James had left an area at the edge with slightly longer grass after the big cut of the meadows at the end of last year. He knew that this was roughly the area we wanted to add trees to so yesterday we started by placing bamboo sticks in the ground where we wanted the trees to go making sure we retained a curved path wide enough for the quad. We have planted mainly the native and abundant Silver Birch but also some Oak and Rowan. This will not only create a wind defence but also help hide the working areas of the garage, barn and vegetable patch from the deck viewpoint area.
Great patience is required when planting for wind defence but you can’t ask for better results and if you are following this blog you will know we are always adding to our defence in different ways and it is amazing to see the results, a real work in progress!
The mushrooms are blooming! I think the combination of a super hot summer followed by some serious rain means that we are experiencing a super mushroom season. We have recently collected two huge baskets full of hedgehog mushrooms and only just tapped what was growing. Our general process is to bring in one basket at a time because they have to be cleaned before they can be eaten or dried. Top tip for all you mushroom pickers out there, we use a natural fiber pastry brush to gently brush the mushrooms clean. Whatever you do don’t wash them as they will just absorb the liquid and leave your cooking watery. We use a dehydrator which has 5 layers and usually produces about a quart size container of dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms make for a great addition to the Christmas hampers that we like to give friends and family, we usually recommend adding them to soups, stews and gravies. Of course the best thing to do is eat them right away!! Hedgehog mushrooms are delightful and buttery and lend themselves perfectly to a risotto, we had ours with a little parmesan and goats cheese and I made sure to cook more than we needed because I wanted to try making arancini which is a classic Italian fried rice ball using risotto. Happy Hunting!
Busy in the lean-to getting lots of small plants potted up and more seeds planted. The polly tunnel beds and getting filled in, we have 6 rows of carrots in the first bed as you walk in. It is the only bed in the polly tunnel that is double the height and it is filled with lovely rock free compost so hopefully we will get some lovely long carrots. We planted classic orange and a rainbow mix with garlic at each end and in the middle. The chard and parsnips are also in at the opposite end and we have put more garlic at the other ends to help deter pests. We have some little plants which we put in the soil to grow them up for putting outdoor and most of them are looking ready for transplant just waiting for it to get a little warmer.
We are constantly working on developing our wind defences and so James has taken loads of cuttings from the enormous red dogwood in the arboretum and pushed them into the ground along the side of the veg garden. This will be the first layer of defence for that side as it grows up and the plan is to eventually have a second layer of defence, a gooseberry hedge, all the way around to help keep out the deer.
James also added a long winding row of the red dogwood through and area on Jimmy’s walk. It is a little difficult to see (photo below right) but it should add a lovely bit of colour into that area.
Also been prepping some of the beds outside the polly tunnel in preparations for the beans being ready to go out. Things are still a bit messy but soon it will all start coming together and looking good with green growth.
After visiting a home garden north of here I have decided to completely change the layout of the vegetable patch. I have dug up the whole area where the polly tunnel and several of the beds were and created deep ditches with mounded soil rows. The plan is to simplify everything, there are still some wood/sleeper raised beds but to reduce the use of materials we are going to plant out these mounds instead. I am hoping this will also help with the unexpected lack of drainage in the newly relocated polly tunnel. We have loads of seeds ready for planting out soon so hopefully we will get a break from this weather and start to feel hints of spring soon.