Monday, 5 October 2015

Harvesting, gifts and a tasty pasta sauce

So despite the last week of guaranteed good weather I didn't make it up to the lottie as often as I would have liked. I had a good start clearing half the flower bed and digging up the rest of the potatoes (that reminds me, the 2 Tomtatoes are still going,) however the sudden advancement of the evenings has thwarted my attempts. Where we were managing to get an hour or two in after dinner, we are now rapidly running out of light.

Thinking of investing in a slow cooker to speed things up in the evening, chop it up night before where possible and chuck it all in before going to work, also means haven't got to wait for Mr P to get back to finish prepping. ;)

Things are slowing down for the winter however we are returning after each visit with a basket full of produce. Yesterday's harvest saw us returning with a full tub of raspberries, a handful of cherry tomatoes (Yes they made it home for a change!) corn, another Turks Turban, an over sized golden beet, crystal cucumbers and a Big Jim chilli. We also returned with a bag of apples gifted to us by our neighbor on plot 48, perfect for lunches!

I don't know how I missed the golden beet! Although it is a lot bigger than I prefer, I'm sure I can do something with it. given all the potatoes maybe some form of roast vegetables or even a variant of bake. Hey I can always pickle it! ;)

This weeks main jobs have been cultivating seeds. During the summer I collected pea pods and mange tout that I had allowed to 'go to seed' and left them drying out. This weekends job while it was dry was to break open the pods and collect the seed.

We have been collecting seed from the flowers, saving Gazania, Nigella and Marigold seed heads. (As well as letting the Nigella self seed.) When we are out and about on our travels we have reverted back to our old habit of collecting seed heads. (More about that another time.)

We have been very lucky this weekend, we were not only gifted a bag of apples (coxs and russets,) but were given a large tub of tomatoes. (Our main crop are very slow to ripen and we have been forced to cover them, hopefully protecting them so they can finally ripen. Failing that there will be trays of tomatoes dotted around the house for the next month!)

With the tomatoes I made the firm family favourite: Nik's easy peasy veggie pasta sauce. I vary what veggies I use, it all depends on what we have in the fridge however the sauce itself stays the same. That's the great thing about a tomato sauce base, you can adapt it to pretty much anything. If I don't have fresh tomatoes I use 2 tins of chopped, although I prefer to use fresh where I can and I've found green peppers tend to add a bitter taste so prefer not to use them.


a dash of olive oil
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed through garlic press,
4 chestnut mushrooms finely diced   (don't tell the smaller little P's they wouldn't eat it if they knew!)
1 red and yellow pepper cubed,
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, (We have a large plant growing in the garden)
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves, (you can use fresh.)
400g fresh tomatoes cubed
salt and freshly ground pepper,
1 tin chopped tomatoes.
1/2-1 tsp Cayenne pepper depending on taste.
A sprinkling of smoked paprika. (be careful as it can be overpowering)
1/2 tsp veg gravy granules or a veg stock cube

An optional dash of Worcester sauce. (optional, as in I don't always remember to add it.)


Cook the pasta as per instructions. Whilst the water for the pasta is warming up, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and onions and stir until softened and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and stir for a couple of minutes, then add the peppers again stir for a couple of minutes. Add the herbs and stir (I sometimes also add a tsp of thyme when I add the rosemary, depends if I've been to the lottie before or after cooking.) Then add the fresh tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the tinned tomatoes, stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the gravy granules or stock cube and stir until dissolved. Add Cayenne Pepper and paprika to taste stir then add the Worcester sauce. Leave to simmer stirring occasionally until Pasta is ready. Drain the pasta then add to the sauce. StÄ’ir it through and serve.

With the exception of JJ, the Little P's like grated cheese on their pasta, again we use whatever is in the fridge at the time. It was that enjoyable I forgot to photograph it before I started eating! I might make this again using the Big Jim to add some flavour.

I said it was our lucky weekend, well our final gift of the weekend was a bag of walnuts fresh from a friend's garden, so fresh in fact 2 are still in the outer casings as CP JJ and I opened the others. (CP and I still have yellow fingers today!)

We are facing a dilemma with these. Bob promised my friend to use the walnuts to make her a cake, however neither Bob nor I have made a walnut cake before. We've got a couple of weeks to find a recipe while the walnuts dry out. Can you recommend a recipe that has worked well for you?
 Please feel free to comment and share your recommendation for a good walnut cake recipe. Also if you try the pasta sauce let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading. Happy Digging :)