Feb 032014
 

The Permaculture Kitchen by Carl Legge CoverWell my first book is nearly printed. That’s the proper cover design above. Read on to find out whose hands they are ;)

I hope you like it and that loads of people find it useful.The Permaculture Kitchen shows you how to cook no faff, seasonal & sustainable food with what your garden or seasonal produce seller has available.

What is it about?

My approach is to help you start your meal planning thinking about the ingredients and time you have to hand first. I couple this with some foundation principles and basic techniques to help you cook loads of different variations of meals. So the recipes (there are lots) illustrate the principles and techniques. I’ve included loads of  ideas for variations of flavours, ingredients and methods. I also give you suggestions for how you can use leftovers to save you time and energy.

Close to publishing

It’s been a long process and the project has changed a lot since I started writing what was to be a black & white e-book. We’re now producing a 176-page book with colour pictures along with the e-versions of it.

We’re currently fine tuning the last bits of the design and I hope it’ll be published in April. If you’d like first-hand information about the book’s release and offers and events, please fill in the form at the end of this post.

Whose hands?

The Permaculture Kitchen Cover ShootI did the photoshoot for the book with Hayley in September. We spent two very full days at home while I cooked loads of the recipes from the book for Hayley to style & shoot.

We had loads of strawberries still around and Hayley & Debs created the evocative cover image in Debs’ hands.

Given all the work Debs does in the garden and with the animals, ‘Debs the Hand Model’ was unexpected for both of us ;) It really does symbolise for me the ethos of the book: Love food, love people, love the planet.

The inside scoop for you

I’m very excited by this as you can imagine.

On the off-chance that you may be a little excited too, I’ve created a small form for you to fill in to get the most up to date information about the book’s progress and my events. I won’t give your information to anyone else, I promise.

 Posted by at 18:20
Jan 232014
 

Seedy Penpal Parcel January 2014

Our Seedy Penpals exchange has got off to a grand start this year. I received this very thoughtful & generous parcel above from Lorraine last week.

Squash seeds

Lorraine sent us four different squash varieties from US seed supplier Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

  • Pattison Golden Mabre Scallop (summer squash)
  • Gelber Englischer Custard (summer squash)
  • Marina Di Chioggia (winter squash)
  • Blue Hubbard (winter squash)

We’ve been perennial squash growers here with mixed success. We’ll make a concerted effort with these to keep them very well fed and watered and hope the summer weather is kind to us.

Aubergine & Chillies

We love growing different chilli varieties and Lorraine sent us two we haven’t tried before:

Plus aubergine Black Beauty that Lorraine had over-ordered. We’ve had limited success with aubergine here with bad summers. When we lived down south, we had good crops – so fingers crossed.

We’ve just acquired a load of sash windows from a local friend (via Twitter) who is having them replaced. We’ll use these to build a super cold frame to house these gems. Hopefully the aubergines will be especially happy with them. More of this in later posts.

Brassicas

Lorraine sent us:

  • Cabbage: heritage variety Wheelers Imperial
  • Mustard – giant red
  • Mustard – komatsuna
  • Nasturtium – organic mixed, for companion planting.

It’ll be interesting to try the cabbage which we can grow for spring greens and hearts.

MustardsPT-1
We’re big fans of mustards. We grow them over winter in our big polytunnel where they produce leaves for salads and cooked veg over the winter and great shoots in the spring. The different colours and leaf shapes add welcome variety in the dark days. The mustard seeds she sent are some passed on from her earlier seedy penpal Jenny – so the connection continues.

The nasturtiums are always welcome. Apart from being great companion and bee plants they’re a great edible too. The leaves, flowers and flower buds and seed pods are all edible and delightfully peppery. So we’ll be munching on those for sure and I’ll post some recipes for them during the year.

Onion & dahlias

Tussy Mussy made 2 Jan 2014Lorraine sent us some Senshyu Yellow seeds. These are an overwintering Japanese type for autumn sowing. This is brilliant, as we’ve decided to do all our onions this way and to concentrate on varieties that we can’t buy or are more expensive to get.

And to help with our plans to have more perennial flowers for cutting and using in Debs’ tussie mussies, Lorraine sent us some great dahlia tubers. We’ll have to be patient until we can see what colours we have. I’m instructed that I’m not allowed to eat them :(

Ingredients

Lastly, as Lorraine is well aware of my culinary proclivities, we’re the lucky recipients of two lots of dried chillies from Lorraine’s own garden. They smell great and I’m keen to use them soon.

All round a really great Seedy Penpal package. To see Lorraine’s side of the story, see her Slow January blog post.

If you’d like to join the scheme, read the conditions and sign up here.

 Posted by at 15:25
Jan 202014
 

Wine barm bread sliced
It’s funny how things spread.

My twitter pal Jessica read the earlier post on how to use a cider barm to make sourdough bread. Serendipity is a wonderful thing as Jessica was racking wine that day. So Jessica contacted me on Twitter…

Jessica Bread Tweet

And so Jessica did. I’m very grateful to Jessica who sent the pictures she took and the recipe notes for her bread so I may share it more widely. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:22
Dec 242013
 

Bookshelf

My friend (and newly qualified Ethnobotanist) Emma Cooper has started a virtual book club. More about Emma’s studies later, as we were a case study in Emma’s thesis.

Her idea is that participants will read a set book every other month and we then discuss this online.

For more details about how this will work and how to take part, please visit Emma’s blog post.

The first book for January 2014 is Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson. It describes native American Indian agricultural practices of the Hidatsas (meaning ‘willows’) as recounted to him by the mother of his interpreter, Maxi’diwiac.

I very much look forward to reading the book and hope some of my blog readers will join in on Emma’s blog.

To help I have converted the free file of the book on the University of Pennsylvania web site into a pdf file which you can download.
Click on the link to open in a new tab you can then save to your hard drive.
Or right mouse click and ‘Save Link As’ to save the book to your hard drive.

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden pdf

 Posted by at 12:06
Dec 042013
 
Sarpo Potatoes in our garden

Some of our 2013 Sarpo potatoes growing

If you’ve grown potatoes, you’ll probably know the heartbreak that late blight can cause you. It can wipe out your crop.

If you eat potatoes, I’m sure you’d like to eat ones that are free from copper (a heavy metal), fungicides & pesticides. But to prevent crop losses, conventional farmers use the copper & other sprays.

A small startup company, Sarpo Potatoes have developed GM free, blight resistant spuds that don’t need spraying. Hooray!

Their spuds are also very tasty. Yay!

But if Sarpo don’t get a few tens of pounds from spud lovers in the next few days, their project may die. :(

You can help by donating as little as £5. You can help by loaning (yes lending!) as little as £50 and you’ll get lovely spuds as your interest payment.

Please contribute here now.

I have.

If you’d like to find out more about this low-carbon, environmentally sound project, please click here.

Sarpo Potatoes are not big agri-business. They really need our help to get the potatoes grown and out to the wider market. Your contribution could be as little as the loose change down the back of the sofa or to loan the cost of less than a night out. Please go here to help.

Thanks in advance :)

 Posted by at 13:34
Nov 172013
 

Close up of posy in pottery jug

November Posy

The weather forecasters are promising a drop in temperatures and frosts next week. This will put an end to some of the flowers still soldiering on in the garden, giving their all. We are usually lucky here: we live on a peninsula and so we’re surrounded by the sea; our frosts are mostly light and often late.

I took the opportunity to keep the summer going just a little bit longer and brought some of those flowers into the house.

Tussie mussies

My mum taught me how to make tussie mussies when I was little and I have continued to make them. I make them as a ‘thank you’, for birthday and anniversary presents, to mark the birth of a baby or just because…

I tightly pack and bind flowers, herbs and foliage to give a posy which will delight the eyes and nose.

Collecting and arranging my bounty

I wandered round the garden and collected my bounty. I was amazed at the variety that was available. I always put a single flower in bud at the centre and found a romantic pale pink rose for this.

Posy overhead viewThen I picked the rest of the ingredients: four stems of each. I found mints, rosemary, lavender, thyme, periwinkle, pinks, lemon balm, oregano, Japanese parsley, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, camomile, mashua, creeping borage, Californian poppy, yarrow, brassica flowers and fennel. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

When the weather is warm I make the posy outside and often have bees land on the flowers I have picked. On this occasion it was too cold to stay still outside so I brought my goodies indoors.  I stripped the leaves from the bottom of the stems and then, starting with the rosebud, began tying in the stems. There is a symmetry to the posy as each group of stems are added in turn. Finally I put an outer layer of fennel stems to finish it off.

Usually when I make these posies, I am more discerning about what goes into them – a colour or scent theme or such like,  but this was to extend the summer and had a bit of everything in it.

Porth Llwyd Jug

Posy in pottery jug

I will change the water every day in the little jug it sits in. I love the jug, it’s gorgeous and a gift from Porth Llwyd Pottery from my friend Nina. The posy should last for 2-3 weeks by doing this and in this little corner of North Wales we will still have a little bit of summer.

What do you do to keep summer going in your house?

 Posted by at 19:06
Oct 202013
 

Apple custard cake Parisienne, slicedToday is the day to celebrate the wonderful variety and bounty that apples give us.

To help us celebrate, here’s a list of some of my favourite recipes.

Apple recipes

Apple cider vinegar
A doddle to make, very healthy for you and lots of fun. You can use damaged apples, or scraps. So this is a great way of using every apple you have.

Blackberry, apple & chilli chutney
Beware, this is addictive. You use two of the season’s great fruits. The more you make, the longer you can enjoy.

Apple, almond and date cake
One of my most favourite cakes courtesy of my mum-in-law. With some great examples of other people’s results from this recipe.

Apple custard cake parisienne
Crispy, spicy, custardy. It’s a joy to eat.

Apple wine
And what better way to celebrate than with this easy to make wine recipe?

I hope you like these, What’s your favourite?

 Posted by at 09:16
May 152013
 

Guanciale cross section view
Guanciale is the perfect preserved pork. It’s wonderfully versatile & tasty, easy to make, economical to buy & use and looks brilliant. What’s not to like about that? You can see what I made in the picture above: I’m so pleased with the result.

Guanciale means “pillow” in Italian, the reason should be obvious. My first taste was courtesy of my friend and Italian food mentor Carla Tomasi who sent me some from Rome. It was a revelation with a deep porky taste. It’s good raw, as a seasoning or a major ingredient in many dishes. When I got the Italian dry curing book Salumi for review (see here), I first searched out the recipe for guanciale. It’s ridiculously simple. The authors say it is:

…one of the most magical of the Big Eight cured cuts [and] some of the finest and most versatile salumi…

At the end of February I was fortunate to meet Huw Roberts of Oinc Oink our very local award winning pedigree Welsh pork producers. At their stall Huw had brought along some pig cheeks on the off chance that they might sell. They did.

I rushed home and got out my copy of Salumi. If you want to find out how to make your own guanciale, please read on…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:24
Apr 022013
 

Evernote Camera Roll 20130322 220654

I love the way Twitter works. In particular how ideas get propagated: across the world in an instant and inspiring new networks of enthusiastic people. And also how physical things are shared too.

This kefir bread is the result of both such things. My apologies for the pics – they’re taken quickly on an iPhone and the bread didn’t last long enough for me to take anything posher for you.

I sent Joanna at Zeb Bakes in England some kefir. As part of her experiements, Joanna (a great baker) decided to make kefir leavened bread blogged by her friend Cecilia. Joanna has written a very instructive blog post about her experience. And Cecilia is a Kiwi (New Zealander) living in mid-west USA.

So, with all this helpful stuff to read, I had to have a go at this.

As you can see from the pictures, the loaf turned out very well indeed. It was a soft bread (apart from the crisp crust), slightly sweet with a background tang. It makes lovely sandwiches and toasts well (browns very quickly). We had it au naturel, with marmalade and toasted with cheese and it went well with all of them.

You need to think a couple of days ahead as you need live kefir milk to start fermenting a flour ‘sponge’. You then add this sponge to a bigger quantity of flour to ferment the final loaf.

I’ve tweaked the recipes that preceded this to use a higher amount of kefir in the sponge and reduced the water to match. To see my recipe, please read on…

 Posted by at 17:36
Mar 292013
 

Puntarelle plants one month from sowing

How to grow Puntarelle

In my last blog post, I showed you how to use this versatile vegetable. As promised, I’ll tell you how to grow them in this post.

We found these very easy to grow last year even with all the rain and lack of sun.

If you’d like me to show you how to grow them,  please read on…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:16
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