Sunday, 16 July 2017

Entering a vegetable competition at the Lambeth County Show

We've always been big fans of county shows and try to attend a couple every year. To be completely honest, our local on in Lambeth isn't usually on the list, but I've always wanted to try my hand at a vegetable competition so I thought we'd try it. 
Pulling Yellowstone, Purple haze and resistafly carrots
I had entered six categories (with encouragement from my lovely Instagram followers) but to my disappointment the majority of what I'd planned to show (tomatoes, peppers, chillis etc) was still unripe and so I had to scramble to find a few entries. I pulled up almost my entire root vegetable raised bed to find enough to enter a few classes. 
The majority of the produce from my "root vegetable" raised bed
I chose to enter six carrots, three round beetroots, a cucumber and a three herb vase. I was a bit nervous as I polished my various entries but it was actually lovely arriving early in the produce tent and setting out my entries with the other competitors, some of whom have clearly been competing for years. The other competitors were very friendly, discussing all of the entries and there was a real sense of bonhomie. 
My "small but perfect" cucumber in situ at the competition
We returned to the fair later that day to find out how the judging had gone and I couldn't believe it when my husband pointed out a "Highly commended" card by my cucumber! I didn't place in any of the categories but I was still walking on air. It's been years since I've won anything and I was thrilled that I'd been able to produce something good enough in my minuscule urban patio garden. Bring on next year, I'm going to enter every class!
Hurrah! Commendations!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Recipe: Healthy lemony basil pesto pasta with courgette and broccoli

This is a really easy and tasty seasonal dish using home grown basil from the garden that I often make when I"m short of time. We are ardent carnivores but tend to eat vegetarian food during the week and this dish is absolutely delicious. We eat unholy amounts of garlic and so that sauce packs a powerful kick, do reduce the amount of cloves you put in if you'd rather go for a less intense flavour. But I find this is a lovely low calorie version of pesto that really zings and it's all ready within the time it takes to cook some pasta.


For the sauce
- Four handfuls of washed basil leaves
- 250g fat free natural organic yogurt
- Three peeled garlic cloves

For the pasta
- Two large courgettes
- Large broccoli head
- Small brown onion
- A head of garlic
- Rapeseed oil
- Green pasta (I use a spinach infused organic version) 
- One lemon

1. Put water on to boil
2. Place all of the sauce ingredients in the blender and whizz them until smooth. Set aside. I use a lot of garlic raw in the sauce because I like it to have a real kick but do lessen this if you prefer subtlety. 
3. Wash and slice the courgettes and chop the broccoli. Finely chop the onion and sauté on a medium heat for five minutes until soft, but don't let it brown. 
4. Put the pasta in the water and cook according to instructions. 
5. Add the garlic to the onion in the pan and cook for another three minutes. Add the courgettes. 
6. Five minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli to the water. 
7. Strain the pasta and broccoli and stir in the onion / garlic / courgette mix. Stir in the sauce, squeeze some lemon juice on top and serve immediately. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

How to make sugar-free strawberry ice lollies for children

I've always tried to incorporate our own produce into my cooking but there are times where what we get from our tiny garden sadly just isn't enough for any one project. Take, for example, strawberry ice pops. I like to make homemade ice lollies for GarlicBoy so that I can let him eat his fill without worrying about his teeth but to do that we needed considerably more strawberries than I could get at home. So we after picking the three ripe fruits from our own plants, we headed to our local "pick your own" farm and spent a very enjoyable afternoon filling punnet with fresh strawberries before coming home to turn them into delicious cooling treats.

You will need:

- Strawberries (we used a kilo and this made    about three moulds full)
- Ice lolly moulds (I've picked various up over the years in supermarket sales)
- 100g Low fat organic natural yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon honey

As always I’ve used the directions [ADULT] and [CHILD] based on what I did with my son. However you know your child best so please think about their own capabilities before embarking on any of our projects. Never leave a child unsupervised. And please do tag us on social media if you post photos of your projects, we’d love to see how you get on!


1. [BOTH] Go and pick the strawberries, ideally in your garden or a local farm. I found that even a very small toddler had marvellous fun trying to find the ripe strawberries in the plants. 
2. [ADULT] Put the strawberries in a colander and your [CHILD] at the sink and set them to washing the hulled strawberries. 
3. [CHILD] Place the strawberries in the blender and add the natural yoghurt and honey. [ADULT] Whizz until as smooth as possible and pour into the moulds. Freeze overnight and enjoy!