Slow painting

Friday, 28 May 2010

Still Growing

When I get discouraged about amount of time I have to spare for the plot at the moment, it's good to look back at progress. Above, the shallots and garlic on 16 May. Below, 9 May.

2 May:

2 months ago in March, with the demised red clover waiting to be dug in.

So that's good. But then again, things are getting rather shaggy round the edges. Whoa! When did that central path take over? There's a Big Dig looming.

Monday, 17 May 2010

If you like rhubarb

then you might like this recipe. I made it last week and it was a qualified success in my family of rhubarb refuseniks. It's from Lindsey Bareham's column in The Times newspaper.

Ricotta and rhubarb pie (serves 4-6)

400g rhubarb
200g ready rolled puff pastry
flour for dusting
1 egg
100g ricotta
1 juicing orange
3 tbsp caster sugar
fromage frais, creme fraiche or yoghurt to serve.

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Put a baking sheet on a middle shelf. Dust a work surface with flour and roll the pastry until it measures approx 30 x 20 cm. Halve vertically with one piece slightly larger than the other. Lift the smaller sheet of pastry onto a second baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Whisk the egg. Paint a 2cm border around the pastry. Thickly spread the ricotta within the border. Cut the rhubarb into 4cm lengths. Pile the rhubarb over the ricotta. Zest the orange over the top and add juice from half the orange. [Sprinkle sugar over the rhubarb if desired] Swing the reserved pastry over the top, gently lining up the edges. Run round the edge with a fork to seal. Pain the pastry with egg. Make a central hole and etch a pattern radiating out of the hole. Dredge thickly with caster sugar. Bake for 25 minutes until th epastry is flaky, golden and sugar-crusted.


It needed - really needed - sugar on the rhubarb. We discovered this only on eating the pie.

We (my daughter and I) forgot to paint the pastry with egg before putting it in the oven. We were listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and reminiscing about when she played the theme tune at the joint Scottish/Italian Suzuki week with students from the Suzuki School of Bologna. And lots more chat besides, so it was understandable that we forgot a little thing like following the recipe. It looked okay, though. The etching was very artistic. I didn't take a photo. I thought asking my family to eat rhubarb pie was one thing, but taking a photo of it was pushing them too far.

The 'harvest' of two weeks ago. The purple sprouting broccoli is over now, alas, but the rhubarb keeps on going.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

From my deckchair - May

A neglected blog doesn't mean a neglected allotment. At the moment I'm TBTB (Too Busy To Blog). Work is nearly all-consuming, and the bits of life it doesn't consume take up the little that's left of the day. Today, however, on a hard-working day at the allotment, I managed to relax in a deckchair for a few minutes and enjoy looking around. Above, our neighbour's well-tended plot and a line of wallflowers beside the standpipe.

Below, gigantic flowering rhubarb.

Our potatoes are through, with all but this tallest one burnt by frost. How did it escape? Perhaps far enough on to have tougher leaves.

Looking north, which is where our weather has been coming from recently. Bright, cold days and occasional frosty nights.

I've missed what's been going on in gardens and allotments of fellow bloggers. A 3 day weekend would be good, as would another 12 hours in the day.