Summer Breeze

This summer finds us at our home in Bexhill on Sea. Which according to our family in Spain, is a good thing. They are all decidedly fed up of the 40 degree plus temperatures that are the norm there right now, rather than the exception. We are getting used to four seasons in one day. Loving the sunshine when we have it and racing outside to enjoy it. Joining in the with locals when it rains saying “oh well, it’s good for the garden”!

I haven’t managed to grow basil outdoors in England yet, so am sticking with my pot on the kitchen window sill.

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Outside in our little garden though, we’re making the most of every tiny bit of space and growing a few vegetables for the pleasure of seeing them grow. Green beans are happy climbing up against the wall and the first teeny tiny beans are starting to appear. Big Man is very entertained by the fact that the flowers in England are red. In Spain they’re white and he never believed me until this year that they are different. Oh he of little faith.

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We planted tomatoes which are starting to produce strange shaped fruit – we can’t remember what we planted – so we’re just waiting to see if they’ll turn red or we’ll be eating a lot of tomato chutney or fried green tomatoes this year.

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Various chilli plants also went in, but the little sticks telling us which were which were “reorganised” by the dogs at the time of planting so we have no idea what we’re going to end up with. We do have a very beautiful black chilli which is ready to be picked, so fingers crossed it’s a hot one!

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The parsley and rosemary are doing well, and the chives are happy doing their own thing.

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We also bought some mint roots from Spain (it seems to have a more delicate leaf than the plant we bought in England and is lovely in salads and infusions). The plants (grown in a recycled strawberry planter) are just starting to really get going.

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Of course, there’s room for flowers too, most of which were already here, I love the strong colours we’ve got. The white geraniums were grown from cuttings from a plant we had in a small pot.

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The pears continue to grow, hopefully we’ll get a lovely crop in the early autumn.

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And the dogs, naturally, are always on hand to offer advice, help with the digging and showing us the sunniest spots when we need to take a little breather.

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Sorry about the picture overload but the light was so lovely today…it made me happy to think how much you can do with just a little outdoor space.

 

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The Vegetable Garden – One Month On

I realised tonight that a month had flown past since we planted our vegetable “plugs” this year.  We´re catching up as we´ve has plenty of rain followed by sunshine and a few misty evenings, which the plants seem to love!

Our herbs are doing well, apart from my parsley and cilantro (coriander) which are still looking a bit sad.

I´ve let the sage flower as I think it looks so pretty.  I sometimes deep fry the large leaves in very hot olive oil for a few seconds and sprinkle with coarse sea salt as a little nibble with almonds and olive…and wine, of course!

Sage flowers

The mint is going crazy…these were the stragglers which I had to pull up later.

Rampaging Mint

I´ve also let the chives go to seed as the flowers are also lovely in salads.

Delicious chives...great for potato salad

The basil is almost ready for the first batch of pesto.

Fragrant Basil

We´ve got plum tomatoes.

A Future Sun Dried Tomato

We´ve got a “wild” tomato which has sprung up from a leftover seed from a squashed tomato from last year.  It has such a desire to live, we´ve let it do its own thing!

Born to be wild....!

We have some (very) bitter salad leaves and the delicious chard.  The celery tucked in there is slow to get going, but we´ll let it take its time.

Green Leaves and Bitter Leaves

Tomatoes, beans and the little muscat vines.

View down to my kitchen window

We´ve got rocket seedlings (must plant some more though)

Aaah....less than a week old

The first of the runner beans should be ready to pick in a few days

Teeny, tiny beans

The onions are doing well too

Onions in neat rows!

We´ve got long thin green peppers and large bell peppers – but we can´t remember which are which.  We´ll soon find out!

Which one are you then?

Cucumber flowers

Grown from last year´s seeds

The aubergine flowers are so pretty – wish they´d hurry up as I love aubergines (eggplant!)

Hurry Up! Hurry Up!

Dwarf French beans (yellow and green) which we only planted a week ago

Not quite Jack & The Beanstalk, but working on it!

And finally, radish seedlings…not long now!

Peppery and Pretty!

As I said, we´re a little behind this year because of the very wet spring that we had, but we´re happy with progress so far and already dreaming of grilled vegetables, salads and bunches of grapes.  Happy growing to you all!

“Green” Potato Salad

Getting "Cheffy" with the chives!

It´s been a hectic little morning up our mountain.  A nearby complex which offers rural holiday accommodation – http://www.cortijolasmonjas.com/ – just in case you want to have a look at the same lovely scenery I see every day, ran a four hour workshop on distilling aromatic plants.  More of that later in another post.  I got home so relaxed by the lovely smells of lavender, geranium and melissa, I wasn´t really in the mood for “proper” cooking.  Big Man had been tidying up the vine in the vegetable patch, so he was hungry.  I needed something fast and filling.

Well, not being a girl who is ever likely to be caught with her fridge empty, I pulled together a speedy potato salad.  It´s green because of the avocados that are very much in abundance here at the moment, and because I used a big bunch of chives from our garden.

So, here it is, in all it´s delicious simplicity, for two people.

  • Two large potatoes cooked in their skins then peeled and diced
  • Four rashers of grilled bacon, chopped
  • One large avocado, peeled and diced
  • Half a cup of cooked peas or broad beans (guess what I used!)
  • Half a cup of chopped green olives
  • One grilled red pepper, peeled and chopped
  • Some finely chopped chives (I used about 2 heaped tablespoons)
  • One heaped tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • One small tub of natural yogurt (mixed with the mayo)
  • Pepper – you may not need salt because of the bacon, it´s down to you

Mix up all your ingredients, season and then stir in the mayonnaise and yogurt mixture.  Also good as a side dish, but we just dug in and scoffed the lot!

Chicken, Chive & Sweetcorn Fritters

Don´t Burn Yourself!

Having spent the day rushing around and generally being a busy bee, I wanted something quick and easy for a light supper.  Leftovers from a chargrilled chicken dish made the night before included most of a chicken breast, so I decided to make some fritters and serve them with a big mixed salad.

Here in Andalucía they often make fritters with salt cod (which has been soaked and desalted) and serve them with Molasses (or sugar cane honey as it´s called here) drizzled over. When I was first introduced to this concept, I wasn´t sure it was going to be for me.  The idea of sweet and salty mixed together seemed strange, but then I thought about how in the UK we often eat meats with fruit sauces (pork with apple sauce, turkey with cranberry) and realised that it wasn´t such a weird idea.  I´m so glad I did give it a go as it´s a fantastic combination and works really well with these fritters. 

Beautiful Jar of Miel de Caña

If you just can´t face the thought of Molasses though, a sweet chilli dipping sauce or mayonnaise also tastes great with these little fritters.

Ingredients used (which are approximate) made 14 fritters.

  • 1 x 150g sweetcorn which I blended to make creamed corn (we can´t get it here)
  • Half a large or one small chicken breast, grilled and then finely chopped
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of self raising (or cake) flour
  • About half the empty can full of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives
  • 1 egg
  • Seasoning
  • Oil for frying (I used olive oil)

In a bowl add the flour and egg to the sweetcorn and mix well. Gradually add the milk until you get a paste the consistency of a thick porridge. You may not use all the milk, or you may need a little more, it will depend on your flour.  Add the chicken and chives and season to taste.

Heat your oil in a deep frying pan and when ready, drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture in, flattening them out slightly with the back of the spoon. 

Each side will take about a minute to cook, remove, drain and serve.  And if you´re feeling Spanish, you can call them Tortillitas de Pollo, Cebollina y Maiz. Olé!