Reasons to be cheerful: Blood oranges

January is, I think, my least favourite month. It follows what is a very social month, and just as I'm getting into my swing everyone disappears and the weather often takes a turn for the worse. This month already we've seen off a light sprinkling of snow, and colder temperatures are forecast and I've just spent a couple of days in somewhere where the daily high was a negative.  Brrrr. 

So you might be thinking what I've found to be cheerful about. Well, as it often is, it's something really quite simple. And that's freshly squeezed orange juice from blood oranges. Not only does the colour make me smile, it tastes delicious too. 

freshly squeezed juice from blood oranges in my hamburg water glasses from Habitat

It's a great start to the weekend and I'm sure it tastes even better because they have a relatively short season, only really appearing in our local greengrocers in January and February.  Plus it gives me a good reason to use my new water glasses from Habitat in a more colourful way!

I do like the simple things in life, so juicing blood oranges is a good place to start, but you don't have to stop there. I've been looking around for other ways to enjoy them, and I couldn't get past this blood orange syrup pudding from Cherished by Me.

A blood orange syrup pudding

I like how it's a syrup pudding that's not steamed, which means it takes less time to cook and you can also make it with gluten free flour. But mostly I like it because it plays to the sweetness of the blood oranges and because the pretty flesh is still on show, and not because as Nova says, it's a generous sized dessert. Oh, ok, maybe it's a little bit of that too...

Image credit:  Cherished by me

Image credit: Cherished by me

Enjoy 10% off your first order from Habitat

Last week I told you about my new red wine glasses and how by using the following link you can enjoy 10% off your first order from Habitat , no strings attached.

Don't forget to make the most of this offer - and let me know what you buy, and how you enjoy your blood oranges.

 

* This is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are my own

Turnips on the allotment

Rain was forecast here on Saturday, but thankfully it didn't really arrive until after dark. It was a bit damp and drizzly before that but not so bad that it stopped us getting over to the allotment to check on the turnips. I've been looking forward to picking these and pairing them with some lovely pork chops. As we'd bought pork chops in the butchers, we headed off to see if we had turnips to pick.

And we did. I pulled up four to take home with us  - as well as our second cauliflower, which you can see in the top left below - and counted at least another ten to follow. Some won't be very far behind these, and then hopefully the row that I sowed direct on the plot will follow after those.  Ideally I should have pulled these sooner, but with busy weekends yet again this was our first visit since the start of November. 

Freshly pulled turnips on the allotment, and there's more to come too.

And that cauliflower, well it's already a soup with cream cheese and cheddar, yum.  And very easy to do. Chop an onion and a clove of garlic and soften these in oil and butter. Add the cauliflower and almost cover in chicken stock and cook for twenty or so minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Blitz this and add half a tub of cream cheese, some milk if it needs it and then some grated cheddar (or blue cheese if you have it). It's a soupy cauliflower cheese, and lovely.

Still more turnips to come, feeling quite chuffed with the success of these

If we can pick something every time we visit, especially in winter, then we'll have been doing something right, I think. That might be restricted to turnips for a little while, but hopefully the brassicas won't be too much longer. The weeds, I showed you last month are still there - no weed fairy on our allotment! - and it isn't until I looked back at those pictures, that I've realised how much our cabbages have grown, so that's heartening.

dramatic red cabbages are coming along well, just ignore the weeds in the background!

The cavolo nero especially has grown and while it still has some more growing to do, it looks like cavolo nero should with its knobbly leaves. I'm very much looking forward to picking our own, and as well as the weeds still being there no one's planted out my extra brassicas or composted my sweetcorn and tomatoes. Shocking hey?

the cavolo nero is starting to do well too, love the knobbly leaves and I'm looking forward to picking and eating my own

I'm hoping that the weather is good enough to get over there again next weekend and in the time between Christmas and New Year, although with everything I'm putting on the list for those few days, it's going to be busy! 

Elsewhere on the plot

The celeriac is still there, and alongside the brassicas full of weeds, I need to check when to dig these up. I think it's probably about now, but I have no indication of how big they could be. I guess that's part of the fun. As I thought of it I've just checked on the RHS website, and they say celeriac can be harvested between October and March, so I've some time yet. The picture on their page shows the celeriac almost out of the ground, like the turnip above. Mine aren't like that yet, so I'll leave them there for a while I think. The website also says to cover with straw or bracken incase the ground freezes, if the weather turns again I'll be off to find some straw from somewhere...

It was noticeable how bare the crab apple tree was. All the leaves - and any remaining crab apples - were down. The crab apples littering the floor around the tree, so that's another job to do next time I'm there. It's a fun one though as I use this opportunity as shot practice, throwing the crab apples to the compost from where they've dropped, with apologies in advance to the nearby plot owners when I get a bit enthusiastic.  It would obviously be much more effective to pick them up, put them into a trug and carry them over. But nowhere near as much fun!

The artichokes in the crab apple tree

With the crab apple tree bare, the climbing artichokes are once again visible - they're not climbing ones at all, but normal artichokes which grow under the tree, so I think they grow taller to get the light, we'll see next year won't I? They are pretty much dead now, but the flowers (fruits?) have now turned fluffy. The stems are rotten and I suspect it could be a good time to move the plant to where I want it. If the tomatoes had gone, that would be a relatively simple job...

crab apples down! Under the tree the ground is littered with fallen crab apples

So once again I've a list of jobs from this visit, but it amazes me that each time we visit we're enthused by what needs to happen, and one of these months we'll find time to actually start on that list.

To save me time for my next visit the list of jobs is currently:

  • Target practice with crab apples

  • Take a black sack to pick up the rubbish the foxes have brought onto the plot (including a couple of nappies... not so nice)

  • Compost the tomatoes and sweetcorn remains

  • Consider moving the leeks (the ones that have survived MOH trampling on them)

  • Compost the beans, sweetcorn and any remaining squash plants

  • Pot out my extra brassicas, currently in the back garden: Kale, PSB and some more cabbages I think

  • Prepare the leaf mulch compost bin for the new additions from the garden

  • Weed the cabbages

  • Move the climbing artichoke

  • And as usual, do some more digging!

Let's hope the weather stays good, and I find some more hours to put into the day...

Getting some Coconut Oil inspiration

A couple of weeks ago for breakfast I made some Banana and Berry pancakes for a lazy Sunday breakfast - and they were lovely.  It was the first time I'd used Coconut Oil and to be honest I was a bit wary about it. I mean it smelt lovely and coconutty as I cooked - and reminded me of tropical holidays - but I was concerned there might be  a strong taste of coconut, but thankfully there wasn't.  

I knew that there was more you could do with coconut oil than using it for frying, but quite frankly I was stumped, so I thought I'd ask some other bloggers to give me some inspiration. Today I'm sharing that inspiration - and sorry, but I think you're going to be hungry by the end of this post.

1. Thai Chicken Traybake from Easy Peasy Foodie

I love Thai flavours and I don't think you can beat a traybake so this recipe is right up my street. MOH's not a big fan of aubergine, although he still eats them and sometimes even begrudgingly enjoys them, and I'd still include them here I think. It's almost become a bit of a personal goal to convert him!

Thanks Eb, this is definitely a recipe I'm going to try.

2. Coconut Scones from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen

Charlotte said she accidentally made vegan scones when she wondered what would happen if she substituted coconut oil for butter and then as she had some coconut milk in the fridge she used that too.  And while these look good enough for a fancy afternoon tea I think they'd also go well in my lunch box. 

I'm hoping they'll freeze like normal scones too, so I can take one out as I make my lunch in the morning.   

3. Coconut and Honey Omelette from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen

This recipe intrigued me. I thought I'd not had a sweet omelette and then I thought about crêpes and they're probably quite similar, so this is probably not as unusual as I first thought.  And let's be honest I've had at least one or two crêpes!

Recently when my parents were visiting I cooked them a boiled egg for breakfast and I was struck by how little time it took compared to the time I imagined it might take. I realised I could have eggs for breakfast during the week, but of course I haven't (yet) so this might be the recipe that changes that, especially with the fruit too as it'd be an almost virtuous breakfast, wouldn't it?  Thanks for both of these recipes Charlotte.

4. Coconut & Raspberry Mini Victoria Sponge from Snap Happy Bakes

As Hayley says in the post's introduction these will definitely make you ready for summer. Don't they look great? Hayley assures us it's easy to bake with by replacing butter in recipes with coconut oil. She's also used it in the icing, mixed with icing sugar and milk.

I have one of those mini victoria sponge tins, and I really should get it out of the cupboard and give these a go, shouldn't I? I can hear my dad nodding from here in answer to that (well, if you can hear a nod!). Thanks Hayley.

And fudge, brownies and cupcakes too...

Well you know how I like a cake, or two... It seems that coconut oil is ideal to use in the sweet stuff and you can substitute it for butter (thanks Hayley!)

Fudge

This fabulous recipe from Emmy's Mummy for Layered Chocolate and Coconut Fudge is one I'm banking, because Clare's right fudge does make great gifts.  It is something I find quite dangerous though. I mean one moment it's there and then the next it's gone! 

Please don't say it's just me.

Brownies

Well, I couldn't not include a chocolate brownie recipe when it was offered could I?  These Best Ever Paleo Chocolate Brownies that Renee from Mummy Tries shared look gorgeously squidgy - just as a brownie should be.  My usual go to recipe for Brownies is Nigella's Everyday Brownie recipe, partly because it's easy and partly because I love that she has an everyday recipe.

I think though that I'll be giving these a try because if they look that good, they must taste good too.

Cupcakes

Because cupcakes should be even more everyday than Brownies.  These Coconut Banana Cupcakes by Galina over at Chez Maximka just go to show that everyone needs a good cupcake recipe in their repertoire. There's banana in the cake - which must make it almost healthy - and these could be a good lunchbox addition for the days that I need something with icing on.

 

Thanks ladies, I'm definitely inspired and now itching to start getting more adventurous (for me) with this new-to-me ingredient. If you've a favourite recipe, I'm keen to hear about it - let me know in the comments - or let me know if you're planning to try one of these recipes yourself.

 

Thanks also to Vita Coco who sent me a jar of coconut oil to try, with these inspirational recipes I'm ready to be more adventurous.