August Jam

Blimey. That’s nearly it for August. Where does the time go? Before long, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness will be upon us and the tomatoes ripening on the kitchen window sills will be replaced with pumpkins, plump and golden and just waiting to be whipped into a line of Keats verse. Or maybe a curry.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here in the UK it’s the summer bank holiday weekend which means no work until Tuesday, and what a perfect time to have a long weekend. An extra day is certainly needed to get to grips with those garden gluts (I’ve got a huge pot of tomato sauce simmering away as I type which I’ll freeze in batches for pasta and pizza toppings later in the year) and Ade’s harvested his first ever aubergine which is an absolute beauty!

So let us bid a fond farewell to August with a round-up of all the juiciest growings-on…

Firstly, we’ve just got back from a wonderful few days in Barcelona. Fear not, we’re not about to bore you with selfies of us outside La Sagrada Familia, but we did want to share a picture of this little treasure which we stumbled upon in a back street of La Ribera…


A wellybench no less. Urban gardening at its most whimsical.

Did you guys get up to anything for National Allotment Week? I had great fun messing around on the floor with Ade’s Canon 60D and our freshly-picked veggies to create this home-grown message which featured in The Guardian.

Our recipe discovery of the month has got to be this Crunchy Courgette Pickle. A really quick and easy pickle that is so delicious, and which made a very welcome dent to our courgette glut!

We came across this excellent TED talk about the global food waste scandal. It’s a couple of years old but the message is still as relevant today. Definitely worth a watch.

Oh and if you fancy a read, there’s the September issue of The Garden magazine which Ade keeps banging on about. No idea why.

That’s all for now folks. If you have something you’d like us to include in our September Jam, our end of the month round-up of all that’s good, tasty and full of foodie/flowery fabulousness, drop us a line here.

Hasta luego,



In a Rut with a Glut?

During my lunch break the other day, I nipped around the corner to the newly revamped Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road to have a gander at their cookery books. What an Aladdin’s cave! Their food section is enormous. I came across this little gem which I ended up buying as it seemed such a useful book to have.
First published in 1970, Beryl Wood’s Let’s Preserve It contains nearly six hundred recipes for preserving fruits and vegetables and has been a bible to thousands of cooks ever since, including Nigella Lawson.

With all the surplus veg we’ve got growing at the moment,  preserving is definitely the answer. I considered the book an investment; armed with this little compendium, I need never find myself in a rut with a glut again.

Despite having some very successful attempts at jams, chutneys and pickles, I’m still smarting from The Pickled Cucumber Catastrophe of 2013. It was an ill-judged episode, in which I recklessly decided to slice the excess cucumbers we had growing in the back garden and steep them in the  leftover liquor we had from pickling the beetroot. We waited a month or two. The results were… unimaginable. It tasted like radioactive frog spawn. Pickled.

However, not willing to admit defeat, and with an inability to throw food away, the jar remained in the cupboard. Every once in a while, I’d bring it out, trying to tempt Ade with a nonchalant: “I tell you want might go nicely with that Wiltshire ham, how about some of that pickled cucumber I made?” or “I’m sure it would go excellently with this cheese!”

My offers would usually be met with a terrified silence. Ade was never too vocal about it as he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Although on one occasion, he was afflicted by a sudden and rather violent facial tic at the sight of the jar of pickled cucumber which I’d surreptitiously placed on the dining table, flanked by the pepper mill and a jar of Branston’s in an effort to make it look more appealing.

Back in the cupboard it went with an over-optimistic: “nevermind, it probably improves with age!”

Reader, it didn’t.

My pickled cucumber was finally thrown away two weeks ago as Ade needed the jar for his beetroot.
AoF Preserves
We have a glut of cucumbers in the back garden again this year, so I’m hoping that maybe with the help of Beryl I might be able to turn them into something a little more palatable. And maybe I’ll salvage my pickling reputation while I’m at it.

Here’s hoping.