Pumpkin Envy!

Well you must know by now that I do love my little garden, and I have been having a bit of success this year with growing veg (mainly green and yellow courgettes). At the end of spring I bought a pumpkin plant and 2 butternut squash plants from a garden centre (it was some crazy offer like 5 plants for £4 so I didn’t think I had much to lose). The year before I tried to grow some from seed, and although the seeds germinated and grew into big plants, no fruit grew on any of them.

So imagine my excitement when I got back from holiday and found that the pumpkin plant (as well as growing all over the garden!) has a pumpkin growing on it!

There is also a small and oddly shaped butternut squash. Today I put some straw under it as I am a bit worried about it going mouldy with all this damp weather.

Now I have pumpkin envy, as Toby from Gardener’s World is growing a plant from a seed from a prize-winning MASSIVE pumpkin. His are already the size of halloween ones. Anyway, I am hoping mine will be tasty. But, any veg growers out there who might know if this one will go orange? The trouble with buying it in a pot was that the only label said “pumpkin”, nothing else. I bought a Kabocha squash the other day (in the process of making some soup for Saturday lunch) and I was thinking that it seems suspiciously similar in colour and size to my apparent “pumpkin”. Now I know they are all the same family, but I am not sure if it will be ripe when it is still green. I do want to eat it so I don’t want it to get too massive.

Anyway, while I was out there I took a few other pictures too.

We are growing sweetcorn (am thinking we can pick it fairly soon):

There are some yellow courgettes coming along nicely:

The apple tree I was given for my birthday has lots of apples 🙂

(That is the blackcurrant bush from ribena that is now bigger than my mini apple tree!).

I have a few strawberry plants, one of which has produced loads of runners so I will have an even bigger patch next year.

My blueberry bush (a birthday present last year) goes a gorgeous hot pink at this time of year- so pretty I think you will agree 🙂

Flowers in the veg patch:

Anyway, if you are particularly green-fingered and have any idea about my pumpkin especially I would love to hear your thoughts on what it is and when to pick it.

Thanks guys


Another great clear out

Afternoon all! What a miserable day (yet again!)- honestly, it really feels like autumn right now.

After breakfast I was going to have a walk, but as I was about to leave it totally tipped it down, so I occupied myself with jobs and pottering instead. It brightened up at half 11, so I went out then. By the time I got home (and it rained on the way back so I was very soggy!) I was starving, so I prepared a big meal. I had some roasted beetroot, pepper and cherry tomatoes (drizzled with balsamic vinegar), a piece of rye bread with cream cheese, and lots of water (think I need to work on my photography skills a bit- there is 2 beetroots all sliced up but they blend into the purple bowl!).

I still fancied something else so in the blender went some frozen watermelon (need to use it up) a blob of plain yoghurt, and I topped that with fresh blackberries and bear granola cherry nibbles-mmmmm that stuff is so good! And it looked so pretty- it went a very pink colour!

Then I got on with the next job in hand; clearing out my wardrobe! It has been getting more and more untidy, and it is now a bit of a struggle to fit stuff in. So I was totally ruthless and ended up with a big bin-bag for the charity shop. Normally when I clear out I keep things just in case, but this time if it didn’t fit, I didn’t like it or it had gone tatty then out it went 🙂

It took a good hour and after that I fancied a cup of tea, so I used my new teabags (I got teabags as well as loose leaf tea for when I don’t want to use the tea pot). Good stuff.

Do you like my minnie mouse mug? I have a good collection of Disney mugs as I love them for a souvenir! I am sure it makes the tea taste better!

At the mo I am listening to an old podcast from radio 4- I like the food program and someone on WLR put a link to a show with Michael Pollan on it- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008yn17

I have read 2 of his books- In Defence of Food , and The Omnivore’s Dilemma , both of which I found very interesting and would highly reccommend.

It it body pump later (yay) so in a bit will be having some veggie+ pesto +spagetti = yum, and some kind of snack when I get back.

Experimenting in the kitchen

Hello all

First things first- I had planned a 5.5 mile run today, but due to the weather (it keeps on getting it wrong recently) predicting rain from about 9am, I decided to do the 3.7 mile run before breakfast instead. As I am not training for anything, and already had one run in the rain this week, it was what I fancied.

The run was good, 35 minutes (so only one min slower than last time, I think I have sped up a bit). I started off slow (10.33, then 10.14) but finished quick (8.48)-not sure what happened. I think I got hungry and decided the faster I got home the sooner I could eat! (IN fact I had forgotten to put the hot water on so I had to wait before my shower, so didn’t get breakfast for a while).

I have been out shopping (I seem to have done loads recently)- had to get a pressie for my brother, and decided to pop to the health food shop to get a couple more clif bars. Also, check out my haul from Morrisons the other day- I thought they had stopped doing Nak’d bars so imagine my excitement when I saw the best 2 flavours- gingerbread and cocoa orange! Plus some so crispy bites for when I fancy something salty after a long run.

When I got home I was hungry, so I decided to experiment with a smoothie- coconut water, frozen watermelon and a few blueberries. It was ok, (refreshing) but as soon as it came out the blender it started seperating and wasn’t very thick. I also had a peanut butter clif bar, which was delicious, but not as nice as the oatmeal raisin one.

I also had to do some work (boring) and did a great job of distracting myself on the internet. I did however get it done.

Now, onto dinner. I fancied another experiment, so am having a sort of concoction of 3 different dishes. On no meat athelete I saw a pineapple, beans and rice dish, and in my Veganomicon book there is a quinoa pineapple cashew stir fry, and also baked tempeh. So from that I have already boiled the tempeh and marinated it in a little oil, along with almond butter (not cashew), some paprika and ginger. Then I am going to make some quinoa with spinach, and serve it with some grilled (or maybe baked) pineapple. Sounds a bit hotch potch but I am hoping it will be sort of tropical with the pineapple, and the nuttiness of the quinoa and the almondish tempeh.

EDIT- Here is my dinner. It was quite nice, the pineapple and quinoa were lovely, think I need to practise my marinading skills!

We shall see!

Gosh this weather is horrible, I had a cup of tea and even contemplated putting the heating on! Imagine! In August! (But I didn’t).

I watched some of the great british bake-off and I must say I really would love one of those KitchenAid mixers. I have seen a cream one which is so pretty. But I only have a little kitchen, plus it is a lot of money to spend on one thing. So I will make do with my bowls and utensils at the moment!

So, any hotch-potch meals that you love?

And any “treat” things that you would love?


Nutty about nut butters!

I have always been a fan of peanut butter- still love it in sandwiches, wraps, baking, spread on an apple….

But over the last few years I have branched out and tried all different types of nut butters, so here are a few that I have tried:

Carley’s Organic Rainforest Nut Butter

I found this in my health food shop, but I have seen it online (possible at planet organic). It is made from (organic) brazils, cashews and macadamias, with no added salt or oil or anything. It does not look that appetising- it is quite pale in colour, but it has a lovely subtle, creamy taste. I like the jar because as well as the usual calories and fat it also lists the amount of omega 9 (3.9g) and omega 6 (2.3) oils, calcium (18.1mg), zinc (0.6mg) and selenium (184 micrograms) in a 15g serving. Useful info indeed. And seriously, this stuff is delicious!!!

10/10 cherries

Meridian Almond Butter

This is made of roasted almonds (99.5%) and salt (0.5%), no added oil or anything else. This is very “bitty”- you can see the tiny pieces of almond in it, but is is also quite runny and easy to spread. I think it goes really well on wholemeal toast, or spread on an apple. It is not my favourite flavour, but it is delicious. The oil seperates out quite easily but it does mix back in.

8/10 cherries

Meridian Hazelnut Butter

This stuff is amazing! It is quite thick and hard to spread, but it tastes so good. Hazelnuts go so well with sweet things, and this is no exception.

9/10 cherries

Meridian Cashew Butter

I first got this in Sainbury’s but since then I have only seen almond butter in their stores. It is in Holland and Barrett, other health food shops and online so easy enough to get hold of.

It is really thick and quite hard to spread thinly, so I always end up with a blob of it instead of a smooth spread. But it tastes amazing, very creamy (as raw cashew nuts do). If it was easier to spread it would be perfect.

9/10 cherries

Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams

This is a treat for sure! It is made up of peanuts, cane juice, cocoa powder and butter, oil, vanilla and salt, so not as pure as the other nut butters. I waa glad when I checked their website that their palm oil is from sustainable plantations, as I am trying to make sure I am thinking about making ethical food choices. I got it from www.americansweets.co.uk along with some pumpkin puree and a few other bits. It is lovely- chocolate and peanut butter are such a good combo- I have had it in a pitta bread with some sliced banana and that was so good. It would also be amazing on ice cream! I am making the jar last as long as possible! It is very runny so you don’t need much to spread around.

I may attempt at making my own once it has run out as it was expensive to order and probably I could add some cocoa powder and maybe agave (to make it more runny) to some smooth PB.

10/10 cherries

Whole Earth Smooth Original Peanut Butter with no added sugar

This only has peanuts, palm oil (from RSPO member) and salt as ingredients.

I wish it didnt have the salt though. I find the crunchy whole earth really salty, but this is not as bad. It is smooth, but you can see little flecks of dark in it (like when you have vanilla ice cream with bits of pod in it)- shows it is made from real peanuts. It is much less oily than some other brands, nice and thick for a smooth spread.

9/10 cherries (it would get 10/10 if it was free from salt)

Whole Earth Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

Nutella has nothing on this!  Imagine Nutella, but with lovely chunks of hazelnut throughout and you end up with this! Again not the healthiest, but lovely for a treat, plus the palm oil at least is more ethical.

9/10 cherries

Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter

This is very chunky indeed- the chunkiest ever peanut butter! It is very thick- the oil seperates out naturally and can be stirred back in, and I find it quite hard to spread on toast or bread. I tend to use this if I am baking because it adds a lovely chunky texture to cookies. Real peanut flavour too. I like that is has no sugar and no added salt (again why it is good in sweet things).

9/10 cherries

Busy baking

Hello all!
Today I managed two walks, both missing the rain showers which I was pretty pleased with.
I also have attempted to tie my pumpkin up with some string as the wind was blowing it all over the place and I would be very upset if it fell off the plant.

Today I had friends over so I was busy baking and getting things ready. I made some foccacia bread (from The I Diet ) which I think cooked for too long as it was a little crunchy!

I also iced the carrot cake cupcakes with lime cream cheese icing- I used the Hummingbird recipe and added in some lime juice and zest. Also sprinkled some with cinnamon.

I also made a few more chocolate cornflakes cakes (gluten free).

We had a lovely spread of nibbles like crudites, hummous, fresh fruit, and one of my friends made whoopie pies! They were a bit like two mini brownie/cookie things sandwiches with frosting. Pretty tasty.

We had a great time catching up with each other, and even managed to fit in some games too.

I didn’t get a run today, am hoping for one tomorrow before breakfast as there is a lot of rain forecast all day, plus I have a lot of other bits to be doing. Over on WLR someone was talking about their fave running routes, and it made me think. I always like the bit in runners world where someone comments on their favourite place to run, but it is normally somewhere exotic and scenic. My fave run is up to Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn. There are two lakes for boating and sailing and things, with a figure of 8 path around both lakes. They are set in a bigger park, so I can run around both lakes, then back through the park for a bit. I always see loads of people fishing, cycling, running, walking, plus often in the evening I see herons and rabbits ( I love rabbits).

I do love running in the countryside, but near me most of the roads don’t have pavements, and people go at silly speeds down them and I don’t feel safe, I do envy people near to forest paths to run through, although on the plus side even in the dark there are street lights (I do have a high-viz jacket to wear) so I can still run in the winter and feel relatively safe as there are people about.

I would love to live near a flat bit of coastline, as I think a run by the sea would be very invigorating, plus lovely scenery to keep you going.

So, fave running routes/ ideal running routes?