Friday, 17 April 2015

Allotment diary part 6: mid-week allotmenting

I tend to hide indoors on school nights. If I do go anywhere I end up grumpy and tired the next day. But the delicious weather this week tempted me out. Mid-week at the allotment: crazy. I didn't really do much down there. Just admired the first potato shoots coming through and appreciated the latest crop of weeds.

We did also take our traditional trip last Sunday. We planted the second early potatoes (Charlotte variety) and I created a rustic flower bed in front of my compost bin. I planted nasturtiums, poppies and night scented stock seeds. I'm comfortable with the ramshackle look at the allotment.

I'm an unashamed lover of marigolds. Some of last year's survived the winter and are already in bloom. Their cheery orange petals inspired me to sow a whole row across the allotment this weekend.

I'm trying to convince myself  I can see the difference in the front and back shots.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Allotment diary part 5: catch up

I'm catching up with the allotment and I'm catching with writing about the allotment. This journal stuff is hard work. After a week gallivanting around Dublin I had to get back to work at our little patch of earth. The rhubarb had grown so big it had pushed off it's bucket and the leaves on the gooseberry bush had appeared out of nowhere.

I got some beetroot seeds planted along with a second sowing of chard. Weeding around the blackcurrant bush I found this beautiful memorial to last year's growth:

The ladybirds love my sage plant. I think it's a ladybird "love" hotel.

I planted some seeds indoors too: courgettes and tomatoes. Probably far too late. Allotment front and back pictures below. I'm living in hope of a miraculous transformation any day now.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Cocktail of the month: rhubarb lavender daiquiri

Easter holidays call for a celebratory cocktail. I'm celebrating because I'm in Ireland spending time with my lovely family and hanging out with old friends. 

A daiquiri is a fine cocktail if you ignore anything frozen or strawberry flavoured (I don't approve of strawberry flavour - it's one of my things). It's a classic that follows the fail-safe cocktail formula I've talked about on many occasions. 

I couldn't resist infusing the rum with the first pink stalks of rhubarb I found in the market. I used exactly the same process as I use for rhubarb vodka, you can find the recipe here
I first tried ginger syrup in place of the simple syrup in a standard daiquiri. That was very nice indeed, ginger and rhubarb do go very well together. Then by chance I remembered my lavender syrup. I was feeling dangerous so I decided to experiment. It was a revelation. The combination of rhubarb and lavender are spring time expressed through the medium of the cocktail.

rhubarb lavender daiquiri (serves one)

60 mL rhubarb rum
30 mL freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
15 mL lavender infused simple syrup (rough recipe below)
1 drop lavender bitters
1 drop rhubarb bitters
lime wedge to garnish

Combine all of the ingredients in a large glass or cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice. Stir or shake until chilled. Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and a cocktail umbrella for extra spring in your step.

lavender infused simple syrup

Oh I how long to be pottering around my allotment, smelling my lavender hedge. Not too long to go now that spring is here.

This syrup was a great experiment. It all began with a bunch of lavender:

I picked off the individual flowers into a bowl:

And covered them with boiling water:

I let it infuse for twenty minutes, then strained out the lavender bits. I then measured how much liquid I had and added an equal amount of sugar. Once all the sugar was dissolved, I transferred it to a sterilized bottle.

See this post for more details on the method for making infused simple syrups. 
You can hear me talking about this cocktail on Flavour on Cambridge 105 on Saturday 4th April at 12pm.