Food and Budget Update: 13/08 to 19/08/2016


I did manage shopping this week but not until Sunday, split between Lidl and Sainsburys it came to £10.98. I did not manage to remember to photograph it, I can more or less remember what was in it though. Milk, eggs, flour, cheese (feta and cream cheese), sugar, butter, onions, carrots, baby tomatoes, an aubergine, tortillas, mushrooms.

Not a lot of surprises, the allotment haul was courgettes, peas, french beans, plums and salad leaves. The usual!img_4760


We came back from the allotment on Saturday, tired and hungry. We ate cheese and then after showers and champagne (birthdays are a week long celebration this was the end of it!). We had lamb burgers and grilled courgettes.On Sunday, Ma left before breakfast and I wasn’t really in a food mood, which translates as ‘it was hot and I was tired and it was easier not to eat than have to cook’. I did eventually make some soup for work lunches this week so I had some of that. It was awesome soup. Courgette, pea, green beans and mint. The only things in it not grown by me were the butter and the onions, but that’s not only why it tasted so good!

I had planned vegetables, hummus and an egg for breakfasts this week, but I didn’t get to making the hummus and on Monday morning I didn’t get to eating breakfast. I know it’s important but I wasn’t hungry and if you’re not hungry why eat? I had some grapes mid-morning and soup for lunch.

I was determined to make a dent in the courgette surplus this week so on Monday night, I had grilled courgettes with salad and feta. I also made a courgette cake to take into work and a couple of back up ones for the freezer!Tuesday night dinner was a roasted veg and salad tortilla.img_4788Then it all went a bit wrong. I caught some kind of tummy bug and it wasn’t pleasant, I left work early on Wednesday and the only thing I ate was plain tortillas.

Thursday I ate soup for lunch and plain pasta for dinner (oh and some Jelly Babies!)

Friday was more or less back to normal but with no appetite during the day, pizza for dinner.


There is still too much food in the house but I’m running through flour, eggs and sugar like there is no tomorrow! This is largely due to my courgette cake baking habit. I’ve made 6 courgette cakes (I’ll talk more about later) but I’ve given away 4 and have two in the freezer. I’ve noticed that, tummy bug aside, it feels like I have lots of food options at the moment and although that’s great, I’m not being as structured about planning my food for the week. This is no bad thing there’s always something I can eat but I am aware that sometimes my food choices aren’t as good as they could be. I’m doing a lot of preserving food though, pickled courgettes, plum jam, all the courgette cakes, frozen green beans and soup in the freezer. With any luck the tomatoes will probably start to come in and I’ll be working on those too. I need to be a little more focused in the kitchen but overall things are good.




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Life Happened

Welcome to a new week! Last week was all about being back at work, which obviously disagreed with me because I caught a tummy bug. Anyway apart from working from home for two days during the week so I could be in my own bathroom, it was a pretty standard week. Highlights below

Things I liked:

Belated birthday card from my teamEvening sky while watering on Monday

Things I Made:

Courgette Pickle. Much nicer than it sounds and was part of my ‘Operation Use All the Courgettes’ which helped me reach zero courgettes on Saturday.

Courgette and Chocolate Cake. If you see me this week and I don’t give you either courgettes or courgette related food, something is very wrong. I made 6 courgette cakes this week.img_4790

Things I ate:

A raw tomato, which I grew. It tasted pretty good and the five year old me who ‘wouldn’t have a tomato on her plate’ is astonished.img_4808


The raspberry beds are weeded and we just need to finish mulching them.


Gin and tonic

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! The first week back at work after a holiday is always tricky (well for me) I’m tired but less able to sleep, mostly because I need to adjust to being mentally instead of physically tired! Here are this week’s links.

Olympics. I can’t tell you how not interested in the Olympics I am but Andy Murray’s response to John Inverdale was brilliant!

Also while we’re on gaffes, Simone Biles has parents and she knows who they are.

And to anyone here because I share a name with silver medalist in windsurfing…..sorry!

Gruesome and fascinating. Why humans have periods

Last week was National Allotment Week. This is from the Guardian

How to make rich people pay more tax. I don’t object to paying tax, I do object to rich people and corporations not paying tax or being able to pick and choose how much they pay.

This is why people like Jeremy Corbyn. And this quote

“Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

16 things learnt from Georgette Heyer novels. 8 (A man too frequently in his cups is more trouble than he’s worth) is spot on but my favourites are 3 (Don’t waste your time on a man who can’t handle his whip) and 10 (Manners matter, but reputations are overrated)

How to ripen tomatoes. I’m currently in a race with the weather and the blight, so I may need to start implementing some of these!img_4761-1



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Courgette Pizza

I planted too many courgette plants this year. I knew going in that 6 was probably too many but I didn’t understand what that would mean. It would mean that on Monday night having finally got down to 2 courgettes, I would go to do the watering and collect 9 more, The week I picked 24 was the point at which I discovered this and it’s been very useful.img_4743

This is probably a good time to talk about how casual I’ve become about recipes. I used to follow them to the letter and then once I felt I had it mastered, play a bit. I’ve become much more confident about how things will react and am a lot more confident with leaving things out or replacing ingredients with what I do have. While I still measure and weigh for baking, I’ve more likely to eyeball it when I’m cooking dinner.

This is a long way of saying that I didn’t the recipe at all. I used the pizza dough recipe I’ve been using all year, grated three courgettes, salted them and squeezed out the water. I mixed it with what looked like an appropriate amount of cheese and then baked. It was good. And I’m going to be eating a lot more of it before the courgette season is done, also top tip the salted courgette and cheese mixture should you have any left over is really good in soup, just add it to the bowl before you pour the soup in, extra veg and cheese!img_4675

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Allotment Adventures: It’s all coming together

Having a week off work didn’t not mean that I didn’t work, over the 9 days (inc weekends) I wasn’t at work I spent 4 and a half days at the allotment.

It’s beginning to feel like we have a plan for the allotment and it’s not feeling like a slog against the weeds. That doesn’t mean that the weeds don’t have to be fought, it’s just that for the minute it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming struggle. Also I say we, I have a plan, Ma talks me down and eventually I arrive on something that fits AND we can afford!

I get to the planning later but first here’s what we did.

Weeding at the top of the plotimg_4752In this case, what Ma did. Look at that. 3 weeks ago it was full of dying afgan poppies and weeds. The shed is going up this end of the plot and we are going to extend the rhubarb at the top because although there are people in the world who think you can have too much rhubarb, I am not one of them..

Woodchip on the paths and fencing in the herbsimg_4773 There was a delivery of woodchip on Wednesday and I managed to cart about 10 wheelbarrows of it to the plot to properly mark out the paths. For some of that it’s over weed fabric and at the sides just straight on to help suppress weeds. Also by the pile of woodchip were some logs going begging and eventually (once I get my saw back) I’ll trim them better and bed them in, for the moment this is to stop us treading on the dill and coriander so it can grow!

New Bedsimg_4747The L shaped bed with runner beans and the cucumber and peas is now a U shaped bed. The new bed has late sowings of beetroot, chard and mixed winter leaves. That left us almost at the end of the plot and so I moved the storage box and made another small bed. Say hello to the strawberry bed! The plants are from runners that the 3 volunteer plants put out and I thought we’d give it a go. I do plan to have another strawberry bed but for the moment we’ll give this a try.

Weeding the raspberriesimg_4726The raspberries are in need some TLC and weeding, so we started. My aim is to get the give all the raspberries a haircut, get rid of the dead wood, get worst of the weeds up and put a thick layer of compost over the bed.  Once that’s done, I’ll tie up the canes, we’ve re-engineered the fence and made it a bit more stable (although still ramshackle!), if there is anymore woodchip delivered, I’ll going to use that as a mulch to help keep the weeds down and retain moisture. We’ll also going to re-site some of the canes. These raspberries are at least as old as me and it might be that it’s time to remove them and start again but first we’ll see if they just need some help to thrive.

The raspberries aren’t yet weeded and I’m hoping to get them finished next week but this is a nice lead up to the things that need to be done but can’t be done now.

Plum tree, it needs a haircut, I want to remove the branches that are crossing over and have a think about how to prevent bugs.img_4376

Shed area and top of the plot. We have a plan for where the shed is going to go. We need to move the tank full of nasty water, a rhubarb plant and the lavender plants that I put in (the wrong place) last year. Then, that section needs to be weeded over before we lay down sand, weed fabric and paving stones. I’d like to get that done before winter because I don’t want to be doing it in January/February when I’ll have the money to buy a shed. I’ll like to get going on all of it asap but, I’ll need to money and a car and possibly a wheelbarrow just to start with, and there is no point weeding only to leave it bare and open to more weeds because we don’t have the stuff to lay down and suppress the weeds! And the rhubarb can’t be moved just yet! One of the things that Ma and I also want to do is have a chamomile lawn, just a little one, which is for next year or maybe even the year after!

On the other side of the plot, we are intending to move the gooseberry bushes from the side and out in front of the raspberries, this is so they don’t get weedy and overgrown and so we can keep the pigeons off them. The rhubarb in the corner will get some friends and we’ll plant bulbs around the tree and at the front. I’ll also sow wildflowers and poppies up here but we will need a strategy for keeping the grass under control and not letting it take over! img_4758

Bottom of the plot. img_4767This was the first area we dug over and planted stuff into. We have herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and mint (in a bucket). They have all grown like mad and I’m going to have to move some of them to give them more space. We also have a box full of weeds that are slowly decomposing and I need to think about how I handle that but more importantly this end of my plot meets Joe’s. Joe is lovely but we have very different approaches to gardening. He likes things in rows, is not that concerned about the weeds and digs everything over every year. I like things in controllable beds and Ma does not like weeds, also I don’t want to have to dig over the entire plot every year because I am lazy! We also have an issue with where my plot stops and his begins which isn’t a major issue but I don’t want a line of weedy packed earth every year. We also have a non productive blackcurrant and gooseberry bush down there that is totally bindweed infested.

My solution to this, (I think) is going to be a lavender hedge. Lavender is good for bees and I like it, I’ll plant in right over in my space so if it spreads it won’t be encroaching on Joe and it’s a clear marker. I just need to find out about when is best to do this and to dig a bunch of grit and sand into that section. There are some more perennial herbs I’ll like to plant and I also want to plant parsley and borage in small beds, like the dill and coriander.

Where the peas and sweet peas are now, I’m going to pull up the rickety frame and I’d like to make one long narrow bed or series of short narrow beds. The blackcurrant and gooseberry bush I’m going to leave but I will be weeding, mulching and giving them a haircut and we’ll see how they go next year.

In three and half months, I think we’ve done well, we’ve been lucky with the weather, had no major failures and more courgettes than we can count. But we have gone from thisimg_4347to this but the joy of any garden seems to be that the work is never done!img_4770


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Food and Budget Update: 06/08 to 12/08/2016


I did two little shops and didn’t take a photo of either. I spent £3.01 in Lidl on tea and flour and £7.30 in Waitrose (I went in to buy ice and ended up in the discount section and bought 5 lamb, pea and mint burgers, two packs of mince and some cheese, as well as the ice!)

There was also lots of things from the allotment.img_4660-1

The week kicked off with my birthday lunch. Which I didn’t take a photo of, we had chicken and new potatoes and salad, followed by rhubarb crumble. I didn’t pay for this, it was Ma’s treat, the rhubarb and salad were grown by me!

On Sunday, Ma and I had cold rhubarb crumble and yoghurt for breakfast.and a gin and tonic and chicken and coleslaw roll for lunch (after a hard afternoon at the allotment)On Monday we had steak and frites at home and on Tuesday we went to Kew and had lunch there (a sandwich) and on Tuesday night I had pasta but in full on holiday mode I did not take a picture of what I ate on either day!

Wednesday night, Christelle and Mike took me out for dinner for my birthday. We started with drinks at Dandylyan.and had dinner at Sea Containers.img_4724We were on the allotment on Thursday and I think that dinner was lamb, pea and mint burgers. I do remember it was a freezer meal so that seems right!

On Friday we had manhattans and courgette pizza.


This was a week of lots of food, the fridge has been packed but because I was on holiday and out of routine, my eating hasn’t been that regular. I’ve eaten twice a day, probably not as healthily as I would usually and by the end of my week off, I was feeling the lack of vegetables and water in my diet. It’s nice to eat like this occasionally but the rest of August needs to have significantly more vegetables and less alcohol!

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Life Happened: Staycation

I had a brilliant week away and rather than bore you with the details, here are some photos to sum it up.

img_4677Birthday card from Maimg_4684Portrait by Ms T (I’m worried about those ears!)img_4682Two of the three Dempsey boys img_4706The Hive at Kew Gardens

Plum Gin

Plum jamDinner with Christelle and MikeManhattans with Ma!img_4754A new bed for strawberries

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