From Pot to Plate – Moving Day

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I woke up and couldn’t wait to get started.

The ground had been weeded and levelled the previous day, the polytunnel was in position, the sun was shining and we had no plans.

I spread ground sheets out to prevent the weeds coming back too quickly and wondered if I’d made a mistake buying such a big polytunnel. When empty, 2m x 3m feels HUGE!

I erected my staging and started repotting my seedlings into larger pots before moving to their new home.

When they were in the propagators and tiny pots, there didn’t appear to be too many. However, once in the bigger pots, the 10 courgettes took up rather a lot of room. so did the fruit plants that I bought. Add in the pots for the tomatoes, peppers and squash and there was barely any room.

Barely any greenery as they were so small, but so many pots.

As I did last year, I’m enjoying the solitude and headspace that gardening gives me. Each evening I get in from work, greet our boys, get dinner started then head out in to the garden for a few minutes to check the progress. The warm weather and beautiful sunshine has had a profound effect on the rapid growth of my plants.

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And now I’m possibly looking for another polytunnel to site somewhere else in the garden. You know, just for lots more plants and stuff. But these rumours remain unsubstantiated (in case Mr Six happens to read this)

From Pot to Plate – Going Green(house)

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It arrived.

The Polytunnel was here!

I was very excited. Obviously.

And I think Mr Six was excited too. About getting the kitchen table back. And being able to see out of the kitchen windows without his view being obscured by pots and seedlings. Without me fannying around in the kitchen and making a mess.

It was a beautiful day but we were busy, making the most of our week off work and getting out and about. However that evening  after dinner, Mr Six and Munchkin took off to a local field for a game of football and I couldn’t wait to get started.

The instructions were clear and I laid everything out. I was making great headway and by the time the boys returned home, I was almost done. (I did require Mr Six to help with the holding of the arches and the tightening of the screws though). I inched the cover on and stood back to admire my handiwork.

Then it dawned on me that there was nowhere to put it. Well, there was. I had the space but it wasn’t prepared. It was weedy and uneven. so the following day Mr Six and I set about remedying this. We weeded and Mr Six dug it over and levelled it.

Then we moved the polytunnel into position.

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Behold the beauty that is my new ‘office”.

All 2m x 3m of pure perfect plant housing and I couldn’t be happier.

From Pot To Plate – Getting Seedy

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I had accumulated quite a seed collection – I had seeds left over from last year, I had bought seeds over the winter and I had received several many packs free from the magazines I had purchased and read for ideas.

A trip to a local hardware store saw me buying several windowsill propagators, some little cardboard plant pots and a large bag of compost.

I was prepped and raring to go.

I set about planting some vegetable seeds – tomatoes and courgettes initially. But my enthusiasm grew. I moved on to beetroot, spring onions, radish, carrots, different types of tomatoes, herbs, peppers, butternut squash, Turkish squash – I even planted watermelon. Then there was the flowers… Zinnia, petunia, ladybird poppies, Maltese cross, lavender, sunflowers.

The kitchen table was burgeoning.

So was the kitchen windowsill.

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I stopped at a different supermarket on the way home one evening and saw some fruit plants. I filled my trolley with raspberry, blackberry, gooseberry, wine berry, white currant, blackcurrant, redcurrant…

And our local garden centre had some strawberry plants.

“Yes, I’m Mrs Six, and I have a problem”

So now I needed a place to house them all.

Mr Six had a gig booked one Saturday night so Whilst he was out, I started looking at plastic greenhouses. Then that led me to glass greenhouses. But I couldn’t justify spending big bucks, especially as I was a novice so I looked for a second hand one. Then I saw exactly what I needed…

Rather than wait to discuss it with Mr Six, I bought it. I was now the owner of a polytunnel!

What do you eat at a BBQ?

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When the weather heats up, meal planning invariably leads to eating outdoors – but when people find out that we’re vegetarians, they ask “But what do you eat at a BBQ?”

Well, when Mr Six and I first stopped eating meat 30 years ago (when we were at school) the meat-free choices were limited; Sunday roasts saw a lump of spongy material, soaked in a stock until softened then served up with vegetables and mince was a rather sawdust-like affair. But now things are very different…

Supermarkets are awash with meat-free alternatives, both own label and trusted brands (such as Quorn and Linda McCartney); sausages, burgers, nuggets, fillets, mince, ‘meatballs’, breakfast patties, the choices are (almost) endless.

We have recently discovered the vegan offerings from Iceland. This range offers those who don’t eat meat – and those looking to cut down on their animal based consumption – really delicious meal options.

We absolutely love the No Bull ‘meat’ balls with homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti as an easy midweek dinner. And the No Porkies Pulled Pork burgers are a real treat, as are the No Bull Jalapeno burgers.

But  the biggest hit with us all is the original No Bull burger. It’s a wonderfully moist, thick, beetroot burger that cooks equally wonderfully in the oven as well as on the BBQ and is just as happy in a  bun with a bit of salad as it is totally dressed up in the Big Triple bun with all the works.

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A great big, fat, dirty burger – two No Bull burgers on a Big Triple bun, dressed up with lettuce, tomato and cucumber, a slice of burger cheese and some gently fried red onions – served up with Hash Brown Fries

Now, who would turn this absolute stunner down?

Meat-free is far from bland! We’re eager to try the No Moo chocolate puddings next. Guilt free naughtiness is the order of the day 😊

What’s your go to veggie meal?

 

From Pot to Plate – Getting Started

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Last year, we met up with family at Bodnant Gardens and Munchkin was given a nasturtium seed to grow. I had wanted to grow a butterfly garden for a little while so this seemed the perfect starting point. I researched plants and decided on tropical buddleia, lavender and zinnia. I also had cornflowers and clary sage. They looked so pretty

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Discovering my dad was ill. Getting in from a busy day at work. Coming home from visiting my dad in intensive care. Parenting two teens through exams. It gave me head space. It provided me with solitude and time to think. Or not think. It was just what I needed.

At the beginning of this year, we decided to have the taller trees in the garden crowned and the men trampled the borders and destroyed the edging that I had installed. I felt pretty downhearted. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get involved again – but then I looked over my photos from last year and could see mistakes that I had made and knew what I wanted to do…

The flower beds definitely needed tidying. The flower choices had been too bold and this was a great point for starting afresh. I drew out the garden, planned a new bed to place the pots we had taken from my mother-in-law’s house and planned a few vegetables.

Last year I had a ‘plastic greenhouse’ that I picked up cheaply. It housed tomatoes and herbs. Everything was doing really well – until a bloody big storm blew it away. So this year I wanted a proper greenhouse.

And that’s the starting point for this year’s project. It’s growing arms and legs, but I do hope you’ll join us for the ride.

 

The day I abseiled…or did a charity ‘building dangle’

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A few weeks ago I got an email from our local town council as the Mayor was planning on abseiling down a local building to raise money for her charity appeal ‘Save a Life, Make a Difference’, which supports a hub that provides a counselling service for suicide prevention, depression, self harm and those that cannot access a private service.

There was a limited number of places available to join her, so I rang Mr Six to make sure we were free, checked with my boss that I could have time off and then emailed to confirm my place. The last 12 months have been hard and I felt that I really needed to do something positive.

My sponsorship form filled up quickly over the next week with incredibly generous offerings from my family and friends and when the day came, I could barely contain myself. Despite the horrible, grey rain, I spent the morning staring out of the window, willing the time to come.

As the hours passed, the weather started to improve and by the time we made our way to the venue the sun was out and it was a beautiful balmy evening.

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I met up with my fellow abseilers, had a quick chat and then we were taken into a room for a health and safety check, got kitted out with helmets and harnesses then led up to the roof.

The views were breath taking! We were given time to take it all in, to wave to the crowds that had gathered and then the time came.

I climbed over the barrier, perched on the ledge and leant back to remove the slack.

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AMAZING!

I absolutely loved it. I wanted to run straight back up to the roof and do it all again. And again.

I met some inspirational people, raised money for an incredible charity and had the best time doing it.

As I unharnessed, a lovely gentleman came over and said, “I got a photo of you flying” and here it is.

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THIS is how it feels to fly. And to be a little it more…me

Making A Meal Of It -Roasted Vegetable Pie

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Healthy eating is important to us as a family.

Our oldest two sons are at uni and their cooking skills are impressive – they know how to cook from scratch, how to shop on a budget and how to to make the most of leftovers.

Last weekend we attended Blog On.  As ever it was a full on day of fun and friendly faces – but as we were away from home for the entire day so on Sunday we wanted to spend some quality time at home.

After breakfast, Teen 3 retreated to his bedroom to continue revising and Munchkin came out to help us in the garden (you can read more about our gardening exploits soon). We spent a lovely few hours planting up some of out home grown seedlings and tidying up, but Munchkin tired so he and Mr Six decided to go in and prepare dinner whilst I finished off moving pots, watering and generally feeling very ‘Tom and Barbara’…

When I entered the kitchen, I was blown away. There was the most amazing vegetable pie in the oven – and an very excited Munchkin.

Mr Six had shopped for the ingredients a few days earlier but, apart from slicing the butternut squash, he had let Munchkin prepare everything else. This meant that not only had they had some wonderful quality time together, Munchkin learnt some very important skills and gained self confidence.

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If you’re interested in making this dish, you will need:

  • Shop bought puff pastry
  • Butternut squash
  • Peppers
  • Courgettes
  • Red onion
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rosemary oil spray (or fresh rosemary)
  • Garlic oil spray (or fresh garlic)

Mr Six peeled and sliced the butter nut squash whilst Munchkin sliced the rest of the veg, then they roasted the vegetables in the oven with a splash of oil until softened and starting to catch a little. Munchkin then sprayed some garlic oil and some rosemary oil over, rolled out the pastry, spread out the veg and covered with more pastry. Then he brushed with beaten egg. Mr Six put it back into the oven to cook through and once golden, served it with new potatoes, broccoli and asparagus.

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Making a Meal of it – Creamy ‘vegetarian chicken’ and broccoli pasta

After another lovely day out with Mr Six and Munchkin, we were on our way home when we received a phone call from Teen 2. He was on his way to a gig and realised he had left the tickets on the sofa… So we arrived back, picked up the tickets and drove to Liverpool to deliver them to him.

This meant that we were running a little late for dinner and I needed to rustle something up quickly to feed everyone else. They say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ which is how this meal came about.

Pasta is a staple food for a quick meal in our house and after a quick rifle through the freezer and fridge, I decided to use:

  • A large bag of vegetarian ‘chicken’ pieces
  • A part bag of frozen broccoli
  • Some frozen diced onion
  • A small pot of single cream
  • Some Parmesan style cheese
  • Turci Italian garlic spray

I put the pasta on to boil – and added the steamer baskets above with the chicken style pieces and some broccoli. This is a brill way to cook the ‘chicken’ as it cooks through yet stays moist, although if you prefer it to colour up, feel free to fry it.

In another pan, I started frying the onion, on a low heat – so that it didn’t colour too much or get crispy – then I poured in the cream, sprayed several ‘pumps’ of garlic oil, added the finely grated cheese and stirred until it melted. Then I threw in some chopped parsley (grown on the window sill) and seasoned with a little salt and some pepper.

I drained the pasta and mixed everything together then grated a little more cheese over each plate.

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It was really tasty and so quick and easy.  I think this might be a new go-to for me…

Grief

Grief is a thief

A thief of happiness

Of memory

Of cognitive thought

Of time

Of sleep

Of awake

Of energy

Of personality

My appetite has waned. Things I used to enjoy haven’t appealed. Everything has been so much of a chore. An effort.

It’s like I stepped out of the light and I can’t find the sunshine

Making a meal of it – Get stuffed

It’s the end.

It’s the end of the summer holidays. We’re returning to work tomorrow after the best two weeks off. The children go back to school this week – and teen 2 is off to uni.

Today I felt really unenthusiastic. I didn’t fancy cooking an elaborate dinner. Also finances aren’t the best following the holiday activities, so I rummaged around in the freezer and cupboards and decided on stuffed peppers. I nipped to the supermarket for a bag of ‘cooking peppers’ which cost £1.15

I simply boiled one bag of boil-in-the-bag rice, added a handful of frozen peas and sweetcorn for the last couple of minutes, drained and mixed with two portions of bolognese and a handful of Quorn that was lurking at the back of the freezer. I really fancied adding a squirt of tomato purée – but as I didn’t have any, I opted for a shake of garlic granules, a shake of mixed herbs, a veggie Oxo cube and a splash of water.

I finished by stuffing the peppers and baking.

Simple. Tasty. Cheap.

I’d love to hear your shortcuts to budget meals.