Making Summer Vegetable Tart

This is an easy and quick way to use up gluts of some vegetables, and you can swap out ingredients for whatever you happen to have. For this version you’ll need:

Sheet of ready made puff-pastry (or hand make a sheet)
2 medium or 1 large courgettes (make sure that the skins aren’t too tough)
3 large tomatoes or a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes
2 medium red onions
100g Goats Cheese
Small bunch of basil (or dried flakes)
Small bunch or oregano (or dried flakes)
Regular olive oil & extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat you oven to 200°C or whatever temperature recommended on you pastry packet.

2. Take a baking tray that’s large enough for you to roll out your puff pastry sheet out onto. Pour a little regular oil on the sheet and grease the sheet thoroughly (use a pastry or oil brush if you need to).

3. Put the puff pastry sheet onto the baking tray, and with the tip of a sharp knife, score around the outside edge of the pastry about 1 to 2 cms from the outside edge – be careful not to cut all the way though the pastry, and don’t cut to the edges. (This allows for a crust to form around the outside of your tart when it cooks). Put the sheet to one side.

4. Now slice up all your vegetables. Slice onions to form rings, and thin to medium slices of courgettes and tomatoes (if you’re using cherry tomatoes, slice in half or if really small leave whole). Cut goats cheese into slices too.

5. Now layer the vegetables onto the pastry sheet starting with the onions, next the tomatoes and finally the courgettes. Sprinkle the herbs over the top of the courgettes and then add the goats cheese.

6. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.

7. Cook in the oven for about 20 mins. at 200°C or until the pastry is cooked. Be careful not to burn the edges of the pastry!

8. Serve with a light green salad.

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Quick Links 26th July 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


A Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Currently Reading

Normal Pt. 2 by Warren Ellis [GoodReads] I’m really enjoying this 4-part novella from Warren Ellis. It comes out on a Tuesday, so by the time you read this, part 3 will be served up to my kindle. It’s well written, and works so well as a multi-part story, I think this makes it even better than releasing the story all in one go. Still time to catch up if you fancy it, but make sure you start with Part 1!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkein [GoodReads] Maybe it’s the hot summer weather, but I’ve been a bit nostalgic for books that I read when I was younger over the school summer holidays. This is a reread, from when I was about 12 or 13 I’d guess. I read many of Tolkein’s books during my school summer holidays, starting with The Hobbit when I was still at primary school.


I’ve always been a Star Trek fan, so this looks interesting:


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Allotment and Potting Shed Updates 22nd July 2016

The last week has been incredibly hot, with temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties most every day. I don’t mind the heat, but the humidity some days has made things feel quite oppressive. The plot and the potting shed are doing well though, with some exceptions. Video updates of both below.

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Quick Links 19th July 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


Pokemon Go. I’d not heard of those two words until this week, but it seems to be the latest craze sweeping the world. Only just launched in the UK, I think that’s a pretty savy move just before the school summer holidays which start at the end of this week. Anyway I reserve judgement about whether or not it’s a good thing, although I do like the aspect portrayed here, in terms of getting outdoors, and discovering new places, and also on the opportunity to develop peoples fitness, and just being outside, which I think is a good thing. It does however seem to have an all consuming effect on some (now that’s never been used in science fiction before, has it!!), and there are some obvious concerns about being too immersed in the game, and not paying attention to your surroundings or those who are nearby, with warnings from NSPCC and Police.


Currently Reading:

I realise that as I work on this post in the week leading up to when it is posted that sometimes by the time the post goes live, I’ve actually finished some of the books I list, which means that some are “read this week” rather than currently reading. Anyway:

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman [GoodReads]


DECC Abolished in Government Re-shuffle / Leadsom new Environment Minister. Slightly concerned that DECC has been abolished and the functions now sit in an expanded Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. At the moment though I’d say the proof of the pudding etc. Let’s wait and see what happens when the dust has settled. Similarly having Andrea Leadsom as the new SoS for Environment is another one to watch, although I have to say that one worries me more in some ways. Who knows?


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


 

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Quick Links 12th July 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


When I read something like this article in The Guardian, I am increasingly not shocked or surprised. Why? Well put simply, this has been said before, but politician’s and society at large, just aren’t listening, we’re not interested, unless we’re directly affected.

In 2014/15 I worked on flood recovery from the severe winter flooding of 2013/14. The lionsshare of the media attention went to places like the Somerset levels, but the effects were much more widespread than that. The immediate response, and that just after was that this was horrific and should never be allowed to happen again, anywhere. Lots of effort was put into making sure that was the case, and the winter of 2014/15 passed relatively quietly in the areas where I was working, but there was more flooding in Cumbria with storms Desomond and Eva. This might have been on another planet however, as locally things were wound down, people forgot what had happen a mere 12 months before.

Human memory is short and political memories even shorter. It seems we are destined to never learn the lessons of our own history. We won’t put sufficient effort into doing something about this issue, nor we will stop for a moment to consider the effects that continued unrestrained growth is having. We’ll still build on flood plains, not matter how short sighted stupid that is and we don’t even do the simple things, like maintaining watercourse, ditches, streams and banks to even help the existing system cope.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Currently Reading:

The Book of Yaak by Rick Bass [GoodReads]

Joyland by Stephen King [GoodReads]


Not surprised that this was sneaked through when attention was elsewhere. Whilst I know that there is a need for some chemical use in certain circumstances, I think the weight of evidence against glyphosate should have led to a different result, and a ban. Can’t help think that the pressure of big business and lobbyists against the ban might have had more influence.


I love that this guy just went ahead and helped a butterfly species, without too much assistance (or interference) from authority.


 

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Blight on the Allotment

We’ve been having a lot of weather recently that is ideal conditions for the spread of blight. It effects tomatoes and potatoes, of which I grow both. Fortunately I am only growing my tomatoes inside this year, so they are less likely (although not guaranteed) to contract it. The potatoes on the other hand are outside and directly in the firing line. I wasn’t that surprised then to find that I had blight on the potatoes when I arrived at the plot yesterday.

I’d been keeping an eye on them, so I caught it early and it was confined to the haulms, and hadn’t reached the roots or the potato tubers themselves.

There’s a bit more detail in the video below, but essentially blight, which is airborne, spreads more easily when the weather is wet, mild and humid. More details about this disease in the UK can be found at: http://www.blightwatch.co.uk

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Daily Harvest

2016-06-18 11.29.09

I’m harvesting daily on the allotment at the moment. I haven’t purchased any green vegetables, potatoes or lettuce from the store in some time, in fact I think the only thing that I have been regularly buying as fresh produce is mushrooms (I don’t grow them), radish (I’ve had a total crop failure this year), tomatoes (mine aren’t ready) and cucumber (harvested the first one this morning, so not going to be buying any next week). I love it.

All of this wonderful food, grown by me and eaten by my family (with a nod to the slugs and pigeons who help themselves!). It got me to thinking about the savings on the shopping bill, which are noticeable, but then what has it actually cost me? Well I think this is maybe something I’m going to look at in detail next year, because it’s a complicated equation for the allotment. It’s not just the cost of the seed / plants, but also things like netting to protect the plants from the pigeons, cabbage collars etc. etc. and putting a figure on my time is difficult.

Ultimately it’s not just about the monetary value though. It’s about other issues.
Trace-ability of the produce for example, I know exactly what has happen to everything I grow from the moment I planted the seed / plant to the time it’s been harvested. I know exactly how fresh it is from the moment it’s harvested to the time it appears on the plate and I know how it’s been processed and prepared. These are things that it is very easy for me to track, but probably nigh on impossible for a store to be able to do the same to the level of detail that I have. For me though these are some of the most important elements. I have my own fully traceable plot nearly on my doorstep and it’s putting food on my plate daily at the moment, and I’m trying to stretch this to a longer season all the time. My biggest challenge is deciding what to eat next!

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