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Update July 2015

Not much to report this month, I have been harvesting produce when I can, trying to keep the weeds down as well as possible, but failing most of the time, however, at this time of year things can get a little crazy in the garden.

The Onions and Garlic are dried and ready for harvesting (Fig 1&2), I have managed to lift the Shallots and they are hanging under shelter. I am regularly harvesting a mass of produce every weekend now (Fig 3,4,5 & 6) so everything is starting to feel worth while.

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Lancashire Cheese

This is a cheese that is steeped in history; because a lot of the farmers in Lancashire were smallholders, when making cheese, they didn't have enough curd to make a full batch, therefore, they often lumped together the produce from two or three milking sessions. Here is a recipe that emulates the process the farmers of Lancashire went through; however, if you are unsure about using active ingredients, you can always use a starter and just add some single cream to give texture.

Ingredients:

1 gallon of full fat milk (5 litres)
½ pint of active buttermilk
4 oz. plain active yogurt
1 oz. Salt (non ionised)
15 drops of Rennet diluted in half a cup of boiled/cooled water,
(please note: you should check the cartons of Buttermilk and Yogurt to ensure they are active or live culture)

Method:

In a large pan, slowly bring the milk up to 88°F or 31°C. Shake up the buttermilk in the carton and add it to the milk and stir until fully mixed in, (if using starter and cream now is the time to add these). Add the yogurt to the pan and whisk to ensure it is fully diluted into the milk.

Leave the milk to rest at temperature for 30 minutes, then add the rennet and stir well. Cover and leave for 60 minutes at 88°F or 31°C or until a clean cut can be achieved.

Once a clean cut is achieved cut the curds into 1/4 inch cubes. Using a slotted spoon, gently fold the curds upwards so that you can break up any large squares of curd. Rest the curds for a further 30 minutes at temperature.

After 30 minutes the curds should have sunk to the bottom of the pan. Stir for a further 30 minutes just to ensure the curds don't matt together.

Line a Colander with a cheese cloth then ladle or spoon the curds into the colander to drain. Tie the corners of the cloth and hang curds to drain for a further 30 minutes. Once drained, place the curds (still in the cloth) into a 4" or 10 Cm (Tomme) mould and press at 10 lbs for 4 hours.

Remove from the press, unwrap the curds and break them up into ½ inch sized pieces, add the salt and gently mix together.

Put the curd back into the mould after lining it with the cheese cloth and press at 15 pounds of pressure for 24 hours, after which time the cheese should be able to support itself. Place the cheese on a cheese mat and turn twice a day for at least a week, then once every couple of days there after.

I'm a natural rind cheese maker, so let the cheese form its own rind over the next 3 months, just dressing the cheese occasionally with salty water to remove any mould, it should be ready to eat within 3 to 6 months.

Tuscan Summer 2015

Again we found ourselves in Tuscany for our Summer Holidays and why not? It is such a lovely place. We stayed in our regular spot, the apartments at Zampugna, which, again, why wouldn't we? But this time, we changed our itinerary slightly – read on to find out more.

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Update June 2015

Not much to report this month, other than we had a fantastic 2½ weeks in Italy, and whilst I was away the weather apparently decided to get hot. Thankfully, the lads on the allotments watered my plots and greenhouse while I loafed about Tuscany (that's another article yet to be written).

The same as last year, upon my return, I found the weeds had taken over to a certain extent, however, because of all the weeding I had done before I went away, it was not quite as bad as last year (Fig 1 & 2).

The over wintering garlic, shallots and onions are all drying off nicely and are ready to come out of the ground, I am now picking lettuce, courgettes, beetroots and kohlrabi, plus the new potatoes are delicious. This is a picture of the first harvest after my return from holidays (Fig 3).

My Italian garden is starting to shape up, as I have said, the courgettes are already coming in abundance, the outside tomatoes are doing ok, the fennel is shooting up now and I have small peppers on some of my plants – it's too early for the aubergines yet. After all of the worry I had last month, the borlotti and dwarf green beans are looking good now, along with the climbing beans which are now starting to climb.

The greenhouse is performing well, the "Marmande" and "Big Boy" tomatoes have some promising fruit on them, the cherry tomatoes have some big trusses on them and the cucumbers are starting to form little fruits. The greenhouse aubergines have flowers and so do the greenhouse chillies and sweet peppers, so all in all everything is doing ok.

So far, the birds have not noticed the large cherries on my cherry tree, the grapevine is massive and needs to be thinned out, the redcurrants have gone crazy (Fig 4) and the blackcurrants are starting to ripen.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

Lots of weeding to do yet, I must get my sprouts, broccoli and other greens along with the leeks into the ground.

I have some late onion plants to put in, I set the seed away late with the intention of picking the plants while they are young, small, sweet and fresh; I will also set away some more carrots in July for a continuation of cropping. I will continue to sow kohlrabi and lettuce to ensure a continuation of cropping, and more dwarf beans to ensure the supply of green beans is constant too.

Peppers Spuds Fennel Kohlrabi

Summer Pudding

This is something we don't often make, but we have had a lot of currants this year and someone suggested we make some Summer Pudding, so here it is.

 

Ingredients:

 

8 Oz (225gr) of Redcurrants
4 Oz (110gr) of Blackcurrants
4 Oz (110gr) of Ripe Strawberries
4 Oz (110gr) of Blackberries
8 Oz (225gr) of Raspberries
5 to 6 Oz (110/20gr) of Caster or fine grained Sugar.
About 6 slices of good white bread with the crusts cut off, (Fig 1)
Medium sized Pudding bowl or dish, about 850 ml or 1.5 pints.

Some Crème de Cassis can also be used to pour over the pudding; it will freshen up the syrup if required.

   Summer Pudding

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Caprino in Crosta

Caprino in Crosta are smallish bread buns with goats cheese inside, they make such a lovely change from a cheese sandwich, they are also a surprising delight when served with soup. As the name suggest, they are Italian finger food from the south I think.

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