Monday, 30 January 2012

Give It A Grow II

I really gotta stop using these cheesy titles but they just keep coming to me!!
Anyway... I have a feeling that a lot of people would like the idea of 'growing their own' but somehow feel that they cant... whether it be a lack of time, a lack of knowledge or a lack of space. the thing is that anyone and I mean anyone can grow something. Everyone has got a windowsill right??? Well that is a great starting point... get yourself a window box or a few pots, fill up with multi-purpose compost and sow some seeds into it!! herbs is a great starting point, they are a great accompaniment to any meal, look lovely and smell great so they are ideal for a windowsill inside or out! i have one on the go in my kitchen windowsill and have just planted a new one to keep the supply coming as I use them a lot...
They should be up and coming in just a few weeks time.

If you wanted to go a step further and have a little space outside then there is a lot that can be grown in patio pots, old buckets, even an old wellington boot can provide a great growing area for a strawberry plant!!
I have successfully grown herbs, any salad item, courgettes, peas, runner beans, carrots, garlic, onions, shallots, tomatoes, chilli and  peppers in growing containers or old buckets or even more convenient... ready to use grow bags.
A sunny spot and some regular routine care is all it takes and you could be heading out in the summer evenings to harvest fresh home grown produce for your dinner right from your back yard. Now when i say 'regular routine care', I mean the bare minimal effort... a little thinning out at the start and some watering a few times a week... and to pull the occasional weed if it is cheeky enough to grow!!
Honestly folks give it a go, once you have picked the first of your selected choice you'll get that feeling that I get every time I pick something... its a pretty good feeling trust me. And get the kids involved let them look after a plant and it may very well change how they feel about eating vegetables if they were anything like I was growing up... spuds was my veg intake and that was it!! 
When i started growing 2 years ago i had never tasted a courgette until I was given some surplice plants by a neighbour... Ive never looked back since!

If you dont have a greenhouse you can start the seeds of inside, again on a windowsill... you can even make home-made pots which can be planted right into the ground/container. These pots are made from old newspapers... and this is how:

get a small tumbler and fold a sheet of newspaper to a little taller than its size

then fold the excess paper into the tumbler

remove the tumbler and the paper should hold its shape (you can use a little tape if you like)

turn the pot over, now scrunch up another page 

stuff the other page into the bottom of the pot to form the base

fill with multi-purpose compost and its ready for the seed
I spoke on local radio station Clare FM today on The Today Show about making use of all these ideas.
If anyone wants to ask anything feel free to leave a comment and I will respond to all, or alternatively contact me on Facebook or Twitter!! If you dont ask you wont know!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

And That's A Wrap

Spicy Beef Wrap

This is a great simple lunch that will blow your socks off. It packs a super flavour punch. Alternatively it can be made with chicken or pork, even chicken dippers for a really easy option.

Serves 2:
2 medium sirloin steaks-fat trimmed
Olive oil
Dried oregano
Cumin seeds
1 small red pepper
2 scallions
4 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
2 low-fat tortillas wrap
Sweet chilli sauce
Fresh rocket


Take the steaks out of the fridge 15 minutes before cooking, massage in a drop of olive oil and season both sides with the paprika, oregano and cumin seeds.

De-seed and finely slice the red pepper and the scallions, set aside. In a small bowl combine the sour cream and horseradish sauce and use as a dip.

On a screaming hot griddle pan place the steaks, 2 mins either side should suffice for medium steak, then remove and wrap in foil to rest for a few minutes (ideally 10-15 minutes) but as long as u wish.

Heat up the tortilla wraps as instructed by the packaging. Carve the steak into thin slices and arrange on the wrap how you wish, I spread on some sweet chilli sauce, top with peppers, scallions and fresh rocket. Serve with some low fat crisps and most of all.... Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Awa's Potato&Leek Soup

Beautiful Potato and Leek Soup

This is my sister Andrea's recipe and every time I go up home I look forward to having it for lunch. Served with some crusty loaf this as a tasty and filling dish, simple comfort food at its best!

Serves 6:
4 large leeks
2 medium potatoes
1 large onion
1 clove or garlic
50g butter
850ml chicken stock
275ml skimmed/ semi-skimmed milk


  • Roughly chop the onion, garlic and leeks. Peel and cube the potatoes.
  • In a large saucepan over a medium heat sweat off the onion and garlic in the butter for 5 mins then add the leek and sweat for a further 10 mins stirring occasionally to stop it catching.
  • Add the stock, milk potatoes and season well, bring to the boil for 5 mins then simmer for another 5 mins.
  • Allow to cool slightly then blitz with either a hand blender or a jug blender until silky smooth.
  • Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and some crusty bread.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Low Fat Bacon, leek and Pea Risotto

Bacon, leek and Pea Risotto

This is quite a healthy risotto as I use low fat spray instead of butter and low fat soft cheese instead of Mascarpone which is quite heavy on the calories. But the main change is the rice… or lack of it. Instead of using the traditional Arborio rice, I’m using Pearl barley instead. Barley is a lot less carbs and a lot more fibre.
The sweetness of the leeks and peas really make this mouth-watering! Risottos have an air of intimidation about them but really all they take is some attention, but that attention will lead to a wonderful meal.

Tip: keep the stock warm in a separate saucepan on a low/medium heat. It cuts cooking time and makes the risotto come together better.

Calories 1033
517 calories per portion for 2
258 calories per portion for 4
Serves 2 as dinner, 4 as starter:

100g bacon lardons
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
3 medium leeks finely
Low fat spray
200g pearl barley
700ml chicken stock
A handful of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of low-fat soft cheese
Crushed black pepper

Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic, wash and finely slice the leeks.

Spray some low fat oil into a large saucepan and fry off the bacon lardons, crisping them up. Then add another spray of oil and gently fry off the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, add the leeks and sweat for 3-4 minutes.

Pour in the barley and stir around for a minute to gently toast then add in a ladle and a half of the warm stock. Stir around frequently. When this has absorbed pour in another ladle of stock in and the peas continue adding the stock ladle by ladle, each time it’s fully absorbed, until all the stock is used up.

When all the stock is used up in the risotto remove it from the heat, add in the low-fat soft cheese and season with cracked black pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.

Get Growing

The Best New Years Resolution You'll Ever Make!

If you don't already, then why not make 2012 the year where you make one of the best lifestyle changes you will ever make. I made the change in January 2009 and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was one of the best things I have ever done!

Growing your own fruit and vegetables has never been so easy as it is now, so many people have gotten into it lately either through desire or necessity. All you may ever want from tools to seeds are readily available from most hardware stores or garden centers... even in most supermarkets are getting in on the act now and rightly so!

The benefits from undertaking this task this year will be enormous to you and your family, not only will you save money but you will also have a fresh supply of whatever it is you grow and you will also be spending time out in the fresh air getting great exercise. There is a little work and some time needed to achieving this but it will be so worth it... you literally reap what you sow and there is no greater feeling than popping out into your garden to do a little leisurely weeding or watering and, or harvesting your own fresh produce.

I know that in most supermarkets now you can get most varieties of fruit and veg all year round and at a reasonable enough price but I can guarantee you that you will never taste the likes of your own fresh produce. At least when you have grown something yourself you know exactly where it has come from and what has gone into or on it!

I also know that not everyone has the space or time to have a vegetable patch but even if you have a windowsill there is an array of things you can grow in a window box, from herbs to salad veg like lettuce, scallions, radishes, rocket etc. There are so many vegetables that can be grown in tubs or boxes using some multi-purpose compost... Potatoes, courgettes, sweetcorn, turnips, cabbages, beans, peas, carrots to name a few. also if you have a nice sunny porch or sun room you could have tomatoes, peppers, chillies, cucumber etc growing from a grow-bag or container. In summer grow mushrooms in your attic, its dark and warm just the conditions they thrive on... there really is no reason why you cant do something in the line of growing your own if you want to.

I have information on vegetable varieties  and the best time to sow, plant and harvest them here.
And information on hints and tips on getting started and how to double dig, organic feeds etc here.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Homemade Chilli Sauce

Sweet chilli sauce

     Simple … but effective!! This is a great accompaniment to nibble some leftover turkey with. Yes you can buy some in the shops but this homemade version is top class.

    TIP: If you don’t have a     blender just chop everything finely and whisk together.
      Makes a jar full:

      1 Jar of redcurrant jelly  
     1 whole red chilli
      1 clove of garlic
     1 thumb sized piece of ginger
     1 tablespoon of malt vinegar


            Peel the piece of ginger.

            Put all ingredients into blender and whiz up for 1 minute.

Wash out the jar and fill with boiling water to sterilize. When dried pour contents back into jar and refrigerate

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...