Thursday, 30 April 2009


Who ate my Easter egg..?
You know, Easter used to be all about hard-boiling eggs and sitting at the kitchen table to decorate them with paint and glitter-glue, so that on Sunday we could all climb the nearest hill and roll them. It used to be about a giant bunny with a basket who would hop invisibly to our doorstep and leave his chocolate treasures for the children to find. It was about lazy days lounging in the garden after an alfresco lunch. Now, it’s about number one son arriving back from university with all his washing, using every electrical socket in the house to recharge his phone, his iPod, his laptop, and every other mode of necessary communication. Number two son being around all weekend means that the cottage rocks to ‘house music’ through his giant speakers, mixer desks, and turntables. Vinyl records, apparently, are the new old thing to come back in – a bit like me wearing the new Spring hippy look - only louder. Number three son, prefers sport and the outdoors, so it’s likely that he and his dad will be practicing axe-throwing (the latter being a Scottish Champion, no less) at the target in the middle of the lawn all weekend. So from the safety of the hen house – a belated happy Easter everyone!
This month, I noticed that one of three hens is behaving a little strangely, but I’m not quite sure which one? When I open the henhouse in the morning, I have come to expect our usual quota of three eggs, laid by Kylie, Britney, and Beyonce, but on occasion over the past few weeks, I have been presented with either two eggs only, or two normal sized eggs and one enormous double-yoker, or two normal sized and one teeny-tiny one. Or incredibly – a wobbly egg without a shell around it at all! What’s happening here…?

Perhaps the lambs playing in the field behind the cottage, who sometimes find their way through the fence and the hen’s pop-hole, are worrying our feathered slacker? Although, as you can see, they seem to get on fine with each other otherwise.

The weather has been so good here during the whole of April and I have managed to get out in the garden quite a bit. I did some much needed clearing up in the herbaceous border and have mowed the lawn a couple of times too. I planted out my ‘Pentland Javelin’ potatoes in the raised bed. I also sowed some spinach and spring onion seeds directly into the soil, and in my new herb garden sink, I sowed basil and coriander seeds. I also potted up some basil seeds for the kitchen window ledge, as I think it might have to wait awhile for the outdoor plants to appear. Everything else will have to wait for May, when the threat of night time frost might be over.

Last month, I mentioned I was on the look out for a greenhouse. I wanted to buy second hand rather than new and I scoured eBay and the local newspapers for a bargain. Then, a dear friend pointed me in the direction of our local Freecycle group. Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. The goal is to keep usable items out of landfills. By using what we already have on this earth, we reduce consumerism, manufacture fewer goods, and lessen the impact on the earth. Another benefit of using Freecycle is that it encourages us to get rid of junk that we no longer need and promote community involvement in the process. Everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. When you want to OFFER something - whether it's a chair, fax machine, piano or an old door, simply send an email to your group. Maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself? Post a WANTED message and a group member may just have what you're looking for. Alert the group with a follow-up RECEIVED email. After that it is up to the giver to decide who receives the gift from the responses only they receive and to set up a collection time, and finally post an item TAKEN message. What a FANTASTIC scheme - so why don’t you subscribe to your local group? In just one week I had an OFFER email from someone in the same region who has an old 8’ x 6’ greenhouse frame that they don’t need anymore. I’m collecting my new-to-me greenhouse at the weekend – so more about that next month!

Some very dear friends of ours have a lovely cottage next to a riverbank and, during mid-April, they invited us to a barbeque night. The very first of the season. It was a clear and star-filled night at the bottom of their garden and wild garlic infused the air as we all sat round a huge bonfire to eat some fantastic food and drink lots of delicious wine. It was a fabulous night – I do hope we all do it again soon!

Before we go onto this month’s recipe, I’d like to tell you that today, the last day of April, is darling Polly’s 5th birthday.

Polly is 5 today

Recipe for April.
I waited right to the end of this deliciously warm month in the hope of seeing some locally produced Food Of The Gods available and I wasn’t disappointed. Asparagus is one of my favourite of all things and I like it served simply or extravagantly. This week, I have eaten it for breakfast, steamed and dipped into a poached egg, I have eaten it for lunch in a creamed soup, and I have had it for dinner in a quiche with ricotta cheese. This recipe is the best of all ways to serve early spring asparagus and it is simply delicious.
Oven Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan.
A bunch of the seasons best asparagus spears.
Olive oil.
Shaved or grated Parmesan Cheese.
Salt and Pepper.

Wash and snap the hard ends off your asparagus storks. Put them aside to make a soup.
Dry the spears with a clean tea towel and place in a metal oven dish.
Sprinkle with olive oil, shaved or grated parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and toss together. Place in a hot oven (at least 200 degrees or gas 6) for 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your spears. You don’t want to overcook them.
Toss with extra shaved parmesan and serve with hollandaise sauce. Enjoy.

Next month, in May, I’m hoping to blog from my new-to-me greenhouse where I will be sowing tomatoes and peppers (hopefully!) - so why don’t you join me? Meanwhile, please do leave a comment. I’d love to know your thoughts on the things I’ve blogged about this month or to answer any questions. It’s easier now to leave a comment than it was before – so what are you waiting for?