Recipe: Roasted pumpkin wedges with oca

Roasted pumpkin with feta and oca on a bed of salad leaves

All too soon we’re down to our last pumpkin. We grew Invincible, a variety with an unusual bluish flesh and a lovely creamy flavour.

Ok, so ours didn’t turn out as dramatically blue-grey as on the seed packet. They were more of a pale green. But the contrast with the orange flesh is very pretty.

Pak Choi and Pumpkin

We didn’t get a huge crop and were through our harvest before we knew it. So how best to savour the last one? We put the call out for suggestions on social media.

On Instagram, Katrina from the Homegrown Garden suggested a curry with chickpeas and green peas.

Meanwhile on Facebook, Don suggested a popular eastern Mediterranean dessert.

A screenshot of Don’s suggestion of using the pumpkin to make a Mediterranean dessertHe suggested cutting the flesh into 1 inch dice, making a stock syrup with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to flavour, then poaching the cubes until the pumpkin is cooked. Leave the pumpkin to cool in the syrup, he advised, then drain and serve with natural yogurt, creme fresh or cream.

Then Darren from Allotment Notes told us on Twitter to ‘oven-roast that bad boy until the edges go all crispy and caramelised and then stuff it into your face until the juices run down your chin’.

Screenshot of Darren’s suggestion on TwitterWe liked all of those suggestions. If only we’d asked while we had more pumpkins!

Perhaps it was Darren’s descriptive turn of phrase that persuaded us to try the roasted pumpkin route. We thought it would allow us to create a tasty supper that would put the pumpkin centre stage and allow us to show off the attractive contrasting skin.

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A shelving unit for the shed

A view of the shed from across the plot with Andrew sitting inside surrounded by parts of the shelving unit

You know how it is, you get a new shed and think you’ve just built a Tardis. Look at all that space, you say. Oh, the possibilities.

Perhaps you will put in two (maybe even three!) easy chairs and there you will sit, making tea and bacon rolls over a camping stove, admiring your beautifully manicured allotment.

Perhaps there will be a Welsh dresser (painted a heritage colour) behind you, a rug on the floor. Perhaps George Clarke will drop by to admire your handiwork over a chilled glass of something fizzy.

And then all of a sudden the shed is full of stuff. And not chairs and Welsh dressers, either. It’s all the stuff that didn’t previously have a home: rakes, hoes, bamboo canes, spades, my fork, our little draper cart.

It’s full of bags with potatoes because we finally dug them up since we now had somewhere to store them.

And then there are the plastic bags with all the sundries we’d either had to bring with us every time or hide in the compost bin. Plant pots, string, tubs of fertiliser, bottles of tomato food, hand tools. And it now takes five minutes to find my gardening gloves because I can never remember which bag they’re in.

Time to get organised!

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A Burns Supper with a colourful twist

Burns night, 25 January, is a celebration of the birth of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, songwriter and collector of traditional songs (1759-1796).

Celebrations usually include a meal of Haggis (a traditional Scottish dish), mashed potatoes (the tatties) and mashed swedes (neeps).

For a number of years we have invited friends and laid on a meal to mark the occasion. Thanks to our allotment, this year there was a colourful twist and an unusual addition.

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Growing oca or New Zealand yam

If you’re growing vegetables and you haven’t tried oca (also known as New Zealand yams), you’re missing out. They’re easy to grow, easy to cook and super tasty!

Sandra kneeling by the oca bed holding a bunch of freshly harvested oca

When we took on the Quest For Veg plot, one of our goals was to grow unusual produce. So when we spotted oca in the Thompson and Morgan catalogue last year, we didn’t hesitate – even though we knew nothing about how to grow them, how to cook them or what they would taste like.

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Our 10 allotment growing New Year resolutions

Or what we learned in our first year on the plot.

In no particular order:

1. Don’t over plant

July sown Beets

Beets packed in with not much space to get in to harvest and weed

In a flower garden over-planting may help, on some occasions, to give you a better display. But vegetable plants need their space.

The Quest for Veg plot is not quite a half size plot. So, conscious of our limited space, we were tempted to try to squeeze things in. But our aubergines were swamped by the courgettes and potatoes we planted too close to them, and they produced hardly any fruit. Similarly, the radishes we were growing in our raised bed were overtaken by a pumpkin and either bolted or failed to grow.

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A wee visit to the plot

Since our last blog, we have both been fighting one of those stinky autumn colds, and unable to work on our plot. So last weekend, although it was very cold, the weather was dry enough for a wee visit to the plot. We fully expected to find everything overgrown and in a bad state.

Apart from our poor leek patch, that has been adopted by our local fox as a daytime lounge area,

Our leek patch - flattened and chewed

Poor leeks all flattened and chewed

everything else was much better than expected. Continue reading

We have a shed!

It has taken us longer to get to this stage than we thought when we first took on the plot. But we are now the proud owners of a customised Topwood Robin shed.

Our new shed

Our new shed

 

We need to give a big shout out to Sandra’s mum, for a generous birthday present donation to the Quest for Veg project. And to our good friends Richard Anderson and Keith Boxall who immediately and enthusiastically volunteered to help build it. One’s a landscaper and the other’s an engineer, so it’s probably one of the best put together sheds going!
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We’re back!

We didn’t intend to take August off. It just sort of happened.

Andrew and Sandra posing on the plot

One of the things we do when we’re not on the plot is kite flying. We design, build and make kites. At the beginning of August we had three kite festivals in a row. I had thought we might be able to keep up with our plot and the blog in between but there was just too much to do.  Continue reading