Veggie Quinoa Laksa + Garden Salad

Although I call this Laksa it’s really for want of a better term.  The recipe I based it on called it ‘Laksa’ but I’m not sure if it can really count as such with quinoa in place of noodles.  It’s also usually served with shellfish of some sort and this is vegetarian and anyone who’s been around me knows what I think of giving vegetarian foods the same names as non-veggie ones.  However, it’s neither truly a soup nor a curry so I’ll use the name to distinguish the style of it – if someone knows a more generic name I’d be happy to learn and use it! =)

This recipe was inspired by a somewhat lacklustre one from BBC GoodFood.  Most of their recipes are really good but sometimes you come across ones which are so-so and it was that so-so-ness of it that sent me looking for improvements!

 

Veggie Quinoa Laksa

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 1/2 a red chilli
  • 4 tbsp thai green curry paste
  • 400ml can of coconut milk (low-fat is fine)
  • 600ml milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 175g quinoa
  • ~450g of fresh vegetables (I used: fine green beans, sprouting broccoli, red pepper, sugar snap peas).
  • 10cm piece of cucumber
  • Handful of coriander

Directions

  • Chop and add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and curry paste to a deep wok or saucepan, cooking over a gentle heat for a few minutes until the curry paste is warmed through and the onions just beginning to soften.
  • Mix the coconut milk and milk, add to the wok with the lime juice.
  • Stir well and bring the heat up until the mix is simmering.
  • Add the quinoa and cook until the seed coats just start to crack (should take ~5-10 mins)
  • Add the fresh veg and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the quinoa is fully cooked (you should see the tiny translucent spirals around the white part).
  • Split into bowls and top with finely chopped sticks of cucumber and a generous handful of shredded coriander.

Extra Notes

  • I learned recently quinoa is pronounced ‘keen-wah’.  Having never heard anyone say the word I had no clue, hehe.
  • Apparently this recipe also tastes really nice the day after (Andy took leftovers for lunch) – though if you leave it sitting the quinoa will continue to absorb water and it will thicken.

I’ve been trying to find all sorts of ways to cook quinoa so that Andy likes it and this is, so far, the only thing he’s eaten all of (and gone back for more, too!).

Unfortunately the rain has meant I’ve not been out in the garden as much as I’d like and when I have managed to get out it’s mostly been to pick salads for the kitchen so that’s all I have to show for the outdoors world this week.

Two types of lettuce, chives, pea tips, nasturtium with a few sage  and mint leaves.


Read More

Gratuitous Raindrop Photos

As the deluge continued this week I couldn’t help taking a pile of photos of all of the dripping garden – it looks so pretty, afterall.

The shady side garden was also looking pretty nice in the rain – it’s starting to settle in now and an addition of wood chips has helped  to both blend it a little better with the surroundings and keep moisture in for some of the plants which were struggling a little in the heat.  The bluebells are all out in force now, too – though the ones which were trampled on, at the front, have yet to bloom.  I may well give up on them and dig them out, as I want to get that front piece tidied up!

 

Read More

Drip Drip Drop Little April Shower

April’s weather seems to have finally caught up with us – the last few days have brought some much needed rain to the garden. As if to make up for being a bit late, we’ve had great deluges sometimes even accompanied by thunder and lightning.   I’ve had to keep the greenhouses shut to keep out the driving rain and wind and there’s not much can be planted into the now-sodden ground but, in a gap between downpours, I nipped outside to fill some of the hanging baskets and decorative pots I had.

What amazed me was how fast the paving slabs dried after the first downpour – it wasn’t the heaviest we’ve had but it was chucking it down only an hour or so before the above picture was taken – the bag I took out to sit on, to protect against a wet rump, was totally unnecessary.

Knowing how badly my baskets suffered last year (I never got around to hanging them up, for one, whoops) I thought I’d add a little water channel – a bottomless yoghurt pot with stones in it which I can use later in the season to water directly into the roots with.  I think I remember seeing a tip about something similar on Gardeners World at some point.  Once the baskets were filled up I added some decorative wood chips on top to cover everything up and which can be lifted aside whilst watering.  If this summer is as sweltering as the last then having a way to get past a parched surface will be a boon.

Unfortunately the rain came on before I could take photos of the results and I had to run back inside.  I bravely ventured back out to get some for this post, though, and ended up grabbing some pictures of the other containers which I had already planted up a week or two back.

A little sparse, as yet, but most of these plants should grow a fair bit and I didn’t want to overcrowd them.

I’ve got high hopes for my hanging planters – they’ve allowed me to ‘take charge’ of the big wall o’ sunshine that is the left hand side garden fence.   It’s not easy to grow things in the small edge of soil that’s below it as the grass and weeds from next door try to take it over.  It had seemed a shame not to grow anything up onto the fence, though.  When Andy got me these hanging bags for my birthday I knew they’d be the answer.   Each one has a different mix of plants and I’m trying out both beans and sweetpeas to see if they’ll take to being grown in this way.  At a guess I’d say the peas will do ok, but the beans might be fussy since they won’t have much soil and they prefer to grow straight up rather than sideways but assumptions get us nowhere and as these are ‘unknown’ beans from the big greenhouse accident  I’m not losing much by using them here since I’ve replanted another batch to replace that whole lot.  At worse, they won’t thrive, as best I might find a nice way to up my veggie growing space!

Plants in Baskets:

Silver ragwort, red & white pelargoniums, nasturtiums, dianthus (white dove)

Plants in Hanging Bags:

Nasturtiums, sweet peas (Bijou mixed), beans (who knows what type), trailing ivy geranium (Mexican girl), pelargonium (Vancouver Centennial), petunias (Fanfare Dark Blue, Black Velvet), more silver ragwort, really red deer’s tongue lettuce.

The nasturtiums and red pelargoniums are seeds / cuttings from last year – I’m quite proud of both and was surprised that the nasturtium seed actually had a good germination rate.  It was a ‘Tutti Frutti’ mix packet that I grew last year, but since they were open pollinated who knows what they are now.   The white pelargoniums were something I was searching for – I’d tried a few places but most only had red or pink as single-colour boxes – the rest are all mixed shade boxes.  I wanted some nice, bright white colours to contrast with the deep red fence and ruddy paving we have.  It was only in, of all places, Morrisons that I found my pack of plain white pelargoniums!

 

Read More

Comfrey Tea in 2l Bottles

Two litre bottles are so incredibly useful in the garden – from cloches to pots, I’ve put them to a fair few uses.  The latest use, though, is as a container for what has been promised to be one of the smelliest of home-made fertilisers: comfrey concentrate.   There are two ways to make comfrey fertiliser – as a ‘tea’ where you steep the leaves in water or as a concentrate where you smush the leaves and let them rot into a goop.  Either way, you use the result, diluted, on plants which like a fair bit of potash – such as tomatoes.  It also gives a fair feed of nitrogen and phosphorous – much like other fertilisers you can buy in the shops.  Why not just buy fertiliser then then?  Well, comfrey is cheap, grows fast, and I know what’s gone into making my fertiliser.  It’s not entirely ‘organic’ as some would see it – since it’s an instant feeding boost rather than a long-term soil conditioner – but with so much of my garden in containers I know I’m always going to have to use some kind of fertiliser and this seems the lesser of two evils.

So why the 2l bottles?  I have a small garden, as is often mentioned, and I don’t have any spare buckets or bins (if I had a spare bin it’d have compost in it!).  I needed something little which was on-hand and could be tucked away in a corner, but was also waterproof enough to contain the resultant goop.  Therefore I made up a container with two 2l bottles and one 1l bottle!

I took two 2l bottles, cut the top off of on and the bottom off of the other.  Taking one of the bottle caps, I drilled a small hole in it.  This was put back on the bottle which still had a top and that bottle was put, cap end down, inside the other bottle.  This leaves us with a ‘reservoir’ for the goop to fall into and a section into which to shove leaves.  The next step is to fashion a weight – I grabbed a 1l bottle and filled it with garden pebbles.  I stripped my nearest comfrey patch, until it looked rather sorry for itself, smushed them into the top of the two bottles and weighed it all down with the smaller bottle.  I then secured the (slightly unwieldy) contraption in a quiet corner with some stones / bricks.

This is the comfrey before and after:

I didn’t ravage it too much as this is only its second year and the soil its in is probably a little more free-draining than it’d like so it may take a wee bit longer to recover.

This is mostly a capital E ‘Experiment’ and it remains to be seen how well the contraption works.  If it does, I’ll be happy, if not then lesson learned and I have a wee pile of comfrey for the compost heap!

 

Read More

May Miscellany

Having hayfever is a real pain when you love gardening – especially this year where we seem to have a record number of big, heavy blossoms all over the place and even earlier than usual to.  It hasn’t stopped me getting out there, antihistamines in hand, and doing the many things the garden seems to want at the moment – like watering!  I can’t believe I had to take the hose to the garden twice a week in April! This doesn’t feel like the Scotland I grew up in – where April meant sudden downpours several times a day for a whole, long, miserable month.  I suppose that may be coloured by my coming from the wet and windy west coast, but surely this is still unseasonably dry for the east, too?

Now that we’re into May, we’re beginning to hit the peak of the seed and seedling season – although there are many things planted before and after May, I’ve found that I have the most seeds and seedlings on the go in this month – many of the warmth loving varieties can be started and the cooler one are getting ready to go outside but are not quite there yet.  The mini greenhouses are packed with life!  The cat is sulking, because the windowsill where he likes to sit has also been taken over in the name of gardening and is currently the home for my tomatoes and chilli plants as they still need to come inside at night.

A new addition has sprouted in the garden as a result of my war against the ants.  I pulled up all of the edging slabs to expose their nest and hoed the soil for a few days until they just gave up and went elsewhere – a nice organic way of getting rid of a pest which isn’t directly bad for the garden.  Once the soil was exposed, however, I couldn’t help but think ‘oooh more growing space!’ ;) I also remembered something I’d seen on Beechgrove Garden – that long-thin gardens often look better when split into sections and figured I could take advantage of the space created to grow a living screen.  The poles on the right side are split in the middle so that I still have access to the veggie bed on that side and, because of the way the sun comes into the garden, there will be very little of the garden shaded by these despite them being as tall as the surrounding fence.

The bamboo canes went in at the weekend, but today I got around to planting a few beans in them – namely the Mrs Fortunes climbing beans kindly given to me by matron.  Four of them have been added to the left hand side, along with some cosmos and calendula I’ve grown from seed for some visual interest below the beans.

I mentioned last time I talked about my potatoes that they were growing a mile a minute – the picture on the left was taken two weeks ago and the right one today.  The other earlies are growing just as fast – though the maincrop tatties are still mostly just peeping up over the soil, still.

Elsewhere around the garden things are growing pretty well – below are strawberries (comparison of standard type with an alpine flower), chives, boston squash, forellenschloss and really red deer’s tongue lettuces.

 

Read More