Be-eautiful Borlotti

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Well I simply couldn’t miss taking part in Yvette’s inaugural Friday food challenge over at Powerhouse Blog. So here you have them, my favourite beans, caught at the allotment in a sunset glow. Not that they need external aids to enhance their beanificent beauty. Not for nothing do the Italians call them: Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco –  Fire Tongue.

I love everything about them. I love growing them. I love the way their pods change colour through the summer – from green to deep claret. Then, as picking time draws near, the leaves turn yellow, and start to fall, revealing hanging rows of glowing pods.

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But the best bit is shelling them. You never know what colour they will turn out – pea green, cream with pink speckles or claret with creamy streaks. Every bean is different.

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I usually freeze them freshly podded, or you can dry them. Freezing means they are quick to cook, and you don’t need to do the overnight soaking necessary for dried beans. They are highly nutritious, mineral and fibre-rich, and can be used in soups, or to make baked beans. I use them mostly in re-fried bean dishes. This simply involves mashing up a batch of cooked beans with fried onion, garlic, and a few chopped tomatoes, then adding seasoning, chopped parsley or coriander, plus spices of choice (I use chilli and cumin), turning all into a shallow, heatproof dish, topping with cheese, and putting under the grill for 10 or 15 minutes. We eat this by itself with a salad, or as a side dish with just about anything savoury. A poached egg on top would also be good.

You can find out how to grow borlotti beans HERE. Then pop over to Yvette’s for more vegetable offerings:

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copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

Strawberry Vodka Revisited

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Some of you will remember that back in early July I posted Jane Grigson’s recipe for Strawberry Vodka. A good six weeks on, it has been duly shaken not stirred, kept in a dark, cool place, drained and strained, and here is the result – back in the vodka bottle (not the vase, although the liquid contents do look similar). Obviously during the decanting process we had to have a little sip or three. All I can say is this stuff is sure to add gleam, both inside and out. Also the only travel involved in procuring this shot  was the trek between allotment and kitchen (me), and off licence and kitchen (Graham), and then to the sofa for a lie down (me again).

Strawberry Vodka Recipe

 

P.S. And if you are groaning because you missed the strawberry season, then this recipe will surely work with late summer fruits: plums, damsons, black currants, autumn raspberries, although you might need to add a little more sugar.

 

For more shimmer and shine please visit Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack where this week her theme is ‘gleaming’.

Strawberry vodka and the benefits of using a tripod

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This story doesn’t begin here, although this is my first ever photograph shot using a tripod (plus a Kodak EasyShare M380 on macro setting). You do not, however, need the tripod for the recipe coming up below, although it could come in handy for balance if you’ve sampled too much of the end product some months hence.

So: the story actually begins at the allotment, and a case of TOO MANY strawberries. Gilly at Lucid Gypsy has also been suffering from the same dilemma. In fact as I was picking all these juicy fruits under a very hot sun, I was wondering if this was indeed a subject for some serious philosophical debate. I mean, can you have too many strawberries?

(N.B. These next two photos did not involve a tripod, only a hot and bothered biped in ‘pick ‘n shoot’ mode.)

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So can you have too many strawberries?

It is the sort of question that inevitably leads me to Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book (the companion to her Vegetable Book). She is just the cookery writer you need when you have any excess produce. And it is thanks to her that I will pass on this morning’s activity at the kitchen table in Sheinton Street.

 

Strawberry Vodka

  • You will need strawberries, fair trade unbleached caster sugar, a  bottle of vodka (or gin if you prefer), and a big jar with a lid that seals.
  • Select DRY strawberries that do not need to be washed, and fill your chosen clean, dry vessel. I used a 2 litre kilner jar (4 pints).
  • Then sprinkle in fair trade caster sugar so it comes a third the way up the jar (I used about 150 gms, 2/3 cup).
  • Fill the jar with vodka so that all the fruit is covered and seal.

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Jane Grigson’s instructions then are that you place the jar in a cool, dark place, and turn it over from time to time. After a month the strawberries will look wan and floppy, and you can then strain the lot into a new jar, using a double layer of muslin. Or you can leave the fruit as it is for several months more.

The resulting cordial can then be drunk as a liqueur, and used to pep up sorbets, fools and mousses. My mind is tending (albeit perversely so on this steamy July day)  towards thoughts of Christmas trifle.

I should add that I have never tried this before, but so far it is looking good, and that’s where the tripod came in. I shall definitely be using it again. As to the strawberry vodka, only time will tell.

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

sunday stills: Get your pumpkinhead now

 

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We had left Maine in late September sunshine, heading for Boston on the last leg of our journey before returning to the UK. We arrived mid-afternoon after mooching around Portsmouth. The sun lasted long enough for a fine view of Jamaica Pond, and then the rain moved in. By supper time it was cold and dreary and we did not feel like walking far from our B & B. We wandered a couple of blocks up and down Centre Street, looking for somewhere to eat. Nowhere beckoned, but at least the red glow of Costello’s sports bar looked welcoming. And it was welcoming. A query about the best brew on offer very quickly led to this:

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DA-DAAH! A round of applause for Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.

I have to tell you that this was a whole-body experience. The rim of the glass came coated in caramel, sugar and cinnamon, which then proceeded to dribble down the sides. And all over our hands, which then required clean-up trips to the rest-room. But never mind. The ale was delicious, and required further sampling, and more de-sticking, and finger-licking. To hell with it. Who needs supper.

I now discover that this ale was created first in 2002, and that the Shipyard Brewing Company had its beginnings in Kennebunkport Harbor ME. In 1992 entrepreneur Fred Forsley joined forces with English master brewer, Alan Pugsley and started Federal Jack’s Restaurant & Brew Pub. This was the birthplace of Shipyard ales, but so popular were their English and seasonal ales, they soon had to move production to bigger premises in Portland ME.

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The other thing you need to know is that Pumpkinhead Ale is strictly seasonal, and only available between August and November. So get yours now. It is described as “a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor”. 

I’ll second that, or even third it. But just to finish off, and continue in the seasonal vein  (since autumn has definitely come to England a month early), this last photo was taken at a farm shop just outside Kennebunkport. It’s the sort of quite understandable confusion that might arise after a beer or two. Chin-chin!

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copyright 2014 Tish Farrell

 

 

Sunday Stills