Tag Archives: indian food

Plant Pot tales: the seeds of an idea

From blogging to beyond.

plantpottales

Four years ago, around about tea time, I pressed publish. What I was publishing, self-publishing that is, what Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the Allotment.

I was bringing to a close, work that I had been doing over the summer. At the start of that summer, I had decided to write a book. I had no idea, what to do or how. The plan, all very vague, was to build on what I had written for the blog.  What I wanted to do, was to share via another platform, everything that I put on the blog.

I felt, more keenly than anything, that was I was about to do, was useful. That what I had learned, experienced and recorded would be valuable to others. I also like books. I am and always will be, a bookworm. Books are magical, they serve an infinite number of purposes and have an infinite number of effects.

What I was also doing, was taking my first tentative steps toward being an author, being a writer. That’s something that I’m still trying to get my ahead around. I’ve yet to put that on my CV; I feel like an impostor. It has taken me ten years to feel like a fully fledged teacher, I have no qualms about saying that’s what I do. Declaring myself a writer, an author, is just as hard as saying I’m a newly qualified and registered Counsellor.

Plant Pot tales was published via Kindle. The whole world of Indie publishing is still very new to me,  it’s an ongoing process to learn and process things. Plant Pot tales was a my gateway in, a baptism of fire. Without this book, I wouldn’t have written and published another five. After Plant Pot tales, there was Sow, Grow and eat. I had learned a fair few significant lessons before taking the plunge with that one.  Plant pot tales stands for so much, I’ve never fully appreciated it til now.

One of the best moments, was being sat there whilst Mama F told me her recipes. Most of what has been grown on the allotment has passed through her kitchen. I had to convert her conversation into a set of standardised instructions that could be replicated. Instructions that were both reliable and valid across time, location and population. In a word, these were recipes that could accessible, uncomplicated and bring some form of enjoyment to those using them. This was not supposed to be an onerous, over-complicated book to bamboozle people. There is nothing so off-putting as being over-complicated.

What I will never forget, is standing in the kitchen whilst flicking through the pages. It was the pictures that got me. I’d taken them all, used them on here for a blogging. I was developing an archive of images to support what I was writing. I don’t for one minute think that it’s a run of the mill gardening book. It’s part reference, part cook-book and that’s deliberate. I didn’t want to write a book that was the same as all the others; the same as all the ‘proper’ ones.

Not writing anything ‘proper’ or within expected norms, is a theme that carries on with all the other books. A theme, that does make it difficult to spread the word, promote and share the books. That is however, another story.

Plant pot tales has also travelled. It travelled to the US, where it was sold in a book store. Yes, a proper book store with shelves, people and everything. My book, was on a shelf. In a book store.

You couldn’t make that up, not really.

sixcovers

Tis the season! Growing your own Ebooks

 

The first week of Spring, and there is soil beneath my finger nails. Well, there was; I’ve cleaned up and sit here writing. I’ve enjoyed pottering around the plot today,  I remembered how much colour the plot brings to my life. I also remembered, just how much I’ve learned in the decade of growing my own.

Growing your own is not a new thing. It’s been happening since the middle ages, but the rise of allotments has really put it into a sharp focus. As has the spotlight on eating healthy, getting exercising and knowing where your food comes from. Three things that when you have an allotment really are part of the whole process of growing and eating.

You don’t even have to have an allotment. I started my gardening journey with plant pots in Dad’s garden. Container gardening was a really good foothold in learning and experimenting.

This blog has documented every inch of learning and experimenting. Much has been supplemented by talking to allotment neighbours, not to mention gardeners and allotmenteers across the universe. Documenting on the blog was certainly one aim. I also wanted to share my learning and experimenting. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I guess communicating these to others has some benefits.

As such, two ebooks have borne out of this blog and offer another avenue for encouragement and support. They are also available in paperback.

Plant pot tales.

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdMdBB

US: https://amzn.to/2U0DUSa

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Y9z982

Sow grow eat

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdLro6

US: https://amzn.to/2unaLSt

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Wg2tIj

Petal’s books: Sow, Grow and Eat

sowgroweat

April 2016 saw the publication of Sow, Grow and Eat AKA the green book. This was a book that was actually quite quick on the heels of Plant Pot tales-the yellow book.  As such, there was a similar format. The first third is about the allotment, the different lessons learned and a continuation of what was recorded in the yellow book. The rest of the book concentrated on recipes and what could be done with allotment produce.

The green book was borne out of my experimentation with a preserving pan. I had made jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles. These were shared with friends, family as well as colleagues. It was interesting to think about what could go into a preserve to make extra-ordinary, to make something that stood out from what you find in a supermarket.

There are a few recipes that are actually dedicated, are in honour of colleagues and friends. A couple, come from the physics department and an attempt to be as creative as possible.

As with the yellow book, I tried to make the recipes as simple as I could. I don’t believe in making things complicated, preventing people from accessing and then not enjoying anything. The recipes are all experiments though; all of them are open to interpretation, improvement and extension.  From time to time, I do look through the book and remind myself of the different things that I have made. It does rather encourage me to try and extend the variety, to do more experiments once I have the plot up and running again.

I do believe that I will write another cook-book type of book. It is sat on my desk, waiting for me to flesh it out.

 

Next writing project

petalscover.jpg

 

At the start of this year, I had a list. A list of books to write. This list got re-arranged and the Peace Novella Series bloomed and blossomed to take shape.  That project is very near a final completion; my novella is now on pre-order and will come to fruition mid-January.

This means that I can now resume ruminating on my to-do list. I have spent the last two weeks looking at notebooks and folders, trying to conjure up things. It is painful, when you sit there for forty minutes looking at your handwriting and you can’t see a single solitary thing in your minds eye.

What is the use, if you just can’t? What if in that particular set of pages, that universe isn’t materialising?

There is no point in defying the laws of physics and trying to make something out of nothing. Especially, when I already have something that is started.

Eleven months ago, I stashed away the idea of writing another gardening/cookbook. It didn’t feel right, there was nothing in the tank.  I couldn’t settle on what to do and how; I wasn’t sure as to what I could offer and whether it was of any use.

Then I drove to work this morning.

I had Maroon5’s Red Pill Blues on shuffle.

I remembered this folder, this idea.

Coming home, I had to go find it, and flick through. I felt zinging, I was trying to smile. There was half a plan all those months ago.

Time to let it roll.

Try it: Spiced Okra

There are many allotmenteers and GYO-ers across the country who have sown and grown Okra. I’ve yet to join that number, maybe when the poly tunnel is up and running. However, I did manage to grow some of the tomatoes that can used along side okra to cook up an Indian dish.

Okra are probably not the first thing to come to mind when you think of Indian food. They are however fairly straight forward to cook up. You can either chop or slice them, and Okra do have a tendency to be sticky and a bit like wall paper paste when handled too much.

The ones in this dish were sliced and then added to the base. As usual, the base is onions, garlic and ginger which is sauteed with cumin in olive oil and butter. I added about six home grown Roma and Marmande tomatoes before adding spices and salt; may have added too much salt today, but you can also throw in a new potato or too to help take it away.

okra

Make sure you keep an eye on the okra, and add some water. This will prevent them from burning and allow steam to cook through. Stir too much, and you may end up with a mush; not enough, and you will have Okra welded to the bottom of the pan.

Cooking Allotment Squash #gdnbloggers

It will be soon that time of year again, where we cannot move for Pumpkins. There are two of our-well, Mama F’s-that are waiting in the wings to meet their merry end. In the mean time though,  you may have a few allotment squashes hanging around that need to meet their end.

There were a few round courgettes that were floating around looking rather sorry for themselves. Mama F has decided to make a curry type dish with them, and I just happen to be in the vicinity to catch it on film.

You can also view the clip here.

The recipe is simple enough. Onions, garlic and ginger were sauteed in a pan with some cumin. Ma then added spices to these, and cooked them through to infuse the flavour. She also added Punjabi Wadi-these are made of urid dahl and are effectively dried spiced dumplings-a bit like a bollywood oxo cube, just a bit grittier. These are spiced, and give a little more depth to the dish.

 

punjabiwadi

Once that base of the mixture is cooked through, chopped squashes were added. They were already in water, so there was no need to add extra. Allow this to all cook through, under cover so as to allow steam to cook the squashes through. The dish is done when the squash is tender, but not too squishy or mushy.

Depending on how coarse and stringy the squash is, this will influence how long you cook it for. Don’t forget to stir, otherwise it will burn. Keep it all on a moderate heat, just to make sure; this also allows the water to be soaked up.

You can also view the second clip here.

Kindle Promotion: One day left!!!

There is only one day left to get e-versions of both books at 99 pence!

Just think of all the courgettes and things that are now in full scale glut.

Both books contains recipes and ideas that might prevent you from going slightly too doolally and lobbing courgettes and beans as far as you can. If you ever wanted to make your own jams, jellies, pickles and preserves you can find some potentially useful nugges that I have learned from experiments.

You can find links on the blog: right hand side, or you can go click on the page that says books above.

Once the countdown deal is over, both books will revert to their pre-promotion prices. So go have a butchers and share far and wide.

Pudding, potting up and moolis #gdnbloggers

The initial plan for the day was to pot up rescued chilli plants. I had decided that i wanted some more in the poly tunnel; and in the coming days I try and find some more. I popped down first thing to have a general mooch, also to harvest gooseberries. More on the gooseberries later. Early on in the day, I was okay, I wasn’t sneezing so much; all was well. Fast forwards three hours to when I wanted to pot up the peppers; and I kid you not. Whooping sneezing; the horrible, squelchy, bogey-fied, ‘all right, there, Punam?” sort that has your plot neighbours wondering if you are okay and shouldn’t go home and lie down. With my “Yes, thank you, it’s just hay fever” response, I did try and carry on. I was going to pot up the chillies even if my brain made an exit. It took forever, to pot up those peppers and add slug tape. Once completed, I cried off; left Mama F and scarpered home whilst clutching rolled up balls of tissue. Mama F heard her first born whine and snort that she was going home.

Today was all about food. Making the most of what was harvested. Mum’s focus was all about the moolis-the things that I can’t grow-and mine was pudding based with gooseberries.

A lot gets written on this blog about growing, but not an awful lot gets written about eating; surely as a GYO thing, that is important! I was rather glad to see that the tomatoes aren’t doing too badly; the courgettes on the other hand, are a cause for concern with not a lot a fruit as they are slug/snail damaged.

So, first thing first. Mum harvested a few mooli. Declared that these would be dad’s lunch as she raised one aloft. There was also a handful of coriander that was harvested. I simply cannot get mooli’s to grow, I get seed pods. My mum on the other hand, was and is committed to the cause; she has sown loads on her plot and is now reaping rewards. Mooli-or japanese radish-is used not only as a salad crop, but Mum stuffs it into chappatis. With the coriander that she also harvested, today’s harvest was lunch. With atta (dough) already made, Mum grated the radish, added salt to the squeeze out the water; before seasoning with the contents of her spice tin. Adding to a rolled roti, this was then cooked on a tava. I had mine with a 5 minute raita as an accompaniment. You can also stuff chappatis with fenugreek, and this is next on Mum’s agenda. A note of caution, mooli’s are spicy, hot and blowaway the cobwebs. So if you don’t fancy the heat, stick with conventional radishes.

{You can find recipes for both of these in #plantpottales -the yellow one!}

As mentioned, before my focus was more sweet rather than savoury. This years gooseberry crop is exactly double compared to last year. Last, 250g came from the then new bushes. This year, with 500g, I’m making cake rather than jam, pickle or gin. I seem to have lost my jamming mojo, and will try to get it back at some point. The crop was added to a sponge mix containing desiccated coconut and golden caster sugar; one of the tins is still in the oven as I type. I fancied making a pudding, rather than jam as it seemed an interesting experiment to do.

So what happened with the cakes?

goosecoconutcake.JPG

Now cooling. I assure you, they are golden and not burned!

Anyway, I am now dosed up with anti-hay fevers stuff. Exiting stage left; to feed to the veggies and harvest some roses.

Methi harvest time: That’s Fenugreek, Folks

My dinner tonight, was methi roti and raita. That’s chappatis that have been stuffed with fenugreek.

Mum had broadcast sown fenugreek seeds right at the foot of the allotment in an area that had had been previously uncultivated. Fenugreek is used both as a green manure and as part of Indian cuisine. The former, was my intention, the latter was my mum’s. The rain and warmth have formed a lush carpet of green leaves that can now be harvested. Mum has been after a harvest for days, so this evening we harvested two fists full of the stuff. As you can see, that is quite a lot int he harvest and quite alot left on the plot. What was harvested tonight, was enough for about six stuffed chappatis.