This week saw the beginning of October. Whatever you use to determine the beginning of autumn it must now surely be here. And yet it hasn't rained for about 3 weeks and the days have been sunny. The possible frost didn't come, I'm pleased to say so my tender crops continue unharmed, if less vigorous than a month ago.
This week also saw yet more chutney making. Is there no end to my stored supply of courgettes and overgrown marrow courgettes? How many different ways can I use courgette in a chutney? And how many different ways can I serve it up for dinner? When you think that they first started to appear in July you begin to realise that this is the 4th month we have been eating them now. I won't complain. After all, I eat potatoes and carrots for 12 months of the year and never grow tired of them. It is so simple to slice a few and saute them with some garlic, ginger, mushroom and shallots. Yum.
This week was also my eldest daughter's birthday. It is funny how in general people are fond of the month in which their birthday falls. I have to admit it is a bit tricky for me because February can be so miserable but hey, as well as the highlight of my birthday, there is also Valentine's day and pancakes to look forward to as well as snowdrops to promise the arrival of spring. My youngest is born in July and she loves that month and who can blame her with warm, sunny days. She loves strawberries so her birthday tea usually involves strawberries in some way. For my eldest, October holds not only the excitement of her birthday but also the pumpkin harvest and Halloween. She is a huge fan of pumpkins and she much more a baked potato, carrot and apple sort of girl than her soft fruit, green vegetable loving sister. So when it came to making her a birthday cake what else could I do than make it a chocolate and courgette cake? It is her favourite after all and uses another courgette from the store. I simply made up the recipe as for the chocolate and courgette muffins but split the mixture between two sandwich tins. They needed half an hour in the oven and then I cooled them completely before sandwiching them together with chocolate butter icing. Later my daughter decorated her own cake with chocolate chips and sprinkles.
On the same day as her birthday, my daughters' school held a vegetable lantern competition. The only rule was that it could be anything other than a pumpkin. As the topic at school for my eldest this half term is dinosaurs we decided to turn a spiky old cucumber into a T-rex head. For my more girlie youngest daughter we hollowed out a marrow then used pastry cutters to push out heart and flower shapes. I have to say I was pleased both with the simplicity and effectiveness of this technique. I was also rather impressed by the creativity shown by all the entrants - very inventive and a huge range of fruit and veg were used. We didn't win but at least that was one less marrow to make into chutney!