Having sat at my computer for the majority of Saturday I was feeling in desperate need of some fresh air and exercise by about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. My girls were too, not that they knew it, but a mother can tell these things... particularly when two small children are running up and down, screaming and giggling in a house not designed for such things! So I insisted they put their clothes back on (!) and join me in the garden. Steve was already outside, installing a new satellite system with the impending deadlines of fading daylight and football highlights.
Once outside the girls continued to run up and down, screaming and giggling but somehow it didn't seem so bad. I decided I needed to have a proper tidy up in the shed, checking on the stored produce and clearing out the mould blotched pumpkins. I was pleasantly surprised by the good condition of the onions, with only about 4 of them showing green shoots. I only had 3 garlic bulbs left, all showing the first signs of regrowing but I figured I could use them up before they became inedible.
It was about 5 o'clock when I came in again, feeling refreshed. The girls had calmed down too by then so it had definitely been worthwhile. Steve was in too, fiddling with the box inside now. I spotted the packaging from the satellite equipment box - packing pieces like large egg boxes. To me they just looked like perfect boxes for holding chitting seed potatoes so after checking with Steve that they were otherwise unwanted I decanted the seed potatoes into them. We haven't had the main seed potato order delivered yet but these were just perfect for the 10 tubers each of Rooster (red for my eldest), Mayan Gold (yellow for my youngest) and Blue Danube (novelty blue on special offer). The packing pieces were perfect for this job as they will hold the chitting potatoes "rose end" up and should stop them rolling around and breaking the shoots off when transporting them to the plot.
With the 3 garlic cloves in from the shed I decided I might as well make a start on using them up and for dinner I grilled some salmon and served it with a few prawns, fried briefly with garlic and root ginger.
The next day was Sunday and Valentine's day. My eldest asked if we could try out the heart shaped muffin mould I had bought in Lidl's on Monday so I selected my orange and choc chip muffin recipe for this as experience has told me that it takes the shape of moulds well.
Orange and Choc Chip Muffins
4 oz (110g) self-raising flour
1 oz (25g) wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 oz (55g) caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
2 tablespoons juice from the orange
2 fl oz (60ml) oil
1 oz (25g) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 200°C. Sift together the flours and baking powder then stir in sugar and orange rind. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk, juice and oil. Combine the dry and wet mixes until just mixed then stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon into fairy or muffin cake cases and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
After that we decided to make Daddy some Valentine's biscuits too. For this we used my jam heart biscuits and a jar of Summer Fruit Jam (although strawberry or raspberry jam works well too).
Jam Heart Biscuits (makes 12)
6 oz (175g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) oat bran
4 oz (110g) butter
2 oz (55g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2-3 oz (55-75g) jam
Mix the flour and oat bran with the butter until it is like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of milk then a little at a time until soft dough forms. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease two baking trays. Roll out pieces of dough and use a heart-shaped cutter to cut out biscuits. Brush each biscuit with egg then cut strips of pastry and form a rim around each biscuit. Brush the biscuit again with egg. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of jam into the centre of each biscuit and roughly spread it to fill the shape. Bake for 15 minutes until golden then cool on a wire rack.
So that was dessert made, ready for later. Planned for later was a lovely piece of lamb and another opportunity to use a garlic clove. I prepared the lamb by stabbing it five or six times with a sharp knife and poking a slice of garlic clove and a sprig of rosemary into each slit. I then coated the ends with mustard before putting it in the oven to roast. I also cooked roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots and Brussel sprouts. It made a lovely Valentines meal and left enough meat for two casseroles.
Today was another garlic meal. This time we sauteed some potatoes with the remaining pancetta (bought for the Bolognese) and some onion. This was served next to strips of steak fried with mushrooms, red onion, garlic and ginger in an oyster sauce. So that's 4 days of garlic for dinner - it's just as well we're on holiday at the moment!