24 July 2010

Banana breakfast

We had a few bananas that were looking past their best, so it was time to make one of our favourite breakfasts:

The recipe came from The Kid's Cookbook by Abigail Johnson Dodge, which I can recommend as a book aimed at children who like cooking. My son loves it and I approve of its focus on fresh, unprocessed ingredients. This one is our favourite recipe so far.

Banana Pancakes

3 oz/¾ stick/6 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana
2 eggs
1 cup/250ml/8 fl oz milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt two-thirds of the butter and set it aside to cool. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Mash up the banana and mix in the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones.

Heat a griddle or frying pan with the remaining butter and scoop ¼ cupfuls of the mixture into it. My frying pan fits three at a time. Turn the pancakes after about two minutes and cook for another 30 seconds or so on the other side. This amount of mixture makes about 15 4-inch pancakes.

Serve them with some sliced banana and maple syrup. I can't pretend that the bananas were a local ingredient, but the maple syrup was!

23 July 2010


Very wet this morning. The garden is looking lushly green: almost unnaturally so for late July.

It's been warm with it. I picked the first aubergines/eggplants from the greenhouse yesterday. Those were the Ping Tungs, which are long, slender and dark purple.

 I'm also growing Rosa Bianca this year, for the first time. These are described as 'tear-drop' shaped in the seed catalogues, but I wouldn't call them that at the moment. They're certainly more curvaceous than the Ping Tungs.

17 July 2010

Picking and pickling

It's been a much better summer than last year's (so far, anyway), weather-wise. Warmer and slightly wetter. On the 21st of July 2009 I was still awaiting tomatoes, beans and zucchini. We've been picking all of these for around a week now. Mind you, they are different tomatoes from those I grew last year - it's the Marmande and Poma Amoris Minora Lutea varieties that we're picking at the moment. All from the greenhouse - but there's at least one of the variety with the ridiculously long name outside that's nearly ripe, too. I didn't pick any tomatoes until August in 2009.

I've even started doing a bit of pickling already - some cucumbers, Hungarian Hot Wax peppers (the ones in the photo) and, today, some beetroot. Not because I have an excess of anything yet, just because we like pickles!

Mike bought me a hammock today, but I'm not sure when I'm going to get the time to lie in it.

Of course, he had to check that it was safe for me to use.

12 July 2010

What a waist

Oh dear. This is rapidly turning into a wasps-and-chickens blog. This is another mud dauber (unsurprisingly called the black and yellow mud dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)) and here you can see it collecting a lump of mud with which to build its nest. There were around a dozen of these visiting a rapidly-shrinking puddle this afternoon. Like the blue mud dauber, these are solitary wasps and don't aggressively defend their nests - they're not a particular threat to people. They also stock their nests with spiders, so if you're the sort of person who is even more scared of spiders than you are of wasps, don't swat these ones!

08 July 2010

Light and dark, feathers and fluff

We've taken a chance and put the two-week-old chicks in with the ones that hatched this week (and their mama). So far, so good. The broody and her young are keeping to one corner of the stall, while the twelve older chicks skitter about in the opposite corner, reminding me of the tiny but deadly dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Two weeks makes a huge difference in chick development terms: it felt a bit like putting a crowd of toddlers into the same room as a newborn baby. Having the broody in the mix seems to be keeping the peace.

06 July 2010

Newly hatched

Another one of the eggs has turned into a chick. This one looks slightly bedraggled, so presumably only hatched in the last few hours.

The hen-hatched chicks are spending most of their time underneath the hen, which makes it difficult to know exactly what's going on. But she seems to know what she's doing. Even if she does look like a Pushmi-pullyu on occasions.

05 July 2010

Chicks, the old-fashioned way

We've had a broody hen sitting on a clutch of five eggs for a few weeks now. I had thought that today would be the day they'd be due to hatch, if they were going to. I was not at all convinced that they would, so was quite surprised to find this little ball of fluff on the barn floor this afternoon.

The broody hen was fluffed up next to it on the floor and very soon I saw that there was another chick underneath her wing. They'd both fallen out of the nest box on to the floor and lived to tell the tale.

The other hens were not as pleased to see the new arrivals as I was, so I've moved the broody and chicks into the new chick pen (which we only finished yesterday - phew!) with the remaining three eggs, some chick food and water.

I can see I'm going to be juggling chicks for the next few weeks!

04 July 2010

Nipped in the bud

This was as close as we got to a tree fruit crop this year. The lack of frost in April meant that the orchard trees were two weeks in advance of their usual flowering time. I took the picture of these apple blossoms on 30 April. On 11 May the temperature dipped to -1.7°C/28.9°F and we lost all of our nascent fruit apart from the cherries. I even took a picture of the frost on our neighbour's roof that morning, with the early lilac flowers behind it, little realising the damage it had done.

There will be no apricots, plums, greengages, apples or pears this year. And we're not the only ones: I noticed that the orchard where we bought the trees has had to cancel their heirloom apple festival this year as their apple crop has been severely limited by the same frost. It's been a bad year all round for our little orchard - three of the apple trees didn't survive the winter: Pumpkin Sweet, Fireside and Duchess.

I console myself with the thought that our remaining young trees can put their energy into new growth and increasing their strength for next year.

03 July 2010


I grew some perennial flowers from seed in 2008, two of which have flowered for the first time this year. In this picture are the coreopsis ('Early Sunrise', which have flowered every year), the delphinium ('Blue Mirror') and the Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensnis).

They're in a difficult spot - a dry, sunny border at the front of the house which gets occasionally flooded with rain from the roof when there's a big downpour which overflows the gutters/eavestrough. I've been more diligent about watering it regularly this year, though, which seems to have helped these flowers. Maybe next year I'll have enough blooms to be able to pick some!

01 July 2010

The colours of Canada

I had Canada Day in mind when I chose the seeds for my hanging baskets. The nasturtium is a variety called 'Gleaming Mahogany' which I thought would look good against the white of the Swan River Daisy.

I wish I'd put as much thought into my own colour-co-ordination for the day itself. I was helping out at the Friends of the Wellington Museum's Pancake Breakfast at the Wellington Town Hall. All the volunteers and nearly all the customers were wearing red and white, but the only red clothes I possess are thick woolly sweaters!

I don't think I'll be able to top this lady's hat, though...

P.S. Just saw a clip of the Queen who's in Ottawa for Canada Day. Even she's wearing red and white. How shaming.