Ready to harvest and eat! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – Harvest Time!

Hey there everyone! Now, if the title of this post has you thinking that it’s really too early to harvest anything, please read on… You might be surprised!

After planting courgette seeds a few weeks ago, Paddy and Plunkett are back out in the garden… And, unsurprisingly, they’re on the lookout for some lunch.
“Look, Plunkett! It’s that courgette plant we potted up a while back… And it’s flowering!”
Paddy, Plunkett and the Courgette Plant - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I’m going in for a closer look – give me a leg up, will you?”
“Alright… Yeowch!”
Inspecting the Courgette Harvest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPoor Plunkett! He didn’t think “leg up” meant “I’m going to stand on your head”.

Paddy’s impressed with what he sees, though…
Courgette Flower - Harvest Time - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Lovely! Hey, Plunkett – we could fry these up in batter like they do in fancy restaurants!”

But then, Paddy spots a baby courgette growing behind the flower… Can you see it?
Not ready to harvest yet - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hmmm, better leave that for a bit. But I’m STARVING now!”

Just then…
“Paddy! You might want to come back down here!”
Plunkett’s made a tasty discovery.
Ready to harvest and eat! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Oh, that’s a beauty! Stand back, Plunkett – I’ll take it from here.”
Paddy and the Courgette - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“HEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAVE!”

And after only a bit of persuasion, the courgette breaks free!
Beastie Courgette Harvest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Nice one – a successful first harvest, Plunkett! Now, let’s get it to the kitchen.”
Well, it’s lucky there are two of them.
Bringing home the courgette - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Y’okay back there, Plunkett?”
“Uuuuurrrrhhhhh! Is it much further?”

Oh dear. Seems this has been a more energetic outing than Plunkett was expecting. Hopefully he’ll feel better after he’s had something to eat!

So, what’s growing in your gardens (or on your windowsill) these days? I’ve already been enjoying fresh rocket, radishes and nasturtium leaves so far this summer. And after a couple of lazy years, my strawberry plants are finally bearing fruit! All I need now is a little bit of sunshine to ripen those green berries up. Yum!

That’s all for now, but we’ll be back later in the week for another Flashback Friday… See you then!

Courgette Plant - Growing Veg - CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – Growing Wild!

Hey there everyone! After a bit of a wild weekend (weather-wise, of course. We’re still confined to quarters here at Beastie Towers) the sun has returned… And so have a pair of familiar woolly faces! It’s been a while since we’ve seen Paddy and Plunkett, hasn’t it? Let’s drop in and see what they’re up to.
Paddy and Plunkett get growing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAha! Looks like they’ve hopped on the gardening bandwagon and are getting into growing their own veggies.

Well, Plunkett is. Paddy has other ideas for what to do with the courgette seeds.
Paddy and the Courgette Seeds - CrawCrafts Beasties“Check it out, Plunkett! Sustainable jewellery!”
“Well… Yes. But they work better if you put them in a pot…”
Planting Seeds - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“… Like this. Now, courgettes grow quickly – you might want to stand back a bit!”

Courgette Plant - Growing Veg - CrawCrafts Beasties
Wow, that really WAS quick! And it’s not done yet.
Paddy, Plunkett and the Growing courgette plant - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I think we’re going to need a bigger pot, Plunkett!”
“Don’t worry, I saw one outside… But we’d better move this plant now before it gets too big to go through the front door!”

So, much huffing and puffing later…
Courgette Plant's New Home - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe plant looks much happier in its new home, doesn’t it? Plenty of space there to spread out its roots and keep on growing!

“Will we hop up for a closer look, Paddy?”
“Yeah! I want to see the courgettes – they must be nearly ready by now.”
Any courgettes growing yet? H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ah, it’s a bit early for that yet, Paddy. But if you look veeeery closely…”
Courgette Floweres Growing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“… You can see the first flowers starting to appear under the leaves. We won’t have long to wait!”

And once those courgettes get started, they’ll keep the boys fed for the entire summer. Hopefully they’ll find a way to send some of the crop Dublinwards, because they’re so tasty and versatile! I love to slice ’em thinly and cook them with red peppers and tomatoes for a pasta sauce, or fry them with lemon juice and garlic and serve the mixture on toast for a quick lunch. Yum!

All this talk of vegetables is making me hungry… So if you have any favourite courgette/zucchini recipes to share with me and the lads, please tell us all about them in the comments!

Aaaand we’ll be back on Friday with a Beastie pet retrospective (Pet-rospective?), so be sure to join us then!

Kale! Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties

Winter Garden Wandering II – Into the Vegetable Patch!

Hello there Beastie friends! It’s got a little chillier since we last saw each other, but that doesn’t seem to have dampened Paddy and Plunkett’s spirits. Here’s where I lost track of them last weekThrough the Archway - CrawCrafts Beasties… And look, I’ve finally caught up with them – in the vegetable garden!

There’s Paddy, reveling in the green glory of some particularly vigorous parsley. No wonder I didn’t spot him straight away!
Paddy in the Parsley - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesMeanwhile, Plunkett is checking out his rhubarb for signs of life. Hmmm, looks like we could almost have an early harvest soon!
First Rhubarb - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties

Even beds that seem empty at first glance are already putting up shoots… Shoots that Beasties notice before humans do! Paddy is already excited about these future raspberries.
Future Raspberries - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut, pleasant as the thought of hot summer days spent munching juicy raspberries may be, that’s not going to fill any Beastie bellies today! And the first rumblings of Paddy’s stomach add a sudden note of urgency to this vegetable garden foray… What can the boys find to eat right now? Surely there has to be something better on the menu than parsley and baby rhubarb stew?

Luckily, there is.
Kale! Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesHurray for kale! Super tasty, and super good for you… And very much in season, even right now! YUM!

Grab one of those big frilly leaves each, boys, and let’s get to the kitchen!

And here’s what I’ve been doing with my kale lately – a tasty, filling soup using dried stuff from the cupboard and the kind of veggies you can usually find stashed in the bottom of your fridge. I adapted this recipe from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook – out of necessity at first, because I was missing a few of the ingredients, and had to substitute what I could find to bulk it out. Then, after making the “real” recipe, I decided I liked my version better! Give it a try, and see what you think…

Kale and Barley Broth

You will need:

  • 2 Stock Pots (or stock cubes) made up with 1 litre boiling water
  • 50g pearl barley, rinsed
  • 50g red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 big handfuls of kale leaves, washed and with tough stalky bits cut away, then cut fine
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 stick celery, cut into small dice
  • 100g frozen peas
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring the stock to the boil in a big ol’ saucepan, then add the lentils and barley, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Use this time to prep your vegetable ingredients!

The barley should now be almost tender, so add your diced celery, carrot and frozen peas to the mix, and wait for it to come back up to a simmer.

Then, add in your kale and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You want the kale to be tender, not soggy, after all!

Taste a spoonful, and season with salt and black pepper if you think it needs it.

Then grab a bowl, and feast to your heart’s content!

Well, hopefully that will keep you all going until next week, when I’ll have a new Beastie for you to meet! And if you do give the recipe a try, leave us a comment below to tell us how you got on!