Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Happy, smiley, pumpkin Jack'o'Lantern

50 g (2 oz) butter
1 kg (2 lb) pumpkin peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes, skinned* and chopped
2 pints stock (vegetable or beef – stock cubes are fine)
½ tsp chilli pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp allspice
1 level tsp cumin
1 level tsp cloves
1 level tsp thyme
If you like a spicy soup you can add more chilli, cayenne and allspice but I find this is tasty but mild enough so even little children enjoy it.

*to skin tomatoes easily simply put in a bowl, pour over boiling water, leave to stand for about a minute and the skin just rubs off.

Fry the onion in the butter gently until soft,
Add the pumpkin and stir for a few minutes,
Add the tomatoes
Add the stock
Stir in the seasoning
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
Cool slightly, puree in a liquidiser or food processor.


The Nasturtium Fairy

The Song of The Nasturtium Fairy


Nasturtium the jolly,
O ho, O ho!
He holds up his brolly
Just so, just so!
(A shelter from showers,
A shade from the sun;)
‘Mid flame-coloured flowers
He grins at the fun.
Up fences he scrambles,
Sing hey, sing hey!
All summer he rambles
So gay, so gay –
Till the night-frost strikes chilly,
And Autumn leaves fall,
And he’s gone, willy-nilly,
Umbrella and all.

From ‘A Flower Fairy alphabet’ by Cicely Mary Barker

Poppies in November

Poppies in November


It’s time for bonfire night but I’m still picking sweet peas, the nasturtiums are going strong – and the poppies are still in full flower, brightening up the garden on these musty, misty mornings.  It’s just as well we had an Indian summer as the runner beans were planted so late, due to a very cold and wet May, that I doubted we would be picking any beans at all.  So maybe the seasons are moving – and we should plan summer holidays in September next year?

Whatever, I have really enjoyed picking sweet peas right through October.  I put some in the lounge where I sit in the evenings but also some on the window ledge near the sink – where I seem to spend an awful lot of my time.  I do really enjoy cooking vegetables I have grown myself – they taste much better and they are so much fresher – but it is more time consuming than preparing clean, bug-free supermarket varieties.

The rabbits are also enjoying the long season as they get a nasturtium leaf (and sometimes a flower) every day.  As the Nasturtium Flower Fairy says, as soon as the frosts come, the nasturtiums are “… gone willy-nilly, umbrellas and all”.

nasturtiums in October

Nasturtiums in November

The Song of The Nasturtium Fairy is from ‘A Flower Fairy alphabet’ by Cicely Mary Barker


Wittenham Cider

Samhain – All Hallows Eve – time to make Wittenham Cider – many years ago my aunt gave me this recipe – it’s from a very old newspaper cutting._DSC0086s

Wittenham Cider

3 1b apples
12 pints water
2 lb granulated sugar
3 lemons
empty pop bottles

You will need 2 large clean buckets – one to make the cider in and another to strain the cider into. Approximately 3 lb of apples – any sort – a mixture is best and windfalls are fine. Wash them and chop or mince them up (including peel core and pips) and put them in the bucket.

Pour on 12 pints of cold, unboiled, water. (The original recipe is so old it says 6 quarts of water.)

Leave for a week, stirring night and morning.

Strain through a stocking held over a sieve or colander into the second bucket.

Stir in 2 lb of granulated sugar and the grated rind and juice of three lemons.

Strain again and bottle. Plastic pop bottles will do fine.

It should be drinkable within a week.

If not drinking straight away you will need to release the tops of the bottles regularly so they don’t explode – or you can use old port bottles with corks.

Clematis in November survived the first frost

This clematis survived last night’s frost but won’t be here much longer – looking at the forecast.  It was planted last year and I’d forgotten about it, then suddenly  a few wispy tendrils appeared climbing up the hen house.  I thought it was much too late to flower but then a few days ago it produced this beautiful bloom, just in time for the frosts!  So need to make the most of it, treasure it, whilst the sun shines!


Samhain – All Hallows Eve – Carve pumpkins into Jack’o’Lanterns

Samhain – All Hallows Eve – Carve pumpkins into Jack’o’Lanterns

31st October was once New Year’s Eve in Celtic Ireland. The Druids believed that the mystic veil separating the dead from the living opened and spirits roamed the earth.  We celebrate with a bonfire and Wittenham Cider and pumpkins carved into Jack-o’Lanterns – so called because they are named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over the Irish peat bogs creating Will’o’the’Wisps


The last rose of summer

The last rose of summer – somehow more special because it’s flowering in late October.  I chose this rose for it’s fragrance and every morning when I put sunflower seeds out for the birds I can enjoy its fragile fragrance for a few moments.

the last rose of summer

the last rose of summer

Still picking runner beans

Still picking runner beans and it’s nearly November.  There’s no more room for beans in the freezer so I’m just picking enough for two days – preparing them and leaving half in the fridge in a plastic bag for tomorrow.  I pick from one section so I still get some young beans – once beans get full size they stop producing more.  The other section I leave and pick when the pods are fully grown then I pod them and use the beans in chilli con carne.  I made a three bean chilli yesterday from dried red and black beans, and podded runner beans – and I also cooked some sliced runner beans to go with it.  We all like meat so I added some mince as well but I needed a lot less mince than usual as beans are a good form of protein.  There was none left – sure sign of success!

runner beans

runner beans