Wednesday, 31 December 2008
A very happy and let's hope prosperous New Year to all.
I had to nip down to No87 to get some herbs and the frost was making everything look fantastic.
I can't believe how the garlic will survive and the kale just tastes wonderful. The recipe from Sod It Grow Your Own is really tasty and was a great hit as a starter over Xmas.
I actually managed to get a couple of visits in before the frost and have dug the spud-bed ready for next year. I'm using the pelleted manure again which seemed to have a great effect. The one thing I've noticed is that I omitted the lawn mowings in the last row of Maris Pipers and they've all got scab. Surely it can't be that effective or even necessary, but the difference is amazing.
Ah well, it's onwards to 2009.
All the best to everyone,
and don't forget to check out Aston FM for some more madness!
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
I just had to add the recipe I told Gary James on Aston FM last Friday on Captain Tongo's 6 of The Best
A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Looking forward to some great times in 2009!
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Kale with Cannellini beans, Chorizo, Garlic & Chilli.
3 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil (preferably strong and spicy)
1/4 teaspoon dried Chili Pepper Flakes
1 large Garlic clove – skinned and finely chopped
2 small bunches Curly Kale (about 7 oz) – remove stems from mature leaves and chop finely;
1–15oz can Cannellini beans – drained
100g Chorizo Sausage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large glass Dry White Wine.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the Olive Oil, Chorizo Sausage, Chili Pepper flakes and Garlic and sauté for 2/3 minutes until the oil is flavoured and red from the Chorizo. Add the Kale and sauté for an additional 2 minutes, tossing frequently, until wilted. Add the Dry White Wine, toss again, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Braise for 8 to 9 minutes until kale is tender. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste, toss well, raise heat to high and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until beans are warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside.
To Serve, cut a French stick in half lengthways & into 6" pieces and griddle until browned.
Slurp a glug of Olive Oil on each piece and serve the kale mixture on top for a funky starter, or on its own as an accompaniment. (Leave out the Chorizo for a Vegetarian dish.
(I had this last night and it was delish!!!)
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Welcome to the latest wacky world of Captain Tongo and "Sod It Grow Your Own"
Here is the recipe I mentioned in the broadcast. I tried it the other day and it's really tasty.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Risotto (serves 2)
½ Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
100g Chorizo (Picante for preference)
1 small Onion, finely chopped
150-175g Risotto Rice( You can get Arborio from Sainsburys, Asda, even the Co-op )
75ml White Wine
600ml hot Vegetable Stock
50g grated Parmesan
Juice of half a Lemon
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and season. Place on a tray and roast until soft – around 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the chorizo in a pan and fry until it releases its oil and starts to cook. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and the chorizo is cooked through. Now add the rice and mix well so it becomes coated in the chorizo oil. turn the heat up, add the white wine and stir while it bubbles away.
Add the vegetable stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and adding the next ladle when the rice absorbs the liquid. When you have used most of the stock, test the rice to see if it is cooked – you may need slightly more/less liquid. When it is ready add the roasted butternut squash, parmesan, lemon juice and black pepper. cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Fabulous for a winter's supper dish.
Oh and watch out for news of a film crew coming down to No87.
"What a Rock Star does on his day off". Coming soon to the Internet!!!
Just back from some crazy travelling with "The Legend" Bognor - Scotland! Madness!!
Monday, 1 December 2008
Listen in and find out, "How to stop the squirrels nipping your nuts!"
More Aston FM fun with "Sod It Grow Your Own"
My friend The Polish Princess’ Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
Ingredients for 4 as a starter:
1lb Minced Beef.
1 cup Rice.
1 Medium Onion finely chopped.
1 clove Garlic finely chopped.
Pinch dried mixed Herbs.
For the sauce:
Can chopped Tomatoes.
1 Small Onion finely chopped.
Pinch dried mixed Herbs.
Core the cabbage and separate the large outer leaves removing the thick stem. You will need 4 leaves. Cook in boiling water for 5 minutes or until soft.
Drain & pat dry with kitchen towel and set aside. Keep some of the cabbage water to add to cooking liquor.
Fry Onion, Garlic and Minced Beef for about 5 minutes until meat is browned, remove from heat and add herbs and rice.
Take Savoy Cabbage leaf and add a generous heaped tablespoon of filling onto the leaf and roll folding in the sides to make a parcel. Don’t roll too tightly as the rice expands as it cooks.
To make the cooking liquor, fry the onion until soft, add the chopped tomatoes, about ½ can of the cabbage water and the mixed herbs. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a large saucepan place the cabbage parcels seam side down in layers and cover with the tomato liquor. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Test to make sure the rice is fully cooked.
Serve in large warmed soup bowls with crusty bread.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Here's Part 3 of Captain Tongo's fledgeling radio career. A weekly humourous look at what's going on at No87.
I recently went over to Germany with "The Legend" and witnessed some amazing Deutche Allotmentz right at the side of the Autobahn, as can be just about seen above.
Fabulous collections of sheds, and flags everywhere. Unfortunately we couldn't stop as we were on route to our gig in the former East Germany. You can see Frankfurt in the background.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
ROASTED ISLE OF WIGHT GARLIC
1 head garlic per person
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil per bulb.
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. Remove the outer papery covering of the garlic. Slice off the top of the head so most of the cloves are exposed. Place on a square of aluminum foil for easy cleanup, or select the smallest baking dish you have. Drizzle the oil over the cloves. Fold the foil over the head to completely enclose it, or cover the baking dish with foil.
3. Roast for about 30/40 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft and lightly browned.A great way to serve roasted garlic cloves is on toasted bread with soft green cheese and roasted peppers. Heavenly!
Monday, 17 November 2008
Saturday, 15 November 2008
For 4 people you will need
A fresh chicken, (free range for preference) about 2-3lbs.
2 medium Turnips.
A medium Swede.
2 medium Parsnips.
3 large Potatoes (Maris Piper are good).
A large Onion.
A chicken stock cube.
A sprig of Thyme, Rosemary and a Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Put the chicken in a large pot, big enough to fit all the vegetables around it.
Cover the chicken with water and bring to the boil. Peel the Turnips, Swede and Parsnips and cut into large chunks. Wash the carrots and potatoes and chop the same. Wash the Leek and chop into 1" pieces. Peel and chop the Onion.
When the water boils crumble the stock cube in and add all the vegetables and herbs making sure all the contents are covered, adding more boiling water if necessary. Bring the heat down to a simmer cover the pan and let it "smile" for about 2 hours.
The soup is ready when the chicken falls off the bones and the veg are soft.
Serve in large soup bowls with some warm homemade soda bread.
Enjoy. Cissy x
This is the first Aston FM "Sod It Grow Your Own" broadcast on Monday 10th November. Listen out for my regular humourous observations every Monday on 89.1 FM or hear it again on the Blog.
Starting next week a seasonal recipe section with contributions from special friends aswell.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
It's not going to be as serious as the Jeremy Vine Show, more a light-hearted view of growing your own veg & fruit with a weekly tip and possibly even a seasonal recipe. (If I can think of one!!!)
I'll try to get a recording so I can put it on the blog.
Oh and thanks to Choff for the above addition to the No 87 family. I've decided to name it after him as "The Choff".
More interesting goodies to come from him soon.
Monday, 3 November 2008
Well he finally did it! Good Lad Lewis you deserve the title despite all of Ferrari's and FI's attempts to stop you.
Next up has to be Man Utd getting back into gear and then I'm happy.
Right then back down to earth. I've just planted my Strawberries in what must be the most extravagant bed around. A gift of a bath which cost a fortune but now houses my new arrivals from Thompson & Morgan. Let's hope they like their new home and produce the goods.
What about the size of my Kerr Pinks. I can't believe how well they've done AND they taste amazing. Even "The Legend" commented on how great they are!
Just returned from a trip to Scotland and hopefully a couple of hours tomorrow morning tidying and digging a few more spuds.
I've sown the first lot of I-O-W garlic, but I'm holding back a few as Colin from The Garlic Farm suggested and sowing them in early spring. The Japanese Onion sets are all coming on well.
My mate Choff has been sourcing some fantastic goodies. I've got some mini greenhouses and also mini seedling plug containers for next years herbs etc.
Watch this space for more developments.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
It's a rare pleasure to not only get down for more than a few minutes to No87, but also to see the sun with his hat off!
Anyway a break in our gruelling schedule with "The Legend" and I'm digging up giant Kerr Pink potatoes. A meal in itself is how the Spudman Mr C describes them.
I have to say I'm really impressed by the quality and size of the spuds. Let's hope the Maris Pipers will be up to the mark as well.
I've a football-sized Savoy which is bound for Sunday lunch. All the cabbages have done well although some have been severely attacked by slugs.
I really have to make an effort next year to bolster my pest defences. A better form of netting against Butterflies is high on the agenda.
I received my Garlic Lovers Pack from Colin at The Garlic Farm this week. WOW what an amazing selection. I can't wait to try some of these beauties next year. "Thanks Colin". The Legend even mentioned the Garlic Festival on Radio 2 the other week. I've got my raised beds already prepared, although Colin suggested I wait until early in the New Year before planting them. Evidently they grow more steadily and have a round shape.
I'm getting fed up of all these reports in the media of break-ins on allotments. Why don't they just say "There's free food for all you thieving b*****ds!" All the "Scallies" have now been given the idea. Don't let me catch anyone nicking from No87 or the next blog might come from behind bars!!!
As for Man Utd I'm sure they'll get going soon and Lewis just needs to keep his nerve and ignore the critics. Go Lewis!
I'm trying a couple of ways to propogate Rosemary from cuttings. The putting a heeled cutting in a glass of water, and also the rooting powder. I want to eventually have a Rosemary hedge down one side.
I'm also getting a heap of slabs from NurseVon next week so I can finally get the Corporate area up and running. All I need now is an Indian Summer!
Until next time, keep a look out for "50 years of Rock & Roll with Alvin Stardust" at a theatre near you.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
A year ago whilst on a sailing holiday down in the Solent I ended up in Cowes and bought a bulb of Isle of Wight garlic. Although it seemed rather expensive at the time, I was assured that I would never taste garlic like it. Well they were right, and on my return I tracked down The Garlic Farm website www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk and ordered 4 bulbs of Solent Wight.
I eagerly planted them and have had a great harvest of wonderful tasting bulbs, which I am distributing to all my friends.
So yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of The Garlic Farm at The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival where I was performing with "The Legend that is Alvin Stardust"
The photo above shows yours truly with Colin Boswell from The Garlic Farm.
I had a chat with Colin and proudly showed him a photo of my crop and he gave me some tips about improving the next batch. It was great to meet him and I'm now looking forward to planting the new variety he gave me.
"Thanks Colin, it was a pleasure to meet you and I hope you enjoyed the show".
As regards No87, I've been busy dodging the showers of late and am just about at the end of the early Arran Pilots which have been really tasty. The Calabrese is also fabulous and I'm picking the odd bunch of curly Kale. The Savoys and Greyhound cabbages are also looking good and are "hearting up" nicely. The Sweetcorn looks promising and there are plenty of cobs forming.
I'm working on the new raised beds. I've used the reclaimed timber from my recent "Skip-Surfing" and they're being treated to a mixture of sieved compost and B&Q multipurpose along with Bonemeal and a good helping of Growmore. I'm going to try some Japanese Onion sets, Shallots and my new season Garlic in them.
The Cold frame has been very successful with Lettuce, Rocket, Pak Choi, Basil and Parsley all flying out. I've also taken loads of Rosemary cuttings in an attempt to create a free Rosemary hedge down one side of the plot. I know it will take a while to establish, but if it works it provide a really attractive and fragrant feature. I'm also trying a few Lavender cuttings as well so wish me luck.
I've filled the bath I got from "The Country Bumpkin" and am now sourcing some Strawberry plants to fill it.
I've acquired some old carpet which is now covering the top end in an attempt to create a more welcoming entrance to the plot. The eventual plan is for a couple of fruit trees and a small flower bed. The Gladiolis are established now and I've just ordered some Lilies. I know you can't eat them but a bit of colour all adds to the picture.
So there we are, it's Sunday morning and I can't believe we left Brum at 8.30am yesterday drove down to Portsmouth, got the ferry, played the gig, met the Garlic Maestro and drove back all in one day. Rock & Roll!!!
Come On The Reds!
Friday, 25 July 2008
I don't believe it's 2 months since my last missive.
Ah well, no excuses for not keeping up to date other than gigs with "The Legend" and Her Cissyness, and general being busy as you can see from the pictures at the top.
My idea of a fruit cage changed to a cold frame and as I acquired some decent wood I got stuck in and it's doing really well as can be seen. The bricks are holding down the strips of weed suppressing material. A bit OTT I know but I'll eventually get round to another solution. I've sown lettuce, basil, pak choi, rocket, spinach and parsley. The filing cabinet drawers on the right have coriander in. I've had a bit of a problem with it going to seed pretty quickly. Not sure why.
The corporate entertainment area is currently under construction. As can be seen I've covered the area with black polythene and staked out the blocks which will be filled with rubble then topped off with a layer of concrete. That's going to be fun!
The grape vine is flourishing at the back of the shed and has loads of tiny fruit on it. I'll have to read up on how to maintain it though.
I harvested the Isle of Wight garlic last week. Its a fabulous tasting garlic which I ordered from
www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk Ironically we're playing at the I-O-W Garlic Festival with "The Legend" on 16th August so I might take some over to display.
I received a great compliment the other day from a couple of my neighbours. They commented how wonderful my spuds looked and on the quality of the growth, and wondered what my secret was. From a couple of seasoned allotmenteers that's really cool. Acceptance into the ranks! I know it might be a little over-indulgent, but I always put lawn mowings in the bottom of the trench, then a layer of compost, the seed potato then another layer of compost which fills up the trench, and then I use the soil I've dug out as the mound and don't really bother earthing up any more. Well, it works for me! I've had some really delicious Arran Pilots so far.
My curly kale is going well. It's strange that the birds don't seem too bothered about it. They had a right go at my other brassica seedlings which set them back a bit. I've constructed some frames with netting to give them some protection but It's a continual pain though. I must try to get a proper solution thats easier to use. Weeding is always difficult. Maybe a mulch of compost would be a solution. At least with the amount of compost I use it's putting goodness back into the plot. I think the price of proper farmyard manure is a bit steep. £45 for a load. I tried some pelleted stuff which seems to have worked on the spuds. (Thinks...maybe thats why they're so good!!!)
My strawberry tasted fabulous. I took the runners from a tray I bought from B&Q last year and planted them in an old sink. I'm in the running for an old bath which I intend to make into my strawberry plot. Just have to go to Malvern to get it.
I did a spot of Skip Surfing the other week and nabbed some 4x2 timber which I've used as the new raised beds. They're much more substantial now.
I'm going to have another go at some onions. Ken my neighbour suggested to try Japanese onion sets which over-winter the same as garlic, so I might give it a go. Anyone else tried them. Suttons advertise them in their catalogue. Previously my sets just rotted. Any advice anyone. I'm sure Matron can give me some pointers.
Lewis Hamilton is "AWESOME". Finally someone who can overtake! Go Lewis........
Well it's sunny Skegness on Saturday (actually Chapel St Leonards) with "The Legend" then Gt Yarmouth next week.
The dog in the picture is Huxley, a wonderful Red Setter who belongs to The Country Bumpkin. He paid a visit to No 87 recently along with Her Cissyness.
Well that's all for now. I'll have to make more of an effort to keep up, but until the next time
Keep on Rockin'
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Well it's about time I added some new comments I hear you say! It's been hectic over the past few weeks with 3 Birthdays, a major gig and an invite to a funky do.
Anyway, FINALLY, I've got stuck into some work down at No87. I'm up to date with my spuds, with just a final row of Maris Pipers to go in this weekend. I'm doing my best to stagger everything this year, so the earlies went in a week apart, then a row of Kerr Pinks, Maris Pipers, KPs. I've also done the same with sowing my cabbage, brocolli and kale seeds.
The grape vine has suddenly burst into life. It gets plenty of sun around the back of the shed. I've just made a fruit cage on the site of compost corner. I've used the old side bits from the wreck of an old greenhouse I found, for the frame, and I'll use the netting from the cabbages last year. I'm looking for some fruit bush bargains in Aldi/Lidl.
I'm going to dig in some of the new compost I made to give them a comfortable start.
The fig tree is producing a crop of figs, but if it does last years trick it'll drop them before they get anywhere near ripe.
My garlic continues to look good. It's going to be interesting playing at the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival in August. I think I might take some along!
The Purple Sprouting is coming to an end, but I've had loads and have been circulating plenty to friends. My Spinach is going down well too, although it's starting to flower if I let it. I've sown some more ready to transplant. The one disappointment so far has been the Calaloo. I've sown 2 lots and not a dicky-bird! I really don't know what I'm doing wrong. (Any comments please!)
The start of the tour with "The Legend" is looming and we're in for quite a bit of travelling around, so keep an eye out if we're near you.
The Reds did the business in the Premiership and all they have to do now is stuff The Blues again and I'll be happy.
Come On You Reds!
It's over and out for now,
Monday, 14 April 2008
This is Stella, one of my neighbours, proudly holding the cups she won at the recent show. Well done Stella!!!
I've finally managed to get down to No87 when it's been fine and sow my first row of Earlies. Arran Pilot. Hopefully I can stagger the next row for a couple of weeks time. The weather has been so crazy recently, one minute sunshine, then snow & hail.
My Purple Sprouting Brocolli is fantastic. That's just 1 plant and I have 8 altogether. Looks like the freezer may be required, although there's always plenty of eager recipients for fresh cut spears.
I'm off down to Lidl for some seed compost. It seems to be the cheapest around. I've been saving toilet roll innards to sow my peas & beans in. I might also try the brassicas as my raised seed beds are going to be busy with the Isle of Wight Garlic for a while yet.
The prepared beds are looking OK, but my stone paths are covered in grass, so I think I need to try an alternative idea. I bought some rolls of black plastic and I might put the stones on top of it.
I found this little Pansy under the Brocolli bushes.
Did anyone see Gardeners World last week with the guy getting his allotment. Hmmm, wish it was that easy to get wood and surface scrapers! And am I alone in thinking he's mad to have those diamonds and triangles for raised beds. I thought the idea was not to have to tread on them. (Geoff Hamilton's Magic 4ft). And lorry loads of green waste!!! I'll stick to the good old "Compost Corner"
Come on The Reds, only Blackburn & Chelsea to go and the titles ours! Keep trying Lewis.
And just to say the experience of playing at The Royal Albert Hall was unbelievable. Such a Buzz.
Her Cissyness and I had a ball. The photo shows us rehearsing with the choir, orchestra, the band and the 2 child soloists. Awesome! Thanks DK for giving us the opportunity. The Captain
Monday, 17 March 2008
I managed to get my supply of seeds last week. I'm envious of people who are self sowing year on year, and have actually saved coriander and pak choi from last year, but stuff like brassicas etc I prefer to buy.
This year I'm going to try some Sweet Corn, and some Sprouts as well as Savoy Cabbage, Purple Sprouting, Peas & French Beans. Oh and some Beetroot by request. I also found a commercially available pack of Callaloo.
The spuds are "chitting" well though a few weeks yet before the danger of frosts diminishes.
Where can I get French Tarragon? The only seeds I can find are this awful Russian variety.
I see Lewis has started off like he means business which is great news. Good to see that they're starting to normalise the cars at last. Strange how many errors all these so called geniuses are starting to make. Traction control, Launch Control.........
Put them all in a Golf GTi and then lets see who's the best.
Come On The Reds!
(Coming to a theatre near YOU!)
Sunday, 3 February 2008
A very belated Happy New Year to all. I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog. A combination of weather and gigs has kept me away from No 87 but I finally made it down. Strange to find the Purple Sprouting Brocolli already sending up shoots. I think that's a bit early in February, but it's in the pot for dinner today!
The Isle of Wight Garlic is looking good. Funnily enough we're playing at The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival with "The Legend that is Alvin Stardust" in August. Maybe I should take some of mine to display.
I've been digging up the Kerr Pinks as they've taken to sprouting due to the warmer weather. Mind, there's plenty of takers when I offer some around. "Balls of flour"!
It was a bit windy down there today, but I want to get some Lime down soon before the season starts. I found that the extra effort with Liming and adding the compost to the planting hole has kept the Club Root at bay. So I'll do the same again this year. I also need to start digging the spud patch which has been covered since last year.
I've got a little furry friend in one of my compost bins. Not sure what to do about it. I've got the turning spear, but don't really want to do that yet.
I do know the roof of the shed needs re-felting ASAP.
There's lots of shows in this year for "The Legend" so keep an eye out for us playing at a theatre near you and come and say "Hi".
Well that's about all for today apart from wishing all the best to a very good friend "John The Boot" who's not too well at the moment.
Can't believe it's 50 years since Munich. Come On The Reds!!!