Monday, 23 February 2009

Allotmenticity - 23-02-09 Aston FM Sod It Grow Your Own

What to do with shredded bank and credit card statements, coffee grounds and much more with Captain Tongo and Gary James and Sod It Grow Your Own!

And this is a great soup! A Must Try!!!


3 tablespoons butter
1 large chopped onion
6 large fresh thyme sprigs
5 whole star anise,* divided
2 small bay leaves
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 1-pound bags peeled baby carrots
4 cups chicken stock

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, 3 star anise, bay leaves, and garlic. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and broth. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove and discard thyme sprigs, star anise, and bay leaves. Working in small batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth; return to same pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Finely grind remaining star anise in spice mill or coffee grinder. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with ground star anise.

A whole Star Anise on each bowl makes a wonderful statement!

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Allotmenticity - 16-02-09 Aston FM Sod It Grow Your Own

Here's some interesting tips on balcony gardening and tomatoes! Also the 3 sisters method of planting sweetcorn, climbing beans and pumpkins all in the same space. It's an old Iriquois Indian way of growing.
I managed a trip down to No87 yesterday, the first time for ages partly due to the snow and also due to this bloomin cough. Not that I'm alone with that one though. Just about everyone you meet is coughing and spluttering!
My garlic is looking good, as are the japanese onions.
Won't be long before I'm sowing the summer stuff.
The next project is to erect the brassica cage, and then get the corporate area slabbed ready for the scorching hot summer we're going to have!!!!!!
Until then,
It's off to an smallholders club in Gillingham with "The Legend"
Captain Tongo.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Allotmenticity - 09-02-09 Aston FM Sod It Grow Your Own

The weather here has been atrocious for what seems like ages, and coupled with me having a lousy cold No87 is hiding under a blanket of snow at the moment. Mind you, it looks exactly the same as all the others!

This is Igor Romanoff's Beef Stroganoff and his Potato Rosti Recipe. Enjoy, it's fabulous!


  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large Sirloin steaks (about 1lb in weight), cut thin into 1-inch wide by 2 1/2-inch long strips
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots (can substitute onions)
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup of sour cream at room temperature


1 Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Increase the heat to high/med-high and add the strips of beef. You want to cook the beef quickly, browning on each side, so the temp needs to be high enough to brown the beef, but not so high as to burn the butter. You may need to work in batches. While cooking the beef, sprinkle with some salt and pepper. When both sides are browned, remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.

2 In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook the shallots for a minute or two, allowing them to soak up any meat drippings. Remove the shallots to the same bowl as the meat and set aside.

3 In the same pan, melt another 3 Tbsp of butter. Increase heat to medium high and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.

4 Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream to the mushrooms. You may want to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the sauce (or not). Mix in the sour cream thoroughly. Do not let it come to a simmer or boil or the sour cream will curdle. Stir in the beef and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on chopped Parsley.

Serve immediately with Potato Rosti & Green Beans.

Serves 4.



  • 55g/2oz unsalted Butter
  • 2 Large Potatoes, peeled and grated
  • Salt & Freshly ground Black Pepper


Grate the potatoes into a large bowl. (Using the large holes on the grater)

Mix in a good amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt ½ of the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat.

Throw in the seasoned, shredded potatoes and pat/shape into a large round flat cake.

Cook for 5 minutes and then flip the cake over.

The easiest way I've found to do this is to put a plate, upside down onto the cake, turn the frying pan over while holding the plate.

At this point put some more butter on the pan and then slide the cake from the plate back onto the pan.

Keep cooking and flipping until both sides are golden brown.