Matron's Christmas Veggie Blog

Just another reminder of how to enter Matron's Christmas Veggie blog. I will be asking bloggers to send me a photo of any veggie from their own plot that will be ready to eat on Christmas Day. I will be asking you to send me a photo via email at the beginning of December, and I will be publishing the blog in the week before Christmas. Come on! let's see what you can do!

The Last Tomato

I couldn't put it off any longer! the very last of my greenhouse tomatoes have been ripening slowly. We have had such a mild Autumn that I have been reluctant to pick these last few. But that time has come.
Any day now we will get our first frost, so the last tomatoes have now been picked and eaten. There is nothing at all in the world like your own home grown tomatoes. For the next 6 months it is horrid, bland, tasteless watery supermarket tomatoes. I'd rather not!

Super Markets

Blog readers will know that wherever I travel in the world I just LOVE to visit local markets. So full of colour, taste and local traditions - well Leeds City Market is no exception. I went up to Yorkshire yesterday for a quick visit, Leeds market is unmissable.
There is a stall or a shop for absolutely everything under the sun!
And Leeds market was the venue for one very special stall. Back in 1884 Mr Marks and Mr Spencer set up their first 'Penny Bazaar' This green clock in the centre of the old part of the market was erected to celebrate their centenary.
And I wonder if it is a coincidence that in this old part of the market, this shop sells pants! Everyone needs them, they come in all sizes, what a brilliant shop!
The elderly among you may well remember the Leeds City Varieties theatre. This was the home of the long running BBC TV Series 'The Good Old Days'
Meanwhile back to the market. Still a great Northern tradition here in the UK, tripe used to be a delicacy years ago. Now it is rarely seen. I pride myself in being open minded about food, and I know that tastes change, but each time I try a piece... it squeaks between my teeth and I gag! No thanks.
One of the highlights of this market is the famous Butchers Hall. One long, indoor cobbled street inside the market houses rows of Butchers' shops. Family businesses that have been handed down through the generations. For me this is the difference between a supermarket and a Super Market. This is the latter. Properly hung and butchered meat in traditional cuts.
You just can't get better!

Vive La France!

I travelled to Calais this week to do a little bit of supermarket shopping before the Christmas rush. Their selection of supermarket veggies is just stunning when you compare it to the tasteless rubbish we put up with in the UK. Just look at these lovely leeks, just as nature intended. All we can get in supermarkets are long white sticks sealed up in sweaty plastic bags!
And these globe artichokes just looked and felt so fresh and full of life that I bought a couple home to eat. Matron just steamed them and ate them with nothing on......
And which high street supermarket in the UK could boast such a display of properly ripe tomatoes? none!
And the most famous of of French 'institutions vegetale' the Pot au Feu. A big bag of seasonal veggies to make the basis of all soups, stocks and stews. C'est Fantastique!

Queensland Blue Pumpkin

My favourite pumpkin by far is the Queensland Blue pumpkin. Dense, sweet flesh that doesn't go watery when you roast it.
Wonderful for just roasting, steaming or making into pumpkin pie.
If you can get your hands on some seeds they are well worth it. They do just about OK in a hot Summer over here but they really prefer lots and lots of heat and daylight.
Dilemmas. What to do with my lovely crab apples. Do I leave them for the birds to enjoy over Winter and to give the garden some colour on a grey day? Or do I make jelly? Do they stay or do they go? You decide.

Dried Chillis - Part 2

Second batch of Bishop's Kiss chillis are fully dry now. I have threaded them on to a piece of strong thread. Now hanging up in the living room.
Completely home grown, environmentally friendly Christmas decorations!

Precious Pickings

These last few tomatoes are so precious. I have been savouring them one at a time as they hang on in the greenhouse. In a few short days they will be gone and I will only have horrid supermarket tomatoes for the next 6 months. These Ildi tomatoes grew well in a small hanging basket.
Just a few Gardener's Delight in the greenhouse too. These are just a bit small but the taste is amazing. Tomatoes on the lower trusses have all gone now. Leo goes in the greenhouse and helps himself if I leave the door open!
And a few Black Cherry tomatoes hanging from the roof of the greenhouse. Leo can't reach these!
And a late sowing of Hurst Greenshaft peas in August has been well worth it. A few sweet, tasty pods to eat in the garden today. I have noticed that in this late crop there is not a single pea moth anywhere. I suppose the adults laid their eggs in the early Spring and Summer crops and had all gone when these were flowering. Note to self!