Category: HABITAT

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time are beetroots. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce it’s quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using home grown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitable sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

Timber for Lumber

Timber, photo by JMorton

Timber for Lumber

The words timber and lumber are often interchanged in their usage.

I have to admit I sometimes forget the difference.  So I used a visual memory by remembering Hollywood films, where the lumberjacks would shout ‘TIMBER’ as a tree which just been cut from the bottom would fall.

Timber is the tree trunk, while a lumber is a long wood material sawn from the timber.

When I think of lumber, it always remind me of the Monty Python I am a Lumberjack ditty.  🙂 🙂 🙂

By the way you can tell the age of a tree by counting the growth rings.

Rise of Parakeets

Parakeet in Childshill, London, photo by PH Morton

Rise of Parakeets

More and more wild parakeets are seen freely flying and nesting all around London.  I first saw parakeets on top of a tree at Hyde Park four years ago.  I thought they were not really a natural bird for cold UK.

As much as they are so lovely to look at, there are some negative implications to our local birds.

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

Our Home Harvest 2016

one-of-our-potted-tomato-plants

Our Home Harvest 2016

 

When we were both still gainfully employed,  😉 it was hard to maintain our fairly long back garden, where the lawn must be mowed, the bushes regularly trimmed, the pond life fed, the garden furniture repaired, etc., the list went on.  We, therefore,  paved over parts of it, but still kept some smaller flower& plant beds and a good size lawn.

A good idea in any size garden is to use plant pots or troughs to grow plants, flowers and vegetables.

Some of the larger pots are fitted with small wheels (like castors) on the base.

some-of-our-newly-picked-tomatoes
This means that we can easily move large plants, such as the tomato plants, to follow the sun as it moves, to maximise exposure to the light and heat.

This spring, and as in previous years, Jean & I decided to try and grow some tomato plants in three of our large pots.  Tomatoes are quite inexpensive and plentifully sold in shops and supermarket during the summer, but growing your own has its own reward.  You can be sure of the freshness and they seem to taste better 🙂

 

one-of-our-small-apple-trees

 

This year’s weather has been mixed in London & SE England.

A rarely frozen and wet winter was followed by rain alternating with hot sunny days in summer, extending well into September. This combination has resulted in a nice crop of tomatoes. some have ripened and hopefully the others will soon as well.

Our two potted small apple trees have produced their ripe fruit nearly a month early this year.

They are ‘Jonagold’ apples, which are sweet and a little bitter to taste but simply delicious.

We found that If you have two potted apple trees, keep them near each other in order to get at least one good crop, this helps cross fertilisation from the bees etc.

We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

However, this year both tree have a lot of apples, thanks to the weather.

our-pear-treeWe have one potted Conference variety pear tree, near the end of the garden, and as with the apple trees we also need to get another one as this lonely tree only produces a pair of pears each year.

Our wild blackberry bush has also produce a bounty of berries this year too!

We wonder if this year’s winter will be cold and wet again. Snow has not fallen to settle on the ground here in nearly the last two years, much to our grandson’s disappointment who is wishing of building a snowman in the garden!

Recycled Water

London city hall recyled water., Photo by JMorton

London city hall recycled water., Photo by JMorton

Recycled Water

Peter and I recently visited the City Hall of London.  It has a fantastic view of the Thames and the many buildings of various shapes and sizes, which are wowing locals and tourists alike.  (I have never seen so many people taking selfies at any given time.)

Whilst inside the building, we used the toilet after having had lunch at the ground floor cafeteria, where we had a brief encounter with Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, which is another story! LOL

I digress, anyway, at first, I was really annoyed that the previous user of the toilet bowl seemed to not have bothered to flush the toilet as the water is rather yellow, in a urine-yellow way.

So I flushed it but it remained yellow.  It was only afterwards that I noticed a sign confirming that the water was from a recycled source.

Apparently recycled water or reclaimed water comes from sewage water, which has been treated to remove the solid bits as well as impurities.  In some cases, recycled water is purified that it is suitable to for drinking. 🙁

Though it was rather off-putting to see yellow water in toilets (takes getting used to, I must say), at least the idea behind it is, of course, admirable. Recycling promotes sustainability and water conservation in our ecosystem.  GRRREATT! 😉

 

London Sunsets

Sunset over NW London 30 June 2013

Sunset over NW London 30 June 2013

London Sunsets

As I have blogged before, 2014 the English weather up to mid-August has been generally wonderful. Now in early September after a couple of weeks of mainly rainy wet weather we may have an extended hot summer (also called an Indian summer here) with sun and high temperatures for the time of year as Autumn is near.   London sunsets can be amazing whether viewed from tall buildings open grounds etc.
 When I worked at Tintagel House, located along the Albert Embankment SE London, near the Houses of Parliament, the sunset views from our office windows  overlooking  the River Thames and the iconic Battersea Power station in the near distance  were wonderful.
Astronomy is a keen interest of mine, I like to watch the sky day or night!
 
Jean & I have seen some wonderful sunsets.
One of the best sunsets in the world to witness is over Manila Bay in the Philippines. I had this privilege in 2013.
Sunset over Manila Bay Jan 2013
 Manila Bay The Sunset of sunsets!
The best view we get locally is over the allotment gardens, simply called an allotment, which is a community garden( mainly used to grow vegetables etc), for the neighbourhood to use, especially those with no gardens of their own.
 
Our local allotment is across the road from where we live.  As no tall buildings are near it, there is quite a wide expanse of western sky to view.
 
I like looking at clouds and find the many shapes, sizes and colours fascinating.   The best clouds are seen when not a grey leaden cloudy over cast sky with cloud covering all the sky, but the clouds that compete with a blue sky at dawn during the day and at sunset. When I see what looks like a potential scenic sunset, I get my trusty camera and wander across the road and walk down to the allotment.
 
Sometimes, Jean has come with me when we take our lively and lovely terrier Diesel for his evening walk.  This summer, I have been able to photograph some fantastic sunsets with amazing cloud formations, colours and hues that could have been created by a great artist, in this case Mother Nature herself!  

Dandelion

Through whayt fierce incarnations, furled
In fire and darkness, did I go,
‘Ere I was worthy in the world
To see a dandelion grow?

– G k Chesterton

DSCN9645

Dandelion
Photo by Jean Morton

April 2014 032

Dandelion Flower
Photo by Jean Morton

Yellow Dandelion Photo by PH Morton

Yellow Dandelion
Photo by PH Morton

 Dandelion "Clock" By PH Morton

Dandelion “Clock”
By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion
By PH Morton

Dandelions are perennial plants, which are treated more like pernicious weeds in British gardens.  Dandelions grow wildly in lawns and pavement cracks.  They can be hard to uproot as they anchor themselves into the ground with unbelievable tenacity.

Dandelion got its name from the French’s dent-de-lion which literally means ‘lion’s teeth.  The lion’s teeth, of course, refers to the shape of dandelion’s serrated leaves (see topmost photo).

Did you know?

The young leaves of dandelions are edible.  They can be eaten as salad sprinkled with some crunchy lardons and croutons.  It is advised to choose the really young leaves before the dandelion flowers start to appear; the more mature leaves tend to be slightly bitter.

 

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