January

I love that feeling of being able to produce my own food. Not having to go to my local supermarket to get my greens makes me happy. Grow your own makes me happy and has become part of my life and an important way to relax.

I have these wonderful childhood memories of spending time at my grandparents house and watch them tend to their vegetable patch and helping them digging up potatoes and trimming french beans.

My grandmother used to make the most delicious french bean salad. A mix of oil, vinegar and onion, beans and onions steamed al dente. Sweet memories!

It is January and finally the sun is out, at least 2 days without any rain which is quite something at the moment. And I dare to visit my allotment as I want to harvest leeks for a leek and potato soup tonight. Simple. I even have some bacon lardons in the fridge and garlic baguette to convince the kids so no need to go shopping today. I follow Nigel Slaters recipe out of his wonderful book ‘Tender’ Volume 1.

Leeks are still looking good after a night with good frost. Although I am a bit disappointed with the small size of them this year they are tasty and instead of 2 large I simply use 4 smaller ones.

I am very proud of my achievement on the allotment the past 4 years. When I took it over it was overgrown with brambles and grass. Where does one start? My neighbour told me to take my time and it will probably take 3 years time to get it going. 3 years? No way I thought, and being me I wanted to get going straight away……only realizing after the first clearance and digging heavy clay that I had to size down my expectations…..and 3 years it took.

And then there is the designer in me wanting it to look perfect! Well, I tried to get some structure in with Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage plants.

Globe Artichokes are beautiful architectural plants but easily take over too much space when you need it for other crops in the summer.

And of course the berry bushes, a much treasured child hood memory from Oma’s garden picking gooseberries and enjoying the sour taste of red currants. How thrilled I was to discover red gooseberry shrubs in my favourite plant nursery while sourcing plants for one of my garden projects.

January and the allotment is looking great – still kale, red cabbage and leeks to harvest while spinach is coming up and the tips of my onions are showing already. Must get the garlic in, hope it’s not too late. Just soooo wet!

Soup was delicious! And the recipe very easy…

2 large leeks – 40g butter – 4 medium celery ribs – 400g floury potatoes – 1.5 ltr stock parsley and bacon according to taste

Bon Appétit!