Changing of The Seasons

I don’t know whether it’s the changing of the seasons but I’m starting to get that feeling of going into my shell again ready for the Autumn. The weather is changing and getting chillier so more layers of clothing are going on, socks have come out and shoes instead of sandals and bare feet around the house, cardigans have been dragged from the wardrobe. The duvet is back on the bed. I don’t want to think about it but the heating will have to go on soon.

It’s been a wonderful summer here in the UK and just what we all needed after years of poor summers. We could visit our beaches and play in the sea ( if you chose) we could get out and about and enjoy our glorious countryside with all her finery on display and ours. I actually wore proper summer clothes normally reserved for my visits to Cyprus and usually feel chilly if I wear them in the UK, not this year. We’ve had endless days of sunshine where we could garden and visit places without taking an umbrella just in case if the clouds were around.

I have spent a lot of time in my own garden as well as  the community garden. I’ve managed to get a lot of tidying and changing things around in my own garden that I realised I just couldn’t do for the past couple of years as when I had the time the weather didn’t. I will be sorry to see the days get short again and the daylight scarce, I will just have to find sunny things to do and one of them is to join a choir I’ve decided. Locally we have several singing groups and choirs but there is one in particular that I have heard a lot about called Acappella. It is in the same place where I go to do a yoga class and is also on the same day strangely but in the evening. I have been meaning to go for some time and indeed a couple of my yoga class colleagues also attend so now I have put it in writing it may spur me on.

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Garden Frolics

After a festival weekend a couple of weeks ago, last weekend I had garden centred frolic. The community garden I belong to has a couple of open afternoons a year where we all bake a few cakes, open the garden to the public and invite them to have a cup of tea and a slice for a small donation. We have a tom bola and sometimes a raffle to add to the jollity and usually we get a good turnout which boosts our funds to pay for any new equipment and materials we might need.

Last weekend as it was men’s finals at Wimbledon on the Sunday we made it an open morning so as not to clash. The weather was perfect and all available umbrellas and gazebo’s from member’s gardens were brought into service. I donated a couple of copies of ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ for the tombola and made my version of Revani that’s written in the cake section, for the cake stall.  My good friend Gill of Paisley Pedlar fame has raved about this cake often and seems to find any excuse to make it, in fact she bought a new oven recently and the first thing she baked in it was Revani tis Sonia now that’s dedication! I also made some fig slices, I was looking for a very quick recipe using dates and found one online but realised I only had figs in my cupboard so these were duly substituted and I have to say they were a winner.

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The copies of the book were duly signed for the lucky winners. If you want a chance to win a copy, a lucky draw is ongoing at the moment on the Eugreeka website http://www.eugreeka.com/cyprus-on-a-plate it’s open to any one until 18th July and the winner will be announced in the newsletter out on the 19th July.

The same weekend, one of the member’s had a milestone birthday, it seems to be the year for them , and invited a few of our members to a birthday bash in her garden, and very lovely it was too.

I love it when the weather is lovely down at the garden and at the moment it is thriving and we are busy harvesting soft fruits, broad beans, spinach and chard, cauliflowers and cabbages, as well as digging up shallots, onions and garlic to dry off for storing. We also have masses of salad stuff on the go. I was recently delighted to find a community garden has been set up on the outskirts of Lefkosia in Kaimakli and it has been founded on the same principles as our own Tangmere garden: community and friendship and learning how to grow your own good food to live healthily.http://collectivebahce.wordpress.com/the-community-garden/

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Caked on!

I have written before about my love of cake and last Sunday I was in cake heaven. A couple of times a year  we throw open our gates to the general public and have open days  down at our community garden. This helps us raise funds for garden tools, compost, whatever is needed for our projects. The members make cakes and sometimes pickles and jams are brought to sell. Our driving force Rosemary, a food activist and writer, brings bread from a local artisan baker and some local veg to sell. We make lashings of tea to wash down the delicious cake and ask for donations. This works very well and we have the added attraction of a tombola and of course a leisurely stroll around our little bit of heaven.

We were very lucky last week as we had the added advantage of the sunshine to bless our afternoon. The tea stall was very busy and we had a huge variety of cakes. One of our members Rita, is a grand cook and made five cakes. Two huge Bakewell tarts, a couple of fruit cakes and a carrot cake.There were muffins and flapjack and biscuits and Victoria sponge, the tables positively groaned.

I made a sticky ginger parkin, my mum’s recipe, with a twist. I took inspiration from a recipe I had seen and added stem ginger in syrup to the usual mixture.When it was cooked,I added another innovation taken from the Cypriot method of using syrup on cakes and poured over some liqour from a marrow and ginger jam I made. It was a winning combination and one I will repeat. I also tried out another recipe I hadn’t used before and made some sticky Chelsea buns. These are made with a sweet dough and have a cinnamon and currant mixture sandwiched in and a soft icing. These had the added advantage of using cheap ingredients and also proved a hit.

We have recently had some new members join us and one of them is Czech, she brought along some little fruit pancakes which were a tasty novelty. Another member is Spanish and doesn’t bake but she brought along several jars of anchovies preserved in oil which she had prepared herself. These proved delicious when I sampled them later.

It was a lovely afternoon and a good way to see the Autumn in and the winding down of the garden. I still have a few hundred onions to plant and garlic but I’ve been laid low this week with aches and pains and a cold. I will recover my stamina and then tackle the task ahead. I will possibly comfort myself with a slice cake!!!