Monthly Archives: November 2013

Community Garden UoN

It’s been ages since I’ve given you an update on what’s happening in the garden. Many plans are afoot, we’ve been rebranded as the University of Nottingham Community Garden, I’ve been writing funding grants with other garden leaders, we’re doing epic battle with slugs (I don’t understand slugs), our courgette plants have grown their last courgettes (ridiculous production capabilities those), and we’ve got onions and garlic in the ground for the winter. This week we made an insect house and we’re planning some Christmas themed festivities too. Here’s what it looks like at the moment.

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As you can see we’ve entered ski jacket and wellington boot gardening weather. But on clear days, it’s not too bad. And our leeks are coming along slowly.

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Our kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts on the other hand, seem to be a festive celebration of fantasticalness for the slugs. I don’t think there’s any coming back from the destruction.

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The autumn colours are amazing.

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Things look a bit muddy and forlorn but they are actually growing.

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And our insect house is up! Hopefully we’ll have some fascinating bugs move in.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

We haven’t done a cupcake here in a while. And in the last few weeks everyone has been talking all things pumpkin. So who am I to resist this call? I can get into the whole pumpkin vibe. Easy. Remember these? Pumpkin cinnamon rolls? They were amazing. And these cupcakes are too. They taste like fall, or what I imagine fall to taste like – being South African I have only ever experienced autumn but I have this feeling that fall, as termed with notes of longing, reverence and memory by all North Americans I meet, is something completely different. Perhaps it’s because winter falls in July and is not therefore associated with Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas and does not signal the on-coming holidays that I don’t hold this season in such awe. I don’t know and now I’m rambling. So to these cupcakes.

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I have of course, consulted the bastion of American baking, the queen, you might say, that is Martha. You can find her recipe here. Unlike other recipes I examined, this one does not call for ‘pumpkin spice’. What pumpkin spice is, I cannot say for sure, but I imagine that it tastes like the combination of the spices in this recipe. I’ll be honest, I changed only the flour to white spelt flour and added in a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. I also browned the butter – because, when in doubt, always brown butter. I’m sure it adds a nutty, whole-rounded flavour to the finished cupcakes but that may just be me trying to be a pretentious food blogger. But brown the butter anyway. So I’m not going to repost the recipe here, I hardly made any changes and wouldn’t if (when) I make them again (except to remember perhaps, the weight of things like butter in grams). They’re iced with cream cheese frosting, the recipe for which you can find here. So instead, I leave you with a pumpkin spice cupcake photo essay.

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Mushroom Foraging

A few weeks ago I went mushroom foraging for the first time. A group of us met on University Park campus and together with a mushroom guide, we learnt about various mushrooms – ones good for eating, others that aren’t. Then we went wandering around campus, our eyes focused on the ground, to find some. It turns out there’s loads of mushrooms on campus, you just have to keep you eyes peeled. We found a variety of different ones, all largely identified by our guide. Lots of fairy-story names like ‘elf caps’ and ‘fairy batons’ which I just love.

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