Real Men Sow

Preparing a dinner for the Winter Solstice

spring greensThe Winter Solstice is a week away. The shortest day of the year will pass, we’ll traditionally plant our garlic, and I’ll have the family over for a winter feast.

My brother got us all celebrating the Winter Solstice about 5 years ago, and it served as the perfect antidote to crazy Christmas. Not that I don’t enjoy Christmas, but burning the yule log and all the other little Solstice customs certainly refocus the mind.

Me and Ailsa normally have my mum and dad, my brother and his girlfriend, my nan and my great aunt to dinner. Auntie Rose is 93 and can’t hear for toffee, but I think she just enjoys being round the table and seeing everyone smiling.

Once me and Jan got our allotment, the evenings took on another aspect. Ailsa and I tried to cook as much as we could that we’d grown, gathered or caught ourselves. Previous highlights have included a cod and whiting fish pie after an unusually successful fishing trip, and Valentine Warner’s disgusting sounding but deceptively delicious cabbage stuffed with mushrooms, leeks, stilton and walnuts (not just a mouthful to eat).

Last year’s Jamie Oliver beetroot cake was a great dessert. I love the resourcefulness of eating seasonally, and this made super use of my last surviving beets.

So thoughts turn to this year. Normally I take the day off work and do a bit of fishing and generally wander about, but this year I’ve got a risk assessment training course to attend – three cheers for my oh so glorious working life!

It may well have to be a veggie job, as there are no fish in the freezer and I’ve still not recovered enough from being laughed at by pigeons to get the air gun out. That’s okay though, as I’ve got a fine fettle of allotment veggies to choose from this year, including kale, leeks, spinach, carrots, sprouts, chard, spring greens (pictured) and a few parsnips, as well as plenty squashes and potatoes in store.

The next few evenings will be spent surfing the web and re-reading my cookbooks for some inspiration. If you’re planning something similar for the festive period, please drop me a line and let me know what you’re cooking up.

I’d love to hear from you.

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One Comment

  1. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » My Favourite Allotment CakesSeptember 27, 2011 at 12:35 pmReply

    [...] Beetroot Surprise Cake (pictured, © David Loftus) I first tried this recipe at my family’s annual Winter Solstice dinner a couple of years back. We try to make a dinner using as much of our own grown, caught or foraged [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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