This is the current state of the plums. Always the first trees to flower, in a normal year they’d be a mass of snowy blossom by now. But this is not a normal year. Two weeks and three days since Spring officially sprung. The clocks have gone forward, the snow is finally melting, but there are no leaves on the trees and precious little underneath them – a few primroses and snowdrops; even the crocuses are only just struggling into flower.
The sun is out today. It feels as if spring might finally be on the way. I’ve been out planting fruit trees: a greengage, a cherry and a William’s Pear. I had to scrape snow off the ground to do it, but they’ve been standing in the shed, in buckets of water for weeks. They’re looking awfully fed up with it, their buds are trying their best to burst. I simply couldn’t bear to make them wait any longer.
I haven’t planted a single seed yet – unless you count sprouting some marrowfats for pea shoots. It would be pointless to attempt to plant anything outside while the ground is still so cold.
I suppose I could be – should be – planting into pots and trays but there’s only so much window space to spare and honestly…? It’s been such a dire year so far, I simply can’t raise the will to get on with it.
My seed potatoes are well chitted, positively raring to go. I have no idea when I’ll be able to get them into the ground.
It’s the coldest spring since 1963, apparently and I can well believe it. And after all that miserably cold and muddy work in the garden, it’s definitely time for some comfort food.
Beany Sausage Tomato Mess.
You’ll need (all quantities are guesstimates. This is a dish composed mostly of leftovers – use whatever you have lying around. I play it very fast and loose):
Beans of your choice. Depends on what I have that day. This time, I used chickpeas, adzuki and Red Kidney.
Sausages of your choice. We like Linda McCartney’s. They’re Vegan and extremely tasty.
One large carrot, one stick of celery, one onion, red or white – all quite finely chopped.
As many cloves of garlic as you like (we like lots), crushed.
One tin of chopped tomatoes.
2 tablespoons of tomato puree.
Oregano to taste
3 teaspoons of ground Cumin
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
As much chilli powder as you care to use – leave it out altogether if you don’t like it hot- howsoever it pleaseth thee.
Salt – to taste.
Oil for cooking.
Get the sausages browning in a frying pan – no need to add oil, unless you really want to. Keep an eye on them, don’t let them burn while you crush your garlic, and finely dice the onion, carrot and celery. Throw the chopped veggies into a pan with a little oil. Put the lid on and let them and sweat over a gentle heat until soft. When the sausages are cooked to your liking, take them off the heat and cut them into largeish pieces of about an inch or so, and set them aside.
Turn up the heat a little, till the veggies start to sizzle. Throw in the beans and all the seasonings and let it all cook together for a minute or two, before chucking in the sausages. Stir in a tin of chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree and enough passata to give a nicely sloppy texture. Let the whole thing simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over pasta, over rice, with some good, crusty bread, on its own, with some cheese on top – however you like it best.
It looks a bit of a mess, but trust me, it is very, very good.