Cauliflower cheese without cheese

I’m not that into cooking however I like eating and I know I need to eat more fresh vegetables and fewer processed vegan meals. Last night I made a vegan version of cauliflower cheese that tasted wonderful and was very easy to make so I thought I’d share it.

Someone at the allotments gave me a huge, fresh cauliflower and I got it home and wondered what to do with it. What do you do with cauliflower? I decided to bake it but baked cauliflower on its own is pretty boring so I made this lovely sauce to go with it.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 dessert spoons tahini
  • 1/2-1 cup of ground cashew nuts
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • water

I put the garlic and a bit of water in a saucepan and cooked them for a few minutes before adding everything else. I then added more water until I was happy with the consistency of the sauce. I’m not sure exactly how much water I added but possibly a cup or two. Then I poured it over my cauliflower and baked it in the oven. I can’t remember how long for – maybe 10-15 minutes? The cauliflower was still crunchy which is how I like it.

I prefer gardening and crochet to cooking and fortunately I have plenty of gardens to tend to including our plot at the allotment. I find weeding strangely therapeutic. Sometimes I fall asleep at night imaging pulling out buttercups which is very soothing and sends me off to sleep.

We got our plot in April and here’s how it looked:

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In June it looked like this:

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And now in August all the weeds are finally under control and it looks like this:

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A harvest of four carrots

I was horrified last week when one of the other plotters at the allotments told me the growing season is almost over. We really haven’t got very much food from our plot. Today I harvested our carrots. All four of them 🙂

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You may be wondering why we only got four carrots and I’m embarrassed to admit this but it’s because I got a little carried away with the weeding not long after sowing the seeds. It reminds me of the time I accidentally ordered a single carrot from online shopping.

Rule number 1 of allotment gardening: don’t weed out the legitimate vegetable seedlings. 

I planted about a dozen kale seedlings a few weeks ago and all but one has completely vanished. I put them under bird netting so I can’t blame the birds. I suspect it was snails or slugs.

Rule number 2 of allotment gardening: don’t plant kale seedlings out until they’re larger than 5cm high.

Rule number 3 of allotment gardening: birds eat kale.

I wish I had planted more broccoli because that has been doing well and we’re enjoying eating it. The kids like it too and eat it raw.

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I highly recommend the no dig method of gardening. I had a small patch of grass that I covered over with cardboard a couple of months ago. I started piling weeds on top, partly to stop the cardboard blowing away and also because my compost bin was full. Today I shoved the pile to one side to find a lovely patch of soil, without any weeds or grass, and full of small organisms. Here it is in this next photo: the square of dark soil is the earth that I uncovered when I removed the pile of cardboard and weeds. Previously it was just grass.

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The growing season may be over for some but I’m going to continue through the winter. My favourite crops are green leafy vegetables and these can be grown all year round. I also sowed some parsnips today. I’m told they won’t grow because it’s too late in the season but I’m going to try anyway. If it doesn’t work I’ll know for next year.

Frank Spencer at the allotments

Frank Spencer at the allotments

I went to the allotment today to assemble a small cage I purchased to keep the pigeons off the vegetables. I bought what I thought was an easy click-together frame but when I pulled it out I discovered screws and I hadn’t taken a screwdriver with me. Who carries a screwdriver around with them? I got increasingly frustrated slotting poles together only to see them fall out again as soon as I let go. At one point I had it in one piece but upside-down and when I tried to right it everything fell apart again. It was like an episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em but with me playing the part of Frank Spencer.

Just when I was about to give up, Graeme, another plot-holder, came to the rescue and helped me put it together. Graeme had a screwdriver. Here’s the end result.

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Thank you, Graeme. I couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s Graeme with his newly harvested potatoes.

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My slug beer traps have been very effective. Here are the slugs I’ve caught in one week.

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Our allotment two months later

Our allotment two months later

I spent several hours at the allotment this morning. Our plot still needs a lot of work but when I compare the now photo with the before photo I realise we have come a long way. Here’s how it looked in April:

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Here’s how it looks today:

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Now I just need to turn it into food. Right now I’m mostly feeding the resident slug population. My kale has been decimated:

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I have a three-pronged strategy in my war against the slugs. Firstly, I bought some nematodes which are microorganisms that infect slugs and kill them. I watered that into the soil today so hopefully I’ll see some improvements in the coming weeks. Secondly, I put out some beer traps which will attract the snails and drown them. Thirdly, I put down some strulch. Strulch is a straw mulch that repels slugs and snails. I put it on the garden at home. It reduces the number of weeds and helps retain soil moisture. It also smells lovely. Poisonous slug pellets are best avoided. I’ve heard they can be eaten by small animals and then the small animals are eaten by larger animals causing the poison to travel up the food chain getting more and more concentrated. The poisons have also been found in streams and rivers.

Here is one of the beer traps:

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It’s fair to say our allotment is the worst one there except for this one but it doesn’t look like anyone is tending to this one so it doesn’t really count.

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We’ve got an allotment!

We’ve got an allotment!

About a year ago I applied for an allotment and just this week got the call to say there’s one available. Allotments are a very British thing. They have been around for hundreds of years, since Anglo-Saxon times, according to The National Allotment Society. In Victorian times they were handed over to poor people as a way for them to feed themselves. During the second world war they became an important food supply for the nation; “Dig for Victory” was the slogan at that time. Everyone was encouraged to grow vegetables and parks everywhere were converted into allotments for this purpose.

Most of us have enough food to eat today but allotments are still very popular and some people sit on waiting lists for years before they get one. I think it’s important for communities to grow their own food. It builds resistance for times of need and it will play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Growing your own vegetables is also intensely satisfying and good fun.

The microplot they’ve offered me is in a sad state. Here’s a photo:

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I don’t plan to dig up all that grass. I think I’ll try the no dig approach or lasagne gardening, as I think it is also known.