Tag Archives: veg

From frosty leeks to hearty winter leek and potato soup

Post-Christmas we often turn to soup as a way of getting over the inevitable feeling of over-indulgence. For a home-grown homemade ingredient, this time of year is all about leeks for us in the Willow Cottage Garden. So rather inevitably soup du month is leek and potato.

This morning was one of those beautiful winter frosty mornings. Fantastic for walking the dog, but not so great for harvesting a couple of rows of leeks. I always find prepping leeks a bit of a faff to be honest, so prefer to do more han I need when I’ve got the time to do it. The frosty leaks were frozen through. They haven’t been looking so great this year either, but we had plenty for what I needed today.

Frost leeks

Frosty leeks

I use the spade to do some of the rough trimming of the roots and leaves which saves bringing any of the mud (and lumps of clay) into the house.

Leek trimmings

Leek trimmings, for the compost when I warm up

My hands were so frozen I’ve decided to leave these for when I’ve warmed up a bit and can pop them onto the compost heap.

Next up is cleaning the leeks up for cooking. I usually do this in the sink, and drop the trimmings straight into a bucket. 

Prepping leeks

Prepping the leeks

One thing I’ll never understand is how bits of mud work their way right into the leaves of the leek. It’s impo rant to get the mud out or you’ll end up with gritty soup!

Cleaning leeks

How does the mud get in here?

Onto cooking…
Ingredients (for serving 4-6)

Butter for softening onions and leeks

1 onion, diced

225g/8oz potatoes, cubed

2 medium leeks,sliced

1.2 litres/2 pints vegetable stock

150ml/5fl oz double cream, crème fraîche or a pinch of greated cheddar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Homegrown leeks and onions

Homegrown leeks and onions


1. Soften the leeks and onions in a pan. Add the potatoes and cook for three to four minutes.

Softening leeks

Softening leeks. I do this in a frying pan then add to the soup pot.

2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add seasoning and simmer until the potatoes are soft.

3. Blend the indregients together. Reheat and add the cream, crème fraîche or cheese to serve.

Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup, with cheddar cheese

Yum, and now I’ve warmed up, back to the garden!



Sunny dayz are here at last…here’s the latest pics

It’s been one of those all-too-rare weekends where the sun is shining and, apart from the three children’s parties for drop-off and pick-up in one day, not a lot else to do.

Most of the time, this kind of ‘not a lot else to do’ situation ends up being just as exhausting as a full-on project, what with all the little bits of garden pottering. But, having crocked my ankle playing football during the week, the doctor has ordered me to put my feet up for the weekend at least; and who am I to argue? (Another reason getting the grass cut early was worth it!)

So, enjoying the sunshine, I hobbled round the garden taking lots of pictures of the things that have burst into bloom over the last week or so.

Clematis montana Here’s the clematis in flower

Clematis montana in full bloom

…and with friends.

Daisy survivors
Daisies that survived the mowing this week.

Veg plot

Chives in bloom – Bob the scarecrow is doing a good job, judging by how well the other stuff is growing.

Chive baloon festival

Chives from an interesting angle…

Chive flower top down

and another.

Beans and sweet peas - companion planting

Bit of comapnion planting – runner beans and sweet peas…will see how that works this year.

Cow parsley

And behind the hedge…Cow parsley looking terrific in the Summer sun.

So, another sunny day beckons in the garden – and another excuse to put my feet up and just enjoy the garden for a change, rather than being lured into the never-ending list of jobs.


Here’s my homemade water butt to help with hosepipe ban

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages now, but the threat of a hosepipe ban finally got my butt in gear (sorry) to sort out another water butt for our garden. We have one already – we bought it about ten years ago now – but we have space for another and, given the pending drought and the fact that it’s just a good thing to do anyway,  it seems to make sense to get another.

Then I looked at the price. I couldn’t believe how expensive a plastic drum with a little tap is….and that’s just the small ones. And then it’s another £15 for a plastic stand to put it on. Yikes! My thriftiness gene simply couldn’t cope with all this – which is when I started exploring the homemade alternatives.

Firstly, I managed to get my hands on a second-hand plastic drum from a local junk shop.

Plastic barrel

Plastic barrel I picked up from junk store

Handy, but not a freak as it looks just like this one on ebay.   Then I picked up a little tap (also on ebay) for the bargain price of £1.65 plus postage. I had a 22mm drill bit which was a little larger than I would have liked, but small enough that it shouldn’t leak once fitted. After employing the smallest one in the family as holder-in-chief and wriggling inside to tighten the nut, it was a very speedy job done. Some old broken bricks are standing in for the plastic stand; a bit rickety but they should do the job. And here’s the finished article, for a cut price £15.

Homemade water butt

Homemade water butt

It’s already filling up nicely, thanks to a few downpours this week, though I wish I’d had a few more brinks to raise it up a bit. Ho-hum! Happy watering ahead!