Kittens, cavalo nero, the calmness of bread making and needing something “purely medicinal” at 10.30 in the morning…..

planting winter greens

Is it wrong to confess to wanting something of a “purely medicinal” nature at 10.30 on a Sunday morning….Pretty Izzy from next door had kittens in the Summer and they’ve just discovered (while watching their Uncle Bob) how to climb up over our fence and creep into our garden.

What’s black, cute and has twelve legs?

The three extremely adorably fluffy kittens I found playing in my kitchen on Wednesday morning.

Up until then they’d just been eyeing the fence but hadn’t worked out how to get over it…ohh, but once they had learnt……

The carefully planted beds of kale and cavalo nero must smell intoxicating, like catnip or something as they won’t leave the beds alone…even putting in lots of pea sticks to stop them from digging hasn’t really deterred them…so next stage is fleece or netting.

I’d like to take credit for the neat planting but it’s all my boyfriends work, including placing pieces of card around each plant to help keep down the slug damage and also it offers a little protection with the digging by kittens.

protecting winter greens from the cats next door

We’ve got a bit of a tangley garden, a little overgrown in parts which the kittens are finding to be the greatest lark to play in…yesterday I spent most of the morning chasing them round pots (which got overturned), retrieving them from my blueberry bushes (which they were trying to nibble) and down from from the big tree in the corner…at one point my boyfriend had to climb up it to rescue a mewling kitty (which 5 minutes later climbed back up and then showed us it didn’t need any help thank you as it jumped on a neighbour’s fence and daintily walked across it.

The high jinks this morning started quite early, this involved getting into what I call our “poly-tunnel” while another jumped on top and was causing the roof to sink down….the best fun ever if you’re a cute, big eyed kitten….and a bit annoying if you’ve spent the previous afternoon planting and building it.

One even half wiggled into the big Mister McGregor watering can, his little bottom peeking out.  Nothing is safe…even the raspberry plants are getting a chew (here they take after their Uncle Bob as he liked to do that do when he he first discovered our garden in the Spring).

And if you’re wondering about Bernard, why isn’t he out there keeping an eye on things, well he’s all fluff and whiskers, a big girl’s blouse and he quickly runs indoors when all 4 kittens are in full force.  (the kittens were a bit hissy when they encountered him, but a clout round their from their mom and Uncle Bob has stopped that…afterwards both mom and Bob nose kissed noses and sniffed bottoms with Bernard, and purred to high heaven as they rubbed themselves around him….poor old boy, I think he seemed rather bewildered by the kitten invasion)

last of the red tomatoes

Luckily the tomatoes seem to have survived the kitten capers….the lovely sunshiny weather of the last week has seen lots of what I thought were destined for chutney, green tomatoes, instead ripen up and were eaten yesterday in a big salad (they were nice and sharp, intensely tomatoey and very good with a little goat’s cheese)…..there’s still quite a lot of tomatoes so any that don’t redden in the last of the Autumn sunshine will no doubt be thrown into a pot of slowly cooking chutney in a couple of weeks time.

autumn bliss raspberries

We’re still picking the Autumn Bliss raspberries (a fruit that more than lives up to it’s name)….I just made a couple of batches of raspberry  jam this year including this lovely recipe… I tinkered a little with the recipe and think if you’re going to make it then you’re better off using raspberries that have only just turned red…the heat breaks them down so quickly that unless they’re still quite firm they won’t stay whole…..a nice jam to make if you grow your own…and obviously perfect for eating while reading Russian novels.

You could of course just add a splash of cognac to this recipe as it’s very similar.

Along with the jam we’ve also made this raspberry liqueur but substituted Marsala for the red wine…the recipe says that afterwards the raspberries can be used for something else, however we found really all you’re left with is a pink seedy pulp so added it to some cream and sugar which I’d bought to a boil (for 3 minutes) and then left it to infuse…strained and poured into little ramekins and made fruity possets. I think lemon and orange ones are the best but these were still nice to have with fresh berries on top.

nasturtiums

This pot of nasturtiums has been wonderful to look at, especially in the mornings before the day has brightened itself up.  The flowers are nearly always full of bees and I have to tap them gently before picking them for salads (I love the velvety feel of the petal combined with that peppery taste).

Thankfully the pot has survived the kittens running around (though there’s been a couple of close wobbles as they clamber up it only to jump down on top of one another) and earlier this morning I saw a little black face peeping out from all the greenery before darting off to join it’s brothers in adventures and mischief.

After what feels like the umpteenth kitten removal (they’ve been all over the garage roof which is on a slope so they climb up and peek over the top), shooing them out of the kitchen (my fault for having the door open but it’s so warm today it’s nice to let in the fresh air and sunshine while the weather is good) and “hey you-ing” as they run out of the house with one of Bernard’s pompom toys in their mouths, I’m starting to eye the bottle of Pomona and I’m wondering if just a small glass, for “purely medicinal reasons of course”, might be just what I need to stop feeling quite so frazzled.

still warm from the oven and smelling nutty and sweet

And in the midst of the chaos that only comes from four little kittens causing havoc and mayhem, there’s the quiet and calm that is bread……allowing the sponge to slowly bubble away, the slightly sharp scent of the natural leaven mixed in with a grated apple and a dollop of honey, a handful of oats and bread flour.

I though to make a loaf this week with cobnuts and apple (they work so well in a crumble how could they not work in a bread loaf) however I’ve now missed the fresh cob season…one of the lovely guys (always smiling whatever the weather, even when they have chilblains and wind chapped fingers) on Mike’s vegetable stall on Norwich Market (stalls 46 and 47, they’re right on the front) said the cobs they’d been offered now were all brown rather than green and you’d be better off buying hazelnuts so it’s a recipe I’ll put to one side for next year.  But if you’re lucky enough to have green cobs where you live then I’d thought to make a paste like this walnut one (though with cobnuts) and adding that to my regular sourdough recipe with apples.

This one is a simple apple and oat loaf but I’m thinking to make a hazelnut bread with brandy soaked raisins…a bit like cinnamon rolls, not so sweet and a little more robust and rural, for next weeks breakfast.  The cinnamon rolls always keep well and I think will raise a smile when one is found wrapped up in a lunch tin as the something sweet for elevenses.

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10 thoughts on “Kittens, cavalo nero, the calmness of bread making and needing something “purely medicinal” at 10.30 in the morning…..

    1. It’s really difficult as we both love cats however we don’t have a huge garden and Bernard was pretty good about where he would dig…however from an increase of two ccats next door there are now 6 cats clambering over the fence and digging willy nilly….I’d already re-palnted the lettuces as they completely destroyed those and the winter greens are heritage varities so I can’t easily replace them.
      I just felt so sorry for my boyfriend, all his hard work destroyed in a matter of minutes. He’s covered the plants with fleece (the kittens got under and then couldn’t get out!) and I’ve now placed holly all around the fleece edgings and tucked a bunch of it in the top of the fence where they were climbing over.
      Even though they’ve caused so much chaos they are so sweet, when I picked one up yesterday and threatened it with being turned into a pair of mittens it just blinked, mewed and poked it’s tiny tongue out at me before purring and trying to snnuggle in my hands xx

      1. Your poor boyfriend! They certainly sound determined and too cute to get too cross with. We have had a problem with neighbouring cats in our garden and now have 4 ft high chicken wire on top of the fence, this serves two purposes in keeping the cats out and Josh’s balls in!! I hope they soon find another playground 🙂 xx

      2. Hopefully when a couple of the cats get re-homed it will be a bit better…..
        It’s just heart-breaking to look out and see plants scattered everywhere and cat poop in the place of winter greens : (

  1. I wish I’d grown Cavalo Nero. I’m put off due to the huge caterpillar infestation that usually comes with growing brassicas. Can’t complain however as my courgettes are still going and I’ve got leeks to look forward to. My raspberries have gone over and I’ve just said goodbye to the last fig!

    1. We’ve grown sprouting broccoli a couple of times now (best plants were from an old boy at a car boot, bought for pence a plant)…it is a bit of a pfaff wiping off eggs and squishing caterpillars but oohhh come February and you can pick the stems and steam them straight away…haven’t tried this yet but when we went to Thornage Hall Bio-dynamic Farm the other week, they said about putting the off shoots and leaves from tomato plants around the brassicas and that would keep the butterflies off.
      Oohh leeks, I’m so jealous, they’re one of my favourite vegetable. Our raspberries are an Autumn variety and we may still have some in November (they seem to get a lot less bugs) We’ve just had a delivery of sprouting broccoli plug plants (gaps need to be filled thanks to the kittens) xx

      1. I think I’ll cheat and buy some plugs from the garden centre. If I dig over the lettuces, I can squeeze them in ! Our growing kitten hasn’t shown any interest in digging the garden. I can’t wait for her to find an outside toilet. Hate the litter tray.

      2. Plugs aren’t cheating, I think they’re life savers! Th etomato side shoots are just from when you take off a few for the sunshine to get to the tomatoes…rather than compost them, it’s just a case of laying them around any brassica plants.
        You’re very lucky with your kitten…I’ve wedged a bunch of holly in the fence where the kittens next door were jumping over and that seems to have put them off. It makes me feel like a real meany but our garden isn’t big enough to be the bathroom for all 6 of the neighbour’s cats x

      3. We’re lucky that none of the other local cats want to use our garden. I don’t tend to grow tomatoes as we don’t have a big enough growhouse for them. However, we grew them last year and they did well outside. None to help any brassicas this year…

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