Thought I had lost my wallet at the allotment last weekend, so I went up on a cold, wet and windy Monday morning to see if I could find it. No luck. I decided to do a little bit of digging while I was there and on the way out I noticed the swing was blowing in the wind. A good photo opportunity I thought, but as I took out my camera the wind decided to die down. Standing there is the lashing rain, waiting for a gust, I decided to help nature along and gave it a little push! Immediately the wind rose up again and ushered me down to the car, where I was delighted to see my wallet poking out from under the driver’s seat. I did look there earlier… I swear!
On my last few visits to the plot I concentrated on digging up the weeds and grass, making space for more raised beds. I am hoping to clear all the weeds by Christmas which will give me time to prepare for spring planting. Another job that needs doing soon is the erection of a windbreak around the plot. I have been told by other plot holders that it can get very windy on the allotment and that some of their crops have suffered as a result. I also suspect that the wind contributes to drying out the soil.
This morning I brought the camera to the plot and I was glad that I did. Little green shoots of onions, garlic and shallots have all started to peek through the soil. I find it hard to keep the camera from shaking on close-up shots, so the pics are not great and I have no useable pics of the garlic shoots. I’m wondering now will the birds be interested in these juicy morsels – I’ll do a bit of googling on the subject.
Finally, there’s a kind of ‘Wicker Man’ vibe going on in the last two pics below.
I had been planning for a while to make use of the remainder of this year’s red onion crop before the rot set in. So this weekend I decided to go for it and make Caramelised Red Onion Relish. Unfortunately the onions were rotten (I really need to work out a successful drying and storage system for next year’s crop). Shallots to the rescue! Luckily most my shallots were still in good condition so I decided to use them in the relish instead.
Below is the recipe I used, substituting shallots for onions and Rioja for Shiraz. I also doubled everything in the recipe. There was a large queue in the Tesco off-license, so I ended up buying the ‘extravagant’ Rioja Reserva in O’Briens which was reduced to €12. I used 500ml of wine in the recipe and ended up with two 250ml jars of relish. That makes it a gourmet relish in my book. I had a small taster while I was cooking it and it wasn’t bad, but the real test will be in a couple of week’s time when I try it with some homemade burgers.
Caramelised Red Onion Relish
2 large red onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup dry red wine (I used a Shiraz)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 fresh bay leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon each)
Stir the onions and brown sugar together in a large, heavy bottomed enamel pot. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the onions are very soft and deep brown in color (about 25 minutes). If the onions stick while cooking, stir in 1/4 cup of water and stir vigorously, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the wine, vinegar, and herbs. Turn the heat to high and bring the onions to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove the relish from the heat, pick out the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Pack the relish into hot half pint jars, seal, and process for 10 minutes.
Shallots and sugar.
The final product, alongside some other weird concoctions.