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By the end of last week it looked like spring might finally be arriving – there was sunshine, it was warm enough to venture outdoors without a coat, and the first bumblebee and butterflies of the year were spotted in the garden.First bumblebee

Saturday was a busy day – with lots of catching up to be done in the garden.  I planted out the broad beans that were sown last autumn and overwintered in pots in the greenhouse.  They were flowering and really needed to more growing space than they had in the pots, so now they are in a raised bed protected by an improvised cover to keep the worst of the frosts off.

Broad bean flower

Another job that had been put off because the ground was too wet and cold was clearing some space for the potatoes.  The soil has dried out nicely now, and should be warm enough for planting soon.  First though, there were bucket loads of weeds to dig out – mostly couch grass, with roots that go on forever.  This is one of the worst weeds in the garden here.  It grows just about everywhere and it’s so hard to dig out every piece of root to prevent it regrowing.  I had a good go at the soon to be potato patch – removing as much of the root as I could.  The hens had a good time too, picking out anything that moved in the soil as it was dug over and generally getting in the way.  Although they did take some time out for some sunbathing too…

Sunbathing hens

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sowing lettuce, rocket and herbs into modules.  Usually there would be lots of self-sown coriander and parsley seedlings appearing in the garden round about now, but this year there are just a few parsley plants starting to grow, and no sign of any coriander.  This is probably down to a combination of the cold start to this year and last year’s rubbish summer when fewer seeds were produced.  Never mind, I’ll just need to sow more seeds myself for an unlimited supply of coriander – we do use a lot in the kitchen.  And that makes a terrible link into today’s recipe… but it’s a recipe I wanted to post because it’s my entry for this month’s Recipes for Life.

Vanesther over at Bangers and Mash is doing a great job of collecting recipes for a cookbook to be published by the charity Swallow.  This month’s three ingredients are pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes.  Now pork isn’t a great ingredient to work with for a family of vegetarians but, being a lovely person and keen to encourage even awkward types like me to join in, Vanesther has said that a recipe with veggie sausages that could be substituted with the pork version would be OK.  So here it is, my sausage chilli recipe – we had it for tea on Saturday, and served with rice it made a very good end to a day’s gardening.

Sausage chilli 2

Sausage Chilli

(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 tsp mild chilli powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1x400g tin plum tomatoes

1x400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 tbsp tomato puree

1x165g tin sweetcorn

6 vegetarian sausages


To serve –

Greek yogurt or soured cream

A small handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat.  Add the onion, stir and cook gently for about 5 minutes, so that the onion softens but doesn’t brown.  Add the garlic, celery and carrots to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the chilli powder and cumin to the pan and stir so that the vegetables are coated in the spices.

Tip the tinned tomatoes into the pan – if you are using the kind that come whole, use a wooden spoon to break them up a bit into medium sized chunks.  Stir in the kidney beans, red pepper and tomato puree, and leave the chilli to simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes.

While the chilli cooks, grill or bake the sausages until they are starting to brown.  Chop the sausages into bite-sized chunks.  When the vegetables in the chilli are getting tender, but still have a bit of bite to them, add the sweetcorn and chunks of sausage and cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until everything is warmed through.

Serve topped with some Greek yoghurt or soured cream, and a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves.  The chilli goes really well with some rice, a jacket potato or some homemade garlic bread.

Vanesther has very kindly agreed to road test this recipe using spicy pork sausages – I’ll let you know how she gets on…