Pickled Red Onions

One of the monster’s major crops each year is onions. We grow both red and white and we grow from seed and set. Stuttgarter and Bedfordshire Champions would be the considered whites while Karmen and Red Baron the trusted red varieties. Experience has shown that some years almost one third of the red onions will bolt, but when you get a summer as consistently good as last year’s, well then, thing were a good deal better with little or no bolting whatsoever, and though harvested during the last week of July, the Red Barons have stored very well indeed and this third week in January we are still making some delicious pickled red onion.

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Red Baron onions

These pickled red onions are one of the quickest and easiest recipes we here at monsterinthecorner use with the monster’s bounty: they dress any beef or lamb plate, work wonderfully well with any open or slider burger, can be served with cream cheese, Cheddar cheese or with smoked fish, and their piquant zing will enliven any cold platter or meat salad.

Ingredients:
• 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar/cider vinegar
• 1 good tablespoon of caster sugar

 

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Sliced red onions

Method:
At the outset make sure you do not create a recipe for disaster by mixing this simple but potent trio in the wrong container to begin with. Although only using three ingredients be sure to mix in a non-reactive bowl: stainless steel, glass or ceramic. This makes enough pickle to fill a good sized jar and once covered should hold in a refrigerator for up to 3 weeks
• Slice the onions as thinly as possible and toss into mixing bowl. Scatter the spoonful of caster sugar across the onions them pour the red wine vinegar into the mixture and stir it up. At this point we like to cover the bowl with some cling film and over 20-30 minutes or so invert the bowl and shake it up periodically. The onions are ready to use after about 30 minutes, or do as we do and put them into a sterilized jar and pop into the fridge where they will keep for 3-4 weeks.

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pickled red onions with creamed cheese on sourdough,,,

 

The People’s Seat

Today we here at monsterinthecorner post a transcript of the speech that was delivered at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) United Nations Conferences on Climate Change, in Katowice Poland on December 3rd 2018.

The speech was delivered by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and although composed by Mr. Attenborough, it marshaled the considered thinking and genuine evidence based concerns of billions of others living at this time on what we call planet earth…
It is a sobering, succinct summation of the truth every single man woman and child is destined to become very well acquainted with in the not too distant future, and that, if for no other reason, is why we now embed a copy within the monster’s archives: we reprint it here…

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Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

        “‘We, the peoples of the United Nations’….
These are the opening words of the UN Charter. A charter that puts people at the centre.
A pledge to give every person in the world a voice on its future.
A promise to help protect the weakest and the strongest from war, famine and other man-made disasters.
Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change.
If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.
The United Nations provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world.
And as the Paris agreement proved, together we can make real change happen.
At this crucial moment, the United Nations has invited the world’s people to have their voice heard, by giving them a seat. The People’s Seat; giving everyone the opportunity to join us here today, virtually, and speak directly to you the decision makers.
In the last two weeks, the world’s people have taken part in building this address, answering polls, sending video messages and voicing their opinions.
I am only here to represent the ‘Voice of the People’: to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions.
This is our ‘We the peoples’ message.
The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out.
They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They are behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Supporting you in making tough decisions but also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives. To help make change happen, the UN is launching the Act Now bot. Helping people to discover simple everyday actions that they can take, because they recognize that they too must play their part.
The People have spoken.
Leaders of the world, you must lead.
The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands”.

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The Monster’s Mouth…

This is the first recipe that we post into the new Monster’s Mouth menu above, where we shall ( in the best of our own established traditions) make posting of those many and varied recipes in which we use the Monster’s annual bounty; jams, chutneys, sauces and salsas and a wholesome lot more besides to come.

Harissa:

One of the Monster’s favourite culinary condiments is the hot and spicy North African paste Harissa. We use our own red chilli peppers, garlic, tomatoes and coriander leaves to make this wonderfully pungent addition to our larder. We use it as a marinade for pork and chicken, and Mrs. Dirtdigger will often swirl a loving spoonful into beef casseroles and stews. Loosen a spoonful with some quality virgin olive oil and it more than serves as a bread dip, a hot salad dressing, or as a drizzle for vegetables to be roasted. It adds heat and punch to rice dishes and couscous and it works wonderfully and surprisingly well with hard-boiled eggs while transforming mackerel, salmon and tuna when used sparingly as a cooking rub or as a flavour dress for open sandwiches. We make a couple of small jars each year while our fresh ingredients allow and this hot aromatic accompaniment to our cooking reminds us of the heady summer days on our allotment and sees us through the darker days of the year.

harissa ingredients
The Monster’s harissa ingredients: garlic,peppers,tomatoes and coriander leaves

Ingredients
• 8-10 medium-hot red chilli peppers Cayenne/Serrano/Fireflame 
• 1 heaped tablespoon of purée tomato
• 1 good-sized bulb (whole bulb) or 8 cloves of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
• 1heaped tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted, ground,
• 1 heaped tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted, ground
• 80-100 ml (6-8 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
• Splash red wine vinegar
• 1 cup freshly chopped coriander leaves
• Sea salt, and freshly ground black and red pepper for taste
• Pinch of caster sugar (optional), if needed

Method
• Preheat oven to 200c/gas mark 7.
• Place the chilli peppers on a small tray and roast for 18- 20 minutes. The skins will blacken and begin to come away from the flesh.
• Removing from the oven place the roasted chillies in a bowl and seal completely with cling film. Allow to cool. When peppers have cooled peel off the skins and remove the seeds leaving just the roasted pepper flesh.
• Put peppers into a mortar and using a pestle work to a paste (a food processor can be used). Now add the purée tomato , garlic and ground spices and grind/pound to a paste. Add the freshly chopped coriander leaves and season for taste.
• Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and red wine vinegar splash.
• Add a full fingers pinch of sugar if you feel the flavour needs a lift.
• Put into sterilized jars, and store in a refrigerator. It should store for up to 4 months.

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Harissa, one of the Monster’s favourites

Missing… inaction…

Missing in action!!!

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compliments of @janpaulkelly instagram

With the allotment site closed for the Christmas-New Year period we’ve not been out to tramp the monster’s measure in almost two weeks now, but then as past years’ experience could show, had we had the opportunity to venture out for a visit, we’d most likely have been hampered in our desire to undertake any serious allotment and gardening activity, it being the depths of winter.
And yet a little qualification; for we did say past years’ experiences, and most likely when this year’s early winter experience is proving anything but likely.

It was the mildest December in many decades with the daily temperatures 5 degrees above average for the whole month, and night-time temperatures not once falling below 3 degrees, never mind freezing. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day saw the mercury hover @13 degrees with slack southerly air and little or no rain. In truth it must be said that the early winter of 2018-2019 was/is a very benign affair, and being so means we have seen snowdrops in bloom and daffodil snouts four to five inches above their trenches before mid winter’s day, and when taken in tandem with the fabulously good summer of last year, followed by a milder than usual autumn, one could be forgiven for speculating that winter is missing-in-action.

But we here with the monster know better than to rush to rash speculations; and we need point no further back than to January February and March of last year to highlight the dangers with hastily drawn assumptions on a winter’s demise, early or otherwise. Mother Nature’s box of meteorological wonder is filled with magic yet for all of their allure none of her tricks has learned to tell the time, yet.
So, the fabulous year that was is now past, cast to history’s compost heap, and with that we prepare to begin the whole process again. We are hatching our plans, and we are preparing our templates. We begin filling the new sowing diary just as soon as we begin sowing (on 1st of February), and we still have one or two basic husbandry and upkeep tasks with the plot and bed perimeters to be pottering about with as the weather will allow. The celebratory actions and inaction just like the Mince Pies and Christmas pudding will have to be exercised and worked-off. The New Year –as every New Year does– presents its own challenges and propositions and we’ll greet them as we meet them and hopefully we will learn something from the encounters.
We still have jars of jam and sauces aplenty; we still have a store of Karmen and Stuttgarter onions, we still have rhubarb chopped and frozen and rather surprisingly we still have a bulb or two of garlic yet. Christmas has come and gone as has the year that was 2018. We may be missing our dirt-digging activities, but winter(?),

winter is not missing; it’s just not wearing its more familiar seasonal apparel, as yet.

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A very slack Dublin Bay on a very mild St Stephen’s Day