Tuesday, 26 October 2021

vertical gardening

 Here are some ideas on vertical gardening

This one for growing malibar spinach in bottles

This one for growing malibar spinach from supermarket stalks

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Rosehips harvested and in the dehydrator for winter tea

 Today I picked the rosehips in the allotment and prepared them for the winter to turn into rosehip tea.

Benefits or rosehip tea

Rosehips are rich in Vitamin C, tanning, pectin and thiamin[7]Tea has been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years. It has anti oxidative, antiinflammatory,[8] antimicrobial, anti-diabetic and anticancer effects[9]. Rosehips are a great source of Vitamin C, and “phenolic compounds, carotenoids, tocopherol, bioflavonoids, tannins, volatile oils and pectins.[10]“ The amount of vitamins and other compounds will ultimately depend on the cultivar, terroir and harvesting time, same as with real tea[11]. Interestingly, rosehips may have a higher anti oxidative activity than most of the popular berries–blueberries, chokeberry, blackcurrant, rowan berry and hawthorn[12].

Rosehips may be beneficial in treating some cancers, such as colon or lung cancer, but should be avoided in oestrogen-dependent tumours“ as they may cause an opposite effect[13]. Research showed that rosehip powder may help reduce the pain in patients with osteoarthritis[14]and rheumatoid artritis[15] and may be beneficial for weight loss too.[16]

While most of these studies are related to rosehips from Rosa canina, other types have many benefits too. Research showed that for treating Alzheimer’s diseases, rosehips from Rosa damascena may be the most beneficial ones[17]

Rosehip oil is one of the most precious oils in the beauty industry. Studies showed that it may be very beneficial as a skin-lightening product, while the powder may help with other aging related problems[18].

Easy Rosehip Tea Recipe

You can use both fresh or dried rose hips for making a rose hip tea tea. Use about 1-2 teaspoons of dried rosehips per one cup of water, depending if you are using crushed or whole fruits. You can either steep it or boil it. In a small saucepan bring water to boil and add dried rosehips to a boiling water. Let it boil over low fire for about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, bring fresh water to a boil and let the rose hips steep for 10-15 minutes in a covered teapot or a mug. Strain and serve. If you feel creative, blend rose hip with other fruits or flowers. For example, rose hips and green tea or rose hips and rooibos tea make a wonderful cold brew or iced tea.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Autumn 2021 in our garden

 Today we picked our last grapes. They have been delicious and gave us  sweet (but small) fruit for more than a month. The blueberries finished about a month ago, but thankfully there was an abundance this year and froze a whole tub and they too finished this morning for breakfast.

The raspberries are still going but suspect that this week's crop is for snacking rather than fruit salads.

The apples have been amazing too, still some left for a daily Vitamin boost.

Pears were beautiful (finished the last one today) large and sweet but not many of them, we had to supplement them with pears from the shop.

Strawberries we abundant in June and we had a second flurry in the last few weeks. Just one or two a day, so a real treat.

All in all a great year of fruit in our small little garden, for which we are truly grateful.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Using the last of the autumn sun rays to plant garlic and broadbeans

This was first posted on 30/10/2019

The sun is out and with a quick tidying of the beds we managed to harvest the butternut squashes for the butternut squash and coconut milk curry as well as sow the broad
beans and plant the garlic for the year ahead.

We made some more 'Lazy dough' as Li called it. to turn into butter, garlic and coriander naan bread.

The food was quick to make and very tasty. For those of you who have pumpkins for halloween, you can use the flesh instead of the butternut squash

The recipe for the curry:

Cut a butternut squash into cubes.
use 1 diced onion and 4 garlic cloves, and fry in oil until soft.
Add 3 tablespoons of yellow curry paste together with a tin of chopped tomatoes.
Add the squash and mix it all so it is coated. Cook for a minute or so and add a can of full fat coco nut milk as well as 1 stock cube (dissolved in a little  boiling water)
Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the butternut is soft.

Boil the rice in the mean time and made the naan bread.

In a pan, roast 200gr of cashew nuts (or peanuts) in a little oil, sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika.
Keep a close eye at it as it burns very easily.

Serve  curry on a bed of rice, topped with cashew nuts and a bit of chopped coriander.
Lovey with the garlicky bread.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Puy lentil dish with a refreshing carrot salad

This post was first made on 26 April 2020

Today's from Spade to Plate zoom session, we even ventured outside! We had a little walk through the garden where we saw the cherry, apple, pear, and strawberries in blossom. The coriander and mint were used in the carrot salad and the Purple Sprouting Broccoli leaves were used instead of Kale in the Lentil , lentil and goat's cheese dish

Instead of the goats cheese curd, I mixed cream with goats cheese to pour over the lentils. (Big success)

What is left of this curd, will be used up in the beetroot soup tonight.

As we had 1/2 a preserved lemon left I used this in the Carrot Salad as well. 

All in all a delicious meal

Stepover apple in blossom

Cherry and stepover apple in blossom

Blueberry  in blossom and grape showing first leaves

Strawberries in vertical garden in blossom

Broadbean in flower

Monday, 13 September 2021

Ciabatta bread with a fig and Goat's cheese topping

 We made ciabatta bread which went down a storm. 

As the fig harvest is so good, we used the ciabatta as a base and the figs and goat's cheese with a balsamic vinegar and rocket topping. 

Instead of the balsamic vinegar we used the blackberry balsamic vinegar that was made a month or so ago.

As we had some waiting time, I showed how I normally make yoghurt. The yoghurt has just come out of the tea cozy and has set well. It will be in the fridge overnight. I will then put it through a muslin cloth to get a thicker greek style yoghurt and the whey will be just for scone making. As my old school friend Franka and her husband will be coming for tea and they love to try a real English scone (Alice's recipe)

Alice's scones


225g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoon salt

50g frozen butter 

1 small egg 

125ml plain yoghurt

150g crumbled feta cheese

2 spring onions, chopped, or herbs or chilli flakes (optional)

A little milk to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt through a fine sieve into a bowl.
  3. With your fingers, rub in the grated frozen butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the crumbled cheese and chopped spring onion.
  5. Whisk the egg into the yoghurt with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the liquid and stir again with a fork, making a soft dough.
  6. Gather the dough in well-floured hands and knead very lightly. On a floured surface, press out the dough with a rolling pin to not less than 1.25cm thick.
  7. Using a 5cm glass or ring cutter, firmly cut out the scones. Gather up the scraps, kneading them together to more scones. 
  8. Transfer the scones to a well greased baking sheet. With a pastry brush wipe the tops of the scones with milk mixture.
  9. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until well-risen and golden brown.
  10. Makes 6-8 scones depending on the size of cutter.
We also made some yoghurt. I normally do this using milk delivered in  returnable glass bottles so that we reduce plastic containers

How I make yoghurt 


2 cups  whole milk

2 tablespoons plain greek yoghurt


  1. In a saucepan, over low heat bring the milk to a simmer. It will take around 15-20 minutes. The freshest milk will yield you better yogurt.
  2. Once it starts to bubble turn off the heat and set aside. You notice a skin has formed on your milk, that is normal.
  3. Let it cool down to 120 degree F. 
  4. Once cooled whisk in the yogurt.
  5. Pour into a sterilized jar and tightly close the lid.  Line a deep bowl with a thick tea towel and place in the jar of yogurt. Wrap the jar up well in the towel and let it sit out in a warm part of your kitchen over night.  (you can also use a thermous flask
  6. After this time, pop the jar in the fridge and let it get cold, roughly 2-3 hours. Once chilled your yogurt will be firm and thick in texture. (you could drain this through a muslin bag to get a greek style yoghurt, keep the whey for baking)
  7. Before you add anything, keep a couple of spoonfuls aside for the next batch. At this point you can add sugar, sweetener, honey, fruit and vanilla.
  8. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Beet burger

 As my own beetroot is not ready (failed first sowing) Raymond gave me a bunch of his beetroot and thought of making some beetburgers (new recipe) and tomorrow when it is oven day I will make the beetroot and goat's cheese tart

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Preserving tomatoes

 Although the tomato season started very late and blight arrived at the allotment, I still managed to harvest about a wheelbarrow of great tomatoes unaffected by blight. The San marzano turned out well so decided to can these.

I have used some different techniques this year to see how we get on. I will try them in a month time in the hope they all have come out well.

Firstly on 24th and 25th August I used this recipe, no waterbath

Mary has another great video  on how to water bath

Then I made a couple of jars of roasted cherry tomatoes in oil

Today, 26th August I made another batch, using a mix of the two. I peeled the tomato (cross in the bottom and then in boiling water for a few minutes, making peeling much easier) did everything as no water bath recipe, put them in a jar and added salted brine 70mg to 1 litre of water, jarred the chopped tomatoes, covered in brine and topped it off with a layer of olive oil. I did however, put them in a hot water bath, to make the lids go vaccum

The skins were dried as the oven had been on and covered with some celery salt and sumac.a tasty treat to nibble on( rather than biscuits)

Before I treated the tomatoes I cut one good sample, tasted it and when it was to my taste, took some seeds to dry on a  sheet of kitchen paper, named them and will use them again next year.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Courgette curry

 courgette curry

To use up some excess courgettes this curry went down very well. Would be good with rice as well as naan bread.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Pears and apples from St Edmund College

 For the last 6 years we have had permission to pick the apples and pears from St Edmund College. This morning Mark and I went out to pick the sweet apples for Monday\s pressing.

The pears were ready to pick too and will be eaten for breakfast as they are too good to press.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Russian Apple cake

 Picking so many apples for juicing, I thought keeping some behind to make this Russian Apple Cake would be a lovely treat.

Growing vertically

 Saw this and want to make this for next year . This man is growing cucumbers but the same can be done for tomatoes.

Growing in buckets

No waste - what to do with peelings and left overs

As the vegetables are coming fast and furiously I am trying to use as much as I can.

So even the not so perfect vegetables are being used.  Today I made this Quick vegetable pickle

Any left over peelings have gone in a bag in the freezer for vegetable stock

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Marjolein's Short bread

 Marjolein's short bread biscuits;

100 gr butter

50gr caster sugar (I added lavender sugar)

50gr rice flour

100gr plain flour

pinch of salt if the butter is unsalted.

Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment

Beat the soft butter and sugar until well blended

Add the rice flour, flour and (if needed) salt and mix into a crumbly dough

Gather into a ball with you hands. Pat out  a disc 1 cm thick

Cut into shapes of your choice 

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Figs are ready

 I have just come back from my first (of the season) fig harvest across the road. (14th August)

Although it has not been a particularly warm summer, they are sweet and huge.  Now time to get some nice recipes as we will need them for a few weeks, before I will dry them (here is hoping for some hot sunny days)

As I picked so many lovely figs, I have decided to dry them in the food dehydrator, today

Strawberry Ice cream

 Today we made Strawberry Ice cream topped with fresh strawberries (in balsamic vinegar)

As I could not find a tin of condensed milk, we made some ourselves

Monday, 23 August 2021

Courgette Bread with tomato sauce

 Today we made courgette bread and tomato sauce.

Having been away for a few days, the courgettes became too big and the tomatoes needed processing for storage.  As I found this crock pot recipe for tomato sauce, I thought to try this one. There was a lot of juice, I made soup with it and used the thick tomatoes for paste.

We also roasted tomatoes to store in oil.

For a drink with our meal we made a refreshing cucumber and mint cordial

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Cucumber and Mint Cordial

What to do with a glut of cucumbers ?

This cordial  is very easy and tasty too. You will need 2 large cucumbers for a litre of cordial. I prefer it mixed with fizzy water others said they liked it in tonic water.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Mungbean curry and flat bread

Today was the first time that a larger group joined me in the kitchen to make mung bean curry with rice and flatbread (we used 200g SR flour, 5gr salt and 50g boiling water) if you don't have SR flour, use the link for a similar recipe.

Afterwards we walked to the allotment to enjoy yellow raspberries that are just starting to ripen, tomatoes and we picked runner and french beans to take home. We even had a groups photo before the drizzle appeared.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Mung Bean Curry, Flat bread, and apple rose pastry

This post was first published on 24/06/2020

Finishing off what is in the fridge I made this curry today,  bringing back lovely memories from 2nd february 2010

After a very stormy night a warming curry is just the job.
WE made some mung bean curry with rice and flatbread.

In September Melendra, June and I went to pick apples in Storey's way. June wrapped them in newspaper and today was the day that we turned about 15 apples into a on the stove apple crumble

In the topping we put walnuts and maple syrup instead of pecan nuts and we added

crushed branflakes in the mix.