Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Missed one. After 3 days of not going to the allotment, found this enormous marrow

 Missed one. After 3 days of not going to the allotment, found this enormous marrow.

So off I went to the internet and found this extremely tasty and easy courgette soup

The first of the runner beans were ready too but not enough to make a large meal, so the runner bean samosas are on the menu tonight.

The filo pastry I made before and froze to make it a quick and easy snack.

Friday, 23 July 2021

From Spade to Plate: 26 July : Lavender Wands, Cordial and more

This post was published on 7th July 2017

Today 26th July 2021 Asami came and together we made some lavender wands like we did nearly 4 years ago to the day.  We also made some cordial and with the blue berries from the garden some lovely pancakes.

The scent of lavender is in the air, bees are loving it, but so can we.
This session we used lavender as our theme.

It was lovely to see Simone, Sam, June, Servane, Terry, Camila, Luciana with her son Theo , Kiyomi , Silvia, and Glo, we walked to the allotments picked the lavender, rosemary, chard and courgettes before we headed home to turn this abundance into tasty treats.

We made some lavender wands - a natural moth repelant, sleep enhancer, or natural car freshner.
We came to the conclusion that 7 or 9 sprigs were the best amount and that the thinner ribbon is easier to work with. Thank you Glo for giving us such lovely ribbons.

Last week we met AnneMarie, who sadly could not come this week but shared her Lavender idea. She told me that her family regularly make a refreshing  lavender lemonade drink, so inspired by her recommendation, I went on the web to get a recipe. I think it was lovely, especially when it was a warm and muggy outside as it was.

I made some lavender sugar for future use using a food processor

June was in charge of the Lavender Biscuits by Mary Berry, (thank goodness she had her beady eye on them as they turned golden quicker than anticipated) they were very nice but feel a few more flowers could have gone into the mixture to give a little more lavender flavour.

For lunch we had our Courgette Soup with Chard bruschetta for a light lunch, some of us had the chilled version (I made yesterday) and the other half had the hot version.  The addition of the parmasan cheese was delicious, 

In the end many of the members went on their way, lavender wand in one hand and a courgette in the other.  

A lovely way to start the week. I have been blessed with such lovely new friends.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Courgette Flowers

 As my aim is to grow food in my little garden that can double up as a flower garden, food for insects and  food for my friends and family.

Courgettes and squashes do just that. They are bold plants which look great in a flower garden and will feed your family and friends for weeks during the summer (and if stored properly, winter months)

Today I picked them to stuff the flowers and made this tempura batter as I had run out of eggs and this vegan version works very well too.


Tempura Batter

  • 1/4 cup cold aquafaba
  • 1 cup ice cold soda water, plus more to thin batter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • pinch brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp oil

Vegetable Tempura

  • 1/2 crown broccoli, chopped into bite sized florets
  • 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 150 grams green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 3" pieces
  • 1 bunch chives
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • Important tip: Anytime you are not using the tempura batter make sure to keep it in the fridge. It needs to be ice cold to work out the best. 
  • To make the tempura, add aquafaba to a medium bowl and vigorously whisk until foamy. Add the soda water while continually whisking to keep the foam. Add the flour, salt, brown sugar and baking powder and whisk until smooth. Add the oil and mix until smooth - if the batter is thick add another splash of soda water to thin it out. It should be like a crepe batter. Store in the fridge until ready to use. 
  • In a dutch oven or a deep pot pour in the vegetable oil until it's about 2" deep. Heat until 350F. 
  • Add the chopped vegetables to the batter and coat. Place individually in the hot oil and fry until golden brown or about 3-4 minutes. Remember not to over-crowd the oil as this is a serious safety hazard. Check out our deep frying safety tips for more information. 
  • Place fried tempura on a plate with paper towel to absorb any extra grease. Serve with soy sauce or spicy mayo

Sunflowers - what a welcome to the allotments

Every year Ruth grows a patch of Sunflowers. Her plot is the first immediately onto a busy road. Apart from it always looking very cheerful, a great way to shield the other beds of fruit and vegetables from the traffic.

They are there every year as they self seed. Very tightly together, giving a spectacular view.

Ruth gave me some seedling years ago and still now they are dotted around my allotment.

They look very summery and welcoming but also have many edible and medicinal uses.

I think next year, I will do what Ruth has done and sow a bed full of Sunflowers so I can use the petals (as you need loads of them.

The leaves have medicinal benefits too. Now I have read about these leaves I am drying them in todays hot sunshine. They will be useful for the winter months as they seem so good to help with coughs and lung   inflamations. 

As my artichokes are now past their best, I use sunflower buds instead

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Nasturtium Capers

 The nasturtiums have been cheering up the garden with their yellow, orange and red flowers.

Their leaves have ended up in the salad, some of the flowers stuffed with cream cheese as a spicy but sweet treat.

The flower that were kept on have started to wilt and dry up, revealing their seeds. I don't use them very often but every now and again a recipe asks for capers, so I will be using these instead.

After 3 days in bine, I made the vinegar mix and poured it over the 'capers'.

Here are some recipes I can use them in. 

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Lavender biscuits and lemonade

This post was originally published 25/7/2018

Lavender lemonade

Lucy and Lindsey cut a hand full of lavender to go into the lemonade. We then crushed it with a pestle and mortar. What a delicious scent this created. The lemonade will no doubt be amazing too.
(and it was).

In the mean time, Terry juiced the lemons and limes and added this to the pot with 1cup of sugar and 2 cups of water. We simmered it for a few minutes and let it sit until cool.
We then sifted it and were amazed by the lovely pink colour.  It was a delicious syrup, mixed with some sparkling water and ice. MMM!


Lavender biscuits

We made these in one large batch. One to have today (and they went down so fast we could not take a picture) and the other we made and put in a mini juice tetra pack in the freezer to have in the coming days when guests come. The rice flour in this recipe was fantastic. Well worth going to the shop for

Lavender sugar  to make Lavender Posset

As a main meal

We made courgetti spaghetti with spinach and blue cheese
The Spinach and blue cheese sauce came from the Riverford website.

The healthiest way to cook courgetti, because no fat is involved. Simply put the courgette noodles into a sieve and pour over a kettle of boiling water. This takes the rawness out the noodles without breaking them down too much. Strain well before adding the sauce.

And as a side salad we made this tasty and refreshing  Courgette ribbon salad 
Although the colours in today's meal were a little boring, everything was yellow, green and white,  the taste and ease of this meal was wonderful.

Thanks to Elaine, Terry, Lindsey, Melendra and Lucy for all the work, the end result was a lovely lunch with friends. Welcome to Elaine and Lindsey and Goodbye and till next year to Terry.
Your forget-me-not card and tea towel were such a gorgeous surprise. I will treasure it and think of you when drying the dishes

Monday, 5 July 2021

Fat Hen, steamed and in a quiche


Seiko, Asami and Hiroe joined me today while we prepared the fat hen/ white goose feet/  or lambs quarter.  We steamed it with onion, and garlic to go with the quiche in which we added some of the steamed fat hen. The end result: yummy

Afterwards we went to the allotment to find some growing Fat hen and picked some strawberries, yellow and read raspberries. On our way back to the bikes we bumped into Bob who gave Hiroe and Asami a little bunch of sweet peas.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

strawberries galore

 A grey but productive day. I went to the allotment to harvest 4 kg of strawberries from the raised beds. The first few weeks have been disappointing as there was so much slug damage.

Todays harvest was turned into 15 bottles of strawberry cordial, 500ml of strawberry vinegar, and strawberry compote.  In our zoom session we made drop scones which we topped with the compote and vanilla ice cream (which we made with the Monday group.

As usual, it was fun to see Meghan and June and make these tasty recipes.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Tortolini with mushroom and cream sauce

 Today we made some tortolini in a  creamy mushroom  sauce.

I used the square shaped ones that were put through the pasta machine to setting 6.

I think 15 would be a good amount for one portion. 

It was lovely to chat with Meghan and Melendra at the same time.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Artichoke dip

A new recipe for me and another way to use artichokes.

This dip was lovely on toast and I even put some in the artichoke fritatta with a delicious result.

Thank you Paola for showing me how to use artichokes in a more versatile way.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Elderflower season: our first Foraging walk is today!

June is the month for Elderflowers and lovely walks.

Today starts sunny and bright with not a cloud in the sky. We are expecting 29C so it might be too hot to go for a walk in open fields, luckily enough Alexandra park is around the corner and has lots of tree cover, and  a beautiful elder flower bush to give us the main ingredient for our Cordial.

We made some elderflower thee

It is a very versatile plant and worth reading more about here

Country file had an article with more elder recipes

Medicinal information

Every year I make more and more recipes with it.

First I made the cordial, (always adding the sugar at the second stage to prevent a sticky mess when squeezing out the flowers)

Then I tend to put in the fridge the left over lemons (and slice them very thinly) and the cordial that did not fit into the bottles.  So that with the next batch I can make Elderflower Marmalade

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Time to prune the grapevine

As the grapevine needed pruning, I thought it was a great opportunity to get the dolmades recipe out again. I used the same recipe as the one in my first cookery book From Spade to Plate, and went down pretty well.

As we had run out of sweet chili jam and this group had not made it before,  I went to buy peppers and chilies to turn into a delicious jam to go with our dolmades.

We also went in the garden and the allotment to pick some strawberries and turned them into a savoury salad.


this post was first posted on 6/6/2019

From Spade to plate: Elderflower cordial making and easy bagels

This post was first published on 23/5/2018
As making elderflower cordial is such a typical English drink, we made this again with the Wednesday group. As it is a 2 day process, the Monday group picked the flowers  and prepared the lemons and let it steep so that the Wednesday group can finish it off and start another batch.

For lunch we made this amazing bagel recipe

lovely with the vegan mayonnaise  or if you don't have chickpea aqua faba and don't mind using milk, this is another great recipe

we made and the vegan 'smoked' salmon'

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