Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Let There be Mint {and Basil}

Hello Friends!

It is a glorious afternoon in the Shire, maybe at times a tad muggy, but then the wind freshens and whips it all away for a few minutes, and it is such beautiful sunshine to lift my flagging spirits after several days of murk.

Over the past few weeks you’ve seen photographs of my free mint plant. Well, not exactly free, in the middle of winter, when there was no mint in my garden, I bought one of those growing herb pots for £1.00 and when I had used it, I put the pot outside to be dealt with later when the weather improved.  In the meantime, the root kept on growing and a few weeks ago I noticed lovely, small green shoots in the pot, so I potted it up into a bigger container with some fresh compost and look at it now! A few weeks of moderately warm days, a few days of rain, as well as regular watering when it is dry and I’ve got a lovely, big, healthy mint plant.  I’m not certain, it may be Moroccan Mint, but it has that deliciously fresh minty taste to it, and which is perfect for fresh mint tea {which I love}

These photos are taken over several weeks, in chronological order ~~~

7th April
20th April

28th April 
13th May

24th May

Then, I did the same thing with some basil {which I never have much success growing from seed} I bought a pot, used some of it, then planted up the twenty or so stems, which are invidual plants, into a bigger pot and I now have fresh basil for a few weeks longer ~~~

I've also found an early~ish lone foxglove in my hedge ~~~ I love foxgloves dearly and am privileged that the simple, pink native has chosen to make a home in my garden ~~~

It's nearly June and things are moving along in the garden now ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Friday, 19 May 2017

Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos

Hello Friends ~~~

I've been looking for something a little different to give my taste buds a lift lately and this is one of the recipes I've come up with. It's still a work in progress, but then I do love to play with my food!

As a vegetarian I'm always looking for different ways to cook with pulses, beans and grains which I love, and which form a staple part of my diet. So, yesterday, I went on one of my Fridge Raid meals and tonight I made a tweaked version of last night's Fridge Raid. I'm calling it Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos.  This is a cold filling.  Here's what you'll need ~~~

For two servings:
1 can Butter Beans, drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled
50 grams of cheese {Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or any hardish cheese of your choice ~ I used Harlech, a lovely cheese flavoured with horseradish, from my local deli} grated.
4 spring onions {salad onions, scallions} thinly sliced
A generous pinch {to taste} of chilli powder {optional}
A generous pinch {to taste} of smoked paprika {optional}
A pinch of sumac {to taste and optional, but I like the slightly sour taste}
A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or some of the pickling juice from a jar of Pepperdew or similar
Olive oil
Spring of mint, chiffonade
Pinch of Chipotle flakes, for presentation, optional
Taco shells, or soft tortillas to serve

Here's what I did next:

In a large bowl, using a potato masher or a fork {which gives you control over the texture} mash together the avocado, butter beans, cheese, spring onions, mint and seasonings. When all mashed and blended, but still with some texture, slacken it off with a squeeze of lime {or lemon} juice and some Extra Virgin olive oil. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Heat your taco shells or tortillas according to the packet directions and fill with your butter bean mixture. Sprinkle over the Chipotle flakes if using. Serve immediately and enjoy ~~~

Bon Appétit ~~~
Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Blossoms and Blooms

Hello Friends!

It was inevitable, I suppose, and last Tuesday evening with the most quietest of pings my back went into a spasm and I've been in pain ever since. Thankfully, the weather is inclement so I am not actually missing out on any gardening time, and with strong winds and heavy rain, possibly thunderstorms, coming in the next few days it gives me an enforced stay indoors and time to heal. ~~~sighs~~~

So, this morning, after a day and a half of chilly winds and soft, gentle, constant rainfall, the garden is looking brighter, refreshed and restored {only wish I could say the same about myself!} and here are a few photographs I took on a short hobble around the lawn and borders {I couldn't manage the few extra yards down to the berry patch, but I'm sure all the work of recent weeks is being quickly undone after the rain!} ~~~

I think everything is looking good, but it's the bits in between that you don't see that I fret about!

I have managed to find my old Instagram account, and if you are on there you may like to make yourself known. Some of the photos will be the same, there will be different ones too, and it's just another social media platform, as we all like something different, so here is the link for you, if you are interested ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Daisy Chains and Sunshine

Hello Friends ~~~

I hope it is as sunny and springlike where you are today ~ although still a little chilly, it is a beautiful day here with a lemon curd dollop of buttery yellow sun in a pale, blueberry~kissed sky, with silky smooth wisps of whipped cream. Next door's Copper Beech dances and prances with a glistening glimmer and shimmer of beaten bronze, a perfect match for the blue sky above, and with temperatures in the high 50's I shall be very happy to be doing even the simplest of chores outside today.  Here are a few photographs from the coast path taken recently ~~~

One of the sweetest flowers of spring and summer has to be the innocent daisy that are daintily sprinkled across our lawns ~~~

Won't you join me on the lawn this afternoon? There will be tea and cake, and we shall sit on the grass and make Daisy Chains. My lawn, not yet mowed, is a green sky full of sparkling, silver stars in their own green firmament, kissed with the glistening dew of an early morning sunrise ~~~

Until next time ~~~
Deborah xo

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Quiet Visitor to the Garden ~~~

Hello Friends!
For the past ten days or so the weather has meant no gardening {only if I really, really had to} as it has been very cold and very windy. I'm not a fan of gardening in twenty to thirty mile an hour winds!  However, it has been a lovely spring day today, the sun shone brightly in a boldly blue sky, and cottontail puffs of clouds scurried along in the not too insignificant breezes that billowed and blew the cobwebs away ~~~ a perfect afternoon for a few hours weeding in the garden, so booted and suited in my gardening togs off I went and carried on the job of clearing the raspberry patch ~~~

I had not been clearing very long when I discovered I had a very quiet companion. At first I thought it was a leaf, but then I realised it was a beautiful Angle Shades moth {Phlogophora meticulosa ~ which sounds rather like a spell from a Harry Potter novel!}

With a wingspan of about 45 ~ 50 mm, it is a fairly common moth, especially in southern coastal areas, with distinctive markings and looking not unlike a withered leaf {great camouflage}.

It would not let me go! It clung on to my gloves, and despite my best efforts refused to fly away to the safety of nearby cover, so moth on hand I came and found my camera and took some photos of the obliging little creature.  Here are the best ones I managed ~~~ to see a larger image, just click on each image ~~~

Eventually, the dear little thing decided it was best if it listened to me, so I released it quietly into a lovely patch of brambles and nettles ~~~

Until next time ~~~

~~~Deborah xo

Monday, 1 May 2017

Merry Merry May with Cake ~~~

Hello Friends!

Happy May Day!
Tis the Merry Merry Month of May!

Oh, yes, there must always be cake ~ and the cake I will share with you later.

Everything is waking up in the garden, and getting ready for a Springtime Garden Party. As I wander through the garden I wonder and ponder at the miracle of life surviving the winter months: the evergreen trees that never give up their colour, such as the yew tree and the camellias; the bare branches of deciduous trees, dormant since their autumn glory, and now bursting open wildly into a myriad shades of green; shrubs and plants of all kinds that dropped their leaves but kept their berries and seed heads to feed and nourish the birds all winter long; plants that disappeared only to reappear with sturdy new shoots above the soil, continue the cycle of life; and tiny green seedlings sprouting everywhere, evidence of last summer's flowers renewing their vow to return ~~~ and so it goes!

Here's what's blooming in the garden this week ~~~

Aquilegia Columbine

Cowslip Primula Veris

Osteospermum Cape Daisies

Seed head of Pasque flower

Seed head of Pasque flower

A beautiful demon!

Well hidden in amongst the leaves of the Arum lily

Arum lily

Spanish bluebells

Aquilegia Columbine

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom and plenty of it!

My 'free' mint plant going from strength to strength each day now! How quickly it grows.

The return of wintry weather has brought a halt to most gardening jobs for a few days at least, but we need this rain badly and there are always plenty of happy things to do inside the cottage while the winter has a final fling outside ~~~ such as baking cake, for there must always be cake ~~~

Last Monday evening, the programme "Paul Hollywood's City Bakes" came from Reykjavik, Iceland. Of course I was glued to watching it as I lived there for four years and it was a real trip down Memory Lane to see the beautiful Icelandic land that is so dear to my heart. Every weekend I visited the town of Hveragerði so I could buy island~grown tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, lemons and more grown in their geothermal greenhouses! I watched with great interest as he visited a local baker who uses the free, geothermal energy to bake delicious barley and rye bread, and rich fruit cake ~ all baked, or steamed, in the steam rising from the volcanic vents!  Later, he visited with the Mayor of Reykjavik and in his home made the traditional Laufabrauð which I wrote about here in December 2016.  Then, with lots of other explorations into Icelandic cuisine, he made his own version of a sponge cake using the unique Icelandic ingredient Skyr, which is a high protein, low fat dairy product similar to yogurt.  So, I just had to make one, and the recipe can be found here.

Well, this is my verdict. It has a good texture rather like a pound cake, so good with a cup of tea. According to the recipe, you bake it in two 8" pans, but I think it will bake well in a Bundt pan with and temperatures adjusted accordingly.  It is not the most elegant looking of cakes, rises to quite a dome making it difficult to fill, so I might halve the recipe and bake one layer, then cut it in half horizontally to fill it. I think you could use a thick yogurt, such as Greek style in place of the Skyr. The recipe says to serve eight, but it is such a deep cake it would easily serve twelve, or more. I found it rather bland, so I maybe ground cardamon would be a good alternative to the ground ginger, especially if serving with coffee {cardamon and coffee go so well together} ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo