Monday, 26 April 2010

Standard Herbs

I have had my eye for quite a few years on some standard bay trees in the shape of a globe, but unfortunately could not afford the sum of £50 per tree. Marks and Spencers have recently had in some Rosemary Standard trees at £15 each,but even that is still a little expensive.

Two years ago I found myself in possession of some straggly bay leaf plants that had more in height than in breadth, so I set too and split them up and ended up with about 8 separate plants, tied to a stick with some soft string. Although I am a novice gardener, somehow instinct came into play and I am through trial and error managing to achieve what I set out to do. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I have fed and nurtured the saplings, and very slowly my plants are starting to develop, it takes quite a few years for these to achieve a sustainable size. Mine are still in the early throes of this procedure and this last winter I have lost about three of the saplings but the others have survived. They are now going to get fed with the home made nettle feed I have made in the past few weeks, so hopefully this season they will make lots of new growth.

I have recently seen Standard Marguerites, Rosemary and Lavender so I may well have a go at these also to see if I can achieve the same results with these as I have with the bay. I also thought if I managed to achieve this that it would be a good present to give to friends, just for a little time and effort and it certainly would be a lot cheaper than buying from the shops.

The general instructions I followed are:

Choose your subject woody stemmed herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary and lavender. Wait for the stem of the plant to become "woody" and there is an obvious leader. Using a sharp pair of secateurs trim off all the lower side shoots. Tie the stem to a bamboo stake using soft string so that it will not damage the stem. Continue to trim off any side shoots that appear and let the top develop. As the top grows keep it trimmed to shape.

Remember this project comes with a PATIENCE WARNING things have to be allowed to take their time but this will pay dividends in the long run.

Cheats Herby Cheese 1

With Herbs coming into their own now and more herbs are readily available either to the home grower or the person who buys from the supermarket. Here is a little way of pepping up soft cheeses such as goats cheese (a particular favourite of mine), feta or a cream cheese or combine a couple of the cheeses depending on your own palate). This gives them a slightly different twist. Taking the few minutes time out to do this creates something simple and stunning. This make over can be given to bought cheeses or your own home produced cheeses . Not only is this visually stunning but has a lot of flavour as well. Something like this would be excellent served as part of the cheese course at a Dinner Party, or equally an indulgent summer lunch for yourself.

This is just one of the combinations, no doubt you will go on to create your own.

Thyme and Chopped Garlic


Approx 3 - 3/4 oz (100g) soft goats cheese either bought or home made.

Several Fresh Thyme stems - leaves and flowers removed from their stem

Clove of garlic


  1. Take your chosen cheese. If bought from a supermarket take out of its packaging. Place cheese on a plate.

  2. Take your fresh Thyme pulling the leaves off their stems and if in flower removing the flowers and placing with the leaves.

  3. Finely chop the garlic and combine with the Thyme leaves.

  4. Gently press the Thyme and garlic mixture over the cheese until lightly coated.

  5. Wrap loosely in greaseproof and chill in a cool place until required.

  6. Use up within three days.
Here's a photo of the one (sorry to follow have lost the computer camera cable) I have prepared. I picked the fresh Thyme from my window box and I bought fresh Garlic yesterday. To ring the changes you could always add a little smoked garlic instead.

Serve with some hom-made crackers or savoury biscuits and some good home made relish.

The choice is down to you.




Sunday, 25 April 2010

2010.04.25 My Day

Well I had this idea that I was going to give my galley kitchen a mega spring clean out, including all the cupboards and sorting things out and re-organising so that I can actually find things. I think I have been a touch optimistic. I am about half way through and I still have a long way to go, we are getting there but a lot slower than I had hoped. I still have the Pantry to clean out and re-ackerfurbitate as well. But I did find a few things I had forgotten I had, which are going to come in useful in the weeks ahead.

Well the weather got better and the sun did eventually come out to play and my washing which I had left out last night eventually got dry, but it hasn't been as nice as it has been the past few days.

I have also cooked Spring Chicken for tea tonight. I have pinched all the skin up so that I can put a fresh home made herb butter underneath to self-baste the bird whilst it was cooking, together with two fresh bay leaves. I used a mixture of fresh thyme, Ictarina Sage, Rosemary, Chives Mint and of course the bay leaf, chopping all herbs with my Mezzaluna chopper and board In true fashion I have popped a load of vegetables underneath with which to make the gravy, wrapped in foil and then popped into the oven.

If you look closely you can see the bay leaves under the skin. I then added an onion to the cavity of the chicken together with what remained of the herb butter.

This is what it looked like plated up.

I had made home made bread sauce as well and it was very tasty and absolutely delicious.

And then for pudding I have done Toffee Apples with Ice Cream again.

And with the Ice Cream

So the kitchen is not yet finished but we have eaten. It will probably take me a couple of more nights to complete. Thank goodness we have the bank holiday weekend coming up and its my birthday on the Bank holiday Monday.

Charity Shop Find

Although I don't go into the Charity shops half as much as I used to, every so often I poke my head in to see if there is anything that takes my fancy. This Friday just gone I found this little bargain for 99 pence. Will go very nicely with all my other bits and bobs. An extra cake plate can always be used as a sandwich plate as well. And these are far prettier and cheaper than buying new. I just wish I could go a little more often. Everything will come in time.

I love pretty china, especially china tea cups and saucers. A cup of tea always tastes a lot sweeter from them.

Morning everyone

I am grabbing a little quality me time alone with my thoughts and by myself downstairs whilst the rest of the household sleeps. I crept downstairs and have made myself a mug of hot tea (I haven't put sugar in as am retraining myself not to take as much sugar as I used to) and am just listening to the silence of the house and just being still within its frame. A very civilised and peaceful way of coming too, not only for my physical frame but for my rambling thoughts and plans and dreams. It is peaceful and balm for a weary soul.

It is raining, the gentle pitter patter plop splosh of rain beating repetitively against the windows and the pavement, equally very soothing and very annoying as well. Since I was a child I have hated rainy days. Rainy days were when I used to stare out the window yearning to be out in the fresh air. Nose pressed up to the window pane (we had leaded lights in the cottage I lived in as a child) staring longingly. I hated being cooped up, still do really But these days are gentle days, days for reflection and taking stock of what we have and where we are going. A day for introspection.

We do need the rain (the soil is very dry here again - but I watered up my herb bed yesterday and gave them a dose of nettle feed). But why does it have to rain when I am at home and had lots planned to do. Oh well nothing drastically lost, just me trying to make as much of the time I have at home to get things done as usual. Will just have to put into effect plan B. There's always a plan B somewhere lurking just below the surface, trouble is it hasn't manifested itself yet - it will do.

Hope your wake up to the brand new day has been as peaceful as mine.

Catch you later.



Saturday, 24 April 2010


What a lovely few days it has been weatherwise and what a gorgeous day in particular today. I have spent some time in the garden today escaping for an hour or so from cleaning the kitchen. Correction I am spring cleaning and it is taking a little while, but hey ho we will get there. I have planted some more seeds namely some pattypan squash and some kidney beans. No doubt will plant some more tomorrow.

The cherry blossom is out in force, as is the apple blossom together with violets and Dandelion's. A few years ago we bought a Stella Cherry; it was meant to be a dwarf tree. Lets say I get a crick in the back of my neck looking up at it these days. We also have two ballerina apple trees, they also have grown a little taller than were anticipated. I am hoping we get some fruit off them this year; last year wasn't very good for them it was their rest year. Well Dandelions they have their place too. Its just lovely to see all the blossoms out. It really makes for quite a pretty sight. It cheers the soul. Me I am thinking will I get any cherries this year and beat the birds! I hope so.

The Dandelions, I am thinking of trying a recipe I saw on the Edible Garden programme the other week. Dandelion fritters. So they too have a use.

Take care catch you all again soon.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Plants Wish List

    The list is starting to become lengthy just a few of the things I have my eye on; whether I will have all of them them is another matter space permitting, but one can dream.

  1. Comfrey Plants

  2. Scented Pelargoniums

  3. Sweet Cicely

  4. Climbing Roses

  5. Clematis

  6. Lonicera - Honeysuckle

  7. Peaonies

  8. Lavender

  9. French Lavender

  10. Poppies

  11. Roses scented

  12. Rosemary Plants

  13. Juniper bush
  14. Violets
  15. Santolina
  16. Grape Vine
  17. Plum
  18. Pear
  19. Crab apples
  20. Quince
  21. Blueberries
  22. Wormwood
  23. Redcurrants
  24. White Currants
  25. Gooseberries
  26. Eglantine Rose
  27. Apothecary Rose
  28. Hop Plants
  29. Peach trees
  30. Raspberries

Will have to see how it goes!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Cinnamon toffee apple wedges

This comes from a magazine unfortunately I cannot remember which one, but it is very scrummy. Its one of my chop outs. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


100g butter
100g golden caster sugar
6 apples cored and cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Handful of Pecans, toasted and chopped.


  1. Heat the butter and sugar in a pan on a medium heat.
  2. As it begins to bubble and turn golden brown add the apples and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes turning to coat the apples in the toffee mix.
  3. Stir in the pecans and serve immediately (I serve with Vanilla ice cream)
  4. Enjoy

Monday, 19 April 2010

2010.04.19 My Day

Been a busy day here in Peterborough. Have had loads of washing to do and I have got it all dry. Its been a warm lovely day even I have been without a jumper today which is a rarity.

For the best part of the day I have spent pottering in the garden. It has been delightful to be outside, especially after being cooped up in an office for the best part of the week. My mixed leave salad, sorrell, radishes are through and have been transplanted to the cold frame with fleece lining and top together with the re-potted house leeks and Londons Pride. I didn't get any seeds sown today as have been clearing the herb patch, sorting out loads of pots, as well as the cold frames . Everywhere still looks a mess but it is tidier than it was work in progress we will get there. I have also sorted out loads of broken pots (plastic liners) and recycled them in the bin. I didn't get into the house until gone 6.00 p.m. No roast today so that I could get on we have just had egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and fried bread. Very tasty too.

Yesterday I pruned the bottom part of my bay tree which had thrown up loads of suckers. Probably the wrong time of year to do it, but rather than waste the leaves I have strung them tightly into part of a garland for one of the dressers. Need some more leaves to finish it, but am quite pleased with it.

I have also (thanks to Silver Sewer - Thanks Ann) managed to take two cuttings from the mint my mum gave to me. They are currently stood in water waiting to root. It is going into a large confined pot so it doesn't over-run anything.Ideally I fancy an old belfast sink to plant a load of herbs into, but lets say one hasn't come my way yet. Fingers crossed.

Outside the kitchen door is starting to look quite respectable again. I am going to try and do a bit after getting home from work each night and hopefully slowly venture down the garden.

Catch you all soon



Sunday, 18 April 2010

Canned Peach Fool

A Quick pudding to make when unexpected guests turn up (well that is if you keep a store/cupboard pantry).

Requirements: Food Processor

Ingredients: 1 Can peaches (or home preserved peaches)
doesn't matter if in syrup or juice
1 can custard or equivalent amount of home made custard
Juice of an orange


Drain the peaches. Place the drained fruit in your food processor bowl and whizz up with the custard and orange juice until smooth. Pour into individual glasses and serve chilled.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

2010.04.07 My Day

Well what a beautiful day weather wise. I was up early for me 9.00 a.m. and then proceeded to set too and washed three to four loads of washing and got it all hung out on the line and dried. I love the smell of fresh clean washing when it has been brought in.

It was quiet in the back garden, sun shining, insects flying about minding their own business. It was warm in the sun with a gentle breeze. I opened up my growing houses and checked my seeds they have come up a little more. I then spent a peaceful hour or so sowing some more seeds, some Angelica, Thyme, Globe Artichokes, Yellow Courgettes,Parsley (French plain leaved), Parcel, and Mint.

We then went over to my mums, ostensibly only for an hour or two, but we ended up spending the whole afternoon there. Her television needed tuning in and she didn't know how to do this so OH attended to, and then set about sorting out her computer which was dreadfully slow. It was lovely just to spend time and chat generally. Mind you Missy escaped three times into the street, she found the gap under the gates. I brought some London Pride and some houseleeks as well as a cutting of some mint back with me from Mum's garden. The are all potted up and in the grow house now. She has an Aloe Vera and I have asked her to take a cutting when she can for me as I am forever catching my hands on the oven shelves or cutting my fingers on knifes etc. But it was lovely to spend quality time with my lovely Mum.

We didn't get home till gone half past five. I then went into the garden again and I don't know where the time went. I started to chop down a lilac that has overgrown at the bottom of the garden and also round my bay tree near the back door. Here there were suckers through that needed taking out which I have done. I have managed to loose my glasses in the process. I had a glasses strap on and I think they have got hooked up somewhere. Trouble is I can't see without them and it was too dark to see them properly by the time I came in. I now ache quite a bit, but still have a lot of work to do in the Jungle down the garden. I intend to reclaim it but it is quite a mess. It won't be long before I will need to get my potatoes in, they have started to chit.

The violets are well out in the garden they have self seeded themselves into every nook and cranny and the apple blossom has just started to come out as has the cherry blossom. Spring is definitely here.

We have had a late tea tonight, chicken pieces with sweet chilli dipping sauce. All I had to do was cook the chicken, but it made a change, and it means I have been able to get on with other things in the meantime.

Am now sleepy won't be long before I go on up. I need another early start in the morning as still have loads to do and very little time to do it in as usual.

Take care wherever you are



Friday, 16 April 2010

Fresh Garlic Puree

Use this sparingly but it is delicious - I love garlic mind you. The fiddly bit is peeling all the garlic, but the time and effort taken means it can be stored in the fridge or in the freezer.

Requirements:Food processor


6 heads of garlic
2 tablespoons oil


Break the garlic heads down into cloves and peel. Put in the processor with the oil and process until a smooth puree.

Spoon into small glass jars, seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. I top up with oil to give a seal and then each time I use some of the puree top up with oil until all the puree has gone.

Home Made Garlic Butter

Ideal for keeping in the freezer and taking out what you need to either add to vegetables of french stick or bread to create your own garlic bread. Yummy

8oz butter
2 teaspoons fresh garlic puree or 4 garlic cloves crushed
freshly ground black pepper

Requirements: Food Processor

Using the normal metal blade add the 8oz butter chopped into cubes to the processor bowl with the garlic puree and seasoning. Process for a few moments until smooth.
Turn into a glass container, add some oil to the top. cover well and store in the refrigerator until required. After using, re-seal the jar with fresh oil each time until the garlic puree is used up.

Will keep up to a month.


Garlic Herb Butter put a good bunch of fresh herbs such as basil, marjoram, dill, tarragon and parsley into the processor and process for a few minutes until roughly chopped. Then add the butter, garlic puree and seasoning. Continue as above, store as above. Store for up to one month.

Whole Lemon Drink

We all get fed up of drinking the same old things day in day out. My staple is tea, but I am currently going through a phase where I am looking for something different my palate is tired off it. I have been on my fruit teas as a result. I am trying to cut back on the amount of my sugar intake as well so maybe this has something to do with it, but I have been looking for something fresh, something to quench my thirst rather than add to it.

I have spent the evening listening to the T.V. and browsing through some of my cookery books that I haven't looked in for a while and I found this recipe. Its from Mary Berry's Food Processor Cookbook, but it is very refreshing, easily made and best of all it has no nasties in it and costs hardly anything. It doesn't keep very long, so for minimal costs you could make up a fresh batch every day and keep it in the fridge. I have a fridge jug that I keep in the door of the fridge and then serve as and when it is needed. It makes approximately 1 pint.

Requirements: Food Processor

Ingredients: 1 lemon cut into quarters
1 pint of chilled cold water
1 to 2 tablespoons of caster sugar to taste


Set the food processor up with the normal metal blade. Place the quartered lemon into the processor bowl. With the machine running, add the water through the feed tube, then add sugar to suit your palate. Continue until the fruit is finely processed. Strain into a jug and serve chilled with lost of ice and mint sprigs.


Cheats Home made Peanut Butter

Ilove salted peanuts. To date though I haven't found any quite like I used to have when I was a child. The closest so far has to be Julian Graves. My grandfather used to buy ready salted peanuts fresh off the market in Lincoln, used to bring them home put them in a screw top jar (usually an old horlicks jar washed out and dried with the nuts being decanted into the jar). He then used to pop them down by the side of the open coal fire (latterly the log burner).The heat from the fire and the log burner used to help release the oils in the nuts so they kinda self-lubricated and were always scrummy. Pop always used to have a few each day after supper. We used to be given some of this treasure every time we went, and child like we used to wait for Pop to dish up the salted peanuts they were special a treat and we only got them at Pop's. The flavour lovely warm and pungent, they have left such an imprint on my mind and palate.

As a result I am very fond of peanut butter - not good for the waistline - but hey that went years ago. I also don't like wasting things, and when there are some peanuts needing using up I make this and store it in the fridge. Its a Mary Berry Recipe from her book Food Processor Cookery ISBN 0-86188-957-6.

Requirements: Food Processor

Ingredients: 6 oz roasted salted peanuts
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of sunflower oil


Set up your food processor using the blade attachment.

Measure out your peanuts and then warm the peanuts in a frying pan just to heat through but make sure you keep an eye so that they don't scorch.Then place them into the bowl, then with the machine running pour in oil through the funnel a little at a time until you have the texture you like; i.e. rough or smooth; the less oil used the smoother the end result will be.

You can use any peanuts you like with dry roasted giving the most traditional taste. No need to add any sugar although you can vary the flavour by adding some almonds or hazlenuts to the peanuts so the recipe says. I personally have not tried this yet only the peanut butter version.

You can also use this to form the basis of a home made satay sauce.

I just love it spread on hunks of good bread - very tasty.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Seed Update and Gardening

Well the seeds I sowed last week some of them are through already, despite the temperatures being a little low this week, they are all snug in one of my little growing houses, covered with cling film and fleece. I like growing things from seed, it gives you a sense of achievement and of nurturing. My real desire for doing this though is to supplement my meagre shopping allowance as best I can so that I can use what little money I do have to good effect.

The seed potatoes are starting to chit, just need a bit longer.

The pea sprouts are starting to poke their heads through the soil.

No sign of the Dwarf French Bean Tendergreen as yet

French Breakfast Radish these are really putting a spurt on.

Mixed Salad Leaves - no sign as yet.

Sorrell - no sign as yet.

Spring Onion - White Lisbon - no sign as yet.

Mesclun Mixed - most definitely through.

So I am quite chuffed as it has only been a few days.

This weekend I intend to sow a batch of different herbs. I thought if I grew a few extra they are good to give away or to help a local charity raise much needed funds. I tend to save the water cups from work and use them to transplant the seeds into. A touch of recycling never hurt anyone.

I have the seed packets for the herbs sorted out ready to sow into pots.
They consist of:

Summer Savory
Winter Savory
Garlic Chives just some of the seeds shown above - there are plenty of others.

I also intend to sow some:



cucumber and

melon seeds as well as a batch of pot marigold (companion planting)

Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

Eye of newt and wing of bat - well something like that I never was good at remembering quotes!

Well something's definitely happening; the yeast seems to be working and there appears to be quite a few bubbles on the surface. The odd gurgle pop pop. It even smells interesting - actually smells like a beer with hops in! Mind you I wasn't too convinced when I started with it! Too green - green gunge! But things are looking very promising. If this turns out okay will be making some more. I might be turning the old coal shed into a wine cellar yet!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Dreams (No not the Bed Company)

Do you dream and can you remember what you have dreamed of the following morning? As a child I used to dream a lot and if I was upset about anything it used to come out in my sleep. So much so when my Dad went away for a 13 week stint to train for a new job in Basingstoke (Dad was away Sunday to Thursday night) I pined for him and would not settle and became a prolific sleep walker and frequently during this period started screaming my head off in my sleep. My poor mother went through hell and back with me, (and she had my young brother to cope with as well) but every Friday Night and every night Dad was home I setled and there were no problems until he left the house again.

As an adult, when I am upset about things it tends to come out in my sleep. I have been known to have a nightmare (when at home in a single bed) I was dreaming that somebody was throttling me and I was really involved in my dream. So much so I screamed out in terror at about 2 or 3 a.m. and had the whole family congregated in my bedroom including the dog trying to find out what on earth was going on and to make sure that I was okay. What in fact had happened was I had got the sheet wrapped around my neck and as I had turned myself upside down in the bed, the sheet had twisted and was throttling me and I couldn't get out of the bed. It was pure chance that I was dreaming of being throttled as well. Well I couldn't get out the bed and free myself because the sheets were tucked in and my head was where my feet should have been.

Notwithstanding that not all my dreams are violent ones. Sometimes I dream and things actually come true. They are more like pre-cognitive dreams; I am usually given information about an event or something that is yet to happen. I get about a 6 month notice period, and then around the end of the 6 month period the event acutally comes true. This has happened to me since I was a child. In our family it is known as the early warning system; seems to be a thing with members of my family not everyone has the ability but a couple of us do have. Its the same when someone is ill I usually know whether or not we need to go to them or not.

Saying that Dreams do not harm you and for the best part they are a pleasant experience. Some people know that they dream and unfortunately cannot remember what they dreamt about. It is usually remembered by a trigger point, and then the whole story comes into the conscious memory. This leaves people with a sense of Dejavue. But you can train yourself to remember. If you are prone to dreaming keep a pad by your bedside and then as you come round of a morning write down anything that comes into your conscious no matter how silly it is. That silly information could be important and it is best to record as it is experienced. It is interesting to look back and see if there are any patterns developing. Alternatively write the information down and put it into a sealed envelope with a 6 month file forward date on the outside of the envelope. Then open in 6 months. If no event has occured you can always pop it into a fresh envelope with a new file forward date on it.

When I dream I am usually a bystander being privy to watching everything that is going on, but not the actual person; its as though I am given an overview of everything that is yet to take place without being involved, and yet it puts me in a position of being able to help those affected because of receiving prior notice. We all have dreams like this and some of us are better at interpreting and reacting to them than others, but that all comes with practice. It is nothing to be worried about just something that happens when we are fast asleep.

Our Dreams are our Dreams they are ours to hold, but no one elses' to break and our dreams they give us hope, hope that maybe one day our innermost dreams will come true or that we will achieve those things we hold most dear. They vary from person to person.

Sweet Dreams


Monday, 12 April 2010

Nettle Beer

I thought I would give this beer a go; it seems very popular in certain areas so I am going to have a go simply to find out what all the fuss is about. Its a recipe I have had for a while - I am not sure where it originally comes from, but it seems fairly simple and seems to be a traditional beer recipe utlising fresh yeast. I also thought that if I actually liked it, it would give me chance to make some more and perhaps have a few bottles put up for Christmas. And if I don't like it - well I just won't make it again.

Ingredients required:

2lb nettle tops (the top two inches of the plant) *
1 gallon/8 pints water
8oz sugar (Brown or Demerara)(*)
0.25oz fresh yeast
Small piece of toast
0.25oz Powdered ginger or a small piece of fresh or dried root ginger.

*When picking nettles I only ever use the top two inches of the plant and only pick until May as from June onwards the plant becomes more bitter (oxalic acid)

(*) In a lot of beer recipes home brewers have been using powdered glucose instead of sugar as it assimilates into the liquid it is being placed in and starts brewing more quickly - apparently it gives a better result all round.


In a large pan boil the nettle tops in the water for half an hour (a large preserving pan works well).

Strain the nettles through muslin or a fine sieve (nylon one). Retaining the liquid only add the sugar stirring to dissolve. Stir in the powdered ginger and then pour the mixture into a sterilised brewing bucket. Toast the bread and then spread the yeast on to the toast and float on the surface of the nettle liquid. Cover and leave for about three days at room temperature. Stir the brew every day. Do not allow the temperature to fluctuate too much as this will ruin the fermentation process. Strain again and put into clean strong beer bottles. This can it says be drunk after a couple of days.

When picking nettles I wore a pair of bright marigold gloves to stop being stung. You can use a pair of scissors to cut the nettles, but I found that the top two inches came away quite well. I only use the leaves, discarding the stalks which can go into your compost bin.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

2010.04.11 My Day

After getting up early to attend a lovely day course yesterday, I had a little lie in this morning. Its generally been an easy going day, have managed to do lots of washing done and managed to get it all dried in this lovely weather we have had over the weekend. I have also been pottering sowing seeds this afternoon and then popping them into my grow houses covered with fleece for extra protection.

This afternoon I have sown

Dwarf French Bean Tendergreen

French Breakfast Radish

Mixed Salad Leaves


Spring Onion - White Lisbon

Mesclun Mixed

Sprouting Pea Shoots

That's for starters. I am hoping to do some more during the evening when I get home from work.

I have a lot of herbs that I would like to get started as well as I have all sorts of plans with what to do with them.

This afternoon we went for a long walk and I have picked some nettles primarily to make some soup, nettle beer, and some nettle wine. I have been reading that the humble nettle is very good in the form of a soup for detoxifying my system, and with me having the arthritis, I thought it might actually help me. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I think I am going to be busy when I get in tomorrow night, processing the wine and the beer.

We had chicken and home made chips for tea tonight. So I am going to use the rest of the chicken in a curry tomorrow night and then make some chicken stock for my nettle soup. I am then going to put a couple of batches in the freezer for later use. I thought I might also blanch some whole nettles for use in home made pasta and as a vegetable in its own right (Poor man's spinach). I am also going to dry some leaves for nettle tea. I have also read that you can dry the leaves and then powder them (like you do with mushrooms) and then add into stocks and stews and things like home made taglitatelle. I also know that traditionally nettles have been used in cheesemaking for wrapping home made cheeses, so I am going to have a little play. The nettles can also be used in gnocchi, quiche and as a substitute in any spinach recipe. I think I am going to be enjoying having a good play. They are also good added to the compost heap as an activator and if you have the room to grow in the garden, they will attract the butterflies in.

I think I am going to enjoy the playing.

Catch you all soon



Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Edible Garden

I was out last evening but on my return OH indicated that he had seen a very good new programme on BBC called the Edible Garden. He indicated that the presenter had grown pea shoots for use in salads without buying special seed and using dried peas from the pantry and that she had also packed a lot of vegetables into the garden as well as flowers and had quite a return for the size of garden she had. She also had acquired a couple of point of lay chickens and within a couple of weeks was getting a couple of eggs a day and every other day a double yolker from one of the chickens. As OH spoke so highly of the programme I decided to view it on catch up and I am glad I did.

The programme is presented by Alys Fowler, one of the Gardeners World presenters, this being her first solo programme. There are six episodes. Her aim is to produce as much as she can out of her small terraced back garden and be on the road to self-sufficiency without forever being reliant on what the supermarket can provide, but in a low impact pretty and simplified way of growing things, and referring to different methods of sustaining low impact gardening. Its about making a conscious decision and taking responsibility and taking control of a situation that most of us are in i.e. at the mercy of the supermarkets. We can make a difference even just by growing a little bit. If you end up with a glut of things then it can be stored for later on in the year by various methods. A little cooking was involved and falafel balls made from broad beans and peetini a gin based pea shoot alcoholic drink were proffered as recipes.

The first programme predomimantly covered Peas and Beans and was on last night at 8.00 p.m. The next programme is scheduled for the 14th April at 8.00 p.m. and will be dealing with salad crops.

During the course of the programme reference is made to the BBC Website at There is also a diary planner with suggestions of what you should start growing now, for different areas of the garden.

As I had enjoyed the programme I logged in and under the Dig in Section there is an offer on for 5 packets of seed, the BBC being particularly interested in new gardeners and those who have had a go before. It looks like a very good site so may be worth a look by people living in the UK.

You might also like to pop into your nearest branch of Lakeland as on their gardening catalogue this year they are offering a packet of mixed salad leaves for nothing to grow at home. To me salads are well worth growing as to buy them is so expensive and at least this way round you can choose whether you are going to do little trays of mixed lettuce leaves or bigger garden planters of pick and come again mixed leaves that will do you good as they can come no fresher than being picked straight from the garden, and then straight to the plate.

Well worth a look



Words for the Day

Work Hard, Play Often and live in love

(Stuart and Linda MacFarlane)

Moroccan Orange and Cous Cous salad

I love cous cous and it suits me to eat mid-day for my lunch as it is packed full of flavour as well as being filling and healthy to eat and best of all it is ready in no time. As I say I eat it as a mid-day meal in itself, but it can also be added to other meals as well. I tend not to be able to eat loads in one go, so this kind of meal suits me. OH is not keen but I love it.

Serves 4 to 6

6oz cous cous

1 bunch spring onions trimmed and chopped finely

1 small green bell pepper deseeded and chopped

4 inch piece of cucumber chopped

6oz can chick peas rinsed and drained

2 oz sultanas (golden raisins) or raisins

2 Oranges

Salt and Pepper

Lettuce leaves to serve

Sprigs mint to garnish


Finely grated rind of 1 orange

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint

150ml cup of natural yogurt

Put the cous cous into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave it to soak for about 15 minutes to swell the grains then stir with a fork to separate them.

Add the spring onions, green bell pepper, cucumber, chick peas and sultanas (golden raisins or raisins) to the cous cous stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper

To make the dressing mix together the orange rind mint and yogurt. Pour over the cous cous mixture and stir well.

Using a sharp serratedknife remove the peel and the pith from the oranges. Cut them into segments removing all the membrane.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on 4 serving places, divide the cous cous mixture between the plates and arrange the orange segments on top. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and serve.


Why do people eat nettles?

There is a very good reason why people used to eat nettles are starting to do so again. Methods of preserving used to rely very heavily on salt to preserve meat etc. After many months during the winter months of eating salted foods, the nettle was seen as a natural purgative to the system getting rid of all the nasties out of your system after months of eating in this way. Nettles were seen as being good for you and a natural restorative to the bodies normal functioning. They also help boost the immune system. Being as I have a wonky immune system I thought that this might be one way to help myself by eating rather than self-medicating. Nettles are good for detoxifying your system naturally.

My grandfather knew a lot about herbs. One of his nick names was herby. There is an extensive history on both my paternal grandparents' families of arthritis and also on my mum's side of the family as well. Each Spring my Granddad used to flay himself with nettles believing them to be helpful in keeping arthritis at bay. He never suffered from arthritis. My Nan did as do I, but I am not sure that I could be so masochistic to myself to do this. Never mind that you would need a constant supply of Dock leaves.

I have never tried nettles although I understand that they are classed as "Poor man's spinach" After sizingup the nettle patches on my recent walk at the weekend, this weekend I am hoping to be able to go armed with my basket a pair or rubber gloves and some scissors to collect the nettles for making nettle wine. As I understand it you can use nettles anywhere you would use spinach and/or chard. They are inter-mixable between dishes. However I was and always have been led to believe that the best time to harvest nettles is in the Spring months as after May the plant becomes harsher and full of Oxalic acid which affects the texture and the flavour. When picking nettle tops only pick the top 2 inches or so of the plant, and dispose of any stalks on the compost heap. Nettles are very healthy for a compost heap.
I thought I might try with a soup to start with, and if I like it I can then deep freeze a batch or two to have when I need them. I am also working on the basis of a little and often might help me keep my wonky system under control. I can but try, and if I find it does not work for me then I can always stop using it.

Words for the Day

We can as individuals do so little to help the sad and suffering in the world
The lonely, bereaved, imprisoned, despised, exiled, sick in mind and body, the cold, the hungry
Yet we can reach out to those within our knowledge, with courtesy
and kindness, an unexpected gift, a visit
Treating them with the respect that they deserve
Honouring their courage. Listening to their stories.
For every kindness spreads in a shining circle; see how good people
everywhere set rings of light across the darkness,
rings that link and interlock

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


What does the word peace mean to you?

To me, it means when everything is quiet and I am not having to look after other peoples needs instead of concentrating on those of my own. To share my own company without continually having to listen to others voices a time for solitued and just be still in the moment. Not that I am selfish, far from it, perhaps I tend to put others needs first, but sometimes we need peace and quiet to restore our own equilibrium and regain our own natural composure without having to constantly wade through a long list of things or deal with situations or people everybody but myself.

Peace a word but it resonates strongly it also gives you time to regroup and attend to your needs. We all need peace. Our souls need to be soothed and nurtured and we need love in order to grow and learn to fly. Time for regrouping. If we do not centre and nurture our inner soul, our inner child like the grape on the vine it will wither through lack of nourishment; thus that person does not reach their true potential, but a little bit of spade work, and nurturing helps prepare a strong foundation, Peace allows us time to put thoughts into perspective and helps us attain a state of serenity and calmness and helps us cope.

But peace also means or suggests lack of conflict, and being in a peaceful safe environment where you cannot be harmed

When I want peace I go to places like this.

I find that walking helps me centre and focus on those thoughts that fly through my mind like quicksilver. But being near water, near nature and near trees or the sea gives my weary soul balm so that it can heal and grow and it helps me deal methodically and rationally with anything life has to throw at me

What does peace mean to you?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Words for the Day

Focusing our attention -
Daily and hourly -
Not on what is wrong,
But on what we love and value
Allows us to participate
In the birth of a better future
Ushered in by the choices
We make each and every day.
(Carol Pearson)

Meditation and My Day

Its been a long day and I am very tired after the early start this morning. One advantage of getting up early was that I was organised and not in a rush so I intend to do the same again tomorrow morning, which in turn means an earlier night for me as have to walk into work and back again and am out tomorrow night. However I did managed to do a half hour meditation this morning which helped me feel a little more positive than I have been of late. I listened to the Angel Medicine DVD by Doreen Virtue. Its very soothing and just helps still and calm the active mind and puts you in a slightly altered state. Its a bolt hole for me when there are lots of thoughts buzzing round and round and not giving me much peace.

I also like the Doreen Virtue cards as well the art work on them is absolutely gorgeous. William Rand is also good for a guided meditation. Meditation is mind awake body asleep and you can do meditation without sitting down. Its called spot meditation and it usually involves concentrating on a particular job like doing the ironing and watching the iron glide backward and forward, time slows down. It can be done with any repetitive job - brushing your shoes is another good one and if you get lots of thoughts crowding you out just name them to make them go away without getting distracted by anything else. More difficult than it sounds.

I was taught to read the cards by throwing the instruction book away and by shuffling the cards yourself or if attempting a reading for someone else getting them to shuffle the cards for you. Then pick a number of cards - let your inner voice dictate how many - it varies - but I tend to use five cards. If a quick reading 3 cards. Then work with the cards and the feelings you get about your sitter. Go on have a go its not difficult. I am also learning Tarot, but I don't like the Rider Waite pack at all - just a pack I cannot work with.

Most people don't appreciate that for the best part we don't use our breathing apparatus properly. Meditation is good for starting to put that right as we slow our breathing down and hold the breath expanding the lungs on the inhale and slowly release on the exhale. The cards and the meditations are tools in our work box. Each of us is very different and so likewise we have different tools. My arsenal currently consists of Angel Cards and other variants on this theme, and Reiki.

Its been busy at work but thats par for the course. Fortunately I met a good friend at lunch and we ended up going to the pub and having a lovely meal. My friend had chilli and I had lasagne.

Walked home and when I got in, Tyson was waiting for me on the dustbin. He was a bit fed up as his friends who he goes to daily are on holiday this week, (they run the local veg shop and he joins them - partly becuase they put the heater on for him on cold days). Because they are not htere it has put him out of sorts. Big softy wanted fuss tonight. OH then got in about 6.30 p.m. with Missy who went absolutely nuts and then collapsed in a heap fast asleep.

Will try and get back with the continuation of my walk on Sunday and more pictures sometime this week.

Please take care until then



Early Start

Early start for me today - I am not normally around at this time of the morning. Perhaps an hour and a half later but not normally 6.00 a.m. I am an owl and I usually wake up when it is time for bed, but if I had stayed in bed this morning no way would I get to work I would end up falling back asleep again. So as the saying goes prevention is better than cure.

Its quiet apart from the sound of birdsong, traffic has not got into gear yet - which is nice. Its mornings like this when I wish I was in the countryside, listening to nature waking up and the full morning chorus, so much more peaceful and tranquil. I have just had my breakfast and I have a very fussy cat itching to get into my cereal bowl, which is a no no, but still she tries. Squeak my tabby is very much a mum's girl and at the moment is very muh in fuss mode, trouble is when she is like this she is like a rash all over you and you just cannot shift her until she has had her quota of attention.

Missy has gone with OH en route to spend time with his daughter and Gnasher and Booner, so no doubt she will be on the go all day. I am about just to go and do my hair get it all nice and clean again and get myself smartened up for work.

Hope you all have a good day wherever you are



Monday, 5 April 2010

Words for the Day

(Robert South 1634-1716)

2010.04.05 My Day

Well have had a very lazy day today not doing very much, been surfing the net indulging myself, creating a wishlist on Alibris - well one can dream can't one. I absolutely love books and I use them a lot. Its a love affair that started at the tender age of 4; my father was keen that I learn to love books as much as he did; I was equally determined that I wasn't going to under any circumstances. Lets just say Dad won and it has left me with a life long appreciation of books for which I am eternally grateful. I am afraid I am not keen on CD books not tactile or textured enough, for my liking.

I have also been playing catch up on some of my favourite blogs and appreciatiating everyone's different styles and different take on things. We are all different which is good because that means things don't get boring.

I think a little bit of playtime does everybody good from time to time. Gives you a breathing space. As the saying goes All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Have had a lovely meal today. OH decided he wanted pigs liver in bacon , gravy and carrots for tea. He and I do not see eye to eye on liver. I like it but not blue as he likes it. I prefer mine cooked. So I have had smoked haddock, poached egg and bread and butter for tea. Followed by the remnants of the rhubarb and ginger brulee from tea yesterday. I will certainly be making that one again.

OH has appointments tomorrow and Wednesday. Which means he will be late back so it will e a case of walking to work and walking home tomorrow. Just hope it doesn't rain.

This afternoon and evening I have been playing hunt his suit trousers. I know I have ironed and pressed them but can we find them! Of all the times to lose something like this. Bet its somewhere safe it always is. Nothing is ever straightforward in this household. Things grow legs and walk!

Never mind have sorted out something else smart for him to wear instead. He hates dressing up at the best of times. Now where did I put that shoe horn, to ease him into it!

Catch you all later on

Take care until then



Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter

Hello Everyone - Happy Easter. Sorry am late on parade, have been enjoying my time at home. Have had a pleasant day here in Peterborough today. Hope you have had all the usual Easter treats, like chocolate, chocolate and more chocoloate.

We took Missy for a walk down by the River, and on the boardwalks. This time I remembered to take my camera with me. We had a lovely walk, the sun was out and it was warmish in the sun, but cold in the wind. Being in such beautiful surroundings is like balm to a tired soul and only serves to emphasise just how much I miss being able to walk into the countryside. The only reason I am able to gain access to this part of the town is that OH drives us parks up and then we walk. I am not allowed to drive at the moment. But I yearn to be back living in a small village and being part of a community. One day it will happen, but until then I have to feed my soul on forays like this.

Here are just some photographs from my walk today to share some of the wild secret places that not everyone knows about. Not only that its lovely to see photographs from areas around the country, especially ones we don't always know.

It is surprising that you can find such green places, particularly in a town, which for the best part is built up, but there are green places there to be sought out and found. What surprised me is the variety of wildlife both animal and vegetable that is about and how the simpliest life forms cling to life with such tenacity, cropping up in small numbers, liking the situation and then gradually increasing their foothold season by season.

I managed to take over 130 photographs will share some more another day.

But just had to share these violets with you

Enjoy the rest of the holiday I intend to.

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)