Add a little style to your Summer cocktails and drinks by popping some beautiful blue star-shaped Borage flowers into an ice cube tray and freezing. So simple and elegant and guaranteed to elevate the plainest of drinks into something quite special. Continue reading Borage Ice Cubes – Too Cute in Drinks!
I recently tried rhubarb tea at a friend’s house – not sure where she’d got it from as I’d never seen it before but it was really tasty so I thought I’d have a go at making my own with the last of the rhubarb harvested from the garden this week.
I sliced the rhubarb into thin slices and blanched it briefly before dehydrating it – it took about 10 hours to fully dry it out. Then I blitzed the dried stalks in my food processor and stored it in a airtight tub ready for use.
It was pretty simple to make and resulted in a lovely lightly pink and refreshing homemade tea. I think next time I’ll try adding some ginger or possibly mixing it with some dehydrated apple to add some extra warmth and sweetness.
Looking forward to making more teas with the Autumnal harvests just around the corner.
We always get a good crop of rhubarb throughout the growing season – I often make jam, crumbles and cakes but I wanted to try something a bit different so decided to give ice cream a try. It’s fantastic – so tasty that I can’t believe it isn’t more common. I’ll definitely be making this again, and probably again.
I got the recipe from ‘The Ultimate Ice Cream’ book by Bruce Weinstein and have adapted the ingredients and measurements for the UK.
1lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
300 ml water
Juice of a lime
150 ml maple syrup
200 g caster sugar
1 large egg plus one additional egg yolk
2 teaspoons corn flour
300 ml milk
300 ml double cream
Combine the rhubarb, water and lime juice in a medium saucepan and place over a low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has broken down, approx 10-15 minutes.
Add the maple syrup, return to a simmer and cook for a further 2 minutes. Put the mixture through a sieve or a blender and puree. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, beat the sugar into the egg and egg yolk until thickened and a pale yellow. Beat in the corn flour and set aside.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium to heavy saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over a low heat. Stir constantly until the custard begins to thicken. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a sieve into a large clean bowl and allow to cool slightly before adding the rhubarb puree and cream. Mix well and then cover and refrigerate until cold.
Once the mixture has cooled freeze in your ice cream maker according to the instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can freeze the mixture (in a freezer safe tub) but will need to ensure you take it out and stir thoroughly regularly to break down any ice crystals as it freezes.
Since starting an MSc in Gastronomy at Queen Margaret University I may not have had much time for gardening but I do seem to have acquired a lot of new books, fifty and counting to be precise.
The topics cover a broad spectrum including food culture, philosophy, history, agriculture, soil science, nutrition, rewilding, the effects of our agriculture systems on the environment, food communications, foraging and food production. I’ve not read them all yet, some are for reference and dipping in and out of and others have been complete page-turners.
Recently I’ve been asked for reading recommendations so here are some of my favourites from my newly acquired collection that relate to gardening, soil fertility, foraging and botany. In no particular order (although Feral by George Monbiot was an amazing read).
First published in 1965 this is not a new book, however, the artwork is a delight to peruse and makes it possible to identify plants at different stages of growth, along with accompanying descriptions of habitat, time of flowering etc. The drawings are categorised into plant families which can help when looking up a specimen. Both the botanical (Latin) names are noted along with their more common names. A beautiful book for those who live in the country or have a love of flora whether wanting to identify plants or simple browse the pages.
RHS Botany for Gardeners is more than just a useful reference book on the science of botany and the language of horticulture – it’s a practical, hands-on guide that will help gardeners understand how plants grow, what affects their performance, and how to get better results. Illustrated throughout with beautiful botanical prints and simple diagrams. For easy navigation, the book is divided into chapters covering everything from Plant Pests to Pruning with feature spreads profiling the remarkable individuals who collected, studied and illustrated the plants that we grow today.
The Hidden Half of Nature lays out the astonishing reality we’ve been missing in the soil beneath our feet and right inside our bodies- our world depends on a foundation of invisible life. This is a captivating story of the least-loved part of nature, taking readers through major milestones in agriculture and medicine to untangle our uneasy relationship with microbes. From the challenge of turning their barren Seattle lot into a flourishing garden through Bikle’s struggle with a surprise cancer diagnosis, the authors discover the power nature’s smallest creatures wield over our lives and stunning parallels in the relationships that microbes develop with plant roots and the human gut.
Journalist Judith Schwartz looks at soil as a crucible for our many overlapping environmental, economic, and social crises. Schwartz reveals that for many of these problems climate change, desertification, biodiversity loss, droughts, floods, wildfires, rural poverty, malnutrition, and obesity there are positive, alternative scenarios to the degradation and devastation we face. In each case, our ability to turn these crises into opportunities depends on how we treat the soil. Drawing on the work of thinkers and doers, renegade scientists and institutional whistleblowers from around the world, it challenges much conventional thinking about global warming and other issues.
If there’s one distinctive feature of the British countryside, it has to be the hedgerow. It’s not only plant life that thrives in the hedgerow – native wild animals, birds and insects are protected and nourished by them. Hedgerows can also provide fresh, wild food for us, too, Nozedar reintroduces the wild and natural hedgerow ingredients that our grandmothers used on a regular basis from angelica to borage, from pineapple weed to wild garlic, each entry is beautifully illustrated to help you identify each plant or flower, along with its history and folklore, and culinary and medicinal uses.
How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us? Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives. Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way.
“Cooking with the treasures of the garden”
Have you ever infused a fig leaf in custard and had it’s coconut and elderflower scent waft up to you on clouds of milky steam? or picked a handful of fennel seeds when they are still green and fat and scalded them with boiling water for a sweet, grassy, anise-scented tea? Or maybe you have decorated a salad with bright purple sage flowers, with a flavour that’s deeply herbal yet honeyed? If the answer to any of these questions is no, this book will open your eyes to the hidden flavours in your garden.
Well someone clearly knew me when they bought me this as a birthday present! What a lovely lovely book!
On reading the introduction above I immediately wanted to answer yes, Yes, YES to all of those questions! Just those opening words sent me off on a deliciously intoxicating foodie daydream.
Petal, Leaf Seed by Lia Leendertz does exactly what it says on the tin and offers up a whole heap of recipes from cocktails and drinks through to main meals and desserts with butters, tisanes, sprinkles and sherbets along the way. It covers Spring, Summer, vegetable and herb flowers, fruit leaves, exotic leaves, leaves from herbs as well as herb, vegetable & flower seeds.
It’s the most bizarre thing, but every time I’ve picked this book up, I’ve sniffed the pages as if expecting to release the aromas from the glorious photography within.
I have a feeling that this book might well be to blame for some of my next few plant purchases, I’ve already added lemon verbena and borage to my list. My new favourite recipe book for sure – a perfect gift for a gardening loving foodie! (Thank you G!)
Rhubarb is one of the best growers in our garden (being an arctic plant the hard frosts we get in the hills keep it very happy) and I’ve spent a lot of time refining this recipe but I’m finally happy with it. I often make up a half batch (just 2 jars) if I have some windblown stalks needing using.
It’s super quick and easy to make, not to mention, very tasty!
1kg rhubarb, washed & sliced into 2cm lengths
1kg caster sugar
zest & juice of 1 lemon
75-100g fresh ginger, finely chopped (I like a strong ginger zing)
(This makes about 4 average jars)
- Place the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice & zest into a bowl, stir and cover and set aside for a couple of hours.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved in the rhubarb juices transfer into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.
- Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and then bring to the boil.
- Continue to cook until the rhubarb is really tender and it has reached setting point – this will probably take about 10-15 mins.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilized jars. Seal immediately.
Testing for Setting Point
Put a couple of saucers in your freezer before setting the jam to heat. When ready to test, drop ½ a teaspoon of the jam onto a saucer, leave for 30 seconds and then gently push with your fingertip – if the jam ‘wrinkles’ then setting point has been reached. If not, cook for a few minutes more and test again.
Sterilising Your Jam Jars
I do this in the microwave, soak the jars in hot water and then put the still wet jars into the microwave on full power for about 1 minute (until they are dry) and then use immediately.
We get a lot of game birds in the garden (pheasant and partridge), taking refuge from the local shoot. Although I’ve yet to catch one, we do get them from friends down the road. Continue reading Very Easy, Delicious Pheasant Casserole Recipe