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Skyscraper seedlings

24 Jun

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Ripped this idea from the first series of the killing. I should have been wringing my hands with Pernille over the disappearance of her kid but was actually more attentive to her kitchen window with the shelves spanning the glass to cram in more plants. Now we can house more sprouting lemongrass (just shove one from the supermarket into some Innes number 1), geraniums, cucumbers, sunflower seedlings… One small snag.. The free mdf from the free wood bin at Homebase bends rather but we will upgrade at our leisure to a piece of unyielding marine ply.

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Rebujito, or Why you’re growing mint

17 Jun

Is your mint properly confined or rampaging free through your borders? If the latter, then not only could you take to fresh mint tea infusions or create mint apple and red onion relish or a minty pesto… You could also make yourself a rebujito. I was converted at Morito in Exmouth market. A good slug of fino sherry, san pellegrino lemonade (very lemony, good and bitter), a fist of mashed up mint and more than a few cubes of ice. When the warm weather makes it here this is what you will want to be drinking. Like all cocktails it tastes even better if someone makes it for you. Xxx

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I love David Austin

17 Jun

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The front of our house is a waterfall of scented yellow blooms thanks to David Austin roses.

Happy Halloween. Is that quince cheese for the chop?

31 Oct

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Is it Happy? Happy Halloween can’t be right.
Quince cheese. Little friend C and her crew dropped round yesterday after the park and gave us quinces. So here we are 24 hours later with a quince cheese about to be brutally halved. Apparently it now needs 4 to 6 weeks to mature. Can’t see our half making it to December. The bits we scraped from the pan were really very good. Why isn’t everyone hacking up quince?

Recipe: Peel and core quince. Weigh the quince flesh and pour out the same weight of sugar for later. Simmer peelings in just enough water to cover for an hour then push the pulp through a sieve. Add this to a heavy pan containing the quince flesh chopped up, a good squeeze of lemon and cover with just enough water. Simmer this for an hour. Then add the sugar and cook really slowly for an hour or even two until you can scrape a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and the two halves separate for seconds before sliding back together again. Line a tupperware with greaseproof smeared with a tiny amount of oil. Slide the quince cheese into the tupperware to a depth of 3-4cm and cool then chill overnight in the fridge. In the morning the cheese should be set and can be turned out onto fresh paper then wrapped up in greaseproof then newspaper to be aged for 4-6 weeks in the fridge before eating with cheese or cooked meat…

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What the quinces look like before cooking – they are meant to start out quite hard and green!

What’s cooking…

23 Aug

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So today we have plums from the garden and, from the back of the garden, smaller greengage plums. These will go into plum tarts. A large bunch of sage from our lovely neighbour, A, whose sage, planted out, has flourished where ours has withered in pots. A bulging dish of pizza dough for the kids’ lunch and more. Some almond blossom biscuits made last night. A pot of tomato and chilli jam bubbling. … Must have improved somewhat with age because the Home Ec teacher never thought I was up to much. She would fall off her chair if she saw me now. … All down to the love of a good man…

Blessings of the season

13 Aug

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August means …. The house is full of bright red stems of crocosmia lucifer. This is a perennial that seems to go mad in our garden, gets too big and flops. This year I have thought to bring it inside as cut flowers. Very dramatic. Pics soon. Just cut back the lavender in hopes it will not go rangy next year and popped these in vases too. Heleniums are my next big thing. They look like daisy head rudbeckia type flowers but bigger. Good to have plenty of late summer colour.
Another August treat are deep fried battered courgette flowers. Leave them on their little courgettes so they have a bit more substance… Better to fry, better to eat. Beer batter then fry in sunflower oil. I cannot express how wonderous they are, the crispened delicate flower case yielding to a soft almost liquid inside. Dip some sage leaves in the batter too – a soft new growth sprig of several leaves. These will be a revelation too.

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Fig leaves at Glyndebourne

6 Aug

Smashing Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne. Like a 17th century sketch show. Basically a much more watchable version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Very rude in those woods, pretty coarse at times. It must be the mood of the times… Benny Hill in the time outs at the beach volley ball and 7ft bunnies frolicking every which way to the strains of Purcell at Glyndebourne. Jonathan Kent’s staging was a feast. A near naked Adam and Eve vignette something of a highlight. I plucked a fig leaf from the gardens afterwards as a memento.
Love the Glyndebourne wind turbine but had to turn around to eat my picnic… It made me feel I was on the clock rather than entirely at my leisure in a rural idyll.

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Garden filled with sculpture. I loved this Diana:

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Fighting the gooseberries

15 Jul

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Arms all scratched up. These better be good gooseberries. Doing ok at the moment… This many blueberries every day off our 50p bushes from Homebase the other year. (You should see the size of the bay tree we similarly ‘rescued’ about 7 years ago.) Raspberries all done now, strawberries on the wane, greengages and plums not near ripe, cherries demolished by birds because we didn’t net them this year. We always seem to plant things in inaccessible places. This is true of the gooseberries, which are not the easiest of plants anyway with all those angled evil thorns. But this little lot should do a good apple and gooseberry pie tomorrow.

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Peonies are incredible

30 May

Peonies
These are the most beautfiul flowers I think I have ever seen never mind received as a gift. It was worth having our recent big party (and all the efforts of our usual over catering) just to receive these. I sat looking at them listening to music for a good hour or two the evening after the party. We’ve peonies just blooming in the garden now and, though not the peer of these, they are already vying with the roses and the irises for garden champion.

Tomato Tomato Tomato

25 Mar

Some say tomato Some say tomato. !! But we all agree on the labelling of our little tomato seeds. Now all we need to do is whisper ‘grow grow grow’ regularly. Thank you Number 1 for excellent labelling work.

Tomato seed labels

Tip: Cut up plastic folders make the cheapest and most durable plant labels. And the colours can be cute. Just add Sharpie.
And plant pots – we’re willing Number 1 to eat even more strawberry yoghurt ‘cos we’re running a little short on seed pots.