• 30Apr


    Well we are pretty much burried under dandelions here. Tthe fields that surround us are just covered in the things, so I thought, why don’t we do something useful with this little lot! So out came the herb books, the food for free books and the wine- making books!

    Since then (which was about a month ago) I have been drying the petals for wine., I have quiet a lot now but it still wont make much wine. My plan is to steadily pick and dry them all throughout the summer this way it doesn’t matter if I can’t pick enough to start the wine off straight away. Having said that, I still hope to make a batch from fresh dandeilion flowers so that we can compare the two wines when they are ready!

    I had a few demijohns already (thanks to dad!) and then Barbara has lent us the stuff that Ron (Al’s step- granddad) used to have for wine-making. This basically includes everything we were missing, including a big bucket that is graduated (has measurements on) with a lid, and a corking machine!

    I am very excited and can’t wait to get going with this properly!

    The leaves have made their way into many a salad we’ve been eating and now I am drying the roots to make a coffee substitute. I will also be drying the leaves as a herb in its own right and making tea from the leaves and roots -– dried again. The main reason for the tea is that it is a diueretic that helps and is prescribed for people with gout, and as poor mum has gout -– not nice, not pleasant and very painful -– I thought it might help her!

    So the dandeilion problem is still a problem because they are everywhere, including blocking the doors to the little garage, but I will be making much use of them:

    Wine Herb Salad Root vegetable Tea Coffee

    Pretty good for one plant that is seen as a weed!

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  • 22Apr

    Important lessons

    Well I have been making preserves again. 🙂

    The important lessons I have learnedt are:

    Do not fill my my preserving pan up with more than 9 pints of strained juice –- I put 12 in, thinking it would be ok, not realising exactly how much space the sugar would take up!

    Lesson No. 2: – Aalways scaled the jelly straining bag -– I am actually using a wine sieving bag, but hey, same priniciple. I couldn’t work out why the first lot I strained went through brilliaently whilst the second lot was still straining! Drip, drip… and drip again it went. This was becuase with the first lot, I poured boiling water through it to sterialise it in a fit of hygiene paranoia. Where as the second lot went into a cold, damp bag. I have since found out about ‘scalding’ jelly straining bags/seieves -– this is where you pour boiling water onto the bag in order to allow the fluid to drain through it, rather than being absorbed by the bag, which then acts as a sort of seal for the liquid left in the bag.

    Lesson No. 3: – Make sure that when dealing with fermentation buckets full of juice for jam- making or preserving pans or anything else –- do it, especially any pouring -– over a plastic matt.

    Lesson No. 4: – Make sure that when Al is helping you pour hot liquids that he is wearing shoes! It saves on moaning!

    Lesson No. 5: No matter how many jars you think you need -– it will not be enough -– so double the number!!!

    Lesson No. 6: Recipey books have a strange idea of temperature converstions! 220˚ F apparently equals 110˚ C -– yeah right, on whose scale? Not that this actually matters but it just annoyed me -– I am awear it’s the same magnitudte, but still!

    Lesson No. 7: Make sure that there are enough tea towles clean.

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  • 16Apr

    Wild Leaf Salad


    • Ransom leaves (wild garlic)
    • Young fresh spinach
    • Hawthorn leaves or leaf buds (though only in spring)
    • Dandelion leaves (small new leaves are best)
    • Mint leaves
    • Chives
    • Radishes (optional)
    • Pine nuts

    Dressing -– balsamic vinegar and hazelnut oil to taste

    Make sure that the ransom (wild garlic) makes up just over two thirds of the salad greens, mint, one sixth, and the rest a mix of the remaining leaves. Radishes are a lovely addition, though are not a wild leaf!

    When picking the spinache make sure that you only pick the new/young leaves, same with the dandeilions.

    Once the leaves are picked, wash them then tear them wroughly and place in a bowl together; chives can be cut up, as can the radishes.

    Add pine nuts and dressing, then toss salad to get even coverage and serve.

    We have served this up to people and they love it though no-one has yet guessed what’s in it, even with hints!!!

    The ransoms does give it a garlick flavour so if you don’t like garlic this isn’t the salad for you, though it is a subtle flavour and not over powering. The mint makes a fresh contrast and the hawthorn a nutty one. This salad will also be full of nutrients.

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  • 09Apr


    This was written in response to a question asked by my friend Becca who’s recipies themselves will hopefully soon be appearing on here!

    Becca Radishes are mainly a salad thing.

    Al eats them by themselves, but they can have a strong, peppery taste so I would advise that you get some nice greens for a salad, like rocket, lettuice, maybe some cuccumber and peppers to eat with them.

    You should wash them then ‘top and tail’ them -– this means you cut off the spindle hair-like root bit and the bit where the leaves attach. Then you can leave them whole or slice, or if you are feeling really adventurous then you can cut a zing zag around the ‘equator’ of the radish, creating to ‘flowers’ from the radish -– my dad used to do this for my lunch all the time -– placed on a slice of cucumber it becomes a water lilly!

    Dads other ‘peiece-de-la-resistaonce’ is where you slice half way into the radish and then ‘wrap’ the knife around it in a spiral as you go. Then place the radish, which should still appear whole, into a glass of water where a) it will end up with a milder taste, and b) the radish will open up into a lovely spiral.

    Do not top and tail until just before eating as they can shrivel, not being shop- bought ones injected with water! (I had given her radishes from our garden to take home with her after she had visited!)

    I hope that was helpful.

    I think the Japanese may do lots of other things with radishes but then they have lots of types of radish!

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  • 02Apr

    How far will one dish stretch?

    I decided to make a huge ratatouille, so in went the six tins of chopped tomatoes, four cloves of garlic, four large oinions, four courgettes, an aubergine, two peppers and half a bottle of tomatoe suauce. Slow cookers are so handy. 🙂

    Then I thought, well, I can use this as a base for other dishes instead of freezing it and lo!

    First of all we were going to have tacos, so in went in some of the ratatouille into a frying pan, followed by some canneallini beans and a tin of re-fried beans. Add some fajita seasoning and away we go!!! This was tasty and was great cold the next day as an accompaniment to salad.

    Secondly, I served it actually as ratatouilleee with some rice.

    Thirdly, I used it as a base for pasta bake. – Now I was also planning on turning it into a soup, but we’ve had lots of guests including Al’s cousin Phillippa and her boyfriend, and my mum and dad, – so I sort of ran out!

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