Thursday, 15 April 2021

Wild Rocket Salad: not just the leaves

 Thewild rocket has been available to pick throughout the winter, and now it has started to bolt, but the leaves are still tender and delicious, and there is the added bonus of flowers to give a lunch salad a floral edge:


With bright clear days, we have even had lunch in the garden.


The flowers were picked as they open, and put in a small sealed tub to use over the next couple of days.  They also looked very good strewn over a lovely green soup.

Time to sow another row.....

Blood Orange and pistachio Cake

 Thanks to Mandy who sent a 'surprise' gift of Honey & Co: The Baking Book, I set to to bake a delicious sounding recipe.  I had picked up a whole tray of Blood Oranges up at Wells Fruit and Veg, and with all the other ingredients got cracking.  

My dilemma was as a result of not having sufficient dariole molds or large muffin tins, and thought I would make half the quantity and bake it as a whole cake.  Mandy had warned that she had problems releasing the cakes, so I made sure to butter the cake tin really well and also line the base with parchment.

As Mr S said, if this had been on Bake Off,  it would have been tears!  Several of the orange slices stayed in the tin, but these were quickly put back onto the cake, and the middle was undercooked, something which was only noticeable when it was sliced.



However, it was absolutely delicious, served with more sliced blood oranges, and a dollop of yogurt. What would I change for next time?  I would not put so much sugar and cornflour on the base of the tin, but make a syrup to pour hot onto the cake when it was baked.  Bake the cake at a 10 C lower and for longer, and glaze after the cake is turned out as it is cooling.  Make two: one for now, one for the freezer.

The poorly baked middle was cut out, and combined with an egg, some milk and large raisins in marsalla, and made into a baked hot  pudding, which was absolutely delicious.

Swiss Dark Flour in a Sourdough Loaf Tin

 It is ages since I wrote about using the Swiss Dark Flour from Shipton Mill. As another bag was added to the last order, I thought I ought to get baking with it.  The quantities just fill the two Silverwood 1lb loaf tins, which are larger than similar named ones by other companies.

My refreshed starter was bubbling and vibrant and made from 80g each of healthy mother, with 80g each of White Strong Flour and water, left to bubble overnight.

The remainder of 400g Strong White Bread Flour, and 150g Swiss Dark Flour, 320g water initially, plus a little more for wetting hands, worksurface etc. and 10g salt.  I follow the kneading, and the stretch and rest methods as for Sourdough baking.  This is a version of 'Mighty White'. 


 Another time I will use equal proportions of white and swiss dark flour for a more robust loaf.

Monday, 12 April 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Somewhere these are wild flowers

" Round abouts,  along the lanes there be wild flowers a plenty" my English Grandma was a great connoisseur of them and roamed the lanes and paths of Lincolnshire, and could take one to all sorts of 'secret  places'.  Mr S & I  have been walking out and spotting drifts of primroses and also many other wild flowers. A few wild English flowers growing  in the garden and in flower at the moment are primroses, violets and cowslips.  

I post these assemblies of flowers from the garden and link in with Cathy who brings gardeners together to share similar arrangements each week. 

The little vase today contains some delicate 'wild flowers' originating from distant lands.  They retain the gentle light form of wild spring blooms and because of their beauty and ability to adapt to our climate and soils, have become garden additions, without any necessity to improve or hybridize.



The pink flowers of Cyclamen repandum with their long twisted petals is a native from the shores of the northern Mediterranean; Dicentra Cucullaria also known as Dutchman's breeches comes from woodlands in Eastern North American, and Corydalis ochroleuca aka Pseudofumaria alba with its ferny green leaves a perfect accompaniment. This last one is native to the north western Balkans and northern Italy.  It was introduced to Britain long ago, and listed by John Gerard. Alison gave me this a couple of years ago, and I am delighted to find that it is now finding its own special places in the garden.

This week, still on zoom, I am meeting up with friends to share our thoughts of  The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.  I will give it a good rating, and loved the humour and pace, but I had better have a recap of the last few short chapters as I got carried away at the end, and may have missed some of the intricacies, in my rush to get to the end.



Saturday, 10 April 2021

Six on Saturday - 10 April

We may have had some great sunshine but there has also been hard frosts, with tender growth caught a little.  The ground absolutely sodden just a few weeks ago is now parched, so a little watering of newly planted bits and pieces and pots has taken place, and the water barrel is already nearly empty.  The propagator has been moving plants around and has some really bright blooms to share this week, I'll be tagging along there as usual.

1.  Andrew, a fellow SOSer posted about having a tortoise.last week, which reminded me of my husband's tortoise.  She is still around, and with a niece, and most probably a great niece or nephew.  We happen to have two concrete ones which are moved around the gravel garden.  Both found abandoned in previous gardens.  They are a reminder of Toby, who only after being named and after laying an egg, revelaedl her true identity: dear old Tobbie!



2.  Phlox bifida Ralph Haywood has come through the wet winter and is in flower. Buds were showing in March but it is now nicely covered in its pretty divided blue flowers. This picture shows it a little too blue, when in reality there is a touch of mauve very similar to the Foxtail Rosemary growing not far away in the same bed.

I wasn't sure when to prune it back, so it has been left alone, as I thought the growth would protect it from the weather.  The stems are thin and brittle, but I can also see tender green shoots emerging deep within the growth.  I may get two periods of flowering: early April on the old stems, continuing with a later flowering on the new stems. This plant came from Pottertons in 2019, and I have a little plant taken as a cutting last spring.  

I read In Portraits of Alpine plants: "Ralph Haywood was a tall, quiet gentleman and an expert plantsman and propagator, who once worked at Joe Elliott’s renowned nursery at Broadwell in the Cotswolds; and then later became foreman of the Alpine House and propagation departments at Wisley. Sadly, Ralph died at the early age of 42, but his name lives on in a number of outstanding plants." 

After a spending several minutes searching for more about Ralph Haywood I happen to notice that this year I had ordered another plant named for Ralph Haywood:  Silene schafta Ralph Haywood, which I need to look after well before it is featured on SOS.

3. All winter I had been looking at my wonky trellis which I had put up in haste last year.  When Mr S realised that I was planning on replacing it he said he rather liked it, so instead, I untied and realigned the bamboos, separated out the stems of clematis Sugar Sweet, tied in some stems and it is already forming flower buds.


4. The various tulips are coming up.  When I first planted them I thought the squirrels must have dug them up, or even the badgers, but having planted them deeply, it looks as if they gave up before coming across them.


Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane has long petals the outside of the outer three are tinted pink.

5. All is well with  Persicaria runcinata Needham's Form..new growth is emerging from beneath the mulch.   

6.  Impatience and disappoint are sometimes to be born.  I seem lacking in fortitude!

I am as disappointed so far in Scillia Litardierei which have yet to come in flower,  


as I am underwhelmed by the growth on the Chaenomeles speciosa Yukigoten.  However maybe it is patience that I am lacking.  The description gives time till full growth as 10-20 years, and it has only been in 2 years.  

When feeling like this ought I to turn to drink instead, but frankly I never do, plants often come to my aid:  Port and Lemon maybe?


Primula juliana Port and Lemon is a newly planted addition to the front of the Conservatory Border: intoxicatingly pretty and certainly helps to alleviate impatience and disappointment. Can't say I have ever had that combination but I do appreciate Old Port.  It is far too early in the day for Vintage Port but this Primula juliana Old Port will do nicely.


I certainly raised my glass to the dear old duke last night. He had a very good innings and what a rock!