In denial!

Lockdown number 5, winter, dull days and cold weather…

The COVID lockdown I can deal with.  Its supposed to be a short one, just five days, we will see…

Winter and cold weather are another thing!  I cannot cope with the cold weather, the shorter daylight hours, dull days, oh, and did I mention the cold…  I know we are now on the right side of the solstice and the days are getting longer, but last night I was in denial… I needed warm weather and warm weather food that would suit a cold winter’s night.

So with dodgy tomatoes on hand, some sad looking basil that needed to be used up, I decided to try and make a flavourful tomato soup.  I started with a recipe, but that soon went out of the window!  Winter tomatoes are nothing short of sad and flavourless – nevertheless they needed to be used, and I needed  a touch of summer.  So with garlic, red onions, dodgy winter tomatoes, sad basil, and some tomato paste, I set to work. Continue reading

Rosehips from the garden

As I walked passed the glowing orange rose hips on the exquisite climbing rose, Mme Gregoire Staechlin, I knew that it was time to make Rosehip Jelly, a must for when I’m putting together both cheese and charcuterie boards.  But yet again, I could not find the recipe that I normally use, and could not remember which book it was in, so made it from memory…

The day before yesterday I did a quick search on my computer (why didn’t I do that earlier?) and there it was, all written up nicely, including details of the source!  The recipe that I had been looking for is from the beautiful book, salt sugar smoke by Diana Henry.

Rosehip Jelly

Continue reading

Found it! The recipe for Quinces in Orange and Cardamom Syrup

Drink in the incredible fragrance with which a single quince can seduce a room and feast on its pomaded sweetness.  It will, I promise, brighten your northern sky.

(Monty Don, 2004)


Last year I wrote of an “Abundance of Quinces“, lamenting about the recipe that I could no longer find for Quinces in Orange and Cardamom Syrup.

Again this year, the beautiful old quince tree provided us with more quinces than we knew what to do with.

Quinces just picked and ready to take into the kitchen…

So it was now time to get serious and search for the misplaced recipe for one of our favourite quince recipes.  It took me a couple of weeks, going through books, searching on the computer, rifling through draws full to the brim with pages torn from magazines and newspapers, notes, and handwritten recipes gathered over time – oh the frustration! Continue reading

In the Garden – March 2021

I procrastinated about adding this post, I know it is our garden in “March”, and now it’s May!  But there were a few things I’d love to show you, so here it is.  Hopefully “In the Garden – April 2021” will not take so long…

It was with such great anticipation that I waited for what I thought were either red or orange nerines from my sister, Sonnie’s, mother-in-law’s garden.  When the flowers finally opened, they were this very vibrant pink that blended so beautifully with the velvety snapdragon and the purple and cerise fuschia! Continue reading

Saffron Crocus – Growing saffron crocus at home

I  continue to update my growing tips, as time and experience encourage me to do so.

I first purchased saffron crocus / crocus sativus corms in 2017, and it was with great excitement that I selected, what I thought would be, the perfect place to plant and grow saffron in my home garden.  Two years on and the disappointment was kicking in – there was barely a little green and absolutely no flowers each year.

Frustrated, I decided to dig up the corms and move them, but to where?  Finally I decided to place them at the base of our espaliered pear trees that form the boundary between the greater garden and the vegie patch.  Here they would receive maximum sun and the residual moisture from the drip irrigation that watered the trees on a regular basis, and they would have there own, forever, space.

March 2021 – Saffron Crocus (Crocus Sativus) planted at the base of the espaliered pear trees (in 2019) are finally showing colour!

The first year after planting, I was very excited to discover two flowers.  This year they delivered more flowers, and thus more stigma – not a lot, but now I know that they are in the right place, and I can’t wait to use my carefully collected and dried saffron, in the kitchen (this time I think I will be doing Spiced Duck Breast with Saffron Orange Sauce as I have some beautiful Aylesbury duck arriving late next week.

Something else that I have recently discovered, that may have added to the improvement in my saffron crocus planting, is that every winter we distribute the ash collected from the open fire around our fruit trees and rose bushes.  With the crocus corms planted in such close proximity to the pear trees, they are benefiting from this winter addition of wood ash!  Experience is a great teacher and we are always learning, aren’t we! Continue reading

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