Garden Update

july 2013Well, this week has flown by and I’ve hardly had time for anything but work, work and more work. It’s especially difficult when you’ve been commissioned to make heavyweight home accessories in aran and chunky yarns. Pity me in this heat!

The garden is absolutely loving the sunshine and everything is growing much better than last year. The raspberries are just appearing and there promises to be a bumper crop of autumn fruiting ones too. The sweet potatoes have completely taken over the greenhouse, and their glossy green leaves are beautiful (and I believe edible). Last week we had a lovely day with friends and I took along a chocolate roulade covered in chocolate ganache and raspberries*. You can find my favourite roulade recipe here. I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to projects for my “Materknitty” knitting class, which is proving very popular. I was also thrilled to see the beautiful styling and photography of my Kidsilk Haze wrap in the new issue of Craftseller.

We’re off to Cumbria this weekend for some much needed relaxation and hopefully walks on the fells. Whatever you’re up to , have a lovely time. I’ll be back on Monday with a special “one off” post on the subject of Granny Squares. This is part of Agrarian Artisan’s blog party.

T

* I made this a delicious gluten and lactose free treat by using dairy free chocolate and Lactofree cream.

Garden Produce

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While the veg plot has suffered from too much rain, the flowers have done well. We’ve had bunches and bunches of fresh flowers all summer and now it’s time to celebrate the onset of autumn with beautiful seedheads like these gorgeous teasels.

Autumn is clearly on the way!

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This Week I’m Loving …

In between trying to create a little scrapbook of our Mum and Daughter mini break I’ve been checking out a couple of bakers who blog …

Miranda (Runner Up on the Great British Bake Off), has been quietly working on a book, but her blog has some great bakes from the series, I’ve made most of them and they all come highly recommended by “Chez Todhunter”.

You should also check out Hannah’s Home Baked Blog, a bit of sewing, bit of nattering and some delicious recipes too.

Also, I discovered this lovely little site selling illustrated cards made by Charlotte Strawbridge (thanks to a proud Mummy Brag on twitter – best way to discover new talent!)

I am also still in love with Pinterest, especially being able to look at what others have pinned, a bit of late night mooching led to this beautiful discovery, although I need google translate to make sense of it, the photography is stunning.

I’m also loving, the growing harvest from the allotment, so far this year: peas, beans, spinach, onions, garlic, fresh coriander and enough lettuce to feed the entire village!

Wriggly Wrigglers

OK, so not eveyone can get excited about making their own compost.

home made compost Once a year I spend a day digging out last year’s compost bins ready to pot on my tomatoes, mulch the roses and sieve compost to sow seeds. I always think that the process where all that shredded cardboard, veg peelings and garden waste turns into black gold is a kind of alchemy. It’s mainly down to these amazing creatures and the micro-organisms that can’t be seen.

wiggly wigglers

Best not to look too closely if you’re squeamish.  But as a result, my garden  is blooming lovely!

large white roses

Recipe: Elderflower Champagne

The elderflowers are here! Just a few sunny days and they’ve gone from tiny, tight buds to full bloom and I’m ready to spring into action. First up is the annual batch of Elderflower Champagne. Always a big hit at summer barbeques, I try to make plenty, but there are so many delicious things to make with this crop that there never seems to be enough. This June seems to have been  so much warmer and sunnier than last year, let’s hope that’s a good indication of how summer will be this year. So, in anticipation of  glorious summer evenings sitting outside with good food, friends and family , here is my 20 years old and never failed yet recipe for elderflower champagne:

6 – 8 heads of elderflower, picked warm from the sun on a dry day

4 litres of boiled and slightly cooled water

500g granulated sugar

juice and finely chopped zest of 2 large organic  and unwaxed  lemons

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Method

In a non metallic container:

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the lemon zest and juice allow to cool, add the remaining ingredients, cover and leave for 4 – 5 days in a warm, dark place (I put mine under the sink as the airing cupboard gets too hot).

Then, strain through a double layer of muslin into a jug and pour into glass screw top bottles. Don’t screw the lids too tightly (I screw mine on then undo a quarter turn just to be sure). Leave for 4-5 days in the dark. Check the contents are beginning to fizz, if not leave and check daily. After a week or as soon as the bottles are effervescent, tighten lids and store in the fridge.

Ours get drunk quickly so I’ve no idea how long the bottles last unopened. But according to River Cottage, they should last several months. And, if you aren’t used to making your own wines or cordials, this might prove helpful.

Just a couple of tips if this is your first time making hedgerow drinks, cordials etc:

Do make sure you shake the flowers thoroughly to dislodge any bugs – and do rinse the flowers thoroughly! (2015 update – the Elder tree is full of Cockchafers!)

You might find it easier to strip the flowers from the stalk if you rake them with a fork (hold the flowers over a large bowl to catch them as they fall).

Finally, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and stuff the flowers into a narrow necked bottle.I’ve seen lots of these photos on Instagram this year –  and while it makes a great photo – it’s a real chore to try and strain the liquid. Keep your pretty bottles for storing the finished drink or giving as gifts!

Don’t forget to sterilise your bottles (any decent preserving book will advise you).

I’ll be sharing some of my other  favourite elderflower recipes later, including a flavured gin, cordial and the ever popular elderflower curd.

And yes, I have blogged this recipe before. Some readers said they had trouble finding it, so here it is again in full.

Enjoy x

 

 

 

 

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  • I’m Tracey Todhunter. I’m a freelance writer. specialising in green / ethical living – with a “sideline” in craft!

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  • Today I have been planning recipes, working on new design commissions - and tidying my small, but perfectly formed  stash of beautiful British wool!
#bririshwool #britishfibre #wool #stashenhancement #minimalism #knittersofinstagram #crochet Slow down, look around you and see the beauty in small things. Breathe fresh air, watch sunsets, make time for friendship, love and laughter. 
A bit philosophical for a wet Tuesday morning, felt the need to remind myself there is beauty in the ordinary. 
#slowliving #naturelovers #foraging #permaculture #homesteading #keepthewildinyou #hedgerows #beautyintheordinary Passionflower. One of the joys of our holiday this year was stumbling across the unexpected. We walked past a garden fence covered in these flowers & their ripening fruit. In my schoolgirl French I asked the elderly gentleman if I could take a photo, in better English than my French he invited us in to admire his plot. You can read more about him on the blog, where I've also been writing about how having too much can be a good thing - even if you're a minimalist!
#slowliving #minimalism #permaculture #ediblegarden #girlgardener #zerowaste #livingwithless #bakingandmaking #homesteading #simplethings Star baker! Finally got a photo of me wearing my new sweatshirt, bought from @mirandagorebrowne I ♥♥♥ it so much. The fabric is soft, it fits really well and now washed 3 times it still looks like new! Go buy one before they sell out (also available: "nice buns" & "jammy dodger")
#starbaker #gbbo #kitchenschool #bakemeacakeasfastasyoucan  #bakersofinstagram #baking #lovelythings #instafood #eatme I miss this view so much. Even our current view of sunset over the wheat fields can't compare to a French field of sunflowers!
#naturelover #sunflowers #yellow #countryliving #slowliving #simplethings #keepthewildinyou #floral #seaofflowers #seekthesimplicity #pursuepretty Colour inspiration on a walk through the fields. Love this shade of blue.
#beautyintheordinary #simplethings #simpleliving #slowliving #colourinspiration #wildflowers #keepthewildinyou
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