Tuesday, 25 June 2013


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Everyone loves scones. I have always made scones since I was little as they so easy to make and taste delicious.  They are easy to create if unexpected guests turn up and no problem serving them up shortly after they come out of the oven as they taste better warm anyway.


225g self raising flour
75g butter
50 g mixed fruit
40g caster sugar
1 egg
3-4 tablespoons milk


Pre-heat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7.

Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the sugar and butter and rub together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Add to the bowl the dried fruit, egg and milk.  Mix together using your hands until a soft dough is formed, adding more milk if required. 

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface a roll out with a rolling pin until 3 cm deep.  Use a pastry cutter to cut out your scones and place on a baking sheet.  Dust with flour and bake for 12-15 minutes until they have risen and turned golden brown.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Serve with cream and jam.

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Saturday, 22 June 2013


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Herbs play a vital role in maintaining our health.  The medical benefits of herbs are well documented and they have been used to provide remedies to ailments for thousands of years. Today scientists are continuing to discover new medical uses for herbs.

They can be used to provide specific remedies for certain complaints as well as preventing diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's, as well as prolong health and slow ageing. There is a herbal remedy for almost everything, whether it is to provide a natural solution to a headache/stress, boost the immune system, improve the health of your liver or to help promote sleep. 

Herbs contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Antioxidants help to neutralise dangerous free radicals that are present in our bodies and can destroy healthy cells. Ensuring we eat plenty of food with antioxidants to reduce the effect of these free radicals damaging our cells. 

The antioxidant compounds found in herbs occur as phenols, polyphenols and flavonoids.  The density and ratio of these compounds gives herbs their medical effects for the treatment of certain ailments. We can keep ourselves healthier and younger looking by eating herbs as part of a balanced diet. 

Herbal extracts are widely available for us to use in many forms and can be dispensed as tablets, ointments, oils, infusions, extracts, teas, compresses, bath preparations and gargles. 

Echinacea (Echinacea) 

Echinacea is a plant native to North American plant. Commonly known as purple cornflower, the Echinacea plant gets its name from the small spines in the centre of the flower.

All parts of the plant are used, including the root, leaves, flowers and seeds. Echinacea is used as a tool for fighting viruses and keeping the immune system healthy.  It can improve the function of disease-fighting immune cells and can offer resistance to colds and flu by boosting the immune system.

Garlic (Allium sativum) 

Garlic belongs to the Allium family which includes onions, chives, shallots and leeks. The active compound in garlic is allicin, a powerful antibiotic which helps the body to inhibit the ability of germs to grow and reproduce.

Garlic promotes the well-being of the heart and immune system with its antioxidant properties.   It also helps to maintain healthy blood circulation.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo is known as the maidenhair tree and is one of the oldest living trees.  

Ginkgo is mainly used as memory and concentration enhancer. It has been proven to increase blood circulation (especially to the brain), and can increase mood, mental alertness, memory, and overall stamina.

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) 

St Johns wort is a perennial herb recognized by its bright yellow-coloured flowers.  

It inhibits the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters and is used to treat mild depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) 

This perennial thistle is native to Southern Europe/Asia.  It has red/purple flowers and pale green leaves with white veins.

The seeds are the medicinal parts of the plant and the extract, silymarin, is used in medicine.  Milk thistle is believed to give some remedy for liver diseases. Its antioxidants benefit the liver and help the body eliminate toxins. It has been used to treat cirrhosis of the liver and liver disease caused by alcohol.

Chamomile (Chamomile) 

This daisy like plant is a member of the Asteraceae family. Often used as a fragrant alternative to a lawn, the herb chamomile is perhaps most recognised in its form as chamomile tea.

Chamomiles daisy like flowers contain volatile oils, flavonoids and other therapeutic substances. Medicinally it is used as a muscle relaxant and antispasmodic, but also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory capabilities. This herb can remedy an upset stomach and aid sleep.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) 

This perennial herb is used for both culinary and medical purposes.

The flowers, leaves, and oil are used as medicine. It has mild antiseptic, antispasmodic, tonic and carminative qualities and is often used to ease sore throats and coughs.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) 

Salvia is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. This perennial, evergreen herb is native to the Mediterranean.  It  has woody stems and greyish leaves, with blue to purplish flowers. It is often grown for both medicinal and culinary use, as well as being grown as a ornamental garden plant.

Sage is used to calm the nerves, improve digestion and ease lung congestion and coughs. 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 

This perennial herb has fragrant, evergreen needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers.  It is native to the Mediterranean region and a member of the Lamiaceae family.

It is used medically to aid memory, improve circulation, eliminate toxins from the body, ease joint and headache pain and relieve cold symptoms.

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) 

This herb is another member of the mint family, Lamiacae.  Plants in the mint family are very hardy perennials with vigorous growth habits.

Peppermint is often used for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, toothpaste and chewing gum due to its high menthol content.  It is used to ease stomach and digestive problems, as well as having calming properties.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Photo: http://www.gardenersworld.com
Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Mint has many uses in the kitchen but I especially like to turn it into home made mint sauce or cook it with baby new potatoes or fresh peas.  Its also adds a zing to salads and of course is the perfect compliment to roast lamb. 

Photos: http://www.growveg.com
It is an easy herb to grow in the garden as it is so hardy and vigorous in growth; in fact it can be a bit of a thug and may need to be kept in check.  As a hardy perennial it returns every year to provide you with fresh leaves to use in your dishes and a wonderful scent.

How to Grow Mint
Mint prefers a well drained, fertile soil but is pretty tolerant of most soil conditions.  Mint requires little attention and will thrive in almost all conditions but it prefers a partially shady location as it likes moisture to its roots and may dry out in full sun.  If you are planting in a sunny position add some bark mulch around the base of the plant to help lock in moisture.

You can grow mint from seed, or young plants bought at garden centres. But if you are like me, you would rather get a plant for free so find someone who has some mint in their garden and take either a stem cutting or root cutting.

Photo: http://blog.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
Take a cutting from the top growth of your mint plant about 10 cm long.  Remove the growing tip of the stem and the bottom half of leaves.  Cut the stem just below a leaf node.  Fill a 9 cm pot with seed and cutting compost.  Make a hole with a dibber and insert the cutting. Water gently and place the pot in a propagator or cover with a plastic bag.  

Mint is so vigorous that you could place the stem in a glass of water and roots will emerge over the next few weeks ready for planting out.  Alternatively you can take a cutting of the root.  Place in a 9 cm pot, cover with compost and  water well.   After a few weeks the cutting will sprout leaves and you will have a new plant to pot on or to transplant into the garden.

Mint is a vigorous grower so it is advisable to grow it in a container to prevent its roots from spreading. You can sink the container into the soil so it appears that the plant is part of the herb bed.

Photos; http://www.instructables.com
Mint is particularly suited to container growing, and will grow happily in a pot.  However water the pot well to avoid drying out and feed with a liquid plant food once a month during the growing season.

Harvest the leaves regularly during the season by sniping off the sprigs as required.  Remove any flowers that appear as they will inhibit leaf production in order to maintain production right up until autumn.

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Friday, 14 June 2013


Photo: http://glutenfreescdandveggie.blogspot.co.uk

Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Herbs are easy to grow and look fantastic in your garden, so why not create your own herb garden. Whether it’s a formal herb garden, a potager or a few pots by the back door you will soon discover that herbs can be grown successfully in your garden or windowsill. You will be able to pick your own fresh herbs to add to your dishes, which far surpasses the flavour that pre-packed dried herbs offer.

Parsley is a versatile herb to grow as it has many uses in the kitchen. You can choose from either curled leaf parsley, which is often used as a garnish, or flat leafed parsley which has a milder taste. Parsley is a biennial herb; flowering and developing seeds in its second year.

Photo: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com
You can either grow parsley from plants bought in the garden centre, sow seeds indoors to be planted out or sow seeds direct into a bed. Parsley grows well in containers too, either indoors or outdoors. 

Growing from Seed 

Sow your parsley seeds indoors from March to give them  a head start and extend the growing season.  Fill 9 cm pots with seed and potting compost and sow 4-5 seeds per pot.  No need to cover the seeds with soil, just water gently. Germination of parsley is very slow and can take up to three weeks.  This is because parsley requires a high temperature to germinate so place your pots in a sunny position until the seeds start to develop.  

When the seedlings are 2 cm tall thin out to one seedling per pot, and when the seedlings are 8 cm tall they are ready to be transplanted outside.  Ensure that you harden off the plants for several weeks prior to placing them in their final position.

Seeds can also be planted out directly into the soil after the risk of frosts has passed.  Plant in drills 2 cm deep and 25 cm apart.  Cover with soil to prevent seedlings from being eaten by birds. During the season thin out seedlings until plants are 15 cm apart.

Photo: http://forums.gardenweb.com

Select a plot in full sun or partial shade.  Parsley likes moist soil so dig in plenty of organic matter such as well rotted farm yard manure or compost. Water deeply once per week to encourage a deep tap root. Parsley is a hungry plant so feed monthly with a liquid fertiliser.  Water during dry spells and remove competing weeds.  Add a mulch around the base of the plant to help to retain moisture and keep down competing weeds.

If growing parsley in containers place in a sunny position and water regularly to prevent the soil drying out. Feed the plants fortnightly in the growing season.   

You can harvest your parsley by removing the outer stalks to ground level and not the leaves from the top of the plant, as this will reduce your yield. Do not remove all of the leaves from the plant as this will result in checking plant growth.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Photo: http://www.recipes4us.co.uk

Herbs are easy to grow and look fantastic in your garden, so why not create your own herb garden.  Whether it’s a formal herb garden, a potager or a few pots by the back door you will soon discover that herbs can be grown successfully in your garden or windowsill.  You will be able to pick your own fresh herbs to add to your dishes, which far surpasses the flavour that pre-packed dried herbs offer.

Photo: http://www.chepstowgardencentre.co.uk
So which herbs should you grow?  It sounds obvious but if growing herbs for culinary purposes then select the herbs that you will want to use to flavour your dishes. Alternatively you can select herb varieties for their decorative foliage or scent. Some herbs last for only a season, whilst others are a perm ant feature in your garden.

There are three types of herbs; annuals, biennials and perennials.  Annuals live only for one year and will flower and develop seeds from which new plants will grow the following year and include basil, borage, chamomile, chervil, coriander, dill, fennel and summer savory . Some herbs (caraway and parsley) are biennials; flowering and developing seeds in their second year. Perennial herbs such as bay, chives, lavender, lemon grass, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme and winter savoury last for several years and so are permanent plants in your garden.

Photo: http://www.thehealersjournal.com
Herbs are tough plants that need minimal effort to flourish in your garden. They prefer a fertile, free draining soil either in full sun (rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage and oregano) or partial shade (chervil, mizuna, mustard, rocket, parsley and sage). Most herbs can be grown from seed directly sown onto the soil after the risk of frost has passed.  You can get a head start on the season by sowing the seeds under cloches or indoors at the beginning of the year. Basil, chives and parsley can be sown under glass from January to early April. When soil conditions allow from March onwards you can sow seed of chervil, coriander and dill directly outdoors.

Prepare the soil by digging in plenty of organic matter and raking to a fine tilth, aiding drainage by adding grit if you have heavy soil. Sow seeds at regular intervals to ensure a regular supply.  Alternatively you can plant out young plants into your bed or container. Some perennial herbs such as lemon balm or mint are thugs and  need to be controlled to prevent them from taking over your border so you may wish to grow these herbs in pots instead.

Photo: http://www.lepotagerurbain.com
Add a dressing of manure or compost around the base of the plant each autumn and only add a liquid fertiliser during the growing season if the plant seems to be struggling. Do not overfeed herbs as this will impair their flavour.  However, container grown herbs will be much less nutrient rich so feed weekly during the growing season with a liquid feed.

You can propagate your herbs by taking cuttings of bay, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme from late summer to early autumn. Herbs such as sweet marjoram, oregano, mint and thyme can be divided in the spring or after flowering in late summer. At the end of the season pot up herbs such as chives, mint, parsley, or tarragon and bring them in to a south facing windowsill for the winter.

The most common herbs that are grown are basil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary and sage.  However there are many more varieties to grow. So go on, take your pick:

Photo: http://jekkasherbfarm.wordpress.com
Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum)
Dill (Anethum Graveolens)
Epazote (Chenopodium Ambrosioides)
Fennel, Florence fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)
Onion Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum)
Hyssop (Hyssopus Officinalis)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia Triphylla)
Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon Citratus)
Lovage (Levisticum Officinale)
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Mint Marigold (Tagetes Lucida)
Photos: http://itgrowsinvegas.wordpress.com

Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)
Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum)
Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
Peppermint (Mentha X Piperita)
Mexican Oregano (Poliomentha Longiflora)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Salad Burnet (Poterium Sanguisorba)
Spearmint (Mentha Spicata)
Summer savory (Satureja Hortensis)
Sweet Woodruff (Galium Odoratum)
Tansy (Tanacetum Vulgare)
Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus)
Photos: http://glutenfreescdandveggie.blogspot.co.uk
Winter Savory (Satureja Montana)
Wormwood (Artemisia Spp.)

Saturday, 8 June 2013


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Rosemary is a low maintenance plant that is a great culinary herb, but it is well worth growing as a shrub for its appearance alone.  This perennial plant will last for many years in your border and is very easy to look after.  Its needles can be finely chopped and used in a variety of dishes. 

Rosemary is a native plant of the Mediterranean and Asia and will survive a lack of water for lengthy periods of time. With its slender, pine like needles it has a profusion of small flowers that appear from late spring, ranging from dark blue to pale blue through to white. 

Propagating Rosemary 

The best method of propagating Rosemary is by taking cuttings in mid-May or June.  Ensure you select a healthy looking plant with lots of new growth on it. Using a sharp knife or secateurs cut off one of the new shoots just below the leaf join to a length of  7.5 cm.  Alternatively you can tear a shoot off from the stem and trim the heel to remove most of it. Remove the leaves from the lower 4 cm of each cutting. 

Fill a 9 cm pot with potting compost and insert three cuttings down the side of the pot. There is no need to add rooting hormone to the cutting.  Water well and cover the pot with a plastic bag or place in a propagator to maintain moisture levels.  Alternatively you can mist the foliage three times a day with water.  Place the pot in a warm position such as a windowsill, out of the direct sunlight.  The cuttings will be ready to plant out in approximately 8 weeks.


Rosemary prefers a light, sandy soil but will tolerate most soil conditions as long as they are not water-logged. The best time to plant out is in May.  Select a sunny, sheltered position and add 1 cm of sandy soil or sharp sand to the bottom of the planting hole.  Back fill with soil and water gently.

Rosemary grows extremely well in pots and containers, but because rosemary is a deep rooting herb ensure the container is large enough for the plant.  Use a potting mixture of 1 part sharp sand and 4 parts potting compost.  Container grown rosemary is more likely to be affected by severe frost so move to a more sheltered position during the winter.

Lightly trim back the plant after flowering to maintain a compact size and shape.  Water only when the compost is very dry.

For related articles click onto:
Feeding plants
Growing Garlic in Containers
Growing herbs
Growing herbs on a windowsill
Growing herbs in pots
Herbaceous borders
How to grow garlic
How to grow lavender
How to build a cold frame
How to grow basil
How to grow coriander
How to grow garlic
How to Grow Ginger
How to grow lavender
How to grow mint
How to grow parsley
How to grow parsley
How to grow rosemary
How to grow thyme
How to make compost
How to propagate using division
How to propagate from seed
Plants for free
Preparing a seed bed
Watering plants

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Lemon meringue is one of my favourite desserts from childhood.  My mum always made it for us, and it tasted so delicious. We always went back for seconds!

This recipe serves 6.


225 g / 8 oz plain flour
175 g / 6 oz butter
45 g / 1¾ oz icing sugar
85 g/ 3 oz cornflour
475 g / 17 oz caster sugar
7 eggs
6 lemons
450 ml / 16fl oz of water 


Pre-heat the oven to 180C /350F /Gas 4.

To make the pastry mix the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, 1 egg and one tablespoon of water and combine until the mixture forms a ball.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to thickness of 3 mm. Transfer to a pie dish.  Trim off the excess pastry and press top edge of pastry so it stands slightly higher than the top of the tin.  Cover in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Line the case with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes.  

Reduce the oven temperature to 170C /340F /Gas 3½.

Zest and juice the lemons, and add to 65 g / 2.25 oz cornflour to form a paste.  Mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. Place the water in a pan and bring to the boil and add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water.  Stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened and then remove from the heat.

Separate the egg yolks and whites. Mix together 250 g / 9 oz caster sugar and the egg yolks and whisk into the lemon mixture.  Set the pan on a medium heat and stir until the mixture has thickened in the pan. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then add to the pastry case.

To make the meringue whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornflour, continuing to whisk until the meringue is stiff.  Place on top of the filled pastry case and swirl.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the meringue lightly golden and crisp and the filling is set.

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