Once you begin to grow your own herbs, vegetables, and fruit you realise that there is a lot more to it than just eating them. Picking nine carrier bags of plums from the tree in my back garden the day before I went on holiday resulted in panic phone calls to friends with large freezers. Upon my return I made jam for the first time in my life. That was 15 years ago. I have now made jams, chutneys, rose petal jelly and used Swiss chard in more ways than I thought possible.

Veggie Art

After making this face to amuse the children of some friends I remembered having come across the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo many years ago when living in Florence. Faces made up of fruit and veg! It’s a fun idea that uses what grows in your garden to inspire the budding artists in your life. See TES website for related lesson plans.

crazy hair

 

 

Natural Dyes

In early October 2015 I harvested the most wonderful purple cabbage. Both blanching and steaming it left me with the most amazing colour water. It was good enough to use as a dye for cloth and produced more interesting colours than found on most high streets. So, it was like Guardian’s Cook Section in my house but even better. One cabbage – 4 meals AND a purpley-blue T- shirt!  For inspiration and instructions, check out Remodelista website.

dyes

 

 

Edible Flowers

I grew up eating the flowers of the courgette plant and it was only after I began growing my own vegetables that I realised that pumpkin blossom can also be eaten in the same way. The simplest way is to batter fry them but I love them stuffed the Sicilian way or with mozzarella cheese and anchovies. Lots of other flowers are edible, though most too small to think about stuffing.

eddible flowers

During a recent visit to one of the bars in The Shard (a very special treat) I noted that many of the cocktails were topped with pansies. Never having the time, patience or ingredients to make cocktails at home, the next week I simply threw my home-grown pansies into a salad to add a bit of colour and tasteful interest.  See Thompson & Morgan website for some guidance on edible flowers.

eddible flowers copy

 

 

Herbal Baths

I can never seem to grow enough parsley, coriander, dill or basil but I have a sage plant that threatens all else near-by. I hardly use it in cooking, so I have taken to bathing in it. Make a pot of sage tea and add it to your bath water. It is supposed to encourage wellness, have anti-viral and immune building properties. I just LOVE the scent! Try other easily grown edibles in you bath such as lemon balm and rosemary.

SAGE BATH

 

Green Tomatoes

London’s growing season is never long enough to ripen all the tomatoes I grow. This year I had great success with Italian beefsteak tomatoes, however, by mid-October I was pretty certain those left green on the vine would not turn red. Last year I made jars of green tomato chutney but this season’s late heatwave meant I had fewer green ones. So it had to be fried green tomatoes! I do them simply – Just dip the slices in an egg beaten with some milk. Then cover them in a mixture of fine bread crumbs and cornmeal (polenta or maize flour) seasoned with a bit of salt, black pepper and/or cayenne pepper. Fry in a bit of hot oil. Drain on kitchen roll. Enjoy! To find the best in Italian tomato seeds have a look at Franchi Seeds of Italy.

green tomatoes

 

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