Category Archives: Grow

Make: Rosehip syrup

rosehips I’m a massive fan of free food, I may have mentioned this before. Fruit, berrys, vegetables, anything that can be foraged from within a 2 mile radius of my home is a bonus, particularly when it comes to preserving. Foraging may seem an unlikely pastime for a city centre dweller but i’m constantly surprised by the amount of free pickings. So today the first of hopefully many autumnal leaps into the unknown, rosehips.

Rosehips are the seeded fruit of the Dog Rose, a scrambling shrub usually to be found amongst hedgerows. They are GB’s most prolific native wild rose. I’ve had my eye on these little beauties for some time, it was back in July that I first spotted a small unassuming bush in the hedgerow with delicate white flowers. All I had to do was wait (And hope no one else got to them first!)

Picking them was a prickly business, I recommend long sleeved clothing and good company (many thanks to my Mum for helping me collect these little fellows) and of course, always pick above hip height to avoid contamination from passing dogs/wild rambling animals

Recipe wise, the possibilities are endless as they are in season with so many other amazing fruits and berrys, Rosehip and apple/crab apple or blackberry are common flavour pairings in jams jellies and cordials, but as I’d never tried rose hip in any capacity before I wanted to make something simple that would let it’s true flavour shine through, as follows

To Make Rosehip syrup you will need:

  • 500g rosehips
  • 1 litre of water
  • Fine Muslin cloth/J cloth for straining
  • 250g sugar- caster or granulated
  • 1 litre bottle for storing the syrup

This recipe makes approximately 1 litre of syrup and can be stored unopened in a sterilised bottle for 2 to 3 monthsrosehip 1 Wash and clean the rose hips thoroughly then blitz them in a food processor. Place the rose hip pulp and the water into a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil then turn the heat down to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth to strain off all the pulp, this stage is import and as the tiny little hairs contained within the seed pod are highly irritant, rose hips can also be used to make itching powder! After about 20 minutes, once all the liquid has been strained off discard the pulp and re-boil the liquid with the sugar rapidly for around 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Store in a sterilised bottle until ready to use The syrup can be diluted as a cordial with soda water, is amazing poured over ice cream, apple pie, or baclava. Or alternatively,

Make rose hip and pomegranate martinis

  • 50ml vodka
  • 100ml pomegranate juice
  • 25ml rosehip syrup
  • a squeeze of lemon juice to taste

Place all ingredients into a Cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice, shake well and strain into a martini glass, sip slowly and enjoy! rosehip martini

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Make: Green Garlic Pesto

herbs and sweet peas

The garden has been left to its own devices for pretty much the last six months so over the last few weeks we’ve set about getting it back in some sort of order. As i’ve mentioned here before, i’m a pretty dismal gardener so this year we are planning to play it safe with flowers, herbs and a few easy vegetables that won’t get forgotten about come late summer.

Flower wise, I planted some Daliahs last week. My Grandmother was in fact the queen of Daliahs, with hundreds of beautiful pom pom shaped blooms in a rainbow of colours lining perfectly kept flower beds in her Norfolk garden. With such romantic memories of these beautiful flowers I rather fancied having a go at them myself this year. 1 week on from planting and the plants have been demolished by some vile insect/slug creature- there is literally nothing left of them bar a few nibbled stumps. This may be my most epic gardening fail to date and doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year.

We’ll see….

homemade paper pots

For christmas we were given an amazing paper pot maker from our enviably green fingered allotment friends so we set to making some biodegradable planters for this years vegetable crop. Courgettes, french beans and tomatillos are all on the menu. We’ve also planted Electric Daisies but after the Daliah fiasco i’m not holding out much hope.

plantingtwo week old seedlings

The most exciting garden discovery in probably all of the 4 years i’ve lived in my little house happened last weekend and was called green garlic. A few years ago I split up a bulb of garlic and planted it in odd places around the garden to see what would happen. Nothing was the verdict after checking on them pretty much every day for about a fortnight. I then promptly forgot about them until this year when I noticed some unusual green shoots sprouting from the flower beds. Curious the see what was growing I pulled them up and unearthed a spring onion-esque, garlic scented bulb. Real gardeners have probably known about these amazing little shoots for some time but this, for me to find growing in my own garden, was quite something. Ok, so really it’s just normal garlic picked before the bulb has had time to mature but still it’s sweet, delicious, and best of all the whole plant is entirely edible. It has a gentler flavour than normal garlic which it can replace in any recipe. So the big question, what to make with my new discovery?

For me the best way to showcase the green garlic’s flavour had to be Pesto.

green garlic

You will need:

  • 10-12 spring garlic shoots
  • a handful of basil
  • 80g toasted nuts- pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, all will work well
  • 80g parmisan- this is optional, I actually made mine without
  • the zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • rapeseed oil to bind the mix

Wash the garlic shoots in cool water then peel off the outer leaf and trim off the roots. Chop the basil and the green garlic shoots very finely- all of the shoot, including the leaves can be used. Place the toasted nuts, lemon zest and juice into a mortar and grind to a rough paste with a pestle, next add the garlic shoots and herbs, along with a little oil and grind some more, add oil as required to help the mix blend. I like quite a chunky texture to my pesto so don’t grind it for too long. Season to taste.

Alternative method = place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a paste. I sadly do not have a food processor.

The pesto can be stored in a sterilised jar for up to a week. it’s great mixed into a bowl of pasta after a long day at work.

green garlic pesto

Maybe there is hope for my gardening skills yet.

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gooseberriesyoung salad leavesthistledoorspeoniesseedlingsroseselderflowermake, do and spend

Just playing.

Click on the pic and it will take you to the post that features the image, see if you can spot the original!

In Other News, Team MDAS are off to a wedding today…… excited!

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Grow: Spring at last



So finally it’s here, Spring. Garden preparation has begun and seeds have been planted. Cauliflower, courgette, celeriac, cayenne pepper, nasturtium, french beans, dwarf sunflowers, mustard leaves, aubergines, to name but a few, went in at the end of March/beginning of April and have this week been put outside to harden off before finally going into pots or joining the herbs in the vegetable patch.

Seed swaps are happening between friends too, we are hoping to trade some of our cauliflowers (which were sown a little too enthusiastically!) For delights such as electric daisies, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Now I can’t say that my growing skills have improved any since this time last year, but it turns out C is rather talented when it comes to growing, and has a little more patience too. Last autumn’s offerings, despite the rubbish weather, were encouraging. So with a bit of luck and sunshine hopefully this year will be even better.

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Visit: Botanical Gardens

I don’t work Fridays, but most of my friends do

Recently this has lead to pottering around the house, messing around on the internet and drinking copious cups of tea

Which is fine for a few hours, but extended to the whole day it feels like a bit of a waste

So in an attempt to break the habit, this (late) morning I decided to walk to the University of Leicester Botanic Garden

The gardens are just 30 minutes from where I live, yet I never visited before

With a HUGE breakfast inside me and camera in hand I set off on the walk, playing a game of ‘if I had the money which of these huge houses would I buy’ along the way (does anyone else do that?)

Fence on walk to Botanic Garden

Arriving at the Botanic Gardens I was happy to see their annual sculpture show – which Bridget from Thinking of the Days had been enthusing about – was still on (and is until 28th October!)

This year’s exhibition is entitled ‘interesting times’ and is made up from 29 eclectic pieces, spread across the grounds

Sculpture at Leicester Botanic Garden

Wall of Wind by Alena Matejka

Man with Potential Selves (III) by Sean Henry

Out of all the sculptures I saw, I think Sean Henry’s were my favourite – if only because they were so surprising (despite having seen them in the garden exhibition guide!)

In fact, at first I thought Walking Man WAS a walking man (albeit a particularly tall one) and did a double-take when I first spotted it…

Walking Man by Sean Henry

Walking Man by Sean Henry

Clearly not a real man on closer inspection

All in all a lovely place to spend an hour or two on a fresh autumn day – and completely free!

Here’s a few more highlights from my walk – I was particularly excited to come across the funghi…

Flowers at Leicester Botanic Garden

Flowers at Leicester Botanic Garden

Tree at Leicester Botanic Garden

Discovered any great local-to-you spots recently? What suggestions do you for targeting lazy procrastination?

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