Monthly Archives: May 2014

Discover incredible award-winning wines in English Wine Week

 

English Wine Week

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Discover incredible award-winning wines in English Wine Week

I’m quite a fan of those jolly autobiographical books about people who venture to France to run vineyards with all the humorous pitfalls and quirky characters they meet.

However, apart from a fleeting glance at one of those mind-zappingly slow pace county programs, I have never really considered English wine. I shamefully head for the new world section of my online shopping basket for my favourite quaff. Perhaps it’s time to a re-think.

It is widely believed that the Romans
first introduced the vine to England
and wine-drinking became
commonplace in British society.

1066 marked the start of an era of viticultural activity with William the Conqueror came French Abbots and their monks who were experienced in winegrowing, along with soldiers and courtiers for whom wine was a daily requirement. From the Middle Ages however, viticulture began to wane and it wasn’t until 900 years later, in the 1950s that there was a commercial revival in wine production.

English Wine WeekNowadays there are 432 vineyards in the UK, producing a staggering 2.58 million bottles of wine! 60 per cent of the wines produced are sparkling and in the last 15 years English sparkling wines have won 8 trophies for Best International Sparkling Wine and 4 Trophies for Best Sparkling Rose in Global Competitions – no other country has achieved this!

With those accolades, they must be well worth a try.

This week is English Wine Week, which plays host to a raft of events to celebrate English wine. Visit http://www.englishwineproducers.co.uk/news/events/ for a list of events, including vineyard tours and wine tasting.

Easy homegrown tomatoes for British Tomato Week – no greenhouse required!

Seasonal Garden Ideas

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Easy homegrown tomatoes for British Tomato Week – no greenhouse required!

I can still conjure up the sweetly acidic fragrance of ripening tomatoes in my Grandad’s rickety old greenhouse.

They were the sweetest most delicious tomatoes on the planet, though everything my Grandad grew or cooked tasted wonderful to me as an adoring granddaughter!

As this week heralds British Tomato Week, I thought I would attempt to grow my own. As I don’t own a greenhouse, this project from our book, Seasonal Garden Ideas, is perfect.

Fingers crossed, I can grow those sweet little morsels that Grandad excelled at.

 

Seasonal Garden Ideas.

Tiny Tomatoes in Terracotta

The taste of a sun-warmed tomato picked straight from the bush is leagues removed from anything you can buy in a shop.

Container-growing is easy and you are rewarded with a succession of tasty toms beyond compare.

  • Pot up young tomato plants in late spring or early summer when all danger from frost is past for cropping throughout the summer.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Planting four to six pots shouldn’t take more than an hour.

 

What you need

Plants

  • Four to six (or more) young bush tomato plants – a wide range of different varieties is available from garden centres – including red, yellow and even purple ones. ‘Red Alert’, ‘Pixie’ and ‘Tiny Tim’ are all good small-fruited varieties with excellent flavour. ‘Roma’ is a plum-shaped variety.

Equipment

  • Terracotta, plastic or ceramic pots with drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Soil-based potting compost.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.
  • Liquid tomato fertiliser.

 

Instructions

1 Line the containers with broken crocks for drainage. Three-quarters fill with potting compost.

2 Plant the tomatoes, one to a pot, firming them in well and topping up with more compost.

3 Place the pots in a sunny, sheltered site – water well.

4 The tomato compost needs to be kept just moist at all times. Try to water regularly, little and often – an irregular regime could cause the tomatoes to split. Feed regularly with a liquid tomato fertiliser to ensure consistent development of the fruits.

 

Tips

As an alternative to pots, try raising tomatoes in growbags – the advantage here is that the bags come complete with just the right soil conditions. You can grow bush or cordon varieties in growbags. Cordons needing staking and you have to pinch out side shoots to restrict the plant to one main central stem.

 

Notes

For successful tomato growing in containers, make sure you buy an appropriate variety. Check that it is a bush variety AND check that it is suitable for outdoor cultivation – many are bred for growing in greenhouses and won’t thrive outside. Take care, too, to choose as sunny and warm a site as possible.

 

Aftercare

Bush tomato varieties don’t need any pinching out of side shoots. Pick the tomatoes as they ripen. If there are still some green tomatoes on the plants when frost seems likely, pick them all and bring them indoors to ripen.

 

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas.

 

Seasonal Gardens Ideas

Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99Seasonal Garden Ideas

A beautiful book packed full of easy little projects like this and is available for just £3.99 (plus P&P).

Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99

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Competition |Win a Lilac Blossoms Yankee Candle Set

Win a Lilac Blossoms Yankee Candle Set

 

Win a Lilac Blossoms Yankee Candle Set

To celebrate one of our favourite May-flowering plants, this month we have a fabulous Lilac Blossoms Yankee Candle Set to give away.

This comprises:

  • A large jar candle with an alluring grove of lavender, white, and deep purple lilacs. Convenient and easy to use, the large jar candle provides 110 to 150 hours of true fragrance enjoyment.
  • A box of 12 Lilac Blossom tea lights. These colourful little candles offer lots of possibilities . . . use multiple tea lights for dramatic style, or alone for a fragrant accent in a small room. Each provides 4 to 6 hours of fragrance.

 

Win a Lilac Blossoms Yankee Candle Set

 

 

 

Enter on Facebook

Enter on our website

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Bank holiday bake – the best gingerbread you’ll ever taste

Gingerbread animals recipe

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Bank holiday bake – the best gingerbread you’ll ever taste

Wow, I’m glad it’s a bank holiday! It’s been super-busy during the last couple of weeks, kicking off the books that will go on sale next year.

Each book requires meticulous planning to ensure that everyone shares the same vision and plays their part at the right time to fit in with the rest of the team. I need to ensure that recipes are ready for the editor and the testers and then I need to ensure that recipes are tested and edited before photography commences.

Food photography is a very expensive business as there are high studio costs as well as the cost of the photographer, food stylist, props stylist and prop hire, and so you don’t want to be shooting a recipe that doesn’t work properly!

I begin the whole process with a synopsis of the book, and then I create a schedule for the year, which shows everyone’s responsibilities, this is followed by written a brief for each member of the team.

It’s like a huge jigsaw puzzle,
which is why I am relishing
the extra day off this weekend!

I plan to relax and bake some gingerbread with the children.

This is my favourite gingerbread recipe. We like to use quirky cookie cutters, such as pigs and sheep and decorate with icing and other bits and bobs from the baking basket.

They taste really treacly, quite different from a shop-bought gingerbread man, but that’s one of the reasons they’re a family favourite.

 


 

Gingerbread Animals recipeGingerbread Animals

Makes 26
Preparation 25 mins
Cooking 15 mins Per portion 268 kcals, 11g fat (6.6g saturated)
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians

110g (4oz) plain flour
50g (2oz) soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
50g (2oz) butter
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp black treacle
Currants to decorate

1 Place flour, sugar and ginger in a bowl and mix together. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients.

2 Put butter, milk and treacle into a small saucepan and heat gently until butter has melted. Remove from heat and cool for 2–3 minutes.

3 Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft ball.

4 Leave mixture to cool until firm to touch.

5 Roll out on a floured work surface until 0.5cm (¼in) thick. Cut out with a gingerbread man cutter. We use any animals cutters that the children choose and then decorate with icing (made with icing sugar and a couple of drops of water) and cake decorations.

6 Transfer to a greased baking sheet using a palette knife or fish slice. Allow room for them to spread.

7 Decorate with currants for eyes, nose and buttons.

8 Bake at 180°C (350°F) Mark 4 for 10–15 minutes.

9 Leave to cool for 3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

 

Dairy Book of Home CookeryCan you guess where this recipe is from?

Yes, of course, it’s one of those family classics from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

Our family could not survive without this book!

Buy Dairy Book of Home Cookery

 

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