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Fragrant garden pot – perfect for foodies

 Bay, Thyme and Lavender

 

This fabulous project, taken from our book Seasonal Garden Ideas smells divine and provides you with fresh herbs year-round.

 

Bay, Thyme & Lavender

Three strongly aromatic plants combine here to make an enticingly scented corner. A  standard bay in a large ceramic pot is circled by a medley of low-growing thymes, with lavender surrounding the base.

Plant in spring.
All of these plants have a year-long presence – bay and thyme are evergreen, while lavender, which flowers in summer, retains its grey leaves throughout winter.

Allow a couple of hours to complete this container and the surrounding bed.


What you need

Plants

  • One bay tree (Laurus nobilis), trained to standard shape and clipped to a ball.
  • Eight thymes (Thymus serpyllum and Thymus citriodorus varieties – here golden leaved, variegated and grey-leaved forms as well as the more usual dark green).
  • Eight lavenders (Lavandula variety, such as ‘Munstead’).

Equipment

  • Large ceramic container (or any other pot large enough to take the bay tree).
  • Soil-based potting compost with added grit or sharp sand for drainage.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.

Instructions

  1. Position your pot where it is to stand – it will be too heavy to move once planted. Here the pot is surrounded by a narrow bed of lavender which will need about 45cm (18in) of planting space all around the pot.
  2. Line the container with broken crocks for drainage, then half-fill with compost. Check the level of the bay’s rootball by placing it in its original pot on the compost. Adjust the level as necessary to get the rootball to the same depth it was in before, then plant the bay, placing it centrally in the pot. Firm in.
  3. Top up the container with more compost – the thymes will have much shallower rootballs than the bay. Plant the thymes in a circle around the bay, firm in, then top up again with more compost to within 2.5cm (1in) of the rim. Water thoroughly.
  4. Work some of the compost/grit mix into the soil around the pot, then plant the lavenders all round. Water thoroughly.

Tips
If you wish, choose a dry, sunny day and cut some of the lavender flowers when they are at their peak. Leave them to dry in bunches, then use them in a vase or a potpourri, or make little sachets and stuff them with the lavender flowerheads – place in linen drawers or hang in clothes cupboards to keep the clothes smelling fresh and sweet.

Note
Both the bay and the thymes are culinary herbs, so use them freely in your cooking.

Aftercare
All these plants do best in full sun and need light, well-drained soil. Keep the bay in shape by trimming any straggly shoots in summer; remove any frost-damaged leaves/shoots in spring. Remove faded lavender flowers in autumn, then prune in April – but do not cut into old wood. Clip the thyme, removing dead flowerheads and straggly shoots in spring.


 

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#gardening

#easypots

#growourownherbs

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Recipe of the Week: Roast Beetroot & Ginger Soup

Colourful and wonderful, this vibrant soup will cheer your day.

Taken from Cook it Slowly!, our fabulous sell-out cookbook, now back in stock.

Click here for more information.

 

Roast Beetroot & Ginger Soup

 

Roast Beetroot & Ginger Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 78 per portion
Fat 3g (0.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Beetroot 4, approx. 680g (1½lb), scrubbed, topped and tailed and cut into thick wedges
  • Red onions 2, peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • Root ginger 25g (1oz), peeled and cut into thick slices
  • Celery 2 sticks, cut into thick chunks
  • Olive oil 2 tbsp
  • Vegetable Stock Pots (or stock cubes) 2
  • Celery salt 1–2 tsp
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lime or lemon juice 1–2 tbsp
  • Coconut milk yogurt 125g pot
  • Torn celery leaves to garnish (optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°fan/Gas 3. Put the beetroot and onion wedges, ginger and celery in a roasting tin. Add the oil and mix well to coat the vegetables. Cover the tin with foil and roast for 3 hours until the vegetables have softened.
  2. Put half the roasted vegetable mixture into a blender or food processor with one of the Stock Pots (or cubes) and 500ml (18fl oz) boiling water. Purée until smooth, then tip into a large saucepan. Put the rest of the vegetables and cooking juices from the roasting tin into the blender or food processor along with the other Stock Pot and 500ml (18fl oz) boiling water and purée. Add to the first batch.
  3. Stir in the celery salt, pepper and lime or lemon juice to taste. If necessary, reheat gently and adjust the consistency and seasoning to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls then swirl coconut milk yogurt into each one and sprinkle with torn celery leaves, if wished.

Cook’s tips

There’s no need to peel the beetroot. Stir halfway through cooking if you are around but it’s not essential. For a really smooth soup, purée the mixture, then push it through a sieve.

 


 

Cook it Slowly! cookbookRecipe taken from Cook it Slowly!

Prepare quickly, cook slowly and savour every mouthful.

Slowly-cooked meals are easy, fuss-free and delicious with melt-in-the-mouth textures and intense flavours.

For more recipe visit the website…

READ MORE

 

 

#recipeoftheweek

#beetroot

#soup

#tripletested

 

 

WIN a Morphy Richards 48280 Fastbake Breadmaker

Win a Morphy Richards Breadmaker

Win a Morphy Richards Breadmaker

This breadmaker bakes heavenly-smelling loaves, as well as rolls, pizza dough, cake and even jam!

As it’s compact you’ll only need a small space in your kitchen for this handy machine.

And with a time-delay function, you
can wake up to the aroma of
freshly-baked bread in the morning.

ENTER

But be quick. It’s your last chance to enter today!

 

While your bread’s baking, why not try this wonderful and vibrant soup?

 

Roast Beetroot & Ginger Soup

 

Roast Beetroot & Ginger Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 78 per portion
Fat 3g (0.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Beetroot 4, approx. 680g (1½lb), scrubbed, topped and tailed and cut into thick wedges
  • Red onions 2, peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • Root ginger 25g (1oz), peeled and cut into thick slices
  • Celery 2 sticks, cut into thick chunks
  • Olive oil 2 tbsp
  • Vegetable Stock Pots (or stock cubes) 2
  • Celery salt 1–2 tsp
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lime or lemon juice 1–2 tbsp
  • Coconut milk yogurt 125g pot
  • Torn celery leaves to garnish (optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°fan/Gas 3. Put the beetroot and onion wedges, ginger and celery in a roasting tin. Add the oil and mix well to coat the vegetables. Cover the tin with foil and roast for 3 hours until the vegetables have softened.
  2. Put half the roasted vegetable mixture into a blender or food processor with one of the Stock Pots (or cubes) and 500ml (18fl oz) boiling water. Purée until smooth, then tip into a large saucepan. Put the rest of the vegetables and cooking juices from the roasting tin into the blender or food processor along with the other Stock Pot and 500ml (18fl oz) boiling water and purée. Add to the first batch.
  3. Stir in the celery salt, pepper and lime or lemon juice to taste. If necessary, reheat gently and adjust the consistency and seasoning to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls then swirl coconut milk yogurt into each one and sprinkle with torn celery leaves, if wished.

Cook’s tips

There’s no need to peel the beetroot. Stir halfway through cooking if you are around but it’s not essential. For a really smooth soup, purée the mixture, then push it through a sieve.

 


 

Cook it Slowly! cookbookRecipe taken from Cook it Slowly!

Prepare quickly, cook slowly and savour every mouthful.

Slowly-cooked meals are easy, fuss-free and delicious with melt-in-the-mouth textures and intense flavours.

For more recipe visit the website…

READ MORE

 

 

#win

#competition

#beetroot

#soup

#tripletested

Recipe of the Week: Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake

Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake

Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 305 per portion
Fat 10g (6.1g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Butter 110g (4oz), diced
  • Caster sugar 150g (5oz)
  • Eggs 2
  • Ripe bananas 450g (1lb), weighed in their skins
  • Glacé cherries 150g (5oz)
  • Pineapple chunks 227g can, drained and chopped
  • Few sugar lumps roughly crushed to decorate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Grease an 18cm (7in) deep round cake tin and line the base with a circle of greaseproof or non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Peel the bananas and mash on a plate with a fork then beat into the cake mixture. Halve 8 of the cherries and reserve for decoration, then cut the rest into quarters and add these to the cake mixture with the drained pineapple pieces. Gently stir the cake until just mixed then spoon into the prepared tin.
  4. Spread the top level and decorate with a ring of the reserved cherry halves and a few crushed sugar lumps, if using. Bake the cake for 1–1¼ hours or until the top is golden and slightly cracked and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out on to a wire rack. Leave to cool before peeling off the lining paper. Store in an airtight tin for up to 1 week.

Cook’s tips

If you have some sugar lumps at the back of the cupboard, then break up a few with a rolling pin and use to decorate the cake. If not, simply leave them out. Any leftover cherries can be used to top fairy cakes.

 

Fantastic Food For Less cookbookFantastic Food For Less

This recipe is taken from Fantastic Food for Less – one of my favourite cookbooks of all time!

READ MORE

Random Acts of Kindness

Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake

We recently had a meeting to begin the 2020 (yes really!) Dairy Diary project. As I’m sure you know, the front of the diary is packed with information and inspiration. One of the subjects we discussed for inclusion in the diary was how to be happy – the meeting was held on International Happiness Day!

And it was really interesting to see the differences in what evokes happiness in different people.

For me, being outdoors is essential to feeling happy and well. But also, giving, I find that giving just a little something gives me a real sense of wellbeing.

And this giving doesn’t even have to be a ‘thing’. I often give compliments, even to people I barely know, if I think they have on a lovely coat or do something really well. It brightens everyone’s day.

I also try to help if I see someone struggling with something, such as a heavy basket or a stubborn door. Today, I was on my phone whilst choosing a bunch of daffodils (checking on ingredients at home and not concentrating on the job in hand) and I picked up a broken bunch. A complete stranger, who noticed what I had done, brought over another bunch and swapped them for me. What a lovely thing to do! It really made me smile and I’m sure it gave her a moment of happiness too.

We recently moved into a brand new house, and gradually, the houses around us are becoming inhabited too. After the removal vans pull away, my children sneak up and post a ‘new home’ card through the door introducing ourselves. The next day, they then arrive with a freshly baked cake to make the arduous job of unpacking a little happier. I love the fact that the children too, spread a little cheer.

But, don’t get the wrong impression – as much as I would love to devote hours of my time to good causes and baking elaborate creations for charity bake sales, my life is far too busy. 

This  Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake is my current go-to recipe for a very speedy gift.

It literally takes me 10 minutes to prepare and I usually have all of the ingredients to hand – it’s a great way to use up bananas slightly past their best too. Have a go – this could be your random act of kindness for the week – it’s sure to be appreciated.

 

Cherry, Pineapple & Banana Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 305 per portion
Fat 10g (6.1g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Butter 110g (4oz), diced
  • Caster sugar 150g (5oz)
  • Eggs 2
  • Ripe bananas 450g (1lb), weighed in their skins
  • Glacé cherries 150g (5oz)
  • Pineapple chunks 227g can, drained and chopped
  • Few sugar lumps roughly crushed to decorate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Grease an 18cm (7in) deep round cake tin and line the base with a circle of greaseproof or non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Peel the bananas and mash on a plate with a fork then beat into the cake mixture. Halve 8 of the cherries and reserve for decoration, then cut the rest into quarters and add these to the cake mixture with the drained pineapple pieces. Gently stir the cake until just mixed then spoon into the prepared tin.
  4. Spread the top level and decorate with a ring of the reserved cherry halves and a few crushed sugar lumps, if using. Bake the cake for 1–1¼ hours or until the top is golden and slightly cracked and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out on to a wire rack. Leave to cool before peeling off the lining paper. Store in an airtight tin for up to 1 week.

Cook’s tips

If you have some sugar lumps at the back of the cupboard, then break up a few with a rolling pin and use to decorate the cake. If not, simply leave them out. Any leftover cherries can be used to top fairy cakes.

 

Fantastic Food For Less cookbookFantastic Food For Less

This recipe is taken from Fantastic Food for Less – one of my favourite cookbooks of all time!

READ MORE

Recipe of the Week: Slow Spiced Ox Stew

Slow Spiced Ox Stew

Enjoy time with friends and family by slow cooking….just a few minutes preparation, then relax while it cooks to perfection.

With melt-in-the-mouth texture and gorgeous flavours, this stew is well worth the wait!

Slow Spiced Ox Stew

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Calories 564 per portion
Fat 38g (17g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing

Ingredients

  • Rapeseed oil 2 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Plain flour 2 rounded tbsp
  • Ox cheeks 4 approx. 1.9kg (4lb 4oz)
  • Onions 2, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges
  • Carrots 2 large, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) thick slices
  • Celery 2 sticks, cut into thick slices
  • Mandarin or satsuma 1, finely grated zest
  • Thyme 4 sprigs
  • Bay leaves 2
  • Star anise 2
  • Pitted dried dates 6, halved
  • Whole plum tomatoes 400g can
  • Beef Stock Pots (or stock cubes) 2
  • Mashed potato and broccoli to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°fan/Gas 2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Season the flour and use to coat the ox cheeks. Brown them in the oil, two at a time, for 2 minutes each side. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the casserole along with the onions, carrots and celery. Stir well, cover and leave over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in any leftover flour, the mandarin zest, thyme, bay leaves, star anise and dates.
  3. Put the meat back in the casserole, add the tomatoes and Stock Pots (or crumble in the stock cubes) and pour over just enough boiling water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil on the hob then cover and cook in the oven for 4 hours until the meat is tender.
  4. Lift the ox cheeks out of the casserole and set aside, covered. Put the casserole on the hob over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Pull the meat into large chunks and put back into the sauce. Take out the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season well and serve with mashed potato and broccoli, if you like.
  5. Slow cooker method Prepare as in the method then place in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Take the lid off and continue cooking for another hour to reduce the sauce.

Cook’s tips

Ask the butcher to trim the fat off the ox cheeks, or skim the fat off the top of the sauce after cooking but before you reduce it.

The dates and mandarin zest add a subtle fragrance and sweetness to the sauce.

If you prefer, after taking the meat out you can thicken the sauce with cornflour mixed with a little water; bring to the boil before returning the meat to the sauce.

 

Cook it Slowly! cookbook back in stock!

Cook it Slowly!

This recipe is taken from our Cook it Slowly! cookbook, which is packed full of the most amazing slow-cooked recipes.

READ MORE

 

#slowcooked
#bankholiday
#tripletested
#delicious

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