Talking to Plants

Occasionally, when putting on my old green wellies to go out into the garden, I think back to an ancient British sitcom about a couple becoming self-sufficient…

It’s very dated, but that adds to its charm:

The Good Life

Tom and his wife Barbara live in a house next to the rather posh Jerry and Margo. Tom and Barbara have “opted out” and have started keeping animals and growing their own vegetables. Their neighbours are often bemused by their efforts…

This episode, called “I talk to trees”, is perfect for this time of year!

Just click on the logo.

Take a look and have a laugh!

A Glint of Gold

Last weekend the gardening season began! A sore back was the price to pay, and I paid gladly!

“All my hurts my garden spade can heal”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882

I hope Mr Emerson was right. I have a lot of work ahead of me!

I have begun to remove the insulating layer of autumn leaves and debris in my flower garden. It’s always a race against time to get it done before the first small bulbs start sprouting!

Apart from the welcome smell of earth and the birds singing – no, shouting! – their hearts out, I think the best moment was when I uncovered this:

Or was it when I discovered this?

Or this?

No, I think it was the crocus! (Click on the photos to see the detail!)

What’s growing in your garden?

The Queen of Spices, Part Two (And Blueberry Muffins!)

Green Cardamom

Cardamom is good added to many sweet dishes, and has found its way into lots of Indian desserts, but also Scandinavian baked goods. If possible use pods and grind them as needed (see last week’s post on cardamom here). Or buy a good quality organic ground cardamom. It makes all the difference!

A couple of recipes using cardamom that I’ve posted already are Milchreis with Winter Spice Syrup, and Bread and Butter Pudding.

However, (probably) my favourite cardamom recipe was taken and adapted from Cheeky Kitchen about two years ago, only the original was with blackberries… (Note: Brooke at Cheeky Kitchen is writing some fantastic posts with lots of vegan recipes at the moment!)

I find blueberries go extremely well with cardamom. Both have something delicate and floral in their aromas which compliment each other. And neither one nor the other flavour dominates.

Banana Blueberry Cardamom Muffins

Ingredients

2 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar
30g butter/margarine
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsps cardamom & 1 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cups milk/soya milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, sugar, butter and oil. Mix well. Add milk. Sieve and fold in dry ingredients. Mix in blueberries. Spoon into 12 large muffin tins. Bake at 190 degrees for 25 minutes, or until muffin tops spring back to the touch.

Note: it is not a mistake – there is NO egg in this muffin… and the recipe can easily be made vegan 🙂

It makes 12 large muffins, or about 16 normal ones.

Enjoy the wonderful aroma while they are baking!

Tip: eat warm, but try and save some for later too! 😉

Red, Blue or Purple?

In English we call it red cabbage.

In the north of Germany it is the same: Rotkohl.

However, the Bavarians see things differently…. their cabbage is blue! (Blaukraut).

I can go one step further today, because I would say my cabbage soup is purple… or maybe pink? Mauve? Whatever it is, it’s pretty! What colour would you call it?!


When cooked it does tend to look more blue. Only acidic dishes remain red…. which perhaps explains why it is called red cabbage in the north, where vinegar is often added to cabbage dishes.

Since there is very little in the way of local seasonal veg near where I live, I’m experimenting with cabbage first. It is rich in iron and vitamin C, and can be bought fresh almost all year round. And it’s traditional!

Now, I am not going to tell you that this dish will convert you if you don’t like cabbage… Personally I can eat small amounts of sauerkraut, and I love red cabbage raw, yet this was a little too “German/Bavarian” for me. Needless to say, my (German) other half loved it! So here it is, in all its purple glory!

Purple Cabbage Soup

Chop one medium onion and sautee in oil until soft.  Add one chopped potato and about 2 cups grated red cabbage, some seasoning, 400ml vegetable stock, and a little sherry or balsamic vinegar. Simmer untill all veggies are soft. Puree. Stir in some (vegan) cream and serve with crusty bread or pretzels.

Are you a cabbage eater?

Lovely!

Lovely!

My German friend Linde has always been delighted at my use of the word “lovely“.

“It’s so English!” she would say.

Is it? Perhaps.

Sadly, after 18 years of life in another country, speaking another language, I no longer use this adjective for expressing pleasure as often as I should like.

Yet I obviously THINK it; last week I had a lovely surprise: a nomination for the “One Lovely Blog Award”… and my first thought was “How lovely!”

I love this new world of words and pictures I have discovered in the last few months, and the support we all give each other is energizing and inspiring.

A very big THANK YOU to Strawberry Indigo at

http://strawberryindigo.wordpress.com

for nominating me!

Strawberry Indigo is a wonderful writer and writes about so many different things; I particularly like her social commentary page, and her lovely posts on life in general, and plants of course … and the “fresh quotes” are great too!

The rules for this award are simple:

  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  •  Pass the award to other newly discovered blogs.
  •  Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I am passing on this award to three blogs that I have only recently discovered:

A Strawberry Patch

Wonderful photos and posts on nature and gardening, as well as some lovely poetry.

http://astrawberrypatch.wordpress.com/

~~~

Green Tapestry

Anna writes about gardening and plants, with the added extras of  the occasional seasonal poem and lovely photos.

http://www.greentapestry.blogspot.com/

~~~

Lakeside Lane

Diane combines beautiful art photography with atmospheric and uplifting quotes. Simply wonderful. (Or should I say “lovely“!)

http://lakesidelane.wordpress.com/

~~~

Have a look at all these sites, and enjoy some top-class pictures and prose!

Banana Bread Day

Today is Banana Bread Day!

I must confess this is not actually a “World Day”, since it is National Banana Bread Day in the US. But why should only the Americans have all the fun?!

😉

I think everyone has got their own favourite banana bread recipe… but if not, try this one today. (Or bookmark it for after Lent!) It’s simply the best!

Banana Almond Bread                       

Makes two 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inch loaves OR one heart-shaped cake tin

1 cup plain or wholemeal flour
¾ cup ground almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup roughly mashed ripe banana, (i.e. 2-3 small bananas)
1/3 cup butter, room temperature (75g)
2 tbsps milk
2 eggs
1 small banana cut into bite sized chunks

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Mix flour, salt, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda together. Mash bananas and butter together, and mix in milk and eggs.  Combine with the flour mixture.  Fold in the banana chunks.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set.  Cool a little before removing from the tin. Good served warm.

Now if that’s not good enough, how about smothering it in a Nutella frosting?!

(Sorry, no pictures)

I got the idea from Ginger Snap Girl, and just adjusted the quantities to suit my cake. (Her recipe looks good too!)

Enjoy!