In a Vase on Monday: A Vase for Alys

Last week was grey and damp and I was feeling rather despondent about my vase contents for today.

And then magic happened, and a surprise parcel arrived all the way from sunny California from my dear blogging friend Alys, at Gardening Nirvana.

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The package contained a beautiful handmade card displaying a vase full of flowers and the calendar marking Monday…

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It is so pretty, and so ‘me’.

And the icing on the cake was a pack of vase arrangers that Alys also sent along – these are soft wire discs/’nets’ that can be bent to shape for any vase and help keep individual stems in place. I have wanted one for ages after seeing them on someone’s blog, but have never seen them here.

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This was the inspiration I needed for my vase, and I spent this morning happily playing around with stems and seed heads. One of my favourite vases has quite a wide top and so I was pleased I could use it for fewer stems this week.

A big thank you to you, Alys, for cheering up my week and being so thoughtful! This vase is for you! xxx (I hope you have read my mail Alys!)

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The main components are red stems and foliage, with the Mahonia at the centre. The Fennel seeds are a favourite element for Advent vases, as when the seeds drop they leave behind little stars…

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I included several different grasses – names forgotten for the moment.

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Some Iris sibirica seedheads still look good in the garden and I found some fresh red Cotinusย shoots as well…

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To top it all, we had sunshine today – the first for what seems like weeks! (It was very frosty too this morning).

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Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme and getting me out searching for vase materials even on a cold and frosty November morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

And thanks again to Alys. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Have a great week everyone!

Pumpkin Pie for World Vegan Month

As Christmas approaches, and with Thanksgiving in the US this week, I thought my vegan pumpkin pie recipe might go down well. I adapted my original recipe (which you can also find on my recipes page) using alternatives for the eggs and milk, and the result was amazing… it tasted fantastic, full of flavour and nobody would ever guess it’s vegan!

I invited a friend over to test it, and the verdict was a definite thumbs up!

So here it is:

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

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Pie crust:

  • 225g (1 4/5 cups) plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) vegan butter

Filling:

  • 425 g (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 125 g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 4 tbsps maple syrup
  • 100 ml (2/5 cup) canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsps unsweetened almond or soya milk
  • 3 tbsps cornflour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

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Method:

Grease a 23 cm pie or flan dish. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until fine and crumbly, then add just enough cold water to bring the dough together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180ยฐC.

Roll out the pastry to fit your pie dish. Place some greaseproof paper on top and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for about ten minutes. Remove the beans and paper.

Blend all the filling ingredients together. Pour into the pastry case and bake in the oven for a further 40 – 50 minutes.

Leave to cool and then chill for a few hours or preferably overnight.

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Serve with vegan whipped cream and enjoy!ย 

Wishing all American readers a Happy Thanksgiving!

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In a Vase on Monday: Now what is that thing called again?

After the frosts ten days ago the past week was just so incredibly wet that even the Persicaria has given up the ghost. Which leaves me with very little to cut for my Monday vases now. The Golden Euonymus usually stays golden all winter though, so I picked a large sprig of it and some grasses; Miscanthus and…? Then the last Echinacea seed head (the others have gone mouldy), a Skimmia flower, and some of that silvery foliage…

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Now what is that called again! I have a mental block concerning that plant. Marrubia? Or something similar?

I am not at all keen on Skimmias, but this was in a basket given to me last month and has at least added a bit of colour to the patio.

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The vase, with its tree silhouettes seemed appropriate for the season. Most of the leaves have come down now, but there are still some birch hanging on, and the larches are turning golden too.

If you are joining in Cathy’s meme I hope you have better luck than I did finding something for a vase this week. But if you hop over to Rambling in the Garden I am sure our dear host has created something lovely once again to inspire us all. ๐Ÿ™‚

In a Vase on Monday: Always the Optimist…

This Monday, as I join Cathy once more at Rambling in the Garden in the fourth year of her lovely meme, I really wanted to use the vase my sister gave me just one more time before the winter sets in, but was I being just a little optimistic? After all, it is a large jug – 1.5 litres at least…

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Well, as those of you who join in each week will know, it is a constant surprise as to what we will find in our gardens and nearby hedgerows to put in a vase!

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The Clematis tangutica seed heads were put to use again, along with the faithful Sedums (which are slowly collapsing, not at all gracefully), some Persicaria Red Dragon foliage and a single Scabiosa ochroleuca.

Until this morning the frost hadn’t quite got the last buddleia flowers – one yellow one in the picture above, and a couple of purple ones below…

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The other purple flowers above are the Teucrium, along with some hedgerow snippets including Euonymus berries, and at the back some Bergenia leaves.

It was very cold outdoors yesterday (today even colder), so I moved the vase indoors to take a couple more photos and noticed how the light made the whole arrangement look more orange than pink. I rather like the effect.

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A few sprigs of Miscanthus and a spent Spiraea flower were added to fill out the vase a bit more.

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I also cut some Plumbago – the red foliage is lovely even after the flowers are gone. (On the right below)

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And bottom right is a sprig of Oenothera.

I wonder what other bloggers have found in their gardens this week. Let’s go over to Cathy’s post and see who else has linked in with a vase today! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great week, and don’t forget to look out at the supermoon tonight! ๐Ÿ™‚

Butternut ‘Steaks’ for World Vegan Month

Here is another recipe for World Vegan month 2016, and one I mentioned that I would post not long ago… Butternut ‘Steaks’. ๐Ÿ˜€

At this time of year it is easy to find pumpkins of any kind, and I like to make the most of them while they are in season. Since my Man of Many Talents is not so keen on the sweet flavour in savoury dishes, except for soup anyway, I make these butternut steaks just for myself. And the beauty is, you can slice as much as you need off the ‘neck’ of a butternut and save the rest of the squash for another day.

Butternut Steaks

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So, take a butternut squash and cut some 1-2 cm thick slices from the long end (not the end where the seeds are), then peel with a potato peeler. Place on a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper.

Preheat your oven to 225ยฐC/ 425ยฐF.

Mix 1tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and spread over the slices of squash. Season with freshly ground black pepper and, if you like, a sprinkle of ground ginger for some added heat. I also sometimes use ground dried garlic or coriander, or add a sprig of rosemary or two.

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Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Depending how thick your slices are, they may need another few minutes, but try not to let them get too brown. You can test one with a sharp knife to see if it is tender.

They can be served with just about anything, or even eaten on their own as a snack!

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So simple and so tasty!

What’s your favourite pumpkin/squash dish? I bet a lot of you are going to say ‘pie’ , and I hope to post a vegan recipe for that too soon. Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ˜‰

In a Vase on Monday: THREE

Three cheers for Cathy at Rambling in the Garden!

Today we are celebrating the third anniversary of her wonderful meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’, which has inspired me and many other bloggers from all over the world to go out into their gardens or the countryside each week to gather materials for a vase to share. Come rain or shine. Snow or heatwave. Summer or Winter.

Not only has this meme changed the way I look at my garden, it has also influenced my choices regarding what to sow and grow, ensuring that I have flowers or foliage for indoors almost all year round.

Thank you Cathy!

Cathy has chosen a theme for today’s celebration : THREE

I think the easiest way to interpret that would be to create three different vases, so my tube vases seemed ideal. I think Cathy will approve of the flowers I used: a common favourite is Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ on the left, with Persicaria ‘Blackfield, then Persicaria ‘Lance Corpoal’ in the centre, and my stalwart Persicaria ‘Firetail’ on the right.

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Sorry I can’t send you the chocolate cherry brownie Cathy! (I am sure it will find a good home though, and I will post the recipe soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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Here’s a closer look at the Persicarias, with Miscanthus ‘Adagio’ as companion.

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I also chose three of my favourite vases from the last year as part of the celebration…

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ย So, now we move into the fourth year of In a Vase on Monday. If you are not already on board, why not join us! But first, go and visit Cathy!

In a Vase on Monday: Happy Halloween!

I wanted to find something spooky this week for a Halloween vase, as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme…

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No, not spooky enough. Let’s have another try…

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Aah, now that’s better! The seed heads of the Clematis tangutica are just like little spiders…

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or a bit ghostly, like the hair of a very very VERY old person…

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And with some slightly creepy seed heads of Anemone japonica, the almost black Crocosmia and Echinacea, and the bright orange Physalis alkekengi I hope I managed to capture the ‘spirit’ of the season!

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The pumpkin was a present from a friend, and the butternut will be made into butternut ‘steaks’ this week (I will post a recipe soon!). Last week I called my fern ‘toffee’ coloured, but I think ‘butternut’ is probably an even closer description.

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Other ingredients to my vase were some orangey pink Epimedium foliage and a Sedum flower. Did you know Sedums were also renamed? (Actually some time ago but I was slow to catch on!) And of course the new name is much longer and more difficult to pronounce… ‘hylotelephium’. And at the front is the reddish pink seed head of the Ricinus communis that I had to cut down this week – the cold and damp had got to it, but it had lasted so well.

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I won’t be celebrating Halloween myself, but for all of you who are…

Have a wonderful spooky Halloween!

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