Thursday, 24 January 2013

Jack's Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Jack is my 14 year old son, he learnt this recipe at school, but makes it all the time at home, and it always turns out very tasty (apart from when he forgot to put the sugar in), so it is a good recipe for both adults and children to try. It's great in the autumn when we go out picking fresh blackberries, and our neighbour gives us cooking apples from their tree.

For the stew; 4 large cooking apples - 50g sugar - 1 tbsp water - blackberries to taste - 1 tsp jACKrABBIT pudding spice.
For the crumble topping; 150g flour (sieved) - 100g sugar - 50g butter - 50g oats.
1) Pre-set the oven to gas 4, 180C, 350F.
2) Place all the stew ingredients into a large saucepan and heat rapidly
3) Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the apple goes soft
4) Place the stew in an oven dish - Place the flour and butter in a mixing bowl and rub together till crumbly
5) Add the sugar and oats and repeat
6) Place in the oven for 15 minutes - Serve with custard or ice cream.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Spiced Lemon Pickles

Preserved lemons can be sliced, chopped or minced to be used in dishes. They are used alot in Moroccan dishes such as tagines and also go well with chicken, seafood, olives and rice. I have also found them being used in Georgian meals along with savoury dishes; you can take a look here.

9 large lemons
450g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
60 ml water
240 ml cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 small piece of fresh ginger (1 inch)
4 or 5 whole cloves
6 sterilised jars
Wash the lemons well then dry. Cut them into quarters crossways.
Mix the sugar, salt, water and vinegar together in a saucepan. Tie the spices in muslin or a cheesecloth and add to the liquid mixture and boil for 5 minutes.
Place the lemon quarters into the boiling syrup and boil once more for 1 minute. Discard the spice bag. Pack the lemons into the jars, then cover with the hot liquid and seal immediately.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pumpkin Scones

I realise halloween is over, but I thought that anyone who has been growing pumpkins this year may still appreciate some recipes. I grew pumpkins on my allotment and I will be needing quite a few recipes as I've harvested about 20 all different sized fruits. Still trying to find places to put them! This is a really nice, simple recipe.

50g/ 2oz pumpkin puree (make in the same way as other recipes)
1 egg
2 egg yolks
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
50g/2oz self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50ml condensed milk

The oven needs to be set at gas 6/200 C/400 F. – Grease a baking sheet and heat in the oven, whilst doing this blend all the ingredients together in a food processor. – Place spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheet and gently push flat. – Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, till they rise and turn golden.

Orange Gingerbread: 1930s Style

I found this recipe in an 1932 cookbook that I bought from a carboot sale, along with lots of other cutouts and hand written recipes. The orange gingerbread is particularly tasty, Nial helped me to cook a loaf, and it didn't last long! Unlike other gingerbread recipes there is no treacle, which alot of people don't have in their kitchen.
I've translated the measurements into metric;
225g plain flour
113g butter
85g sugar
113g golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spice (or 1 tsp ginger)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 orange, rind and juice
1 egg
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream and add the golden syrup. Mix in the flour, the orange juice and the egg alternately, then add the orange rind. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in a tsp of warm water, add to the mixture, place in a flat cake tin lined with greased paper, and bake on a moderate oven (gas 3/325F/160C) for 40 minutes.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

1 pumpkin, flesh only, squared
2 eggs
225g/8 oz soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
3 tsp mixed spice
350 ml evaporated milk
1 pie crust (see below)
Oven should be set at gas 8/ 230°C
-Steam the pumpkin for 10-15 minutes till tender.
-Mash or mix the pumpkin in a blender in batches.
-In a bowl, slightly beat the eggs, then add the sugar, salt, 500g of the pumpkin, spices, evapourated milk and flour, blending well.
-Heat the pastry case in the oven for a couple of minutes till warm to the touch, then pour the pumpkin mixture into the case, covering the edge of the case with foil.
-Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to gas 4/180 C and bake for a further 40-50 minutes.
-Remove foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done.
-Allow pie to cool at room temperature then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Serve cold or re-warmed with cream or ice cream.

225g/8oz plain flour,
150g/5oz chilled unsalted butter, chopped,
1 egg, beaten (add an extra yolk for extra flavour)
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Using your hands, rub in the butter whilst lifting the mixture above the bowl to introduce air, until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- Add the beaten egg and mix into the pastry crumbs with a round bladed knife until they start t bind together. Then, lightly gather the mixture together to form a soft, but not sticky, ball of dough.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out on a cool surface.
- With any leftovers you can make small stars to put on the top of the pie, about 30 minutes before it is ready.

Pumpkin & Potato Soup

Here is a recipe to help use up your pumpkin this Halloween.
900g pumpkin flesh cubed
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 garlic clove
1 level tsp mild curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
700ml vegetable bouillon
142ml tub double cream
Steam the pumpkin for about 8 minutes, until nearly tender. –Put the oil in a frying pan, heat and cook the onion till golden, adding the garlic part way through. –Add the curry powder, pumpkin and potato, stock and seasoning and simmer till the potato is cooked. –Add the cream and bring back to a gentle boil, then blend till smooth (to get a really smooth consistency push through a sieve). –Serve with crusty bread, and why not try it in the pumpkin like the idea below.

Even in 1812, as can be seen from ‘The Professed Cook’ (above) pumpkins were being 'scarified', and it is interesting to see how the tradition of stretches back so far. The recipe included is a little bland, so the one above is a much better alternative, but it can still be served in the pumpkin. It is not too hard scraping out the pumpkin flesh without halving the pumpkin.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Liquorice Tar Apples

It's coming up to toffee apples time, but for home baking, toffee apples are quite difficult to master (making anyway, I can eat them just fine), so an easier, and just as tasty, alternative are these liquorice apples. They are guaranteed to linger on your lips (literally), with added golden syrup to soften the licorice flavour, and sprinkles to add an extra sweet crunch.
 140g confectionary liquorice
2 tsp golden syrup, about 4 tbsp water
4 apples and sticks.
 Cut up the liquorice into very small pieces and place in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of the water. -- Heat gently on a medium-low heat, adding more water as the mixture becomes sticky, stirring continuously. -- As it is becoming like syrup, add the golden syrup, and keep stirring till the lumps melt. -- The best way to coat the apples is with a spoon, using the back to apply the liquorice to the apples, then leave to cool and harden a little before applying sprinkles (we also added Jelly Tots).

If you would like to try making toffee for toffee apples here is a recipe for making enough for about six apples.
110ml water
225g demerera sugar
0.5 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp golden syrup
25g butter
(wooden sticks for the apples)
Place the water in a pan and dissolve in the sugar over a moderate heat. Once dissolved stir in the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring till it reaches the hard crack stage (300 F/144 C) and place in a sink or large bowl of cold water. Dip in the apples and allow to cool on a lightly greased tray before eating.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Cajun Prawns

This is such an easy recipe and can be added to skewers, served at a BBQ, or with a selection of grilled meats. They would be great with a dip too. I will place a recipe for a cajun style rice below, and they are lovely with this and some corn-on-the-cob smothered with butter.

2 tsp cajun spice
juice from 1 small lime (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 tbsp oil
220g pack large prawns
Place the spice in a small bowl, add the lime juice and mix well, add the honey and blend with the liquid. - Heat the oil in a pan, add the spice mix, then straight away add the prawns. - Cook on a medium-low heat. - The sauce will thicken and caramalise, you need to wait till the sauce is reduced, the prawns are coated and becoming sticky with the thick spice mix (this will take 4 or 5 minutes). - Be sure to scrape the sticky spice from the pan and add it to the plate. - Serve as above.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Moroccan Rub

A great recipe for your jACKrABBIT Moroccan Tagine Spice

1/2  small onion, finely diced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped
generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Moroccan spice

Blend all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Rub the blend into the meat of your choice, then leave for 30-45 minutes.
Grill or BBQ till the meat is cooked through.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is really simple to make, the only thing is that you have to wait a few weeks before you can use it, but its really worth it money-wise compared to commercial extracts. There are only two ingredients, the vanilla pods and spirit alcohol. The traditional alcohol to use is vodka, but other spirits have their benefits. I use dark rum as I think it adds something to the flavour, but you could use brandy or whisky as well.

1) Cut open three vanilla pods length ways, and cut into halves or thirds so that they will be submerged by the liquid.
2) Cover with about 240ml of your chosen alcohol in a sealable jar or bottle and replace the lid tightly.
3) Shake occasionally and leave for about two months before using. You can top up with alcohol every so often to prolong it, and it will keep for years. Your home-made extract will be stronger than shop-bought ones, so use sparingly. Click on the label below to find recipes with vanilla.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Cucumber Pickles

I'm starting to get some cucumber crops in now, the euphya cucumbers that I have grown indoors have done particularly well, and with lots more cucumbers to come, I've decided to pickle some of the large ones (including the strange one with the trim middle).
1) Wipe the cucumbers, and then cut them into manageable and similar sized pieces. You can pickle very small cucumbers whole.
I like firm pickled cucumbers so used a dry brine. To find out how to pickle with a wet brine for softer pickles click here.
2) Put the pieces onto a flat tray (a baking tray is good) and cover with a generous layer of salt. Leave overnight.

In the morning.
3) It is best to make the spiced vinegar before you rinse the cucumbers to allow it time to cool. 500ml of malt vinegar was enough for my three large cucumbers, which fitted into three 0.25l jars.
4) Rinse the chopped cucumbers well to remove the brine.

5) Pack the cucumbers into cold steralised jars and pour the cooled vinegar over the top to cover. You could add a bay leaf to each jar. Seal the jars.
The pickles are best left for at least two weeks (I would suggest longer) before being used, to give time for the vinegar to really infuse into the cucumbers.

Growing Cucumbers

Sowing. Sow indoors: Apr-May. Sow seeds on their sides 1cm deep in 7-9cm pots of compost. Propogate until germination. Water seedlings in the mornings. Plants benefit from being kept indoors but can be hardened off for outdoor planting once all risk of frost has passed. Plant in well fertilised soil or compost 45-60 cm apart. Growing and Harvesting. Use meshing for the plants to climb. Water well in dry weather. Pick regularly when young. Cucumbers can suffer from mould on the leaves, often just as the crop is coming to yield; disease resistant varieties such as euphya (below) are available.

Our varieties.
Euphya (as seen in image). This is an excellent quality all female flower cucumber that is disease resistant and produces plenty of good quality fruit. Better for indoor growing. Buy.

Using Brine in Pickling

Before pickling any vegetables you will need to use either a wet or dry brine to draw out the moisture of vegetables for a better result at the vinegar stage. Sea salt (usually fine ground) is the best salt for pickling (you are able to purchase fine and coarse sea salt from jACKrABBIT at any of our markets or with a home delivery (sorry, we don't post salt)). Using a brine is incedibly easy; here's how...
Dry Brine
Dry brine is used when you want your vegetables to maintain a firmness or crispness. Sprinkle dry salt over the vegetables on a flat tray and leave overnight (unless stated otherwise in a recipe). Once soaked, use plenty of cold water to rince away any remaining salt and salt solution.
Wet Brine
Wet brine will mean that your vegetables are softer, which is better for pickling recipes where you want a more sauce-like consistency. Usually you will need to use (unless otherwise stated) 50g/2oz salt to every 600ml/1 pint water mixed well. Again, unless otherwise stated, leave the vegetables in the brine overnight, then rinse with lots of cold water and leave to drain really well.
Your vegetables are then ready to be pickled.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Sausage & Bean Casserole

This dish is flavoured with jACKrABBIT's new sausage casserole seasoning blend.
YOU WILL NEED for 4 people
2 tbsp olive oil
450g sausages (about 8)
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 to 1&1/2 tsp sausage casserole seasoning
700g jar passata
300ml chicken stock (vegetable stock if using veggie sausages)
100ml water or red wine for added flavour
300g tin of cannellini beans, drained and washed
Add salt to taste (seasoning already contains pepper)
~~Oven set to 180C/350F/gas 4

1) Place the oil in a casserole dish and fry the sausages till golden. Remove sausages carefully and reserve for later.
2) Place the leek, onion and garlic in the casserole with the hot oil and fry gently till soft but not browned.
3) Add the spice to help release the flavours, then add the passata, stock, water/wine and beans and bring to the boil.
4) Cover and place in the oven for 40 minutes, then add the sausages then cook uncovered in the oven for further 30-40 minutes, till the sausages and beans are tender and well cooked.
5) Serve with crusty bread and butter.

1) Add 100g of lean bacon at stage 2.
2) Save a little of the passata and use the next day with pizza bases to make your own pizzas. Smear the passatta over the pizza, then add grated cheese to cover and toppings of your choice. You can either buy ready made pizza bases or make your own. The recipe will be fine with a little less passata, but check it on the second stage of the oven cook.
3) The sausage casserole seasoning can also be ground down in a mortar and pestle and is a perfect spice for flavouring homemade sausages.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Butterflies are one of the prettiest of insects that can be found in the garden. When I was little I remember seeing so many different kinds of butterflies all over the summer drinking nectar on my mum's buddleia. Butterflies are suffering though, from modern farming techniques, and the use of more and more non-flowering shrubs and 'display' (too ornate for butterflies to feed from) flowers in public and private gardens. The recent bad weather has also not helped our native species either. One of the best ways to support all the species of butterflies is to plant all kinds of nectar rich flowers which they feed on. You can find details of all kinds of flowers at the Butterfly Conservation website, but here is a short list. Flowers that are good for butterflies in spring are bluebells, cuckooflower, dandilion, garlic mustard, pansy, primrose, sweet rocket, sweet william, wallflowers, violas. Flowers for the summer and early autumn are buddleia, chives, chrysthanemum, common bird's-foot trefoil, cornflower, forget-me-not, French marigold, globe thistle, honeysuckle, hyssop, lavender, lilac, marjoram, mint, valerian, thyme.

Identify a Butterfly
Seen a butterfly and not sure what kind it is? Identify it by looking at the Butterfly Conservation Identifier. You can also register your butterfly until August 5th in the Big Butterfly Count which aims to record the health of Britain's butterflies, and has been taking place every summer since 2010. Log your butterfly here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Hand Knitted Ladybird Finger Puppet
We have a selection of hand knitted minibeast finger puppets which encourage children to enjoy the garden and get outdoors. This post contains lots of information about ladybirds, and the puppet comes with details for building a ladybird sanctuary in the garden. Puppets cost £2.90 each, £5 for 2 and £11.50 for all 5; to order and to find out more please click here.

Across the whole planet there are many different kinds of ladybirds, about 5,000 different kinds in fact. They come in all sorts of colours, sizes and also vary in the number of spots they have. Their favourite food are little green aphids which often eat and damage the plants and flowers in the garden, so ladybirds are really useful!
QUESTION. About how many green aphids can a ladybird eat in their lifetime?
a) 500
b) 5,000
c) 50,000
Go to the bottom of the post to find out.  

Most of you will have seen ladybirds and know what they look like, but they don't start out looking like that. They don't look like the ladybird here either, a little girl has dressed up as a ladybird. You could try dressing up as a ladybird too. Ask a grown-up for some red fabric or an old piece of red clothing and they can help you paint some black dots on it. You could also cut out a large piece of card and paint it in the design you want, then push holes into it and use string to tie it to your back. Don't forget, you can try other coloured ladybirds; how about yellow with black spots or black with red spots?

Ladybird Life Cycle

In spring an adult ladybird will lay its tiny yellow eggs in a safe place, like underneath a leaf. 
It only takes a week for the eggs to hatch, and out comes the ladybird larvae. They are very hungry and like to eat green aphids as well.
The larva will attach itself to a leaf and make a pupa around itself to protect it while it turns into a....


It takes about a month for the ladybird to go through the life cycle from egg to adult. When the winter comes the fully grown ladybird will hibernate till the next year.

ANSWER: b) 5,000

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lavender Scones

Lavender is one of the scents of summer. But it can be one of the flavours of any season as well. Lavender has a very distinct flavour, and has been used in baking for centuries. Use the lavendula angustifolia flowers from the garden, jACKrABBIT also sells these flowers dried in 15g sachets.
1 tbsp lavender flowers (angustifolia)
310g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
110g butter
100gm sugar.
Heat the milk and lavender together in a pan to a near boil, then allow to steep long enough to cool. -- Strain and make up the milk back to 160ml. -- Sift the flour, add the baking powder and salt, then mix in the butter till well blended. -- Add the sugar and milk, and form a soft dough. -- Knead about a dozen times on a lightly floured board. -- Shape individual scones, and place in a preheated oven at 220 C/425 F/gas 7 for about 12 minutes till lightly browned. -- Serve with cream and blackberry jam.

Gingerbread Men (or Ladies....or anything)

This is a really great recipe for ginger-bread biscuits, they have a lovely rich flavour, and are not too gingery...(add more ginger if you want a stronger ginger flavour).
You Will Need
225g/8oz plain flour
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ginger-bread spice
½ tsp bicarb. of soda
75g/3oz butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle 55g /2oz soft light brown sugar
20g/1oz oz dark muscavado sugar
1 tbsp water
50g/2oz icing sugar (to decorate)

The oven should be set to 180°C/350°/gas 4, and two baking trays need to be greased. You will need a cooling wrack.
Sift together the flour, spices & bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Place the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar & water in a saucepan over a low heat. Heat gently till the butter has melted & all the sugar dissolved. Cool for 5 minutes.
Pour syrup into the flour mixture and blend to a soft dough. Leave covered for 30 minutes before rolling out to about 3mm thick. Cut into shapes with a cutter and place on the baking trays. Bake for about 10 minutes till golden.
Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thick paste and decorate with a piping bag or cocktail stick.

Great British BBQ

~Cardboard BBQ made by my son Nial and myself. He made a dish for everyone; the carnivor, pescitarian and vegetarian. For instructions to make the BBQ please visit Nial's Patch.~

Well, sun is finally here! So now is the time to get out the ole BBQ and get cooking, and jACKrABBIT have a range of BBQ spices to make it taste delicious. The British BBQ isn't always great, with its slimy chicken oozing pink juices, leathery steaks and burgers so blackened you're not sure where the burnt bits end and the middle begins. But they can be truly great too. The British BBQ Society was started in 2008 to help turn things around and build up a new enthusiasm for BBQ cooking, and the Best of British BBQ has been going since 2005 to promote Britain as great BBQers. There has been a revival of British food over the last few years and the BBQ is very much part of that, and as well as that, very much part of the British summer.

For a great BBQ prepare everything in advance. Marinading is often the staple of the BBQ, but it often does not bring out the flavours and dry rubs can offer an excellent taste extravagansa. Lots of interesting side dishes are essential, as there are not many people who just like a plate of meat (or vegetarian alternatives). You can also buy smoking chips (I know that Wilkinson sells them) in a number of varieties such as apple smoke or oak smoke to add another layer of flavour. Don't forget fish, well cooked BBQ'd fish offers another texture and a delicious flavour to the mix. And then there's the pudding!! After being on a beach aged 16 and then served up BBQ'd bananas with melted chocolate inside, all wrapped in tin foil, nothing incredibly difficult, I've never done a BBQ without a sweet dish at the end again.

We will be adding a few recipes soon, including some sweet ones, but until then you can find a good list of recipes at the Best of British BBQ website as well.

All About Sumac

Sumac, as its fruity aroma suggests, is made from the berries from the rhus tree (the same family as mango); it is not particularly used on the UK, which is a shame as it is a real gem of the spice rack. It is utilised in a lot in Middle Eastern cooking, and is widely used as a souring agent in place of lemon juice or vinegar, as it has a tangy, refreshing flavour. It can be used with all kinds of seafood, tuna fish is particularly nice with sumac, as well as chicken and most meat dishes (especially roast meats). It is also great for vegetarians as it goes very well with salads and vegetable dishes simply sprinkled over, with or without dressing. It is an essential ingredient of za’atar which, among other things, can be sprinkled with olive oil on flatbread and then toasted.

Make Za'atar

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern Blend. You can use it as a coating for any kind of meat, chicken being particularly good. In the Middle East it is sprinkled over flatbread with olive oil, and it compliments any kind of carbohydrates, such as potatoes. You can also mix it with butter and put it on toast, or with bread you bake.
1 tbsp dried/fresh thyme
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
Roast the sesame seeds in a pan till golden.
In a mortar & pestle gently grind the dried thyme or finely chop if using fresh.
Mix together all the ingredients, and use as required.

Tuna Steaks with Sumac

I had never used sumac before. A customer asked me to get some, and as soon as I opened the bag, I knew that it was something that I wanted to try, it was so aromatic and sweet smelling. I browsed the web and found so many people highly rating it for it distinct fruity flavour, so I'm going to be trying lots of recipes myself, and here's the first I've tried, and it's a super easy one as well (which is even better).
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp sumac
4 pieces of 200g tuna steaks (7 oz)
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine the oil, garlic and sumac and coat the tuna, seasoning well.
Oil a grill plate or chargrill pan (a frying pan will do if you don't have these), and heat it on a medium heat, adding the tuna when hot, and cooking for 5-6 minutes on each side (or till cooked as desired).
A great accompaniment is saffron rice.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Yellow Rattle Wildflower

Yellow Rattle Wildflower
rhinanthus minor
Yellow rattle is a semi-parasitic wildflower that is used to inhibit the growth of grass on order to allow other species to thrive. It feeds of the grass roots and is helpful when beginning to create a wildflower area where grass was the main plant growing. Yellow rattle must be sown in the autumn as it needs the cold winter weather to trigger its germination in late February to early March. To sow. Mow the grass short and 'scarify' the ground by ripping through parts of the ground with a claw fork (or similar tool). You will need between 0.1 and 1 g of seed per m2 (our packs are 1g) depending on how dense you want the yellow rattle. For best results you can sow two years in a row. Yellow rattle may need managing as it can feed off the roots of other plants; in this case, remove plants before they seed (being an annual it is quite easy to manage this plant).

White Horehound Wildflower

White Horehound
marrubium vulgare
The leaves of white horehound look a little like mint leaves and the white flowers are clustered around the upper part of the stems.
Height: 25-45 cm
To order white horehound wildflower seeds please click here.

Wildflower seeds can be sown directly to the flowering position or started off in trays under cover. Most seeds are best sown either in the Spring (Mar-Apr) or the Autumn (Aug-Sep), but if this is different we have added instructions with that particular seed information. Autumn sowings are best for areas that are already quite grassy. To begin in trays, sow the seeds in a seed compost on a sunny window ledge or in a green house. Pot up seedlings when large enough to handle and harden off for 7-10 days to acclimatise the plants to the outdoors.

If sowing direct to the flowering area, you can mix the seed with fine sand to help achieve an even sowing. The area must be well weeded before sowing. Your wildflowers are pretty good at maintaining themselves, but you can add and remove plants to get the look you want. Deadhead plants if you don't want them to self seed and collect seed for plants you want to start off indoors. A good mix of annuals and perennials will help produce an interesting display year after year.

Order Wildflower Seeds

You can order wildflower seeds from jACKrABBIT, as well as vegetable seeds, herb seeds and spices for cooking and pickling. Payments are processed through Paypal and delivery is within three working days. Minimum order £5 only.

VIPER'S BUGLOSS Wildflower Seeds (app. 120)
£1.49 (inc. UK P&P or delivery)
echium vulgare
To view sowing and growing details, click here. ----
WHITE HOREHOND Wildflower Seeds (app. 250)
£1.25  (inc. UK P&P or delivery)
marrubium vulgare
To view sowing and growing details, click
YELLOW RATTLE Wildflower Seeds (app. 300)
£1.65 (inc. UK P&P or delivery)
rhinanthus minor
To view sowing and growing details, click

Lavender & Vanilla Butter Biscuits

This is a lovely recipe with a delicate, yet distinct flavour. The lavender comes through, without being bitter, and is softened by the vanilla.

75g/3oz caster sugar
seeds from one vanilla pod
175g/6oz butter, softened
175g/6oz plain flour
75g/3oz cornflour
2 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
2 tbsp caster sugar, for dusting

1) Set the oven at 170 C/325 F/gas 3, and grease two baking trays. You will need a cooling wrack.
2) For best results mix the sugar with the vanilla in advance (overnight), but the recipe will work if you do it before baking. Place the butter and flavoured sugar together in a bowl and mix well.
3) Sift the two flours, add the lavender and blend with the butter mixture to form a soft dough.
4) Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, knead gently and roll out. Cut out shapes with cutters, and place each biscuit on the baking tray. Prick lightly with a fork.
5) Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on the tray for a few minutes before moving to the wire wrack. Sprinkle with caster sugar.

Viper's Bugloss Wildflower

Viper's bugloss is one of the plants to put in your garden or allotment to attract bees. It is best sown where you want it to grow as the roots are easily disturbed if moved. Sow either March-May (for some flowers that year) or August-September (for flowers next year). Sow thinly as seedlings can choke each other, 6mm deep. Fully grown plants should be about 38cm apart so thin as required. Keep well watered till established. Deadhead to prolong the flowering period. IMPORTANT: Use gloves when handling adult plants as there are tiny spines that can irritate the skin.

Flowers: June-September
Height: 90cm
Order viper's bugloss wildflower seeds here. The seeds can either be delivered locally or posted to the rest of the UK.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Rice Pudding

Whenever I've forgotten to leave a note out for the milkman, and have too much milk, I'll make a rice pudding, milky hot chocolates, or occasionally a bread & butter pudding; all great ways to use up excess milk. When you buy a bag of pudding rice it comes with a simple recipe, which I often use, but this is an extra special rice pudding that my step-father showed me. If you don't have time to soak the raisins, you can just add them without the rum.

YOU WILL NEED for 3-4 people
75g raisins
grated rind of 1 lemon (optional, but nice)
2 tbsp dark rum
48g pudding rice
475ml milk
20g butter
25g sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
1) Put the raisins and lemon rind in a bowl with the rum, and soak for as long as you can, preferably overnight.
2) Grease an ovenproof dish and place all the ingredients apart from the nutmeg inside and mix together. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the top.
3) Cover and place in a preheated oven on gas 2/300F/150C for 2 hours (if you don't cover, you'll get a better top skin which some people (including myself) like).

Easy Peasy Pickled Onions

This is a really easy recipe taken from Mrs. Beeton's cookbook.
1) You'll need enough vinegar to cover the onions that you are using, and Mrs. B suggests using two teaspoons each of allspice and of black peppercorns to about every litre of vinegar.
2) Peel away the outer skin of the onions, and then remove a couple of the inner layers till you have white, clear looking onions.
3) Place the onions in steralised jars, add the spices in equal proportion, and the cover with cold vinegar.
4) Cover and lid the jars and store in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks. YOUR PICKLED ONIONS WILL LAST 6-8 MONTHS.
Click on the 'pickling' label below to find tips and even more pickles.

Homemade Wholegrain Mustard

Mustard jars always seem to have more mustard in them than I ever use! I began making my own mustard because I really wanted to try and stop as much wastage from my kitchen as possible. This recipe makes quite a small amount of mustard, but if you make more it will store in the fridge for 1-2 months (if all equipment is clean).

2 tablespoons mustard seeds
20g mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons vinegar (cider, white wine or sherry)
40 ml white wine or water (boiled and cooled)
1) Pound the mustard seeds lightly in a grinder or mortar & pestle, till they crack a little.
2) Place them in a bowl with the mustard powder and salt.
3) Add the vinegar first, a bit at a time, stirring, and then the wine (or water), again strirring to make a smooth paste.
Click on the label below to find other mustard recipes.

Urban Foraging

Food for Free by Richard Mabey is a great pocket guide to a wide variety of wild growing foods, you can buy it at most bookshops or at Amazon. For a free online guide to wild foods found in the urban environment, by Marcus Harrison (2008), click here.

As a child I remember picking blackberries when we were away on holiday, or occasionally at home on the way to the shops, but that was about as far as foraging went. But I've been doing it for a while now, we've made nettle soup, elderflower cordial, quince chutney, damson jam (that went a bit wrong), dandelion fritters, rose water and often eat leaves and fruit as we find them (always above dog height!). It is something that is becoming increasingly popular and children (as well as adults) really love following the journey from plants found growing wild to a finished, tasty food. Here are a some of the basic plants that you can find growing wild in the city and eat, and I will add links so that you can find out more about them, and, of course, some recipes:

Beech : Blackberry: Cleavers : Damson : Dandelion : Elder : Hawthorn : Hazel : Heather : Nettle : Rose : Rowan : Sloe : Sweet Chestnut : Quince

If you are eager to get out foraging whilst I am adding the information and recipes to this list, or if you want to find out about all the other edible wild foods available, I really do suggest getting the Food for Free book; I have it, it is really informative and great value for money.