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So March is nearly over and done. This month has been full of highs and lows as I continue my journey into motherhood. I have, however, made some time to explore the beautiful winter garden at my local National Trust property with Tilly, and for once taking my ‘big camera’ rather than just my phone.

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Sometimes I think I should just put away the cameras and enjoy just ‘being’ in a place, and I definitely want to make sure I do this as Tilly gets bigger and older. But on this walk, I discovered that I really noticed so many signs of spring that I might have ordinarily strolled past.

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I saw bumble bees pushing their way into tiny iris, and flowers of all kinds – many more than I imagined would be flowering at the beginning of March.

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May flowers

It has been a while since I shared any pictures of what we’ve been cooking and eating at home recently, so I thought I would look back through my albums and share some with you all.  Following on from my post about cutting out cheese temporarily for health reasons, this has now been extended to a lot more things, specifically wheat, sugar, and yeast.  It has been a challenge recently, but I hope I will get to the point where I am happy to share more with you.

So here’s some of the food we’ve been making and eating during April and May…

Sorrel, fresh garlic and white asparagus frittata

Sorrel and white asparagus frittata

This was inspired by watching an episode of Two Greedy Italians where they met an elderly lady who knew all the wild herbs and plants growing around her mountain home.  She picked some wild greens and made a kind of frittata, popping the cooked greens through a mouli first to remove the tough bits.

Sorrel and white asparagus frittata

I don’t think my sorrel had many tough bits, but being rather short in both supply and knowledge of wild greens, I wanted to try out the idea anyway.  It was great fun mouli-ing the sorrel and then mixing into my beaten eggs.

We’d not tried white asparagus before, but it was available in our organic grocery – I sliced peeled the outside, sliced them in half, blanched them and then laid them on top of my fritttata.  Topped with a dollop of raw basil pesto (this stuff is amazing and I live off it at the moment) it was pretty tasty.

Lemony garlic baked chicken with rice, asparagus and leftover aioli

Lemon garlic chicken and rice

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Last week we had incredible fish and chips from a place in Didsbury called Frankie’s Fish Bar, but it left me feeling guilty that all I’d eaten for dinner was deep-fried fish and potatoes. 

So I was determined the following night to fill us full of vegetables, and this is what I came up with…

All the vegetables were English, although not grown by me.  There were new potatoes, boiled and tossed in lots of salty butter and black better.  Pink and white radishes sliced in half, asparagus spears and baby carrots blanched and sliced.

Broad beans and fresh peas shelled and briefly cooked in simmering water.  Lots of seasonal salad leaves, crispy bacon shards, and those gorgeous nasturtium flowers (bought from Waitrose, so delighted they’re selling edible flowers).

Not a lot of complicated stuff, just a lot of shelling broad beans and slicing.  But really delicious – I want to eat more of this sort of food over the summer.

I have just created a brand new Recipe Index for the blog to help people find the recipes they want – and hopefully some others you’d like to try! 

I thought it would be a breeze to put it together…but in fact it turns out I’ve added rather a lot of recipes and took me a lot longer than I expected.

Hope you enjoy!

This week is all about eating lettuce.  We have some lovely gem lettuces that I’ve grown in the garden, but they are all starting to go wild and therefore we need to eat them – and soon!

So we got out the recipe books and here’s what we came up with…

So far we’ve eaten a salad of lettuce, peas and ham; wilted lettuce with broad beans which we teamed up with a quick ham omelette; and the lettuce risotto became a barley risotto with lettuce, pea tendrils, spring onions and peas.

Recipes to follow later this week, but here’s a sneak peek…

A salad of  lettuce, peas and ham

Wilted lettuce with broad beans and a ham omelette

Barley risotto with lettuce, pea tendrils, spring onions and peas

Mr Rigg and I have had a lovely weekend with my family.  Yesterday before we left my mom and I made a delicious pasta dinner using green spring inspired vegetables.  Simply dreamt up with the ingredients we had.  Here’s how we made it…

Spring vegetable pasta

Feeds 2

2 small to medium leeks
Half a bunch of asparagus
Small bowlful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of shelled broad beans
2 spring onions
Long thin pasta for two
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Parmesan to serve
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Melt a generous knob of butter in a saucepan.  Finely slice the leeks and saute in the butter until soft.  You can also add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta cooking water.  Season with salt and pepper.

If you are having bacon, cut it into small pieces and fry until crispy.

Put on a pan of boiling salted water and cook the pasta accordingly.  About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broad beans and peas.  Slice the asparagus diagonally into small slithers and add them to the pasta, peas and beans to cook for a few minutes.

Slice up the spring onions and add to the leeks. 

When the pasta and vegetables are cooked, drain the water and tip the pasta into the pan with the leeks.  Stir well, add a little olive oil and season to taste if needed.  Add a little more butter if the pasta is a little dry.

Eat the pasta topped with crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Better looking photos thanks to the little sister’s camera!

Lemon pound cake

For my granny’s 80th birthday I made her a lemon pound cake of gigantic proportions.  Decorated with pretty miniature daffodils and a scattering of purple-ish blue hyacinth flowers, it was both delicious and beautiful.

Here’s how I made it with the recipe for one cake below…

First I weighed out my ingredients, including three, yes three packs of butter – don’t worry, the recipe for one cake only requires one.  Golden yellow organic butter…

Butter

And I zested some lemons…beautiful Italian ones from Unicorn with an incredible fragrance that filled the air as I zested them…

Lemon zest

Next I creamed together the softened butter and sugar – I used fair trade golden caster sugar that hasn’t been so refined as the pure white stuff.

Pop it in your mixer…

Blitz it up – to begin with it starts to look like lumpy wet sand…

Keep going and it will start to change and look more like a crumbly dough mixture…

It’s not ready yet, so let it continue to mix and even when it looks like it does below, it’s still not quite there…

Persist until it looks like this – pale and creamy…

Next you add to your creamy butter sugar mixture the lemon zest and vanilla extract and briefly mix…

Now you add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg until it’s just combined.  These beautiful golden yolkers came from Abbey Leys Farm.

Finally, tip it out into a mixing bowl and add in the flour.  I also added in some lemon juice to give it an extra lemony flavour…

Fold in the flour until it’s all mixed through and you have a lovely cake dough ready for baking…

 

Finally, spread the mixture into your cake tin – I used a large ring shaped tin and pop it into the oven to bake…

While the cake is baking, stand back to admire how many dirty bowls and spoons a gigantic cake creates…and wonder who’s going to wash them all up…

Hopefully when you take your cake out of the oven, allow it to cool then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to cool it should look something like this…

The little sister and I then decorated the cake with a drizzling of lemon icing (lemon juice and icing sugar mixed together) and some pretty spring flowers.  Granny was very pleased…

Below is the recipe – I tripled the ingredients to make the cake above.

Lemon Pound Cake

The Cake
250g caster sugar
250g butter, softened
250g self raising flour, sifted
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp lemon juice

Lemon drizzle icing
Lemon juice
Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Lightly butter your cake tin and line with baking paper if you’re worried about it sticking – you shouldn’t need to line it if it’s a non-stick tin.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix in.

Next, add the eggs, one at a time – mixing until just combined before adding the next.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sieve in half the flour.  Carefully fold in.

Add the lemon juice and the remaining flour, and gently fold in until well combined.

Spread the cake mixture into your prepared cake tin and pop in the oven to bake for about 40-50 minutes.  To test if your cake is cooked all the way through, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and remove – if it is clean it is cooked, if there is cake mixture on it pop it back into the oven for a little longer.  Bake for longer if you are doubling the recipe – just keep checking on it.

Once the cake has cooled a little, carefully turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool fully.

To make the lemon drizzle icing, simple sieve a cup of icing sugar into a bowl, and add lemon juice little by little mixing it in until you have the consistency you want.  Don’t make it too runny or it will just run straight off the cake!

Once the cake is cool, drizzle over the icing and decorate if you wish.

Last weekend I planted my first vegetable seeds of the year…peas…broad beans…little gem lettuce…and Angelica (a first for me).

As you can see the first signs of life are poking through – how exciting!

Pea seedlings

Pea seedling

Pea seedling

I feel like I have fallen off the planet for the past few weeks.  Last week I was delivering a week long conference, then I caught a terrible bug that was going round – I lost a lot of weight, didn’t eat anything for two days, slept for days.  I am now only beginning to get my appetite back, one small mouthful at a time.

Food hasn’t been my best friend for the past week so I haven’t got anything lovely to post, however, I do have some pictures of the first signs of new life on the allotment.

Here’s what the allotment looks like at the moment…

And the first signs of life…

rhubarb

rhubarb

No matter how weird-looking rhubarb is when it’s emerging, there’s something comforting about these first signs of life amongst the dreary greys and soggy browns of the allotment.

I am busy getting ready for a week long conference next week at work, so am unlikely to get a chance to post properly for a week or so. 

Hopefully I might be able to post some pictures this weekend of our allotment – we managed to get down there last weekend and do a bit of clearing.  It’s not very exciting but must be done!

Happy gardening all of your who are lucky enough to be in your gardens getting ready for the spring!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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