Use your loaf

10 Jul

I mentioned in my previous post that I had an elderflower bread starter on the go. Well, it’s now good and fizzy, smelling pungent, zesty and floral; so the time has come to try it out and see what kind of bread it’ll make… For those of you not familiar with sourdough bread then Dan Lepard is a great place to start. He’ll show you how to do it in a far superior way then I ever could so I won’t be attempting here. I will however give a very brief photo journal of the progression of the starter to give anyone interested an idea of what’s good and what is not. This post actually has taken a little longer then intended as my first starter attempt succumbed to a carpet of very blue mould and went bin-wards; if at first you don’t succeed…
Bread Starter IngredientsBread Starter Day 1Bread Starter Day 2Bread starter day 3Bread
When making bread, white flour is often the best place to start, it has a higher gluten content which means that your loaf is more likely to rise to the occasion. Because this was my first loaf with this starter I used predominantly white flour but added a handful of wholemeal plus a couple of tablespoons each of buckwheat and spelt grains for texture and flavour.
Sourdough Bread Dough
I’m really happy with how the loaf looks on the outside and the inside structure has made it a lovely light loaf . Incredibly the flavour of the elderflower really comes through in the cooked loaf too. Success!
Sourdough Loaf

The great eScape

5 Jul

A brief break from elderflowers whilst my elderflower bread starter gets its fizz on – more on that later. In the meantime I’ve been getting in a pickle. Scapes are the immature flowering stems of a garlic plant, the stems are delicious with a light gralicky flavour. But it’s not the stems I’m interested in this time… scape buds
I got my hands on a decent quantity of the unopened flower buds. Since capers are also flower buds I thought I’d try pickling the scape buds in a similar way. So here goes…
pickled scape buds
I made a pickling mix using cider vinegar and a few aromatics; coriander, bay, fennel and peppercorns. I think they look pretty good, because of their size I’m leaving them a week in order for the pickle to really work its magic. Thumbs up!
Pickled scape buds

I’ll let you know how they taste soon!

Put a cork in it!

26 Jun

You can’t fail to notice the heady scent of summer that hangs in the air at this time of year; it is of course the all too brief elderflower season.
botanical elderflower picture
With their penchant for inhospitable climes even wastelands are turned into pockets of wild beauty. But it’s not their looks or their scent I’m after, rather the deliciously summery flavour they impart, so it’s time for a run of experiments… The first, elderflower champagne.
DSCF1272
After finding a suitable tree with flowers in full bloom and their aroma hanging heavy in the air, pick yourself around fifteen decent sized heads and return to the kitchen.

I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe which can be found here
I used a bucket for the brew and love how the lemons bob amidst the flowers, let’s hope it tastes as good as it looks.
elderflower champagne
I find a pair of tights is a good defence against marauding ants!
elderflower champagne covered
I’ll be back with an update in two weeks – fingers crossed for fizz!

Larder love!

16 Jun

It was a crispy morning yesterday and I took an early morning stroll to clear the cobwebs and gear up for the day. Not five minutes in but what should I find propped up beside a lamppost but an old larder, unloved and looking a little worst for wear with the metal panneling coming unstuck and a layer of grime disguising its potential beauty…larder before
I’ts amazing what a bit of elbow grease can do!
larder cleaning
I taped the edges and backed the mesh so as to protect the wood from my ferocious spray can.
larder spraying
Now it has pride of place in the kitchen and I’ve got somewhere to put some of my endless collection of kitchenalia!
DSCF1262

A return of sorts…

12 Jun

Courgette Plant
I’ll not be dwelling on the fact that it’s been over a month since my last posting. Instead it’s an exciting chance for me to look back and realise how far I have come. Take the courgettes, only a couple of posts ago they were in their infancy. Now look at them, flowering and completely swamping their container, tiny courgettes beginning to emerge from underneath those beautiful leaves.
Courgette Flower
The nasturiums too have taken on a new lease of life, thriving on being outside. I found a great tin outside one of the cafe’s near my house and it has turned out to be the perfect home. They look healthy and I can’t believe it’s only a few short months since I was so excited about their infancy.
Nasturtium
The sink planted with the beans and sweet peas has not been as successful, they’ve hardly moved since I put them out. Unfortunately I think it is the lavender that is taking the light. Today I’ll be propping it up and hoping for a growth spurt! The gate in the background I found languishing at the back of our flat, I’m hoping that shortly it will be covered in sweet peas and beans…
Beans and Sweet Peas
The pot to the right is my verbena that I’d given up for dead, amazingly with the sunshine came new growth. That’s all for now in terms of catch up but I’ll be back before the month is out…

Roots ahoy…

30 Apr

It seems that life has conspired to keep me away from my plot this last week. Frustration at the weekend meant that my carefully laid plans for putting my other seedlings out were thwarted by lack of soil! Above all this has been the most irksome of issues with my attempts at green fingered-ness. Buying compost is both expensive and not ideal as a long term growing solution.

Due to the high nitrate of many composts they can do more harm then good, burning roots and leading to the death of plants; something I only found out after putting my courgettes into pure compost – they look ok now so hopefully I’m safe. I had hoped to buy the community compost mentioned in previous post but unfortunately when I arrived for a pick up they had sold out – more fool me for not calling before!

I will write more on my compost conundrum but firstly good news! Remember these! It may have taken them almost two months but they’ve finally gone and done it…roots!
Rooting lemongrass
I so nearly gave up on these babies and so pleased now I persevered, one already has a tiny shoot pushing up alongside. Potted and chilling in my kitchen.
Potted lemongrass

Moving on up…

22 Apr

Sunday dawned sunny and bright, after a week of fretting about their survivalĀ it was time to give my courgettes a little more space. I’ve decided to devote the whole planter to these babies in the hope of a bumper crop, let’s hope it is big enough.

courgette planter

Whoomph, where did they come from? My Bolotti beans have sprung up in record time…
Borlotti bean seedlings

Sweet peas, beans and the nasturtiums are next. First a trip here to get some community compost.