In a Vase on Monday: (A) Spring in My Step

I am happy to be joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely Monday meme today. My hellebores are looking so pretty and there were enough to pick for a vase, albeit with quite short stems. 😃

My title describes how I have been walking around the garden the last few days… I have even been able to clear a lot of winter debris so the spring bulbs can shine. Lots of green shoots showing! 😃

The pink vase seemed appropriate, as all but one of my hellebore flowers so far are a shade of pink. I really love the double one… ‘Double Ellen Pink’.

The mottled one is ‘Diva’, as is the white one… The white flowers fade to a lovely pinky mauve.

I added a couple of sprigs of Pussy Willow – last week‘s storm took down a whole tree full of buds along the route we walk our dog, and I took the opportunity to break off a few large twigs for a vase. I do hope the storm in the UK has not affected any of you too badly.

Wishing you all calm and mild weather this coming week!

 

In a Vase on Monday: Hello Hellebores!

It is so good to be able to pick flowers again to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday vase meme. 😃

Well, only one flower actually, as this is the first Hellebore to flower in the butterfly bed. But lots of buds are coming along on this and several other hellebores.

This one is Paradenia, one of the HGC collection, and is a fresh pale pink which shows up well in an otherwise brown garden bed.

I added some dark red Heuchera leaves that are beginning to regain some colour, a sprig of rosemary and and a sprig of Euonymus. The narrow necked jar stands on my latest gardening magazine on my desk… open at a page with gorgeous photos of spring bulbs and hellebores that are a sight for winter-tired eyes.

And on the book-rest behind I have a favourite double page open which is what my dream garden would look like… inspiration for new plans. 😃

I have not found it in English, but alone the pictures of this beautiful garden that the author created are stunning. Peter Janke was clearly inspired by the Beth Chatto garden where he worked for a couple of years before starting on the design of his own garden in Germany. His website is also partly in English:

https://www.peter-janke-gartenkonzepte.de/en/

Sadly this garden is far too far away (10-hour drive!) for a visit. 🙃

Thanks to Cathy for hosting the meme, and wishing you all a good week ahead.

☀️☀️☀️

Cardamom and Almond Cake (Vegan)

With January almost over (yippee!), and the days becoming noticeably longer (another yippee!) I hope to have a flower or two to share very soon. But in the meantime I decided to make my Cardamom and Almond Cake again, so that I can share the recipe with you. I made it at New Year and it was so good, but not as cardamommy as I had hoped. So today I added an extra teaspoonful of this delicious spice and it was perfect!

It reminds me a little of the (non-vegan) Swedish Visiting Cake I made a few years ago, with a soft spongy texture, the contrasting crispy flaked almond topping, and of course the lovely aroma. And this one is of course vegan. 😃

So here is my recipe – my second for Veganuary 2020. Please let me know if you try it as it is my own creation!

Cardamom Almond Cake

Preheat your oven to 180° C (350°F) and grease and flour a 24 cm (9 inch) baking tin.

In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 250g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or almond flour
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsps cornflour
  • 6 tsps ground cardamom spice

In a pan, melt:

  • 60g (half stick) vegan butter
  • with 250g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
  • and then add 60 ml (4 tbsps) vegetable oil (eg rapeseed oil)

In a dish, mix:

  • 450ml (2 cups) plain unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • a dash of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps soya milk

In addition you need about 25g (1oz) flaked almonds.

Now pour all the wet ingredients into the sieved flour mixture and gently fold in. You should not beat or mix, only fold. And watch the bubbles appear as the chemistry does its magic! Pour into your prepared tin immediately, scatter flaked almonds on top and place in your hot oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I made half this recipe (8 slices) in an 18 cm (7 inch) tin today and it only needed about 35 minutes. Do check regularly though, as the almonds may start to burn if it is in too long.

Here is the larger cake:

And here is a slice for you to try…. 😉

Enjoy!

And have a good week!

😃

Homemade Potato Soup and Life in January

It tends to go a bit quiet here in January at Words and Herbs, with frosty days and chill winds keeping the gardener indoors. But inside it is warm and my kitchen is welcoming.

And with January also becoming known as Veganuary in the UK (and anywhere else?) I simply can‘t let the month pass without posting a recipe or two.

😃

If you haven‘t heard of Veganuary, it is basically a month of vegan eating to get the new year off to a healthy start – and to promote a vegan lifestyle. Magazines are full of ideas for new vegans or for people who simply want to try out a plant-based diet. For old vegans like me I find the magazines rather repetitive and full of time-consuming recipes using trendy ingredients that are either unavailable in our part of the world or out of season or horribly expensive!

So here is a simple and delicious recipe using ingredients you probably have in your pantry already, created at the request of my Man of Many Talents who grew potatoes for the first time last year. (They were a big success – here is one of our harvests!)

I hoped to make the soup like his Mum used to, but I believe she must have used celeriac, which I have never tried – I substitute with a parsnip. 😉 If you see soup recipes in German they usually say ‚Suppengrün‘ which is typically pieces of vegetables like this, sold in our supermarkets in bunches:

My version comes pretty close to the original though. Please let me know what you think if you try it. It has become a favourite in our house!

German Potato Soup

You will need:

  • 1 kg potatoes (any sort will do!), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (and 1tsp of marjoram if you have any)
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A good glug of olive oil

Heat the oil in a very large saucepan and sauté the onions and leek until nice and soft. Add all the other vegetables and put the lid on for a few minutes. Add the stock and herbs (save the parsley for just before serving) and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked through – about 20 or 25 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Now the important part!. We like whole pieces of vegetables in our soup, but with a creamy consistency too, so I take my hand blender and pulse very briefly to break down some of the larger chunks of potato.

Add the chopped parsley (and chives go well too) and stir through. Serve with crusty bread, pretzels, crisps or croûtons. 😜

Enjoy!

P.S. I usually make an extra large pot of this soup and freeze some for a rainy day. 😉

 

 

 

All Good Wishes for a Very Happy 2020!

‘Hope’ is my word for 2020.

As we enter another new year, another decade, I look forward to seeing our trees grow, the garden flourish and our surrounding countryside recover from two severe drought years.

There IS always hope.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and may your gardens provide you with much pleasure and joy in the year 2020!