Getting organized

Well, everyone else seems to have ordered their seeds and started sorting through old seed packets. Anna at Dig the Outside has some seeds sown already. Sarah at The Garden Deli is in the middle of planning. Marie at My Little Rhode Island Corner has ventured into her plant room to take stock. No wonder I began to feel a little guilty! So I resolved to get organized and take a look at what I already have. 😉


I’ve decided to concentrate on herbs this year, since they do well in containers, and most of those seeds can be found in my local garden centre. I will try and grow some new ones from seed, but I will also buy some small herb plants in the spring; angelica, lemon verbena (lots!), parsley, chives, oregano and lemon thyme, chervil, estragon, and perhaps some lovage. Basil – perhaps some different varieties – is at the top of my list. Roll on pesto season!

Chard Seeds

Chard “Bright Lights” was a star last year, so that’s already in the seed box, as well as some tomato seed… an experiment for me as I have not grown tomatoes for some years now.

Tomato Seeds

I still have lots of runner bean seeds from last year, but am undecided – the harvest was delicious, but scant. Were they worth all the watering, etc?

I have plenty of flower seeds and some more in the post; Caesalpina pulcherrima (bought after seeing some wonderful posts on this flower by Tj at Tj’s Garden), Nigella sativa, Cornflowers (various mixes), Cleome (hope the slugs avoid them!), Ammobium alatum, a Wunderbaum Impala (Ricinus gibsonii), Cerinthe major purpurascens, and the Linaria “Canon J Went” that Sarah from The Garden Deli sent me last autumn.


And after seeing a Lentil Tree – Colutea arborescens (Bladder Senna) – in a botanical garden last summer, a goal for this summer is to track down a young plant to try in my rockery….

Ahhh. It’s nice to think about warm sunny days while sitting indoors wrapped up in pullovers and sipping hot tea!

Are you getting organized too?

Grumpy Ted Soup

Grey skies making you feel down in the dumps? Frustrated and grumpy because of foul weather? Here’s the miracle cure: a teddy with microwavable beans in his tummy, and a bowl of warming, wholesome soup!


(Actually he isn’t looking as grumpy as usual on this photo!)

Leek and Potato Soup


  • 2 tbsps olive oil for frying
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1.75 pints/ 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 tsps mixed dried herbs
  • salt and black pepper

In a large pan, sauté the leeks and onions for five minutes, then add the potatoes and turn the heat to low. Cover and leave to “sweat” for 10 minutes. Now add the stock and seasoning and bring to a simmer, but do not boil. Simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are all tender. Puree and serve immediately with a sprinkling of black (and pink) pepper or a swirl of (soya) cream.

(Note: without the cream it’s vegan!)LeekPotatoSoup3

Mmmm. Feeling better? 😉

The Problem with Words…

“Language is the source of misunderstandings.”
from Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saunt-Exupéry


I always felt German was a hard language to learn – much harder than French, my first foreign language at school – but I do understand that the English language has its problems too…

Here are some sentences found, oh goodness knows where, many years ago, that I sometimes show to my students to console them when they have difficulties!

  1. The farm was used to produce produce.
  2. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  3. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  4. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  5. I did not object to the object.
  6. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  7. They were too close to the door to close it.
  8. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  9. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  10. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

And then there’s these:

  • The chicken is ready to eat.
  • Visiting relatives can be boring.
  • They are cooking apples.
  • They are hunting dogs.
  • We saw her duck.
  • He ate the cookies in the kitchen.
  • Mine exploded.
  • I know a man with a dog who has fleas.


Who says English is easy?!


Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones

As promised a couple of days ago, here is the latest scone I have baked. With the addition of chocolate these are sweeter than most scones, but that is offset by the slight sourness of the cranberries. And then there’s the healthy boost from using part wholemeal flour. The pieces of caramelized chocolate are heavenly!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones


  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 50g (2oz) wholemeal flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 40g (3 tbsps) butter/margarine
  • 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) milk/soya milk
  • 30g (1oz) dried cranberries
  • 60g (2 oz) white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Sieve flour, salt and raising agents into a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and rub into flour with fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar. Add cranberries and chocolate and mix well. Then add the milk little by little and bring the dough together to form a ball. Do not knead! On a floured surface roll out to about 2-3cm thick and cut out shapes with a round pastry cutter. Makes about 8-10 scones. Place on a lightly floured baking tray and either freeze on the tray and put into freezer bags later, or bake immediately at 180°C for about 10 minutes. To bake from frozen they will need a couple more minutes.


Eat them while warm, fresh out the oven! 😉

Tuesdays at Two (January 22nd)

In the bleak mid-winter, Frosty wind made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone

Snow had fallen snow on snow, Snow on snow

In the bleak mid-winter, Long ago

Christina Rossetti


“In the Bleak Midwinter” was originally a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti, but became a Christmas carol in 1906. It’s one of my favourite carols, but the first verse is also a wonderful piece of winter poetry. And very apt for today’s view – bleak and snowy!

A Scone For All Seasons

We’ve eaten a lot of scones recently – they are simple and quick as well as being relatively healthy compared to a muffin or slice of cake. And since discovering I can freeze them before baking, I value them even more! Here’s a round-up of all the scone recipes I’ve posted so far…


The Traditional

At any time of year, but especially in the summer, we love a proper English Cream Tea; fresh plain scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream, and a cup of English tea – mmmmm!

English Scones



The Seasonal

In the autumn and winter I love to use cranberries in scones, and in combination with orange or lemon, or white chocolate (my latest scone experiment!) they are best eaten warm, just from the oven.

Cranberry and Orange Scones



The Unusual

Last year I also added a little cocoa to them and used them in a rhubarb cobbler. Scrumptious!

Spicy Rhubarb and Strawberry Chocolate Cobbler

Rhubarb Cobbler


The Fruity

Blueberry and cream scones are also tasty. Or drop scones – actually more like pancakes – with blueberry sauce.

Drop Scones with Spicy Blueberry Sauce

Drop Scones


The Savoury

And if all these are still too sweet for you, how about savoury scones, simply with cheese and herbs, or a buttermilk version with dill for example.

Cheesy Dill Scones

Dill Scones 1


The latest addition – Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones – coming soon!

Enjoy browsing!