Germany’s ‘Flower of the Year’ 2017: the Field Poppy

Each autumn the Loki Schmidt Foundation in Germany announces the flower they have chosen as ‘Flower of the Year’. I was pleased to hear that for 2017 it will be Papaver rhoeas, the Common Poppy, or Field Poppy as I know it.

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We are fortunate to see it growing wild in corn fields and around the edges of agricultural land near us. But in some regions it has all but died out. The intense use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, along with other modern technology in farming methods, mean the conditions no longer exist in which this wild flower can colour our fields and roadsides.

A couple of years ago this was the view just beyond our garden gate.

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Not just poppies, but sweet peas, chamomile and cornflowers were mixed in with the crop.

And this summer several farmers started sowing strips of wild flowers along the edges of their crop fields to encourage wild bees and other pollinators, insects and wildlife. This is subsidized by the EU – I only wish they would offer subsidies for NOT deep plowing, fertilising, and spraying chemicals or slurry on the land year in year out!

The idea of this Flower of the Year campaign, called ‘Blume des Jahres’ in German, is to draw attention to the plight of certain flowers which are slowly becoming endangered in our countryside. I hope it helps with awareness, as it would be tragic to lose more of our beautiful wild flowers.

Which wild flower would you miss most of all? The poppy perhaps?

In a Vase on Monday: THREE

Three cheers for Cathy at Rambling in the Garden!

Today we are celebrating the third anniversary of her wonderful meme ‘In a Vase on Monday’, which has inspired me and many other bloggers from all over the world to go out into their gardens or the countryside each week to gather materials for a vase to share. Come rain or shine. Snow or heatwave. Summer or Winter.

Not only has this meme changed the way I look at my garden, it has also influenced my choices regarding what to sow and grow, ensuring that I have flowers or foliage for indoors almost all year round.

Thank you Cathy!

Cathy has chosen a theme for today’s celebration : THREE

I think the easiest way to interpret that would be to create three different vases, so my tube vases seemed ideal. I think Cathy will approve of the flowers I used: a common favourite is Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ on the left, with Persicaria ‘Blackfield, then Persicaria ‘Lance Corpoal’ in the centre, and my stalwart Persicaria ‘Firetail’ on the right.

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Sorry I can’t send you the chocolate cherry brownie Cathy! (I am sure it will find a good home though, and I will post the recipe soon! 😉 )

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Here’s a closer look at the Persicarias, with Miscanthus ‘Adagio’ as companion.

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I also chose three of my favourite vases from the last year as part of the celebration…

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 So, now we move into the fourth year of In a Vase on Monday. If you are not already on board, why not join us! But first, go and visit Cathy!

Vegan Milk Rice for World Vegan Month

The first time I ate ‘Milchreis’ (German for ‘rice pudding’) was in a traditional German cafe overlooking the town square of the beautiful town of Freudenstadt in the Black Forest. It was served just warm, with fresh fruits. Memories like that will never fade…

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Years (and hundreds of milk rice bowls!) later I have been experimenting with vegan versions. Soya milk is good. Almond milk is even better. And then I recently discovered coconut milk too, and loved it! Strange for someone who always believed she didn’t like coconut in desserts! However, the coconut milk version is so very rich and is only really suitable as a small dessert portion. So today I will share my almond milk recipe with you.

Do try it. It is the perfect autumn/winter comfort food! 🙂

Almond milk rice

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For 2 large or 4 small portions

  • 125g short-grain rice
  • 600ml almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Bring the milk to the boil and then add the rice, vanilla and cardamom. Stir well and return to a very low heat. Put the lid on your saucepan and leave for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can then test to see if it is soft enough. If you like, you can add a little more milk or soya cream towards the end of the cooking time to make it even more delicious and creamy!

I recommend serving the milk rice just warm, with fruits of your choice. I chose sweetened Amarena cherries today – a bit too sweet perhaps – but it is also very good with fresh tart berries or plum compote, or a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. Or why not try my winter spice syrup recipe, which I posted with my traditional milk rice recipe many moons ago! 🙂

Enjoy!

Falafel for World Vegan Day 2016

I wonder if you have heard of World Vegan Day before? It was introduced on November 1st 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UK Vegan Society. I have only known about it for a few years, and feel it deserves a bit more publicity, so I would like to celebrate not only this day, but the whole month of November – also designated by the Vegan Society as World Vegan Month – by sharing some of my favourite vegan recipes. Some are new, and some are veganized versions of older recipes that I have refined over the past year. I should love to convince you all to become vegan! But since that is totally unrealistic I hope to tempt you with a few vegan delights instead! 😉

So to kick off, a recipe I have actually had in my drafts box for some time:

Quick Homemade Falafel

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I make these delicious fluffy chickpea patties regularly, and especially love them for being so incredibly quick to prepare.

Falafel are traditionally made using chickpeas, but I use the ground chickpea flour here, also known as gram flour, and this makes preparation much faster with less washing up. 😉 The result is also lighter than ones I have made with whole chickpeas. So go and find some chickpea flour (and a packet of pita breads while you are at the shops) and try these out!

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  • 1 1/3 (175g) cups gram/chickpea flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) boiling water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork in a large bowl, and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Depending on your brand of flour you may need a little more water or a little more flour to make a porridge-like consistency, but keep it on the soft side.

Heat some olive or rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and add spoonfuls of the mixture. They will quickly brown so you can turn them. Keep turning until brown and crispy on all sides, then remove and keep warm while you do the next batch. (Don’t keep them in the pan too long as they will turn out overcooked and dry.)

Serve in warmed pita breads with lots of salad and tsatsiki (vegan sour cream, garlic and finely chopped cucumber).

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Enjoy!

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P.S. By the way, I have updated my recipe page (see top bar), with all vegan recipes highlighted in dark green.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth, I will be posting a sweet recipe at the end of the week.

Have a good start to the month of November! 😉