Kale – Root to Shoot: leaves, flowers, sprouts and more!

Kale, a nutrient dense vegetable high in vitamins, is well known for its many health benefits. Easy to grow and winter hardy in the UK, it’s a fantastic plant for the hungry home gardener. Kale’s delicious leaves make a tasty addition to all kinds of meals cooked and raw, but did you know that you can also eat other parts of this cruciferous vegetable and that growing it benefits wildlife too?!

Vegan “Bubble and Squeak” salad recipe – ideal for using up leftovers

This gorgeous, vegetable-filled salad is ideal for winter meals, a great way of using leftover vegetables from a roast dinner – just like “bubble and squeak”. A tasty way to make the most of a Thanksgiving, Christmas or other roast dinner leftovers! This recipe includes an oil free version, too.

How to make nasturtium salt & other nasturtium recipes

In my garden a bright jungle of colourful nasturtiums are rejoicing in the surprisingly warm sunshine-y October weather.  After a summer of taking their prolific spiciness for granted, I’m keen to preserve what I can before the weather turns colder….

Roasted beetroot, carrot and onion hummus recipe

Beetroot grows in my garden from April right through to the end of autumn, some in the polytunnel over winter too. This tasty root vegetable stores so well that I can make this hummus at any time of year, but there’s something especially autumnal and satisfying about the combination of roasted beetroot, carrot and onion.

Thai influenced golden raw summer vegetable salad

This gorgeous bright seasonal salad is almost a meal in itself and can easily be adapted to include other summer vegetables in your garden (and winter root veg later in the year). It is a zingy, delicious, colourful way to use up gluts.

Crunchy Courgette Gardener’s Muffins

I’ve been trying out a few variations of this seasonal muffin, using our course people as guinea pigs! Low in processed sugar, these satisfying baked treats are great to nibble on for an extra boost of energy when gardening. They also make a great breakfast muffin.

Seasonal summer frugal feasting

Regular readers of my blog will know that one of passions, and fortunately work, is harvesting seasonal homegrown vegetables, fruit and herbs and delicious food. For our no dig gardening day course at Homeacres on Saturday, I made lunch for 17 (including Charles and myself) using Charles’ gorgeous vegetables (plus some bought ingredients, things we can’t grow easily which I’ll explain later) for around £1 a head, including muffins.

A cornucopia of summer soft fruit … with recipes for homemade cassis and blackcurrant wine

Perennial fruit bushes play a key role in my garden, producing an abundance of delicious berries during summer months. These I preserve, to enjoy year round: jewel coloured jams, cordials, liqueurs, chutneys and other delicious additions to my homegrown larder.

Roasted squash and Czar bean hummus

Over the past two weeks I have been busy with our courses, my garden, picking salad at Charles’ garden and doing the final edit of our book No Dig Organic Home & Garden. We are both really happy with the way it is looks – so colourful! Signed copies can be pre-ordered from Charles’ website here. Publication date is very soon – April 10th 🙂 I have included many of my recipes in the book: for potions, drinks, preserves, cosmetics and of course seasonal food.

During the winter months I regularly make variations of this hummus for our gardening courses. The choice of squash varies – this winter I have used Uchiki Kuri, Crown Prince and Marina di Chioggia with either homegrown Czar beans or chickpeas. It is delicious – thick, rich, full of flavour and a beautiful golden orange. Later, I will use early broad beans with the last of the winter squashes to make this adaptable tasty hummus.

I’ve been asked for the recipe so many times that I promised to share it here.

The Czar beans are a type of runner bean, very easy to grow and dry.

This recipe makes quite a lot of hummus. It keeps well in the fridge; I also freeze small portions for another time. You’ll need:

2 cups cooked Czar beans or chick peas  (soaked overnight and then boiled until tender) – plus more for topping (optional)

2 cups roasted squash – a sweet, nutty variety tastes best

1/2 cup tahini

2 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of one lemon

water or reserved chickpea cooking liquid

1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for drizzling

1 tsp ground coriander seed

1 tsp ground cumin seeds

a small bunch of fresh coriander and/or parsley – plus more to sprinkle on the top (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

smoked paprika (optional)

A food processor – mine is a Magimix – or blender, or a stick blender

Put everything except the smoked paprika and water/cooking liquid into a food processor and whizz.

 

Drizzle the water carefully through the spout in the lid as the ingredients are blending, until everything is thoroughly processed and it has the consistency that you want. Some people prefer a thicker hummus, others a smoother one.

Spoon into a dish…

The hummus is tasty straight from the food processor, but I like to decorate it too. Here, I have topped the hummus with more cooked beans, finely chopped herbs, smoked paprika and a final drizzle of olive oil.

 

If you have a less flavoursome squash, add more spices to increase the depth of flavour – cinnamon, turmeric or chilli powder.

Enjoy!

 

 

How to eat more than 10 a day, in March

Growing your own really helps to make meals more delicious and exciting, offering an ever changing repertoire of amazing fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and other edibles to eat. For our no dig gardening courses at Homeacres I make lunches using, as much as we possibly can, only food that has been grown by Charles or myself. There is such variety! Even when there are several courses in a month, the choice of available plants to harvest is never the same from one course to the next.

We love sharing fresh homegrown food and hopefully inspiring people to grow as much as possible and experiment with their harvests.

Shredded Chioggia beetroot, a beautiful pink and white striped variety

To make the most use of what we grow, all of my dishes are entirely plant based, showcasing the incredible range of colours, flavours, textures and possibilities of the food we grow. People are always commenting on the colourfulness of the food and even the most enthusiastic omnivore leaves the table feeling full and happy.

In addition to freshly harvested vegetables, herbs, etc I use home stored ingredients including squashes, onions, garlic, chillies, beetroot, dehydrated tomatoes, some home dried herbs and spices and dried beans, especially Czar (a white runner bean) and Borlotti. From the larder, I use olive and sunflower oil, vinegars, spices we can’t grow (ginger, cinnamon), oranges and lemons. We have some homemade cider vinegar and our own homemade infused oils and vinegars too.

Every meal in the winter and spring includes a seasonal soup, Charles’ homemade sourdough rye bread (made with freshly ground organic rye grain, bought locally) and Homeacres salad leaves.

Charles’ No Knead Sourdough Bread

This month, the range of plants we can harvest include parsnips, leeks, cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, different kinds of kale, herbs (including parsley, mint, chervil, coriander, French tarragon, chives, sage, thyme), spinach and sprouts. Charles’ garden is much bigger than mine, but I also grow all of this – and more – in my own polytunnel, home garden and allotment. It is possible to grow a wide range of plants through the winter to eat in gardens and allotment – with good planning and crop protection! We can also forage for new nettle tops and the wild garlic is just about ready to harvest.

Although I usually have a few ideas for what I will make, the menu isn’t created until I see what we have in the kitchen.

I make raw and cooked dishes, often experimenting with different ways of using the same vegetable.

 

And also bake cakes or muffins to go with afternoon tea. The experimental vegan beetroot and spinach muffins were extremely yummy – richly flavoured, just the right gooeyness – but I made them in a rush without weighing all of the ingredients, so can’t share the recipe until I have made them again 🙂

The roasted squash hummus is always really popular; I’ll be blogging the recipe here very soon, so look out for it! Many of these recipes will be in our new book, out very soon!

 

Tomatoes! with a recipes for upside down tomato tart

This has been a brilliant summer for tomatoes, I’ve harvested so many and they are still ripening even though the polytunnel plants have now been affected by blight. I remove the blighty leaves and any damaged tomatoes – these are composted, it is fine to do this in the UK.

August fruition and Summer Abundance Salsa

My August back garden is full of dazzling fruit, thanks to the warm and sunny weather we have been enjoying in Somerset. (Today the weather is quite different: grey skies, wild wind, rain – but the sunshine is set to return.)

I grow fruit in the ground and in pots (see this blog), in the polytunnel, up walls, across fences. Some are old established trees which were already very mature when I moved here 14 years ago, most were added during the past eight years, others are new this year.