The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is an ornamental shrub that grows all over Victoria but its abundant, plush, juicy fruits just end up littering sidewalks. Seems no one remembers we’ve been eating these succulent fruits for thousands of years! Right now in the PNW the fruits are bright red, ripe and sweet (up to 40% sugar!)…
These little cakes are an old English tradition, Halloween (All Souls/All Hallows) is derived from the ancient Celtic festival called “Samhain” or “Feast of the Dead”. It has traditionally been celebrated with fasting and bonfires, especially on high ground, in order to light the soul’s way to heaven. “Souling” would take place the night before All Soul’s day, where “Soulers” would travel from door to door begging for soul-cakes and spiced ale in return for prayers and songs. It is thought this is the precursor to the ever popular trick or treating.
These are the words to the little song they would sing….
Soul, Soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
three for Him what made us all!
Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good…
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Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius
Did You Know?
• Safflower produces a thistle-like flower ranging in color from yellow to dark red.
• It is one of the oldest cultivated plants, originally grown to use the flowers as coloring agents for food,
cosmetics, and textiles.
• Safflower garlands were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb (around 1323 BCE).
• The pigment from the flower petals is known as carthamin and was used to dye Egyptian textiles dating back to the 12th dynasty.
• As a food additive, carthamin is known as Natural Red 26.
• The flower petals have been substituted for saffron since they do produce a similar color and flavor.
• Commercial production of safflower is primarily for oil pressed from the seeds. By-products of this process create livestock meal and are used in making soap.
• A small amount of commercially grown safflower is for birdseed.
• There are two types of safflower…
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I think fruit loaves are the perfect comfort food for Autumn. They are easy to make and are very forgiving when it comes to baking. This is a recipe I use for Banana Bread that never lets me down, and is ideal when you have a few bananas that are over ripe and you don’t want to throw them away. You can also tweak it really easily by adding additional fruits and spices, I sometimes add coconut, sultanas, carrots and will play around with cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and nutmeg. There is also a lovely Pumpkin Loaf version of this, I will be posting a little nearer All Hallows.
- 100g (4oz) butter, softened
- 175g (6oz) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon or mixed spice
- You will need a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.
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Can’t wait to try this
Fall is the season for apples, and the perfect time to make apple desserts. I recently found a lovely hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Apple Roll; however, it has one quirky characteristic. The recipe does not call for any cinnamon.
The Baked Apple Roll is smothered in a very simple sugar, water, and butter sauce. The roll looked beautiful, but (since I’m so used to apple dishes being spiced with cinnamon), the roll tasted bland to me. If I made this recipe again, I might add some cinnamon – though I recognize that wouldn’t hold true to the old recipe.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made the recipe, I halved it, and still had a large roll that made 4-5 servings. Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks.
Culinary herbs are the herbs I use the most for cooking, growing and remedies. I would be lost without Rosemary, Thyme and Sage, and they are so familiar to most people, that often they can be overlooked as great medicinal plants.
Culinary herbs, as well as adding depth in flavour to our foods, have many rich and diverse medicinal properties, below are some of the properties of my favorite herbs and how I like to use them, which is always really simply.
Sage; the king of the antibacterial backyard herbs, sage is perfect if you have a virus, and will help clear chesty coughs. The easiest thing to do with sage, is to drink a warm tea of fresh or dried sage leaves at the first sign of a cold, or a bladder infection. You may want to sweeten with honey – it doesn’t taste great.
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We spent a wonderful day picking fruit at a Pick Your Own fruit farm. We had baskets full of damsons, strawberries and a few green beans. The site that we visit, is old and quiet, lots of trees and birds. It has a gentle, stillness.
Last year I burnt my damson jam, so this year I was determined to get it right….and I did!
Here is the recipe I used, it has a much reduced sugar content from many jam recipes you will see, but the jam has ended up being much more tart, which I really like. We did stone all the fruit beforehand, manually – there is just no easy way around it.
- 1.5kg Damsons (stoned)
- 900kg Sugar
- 400ml Water
- A good sprinkling of cinnamon
- Cook the damsons in a preserving pan with the water gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Then add the sugar slowly…
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I try to grow tomatoes every year, usually I have very limited success if I’m honest, which is a real shame, because you can’t beat a fresh home grown tomato (except maybe by a fresh, homegrown cucumber?). This year, however, I had 3-4 tomato plants self seed themselves into my veg patch, I must have tipped the grow bags from last year into the compost containing tomato seeds. So I decided to leave them and they have been the most successful tomatoes I have ever grown. I am completely thrilled with my tomato harvest, and they just keep coming.
This is a wonderfully, easy recipe to use any tomatoes and also courgette which is harvesting quick and bountiful this year. Harvest courgette when they are roughly the length of your hand from longest finger tip to wrist, I always think if they get much bigger they loose flavor.
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A Bunyol is a Spanish Sugared fritter, so these are Staghorn Sumac Sugar Bunyols. Imagine a warm doughnut (without the hole) rolled in a silky lemony tasting icing sugar and you’ve got the idea. A bunyol (or buñuelo) is a small yeasty bun traditionally enjoyed in Spain on All Saints Day (Nov.1st) which is dedicated to the memory of the…
August means a plethora of zucchini, so I’m always looking for new ideas (hmmm. . . I think that I really mean old ideas) for using zucchini and other summer squash. And, I lucked out. I found a nice hundred-year-old recipe for Escalloped Squash that is made with mashed squash, egg, and milk – and […]