Growing mint indoors infographic

A few days ago I published an infographic from Sainsbury’s Money Matters about how to grow strawberries at home. This infographic is all about to grow in your own home. Mint has to be one of my favourite herbs of all time. When grown indoors, mint will last all year round and can be used for so many things. This video for example, shows you how to make your own mint tea.

Mint can be used to spruce up potatoes, peas and I’ve even seen it being used in jelly! Sainsbury’s Money Matters has this helpful info-graphic with advice on how to grow mint in a flat or apartment – they’ve also sent me a kit to use in my flat to help me get going!

I hope you find this as useful as I have!

Picking Champagne Rhubarb

Instagram and Twitter has been awash this bank holiday weekend with photos of people picking rhubarb and making all kinds of lovely sweet treats with it.  Picking rhubarb gives you a real sense that spring has settled in nicely and summer is truly on the way.  I tried earlier this to force my rhubarb in a strange looking frame, which got blown away by the wind the rain – so in the end, I just left it to do what it was supposed to do on its own.  I can’t say that this has done any harm to my crop as I’ve got a glutton of rhubarb to harvest.

It’s not advised that you cut rhubarb stems, the reason being is that once cut, the base of the stem will die and rot into the plant, which is as good as it sounds.   When harvesting rhubarb you want to be sure to pull stems out of the crown of the plant.

Reach as far down along the stem, into the root, as possible and pull a stalk in the same direction in which it’s growing.  You’ll know when you’ve done it right because of the sound – you’ll hear a nice, light, suctioned crunch – if you hear a snap, you may have broken it off at the root (this isn’t the end of the world, and you may accidently do this as I have done on occasion, so try not to lose too much sleep over this!)

You should end up with a nice clean stalk like the one below.

 

I’ve seen people cut rhubarb at differing lengths all over the internet, and I’m sure each variety and each grower has their own personal preference, but personally – I like to cut off the stalk about 2 or 3 inches from the leaf, or when the colour starts to change along the stem.

Can’t wait to make some jam with this and show you the recipe!

Butternut squash and garlic soup

Butternut squash and garlic soup

Word of warning with this one – if you’re planning on going on a date or interacting with people on a conversational level, be sure to pack some mints or breath fresheners – other than that, this is a great soup which really does make you feel warm and cosy inside.

Ingredients 

2 whole garlic bulbs

900g butternut squash (or pumpkin, either is just as good)

2 tablespoons of thyme

25g of butter

1 large spanish onion, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 litre of chicken stock

 

Method

1. First pre-heat the oven to 190C/Gas mark 5. Line a roasting tin with foil and place in the garlic. Peel, de-seed and dice the butternut squash and cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for one hour or until the squash and garlic are soft.

2. In a saucepan melt the butter, add the onion and fry off until soft, this should on take a few minutes if you apply a medium to high heat, add the  chicken stock and keep on a low to medium heat.

3.  Once the butternut squash has browned, crush the gloves of garlic add the whole of the roasting tin to the saucepan.  Cook for 10 minutes on the same heat.

4. Add the thyme, blend and serve warm.  To make it look really fancy, and add flavour of course, drizzle over olive oil and add a dollop of creme fraiche.

Borscht – Beetroot Soup

Borscht – Beetroot Soup

Going down with a cold? Borscht this down the hatch – this beetroot soup is unbelievably good for you (and kind of funky looking!)

Ingredients 

4-5 decent sized beetroot, peeled and grated

2 onions, diced

2 carrots, cut into coins 

5 tomatoes, diced

1.2 litres of vegetable stock

1 knob of butter

3 celery sticks, diced

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

Salt and pepper for seasoning (optional)

 

Method

1. First off melt the butter and fry off the onions until their soft.  Turn to a low heat and then add 2 thirds of the the beetroot, carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring it every so often.

2. Increase the heat to medium – add the garlic, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, sugar and vegetable stock and bring the mixture to the boil.

3. Reduce the heat to simmering and simmer for an 1 hour or until the vegetables are soft.  Add the remaining beetroot and season with salt and pepper.  Leave to cool for around ten minutes.

4. If you’re out to impress presentation wise, serve with a dollop of sour cream on top and a slice of rye bread.