A gooseberry salsa...(sort-of)


Blogging food recipes has become a bit of a mind-game of late, and I'm fully blaming radio 4's brilliant comedy 'In and Out of the Kitchen', about a food writer, Damien Trench, who lives in Queen's Park with his partner Anthony, and who basically wants to BE Nigel Slater. His voice, when reciting his recipes is a  completely and perfectly crafted amalgam of all the food writers whose cook-books we started taking to bed and reading for pleasure way back when; that nonchalant 'just toss it in a large, shallow pan and anoint liberally with very best olive oil', peppered with sentences like 'You can, (and should) add lashings of best butter' etc. etc...

It is only when confronted with stuff like this that I realise how derivative my writing really is, and I look back and laugh, not at what I wrote, but the way in which I wrote it...not cringing exactly, just metaphorically patting my younger self on the head, telling her she was sweet to try, but look, you have your own voice you know.

Mark Diacono is one writer who doesn't suffer from copy-cat tendencies. His new book could only be crafted by him, and I am greedily gobbling it up. Quite apart from all the recipes, it is a treat to get inside Otter Farm, and really understand how it is laid out (there is a beautifully illustrated, useful map to show you where everything grows), and the story of how it all began.


Once again, I have gooseberries galore, from a bush, coincidentally bought from Otter Farm a couple of years ago. We like them raw in this family - even the small baby seems to relish the tartness, but there are always loads. Last year I did this relish, which was truly scrumptious, and I recommend it to anyone, but to celebrate this year's harvest, I made Mark's salsa...a recipe of which he claims he is 'indecently proud'.

Being me, I rushed the whole thing and read the ingredients of the salsa recipe and the method for the ensuing one, (for Gooseberry Sauce), directly underneath it, which begins with the always welcome words 'Put all the ingredients into a large pan'....this I did, getting rather excited about photographing the thing in its raw state, in the pan (i.e. thinking about the BLOG, rather than the actual recipe).


It did look very pretty indeed, but then I realised that half the ingredients are of course, supposed to be raw (it being a salsa and all). Hey ho.

So the result is NOT Mark's salsa at all, but a sort of half-cooked relish of sorts. The shallot is translucent rather than crisp and opaque. The lovage, mint and spring chives are a rather sludgy green rather than the emerald that they should be. The gooseberries are rather too squishy but my goodness it is bloody delicious. I'm having a hard time leaving it be until it can be paired with some smoked mackerel and a salad, like wot it tells me in the book...sorry Hunk.




Summer relish

 Another rather late post, because your gooseberries will be gone by now, but I wanted to share the gooseberry love, and also the glory of my garden to which I have done precisely NOTHING, and which nevertheless was styling it out beauteously in June and July (see pics below)... As Maria sang, I must've done something good.



When I was little we used to go for sunday lunch with my grandparents. I don't remember much about these lunches, but I do recall the fact that they often merged into teatime. My grandmother had proper china tea in very thin cups that needed a silver spoon placed inside them before the tea was poured, lest the china should crack under the heat. I don't remember milk being an option (though I'm sure it was there)...everyone, including children had weak lapsang with a slice of lemon and that was that. And then there was also something called 'sticky bread', a treacly, molasses-laden confection which came from the supermarket, and which we spread with butter. Memories.


This only relates to gooseberries because I was an eater of lemons, pilfering the delicious sunshine coloured semi-circles and scoffing the juicy flesh without so much as a squint. Sour is one of my greatest pleasures, so no surprise then, that I'm a gooseberry lover. I take them and eat them neat, even early in the season. I love the hairy skin, and the fact that they burst in your mouth. I love that other people aren't interested in them - less competition...all the more for moi.

I got my bush from Mark Diacono at Otter Farm, who sells a lovely selection of good, bare-root plants. Mine is Invicta, and it gave me an absolute bumper crop this year...too much to demolish in passing (even for me). I don't give it any special treatment. You could grow it in a pot if you wanted, but mine is in a raised bed with a redcurrant, some roses and a bit of lavender. Picking is a prickly business that needs to be done slowly and with some care if you want to emerge unscathed. Take care...it's worth it.


The advice from Twitter was to make relish, from a recipe by the utterly brilliant Pam Corbin in her River Cottage Handbook 'Preserves'. It couldn't be simpler and, well, there's none left.

Just heat 500g sugar with 100ml cider vinegar and 100ml water, along with some spices (Pam suggests mustard seeds, fennel, cumin, nigella and fenugreek seeds). Dissolve the sugar and set aside for a while to infuse. Then add the fruit (1kg), along with some raisins and cook gently for 20 mins until you can pop the gooseberries and the thing is thick and gloopy. Pour into sterilised jars and use within a year.




Lavender dayzzz...

The lavender is a-buzzing.


This is one of life's good things.

I have lavender in pots, but my main lavender event comes in the form of twelve L. angustifolia 'Hidcote' plants that edge the ends of my flower beds.

... That fuzzy softness...it needs off-setting with a tidy lawn (or better still, stone or brick).

L. angustifolia is fully hardy, and covered in deep purple, two-lipped flowers (which you can see are not out yet). The is the perfect time to harvest some stems for drying, (although do leave some for the bees - lavender being ultra-rich in nectar). To dry, just gather a handful, and tie the ends of the stems with a rubber band. Hang it in a cool dry place, upside down for a couple of weeks, and then you can make lavender bags, or get creative in the kitchen.

Here's my lavender sugar (same concept as vanilla sugar) for which I plucked about a tablespoon of lavender buds and added them to a jar of caster sugar. I'll leave that to infuse for a couple of weeks and then make biscuits or ice-cream, or something.

If you want to grow lavender in a container (and look how delicious it is with terracotta), choose a large pot, because you want to allow your plant to grow into a great big wafty hummock, and make it a beautiful one too, because lavender is no flash-in-the-pan plant, and then just mix up some peat-free multi-purpose with John Innes no 2 and keep it watered (though not fed).

Of course, angustifolia is not the only lavender - there is L. x intermedia (often known as English lavender), which is rather smaller, and with rather more rounded leaves, and then there is L. stoechas (or French lavender) which has those funny bunny-eared bracts, - deeply chic, but do watch out, because it is only borderline hardy, and a hard wet winter will nuke it good and proper.


It's nice to sprinkle dried lavender on the floor, or on a table near a lighted candle for scented winter evenings, although with the extended winter we have just endured, I have been using Charlotte and Co's exquisite scented candle from their collection of lovely lavender things, which took me straight to summer whenever I used it. I also have their pillow spray, to which I have become rather addicted, because I am convinced it helps me get to sleep faster, and dream about good things.

I rather long to be a person who wafts around in a silken dressing gown....perhaps this is my little piece of that...silken..ness.

But back to reality...I can't post on lavender without sharing how I prune. This is pretty much the only plant in my garden (bar box) that I am fiercely strict with when it comes to chopping. The problem is that if you don't do it, then you lose that gorgeous mound-thing and you pretty much have to start again with a new plant.

So...when the flowers are over  and the bees have had their fill, I cut them all off, (down to the top of the leafy bit of the bush).

Then, at the end of September I chop the whole thing down brutally to about one-third it's original size:

...just like this. You will hate yourself, and it will feel terribly wrong, but it's not wrong, it's right. This way your plant will never get leggy or woody. It will always be like a soft, purple pouffe.


Enough with the rain already!

Here are some edible flowers ... eye food as much as tummy food, and an antidote to this chilly rain...

Lilac is one of my favourite velvety petal foods. Fling it in salads or on top of a cake.

...but there is also sweet cicely


...and forgetmenots (of which I have an embarrassment) ... and if this is just too cutesy for you, then have a look at my myosotis strawberry pot over here


Cakes are a good way of dealing with a rainy day. These ones are from a recipe in this book. If you can cope with the fact that the lady who wrote it looks a bit scary, then it's really rather good. These cakes are proper delicious...better than victoria sponge ones, in my humble opinion, and really easy to make. I use tiny paper cases instead of big ones, and they produce the loveliest mouthfuls ever. Reduce cooking time a bit if you're going miniature.




Sweet violets for a heady concoction

The lovely thing about mothers is that they love you ... whatever. This year, mine will get this:

I used to grow all my sweet violets in pots when I only had a balcony to play with, and one of the first things I ever did when I got to my new garden was to plant them all in the ground near my apple tree.  They have thanked me for freeing them and are flowering now as if the world were about to end (I hope it's not, because my new book is launching tomorrow)...

If you want to buy violets then go to a specialist nursery and pick your favourites. I'd suggest sticking with Viola odorata, (I love V. 'The Czar') because although Parma violets look oh so tempting, they don't like frost, so need special treatment.

Violets do this funny thing to your nose: After that sensational initial hit, the scent sort of overwhelms the olfactory senses, and you can't smell anything any more. It's quite a feat for such a tiny little thing...and knowing you've only got a limited time to experience the sublime smell is all part of the charm methinks.

Anyway, I have enough now to make violet syrup, which was one of the first floral concoctions I ever tried. I used to drink it with champagne (those were the days) - as a sort of violet kir royal. Now I just lick it off a spoon with my daughter....smiling.

You need:

15-20 sweet violet blooms, stalks removed

150ml water

Granulated sugar


Boil the water and add the flowers. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 24 hours or so. The next day, weigh your liquid and add twice that weight of sugar, heating slowly to dissolve it. Put a lid on the pan and leave it to infuse again for three days. Put it back on the heat and reduce it to a syrupy consistency. Strain and devour.

You can get a taster of my new book in You Magazine on Sunday. Very much hoping you like it...



Something to soothe

  Never parTICularly been one for an 'erbal infusion' (unless it's lemon verbena or peppermint)

I'm far more likely to munch leaves or a flower in a salad...

or cover it with sugar and put it on a cake...


... but stuff's wee bit stressy at the moment, and I went out to pick a tiny posy because I thought it was something rare, and non-computer-based...and then I found myself marvelling at these pretty things, and I picked up Jekka's Herb Book, and it said  that a tisane acts as a 'mild sedative'...'good for anxiety and insomnia', so I chucked some leaves and a flower in a cup.

Primula vulgaris are mighty easy to grow, particularly if you have a deciduous tree kicking around, under which they can live in a nice, moist, partly shady world.

Wild primroses are less common than they should be, so don't pick them unless there are absolutely loads, and certainly don't pull them up by the roots.

Colours vary from the palest of creams to much deeper, eggy yellows, and look how pretty the buds are:


You can grow them in a pot - just use JI No2 and water regularly, and you can divide them in the autumn if you've got big clumps.

The scent is sweet.

I think the small bottle of blooms did more for my jitters than the tea

My new book is coming out soon - and people - (people I admire and respect) are being SO nice about it. This is totally wonderful and deeply gratifying and NOT what I expect...So thank you English Mum and Fennel and Fern.

This site came under attack a while ago and I basically lost the whole caboodle. It was the brilliant Neil who resurrected it, and who is now helping me to improve it. My beloved Lust List has completely disappeared and I am re-writing it (slowly but surely...a little bit every day....). I am hoping to have it back up soon as poss.


A father's day cake

The Hunk is one of those people who appreciatively wolfs down anything you put infront of him - it's one of the (many) things I love about him. So when I placed the pelargonium flowers on top of this cake and it looked unspeakably girly, I knew it wouldn't matter a bit. Sure enough, when I gave it to him and harrumphed about it being a bit 'princessy' for a boy, he said 'babe....it's CAKE!' - enough said.

Scented leaved-pelargoniums are one of my favourite plants...mostly because they appeal to my nose. You can get them in little plugs in the springtime and in rather larger pots right now, and their scents range from violet to rose to coca-cola (yes, indeed). i like to use rose-scented Pelargonium graveolens, for punch (see The Virgin Gardener) and cakes, but any scented-leaved pelargonium will add something to your baking and this time round I used a deliciously apple-rose scented pele (whose label I have, predictably, lost).

I grow all my pelargoniums in pots of John Innes No. 2 compost. I keep them outside in summer and bring them inside my kitchen window for the winter. Those I don't have space for but don't want to lose, I take cuttings from (incredibly easy....I will show you how very soon).

I got the recipe from the gorgeous book River Cottage Cakes by Pam Corbin. I love this book because it is pink, but ALSO, because it has a recipe for dog-biscuits in it, in which Pam begins by saying 'I do think it's important to keep everyone in the family happy'....Mr Pug would agree wholeheartedly.

This cake is called Scent from heaven cake and calls for lemon verbena (which I've already blogged about here). She uses rice flour in hers...I had none, so just used self-raising flour. It's delicious...mostly because it's one of those cakes that you 'feed' with flavoured syrup (in this case, pelargonium-flavoured), so that it gets saturated with yumminess.

Enjoy your weekend...it's gonna be a scorcher apparently I'm on the tellybox tonight, on ITV at 8pm for THREE WHOLE MINUTES...go me!

Chutney stuff and nonsense

I've been having a chutney-making fest - it's my first time (don't know what took me so long) - and I realise that all this time I've had this weird prejudice, putting home-made chutney together in my head with people like this this -very odd really, because I've always devoured it...

There's a generosity about making chutney that I love.  The whole point of preserving is anything is to avoid wasting anything...it usually comes from having a glut of something - You don't make something like this in small quantities, so there's always a bounty of it.  It begs to be shared and given away.

I had a big pile of un-ripe tomatoes and more jalapeno chillis than even I could handle.  The chillis were bothering me badly and I briefly flirted with this idea of salsa and stuffed peppers, but In the end I got predictably lazy and decided to combine the tomatoes and the chillis so I went browsing to find out chutney secrets.  I found this wonderful recipe on the sumptuous and stylish website that is Fennel and Fern and adapted it to include my piles of jalapenos.

It couldn't be easier:

Jalapeno and green tomato chutney

Green tomatoes (6 or 7 big ones or lots of small ones), roughly chopped

Jalapenos or mild-ish chillis (I used about 12 big ones), roughly chopped

4 red onions, sliced

4 apples, cubed

450g muscovado sugar, (I didn't have enough so I used half muscovado and half demerara)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

sultanas - a couple of handfuls

400ml cheap malt vinegar

2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar

A knob of butter


Heat the butter over a medium heat and add the sugar and sliced onions.  Cook them until they're golden and soft.  Now add everything else except the vinegar and cook it for a few minutes, just to soften, stirring occasionally.  Add the malt vinegar and simmer for half an hour.  Then add the balsamic and cook some more until the mixture is soft and thick and gloopy.  Taste and adjust, leave to cool and then put your chutney into sterilised jars.

And on the subject of jars

I bought these glass lever-arm preserving jars (rather expensively) because I fell in love with them.  Problem is I want to give away the chutney but keep the jars - such a quandry darling, but as always, there is someone out there who has blogged about it, so here, if you are agonising about such things (which I'm certain you ARE) is canning queen Marisa's take on preserving jar ettiquete...i do so love the world wide web don't you?

Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you....it's DELICIOUS!

Lemon Verbena Ice-Cream

A bowlful of summer...

I've been growing lemon verbena in pots from my very first year of gardening.  I love it, mostly just to brush past, having as it does the most lemony of lemon scents that exist in all the whole wide world.

It's wonderfully obliging as a plant - you just put it in a pot and leave it alone.  Cut it down when the leaves turn brown and keep it frost-free and it will come back again in the spring.  I grow pots of it along with scented leaved pelargoniums and bring the whole thing indoors over the winter so I always have something to look at.  You can find out lots more in my book, where I extol its virtues as a herbal infusion...but now it's September and I'm aware that change is in the air.  There's a new, brisk freshness on the breeze, and the mornings are darker.  Consequently...

I have the urge to preserve.

Ice-cream isn't exactly cozy, but put this with a hot fruit crumble and you've got the definition of comforting cut through with that amazing flavour of last summer.

I don't bother with ice-cream makers, or eggs, or churning, or anything like that.  Instead I adapt the recipe for lemon ice-cream from the fabulous Nigella Lawson's 'How to Eat' and keep the ice-cream in small-ish quantities (the sort of quantities that will never make it back into the freezer).  I also make sure I soften it inside the fridge rather than outside of it, as lack of churning etc makes it less obliging in terms of keeping its texture during harsh changes in temperature....In other words, if you want it silky-soft (which you DO) then defrost in the fridge for a good hour.

Lemon Verbena Ice-Cream

You need:

1 loosely packed cup of lemon verbena leaves (or more if you want it extra-lemon verbena-esque)

The juice of one lemon

170g icing sugar

420ml double cream (yup, you read that right)


Put the leaves, lemon juice and sugar in a food processor and wizz up until they are chopped very finely.  Leave this mixture alone for half an hour or so for the flavours to deepen.

Now whip the cream with 3 tablespoons of icy water until you get sumptuous soft peaks.  Add in the lemon verbena mixture and whisk it in.

Then just turn the whole lot into a suitable piece of tupperware.  I find that these, 1.1l boxes, very satisfyingly, are the perfect size (with enough left over in the bowl, of course, for lickage) - and just bung it in the freezer.  That is literally it.  I have scattered some lemon verbena leaves, and pelargonium petals on top to make it gorgeous-er.

This is just to say...

I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox

and which you were probably saving for breakfast.

Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold

William Carlos Williams

We have an embarrassment of plums.

They are juicy and sweet...

and after eating far too many, I immediately wanted more, but baked, and with custard...Here's a clafoutis, together with instructions if you fancy it.

Scald some 150ml milk and 150ml whipping cream with a vanilla pod and leave to infuse.

Whisk up four eggs with five tbsp of sugar until paleNow add the infused creamy milk as you whisk

...straining out the vanilla pod

Preheat the oven to 150 and butter an oven-proof dish very generously, sprinkling it with sugar too

Tumble in your plums (I don't bother to take the stones out...too lazy) - and pour over your frothy custard

Put it in the oven for about half an hour (or until it's stopped being wobbly (you want the custard to set)...and you'll get this gorgeousness:

I think this would be good with some ground almonds added to the custard too.

In terms of growing plums - I'm reading up on it now - my tree is VAST, and I quite fancy experimenting with getting a different variety (I don't know what my plum is) and fan-training it against a wall to see if you can grow them in a much smaller space...more of this soon.

Sweet Cicely for Custard

Shhhh! - The Hunk absolutely hates custard so I've had to do this in secret - It won't be difficult to keep it a secret because I think it'll all be gone soon (this stuff is sluttily drinkable).

I inherited two large clumps of Sweet cicely when I moved here in February this year.  Its latin name is Myrrhis odorata and it's of European origin.  This is one of the first herbs to appear in springtime, and it lasts for yonks.  It has gorgeously pretty fern-like foliage and lovely white flowers that smell like seriously posh, delicate honey.

The taproot can be eaten raw or steamed and tastes of an aniseedy parsnip (hmmm)...The leaves have a sweet aniseedy flavour and they can be used as a sugar substitute.  The seeds are also lovely and sweet...I'm going to be experimenting with all that later, but today I just wanted to get my head around the flavour of it, so I made custard and infused the milk with a few leaves and some flowers.

The recipe is from the fantastic Prue Leith whom I utterly revere (and not only because she owns Elizabeth David's actual kitchen table...heart flutters).  Her book is indeed a cookery bible.  I had got myself all geared up to be beating madly in a double-boiler but found, with a sigh of relief, this recipe for quick, easy custard which doesn't require any of that faffing:

It's really easy, just one egg yolk, whisked with one ounce of caster sugar until pale and interesting:

Then one ounce of plain flour gets beaten in vigorously.  Meanwhile I'd scalded eight fluid ounces of milk with a few Sweet cicely leaves and half a flower-head:

I strained it, poured it into the egg yolks, whisking all the time, and then put the whisked mixture back into the saucepan, heating until it boiled, at which point it thickened perfectly, coating the back of the spoon (and my finger, and my tongue...etc).

It tastes divine - slightly liquoricey (but NOT in a horrid, hectic, fishermans-friend-type-way)  I purposefully didn't use a vanilla pod because I wanted to taste the plant, and I'm glad, because although it's distinct, it is delicate.  It's not overly sweet either.  I think that's because this was just an infusion.  I think this would be yummy with rhubarb, and I'd probably add a good generous handful of sweet cicely leaves into the stewing liquid, as they are renowned for their usefulness in sweetening tart fruit.  You're supposed to be able to reduce the amount of sugar you use by half...good news.  This little jug though, won't wait that long...it has 'drink me' written all over it.

To grow Sweet cicely, you need light, well-drained soil.  It spreads itself around in a rather naughty manner if it's happy in your soil, both by self-seeding and via its very long tap-root that, if broken, will produce another plant.  It wants some light shade but other than that, requires absolutely no TLC whatsoever.  I'm completely in love with it and I think if I didn't have a garden, I'd want to grow one in a pot.  You'd need a deep pot, because the taproot is long, and you'll need to keep it properly watered.

Do let me know if you've got any recipes - I'd love to try them out.

Sweet Lilacs

I've been totally inspired by all the lilacs bursting open this week -

...like so many silky pompoms opening up to scent my never-ending 'pram outings'...

My own recently planted lilac (Syringa 'Lochinch') is putting on growth and budding beautifully but there isn't anything to pick yet,

...so yesterday I swiped these from my mum's garden:

A syrup, I think, for drinks, or jelly...

...or both (I'm experimenting for a recipe to go in my next book).  There are lots of recipes for lilac 'jelly' on the w.w.w. (i.e. the same sort of stuff you might make with redcurrants and put with lamb) - but I'm thinking of sort of jelly you might have at a children's party ...mixed, perhaps with some champagne??? - all will be revealed.

Lilac Syrup

To a simple sugar syrup (one cup of sugar, dissolved in one cup of water over a moderate heat), I added this:

washed, of course, and with all traces of green removed...along with a few blueberries to make sure it'd be pinkish...

I simmered the whole thing gently for about a quarter of an hour:

...and then I strained off the detritus to reveal this:

Not really lilac colour but still beautiful, and delicious - sweet, floral, but most importantly, lilac scented.  The Hunk and more importantly I (chief cocktail-concocter) shall have cocktails tonight - recipe suggestions please....Kir 'Loyal' perhaps?

Basil smugness

The Hunk decided we had to christen his new barbecue tonight.  Please note that I had no part in the barbecue buying bonanza...it just arrived at the door one day, in a huge hulking box, to add to the plethora of hulking boxes (still un-packed) we already have in our sitting room.  Furious, I called him to squalk something about our daughter's inheritance à la Theo Paphitis on Dragon's Den but privately I was thrilled, because I love, adore and salivate over barbecue'd food, and because I loathe and detest smelly, smokey kitchens and spitting fat.

I happened to have italian sausages in the fridge...(a good thing, no matter how you look at it) and I actively encouraged him, saying that we could barbecue, as long as we had champagne to barbecue TO (so to speak).  He came home from work empty handed, saying he had to go off and get 'gas'...bastard...I thought barbecu-ing was done with coal and so-forth...this is cheating.  Anyway, I waited and waited (and ate chocolate egg left over from Easter and a primula salad that I had made for the shoot I did today for Virgin Gardener book Two)...and finally he returned with an (ugly) gas canister and champagne (phew).

BUT, during the long wait for my chef to return with his barbecue paraphernalia, I had time (snore) to think of something to make our supper more rounded and less saussagey.  The only veg I had in the fridge was tomatoes (yum), to which I added some of my HOME GROWN BASIL....yes folks, YAY, my seed-raised, home-grown basil has been a success and is now ready for picking....so it is with UTTER, despicable smugness, that I offer this tomato and basil picture:

Leek and Potato Soup, and some Sweet Violets

Okay, it’s time to ‘fess up – I’ve just moved into my new garden, and I’m harvesting precisely nothing at the moment except bundles of herbs. In the spirit of optimism, I’ve made leek and potato soup , because i MEAN to harvest lots of lovely fat leeks NEXT year. The recipe is so simple it’s embarassing:

A couple of fat leeks a good 2 tablespoons of butter 3 large potatoes about 1.5litres chicken stock (or water if you don’t have it) a dash of dry vermouth a good handful of parsley salt and pepper


Chop up the leeks and sweat them in the butter for a good ten minutes in a heavy pan until they are soft.

Add the potatoes and cook them in the butter for 5 minutes.

Add the stock or water, the vermouth, salt and pepper bring the whole thing to the boil and allow to simmer for a good 40 minutes or so until the potatoes are really soft.

Allow to cool, add the parsley and then blitz the whole lot in a food processor until you get your desired consistency (sometimes I want velvet, sometimes I want lumpy).

Put the soup back in a saucepan and season to taste (this will need quite a bit of salt).

Eat piping hot with really gorgeous bread and lashings of butter.

Crystalised violets

One thing I am getting in great abundance is sweet violets…I’m crazy for these, and spend probably far too much time kneeling on the wet ground with my nose buried in them. They have the most fabulous scent on their own, but if you smell them on the plant, you get the earthiness of the leaves and soil too, which I love. I shouldn’t have enough time to paint violet petals with egg-white…I don’t know what it says about me…but I do manage to fit it in somehow. Put them, ceremoniously a-top a bought cupcake (or one you made yourself of course)…or treat them as glorious sweeties (they keep for ages in the fridge).


Make sure the flowers are free of aphids, and dip them either whole, or as single petals, into whisked egg-white. Put them carefully on a sheet of greaseproof paper (use tweezers), and shower your little beauties with granulated sugar (caster sugar with dissolve in the egg and you’ll get clumpy petals).

Leave them to dry somewhere out of the way and eat them with other girls (in my experience, boys don’t seem to get how beautiful and special they are, so I don’t offer these to the Hunk – however, you may have altogether better males in your household).