Friday, September 27, 2013


Painted in a thousand brilliant shades of green

 abundant with seed heads

 complex, delicate,
asking to be gleaned.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tomato Jam

Warm and sweet, bright red, pepped up with fresh chilli and a whisper of some of my favourite spices.

The perfect way, as temperatures in the greenhouse slide and my plants begin to wither, to cram the last few rays of summer sun in a jar, to be savoured throughout the winter. 

Great with cold meats, hot meats, fish, goats cheese... well anything!  A kind of grown up tomato ketchup.

1 kilo tomates, 
(plum tomatoes are especially good, with their dense sweet flesh and scant pips)
140g (1/2 cup) white sugar
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped (optional)
2 cardamom pods, seeds finely ground
3 cloves, finely ground
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

Roughly chop the tomatoes and mix in a bowl with the sugar. Ideally leave overnight for the sugar to draw out the juice from the tomatoes.

Transfer to a heavy bottomed pan and add the chilli, ground cardamom and cloves, salt and pepper. 

Simmer for about 20-30 minutes over a gentle/medium heat to thicken, stirring regularly.
Leave to cool slightly then pot into warm sterilised jars.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ideal Home Magazine

As if perfectly timed to go with a wet and blustery weekend, when all I wanted to do was retreat to the kitchen and make courgette soup, bake bread and bottle plums, October’s Ideal Home magazine includes a comfortingly “feel-good” booklet of classic bakes. 

I was commissioned, a while ago, to provide some illustrations for the recipes which had all been sourced from back issues of the magazine. They're classics that may well have you reminiscing about having to be inventive with basics during wartime rationing or remembering the fun of experimenting with exotic ingredients in the flamboyant eighties. 

The project certainly had me digging out my hand-me-down chipped pudding bowls, enamel pans, vintage whisk and 90’s yogurt maker!

Copyright Ideal Home Magazine

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You're never too old... grow your first aubergine!

“There are few things to be done in a garden which do not require a dexterity in operation, and a nicety in hitting the proper season for doing it”. Loudon 1871

Last year my attempt at growing aubergines was doomed form the start. I bought the seed on a whim when it was already too late in the season to sow them. But sow them I did. They germinated quickly and grew into exotic plants with a profusion of lush, fluted leaves and frilly lilac blossoms. Quite stunning in themselves, but, if you remember the dismal summer we had, there was nowhere near enough warmth to coax anything resembling a fruit from those beautiful flowers.

Sadly I concluded that if it was a purple tinge I was after, I had better stick to stick to native plants like swede, leaving aubergines to our lucky, sunny, southern European neighbours.

This year of course I couldn’t resist the fact I had half a packet of seeds left.... I sowed them at the right time, kept them well watered in the greenhouse and with the bonus of a long hot summer, I now have weary and ragged plants that are weighed down with perfect, glossy, purple fruits!  

adapted from The Painted Garden Cookbook

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tarting up some old trays!

September and the plums still aren't quite ripe, but there's a promising harvest tugging at the weary boughs so I've been sprucing up some fruit trays in anticipation. 

Here's how in three easy steps.

1. Make friends with your local greengrocer before scouring his rubbish pile for discarded wooden trays.

2. Paint three sides of each tray with a couple of coats of pale grey wood primer.

3. Paint the fourth side matt black...

...and enjoy your harvest!