A study of 2,000 British workers, commissioned by Tetley, has discovered that 44% are ‘too busy’ to stop for a tea break at work. A British institution is at risk! (And so is our health.)
They’d like to encourage us all to take the time to make a brew at least once a day. Of course, they do have a vested interest in the topic – 36 million cups of Tetley are drunk each day. Just, clearly, not in the office. Working in partnership with Lee Maycock, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, they have devised a series of dishes “that perfectly complement our diverse range of tea solutions” (I think they mean flavours, or possibly infusions ;).
I thought I’d share a couple of their recipes with you. Not only do they look tasty, and take us into the evolving world of tea and food pairings, but they involve some very interesting plants!
A different way to start the day, Teff (Eragrostis tef) is an Ethiopian grain packed full of calcium, iron, protein, and amino acids, and is gluten free.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
120g jumbo porridge oats
40g teff grains
1.2 litres skimmed milk
40g dried fruits
40g fresh blueberries
20g pumpkin seeds
0.5 tsp cinnamon
Their instructions are a bit on thin side, saying only “Make the porridge in a thick bottom pan with the oats, teff, cinnamon and milk. Place into four bowls and top with the dried fruit, seeds and blueberries”.
I make my porridge in the microwave, so some experimentation may be in order. First to source some teff….
Teff porridge apparently pairs well with Tetley Original (I have my morning porridge with builders’ tea, too).
Pairing your office lunch with the perfect tea might be a step that very few of us have time for, so let’s skip that and head straight to the heavenly dessert that’s waiting for us when we get home… (I wish!).
Chocolate Quinoa Pot
Heading over to the other side of the world, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is an Andean pseudocereal (which means that it looks like a grain, and is used like a grain, but doesn’t come from a grass species).
Ingredients (Serves 4)
300g dark chocolate
300g double cream
300g vanilla custard
Honey cress* or mint
Cook the quinoa until soft and drain well, then gently fry it until crunchy.
Heat the cream slowly and add the chocolate and the vanilla custard, then warm though until melted and mix together.
Place the raspberries in four glasses and pour over the chocolate mix.
Refrigerate until set, and serve sprinkled with a little toasted quinoa.
The ideal pairing for this one is apparently a nice cup of chamomile tea.
*It seems Honey cress is the brand name for a particular variety of microherb used by the catering industry. I have no idea whether it’s available directly to consumers, but I’ll let you into a little secret – it’s Stevia (Stevia rebaundiana) sprouts, so you could try and grow your own! (Suttons is one company that sells Stevia seeds.)
Are you a Are you a #TeaTaker or #TeaMaker? What would entice you to stop for a tea break? Join the conversation @tetley_teafolk.
(Images courtesy of Tetley.)
Posted in Blog on Jun 29, 2015 · ∞
Tags: tea & food.
After the paving was finished on Tuesday, Ryan and I moved the planters into the front garden, to their new home on the path. Ryan then filled them 2/3 full with leftover topsoil from the garden – which makes them so heavy that they can’t be lifted, so they should be safe enough now. (If you’re interested in the planters, I wrote more about them when they arrived).
Today it was my job to fill them :) The ultimate plan for these planters is that they will be herb gardens, where I can just nip out of the front door in my slippers and snip off a few herbs for a cup of tea, or to add some sparkle to dinner. The herbs are scattered in various smaller containers, many of them newly planted and not ready to be disturbed. In the meantime, I have lots of plants that need a good home, so for the summer the planting is as follows.
(This is as much for my benefit as yours – some of those plants are bound to lose their labels!)
The Coastal Mist planter
The ‘Coastal Mist’ planter (I’m referring to the paint colours) has 3 small Salvia ‘Kate Glen’ planted in the front. This is a purely ornamental variety, with lovely purple flowers – the plants were a gift to me from Unwins, and I’m looking forward to seeing them grow. Apparently they’ll smell nice, too :) The plug plants are small, so you can’t see them yet.
In the middle at the back is a bergamot (Monarda didyma). I bought a plant earlier in the year, and divided it into four. They’re looking a little droopy (and at least one is covered in dust from the paving), but should perk up now they’re planted.
2 pepper ‘Garnet’ at the back, which I grew from seeds from Victoriana Nursery Gardens. This variety of pepper is good for making paprika.
3 pepper ‘Roter Augsburger’ at the front – these were given to me to trial by Organic Plants. They’re an heirloom variety bred for outdoor growing in cooler climates. They look terrible, which is entirely my fault – they’ve been stuck indoors until the paving was finished. Hopefully they’re not too far gone….
The Sea Grass planter
The Sea Grass planter also has its front row of Salvia ‘Kate Glen’, and a bergamot in the middle.
It’s pepper contingent is 4 ‘Fooled You‘, a heatless Jalapeño chilli, and (on the left hand side), two ‘Cayenne Sweet‘, a similarly cool Cayenne chilli.
The Lavender planter
Likewise, the lavender planter has its bergamot and salvias.
It also has two ‘Cayenne Sweet’ chillies, this time on the right hand side.
The remaining 4 plants are ‘Padron‘ – the pepper variety that is used for Spanish tapas. They’re mostly sweet – you get the occasional hot one!
They’re all planted into a nice layer of peat-free compost, on top of the topsoil, have been watered in and mulched with bark chips (although I’ve run out, so the last layer is a bit scanty and will need topping up).
At least now things are moving in the garden, and I can start to deal with the backlog of plants that need a permanent home. Most of them are still in the separate strip, waiting until the new raised beds have arrived and been filled.
Posted in Blog on Jun 26, 2015 · ∞
Tags: general & herbs.
And so it’s done – the paving is complete. We have a shiny new path from the front door to the garden gate, which extends in front of the patio doors and widens into a large patio. At the top of the garden another strip provides hard standing for sheds/ a greenhouse and the arbour.
The photos don’t really do it justice – the blocks come in a subtle mix of colours that is still somewhat hidden by dust and sand. We need it to rain to give it a good wash :)
The intention was that the long patio would entice us out of the house and into the garden, and it’s already doing that. It’s hard not to just stand and stare at it, even though it doesn’t yet lead to the arbour.
The view from the house
The grassy spaces will soon be home to raised beds
The fencing and the gate are back in position
This view of the front path shows the subtle colour mix in the paving
Next step: building the raised beds. They’re on order, and we’re figuring out how to fill them, although practicalities mean we’ll probably have to do them in batches.
Posted in Blog on Jun 24, 2015 · ∞
Day 3 started with the delivery of the aggregate and sand, and ended with quite a lot of the blocks being laid. We’re not allowed to walk on them yet, though!
The arrival of the aggregate
Sand laid (on top of the aggregate) for the front path
The first blocks laid, outside the patio doors
The front path isn’t complete yet
The patio is nearly finished
Posted in Blog on Jun 23, 2015 · ∞
Last modified on Jun 24, 2015
Ryan’s 3D render of the garden plan
I had an interesting conversation on Twitter last night, prompted by me asking a question, which I will repeat here so you can join in :)
We ordered the raised beds for the garden yesterday. As you can see from the plan, there are 12. Each one is just over a square metre, giving me 17 square metres of planting space. As soon as they were ordered I planned an asparagus bed – I can get 15 plants, of 3 different varieties (from Victoriana Nursery Gardens) into that bed, and have my own permanent asparagus patch.
So… the question is this. It’s July and you have 11 empty raised beds. What would you plant?
The first suggestion was for biennials, and wallflowers in particular. I have really never liked them! There will be more flowers in this garden, and another tweet suggested tulips (did you know you can eat the petals?), which may well be included at some point.
That lot would keep me busy! I have alpine and wild strawberries, and one odd species (the beach strawberry, irrc), and oca to plant out, and some cherry tomatoes in various pots. There are herbs all over the place, although no parsley as yet.
I think I will have to order/buy in some leek plants and some brassicas to overwinter (although I don’t know yet how much of a problem the local pigeon population will be!).
I have a selection of edible dahlia varieties from Lubera to try out – they need to be planted out as soon as possible. Each one should have a slightly different flavour (it’s the tubers you eat), so I’m looking forward to investigating those in the autumn.
And I have some pepper plants that need a permanent home as well – some sweet, some chilli – as well as odds and ends that came back from the allotment.
Interesting times. If you had all of that space, what would you plant?
Posted in Blog on Jun 22, 2015 · ∞
By the end of the day on Friday, the landscapers had finished edging the paths. The garden has a very different feel to it now – it feels like you’re standing in something, rather than the blank canvas that was there before. It’s taking shape, and it’s very exciting. The patio already has a magnetic quality, drawing you out of the patio doors (although it’s currently a big step down!) into the garden.
Going outside is a big step ;)
The edging, and one of the flat spaces that will be filled with raised beds
The front and back gardens will be linked by paving
On Monday, the landscapers will start laying and compacting the layers of aggregate and sand that will underpin the paving.
Over the weekend we can check the measurements and order the raised beds :)
Posted in Blog on Jun 20, 2015 · ∞
Work started on the garden yesterday, and involved digging out where the paving will go, and removing the soil. The paving blocks were delivered and the spoil (very stony soil, I am keeping the best stuff to reuse) has been removed. Two fence panels and the gate have been removed temporarily, for access. The terrain looks very different now.
The spoil heap. Ryan took this photo whilst I was at work
Looking towards the fence, across where the patio will be
Showing the patio in relation to the house
The paving blocks and the new path across the front garden
Posted in Blog on Jun 19, 2015 · ∞
All being well, the contractor will arrive to start paving the garden on Thursday. It has been a long time coming, and it’s only the first stage in getting the garden ready to be planted. Once the paving is complete then we still need to build raised beds and fill them, which will probably involve a bit of levelling here and there. When we investigated the cost of building the E-shaped raised beds in the original plan, we found that they would be considerably more than we wanted to spend. Ryan has come up with a cheaper alternative, which should look just as good, and even gives me more planting space! He has created a 3D render, printed it out and stuck it to the patio doors to give me something to look at:
A 3D render of the new garden plan, courtesy of Ryan
As you can see, the paving is quite extensive, and laying it will disrupt the whole garden. Which means Ryan and I spent the weekend moving all of my plants again, and they’re currently residing in a sanctuary we created in the roadside strip:
Temporary plant sanctuary
One or two plants that are special or have sentimental value are still safely in the main garden, hopefully out of the way of where all of the action will take place. They’re with the arbour and the shed, tucked into a corner where there won’t be any paving.
The rest of the garden contents, tucked out of the way
Moving the old shed was fun. It’s in a bad way – it leans and the sides are coming loose. The roofing felt split in the wind last year, and Ryan stapled it back into place. Even so, the shed held together so that we could just pick it up and move it, with the help of a sack truck. As soon as the paving is done we can order its (larger) replacement.
The empty garden
The garden is now incredibly empty, which makes me sad, but it shouldn’t be for too long. The plants and I are looking forward to having a permanent place to grow – it has been three years since some of them started their journey!
Posted in Blog on Jun 16, 2015 · ∞
Newly painted fence
(The unpainted panel doesn’t match, and will be replaced)
We finally have a date for the paving – 22nd June, weather permitting. It has taken a long time to get one, and I have been going a bit crazy without a proper garden. In the meantime, we have been doing a lot of work in preparation for the paving, including taking out the shrubs along the fence. Getting their roots out was fun, they’d lived here longer than we have! And that has given us the opportunity to start painting the fence. The lefthand side of the garden now looks quite different.
Let’s play Spot the Shed
So does the righthand side of the garden – we’ve moved the old shed out of the way so that the area can be re-paved for the new one. The arbor is also out of the way for the time being.
Which leaves the problem of all my plants in pots. They need to find a home elsewhere for the duration of the paving, and that means tackling the overgrown strip in front of the garage block, which I would otherwise have left until the main garden was finished.
Fortunately, I was offered the opportunity to try a product from the EGO Power+ range of power tools. They’re powered by 56v lithium-ion batteries, which means they’re light and cordless, and quieter than petrol machines (and produce no fumes). The rapid-recharge batteries come in three different sizes, and are standard through the range – so you can power more than one of the tools with the same battery.
Ryan jumped at the chance to get his hands on the chainsaw, and it seemed the ideal time to tackle the conifers in the strip that were in the way.
The ‘before’ picture of the garden strip
It’s not easy to see from this ‘before’ shot, but there were two bushy conifers, both multi-stemmed.
Tacking the stumps with the EGO chainsaw
Ryan donned all the safety gear (including the essential chainsaw trousers) and had a practice run on an old pallet. Then it was time to bring the trees down, which was much, much quicker with the chainsaw than it would have been by hand. Far quicker than me dealing with the smaller shrubs with my secateurs.
The ‘after’ picture of the garden strip
In no time at all, the trees were reduced to two small stumps, a pile of firewood and fronds that make a nice, aromatic floor covering. I haven’t entirely decided what to plant in this strip of garden in the long term, but in the short term it will provide a safe haven for my container plants whilst the landscapers are doing the paving.
Ryan’s verdict on the EGO chainsaw? “I like this!”
Ryan would quite happily give the chainsaw pride of place in the new shed, even though we’re not likely to need one very often. We won’t really need a mower, either. In fact, the garden should be pretty low maintenance (a phrase I hate – ‘low chore’ might be more appropriate, since there will be plenty of fun gardening to be done!), and isn’t that large. If we had a larger garden, we would be seriously looking at the EGO Power+ range of tools, as they are light and quiet. The battery recharged in about half an hour, and lasted longer than we needed it to. There are also strimmers, a hedgetrimmer, and a leaf blower in the range. If I still had the allotment, it would be perfect for keeping that in trim (although I still probably wouldn’t need a chainsaw. Sorry Ryan!)
Posted in Blog on Jun 11, 2015 · ∞
Last modified on Jun 7, 2015
Tags: gardens & reviews.
Taking the pith!
You may have noticed that in the promotional photos for Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs I’m wearing a pith helmet. It’s actually the genuine article (made from real pith!) and makes a wonderfully efficient sun hat. Its brim shades your eyes, and the breathable materials keep your head nice and cool. It’s a bit ostentatious for the beach/ shopping however, and the light colour means it would quickly get grubby in the garden.
Fortunately, Dickies have come up with a more practical range of gardening clothes. Widely known for their work wear, Dickies have put their expertise into designing sturdy and hard-wearing clothes for gardeners, from boots and gloves through to trousers, shirts and fleeces.
The Mooreland Quilted Gilet is an a lightweight bodywarmer, 100% polyester with an easy-fasten press stud front. It’s a handy thing to have with you so you can pop it on when our changeable weather leaves you feeling a bit chilly.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, because I’ve teamed up with Dickies to give one of these bodywarmers away. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below, telling me what you like to wear when you’re gardening! Keep it clean, please, you don’t know who might be reading ;) (UK-based entrants only, please.)
The competition is now over, thank you for all of your comments! I have used a random number generator to pick the winner: Jessica Powell. Jessica, your prize will come directly from the promoter, so they should be in touch soon.
Posted in Blog on Jun 8, 2015 · ∞
Last modified on Jun 15, 2015