Living sustainably by growing your own fruit and veg, with cooking tips along the way, brought to you from The Bridge Cottage garden.

Do pigeons do pilates
Do pigeons do pilates

Do pigeons do Pilates?

Will this keep them off my peas?

My brassicas are in plastic pots

Tin foil flaps in the breeze

It’s time for us to build a cage

Keep caterpillars at bay

The butterflies may be beautiful

But my greens are here to stay.

               Lockdown life continues at Bridge Cottage with all its ups and downs and levels of emotion. I worried this week that I was over-sharing on social media. Was I showing too much of country life and the garden? Was I upsetting folk that are locked down in cities, in flats and apartment blocks without access to gardens or the countryside? I spent a couple of days away from social media to reflect, but I got lonely. I missed the connection. I missed having people to ‘talk to’.

Connection, friendship
Connection, friendship

I decided I needed to keep posting and chatting to the followers of my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, so I expressed my worries, and then shared a picture of my kitchen disaster when I took my eye off the ball whilst making dandelion honey. The comments came flooding in from folk who said they enjoyed my posts, reassuring me I wasn’t blowing my own trumpet, and I encouraging me to carry on.

Dandelion Disaster

Here at Bridge Cottage, we garden using organic gardening methods, and pest control sometimes means thinking out of the box. I came up with the poem at the top when trying to keep the pesky pigeons off my cabbages using old CDs strung up on string – I noticed they were pilates CDs, and the line ‘do pigeons to pilates’ stuck in my mind. I’m no poet; it’s just a bit of fun.

Plastic Bottle Cloches

Plastic bottles chopped in half do make good mini cloches to keep the frosts and rabbits off my brassicas. I’ve grown the seedlings in the greenhouse, then hardened off before planting out this week. So far, there are two types of kale, and a primo cabbage.
I took a look back at the old Bridge Cottage Way blog I used to write over on Blogspot – the photos made me smile, and the garden has changed to much. I love the photo of Tim with his cauliflower – here’s the link if you want to watch it too: A Wander Round the Garden in May. I see I was covering cabbages with pop bottles back then.

Pallet log store
Pallet log store

When Tim’s finished the log store he’s been building next to the sauna using reclaimed pallets and other repurposed bits and bobs, we will be building a frame to put netting over which, fingers crossed, will keep the pigeons and cabbage whites away from my greens.

How are your gardens growing? Have those with no gardens managed to grow anything in pots?

I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of those turning their hands to baking sourdough bread this week, and thanks to Gilchesters who delivered flour, and to The Boy Who Bakes for his excellent tutoring, I have managed to make a decent loaf. I am hooked!

They may need to widen the door frames when I come out of lockdown.

Past posts include:

Lessons in Lockdown

Looking at Leeks

Several of my friends are growing their own veg for the first time, as they turn to being as self sufficient as possible, during these difficult coronavirus times. I’ve been growing my own veggies for yonks here at Bridge Cottage, so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learnt along the way, plus some tried and tested family recipes.

Last year’s leeks, plus a photobombing daffodil!

Last year’s leeks are all but finished, but have provided some welcome fresh veg throughout the winter and early Spring. It’s the beginning of April now, and time to plant the seedlings in the veggie patch. Leeks provide a welcome crop throughout the year, and are a wonderfully versatile veg. I’ll pop some of my favourite recipes below.

Leek seedlings starting to grow
Leek seedlings starting to grow

Start your leeks off in a deep pot – they like to send their roots deep down, and this will help strong plants to grow. Just sprinkle on top of seed compost, and then cover with a fine layer. Pop somewhere fairly warm, a windowsill or greenhouse if you have one. I like to set my leek seeds away in March, but you may get away with it earlier if you are in warmer climes than Northumberland. Don’t be tempted to put too many in the seed tray, or you’ll end up with far too many and they’ll be all choked up. We’ve been a bit heavy handed with our seed sprinkling – you might want to give them a bit more breathing room than we have here!

Leek seedlings
Leek seedlings

Don’t worry if you’ve not done them as early as this; and April or May sowing will be fine too. I should add that we’re in the northern hemisphere here!

Planting leeks with a dibber
Planting leeks with a dibber

Once your seedlings are large enough to handle – you need a good bit of growth at the top, tease them gently apart, and plant out in the veggie plot using a dibber or stick to make deep holes (about 15-20 cm deep). Don’t you just love that word, dibber. It instantly conjures up memories of helping my grandad in his garden. I have my lovely son to thank for making me my dibber. If you don’t have a dibber, find a stout stick! Pop your seedling in the hole and fill with water from a watering can. Plant with enough space so you can get a hoe in between rows to keep the weeds down later on That’s all there is to it!

You will be rewarded with delicious, nutritious leeks to feed yourselves and your families.

Here are some tried and tested recipes the family have loved here at Bridge Cottage. They all serve a family of four, so scale down for smaller portions. We are meat eaters, so have included bacon in the Leek and Bacon pudding, but feel free to leave it out.

Top tip – when washing leeks, slit the tops with a deep cross and hold unside down under running water, teasing out layer to get all the soil out. Nowt worse that a crunch of grit when you munch!

Cheesey Leek Gratin

Ingredients

4 large leeks

25g butter

½  tbsp plain flour

Approx. 1 pt milk

100g cheddar cheese

2 handfuls breadcrumbs*

Fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)

*(whizz up some stale crusts in a food processor – top tip: keep a bag in the freezer so you never have to throw away stale bread)

Method

Wash the leeks well, and chop into chunks. Sauté in the butter for a couple of mins until just tender. Stir in the flour, and then add milk a little at a time until you have the consistency of double cream. Add grated cheddar and season with salt and pepper. Pour into an overproof dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs with chopped parsley, season and place on top of the leeks. Bake in a medium over for 10 minutes, or until breadcrumbs brown.

Leek & Bacon Pudding

Ingredients

125g / 5 oz wholewheat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

50g / 20z shredded suet

2 chopped leeks

3-4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped

1 tsp mixed fresh herbs or ½ tsp dried

I medium egg

Method

Mix together flour, baking powder, suet, leeks, bacon, herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Mix with egg, adding a little milk if necessary, to make a soft dropping consistency (so mixture drops off spoon when held aloft)

Grease a 600ml/1 pint pudding basin and put in a piece of greaseproof or parchment paper to just cover the bottom.

Put pudding mixture in basin. Cover with greaseproof paper and foil and tie with string.

Steam for 1 ½ hours. If you don’t have a steamer, place a saucer in the bottom of a large pan, and cover with boiling water. Place pudding on saucer and put lid on pan, topping up water when necessary.

Serve with parsley sauce.

There are, of course, lots of other recipes for leeks – we love a leek risotto, or that old favourite, leek and potato soup. Feel free to tag me in any Instagram posts or on Facebook or Twitter with your own leek recipes, or let me know how you get on with these. You can also leave a comment using the box at the bottom of this page. Feel free to share any of my posts amongst your friends. The more we grown our own, and keep away from supermarkets the better!

Last time we talked about using nettles and wild garlic, and it has been fabulous to see all your delicious creations. I’m so glad the blue cheese, wild garlic and nettle scones were such a hit! They were just the comfort we needed here at Bridge Cottage in these worrying times.

I do hope you are staying safe and practising social distancing. Take care everyone, and til next time,

Cheerio from the Bridge Cottage Way.

Sue Reed author of The Bridge Cottage Way gives advice and encouragement as we dig for victory
Sue Reed author of The Bridge Cottage Way gives advice and encouragement as we dig for victory

I’ve always known wild garlic was delicious, but who knew nettles were so tasty? I’m trying to avoid going to the supermarket in the midst of this coronavirus lockdown and so am turning even more to the land, to see what is ready to eat in the garden. This is Northumberland, there is precious little ready in the veggie patch in early April, apart from some rocket and spinach planted in the autumn that is going to seed in the greenhouse, and rhubarb that is almost there but not quite.

The wild garlic is wonderful at the beginning of April, and I’m lucky that I don’t have to go further than my own garden to get some. You may well find some on your permitted walk; look for shady spots under trees. Nettles are a wonderful source of goodness, full of many nutrients, and the young tips can be harvested and used in cooking. They will sting you if picked without gloves, but once cooked, the sting disappears

I’ve used both in cooking this week, and thought I’d share six of my favourite recipes with you.

Blue Cheese, Nettle and Wild Garlic Scones

Ingredients

225g plain or spelt flour

3 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt, half tsp English mustard powder

50g cold butter

125g blue cheese (or any strong cheese)

2 tbsp washed & chopped wild garlic & nettle tops (chives work well too)

60ml cold milk

1 beaten egg

Method

Scones are best handled as little as possible. I use a food processor, but mixing by hand is fine

Sift flour, baking powder, salt & mustard. Grate in butter, cheese, & mix with wild garlic and nettles. Mix in egg & milk with clawed hand, adjusting amount of liquid to give a soft, slighty sticky dough. (Scones are better on the wet side rather than dry).

Tip onto floured worktop and handling as little as possible, knead gently then press down into a flat shape about 3cm thick. Cut into shapes, top with a little cheese or egg & milk from the jug you used.

Bake at 220 deg (200 deg fan) Gas 7 for 12 minutes.

Serve with butter. Delicious with some wild garlic and nettle soup.

Tomato, Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup with Blue Cheese, Wild Garlic and Nettle Scones
Tomato, Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup with Blue Cheese, Wild Garlic and Nettle Scones

Tomato, Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup with Orzo.

Ingredients

I small onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

Knob butter or 1 tbsp olive oil

Wild garlic & nettle tops (I use a colander or large bowl full)

I pint stock (chicken or vegetable)

450g tin tomatoes or passata

2 handfuls orzo pasta or any small shaped pasta

Method

Sauté chopped onion and celery in a little butter or olive oil for five mins on a low heat, then add stock, wild garlic and nettles. Cook for ten minutes, then blend with a food processor. Add the orzo and cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

If you don’t have tomatoes in the store cupboard, or haven’t been able to get any pasta, don’t worry. You can add chopped potato to give the soup some body, and a green soup with wild garlic and nettles is equally delicious.

Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup
Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup

Wild Garlic and Nettle Spanakopita

My friend in Greece says traditional Greek Spanakopita is made with lots of green leaves, wild fennel and sorrel as well as spinach. I found some red sorrel in the garden and used this with wild garlic and nettle tops, but spinach or chard leaves also work well.

We make our own soft cheese using homemade yoghurt. See the post I wrote in the old Bridge Cottage Way blog: Make you own Yoghurt and Soft Cheese

Ingredients

I pack puff pastry

I onion, chopped

Knob butter or I tbsp olive oil

I beaten egg

100g soft cheese

100g grated cheddar

Bowl full of leaves – eg wild garlic, nettle tops, spinach, wild fennel, chard

Nutmeg, salt and papper

Method

Gently fry onion for five minutes with a knob of butter or tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan, place washed greens on top, stir, and put lid on to wilt the leaves. Turn a couple of times, then drain using a colander. Chop roughly using a pair of kitchen scissors and leave to drain.

Mix beaten egg, cheeses, salt and pepper and a grate of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in wilted and chopped leaves.

Roll out half a pack of puff pastry and line a greased tin (mine is a square, 20cm x 20cm but a round one if fine too). Place mixture in and roll out rest of puff pastry to top.

Make a small cross in the middle to let out the steam, and brush with beaten egg or milk.

Cook in a hot oven, about 220 deg (200deg fan) gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden.

Wild Garlic & Nettle Spanakopita
Wild Garlic & Nettle Spanakopita

Wild Garlic Pesto

This is so simple to make, and so tasty. It freezes very well to be used throughout the year. You can add nettles, and I’ve made rocket pesto successfully too.

This recipe uses pine nuts, but in these lockdown days, or if pine nuts are too pricey, use whatever you have to hand. Walnuts or cashew nuts are a great substitute.

Same with the cheese – parmesan is ideal, but I didn’t have any and am avoiding going to the shops for feat of Covid_19, so used come cheddar I had in the fridge.

Ingredients

Large bowl of wild garlic leaves, washed

Half pint olive oil

100g grated cheese

2 handfuls pine nuts, cashew or walnuts

Method

Place everything in a blender and add olive oil until consistency of shop bought pesto. Simple, and oh, so tasty! Serve with pasta.

I hope you enjoy some of these recipes from the Bridge Cottage Way. I’ll leave you with a photo of the bridge that gives this blog its name, and my patch of wild garlic.

Remember to forage responsibly to protect wildlife. Avoid any areas that are frequented by dogs and wash foraged leaves carefully! During coronavirus lockdown do not drive to nature spots to forage.

You may also like to read : Wild Garlic, Food for Free

Stay safe everyone, keep in touch either here or using social media and keep out of the supermarkets as much as you can!

In these dark days of the coronavirus, never has it been more important to grow as much of our food as we can. Many of my followers over on my Facebook page, Sue Reed Writes, have said they are filling pots and buckets, digging up flower beds, and starting their own veggie patches, many for the first time. Whilst I appreciate not all have access to a garden or yard, and garden centres are out of bounds, there is still plenty we can do, even if it is only sprouting seeds on a window-sill in a jam jar. (I’ll write more about that in a few days).

This may inspire you to get an allotment when all this is over, we loved our allotment when we lived on industrial Teeside. It was a community with dozens of surrogate grandads, where advice and plant swops were bountiful. My sister-in-law had an allotment, and rather than grow veggies on it, used it as a place to meet with friends and have barbecues. We can only dream of those times at the moment, but they will come again, take heart.

I’m an old timer and have been growing my own food since I was knee high to a grasshopper, learning from my Nana and Grandad, and parents, who, as wartime children, grew up with the habit of growing food in the garden. They were told to Dig for Victory, and I see that hashtag is now trending on Twitter.

My grandad was famed for his green fingers, and I remember the story of him putting in a stick to support one of his prize fuchsias only to have it turn into a peach tree. My fingers may not be that green, but I do have lots of experience, and am more than happy to impart that knowledge to you.

I wrote a blog for seven years, The Bridge Cottage Way, named after the house, we live in, and wrote about living as sustainably as we can, using what we have, and reducing the drain on the planet’s resources. There is a wealth of information there. Do give it a visit – the blog that is, not the house! I would like to revive this writing, and will write regular gardening posts here, as well as give tips about foraging and eating seasonally. I’ll also add recipes that I love. I do think that in these Covid19 days, we need to return to traditional ways of providing our own food wherever we can. I am certainly thinking twice before heading to the supermarket.

Sowing seeds
Sowing seeds

This week has been mainly about sowing seeds. Traditionally, peas should be planted on St Patricks Day, but it was far too cold to put them in the ground here in Northumberland, but I’ve put some in seeds trays in the greenhouse. I’m growing two varieties of peas, and two types of mangetout this year. I’ve just finished pruning last year’s summer fruiting raspberry canes, so will use the pruned sticks for pea supports. I’ve tyed the new season’s canes to the chicken wire for support. these are summer fruiting, with the fruit coming on the new growth. Autumn fruiting shold be chopped down as soon as they have fruited.

Pruning raspberries
Pruning raspberries

If you’re thinking that you left it too late to but plant pots or seed trays, try making your own using cartons and pots from the kitchen. I wrote about this on the Bridge Cottage Way blog, in Reducing Plastic Consumption by Making Your Own Plant Pots. There are also plenty of places selling seeds online, so don’t let Covid19 be the excuse for not growing! I went to ebay and found plenty of places sending out seeds.

I’ve put broad beans in the ground this week and have covered them in some black weed suppressant I had lurking in the shed. A black bin liner will do the job too. It’s not really to suppress the weeds, but to keep the frost off and warm up the ground. It’s still cold at night, so beware of setting off anything too delicate. Leave all those tender plant seeds for a bit, like courgettes, runner beans, cucumbers etc, especially if you live in colder climes like me.

Tomato, leek, and chilli seeds can be set away now, along with lettuce, beetroot, chard rocket and spinach. I love beetroot, and so does my mother. My husband says it is the food of the devil, so maybe it is a woman thing? Do you like beetroot?

What’s available right now? You may have seen some wild garlic on your permitted one walk a day, without even realising what it was, and what you can do with it. I wrote about Wild Garlic – Food for Free, the other week. Hugh Fearnley-Whittonstall has given us some recipes for using nettles, and I like to mix wild garlic with nettle tops. We have our own chickens here at Bridge Cottage, and a wild garlic and nettle tortilla or a quiche will be on the table at the weekend.

Rhubarb is ready in the garden too, and I wrote about that a while back in Wrestling Rhubarb. The rhubarb gin recipe is wonderful, although I’m now tee total, so none of that for me! There was a post about rhubarb too on the Bridge Cottage Way blog – It was called, ‘Seasonal Eating – April’ It’s worth a look for some great rhubarb recipes or just to see a fresh young face!!

Rhubarb season
Rhubarb season

Many are saying compost in in short supply, and I’ve just had a flashback to me collecting the tops of mole hills from the field where we lived in Upper Weardale many moons ago! This is a time to make the best of what we have, so be inventive, swop seeds where you can, and give any spare rhubarb you have to your neighbours. Keeping your two-metre distance of course and washing any donations thoroughly.

These are difficult days for us all, but I hope my posts will bring a bit of distraction, and inspiration as we navigate our way through the coronavirus.

Sending love to all from isolation in Northumberland.

Stay safe my friends.

There are three factors that have influenced the writing of this post about wild garlic. Firstly, with the coronavirus scare causing panic and fear, I have had a strong urge this week to be by myself, out in nature, breathing in fresh air and getting as much vitamin D as possible through sunlight on the skin to boost my immune system. There is a wonderful feeling to be found as the garden wakes up from its winter slumber, the rhubarb thrusts its ruby red stalks skyward, and the wild garlic leaves appear.

Wild Garlic at Bridge Cottage
Wild Garlic at Bridge Cottage

Secondly, I got issue 85 of Mslexia, the magazine for ‘women who write’, published here in the north-east, Caroline Sanderson’s feature about the pain of writing memoir with interest. In the ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’ module of the Creative Writing MA I am undertaking at Newcastle University, our tutor has asked us to place ourselves as the protagonist back in the place where we were at the age of which we are writing for. My young adult novel is taking me back late teens, a time which holds many painful memories for me. Alice jolly, who wrote the memoir ‘Dead Babies and Seaside Towns’ wrote that ‘you can’t write a good memoir without spilling blood’, and I am bleeding.

To take a break from the blood-letting, other writing is necessary, and so to preserve my mental health, I return to The Bridge Cottage Way and share my love of foraging and food for free with you.

Lastly, I cleared out the freezer – a job I’ve been putting off for far too long. I found several bags labelled ‘wild garlic pesto 2019’, made this time last year, and in need of being eaten before I make the next batch. It is a heady concoction, full of flavour, that goes splendidly stirred through pasta, with a slice of salmon on the top. (see below for the recipe)

Wild garlic
Wild Garlic

Is wild garlic just a northern thing? It is typically found in sheltered woodland, often near a source of water, and can be recognised by its bright green leaves and pungent smell of garlic when walked on or when the leaves are rubbed. It grows in abundance along the roadside here in Northumberland, under the trees as you drive past Ridley Hall and Allen Banks, and along the bank side of our little burn. The leaves appear first, closely followed by the delicate white flower, as seen here, and wild garlic, or ransoms as it is sometimes known as, can be found growing from March through to June.

The smell of wild garlic for me, is evocative of the day we moved to Bridge Cottage back in early June 2003. As I drove along with a car full of boxes, marvelling at the beauty of the Northumberland countryside, a pungent pong wafted through the car window. It is food for free, and the year’s first foraged crops: seasonal eating at its best.

Here are some suggestions for cooking with wild garlic, The Bridge Cottage Way:

Pesto

Add a couple of good handfuls of wild garlic to about 200ml of olive oil, a handful of nuts (eg walnuts, cashew or pine nuts), 50g grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, and blitz in a food processor.

Add your pesto to pasta for a simple but tasty lunch or rub onto chicken. Wild garlic and chicken go very well together.

I like to make several batches and freeze in small bags. There is nothing better in the depths of winter, than to go foraging in the freezer and finding little bags of spring wild garlic pesto to use for lunches.

Salads

Wild garlic leaves can be added whole to salads or chopped according to taste. Use instead of spring onions for a mild, oniony taste, but with the added zing of garlic. They make an interesting addition to a cheese sandwich married with a touch of mayonnaise.

Salad dressing can also be made more interesting with finely chopped wild garlic leaves or add to mayonnaise or butter.

Tomatoes

In his iconic foraging guide, Food for Free, written many moons ago, Richard Mabey tells us that wild garlic goes handsomely with tomatoes

Richard tells us to ‘take advantage of their size and lay them criss-cross over sliced beef steak tomatoes’. I like to chop them finely and add to chopped tinned tomatoes for a quick and tasty tomato sauce that can go with pasta, or as an accompaniment to fish cakes.

Alternatively, make a simple tomato salsa, by chopping fresh tomatoes with finely chopped wild garlic, and fresh deseeded chilli, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Soups

Wild garlic can be used with young nettle tops for a healthy, delicious soup, or for the meat eaters amongst us, simply add to chicken stock and blitz for a delicious wild garlic soup.

I’m off to pick some wild garlic to use tonight with some simple mayonnaise to have with chips.

Happy foraging, and remember, – it’s free food!

Did you follow The Bridge Cottage Way blog all those years ago, before The Woolly Pedlar took all of my spare time away? Following on from an article in this week’s Observer about my yoghurt making, I thought I’d go back to writing about seasonal eating and growing your own seasonal fruit and veg in the Bridge Cottage garden. The aim is to do one of these once a month, and my dearest wish is that one day a newspaper or magazine will ask me to write a regular column, The Bridge Cottage Way!

It’s nearly the end of May, and despite having had several pickings of rhubarb already, there is a bumper crop. With the family all out for the day, today seemed the day for tackling it. I’m pleased with how the day has gone, and thought I’d share some recipes with you.

The rhubarb and ginger jam is bubbling away on the stove, and the rhubarb and date chutney has just gone into jars. Thank you to the good peeps at Riverford Organic Farmers for the recipes. (Follow these links to find them). There is a big pan of stewed rhubarb with ginger on the go, which will be frozen for breakfasts over the winter.

rhubarb gin
Rhubarb Gin

There is also bottle of rhubarb gin in the cupboard, which will be shaken daily until the sugar dissolves, and will be shared with my sister in law, Kate, at my daughter’s wedding. It was my sister in law who was responsible for introducing me to my husband, Tim, when we were at teacher training college together in Isleworth back in the early eighties. Amazingly there was enough rhubarb gin left from last year to take this photo. Apologies for the chipped glass!

It’s really easy to make your own rhubarb gin or vodka, and the same method applies for any fruit such as raspberries which is equally quaffable.

Rhubarb Gin Recipe

Just chop up slender stems of your pinkest rhubarb (if they are too fat they won’t go into the neck of the bottle). Put into a clean, empty bottle until half full. Add a good slug of sugar. I don’t like mine too sweet, so only put about 100g in. You can add more. If you have any Sweet Cicely around, you can use this instead of sugar. Top up with gin or vodka, pop the top on, and shake every day until the sugar is dissolved, then leave well alone for a few weeks. Strain before drinking It’s really that easy!

It’s goes really well with tonic, soda or Prosecco, or drink neat over ice. Cheers!

I’m told that once all the gin is drunk, the alcohol soaked fruit makes an excellent crumble.

Rhubarb Souffles

Another favourite, newly mastered this year has been rhubarb souffles – thank you to Michel Roux Jnr and Gardener’s World for the recipe! They are not hard to make and are suitably impressive. Just keep the oven hot and don’t open the door until you are ready to serve.

Did you see I got a mention in The Observer this week for my yoghurt making prowess? I found a simple recipe for making ice cream using stewed rhubarb and stem ginger, which is simply churned in an ice cream maker with yoghurt and half a tin of condensed milk. Easy peasy!

My mum is a huge fan of stewed rhubarb and it was a staple of the Sunday dinner table with rice pudding when I was a child. My husband, however, wouldn’t thank you for rice pudding, (says it reminds him of school dinners) but he does have a favourite rhubarb recipe. It is for Rhubarb and Orange Merinque.

Orange and Rhubarb Meringue

Rhubarb and Orange Meringue

(serves 4)

Ingredients

450 g / 1lb young rhubarb; 1 orange; 50g /oz demerara sugar; 40g/ 1.5oz cornflour; 2 eggs separated; 75g / 3oz caster sugar

  1. Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into short lengths. Place in shallow oven proof dish.
  2. Grate rind and squeeze juice from orange. Place in measuring jug & make up to 450 ml / ¾ pint with water
  3. Place demerara sugar and cornflour in a saucepan and gradually blend in the liquid. Bring to boil, stirring and simmer for 3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. Stir egg yolks into orange sauce and our over rhubarb.
  5. Cook in centre of a moderate oven Gas 3, 325F, !60C for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to cool, Gas 2, 300F, 150C.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites until stiff and dry, whisk in half the caster sugar and whisk until stiff again. Fold in remaining sugar.
  7. Spread meringue over mixture in dish and return to oven to cook for a further 20 to 25 minutes until it is golden brown and the rhubarb is tender.

I hope I has inspired you to have a go at growing and cooking rhubarb. If you don’t grow rhubarb, you really should! Find someone who does, and ask them to divide a crown for you in the autumn, or pop down to the garden centre to buy one. It loves a good dollop of well-rotted compost over the winter, and will serve you well for years to come. It’s the first fruit to be ready in the new season and is a very welcome crop indeed.

Thanks for reading my blog

Sue Reed Writes