Allotment, Gardening Year, Gary, Grow Your Own, Halloween, Recipe

The best part about growing or foraging your own food is the delicious delights you can make with what you find. We’ve put together some easy recipes you can make with the top produce you can forage or harvest from September to November 

 

Raspberry Jam

Time: 30 mins

Makes: 3lb Jam

Note: you will need to sterilise your jars before you begin cooking your jam. You can do this by rinsing them in soapy water, then place on a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm until you fill them

 Ingredients

  •         1kg raspberries, halved
  •         juice of 1 lemon
  •         1kg bag jam sugar

Method

  1.   Put a plate in the fridge or freezer
  2.   Put your raspberries and lemon juice in a large saucepan over a low heat and mash with a potato masher. Leave to cook until just boiling
  3.   Put the raspberries through a fine sieve to separate the seeds
  4.   Put the pulp back into the pan and add the sugar
  5.   Bring to a rapid boil for about five minutes
  6.   Drop a bit of your jam onto your cold plate. If it solidifies and wrinkles when you run your finger through it, it is ready. If not boil for another two minutes and try again, keep doing this until its ready.
  7.   Fill your sterilized jars

 Damson & Apple Crumble

Time: 60 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  •         800g-900g damsons
  •         50g light soft brown sugar
  •         knob of butter
  •         1-2 tbsp sloe gin (optional)
  •         2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  •         For the crumble
  •         250g plain flour
  •         150g unsalted butter, cold
  •         80g light soft brown sugar
  •         80g demerara sugar
  •         50g ground almonds

Method

  1.   Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
  2.   Put the damsons into a pan with the sugar, butter and sloe gin if using (or a splash of water if not) and heat gently until the damsons start to give off their juices
  3.   Tip into the base of a large shallow gratin dish (about 25cm long) and stir through the apple slices
  4.   Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture goes crumbly. Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and mix together
  5.   Put the crumble over the damson mixture and put into the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.
  6.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  7.   Serve with custard or ice cream

 

Aubergine and courgette bake

Time: 80 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         2 large aubergines cut into 1cm discs
  •         2 courgettes, cut into 0.5cm strips
  •         1 tbsp olive oil
  •         1 onion, finely chopped
  •         1 red pepper, finely chopped
  •         2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
  •         1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  •         1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  •         50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  •         120g reduced-fat mozzarella, thinly sliced

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  2.   Grill the aubergines and courgettes until lightly browned on each side.
  3.   Meanwhile, add the oil to a pan with the onion, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until they go clear
  4.   Add the red pepper, stirring regularly for another 5 minutes
  5.   Mix in the garlic, oregano and tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes
  6.   Add some of the sauce to an ovenproof dish and layer the aubergine mixture and parmesan and top off with the mozzarella.
  7.   Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until golden brown
  8.   Serve
  9.  

Nectarine puff tart

Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         1 sheet, ready-rolled puff pastry
  •         1 egg, beaten
  •         3 large nectarines, thinly sliced
  •         3 tbsp runny honey
  •         50ml  dark rum or amaretto
  •         large pinch ground cinnamon
  •         Zest of 1 lime

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7
  2.   Lay the pastry sheet out on a sheet of baking paper and roll the pastry edges up to form a 1cm border and brush with beaten egg
  3.   Mix the nectarine, honey, rum and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well
  4.   Arrange the mixture in the middle of the pastry and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
  5.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  6.   Sprinkle the lime zest on top and serve sliced

 

Pumpkin Bubble & Squeak

Time : 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         700g mashed pumpkin
  •         200g chopped cooked cabbage
  •         6 rashers bacon
  •         2 carrots, sliced
  •         1 onion, sliced
  •         2 tbsp butter
  •         2 tbsp veg oil
  •         salt
  •         pepper

Method

  1.   Preheat the grill
  2.   Grill the bacon until crispy
  3.   In a bowl, mix the cabbage with the pumpkin and other veg. Season to taste
  4.   Form the potato mixture into round patties
  5.   Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan
  6.   Fry your patties on both sides until just starting to crisp. Remove from the pan and put onto a metal tray. Grill until crispy
  7.   Meanwhile, fry or poach your egg
  8.   Remove the potato mixture from the tray and serve with the cut-up bacon and the egg 

Pickled Beetroot

 Makes: 20 portions

Time:  20 mins

Notes: You will need a rack or tray to put in the bottom of your pan for the last step to keep the jars off of the bottom of your pot

Ingredients

  •         1.5kg beetroot, destemmed
  •         130g caster sugar
  •         1tsp pickling salt (can use sea salt if necessary)
  •         330 ml white wine vinegar
  •         8g whole cloves

Method

  1. Sterilise jars and lids by putting in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place the beetroots in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for around 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve half of the beetroot water
  3. Once the beetroot has cooled, peel.
  4. Fill each jar with beetroots and add several whole cloves to each.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beetroot water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour over the beetroots in the jars and seal lids.
  6. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot leaving a 5cm space between the,. Pour in more boiling water until the water level is at least 2.5cm above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Leave the jars to cool and store in a cool place

  

Roasted Plums

  •         6 dark plums, halved and pitted
  •         1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  •         1 tbsp sugar
  •         280g Greek yoghurt
  •         2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnut
  •         2 tsp honey

Method

  1.       Heat oven to 160°c /140 fan / Gas 3
  2.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on the sheet
  3.       Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar
  4.       Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until soft and some juices run off
  5.       Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yoghurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey

Pumpkin Soup

 

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Notes: Can be frozen for up to 2 months

Ingredients

  •         2 tbsp olive oil
  •         2 onions, finely chopped
  •         1kg pumpkin ,peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  •         700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
  •         150ml double cream

Method

  1.   Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
  1.   Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft
  1.   Add pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
  1.   Add the stock to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft.
  1.   Add the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender.
  1.   Serve

 Apple Bread and Butter pudding

Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4 

Ingredients

  •         75g  raisins
  •         100ml  cold tea
  •         3 apples, cored
  •         squeeze lemon juice
  •         400ml full-fat milk
  •         125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  •         3 eggs
  •         100g brown sugar
  •         2 tsp cinnamon
  •         1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  •         1 tsp vanilla extract
  •         ½ large bread loaf

Method

  1.   Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 4
  1.   Put the raisins in a small bowl, add the cold tea and leave them to soak
  1.   Peel, core and slice the apples and keep them fresh in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice
  1.   Gently warm the milk in a saucepan, then add the butter and allow it to melt. Set the milk and butter aside to cool slightly
  1.   Put the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk
  1.   Tear the bread into pieces and layer in the greased baking dish. Strain the raisins, discarding the tea, and scatter them over the bread, then top with the sliced fruit. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with some extra brown sugar
  1.   Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pudding has set and has a golden crust on top.

 

 

 

Halloween, Outdoor Living, Scott

Bonfire night is very special to my family. We always skip the big show at the park in favour of our own display. It’s a chance for everyone to get together in the garden; wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves. There’ll be a large pot of chilli in the kitchen to keep everyone warm; why chilli I’m not sure, but it’s always there. Rockets and fountains are set off to variable oohs and ahhs. It’s a night of big thrills and traditions and a night when it’s very important to keep safety in mind. Fond memories of bonfire night can soon be tarnished when mistakes are made. Below are some important tips on staying safe alongside my family experience of bonfire night;  I hope they inspire you to try your own party and create some memories of your own.

The Bonfire 

bonfire night

The bonfire was always a central element of our family firework night. Earlier that day we’d stuff an old pair of pyjamas with newspaper; maybe even making a Papier-mache head to complete the Guy that would stand in the fire. Getting the kids involved with these elements is a fantastic way of engaging them with some English history. Though thrilling to watch and gather around, a bonfire has the potential to be very dangerous and needs to be set up correctly. To enjoy a safe bonfire follow these 8 simple tips:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather. The wind is the main cause for concern as sparks and embers can drift on the wind and start a fire.
  2. Position your bonfire somewhere central with room to move around the entire perimeter, away from wooden fences, foliage or garden furniture.
  3. If you do not have a dedicated fire bowl, pit or bin create a circle of bricks or stones to contain the flames and build within that circle.
  4. Build your fire up layer by layer in a teepee shape using twigs, kindling and logs. You can also make use of a firelog; a safer way to add some heat and structure.
  5. One person should be responsible for the bonfire so that it’s always being supervised. It’s fine to get kids involved helping out but never leave children to supervise a fire alone.  
  6. Never use lighter fluids to help the fire along. 
  7. Keep a bucket of water or sand handy in case of any accidents. 
  8. After your party pour a bucket of water over the fire. Do not leave it to go out by itself. 

Fireworks

bonfire night

Soon it’s time to move on to the fireworks. In my family, we would have boxes of fireworks open in the conservatory. All of the kids will pick a firework they want to be lit next and hand it over to the parents who would take it into the garden to set up. This is great for getting the kids involved in a safe way as they never need to come into the area where the fireworks are actually being lit. Just make sure there is someone there supervising the selection of the fireworks. The fireworks are bonfire night tradition but they’re also the most dangerous thing you’ll use. Remember that you are dealing with explosives and as such, they need to be treated with care and attention. To make sure everyone enjoys your firework display follow these 6 simple guidelines. 

  1. All fireworks are categorised from F1-F4. The higher the number the more hazardous a firework is. For the purposes of a garden firework display, you should purchase fireworks categorised as F1 or F2. Anything higher than this is for professional use only. 
  2. Plan your firework display with the items you would like to begin and end with, aiming to finish your display before 11 pm.
  3. Make sure you have a place to position and ignite your fireworks at least 8m from the nearest spectator. 
  4. Read the instructions of each firework before using. 
  5. Light each firework at arm’s length with a taper, standing well back. Never return to a firework once it’s been lit.  
  6. Do not allow children to light or carry fireworks and never leave fireworks unattended with children around.

Sparklers

bonfire night

Towards the end of our family display, everyone would be given a sparkler and the frantic waving would commence as people attempted to write their names in sparkles. Poor cousin Jennifer never made it past the second n. You can try capturing these moments on camera; you can get some fantastic effects with the streaks of light caught in a photo. To make sure everyone enjoys their sparklers fully, use our 4 simple guidelines below: 

  1. Make sure young children only use sparklers with full adult supervision
  2. Wear gloves when handling sparklers
  3. Hold sparklers at arm’s length and away from the face
  4. When a sparkler has finished put in a bucket of cold water

Don’t Forget The Pets

bonfire night

Let’s remember our furry friends this time of year. Though firework season is a great time for us humans, it can be a scary time for pets. We would often find our dog hiding under the bed as soon as the fireworks started going off. But then our cat seemed fascinated by them and would sit happily watching them on the windowsill. A few simple steps can help reduce some pet stress and even if your pet doesn’t seem to mind, it’s a good precaution. See our 4 tips below:

  1. Lots of pet stores will sell chemical plugins or collars that can help keep your pet calm.
  2. You can play prerecorded sound effects of fireworks and loud noises in the run-up to bonfire night. Playing them quietly can help get pets more used to the sound of fireworks. 
  3. Make sure your cats and dogs have an area within the house they can retreat to if they feel nervous or overwhelmed. A quiet bedroom with comfy bedding and some favourite treats and toys can take a pet’s mind off the loud bangs outside!
  4. If you have smaller pets in an outside hutch consider bringing them inside for the week around firework night. A quiet room will likely be appreciated. 

Share your bonfire night celebration with us on Instagram! Tag us with @primrose.co.uk and we might feature your photos on the Primrose feed. 

 

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Halloween, Herbs, Lotti

samhain

There’s a frost on the ground this morning, and crisp autumn leaves crunch beneath my boots as I walk to work. For a few weeks the mornings will be light again, but the evenings have been plunged into darkness. Yesterday evening I stood outside and felt the chill in the air, smelt the telltale aroma of a bonfire burning somewhere far away. The moon has been bold and bright these past few days, and while it’s waning now it still manages to light up the sky.

Halloween is upon us.

This special time of year has been celebrated in one way or another for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It marks the halfway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice as communities prepare for the long, dark months ahead. During this time, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead is said to weaken, allowing spirits (both malevolent and benign) to slip into our world. Celebrated in one of its earliest forms as Samhain (pronounced “sa-win” or “sow-een”), this marrying of our world and the otherworld was an important part of Celtic calendar.

halloween ritual

Many modern Halloween celebrations originate from Samhain and other gaelic festivals, and it’s believed by some scholars that the festival was Christianized into Halloween by the early church. Samhain focused on remembering and honouring the dead while harmful or mischievous spirits were warded off. It involved lighting bonfires and preparing meals using the recent harvest, setting a place at the family table for the dead. Often, people would dress themselves and their children in disguises to confuse any evil spirits who may have crossed over during this liminal time. In Ireland, offerings would be left for the aos sí (spirits or fairies) in exchange for their careful watch and blessings during the winter.

Samhain is the time of year where people celebrate being at one with nature’s rhythms as part of the cycle of life and death. As the cold creeps in, plants and flowers in the garden begin to wither and die and the harvest is over, leaving the fields bare. In early cultures, cattle were brought back from summer pastures at this time and livestock was chosen and slaughtered ready for winter.

Early celtic people had to be in tune with nature all year round and pay close attention to the changing of the seasons so they could better prepare their homes, livestock and farms. Today, most of us have the luxury of central heating and a local supermarket, so the changing of the seasons can often pass us by. Farming has modernised to make overwintering animals easier, and produce which cannot be grown in the UK during the winter can be shipped in from overseas. Samhain, which once served to remind us of the encroaching winter and the impact the season has on the world around us, is now more widely celebrated as Halloween.

pentacle symbol

If you’re feeling a little traditional this year, why not take part in some Samhain celebrations as well as apple-bobbing and trick-or-treating?

Start by taking a nature walk somewhere near your home. A forest, wood or patch of wild land is a perfect place for a spot of natural contemplation. Observe the changing world around you, take note of the colours of the leaves and keep an eye out for wild birds and animals. When you place yourself in a wild space like this, you remind yourself that you’re a part of nature just as much as the trees growing around you or the animals scurrying through the brush. If it’s permitted, collect some objects to bring home with you.

autumn forest

If it’s safe to do so, you could light a bonfire in your garden or kindle flames in a fireplace. The bonfire mimics the sun and its power to hold back the darkness and death so closely associated with winter. In later traditions, bonfires were said to have protective powers. When your bonfire is lit, write a habit you want to break out of or rut that you’ve found yourself stuck in and throw it into the fire as you imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of life.

Because the boundaries between worlds is thought to be thinner at this time, many people hold séances or practice divination using runes or tarot cards to seek guidance for the year ahead. This is also a way people give thanks to and remember those who have passed on.

You can also prepare a celebratory meal. A Samhain meal should focus on fruits and vegetables, wild game (if available) and foraged foods. All the food should be served at the same time complete with candles and a centerpiece and a place should be set and food should be served for the memory of the dead. Get some traditional Samhain herbs and spices to add some flavour to your meal: Rosemary is said to be a herb of remembrance: perfect for observing the tradition of remembering loved ones who have passed away. It’s also often used as a smudge for protecting magic spaces. Mugwort is another herb used by different magic practitioners who believe it encourages lucid dreaming and healing.

If you’re not feeling convinced, it’s always helpful to remember that you don’t have to believe in magic to grow useful, practical plants in your home or garden. Here’s a list of things you can grow yourself which are thought to help with a variety of illnesses and ailments.

Aloe Vera

aloe vera

Aloe Vera has been grown in homes and gardens for years thanks to its healing properties. The clear, sticky gel found inside an aloe vera plant is believed to be a effective moisturiser and is thought to relieve pain and speed up healing time for minor burns. Ancient Greek physician Dioscorides wrote what is thought to be the first written account of the supposed healing properties of Aloe Vera around AD 41 and by the second century it was an important component of the physician’s pharmacy.

Aloe Vera is an easy, stylish plant which is great to grow indoors. To harvest the gel from the plant, you need to remove a mature leaf from the plant by cutting it as close to the base as possible. Let the yellow sap drain from the leaf, then give it a quick rinse. Using a sharp knife, remove the serrated edges of the aloe leaf then remove the top and bottom pieces of skin (similar to filleting a fish). You should be left with a leaf-shaped sliver of translucent gel, which can applied to the skin. The easiest way to store aloe gel is to cut it into small cubes, where you can keep it in the fridge for about a week or freeze it for a month.

Lavender

lavender

Lavender is famous for its relaxing aroma and has been used for thousands of years all around the world. Lavender oil is said to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can help bug bites and even minor burns and one study noted that wounds treated with lavender oil closed faster. Lavender is most popular, however, for its calming effect and the benefits it can have for those suffering from restlessness, insomnia or anxiety.

Lavender can be grown both inside and outdoors. Lavender should be harvested when the buds have formed but the flowers haven’t yet opened. Cut a good bundle of lavender, tie it together then hang the bunches upside down in a warm, dry spot. After 2-4 weeks, you can simply rub or shake the lavender buds off into a bowl or tray then store them however you like. Lavender is great for putting in mini drawstring bags to be tucked beneath pillows to aid sleep or even placed into a draw to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

Peppermint

peppermint

This popular garden herb has been used in alternative medicine for years to treat a wide range of illnesses and ailments. Peppermint is one of the most widely consumed herbal teas (also known as tisanes) and is said to ease the effects of nausea, cramps, diarrhea and even morning sickness or period pain. When applied as an oil, peppermint is said to help relieve headaches, muscle pain, toothache and itchiness. This versatile herb also contains menthol, which makes it a natural decongestant.

You can make your own mint tea at home with just a few ingredients. Rinse off your freshly harvested mint then give the leaves a gentle crush to release the flavour. Peppermint tea is best made with hot but not boiling water, so boil a kettle and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Place 7-10 leaves in your mug then pour the hot water over them, making sure they’re completely submerged. The tea then needs to steep – the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be! You can add extra flavour with honey or freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Chamomile

chamomile tea

Like peppermint, chamomile is an enduring medicinal herb which is most popularly consumed in tea. Chamomile is said to be great for tackling period pain, reducing inflammation and encouraging sleep, and the oil can assist healing and help relieve eczema.

You can also brew your own chamomile tisane at home by following just a few easy steps. An infuser teapot is ideal for this, but if you don’t have one you can make makeshift tea-bag from cheesecloth or pour the tea through a fine strainer when it’s ready. If you’re using freshly picked flowers, you should use them right after harvesting. Each cup requires around two heaped teaspoons of flowerheads (or more for a stronger infusion) which need to be steeped in boiling water for around ten minutes. You can add honey, mint or even apple slices to your tea to give it more flavour!

Lemon

lemon tree

Lemons have been a staple of cold and flu remedies for many years. These bitter fruits are a great way to ease the pain of a sore throat or a cough during the winter. Simply mix the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon with hot water and honey for a quick and easy homemade cough mixture.

While not the hardiest plant, lemons are one of the most popular citrus fruits to grow in the UK. They should be grown in a pot and can stay outside during the summer then brought in over the winter. You can also buy miniature lemon trees which are great for keeping on a windowsill.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Halloween, Tyler

Pumpkin carving is a great activity to do in the lead up to Halloween and if pulled off correctly, you can get some amazing designs. As it is getting closer and closer to Halloween, we thought it would be a great idea to carve the Primrose flower into a pumpkin to create the Primrose Pumpkin to get into the spooky spirit!

The first thing we decided to do was head down to the shops and grab all the equipment we needed to carve. This included:

-A pumpkin
-Two knives, one big and one small
-A safety knife
-A spoon
-A pen
-A bowl

Then we drew out our logo onto the pumpkin. This is so we had an outline to follow when it was time to carve it.

Next step was the messiest part of all; cutting the top off the pumpkin and scooping out all of the seeds and fibres using the spoon (and hands!) and then discarding it into a bowl.

Empting Pumpkin

Emptying pumpkin

Now that is done and out of the way, it’s time to start carving our Primrose Pumpkin! Using the outline that we drew earlier, we carefully then cut through the pumpkin following the outline by using the knives we listed. This required a lot of concentration as you can tell…

Cutting the Pumpkin

Cutting Pumpkin outline

Removing part of Pumpkin

Final adjustments…

Final adjustments

And there you have it, the Primrose Pumpkin in all of its glory!

Candle in the Primrose Pumpkin

From all of us at Primrose, we hope you have a great and creepy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.