When we were mid-heat wave (and mid-move) and I was too hot, too sweaty and too busy to enjoy the sunshine, I was one of the people who wished it all away. I longed for crispy leaves under foot, the smell of bonfires and warm, snuggly jumpers.
But we weren’t halfway through our first week of wind, rain and grey skies when I started longing for the Summertime time again 🙁
Come back sunshine, I take it all back!! Now I remember that after Autumn comes Winter and English Winters have a tendency to drag all the way through to mid-summer. Contemplating all those soggy boots, darker afternoons and numb fingers, I’m trying my best to preserve the last bits of Summer to brighten a chilly day in January.
I’ve made some more lavender sugar today. It’s so easy and adds a really interesting flavour to cakes, biscuits, jams, pies…….the list is endless. Sprinkle it on top of pastry or substitute it for plain caster sugar in just about any recipe. Find out how to make it here.
Our chilli plant has been a smidge neglected. It’s suffered from
no insufficient watering, being abandoned in the greenhouse and a lack of harvesting, so the chillies are quite short. But they’ll be just as fiery and there’s no reason why we can’t keep them for use in soups, stews and of course my famous chilli 😀
I take a piece of cotton and a normal sewing needle and thread the chillies through their tops. You end up with a kind of garland of heat! I think it looks quite funky. Hang somewhere dry where the air can circulate and your chillies will keep for months.
I love the flowers in our garden, but they are fewer and fewer these days and eventually there will be none. So I’m snipping a few and hanging them to dry, giving my colour and beauty over the Winter. Roses, hydrangeas and lavender all work very well. Again hang them somewhere dry where air can circulate.
Another way to bring a little summer colour indoors for winter is to plant bulbs in pots. Miniature daffodils work well as to hyacinths. We plant them in shallow pots or these bulb vases that let you watch as the roots grow.
Let’s talk herbs. We grow alot of herbs at Rose Cottage: chives, sage, rosemary, mint, basil, dill, oregano, rosemary…. It always makes me sad when they all die off in the Winter. Thankfully most of them come back and some like rosemary and sage, hang on in there through the frost, but they’re never quite the same. Now is the time to preserve herbs for Winter.
Bring it indoors: We’ve taken up a small bunch of mint and repotted it. We’ll bring it indoors before the frosts take hold. Our dill has only ever lived indoors, but I’m not sure how much longer it will survive :-S
Freeze it: Why not freeze a few leaves in a plastic tub or sandwich bag? You can even crush the leaves while frozen and there’s no need to chop. This works well for basil, mint, sage, oregano and dill to name just a few.
Make herb jelly: Herbs jellies are great for adding a sweet, herby flavour to soups and stews, you can also warm them and mix with salad dressings but for me they are best when eaten with cheeses or spread on meat as a glaze. Yum!
Make herb oil: Flavoured oils are really useful. Think of how many recipes you have that include oil and (ideally) fresh herbs? Why not capture the flavour in the oil?
All dried up: Everyone knows how to dry herbs, just cut them and hang them. Simple. 🙂
Herb Butter: Herb butters can be frozen and will keep for a couple of months. They are delicious and it’s amazing how many ways you’ll find to use them. Find out how to make them here.
So that’s me done. Along with the chutneys, jellies and jams that we’ve been making, we’re pretty much set up for Winter. Hmm, apart from cutting back the garden, cleaning the
mouldy grimy greenhouse…oh and all the unpacking that we haven’t got round to yet!!
I think it’s time for a cup of tea first though ;-P and as if by magic, the sun just came out!!