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Thursday, 20 April 2017

3 SMALL CUTTINGS OF MINT = 3 LARGE MINT PLANTS

Good Morning to you,


If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a little while, then you will know how much I enjoy reading magazines. My love is so great that as much as I try, I find it hard to throw them away. The trouble is, I always feel, sometime in the future, when I get around to re-reading the magazines, I will discover a useful tidbit of information that I had missed first time around.

The reason I mention this, is, the other day it rained non-stop, so I decided to have one of my  half hearted sort outs. When I say half hearted, I mean that I don't approach the task with the same enthusiasm, as I do when I am cooking or gardening. I take it a little slower. So whilst making a 'to keep' pile and a 'to give to friends' pile, I came across a copy of The Lady, dated December 2013.  Should I throw it or keep it.

.... mmm, decisions, decisions.  So I decided to read the magazine before I made my decision, to see if I had highlighted any articles of interest. Your wondering, had I not already read it in 2013? Possibly, who knows, I really don't remember.

Do you know, I may not remember reading the magazine, but I do remember exactly where I was, when I bought this magazine.  Natasha and I were in London, we were visiting  friends when we decided to pop into town to have lunch.

We went to Covent Garden.... I really must sort out those photos for you.  We went to Carluccio's for the most lovely lunch. I even remember what I ate for lunch.... Eggs Benedict, that's a surprise that I remember the food I ate, but not what I have read. We went on to spend a lovely afternoon in the iconic London store, Liberty's.

.... but back to the magazine. One of the articles which caught my eye was a snippet about the suit, worn by Gene Kelly in the film Singing in the Rain. It was on sale for $160,000.  Apparently the grey woollen suit still had the water stains from the wonderful scene, where Gene Kelly is getting thoroughly wet, dancing and splashing about in the rain.

By all accounts the owner bought the suit from an MGM costume sale in the 1970s.... and honestly, you will never guess how much he paid for the suit..... $10, yes $10... what an investment, who would have thought that a 65 year old, water stained, woollen suit, would be sold for so much money.... and as much as I love Gene Kelly's performance, I can't imagine ever buying the suit for $160,000.  Do you know, with my eye for a bargain, I think even I, would pass the suit by, for $10.  So much for my keen eye,  it is obviously not keen enough.

.... and then I was watching a documentary about the life of Marilyn Monroe in which her personal items were being auctioned.  Once again, you will be astounded to hear how much was paid for that iconic beaded dress, which Marilyn wore to sing 'Happy Birthday Mr President' to John F. Kennedy.

Wait for it..... drum roll..... are you ready? $4.8 million.... I was astounded.

.... and then, at the other end of the spectrum, after reading The Lady, I discovered a 1926 Newcastle Daily Journal newspaper, which I had bought a number of years ago. Upon opening this large newspaper, I was informed I could buy a country residence with 9 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, front and back gardens, fruit trees and 2 acres or thereabouts (that is what was written in the advert) of land for £1,500. My word how times have changed. Properties in the area are selling for over £1 million nowadays. Having said that back in 1926 £1,500 was a tremendous amount of money.

.... and today, am I going to share with you something which costs oodles of money.

Oh no, I feel sure you would much prefer something which saves you money. 

I am going to show you something very inexpensive and it is something I do throughout the summer. 

So without further ado,


I am showing you, how to take 3 small cuttings and turn them into 3 large mint plants.

Now I know mint is a rampart plant and it can easily take over a whole patch of ground.  So we have to take care where it is planted. 

I don't plant my mint in the ground, I plant it in large terracotta pots with a water base, so that the roots cannot escape into the ground. This way, the plant is contained.... literally.

.... and why would you want to make 3 plants out of 3 cuttings if it is so rampant.  The reason is, I love mint tea and I love fresh mint tea, which I make from the mint grown in my garden.

I also dry the mint leaves ready for winter use, because the plants die back during the winter and don't return until early Summer when the warmer weather returns. 

So as there is a slight change in the air, I decided to see how my mint plants were growing in the garden. I was a tad disappointed because we have had so much rain during the winter, that I don't think the mint was particularly happy, this year.

So I decided to pay a visit to our local garden centre to buy a new pot of mint and,


when I arrived home I divided the 4 stems.  As you can see the roots are growing, but because the plant was stressed by dividing it, I decided to,


pop the stems into a glass vase.  I placed the vase on my kitchen windowsill for a week and as you can see the roots multiplied tremendously and were ready to be planted.


As the shoots are small and it is still quite cold outside, I chose a bowl which I could leave on my kitchen windowsill, which will encourage the new plants to grow.

I placed a multi purpose soil in the bowl and I planted each stem into the bowl, with enough space around them to grow.


Once I see the plants are growing, I will nip the tips from the plants to encourage new growth lower down the plant. As the plants grow and become a good size, I will place each  plant into a slightly larger pot and place the 3 pots outside, so that they can grow away. As the plants outgrow their pots, I will place them into larger pots until I have the size of plant I want.

When they have become a decent size I will show you the results later in the summer.

Have you by any chance noticed that the bowl in the photograph above, has 4 stems and in the 1st photograph I showed you, it has 3.  Well, I had a slight problem. One of the stems broke in half. I cut the stem back and thought I would pop it into the bowl, and although it looks alright in the photograph above, after half an hour it had  wilted. So out it came and 4 became 3.

I just had a thought, would you like to know how I increase my stock of basil plants? Way back in August 2012.... now that was a while ago, I showed you how I cultivated a bought basil plant. It is such an easy way to increase your plants.

.... and if you want to know how I make Mint tea, press this link to discover how.

The weekend is almost upon us and I am hoping the weather is kind so that I can get out into the garden. Don't you just love this time of year when everything is stirring in the ground.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.


As Always.












Thursday, 13 April 2017

GREEK YOGHURT AND LEMON CURD DESSERT

Good Morning to you,


The week before last, I was busy working in the garden and did not hear the knock on the front door. George had gone swimming, so he was not around to answer the door and I have to say, I keep meaning to buy one of those door bells which alerts you, when in the garden, that the front doorbell is ringing, but as yet I haven't managed to get around to buying one.... I really must make a point of remedying this situation.

Luckily, I have a lovely neighbour, who was working in her front garden and saw the postman arrive at my door. She peeked over our adjoining back garden fence, to let me know that the postman was knocking on my front door, and that he had a parcel in his hand. I stopped what I was doing, and luckily on this occasion I was wearing gardening gloves, so my hands were nice and clean, but I have to say, that is not always the case, so I did not have to waste time washing my hands. I opened the door and there stood the postman with a large parcel in his hand.

I was pleasantly surprised, because I wasn't expecting a parcel to be delivered, but I was secretly thrilled, because don't you just love unexpected parcels.

I signed for the parcel and thanked the postman. I then closed the front door and as I was walking into the kitchen, I noticed the postmark on the parcel and I knew immediately who the sender was. The lovely Bea and her family had sent us a  gift from America.

I wasted no time, I immediately found my scissors, which for once, were where they were supposed to be, and opened the parcel, to discover a jug of Wolcott New York Pure Maple Syrup, a jar of pure maple cream, some granulated maple sugar and a packet of maple fudge..... how wonderful is that. I was tickled pink.

I have heard of maple syrup, but I feel sure, I have never used it as an ingredient in my cooking. I remember eating pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast, on one of my visits to America, but that is all I know about its use. I was not sure how to use the rest of the ingredients.... but that is what is so exciting about discovering new ingredients, finding out how to incorporate them into a recipe.

.... but no research was needed, because after removing the jars and jug, I discovered a recipe card tucked into the side of the parcel. I was especially surprised to see a recipe for spicy maple lemonade, which included a touch of cayenne pepper.... sweet and spicy sounded good to me.  I love salmon and there was a recipe for maple glazed grilled salmon.... a definite winner in my book. Also maple jalapeno peppers, which included cream cheese, feta cheese and grilled, crumbled bacon strips... all the ingredients I love. I also discovered that maple syrup can be added to coffee, my breakfast muesli, plain yoghurt and a host of other dishes.

I then read the nutritional value of the maple syrup and was surprised to learn that maple syrup is described as 'nature's healthful sweetener' containing vitamins, minerals and necessary amino acids. How exciting, something sweet and healthy.... now that's unusual.

Now I feel sure you are expecting me to write about a dish I have made using this maple syrup.... but  I have to say, not on this occasion, because today, we are making, what I had meant to share with you last week,


a very simple dessert, but a delicious dessert.  My favourite yoghurt, is full fat Fage Total Greek yoghurt, it's creaminess and slight tartness is divine and I often use it as an after dinner dessert, because good yoghurt also aids digestion.

I had decided upon our evening meal, but we both fancied a dessert as well. This tends to happen more at the weekend, but we had both been working hard and I think we had built up quite an appetite. Now believe it or not, I did not fancy whipping up a dessert. Yes, sometimes, even I, am not in the mood for cooking. So I took a look inside my fridge to see what I could use, to create a dessert.  I had a full tub of Greek yoghurt, but I had run out of honey and walnuts, which is my favourite way of eating Greek yoghurt, but I noticed half a jar of lemon curd which I had made the previous week, languishing in the back of the fridge and which needed to be used. I decided the tartness of the lemon curd would make a nice change to the sweetness of my usual honey... so the dessert was decided.

So it is on with the pinnie, and it is a bit of a cheek to talk about ingredients and method, because this dessert is easy peasy. I decided to include the dessert this week, because I felt that maybe you had not thought about combining these two flavours to make a quick dessert for your family and we all need speedy desserts to add to our repertoire.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL 
NEED
TO MAKE
GREEK YOGHURT AND LEMON CURD DESSERT

Serves 4

500g tub of Greek yoghurt
2-3 dessert spoons of lemon curd
plus 4 teaspoons of lemon curd to decorate
4 tablespoons of blueberries
4 thin slices of lemon and lime zest, per dish, 
to decorate

HOW 
TO MAKE
GREEK YOGHURT AND LEMON CURD DESSERT


Place the Greek yoghurt 
and


the lemon curd
into a 


medium sized bowl.

Mix 2 dessert spoons of  lemon curd into the yoghurt.
and mix together.
At this point I would suggest you taste test, because the dessert may be lemony enough for you, 
but if you feel you would like a little more lemon flavour, then add the 
3rd dessert spoon of lemon curd.



Place the yoghurt and lemon curd dessert into a pretty dish
and
place a teaspoon of lemon curd in the centre of the yoghurt.

Arrange the lemon and lime zest over the lemon curd

and


add the blueberries.... yes it really is as simple as that.

Then all there is left to do,

is

enjoy.

You can use a good quality bought lemon curd, but I have to say, if you have the time, homemade is really much nicer.  If you would like to make your own, you can follow my recipe. Or if you prefer, you can click on the Featured Post towards the top of the page, to see how I make lemon curd.

Now since, I have made this Greek yoghurt dessert, I just had to try the maple syrup, swirled through some Greek yoghurt.... and oh my word.... it certainly is a little moreish.

Just to say, I will be sharing a recipe, using maple syrup, in the next couple of weeks, but for now, whatever you decide to do, have a wonderful Easter and take good care of yourself. 

I will catch up with you next Thursday, which will be around before we know it.

As Always,











Thursday, 6 April 2017

WHAT WAS I DOING LAST WEEK

Good Morning to you,


Last Thursday, you might have noticed, I was missing from my usual routine of writing to you. My normal routine, went right out of the window and things here at Ivy, Phyllis and Me! became a little higgledy-piggledy,

.... and one of the reasons for this was.

.... it was my birthday.


Normally, on a Thursday, I write and tell you about something I have observed, or I have done during the week. Then I add a recipe which I have also cooked during the week.... but oh dear me,  the best laid plans of mice and men.... this did not happen last week.


I did make a dessert and I did take the photographs and edit them, but that was as far as I got,



because on Wednesday, the sun shone and I became distracted.  Instead of organising myself to write to you, as I normally would, I decided to take advantage of the warmer weather, so I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and to do some gardening. You see, as much as I love living here in the North East of England, I don't enjoy the weather, as it  can still be cold, at this time of year. So  when the sun does decide to shine, I love nothing more than being out in the sunshine  spending time in my garden. I felt sure I would have enough time to write to you later in the day, when I had finished gardening.  

.... but it didn't work out that way.  To tell you the truth, I was keen to divide my herbaceous plants, as they were growing very quickly and time was running out to divide them. I became so absorbed in what I was doing, that I did not notice the time.  The only reason I stopped dividing and replanting was because the air was getting a little nippy, so I knew that it was late in the day. 

By the time I had showered and cooked supper I was feeling tired.

.... and then the following day my birthday arrived and I did not have the time to write to you. My day was taken up with lots of surprises.  Phyllis rang me to wish me a happy birthday, by singing the song over the phone, which was so sweet. I spoke to Natasha and Danielle, I spoke to friends.... I opened presents.... and I have to say, I was thoroughly spoilt.  The day was flying by and then George asked me, if I fancied going out for something to eat, to which I replied, 'absolutely'.

.... and before I knew it, the day had flown by.

So, there it is, my reason for not writing to you. I spent a lovely day gardening and a lovely birthday, but the loveliness, replaced the time it takes for me to write to you, but I feel on this occasion, you really won't mind.

I am now back on track and  I am also pleased to say, the divided plants are happy in their new position and the garden is beginning to flourish once again. Suddenly, so many plants are shooting through the soil.... and the lilac bushes, whose perfume I adore, are even starting to bud. The lighter nights and slightly warmer days are making such a difference to the garden.

.... and what am I doing today. Well, I am going to celebrate another birthday, I am just about to pop over to visit Auntie Mim to wish her a happy birthday, as it is her 85th birthday today.

March and April are such busy months for birthdays in our family. Are you like our family? Do you have a cluster of birthdays during the same month as well? My goodness it takes some organising to make sure every birthday is remembered.  I still use the old fashioned method.... a monthly, paper calendar, where I highlight birthdays with a yellow highlighter. This method works so well for me. This way, no one is forgotten.

Or are you more up to date like Natasha and Danielle. Do you use an electronic gadget to record your family birthdays? Who knows, maybe one day I will catch up with the rest of the world, but for now, I will rely on my paper calendar. 

Take care of yourself and  I look forward to being with you again, next Thursday.

As always,














Thursday, 23 March 2017

TERRORIST ATTACK IN LONDON

Good Morning to you,


My blog is not a political blog, it is a place where I share with you, the things I love in my everyday life.

.... but I cannot let yesterday's horror pass by without comment.

The day started well. I decided, in the afternoon, to catch up with some ironing, a job which I don't really enjoy, so to pass the time, I often watch a film.

I switched on the television and as George had been watching the news channel, in the morning, the television went straight to the BBC News.... and I could not believe what I saw, unravelling before my very eyes.

There had been a terrorist attack in the heart of London. 


It was reported that a terrorist had driven his car, into a group of people, who were walking across Westminster Bridge. They did not stand a chance. These everyday people, were going about their daily business, some going to work and others, enjoying the sights of London. 

As the scene unfolded, it appears, the terrorist, then abandoned his crashed car and  walked to the Palace of Westminster, where he tried to gain entrance.  I don't know if he had a knife in his hand at the time or if he took the knife out of his jacket, as the information is sketchy as I write this, but the terrorist, attacked an unarmed policeman, who I heard this morning had sadly died.

Eventually the terrorist was stopped, by armed policemen, from within the Palace of Westminster.

Four people died, including the terrorist.  40 people were in hospital, some in a critical condition.

.... and this makes me feel so sad. 

I am so sad for the people who lost their lives and for the families who will never see their loved ones again. 

I am so sad for the people who are critically ill, whose lives have changed forever. 

I am so sad for the people who witnessed this terrible scene, as it is something that will live with them, probably for the rest of their lives.

I am so sad for the party of school children from France, who, whilst on a school holiday, having fun,  witnessed this dreadful scene. I have been thinking about them all day.

.... and as the days roll by, I feel sure we will learn more and more about what happened yesterday.

But for today, can we place our hands on our hearts and send our collective love and sympathy, to everyone, who was caught up in this terrible attack.

Let them feel the strength of our love.

As Always,

With Warmest Wishes
to you.












Thursday, 16 March 2017

COCONUT MACAROONS

Good Morning to you,

How has your week been so far?


I have been very industrious this week, because I have been working in the garden, cutting back my roses, tying in new branches of the many clematis which are beginning to shoot.... and that job, which we all dislike, but we all must do.... weeding.

Monday was a fair day and so we decided to get out into the garden and begin our annual Spring cleanup.

We donned our gardening clothes and searched out our clogs, which incidentally, we haven't worn since last autumn. 

....and out into the garden we went.

Now you are probably thinking, there was not a lot to do in the garden, because as a rule, gardens are tidied and plants cut back, before winter arrives.  But I have to say, I am slightly different on that front, as I am a gardener, who definitely does not tidy her back garden before winter arrives.  My front garden is kept neat and tidy, but my back garden, which only we can see, is a different story.  I like to keep places where wildlife can hibernate, hide and feed during the winter months, so herbaceous plants are left in situ, until the Spring, when I begin the task of clearing up the old growth. 

I love my summer garden, but this time of year, is also special,  as plants start to peek through the soil. When we cleared the garden, I discovered Bluebells shooting through the soil, Primroses in bud and almost ready to flower, Snowdrops with their delicate flowers, bobbing in the breeze and the Cowslips growing around the pear tree, had multiplied and were just waiting for a few more warmer days, before they could burst into flower.

I then moved on to pruning and started with the grapevine, which certainly needed pruning, as it had become a little unruly. We grow the grapevine more for the leaves and I make great use of them during the summer when I make dolmades. Grapes do grow, but very tiny ones, as we don't have enough sunshine for the grapes to fully develop, so instead of picking them, we leave the grapes for the birds to enjoy during the Autumn.  It was then the turn of the climbing roses. I snipped off the remaining rose hips.... which again the birds love, tying in loose shoots and trying my best to avoid being scratched by the many rose thorns. I then decided to tie in the early flowering clematis shoots, which meant I had to stretch quite high up the fence and then down low, to where the shoots were growing at the base of the plant. I had to squat to tie in those shoots. Not very lady like, I know, but necessary. I was up and down like a yo yo. As I worked my way along the fences, I could see all my hard work and the tidiness was visually pleasing.

After over 4 hours, we decided to call it a day.  We both enjoyed the fresh air and pleased with what we had achieved and thought we would continue on Tuesday afternoon.

We had our showers and then I cooked supper.... and that was when I felt a slight change in my body. I began to feel a little twinge, but I thought if I kept moving, I would be alright.... well that's what I thought.

Later in the evening, we sat down to watch some television and when it was time for me to get up to go to bed, oh my, I began to feel stiff.

.... and the following morning, I felt as if I had done a full work out in the gym.  My body really ached. So we decided to give the gardening a miss on Tuesday, so I could recover. By Wednesday, I was right as rain, ready to go out in the garden to finish what I had started.

Each year, I say the same thing to myself, that this year, I will pace myself. Believe it or not, the last thing Phyllis said to me on Sunday, when I mentioned I was going to do some gardening, on Monday, was that I must pace myself and not do too much at once, as I would regret it, if I did. 

It really is time I listened to my own and Phyllis' advice, but I get so engrossed in what I am doing, that I want to continue until the job is finished. 

How do you pace yourself when it comes to gardening?  

Are you an all or nothing type of person like me or are you more sensible and have the ability to take things more slowly?

I promise you, there is no bending or stretching today, because we are making, a childhood favourite of mine,


Coconut Macaroons. If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, you will know of my love of all things chocolate and coconut. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you, whilst  talking to a friend about childhood cakes, I remembered these Coconut Macaroons, (not to be confused with French Macaroons). When I returned home  I decided to look up the recipe in Ivy's cookery book, and do you know, I couldn't find one.  So I checked in Phyllis' and I discovered a recipe but they were coconut biscuits.  Then I discovered a recipe in my 1955 Good Housekeeping cookery book which I have adapted slightly.  The only thing is, I did not have any rice paper, so I improvised and used a patty tin instead.... and it worked beautifully.

So it's on with the pinnie.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO 
MAKE
COCONUT MACAROONS

2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
100g dessicated coconut
50g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
25g good quality dark chocolate
25g melted butter (for patty tin)

HOW 
TO MAKE
COCONUT MACAROONS

Makes ~ 12

Pre-heat the oven 180C/160 fan 

Butter a 12 holed patty tin.


Place the egg whites into a small bowl and using a fork, lightly whisk until a light froth forms.


Add the vanilla paste to the egg white
and lightly whisk until incorporated.

Set aside for the moment.


Place the ground almonds,


the dessicated coconut

and
the sugar
into a separate bowl.


Mix the ingredients together.

Pour the lightly whisked egg white mixture
into the dry ingredients
and
stir until combined.
This will take a few minutes.


Place a tablespoon of the coconut
mixture into each of the patty holes
and
using a spatula press
to flatten the mixture.

Place into the pre-heated oven for
15 minutes
or
 until lightly golden
and cooked through.

Allow the macaroons to cool.

Whilst waiting,
melt the chocolate
and when the macaroons
have
cooled,


drizzle the melted chocolate
over the macaroons.


then
all there is left to do
is
Enjoy.

These macaroons are so easy to make.  The only thing I would say, is, my patty tin is very old, and it cooks these macaroons really well, but if you don't own one, which is so old, then  I would suggest that you use a non-stick patty tin.

.... and by a patty tin, I mean the shallow baking tins we used to use before we were introduced the deep muffin tins.

.... and look what I discovered,


when I was looking through Ivy's cookery book. Have you noticed how coconut was spelt?  It was spelt with an 'a' added ~ cocoanut. I wonder if that was a typo error, mixing the spelling of coconut with cocoa?

.... and one final thing before I leave you,


look what was  peeking through the branches of my large Lavatera bush.... these delightful little Tete-a-Tete daffodils

What a lovely surprise.

Take care until I catch up with you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As Always,





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