Wednesday 22 September 2021

Nose Twister Pesto...

Proof perfect that our garden truly is organic, has been the plague of tiny green and black flies, and the twig like catterpillars on the nut tree this summer. Amazingly the edible Nasturtium and Pansy flowers, as well as the herb blossoms have flourished. They have made perfect additions to early September, late Summer salads and risottos. Nasturtium, has to be may favourite pesto to-date. It's amazingly light, yet it's also the most flavourful that I've ever tasted, as the leaves have a peppery but subtle heat. 

I love it...And did you know that you can pickle the seed heads in brine and apparently they taste even better than capers. Their name literally means 'nose twister' or 'tweaker' a nod to the reaction the peppery flavour can induce. I had a go at that too, but will leave them to preserve a little while longer before tasting.

The humble Nose Twister is such a useful addition to your garden. I will definitely be sowing them again next year... 



Nasturtuium/Nose Twister Pesto (vegan/vegetarian)


Half a cup of Nasturtium leaves (about 15)

A few Nasturtium flowers, about six

A crushed garlic clove

A handful of raw nuts, (about an eighth of a cup). I used a mix of Walnuts, cashews and pecans. Pine nuts would also work. 

Olive oil,to taste and get the correct texture.

Nurtitional yeast

A squeeze of lemon juice (about a teaspoon).



1. Simply blend all the dry ingredients together apart from the flower heads. 

2. Add the lemon juice and seasoning, mixing well. Adjusting as necessary. Reserve enough flowerheads to decorate but add the others and do short pulses to add a little texture and colour. Adding a little filtered tap water if necessary to get the texture that you're happy with. 

3. Put into dish and top with the flowers plus a little trickle of olive oil. 

This is delicious served with pasta,in buddha bowls, or topping crunchy sourdough toast. Yum...


Saturday 5 October 2019

We are a long way, away from home. We flew right across Iceland.  I peeped through the windows and I could see Reykjavik and ice and snow below, the sun shining all the time. We followed it for thirteen whole hours of daylight and then the landscape gave way to desert and dust, backyards with turquoise pools and aeroplanes that looked like tiny white crosses. We landed in Los Angeles, then we got on the smallest plane  to Sacramento, where we are staying in a garden apartment on the ground floor of a large house with a tropical garden. It's just a stone's throw from my baby and her partner. I love to hear the tinkle of her bicycle bell as she cycles over to see us and wish that she could do the same when we are back home in England. 

We time was still the same day when we arrived...we had gone back eight whole hours. It seems appropriate that Portal Park is nearby. It feels like we've stepped through one.

It's a different world. A fun, sunshiny one. It's hot and the sky is blue and there are palm trees and fruit trees with large round ripe oranges, lemons and limes, dates and sweet pluots and pomegranates, that line the streets, and edge the gardens in the neighbourhood. There are big beautiful clapboard houses and some that look like they are in an English Tudor village and others that could be in Mexico. It reminds me of Disney Land.  I wear my new, 1960's style glasses and look very serious, feel as though I should be wearing 60's style clothes too, or maybe 70's or 80's. But they must be colourful... 

The sounds are different, the fire engines wail like someone in pain, the trains make a deep honking sound. It's a safe homely honk... a comforting melodic chord. 

I ate my first pumpkin pie in a turn of the century soda fountain in Sonora and fell in love with The Tower cafe on Broadway, Sacramento. It's next to The Tower Theater, a 1930's art deco wedding cake of a building. The cafe and garden, similarly aged,  the interior a theatrical paradise of tiles and plants and trees, a colourful cacophony of old paintings and prints, basket chairs, and Oriental Paper Parasols. Reincarnated on Earth Day, 1990. 

We sip Moroccan Mint Tea from the Classy Hippie Tea co and eat brunch at The Tower or the Hitching Post in Ahwahnee, meet for early morning coffee at a roastery or at each other's apartments mostly just enjoying the time that we spend together before we fly off home again... dx 

Originally published Saturday October 5th 2019

Sunday 27 May 2018

...the darling buds of may...

'...rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...' sonnet 18, William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Spring had only just begun but it felt like summer. The days were long and hot and sunny, and I didn't want to waste a second. I rose early to make the most of it. After the long cold winter's hibernation, it was catch up time!

I sowed seeds, and I planted and watered, painted outside doors and windows, and garden furniture that had been washed by the snow. Sorted out the loft, the shoe cupboard and my wardrobe. Recycled, renewed, repaired, and baked a million fruit crumbles and streusel tarts.

Before the sun was up I worked on my little shop, that had also mostly hibernated, and then did the same on the long light evenings.  It was  good to feel an order and rhythm return to this little life we've made for ourselves.  

Then April showers came and we went to London and when poor Ahmad was in meetings, I explored the Serpentine in the rain, and the green lungs, and saw bright green parakeets, horses and heron. Discovered little lanes with quaint mews houses and the Liberty store, with it's ancient oak beams taken from an old ship. I met friends, and one of my sisters, and drank gunpowder tea from the teeniest Japanese teapot. 

But best of all we crossed that bridge again, and visited our 
little acorn in Bristol. She pampered us. Baked us pie and made crumble, and delicious breakfasts; and there were goodies and parcels waiting for us in the spare bedroom. 

And the most precious gift for me. All wrapped in tissue-y paper and tied with thin twine. It was a book that I had picked up so many times in my favourite bookshop. Each time I had put it back because I already have a version.  A newer one.  The same words, different skin. Every time I visited that bookstore, I would search for it. The little skinny one  in-between the stout tomes. 

I would take it out and pour over the hand-cut pages with their serrated edges. Feel the smooth marbled, paper backing and carefully open the delicate leaves and read the inked hand written inscription from 1936.  

Then I would turn a page to the printers title: 'House - Warming and Winter Visitors, from Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, privately printed MCMXXXVI, and then the next page: 'These essays from Walden have been privately printed by the Haddon Craftsmen for their friends at Christmas,' with subtle green print of pine cones on a branch. On the following page, the little house in the woods and the text began. Walden's beautiful poetic words. 

I would find an old comfy armchair in the store and settle in, whilst everyone else was on their search for books ...I would sit and drool over the pages, sometimes uttering a quiet exclamation at it's beauty. I'd look up and someone would catch my eye and and chuckle. They had been their too. 

Then I would put it back. Almost in the right place, but not quite. Maybe a few letters along. So that it would still be there the next time I came. 

The last time that I looked for it, it had gone. I was surprised that it hadn't gone earlier and was a little sad but reasoned   someone else loved it, just as much as I did.

...Little did I know who that person was... and now that lovely old book has a new inscription below the older one, cursive script blue/black ink, this time to me from my little acorn and her larger oak... 

'...I went a-graping to the river meadows, and loaded myself with clusters more precious for their beauty and fragrance than for food. There too I admired, though I did not gather, cranberries, small waxen gems, pendants of the meadow grass, pearly and red...'Henry David Thoreau,from his essays, 1854.

Now we are well and truly into May and the darling buds are blooming with a vengeance. But what about your garden, how does it grow? dx