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Flavoursome Food and Other Things!

Hello again. Another week has passed us by in lockdown. For some, I guess, it is dragging and people can’t wait to get back to normal. For me, the time is flying by and I'm quite happy pottering about at home, no rush to do anything in particular. I'm a little impatient with the peas and beans I've sown in the garden willing them to pop their little heads above the soil. I reckon it’s a case of ‘a watched pot never boils'....I probably check everything 6 times a day and it never seems to change! That said, the chilli and tomato plants are coming on well and the established herb bed is looking very well. I'm thoroughly enjoying long daily walks in the woods close to home. Nature carries on as normal, the plants and trees growing and changing every day. It’s the time for bluebells and they look stunning. We came across a huge carpet of them in the woods last week, the sun shining down through the trees and lighting up patches, their colours changing in the twinkling light. The garlic is also in full flower and contrasts beautifully next to the bluebells. The humble dandelion flower is everywhere at the moment too. In some cases it is showing its bright yellow petals and for some these have changed to the elegant fairy like seeds that follow. It is lovely to have the time to sit and contemplate the wonders of nature; to watch the individual seeds of the dandelion floating along in the breeze, settling in a place where it will hopefully grow next year.

Not only are the sights of the flowers fantastic at the moment, but the different smells in the woods grab the senses too. For me, there is no better smell than the gorse flowers right now. While walking through the woods their strong coconut aroma suddenly hits you and it is like no other. I believe their scent is even more powerful this year due to the amount of dry days and sunshine that we are having. The flowers of the gorse are perfect for making drinks both alcoholic and non alcoholic. They are not the easiest to pick due to their spiky leaves, but if you find bushes that are in full flower it’s possible to grab the petals on the tips without getting spiked. They are also best picked in the morning on a dry, sunny day.This week I'm going to share a recipe for Gorse Flower Champagne which, despite its name, contains no alcohol. It is quick and easy to make and is delicious poured on ice on a sunny day!

Gorse Flower Champagne

500ml/1pint gorse flowers (dandelion petals can be mixed in too)

250g/8oz sugar

2litres/4pints water

2 lemons

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Wash the flowers and place into a fermentation bin/large container. Boil up half the water and pour onto the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add the rest of the water and pour the whole lot onto the flowers adding the juice of 1 lemon, vinegar and the second lemon cut into slices. Cover with a cloth and leave for up to four days or until it starts to bubble a bit.

Strain through muslin into swing-top bottles and drink after two weeks. Enjoy!

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