Infused Dandelion Oil

Infuse Prompts – Infuse

Like many gardeners, I have long thought disdainfully at the Dandelions creeping through gaps in the pavement, through pots of blooms and pretty much anywhere they can get.  There seems to be an endless quest to rid gardens of these bright and cheerful plants and many resort to harsh chemicals to do just that.  But last summer I made a discovery about this wonderful weed. It is amazing, that something which has been considered bothersome is in fact packed with nutrition and healing properties. So I thought in my quest for better natural remedies and health, that I would give it a try. I had nothing to lose.

I made some oil which I thought might help with arthritis pain. It is also good for aching muscles as well I have found out and has a slightly warming sensation on the skin. It is olive oil infused with dandelion and smells rather nice. It is also a pretty good skin conditioner so even if it didn’t work I would still use it. But to my surprise it did. So I made some more and gave them away in bottles as Christmas gifts. As I patiently wait for more dandelions to bloom again this year I’m finding out just how useful they can be. Since the oil has only two ingredients, it would also serve as a dressing oil for salad so is multi purpose.

I rather wish I had the means to store them up on the hill and can only look forward to the day when I will be able to. I fully intend to make use of natures bounty when we spend more time there. Whatever the season there is always something I try to bring back when we return South, it makes me a little less homesick.

Meanwhile I exhausted the southern lawn of dandelions right up until the end of November and gathered a stock of them picking them every other day since the Summer. I was interested to learn that if you dry them, they continue to open and you end up with the pretty seed heads or “clocks” even when they are no longer attached to the plants. This also happens whilst they are in oil. It doesn’t matter, I dried them anyway and now have them in jars. I was also pleased to note that since the winter had been fairly mild, at least up until recently here in the South, they continued to grow and flower.

I am now looking at the many benefits of this herb both topically and it’s culinary uses. Salad leaves are popular and I did incorporate them with spinach but my partner wasn’t keen on the more bitter taste. Using the roots for tea is another use but I have not perfected the knack of drying the roots out properly yet without moisture getting in, I will however work on this again this year having just discovered that I also love the taste of a Dandelion Latte.

So as the new spring Dandelions are poking through the as yet unmown lawn, I have left these as Bee food, as it is their first readily accessible nutrition. But since the lawn is due for a mow any day now, I will have to get out there and start collecting them as it would be a shame for them to go to waste. Meanwhile I have cultivated areas of the garden, where they steadily growing undisturbed in pots for the Bees and I to share so they won’t go hungry.

To make your own Infused Dandelion Oil.

Rinse Dandelion flowers collected  from a safe source (free from pesticides) in water and leave them to dry naturally in a warm place. This can take a couple of days.

Use a Clean Screw Top Jar and put the dried dandelions in, cover with Olive Oil and fill to almost the top of the jar.

Screw the lid firmly, shake gently and leave on a sunny windowsill for minimum of 2 weeks, tipping the jar to rotate daily.  The mixture will be golden in colour.

After 2 weeks, (or more) drain the oil into suitable containers for intended use and discard the preserved flowers, or use them in cooking. It will last for a good six months if kept in a cool dark place.

Since this oil only contains two all natural ingredients it can be used for both topical or culinary uses.

Photos by Unknown artists.

Advertisements

The Joy of Cake.

Esther Chilton Challenge – Cake

After the event, she concluded that there is something which definitely assists in getting to know someone when meeting them for the very first time.

Cake.

Yes you see, if you give them a choice you will find out whether or not they are comfortable or uncomfortable. If they are easy going or uptight, watching their weight or happy in themselves.

Turn up with Cake. Who can resist? Especially if it’s Organic, Dairy Free, Gluten Free. Then there is no reason not to partake of cake. Unless you are diabetic or really don’t like the flavour of course!

So there it was. A very pleasant first meeting, where we arrived with cake and one of us would not take No for an answer since it would be strange for two out of three of us to be eating and the other not. So out of politeness, the other one joined in and we found that we all liked the cake after all. It’s such an ice breaker too isn’t it. To be blessed with colour, texture and flavour which should there have been any break in the conversation, or awkward silences or questions (which thankfully there were not) then a mouthful of cake will always give you a moment of thinking space.

So we all sat around the table, talked endlessly about all kinds of things, our own history, travel, families, work, recipes and making cake and got to know each other better. I know, three ladies enjoying lunchtime at a cafe is not unusual in itself, but a rare thing for at least two of us and one of us was on the other side of the world. Taking the presented opportunity, we indulged ourselves chatted over coffee, hot chocolate and a rather nice Dandelion Latte and this rather lovely cake in a place called Kunara at Forest Glen, Buderim in Queensland. An organic marketplace with lots to see and a lovely café within the garden centre. We stayed for a few hours and figured that it is well worth a visit if you are ever around there and if you are up to walking it off afterwards,  (the cake that is) then it is a lovely area surrounded in nature.

Mi Casa Su Casa – Casa Lola Via Laietana

It was a wonderful day, we had wandered about looking again in awe at the sights that surrounded us when we were heading back to the hotel. On our last night I was determined that although it was nice and I mean the food was really nice, I did not want us to be the Brits who always go to the same place to eat on holiday. That I would be such a cliche. So I pushed us to go back to the hotel to get freshened and dressed up. Mum had promised me a birthday meal whilst we were away and I did not want to go somewhere local once we came back, what would be the point of that. We were in this wonderful place and although we were tired, there were restaurants aplenty there. We were heading back with our feet aching when we stumbled upon Casa Lola. It wasn’t a cafe at all it served tapas and other lovely things and the decor put an immediate smile upon my face. I stopped to take photos from outside and a man strode towards us smiling. Come inside if you like, he said inviting us in. I said that we weren’t ready to eat, he said that’s Ok you don’t have to, you can come in just to take photos. So I did. It was five minutes walk from the hotel even in the heels I was definitely going to wear so I asked if I could see the menu and he told me that it is all freshly cooked at the bar where you can see it. I figured out that there was food I could eat and would also enjoy being an awkward diner due to allergies I have to check.

All good. I Thanked the man for allowing me to take photos and explained that we had to go back to the hotel but that we would return. He probably hears that all the time I thought, but I wanted to do this.

We walked back and got sorted out dressed up changed and walked back. He was pleased to see us “Thankyou for returning,” he said. I said that we would I replied. He showed us to a seat and we ordered wine. We still had half a bottle of a lovely Tempranillo Merlot sitting in the hotel room from the night before. It was so fruity and tasked like raisins but so smooth too, we had savoured a glass each before crashing out to sleep the night before. So we ordered a Tempranillo which was just as good, by the glass as it was already late we did not think we would have time to drink it all.

We began with a starter of Tapas I ordered steamed mussels which were absolutely right and tomato ciabatta bruschetta whilst Mum ordered cod. She made me try it, it was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth and was served with a grilled red pepper and asparagus and lightly dressed with sea salt.

For our main course, we tried the seafood paella. It was darker than I had anticipated and served in a cast iron skillet but the flavours were intermingled beautifully. Mum was distinctly unimpressed with the seafood on top.

We sat observing the other diners, there are convex mirrors on the walls which made her view so much easier. Three ladies at another table were having a lovely time and we commented on it was like watching me with my two best friends when we got together. Although that has been far too long since that happened.

We looked at deserts which are notoriously difficult for me as Mum fancied one. I considered ordering the cod starter which she had chosen. It tasted so good. She went off to investigate them and spoke with the man who arrived back just before she did with a wonderful fresh fruit salad that he had made for me. The strawberries within it were so fresh and juicy it was just right.

He also asked the waitress to bring me another glass of red wine which was “a gift, on the house”

By 10pm it was starting to get busy in there. A man joined the ladies for Tapas and drink and then proceeded to rearrange the front of the restaurant to set up a sound system at about 11pm and started to play some really good tunes. A real mix of music and including a bit of jazz and some mixed up old songs. I’m not great with loud music but this was not too loud. You could still hold a conversation and Mum was considering getting up to dance, saying that was one thing that was missing from our holiday. Dancing. I told her that she could but I wasn’t drunk enough to attempt to dance. A necessity before I would have. I have never been a dancer.

We ordered coffee and as it arrived I smelled the coffee. We had not had a cup all day, no wonder we felt so tired and were flagging! But I have to say that at that point it tasted and smelled like the best coffee in the world! It was smooth on the tongue and livened the senses. I bowed to the coffee gods, thanking them, it made mum laugh.

At the end of the meal I thanked the man. Explaining that this I had a wonderful birthday meal and such a lovely evening in this wonderful place. I also thanked him for the wine. He said it was a pleasure and Thank you for your custom it was lovely to meet you.

We walked back to the hotel. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed the remainder of the lovely red wine as I rang my partner to tell him all about it. It really was the best way to spend our last night on this wonderful place.

img_4724

 

The Daily Post – Invitation

All Hail The Breadmaker.

 

It took  a little while for me to start to use it. I thought it would be much more difficult to make bread. I had forgotten that years ago I used to make it and loved the whole process of leaving the ingredients in a warm place and letting the yeast go to work. I never experimented with recipes much back then. 

I have always had a weakness for bread, the scent of it wafting will not fail to entice and enliven the senses. Now, thanks to my dear friend I have inherited the breadmaker so makes it so much easier than before, since I used to do it all by hand way back.

I am finding delight in the ingredients in my store cupboard and have been craving focaccia for the past month or so. Having looked at the wonderful bread recipes in the past week or so that are available I decided to throw things together and see what happened. Since I am dairy free I was concerned that the bread recipes in the manual all contained Milk powder, but I need not worry it still worked.

Tonight I thought I would stick with the machine since I’m not using the oven to cook. My focaccia style loaf contained whole meal and plain flour, rosemary from my garden, some Italian herbs, black olives, extra olive oil and sea salt. I’m sure that if I had used bread flour it would have risen better but this shape means that it will fit nicely into the toaster if there’s any left. 

For my first attempt though from scratch I have to say the end result was delicious and the heavenly smell wafting around the home is just fantastic. Focaccia in the true sense will have to wait just that big longer. 

Having found a few more recipes along the way I will very soon be experimenting with cake. But my next one is likely to be banana bread.


The Daily Post – Scent

Le Grand Plan

Le Grand Plan

DSC_0258

There is a language barrier, but it is my saving grace.
So that when I want to visit France, I’m able to save face.
I try to speak the lingo and do what can be done.
But when faltering in conversation, I’m inclined to run.
The actions of our countrymen, can lead to embarrassment.
But that’s not what takes me there, its not why I’ve been sent.
See, I am after something else, which is different from the rest.
It’s a place to call our own, and searching is my quest.
I will enjoy the culture, the cuisine and the wine
And when I’ve actually found it, we’ll settle in just fine.
Not sure if farm or mill house, will suit our big grand plan.
Or whether a small cottage, will house our little clan.
But it will have some land and lots of greenery.
Somewhere with peace and quiet, with great scenery.
The climate will be lovely, where warm breezes blow.
It will be a place, where we’re happy when we go.
Perhaps there’ll be a place, where we’re looking out to sea.
Surrounded by trees and pasture, where animals run free.
Or in some darkened forest, or a wooded glade.
I simply do not know what decision will be made.
When we’ve finally found it, I’ll definitely need a hand
Strong people there to build on, or work our fields and land.
Friends might come and stay with us, plenty of room there.
If there’s lots of space, maybe a cabin or two to share?
Will there be an old house, filled with grace and charm.
Or ramshackle sheds and buildings, on a forty acre farm?
Wherever this can take me, I’m glad where it began.
I’ll call this little journey, the start of “Le Grand Plan”
It has some ten years, in which to grow and fruit.
Now there’s just the family, to entice and recruit.
When up mountains and through lakes we follow all the trails,
I’m sure they’ll be with me as we figure out details.

 

Images: Location Photographs byIndiaBlue. Food from morguefile.com