Thursday, 3 July 2014

It's Not All About Growing Potatoes!

For me, allotmenting is not just about growing food. The allotment is a special magical place that until experienced cannot be truly appreciated.

Aside from the benefits of being able to eat fresh homegrown produce, including -

peas and red onions;

more onions, (white);

the obligatory potatoes;

apples, (Bramleys and Cox's Pippins);

plump gooseberries;

rhubarb and raspberries, (blackberries and blackcurrants hidden from view);

lettuces and beetroot;

grapes in the greenhouse,

and not forgetting of course - tomatoes in the buckets,

there is also the sense of being close to nature - 

my friendly baby robin keeping me company as I weeded the strawberry bed,

or watching the sun set over the allotments.

However I also believe that an allotment needs flowers, 

and flowers do not merely have to be ornamental. 

Yes they attract the bees, 

and I frequently use them in my soap making

(Lavender and Thyme)

 - as infusions and drying or pressing them to decorate my handmade soaps

but flowers like these peppery tasting Nasturtiums are also delicious and look stunning in salads.

 I recently decided that I would try a little more creativity with using the allotment flowers in cooking.

So on a glorious day when the allotment was bathed in sunshine beneath a cornflower blue sky, I gathered together Rose petals,

Heartsease Violas and

Borage flowers.

Watched from the nearby tree by a curious squirrel who I can confidently guarantee had never seen anything like this before;

using a paint brush, a beaten egg-white and some caster sugar

I coated the flowers with the egg-white and then sprinkled them with a light dusting of the sugar,

before placing them carefully on a tray lined with baking paper.

The flowers looked so colourful spread out on the tray, I looked around for other flowers to crystallise.

Feverfew, Lavender and Columbines were also painted with egg-white and coated with sugar, although I wasn't too sure whether the Columbines were edible and also how the feverfew would taste, but they looked pretty nonetheless.

(Not wanting to poison anyone, I omitted the foxgloves, leaving them to be enjoyed by the bees).

The crystallised flowers were left overnight to harden.

The following day, I baked some petite fairy cakes - iced and then decorated them with my crystallised flowers.

As a first attempt, it was a success, 
(the Columbines suffered a slight accident and so were discarded and the Feverfew tasted so bitter, I didn't use them).

The cakes with their flower decorations tasted delicious and not too sinful given their miniature size. Unfortunately they were polished off in no time, leaving only this little one left before I had the presence of mind to take a picture!


No comments: