Future Orchard Cork

In my last post I told you I’d been to Cork to sing and meet up with old friends and bumped into a ceramicist called Martha Cashman.

Martha in turn took me to see Elaine Garde who has set up a community orchard.

She lives on the other side of the valley from where I was staying with my friend Pauline.



And it was Elaine who supplied us with a lovely veg box that included apple juice, homemade wild garlic pesto, pickled beetroot and rhubarb compote

When we rolled up Elaine had been picking blackberries with her gorgeous hound, Finnegan.

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Elaine, Martha and Finnegan with a great haul of blackberries

Fragrant delight – elderflower cordial

Last year on my cycle commute to work I vowed I would pick some of the elderflowers that I saw in bloom in Whitlingham country park to make cordial.

But I never got round to it.

Fast forward to this week – I realised we had elderflowers in our garden only they were pink!

Somehow I hadn’t registered that I could use them as well.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ or black elderberry

The next thing was getting my hands on some citric acid.

The local chemist took great relish in telling me they would only be able to sell it 50g at a time.

Apparently this is to stop heroin abuse as it is used to dissolve the drug!

I did point out it’s easily accessible in large quantities via the internet.

Anyway I finally found some at the local pharmacy in a nearby large supermarket – with no limits on how much I could buy!

The elderflowers are macerated in a sugar syrup with lemons, oranges and citric acid for 24 hours

From the various books and web pages I read it seems you should only pick newly opened elderflowers from an unpolluted source  – not from a busy roadside for example.

You should shake the flowers to rid them of any insects that may be lingering.

But if there are any you’ve missed – the muslin that you pass it through before bottling will catch them and sieve them out.

The colour of the cordial made with pink elderflowers is extraordinary

I followed this recipe from the BBC food website as it seemed as good as any other.

Even though I’ve sterilised the bottles – I’m still going to keep them in the fridge.

The cordial has got the thumbs up from others – my Mum, Jan, says it’s a very pleasant, unusual and refreshing.

Many people say it has a muscat flavour.

We used the last of the gooseberries stored in the freezer to make room for this year’s crop which is almost ready to be picked – just a couple more weeks I think

After passing the cordial through a muslin lined sieve we tied up the material and used the remnant fruit and flower heads to make Gooseberry and Elderflower jam with the last 2kgs of frozen fruit from last summer.

You can make elderflower wine or champagne – I might try that next year.


After the Snow

Please indulge me!

I’m only a couple of days into this blogging lark and I’m already straying from my garden and kitchen.

But I think my “foody” experience today will inspire some new recipes  – that’s my excuse anyhow.

This is how it all fell into place.

Today I went to the Phoenix Gym in Norwich to lift weights with vegan personal trainer and nutritionist, Paul Kerton, aka Hench Herbivore.

It was a real pleasure after being hamstrung and housebound for almost a week by the snow.

Our session finished at lunchtime and I was starving. So I wandered up to Norwich Market.

There’s been a market here since the 11th century and most stalls are open six days a week

As well as vintage clothes, grocers, bakers and basket makers there’ve always been food outlets here.

The Mushy Pea stall used to be my favourite, served with white pepper and mint sauce, when I was a student 35 years ago.

There’s other traditional British fare – like fish and chips and fried breakfasts.

But recently it’s become a little more cosmopolitan!

Since the city council reluctantly agreed to allow more hot food on Norwich market there’s been an explosion of world food including Cocina Mia

Cocina Mia is bright and clean.

It’s the first time I’ve eaten there and I have to say I was seriously impressed by Ana Bridgman’s cooking and welcoming smile.

I had three butternut squash flatbreads with a selection of salad – beetroot, quinoa, tomato with coriander and a potato salad specially made with a lemon dressing for me as the stock offering was slathered in non vegan mayo.

All for a fiver!

Chef proprietor Ana Bridgman who’s been battling the big freeze of the past week including a burst water pipe and a sudden drop in trade because of the bad weather

I definitely want to recreate the flatbreads and see if I can bake them in a hot oven rather than have them fried (although I’m not complaining – they were crunchy and slightly sweet – perfectly paired with the chilli salsa that they came with).

Sopaipillas, salsa and a selection of salads

There are many vegan options at stalls on Norwich Market – just ask.

There’s also Bia Vegan Diner and Kind Food that are dedicated to plant based cuisine.