Elsewhere in the garden I am beginning to see Daffodil shoots emerging from hibernation. It will be a treat to see their sunny yellow flowers after these long, long winter days. I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but here it has been either heavy frost or snow with alternate days of deluging rain. The ground is either rock hard or a quagmire. It's that time of the year when I struggle with the English weather! I long for summer and the welcome return of warm evenings when we can sit outside and enjoy a barbeque with friends... a time of year when I love the English weather. In Australia, sunset arrives early and the sun drops down like a stone into the sea - it's over so quickly and there are none of these gloriously long evenings to savour.
And I'm starting to keep my eye out for fresh nettle shoots as I have been given a lovely Nettle Soup recipe by my friend Sarah. I'm keen to try it - the gardener's revenge on the stinging nettle!
Here's the recipe in case your nettles start to grow before mine do...
Nettle Soup - serves 6.
- 1/2 carrier bag nettle tops/young leaves
- 55g butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 1 litre chicken/vegetable stock
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons cream or creme fraiche
- salt and pepper
- Pick over nettles, wash thoroughly. Discard any tough stalks
- Melt butter, sweat onions, carrot, celery and garlic until soft but not brown
- Add stock and pile in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes until tender.
- Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Puree the soup in a liquidiser with the cooked rice.
- Return to a clean pan, stir in cream/creme fraiche and reheat but do not boil.
My marmalade venture was good fun - here's the finished result from batch 1 - batch 2 starts this weekend.
It's a lovely, clear marmalade with lots of delicious peel suspended in it. This recipe is one where the quantities can be changed to suit you - it is just 1 part oranges, 2 parts sugar and 3 parts water. Just make sure that you stick to either Imperial or Metric measurements, keep the proportions and all will be well.