Herb Talks

Would your garden club, WI or U3A group like to book one of my herb talks? I have now developed a number of special interest talks on herbs and am currently booking talks around Cheshire into Lancashire, Staffordshire and W Yorkshire. Here’s some details of the one- hour talks I have available:

Enjoying Spring Herbs from the Garden

A celebration of Spring and the many herbs we can grow and enjoy from our own garden. Cultivation tips and the history of each herb will be covered. Then I will look at the many uses of these fantastic plants from culinary, cosmetic to household. I have been growing herbs for more than 25 years so have plenty of stories to tell!

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Enjoying Autumn Herbs from the Garden

This follows the same format as well the spring herbs talk but is all about the gorgeous herbs which give us pleasure into the autumn.

 

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Edible Flowers

The new trend in eating! Learn how to cultivate and prepare a host of beautiful flowers which will transform the most ordinary dish into something special. Adds a real WOW factor to celebration food and dishes for every day.

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Fantastic Food and Drink from Garden Herbs

Learn how to cultivate a continuous supply of fresh herbs for the kitchen to use in some great dishes and drinks. Many of the recipes I will talk about are mediterranean, middle -eastern or Asian in origin. Starters, main courses and desserts will all feature plus some totally delicious cordials and cocktails.

John Gerard – The Tudor Herbalist from Cheshire

This historical talk is based on the life and work of perhaps the most revered and most-quoted English herbalist. He was born in Willaston nr Crewe and his career escalated rapidly culminating in his appointment as herbalist to the Royal Court. His famous herbal, The Historie of Plantes published in 1636, is a joy to read. My talk covers both his life and an exploration of some excerpts from the herbal on garden herbs we still grow today. Much of his writing is light-hearted and amusing.

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Christmas Herbs

Discover the traditions, tales and origins behind the beautiful herbs we associate with Christmas and the winter season. Winter is about richly scented herbs, eucalyptus, cloves, cardamom and orange to name but a few. From frankincense and myrrh to the holly and the ivy I will talk about traditions and beliefs surrounding these wonderful herbs and explore their many uses today.

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Winter savory

Looking for new and unusual herbs to add to your herb garden? try winter savory. This tasty semi-evergreen perennial herb, latin name Satureja montana, has been used in food flavouring for over 2000 years. The Romans used it to flavour vinegars and sauces and they introduced it to countries across Europe. It was also used as a strewing herb to introduce pleasant perfume into houses before good drainage and sewage systems were invented! Culpeper’s herbal noted that it was a good remedy for colic.

img_5188Today winter savory is used as a flavouring in the production of salami. In the US it is known as “the bean herb”. It’s flavour is really complimentary in bean dishes and it also avoids some of the “unsavoury” windy after effects of eating beans.

Another good tip for using this herb is that the leaves, dried and ground, can be used to season food and replace both salt and pepper in the diet. A real advantage for anyone on a low-salt diet.img_5191

Once planted and settled in your herb garden, winter savory will be with you for many years. It may be propagated from cuttings to increase your stock. The photos show how beautiful the tiny flowers are when magnified.

Enjoy!

Summer afternoon tea – rose geranium cake

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This recipe is perfect for a summer afternoon tea. I baked it recently for a herb-themed lunch party.

Thanks to Lesley Bremness and her wonderful book ‘The Complete Book of Herbs’ for providing the inspiration. For this dish you will need a plant of the gorgeous scented geranium Attar of Roses, the leaves contain a beautifully scented rose geranium oil which gives a subtle rose flavour to cakes during baking.

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Prepare a standard Victoria sponge cake mix. Line the base of each of the sandwich tins with 8-10 Leaves of Attar of Roses scented geranium. Bake the sponge cakes then turn onto a cooling rack. Carefully remove the leaves and discard. When cool spread one of the cakes with whipped double cream flavoured with rose water. Spread the other cake with rose-petal jelly (I found a wonderful artisan version in a local supermarket) and sandwich the sponge cakes together. Place a few scented geranium leaves on top of the cake. Dust with icing sugar then carefully remove the leaves so that an impression of their outline remains. Decorate with rose petals and scented geranium leaves. Serve at room temperature and enjoy watching your guests clear the plate!

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