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Jane’s Journal

Fig Leaf Ice cream

Recipe for fig leaf ice cream

Figs are my favourite fruit - that heady aroma my favourite summer smell.

I even have a fig tree outside my bedroom. It produces masses of leaves but very few figs.

When I saw mention of a fig leaf ice cream being served at my favourite restaurant I had to investigate and see if I could try it myself.

The result was so much better than I even imagined - it is just the perfect flavour for ice cream - that warmth and fullness comes through in a sweet, creamy, honeyed taste.

Nettle pasta

I read recently an article about how it isn't just the quantity of fruits and vegetables that we eat that matters for our health, but their diversity. The more variety the better - even variety in tiny, tiny amounts counts - bringing vital often quite specific nutrients.

It is research that connects the forager to the mainstream - moves the collecting of wild greens or berries from the "Country Living" lifestyle to something that is much more core and vital. Something that we should all be incorporating where possible perhaps - not in a "wafting through the meadow with our trug" kind of way, or in a survivalist way, but as something much more everyday.

Not as an alternative to the weekly shop, but as an addition.

It inspired me to incorporate nettles into my pasta recipe - I tend to cut nettles to the ground in April so early July always means a new crop of fresh leaves. If you don't have any nettles then spinach, kale, water cress or any cookable greens work too.

Making calendula tea

This simple floral tea is great as a drink, it is particularly good for treating the first stages of UTIs.

You can also make it stronger and then decant it into a spray bottle and use it to calm sunburn, nettle stings and insect bites.

You need:

4 or 5 dried calendula flowers

Just boiled water

Teapot or jug and strainer


Pour just boiled water over the flower heads in a mug or jug and leave to steep - 10 minutes for a drink, 20-30 for the spray.

Strain the liquid and drink or decant into your spray bottle. You can also apply with a cotton swab. Keep in fridge and discard after 48 hours.

Make Sumayya Usmani's Attock Chana Rijai

This recipe for Attock Chana Rijai is by Sumayya Usmani of Kaleyard Cook School and Kitchen. You can read more about her enterprise in this feature.


  • 250g brown basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 2 large red onions, cut into half moons
  • 1 tsp each of crushed garlic and grated ginger
  • 400g chickpeas or 300g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 25 ml water


Wash the rice, rinse and soak in a bowl of water for 1 hour, then drain.

Heat the ghee in a saucepan with a lid over a medium heat until melted. Add the cumin, star anise, peppercorns and black cardamom and fry for about 30 seconds until the ghee is fragrant, or until the cumin begins to pop.

Add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry, stirring over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes until the onions are soft and light brown. Add the drained chickpeas, salt and green chilli and fry for a further 30 seconds.

Add the drained rice, stir and mix for about 1 minute, then pour in 250ml water, or enough water to cover the rice. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with the lid and cook for about 4–5 minutes in order to par-cook the rice.

Once par-cooked the water should be almost absorbed. If it’s totally absorbed add 2 tbsp water, stir gently. Cover the pan with foil firmly around the edges, cover tightly with the lid, reduce the heat to as low, and let it cook in its own steam for about 10–12 minutes until the rice is cooked through and all the water has been absorbed.

Serve with Greek yogurt or raita.

Making healthy herbal vinegars

We are used to the idea of herbal and floral vinegars in cooking but their use as preventative medicine has largely been forgotten. In fact they are one of the earliest medicines – the vinegar itself is full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it also extracts these from any herbs and flowers you use. All through my 20s I suffered recurrent bouts of tonsillitis. Since beginning to take a shot of apple cider vinegar every time I felt my throat begin to tingle I haven’t had a single episode.

Here there are recipes for two kinds of herbal vinegar…

The first is a floral one which can be taken every day, the elderflower helps build immunity to colds and the rose is anti-inflammatory and also makes the vinegar a beautiful colour.

The second is a cold fighting one, full of warming and bug fighting things – possibly not as nice to taste, but much better than a cold!

You need:

  • Wide necked sterilised jar with a non-metallic lid. I find it is better to make small amounts of things before you work out whether you are going to use them up, rather than going into full production and ending up with things that don’t get used.
  • These instructions are for large jam jars/small Kilner jars. You can scale up or down the ingredients, as there is no need to be precise.
  • Weight of some kind (small saucer, washed stone) to keep everything under the liquid.
  • Apple cider vinegar – preferably unpasteurised.
  • Fresh or dried ingredients.
  • Sterilised bottle to decant into; label.

Elderflower and rose vinegar


  • 10 elderflower heads – all stem removed
  • Petals from 3 full red unsprayed roses
  • 500 ml apple cider vinegar (or as much fits in your jar)


Put the flowers in layers into your jar.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover.

Put a weight on top to keep the flowers under the liquid.

Put the lid on top – if your jar has a metal lid, use waxed paper/beeswax wrap and an elastic band instead.

Put in kitchen cupboard for 4-6 weeks (put note on calendar) check every no wand again that the flowers are under the vinegar.

Strain out the flowers with muslin.

Decant into bottle and label.

I keep mine in the fridge and use it for cooking as well as for medicine – if you don’t have a sweet tooth, it works well with fizzy water and some ice as a refreshing drink.

Cold busting hot vinegar


  • 2 red chillis split vertically
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 inches ginger grated
  • Rind from unwaxed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • I sliced onion (optional, as I find that adding in the
  • onions reduces the number of people who will drink this, as it then smells of onion)
  • 500 ml apple cider vinegar (or as much as will fit in your jar)


Layer up all the ingredients in your jar.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover.

Put a weight on top to make sure everything stays under the liquid.

Put lid on top – if your jar has a metal lid use waxed paper/beeswax wrap and an elastic band instead.

Put in kitchen cupboard or fridge for 4-6 weeks.

Strain through muslin and decant into bottle.

This can be mixed with honey as a cough medicine or drunk neat. A shot glass amount should be taken three times a day at first signs of a cold/sore throat.