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Spring celebration lunch

spring celebration lunch

This is a lunch to celebrate the first days of Spring - the days are brightening, leaves are unfurling, birds are singing their hearts out. We should celebrate it all, preferably sitting with eyes screwed up against the low sun, catching up with friends.

I chose these recipes for a Spring celebration because they let the flavours of Spring sing out, but also because every dish is simple to make in advance, and easy to transport to take advantage of the weather.

Hopefully the sun is shining and they can be eaten as a picnic, or a lunch in the garden - blankets on the garden chairs maybe. But if the weather is too chilly for that, they can just as easily be eaten at the kitchen table with the fire on full.

The centre of the meal is a frittata. April and May are the months of increasing light, when hens naturally get back to full egg production and everyone who keeps hens suddenly has too many eggs for their own use. They are also the months when free range hens eat those fresh spring leaves which make their eggs particularly delicious.

Eggs aside, you can vary the ingredients of the frittata according to what you have, it is a great leftover recipe and you can add in beans, broccoli, cheese etc. etc. whatever you have in the fridge.

In the recipe here I used stored potatoes which were just beginning to sprout and soften - perfect for boiling and then cubing - the last of the leeks and vibrant kale leaves, which are beginning to regrow after winter.

With the frittata I’ve suggested serving a carrot and cabbage coleslaw with orange dressing and sunflower seeds - I always have a tub of this in the fridge at this time of year and left overs are brilliant stuffed into sandwiches or even eaten as a mid afternoon snack that feels healthy.

Add in some bread and a fresh green salad and you have a simple feast.

spring celebration menu

Kale, leek and potato Fritatta

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 rashers of bacon (optional - can be substituted with 50 g feta or completely omitted)
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 20 g butter or oil
  • 2 - 3 handfuls of kale, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch salt

You will need a 20 cm frying pan or skillet which will go in an oven.

Feeds 4 with salad and bread as part of a lunch

ingredients for kale frittata

Method

First prepare all the ingredients.

  • Cook potatoes until just tender, leave to cool and chop into 1 cm dice.
  • Fry rashers of bacon in frying pan, cool and cut into small pieces.
  • Gently cook sliced leek in butter until it is meltingly soft. leave to cool.
  • Add kale and 1 tbsp water to a pan and cook until all the water has evaporated. Leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 6)

  • Crack the eggs and put them in a large bowl, stir in all the other ingredients apart from the oil.
  • Heat 3 tbsps oil in the frying pan and add the egg mixture - make sure it covers the base evenly but do not stir.
  • After 3-4 minutes the base should be cooked, transfer to the oven for 15 minutes until cooked right through.
  • Leave the frittata for half an hour to firm up, and then turn it out onto a plate.

kale frittata with spring coleslaw

Spring coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots peeled and grated
  • half a small cabbage sliced and chopped into small bits
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Mix the carrot and cabbage in a bowl.
  • Mix salt and orange juice and leave to dissolve for a few minutes
  • Whisk the oil into the orange juice until you get a balanced dressing.
  • Stir dressing into the vegetables and then stir in the sunflower seeds just before serving.

 

Now that my daughters have flown the nest I tend not to bake much - so having friends round is a great opportunity to get the cake tin out. This rhubarb and almond cake is a spring adaptation of a wonderful apple cake in Anja Dunk’s book Strudels, Noodles and Dumplings - I have swapped some of the flour for ground almonds and changed the topping to rhubarb.

 

Speedy Rhubarb and Almond Cake

rhubarb and almond cake

 

Ingredients

  • 160 g butter plus 10 g for greasing tin
  • 160 g sugar
  • 160 g plain flour
  • 30 g ground almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks of rhubarb

You will need a tin with removable base - 20 - 22 cm

Method

  • Preheat oven to 160
  • Butter the inside of the tin to stop the cake from sticking
  • Melt the butter, stir in the sugar and mix until the sugar is well combined.
  • In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and almonds.
  • Stir the flour mix into the butter a spoonful at a time, mixing well.
  • Beat eggs and then add a little at a time to batter, mix well.
  • Pour into tin
  • Slice rhubarb into small pieces and scatter over the top of the cake.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked in the middle.
  • Cool and then take out of the tin.

I like this served with greek style yoghurt - the slight sharpness goes well with the rhubarb.

The cake is at its best eaten on the same day but will keep a couple of days if wrapped well in foil.

If you would like printable PDF versions of the recipes, get free access to the Recipe library here

kale and leek frittata

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Stillness is such a difficult skill to acquire.  I suspect that so much of the rushing about that we do is simply an attempt to avoid being still.
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For if we stopped, paid attention to ourselves, to the world around us, let everything sink in - well that might be very scary.
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But I do think it is the most important skill - a five minute pause, a checking in.  I'm not talking about meditation here - nothing as formal as that - just a stilling and listening and paying attention. Appreciation, recognition, renewal.
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It is something that I am very bad at by nature - but I have been taking lessons from Dixie. 

For if a spaniel can relax into stillness, nosing into a shaft of sunshine, then I'm sure I can.
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Teasel isn't quite there yet.

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One thing that gardening teaches you year on year is that so much is beyond your control. Some things will thrive, others won’t, and mostly it will be nothing to do with anything you’ve done. 
Some years will be great for one crop, terrible for another. This is a great year for garlic here, awful for beans. 

It’s the same with business - a lot of things happen that are due to the ‘weather’ of the world. We can pivot and turn, change our tactics, Google ‘how to make reels’ and so on - but we can also choose to embrace and lean into what is working well. 

My Friday letter today is about social media and all the ways I’ve used to connect with people over the past 21 years - if you fancy a read you can sign up in my profile. 

And in the meantime I’d love to know what’s growing well for you. Or indeed, what has been a disaster! 

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Each year I have a personal project running.  Something just for me. Something that allows me to experiment and play. 
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The first year that I became obsessed with using the plants here to dye textiles - back in 2019 - it was twelve skeins of a raw slubby silk yarn that I  had been hoarding for decades. They became a patchwork cable blanket that now sits on the back of the sofa.
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In 2020 it was double knitting yarns, in dozens of colours, knitted into a stripy jumper to keep me cosy in the Studio.
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Last year I dyed linens and am gradually making them into patchworks and appliqués - many I am squirrelling away for a project that I may or may not ever begin.
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This year I am using mini skeins - in an attempt to keep it more manageable - and exploring the differences in colour caused by the pH of the original extraction. 
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There are four skeins for each plant, two for neutral extraction, two for alkali - with one of each pair being dipped in iron to 'sadden' the colour.
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If science had been like this at school I might have paid more attention . . . .

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This is a tomato salad that was inspired by one I ate a few years ago in a cafe in Mingun, Myanmar,
There it was mainly made with green tomatoes, sharp against the shrimp powder.
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In Myanmar the military junta have begun to execute activists arrested after the coup in February 2021. The brutality and violence continue, the quashing of democracy, the corruption. 

11,759 people, arrested after the coup, remain in detention, 78 people, including two children, have been sentenced to death.
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You won't usually find much out about Myanmar in the 'fed to you' media, but this week there has been reporting and a Dispatches programme about mass killings  was on Channel 4 on Monday.  The Guardian has consistently been the newspaper reporting most on the aftermath of the coup and you can also follow hashtags like #whatishappeninginmyamar here. 
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There may seem little we can actively do about the horrors in the world, but people involved always say that what matters is knowing that people care, bear witness and don’t simply forget when the news cycle moves on.
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It often gets up at night after a warm day, seeming to breathe its way round corners. 
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If you walk through the garden in the evening at the moment, the scent of Lilium regale drifts about you in eddies of spice.

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The more I travel down this road the more I realise that deciding how you live, which values you honour, what you will prioritise all have to be deliberately chosen. 
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You can’t just drift into a slower, more intentional life. 
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It is why I go to events like last weekend’s summer camp @thegoodlifesoc . 
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It is also why I surround myself with a supportive community where my choices don’t seem weird.

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This is the actual physical Studio.
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It is a little cabin between meadow and wood - a space for creativity and connection a space that I deliberately and intentionally worked towards for a number of years.  There is a sunny deck looking onto trees for the summer, a wood burning stove for the winter.
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The Studio is also another thing - it is a club of amazing people who are intentionally prioritising their creativity and connection to the natural world. 
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It is a community of great humour, support and inspiration - the best thing that I have ever had a hand in.
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The Studio Club is closed to new members at the moment and the doors will open to new members again on the Autumn Equinox. 

I'm currently working with @fbarrows, who is providing a gentle and encouraging outside eye, as I decide on what we will be doing in the club over the next six months.
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I've been surveying all the members to find out exactly what it is they enjoy most, what they feel I could do better. 

In this week’s Friday letter I've included a link to a short survey, because I  think it would also be useful to know what people who follow me, but are not members, feel about these things. 
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If you get it, it would help me so much if you could take a minute to fill it out - there are only five questions and there is also a bribe . . . .

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The more we actively take time to pause, to sit still and watch, the more we see. 
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My Friday Letter this week is all about taking advantage of some unwanted early wakening and starting to use the binoculars which have been hanging on the coat rail for eighteen months.
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Twenty minutes with a cup of tea, the binoculars and a lawn full of early birds and their worms.

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About Snapdragon Life

In the Studio Club I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

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