Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Sweet cicely, rhubarb and ginger compote

sweet cicely in vase Sweet cicely is a thug here. It looks beautiful, the ferny leaves, the white flowers that shimmer in the dappled shade, the sweet, fresh scent that gives it its name.

I planted some seeds at the back of the poly tunnel, a few more under the beech hedge by the front. Now it is so rampant that it has to be hacked back from the border where it is smothering tulips and peonies, it outgrows the grass in the paths by the cutting patch.

The seeds - a few always seem to escape my chopping - launch themselves like torpedoes, wedging their tips into crevices at the heart of plants and only appearing once the damage is done.

sweet cicely in garden

And yet . . . and yet . . . as with so many badly behaved plants, it has to be forgiven. It is so perfect for spring - so light and fresh and optimistic

This year I plan to keep it under control by eating as much of it as possible. I began with rhubarb and ginger compote - sweet cicely is meant to reduce the amount of sugar needed as it has a natural sweetness.

sweet cicely in garden

Rhubarb, ginger and sweet cicely compote.

Ingredients -

  • good bunch of rhubarb, 5 or 7 medium stems
  • 5 cm piece of ginger
  • good handful of sweet cicely leaves and stems
  • 25g sugar/honey

Slice up the rhubarb into 2 cm slices (approximately)

Peel and grate the ginger

Finely chop the sweet cicely

Put into pan with sugar and thoroughly mix together.

Leave for ten minutes before putting on a low heat, keep stirring. Ideally you want the rhubarb to give off enough liquid and stew in its own juice - a careful low cooking should do that. If you are worried that it is all going to burn you can add a small amount of water or orange juice to start it off (maximum 1 tablespoon).

After about 10-15 minutes the rhubarb should be beginning to go soft - take off heat and leave to cool.

I love this with yoghurt for breakfast. You can also mix it with equal amounts of whipped cream to make rhubarb fool.

sweet cicely in garden

A note on cutting sweet cicely flowers - they droop dramatically when you put them in water and look as though they are a lost cause - leave them somewhere cool overnight and they will probably recover and then last about a week.

Tags: recipe

Comments: 1 (Add)

Moira Anderson on May 7 2020 at 17:34

What is a good bunch of rhubarb? Can you approximate the number of cups? Thanks!

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

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At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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