Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and 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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When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life 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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