Tag Archive | garden

Ballymaloe Cookery School part 1…

Once upon a time there lived a girl who loved tea and cake. She marvelled at elegant cake plates and fancy cake forks. She was in awe of  seasonal produce and local goodies. This girl had a dream….

As I write this post, I’m mid way through a course that will undoubtedly change my life. Not only because of its content but also because of the very surroundings I find myself in. I’m currently studying at the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.

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The School sits on a 100 acre organic farm near the sea, amidst the undulating landscape of beautiful East Cork. As well as an on site farm and gardens, there is an acre wide glasshouses which yield an abundance of fruit, vegetables herbs and flowers throughout the year. Their free-range livestock include pigs, beef and dairy cows (Angus, Kerry, Dexter and Jerseys), as well as hens who keep the school in a supply of fresh, organic eggs!

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It’s utterly breath taking. Every minute of day I’m reminded of all this produce; whether it be by the fresh cut flowers next to my bed at my cottage on site, or by gazing out the class room window at the raised beds, or by the outstanding food lovingly produced.

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Never if my life have I so clearly seen the coloration between what is growing and what I’m eatting and using. I’ve picked up tips on what else I can be growing at home in our little vegetable patch. I’ll be adding some edible flowers and lots more herbs when I get home.

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I’d also like to add a shell house to the garden when I get home, but I fear Dr Doolittle might make me wait for that! There is a magnificent shell house here in the gardens. I have never seen or experienced anything like it. The beauty and the texture are quite something, it’s utterly breathtaking. To think someone painstakingly placed every individual shell is mind blowing!

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Finally, I can’t write about this magical place without talking about the food… For breakfast there is an amazing array of homemade granola, mueslis, breads and a new discovery, labneh! This middle eastern type of yogurt is sweetened slightly for breakfast and is just gorgeous with a sticky mixture of apricots, almonds and pistachios.

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Lunchtimes are also a site to behold with a beautiful selection of dishes every day. I mean the actual dishes, the style of the different vessels is gorgeous. I might just have to take a little trip to the school’s shop while I’m here… Lunch itself is yummy; salads, soups, pies, breads and even a curry have been served up.

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I’m so happy, I feel blessed to have been so warmly welcomed to this incredible place. I feel like part of the family, I feel like I belong- and that’s handy, because I’ll definitely be back!

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Melissa xx

P.S. I’ll tell you all about the course in my next post!

Goodbye summer garden

The rain has temporarily stopped, however now that we’ve hit September, summer is officially over. The last few months have been good to The Glen House garden; the grass and flowers have grown (so have the weeds)….

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It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly a year since we moved into this beautiful house. The header for my blog was taken a fee weeks after we arrived; the house and garden look peaceful but somewhat grey. The garden looked plain and uninspiring….

Now, it is full of colour and excitement! At the start of the summer came the additions of a gorgeous little green shed and kennel that now blend in at the side of the house.

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The newest member of our family keeps Dr Doolittle entertained all day, everyday! I’ve had to get used to him wagging his tail and accidentally whacking the flowers because he’s so excited.

However, he left plenty of flowers to enjoy…..
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This vibrant honeysuckle was my favourite flower that bloomed during the summer.

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The clematis seemed to appear in formation….

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There were plenty of lilies dotted around the garden.

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This magnificent hydrangea is still out there, however it’s no longer this fabulous bright cerise pink colour.

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The pretty clematis framing the front door…

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This is my 99th post… Roll on the 100th…!

Melissa xx

Elderflower fizzzzzzz

The countryside was abloom with magnificent creamy flat-topped sprays last month. The sweetly scented flower of the Sambucus Nigra or Elderflower had arrived.

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Their heady sweet scent permeated country lanes, roadsides, graveyards, parks and gardens and these sprays (umbels), containing hundreds of tiny  flowers, have more uses than any other single species of blossom.

The delicate flavoured flowers with the aroma of Muscat grapes turn up in wines, cordials, sorbets, jams, deserts and sauces.

Elderflowers bloom for about three/four weeks and are not only valued for their culinary use, but also prized for their medicinal qualities. Elderflower extract is used in a wide variety of vitamins and tonics, in skin ointments and eye lotions. Elderflowers are also rich in Vitamin A, B and are used for the treatment of colds, flus and hayfever.

Dr Doolittle used a River Cottage recipe to make a delicious Elderflower cordial. He found that this recipe had a lot less sugar than all the other recipes.

Ingredients:
About 25 elderflower heads
Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
1kg sugar
1 head tsp citric acid (optional)

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Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.

Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using).

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes

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Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.

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The first night we tried it with sparkling water, which was nice…. The second night we tried it with sparkling wine and it was gorgeous!

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The Glen House garden is truely amazing, it never fails to inspire me. To share the love, I’m bringing a bottle of cordial to Angie’s for the Fiesta Friday party at the novice gardener.

Happy Friday!

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Melissa xx
Follow me on Twitter @the_glen_house
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Inspirational blue hue

Do you like my new garden? Ok, I wish! However this magnificent garden has excited and inspired me.

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The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech was designed and built by French painter Jacques Majorelle. It took forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting place in the heart of the “Ochre City”.

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It remained a private garden until designer Yves Saint Laurent gifted the Jardin Majorelle to Marrakesh, the city that had adopted him in 1964. Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé bought the electric-blue villa and its garden to preserve the vision of its original owner, landscape painter Jacques Majorelle, and keep it open to the public. Thanks to Marrakshi ethnobotanist Abderrazak Benchaâbane, the garden Majorelle began cultivating in 1924 is now a psychedelic desert mirage of 300 plant species from five continents.

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The planting was incredible; cacti, yuccas, water lilies, coconut trees, banana tree palms, and bamboo have been brought in from all over the world to sit alongside vivid flowers.

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The special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle—Majorelle Blue. The blue painted walls and pool edges give the garden a cohesive cooling feel. 

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Clay pots painted in bright lemon, orange, and blue line the raised polished terracotta colored cement paths that wind through immaculately maintained beds of carefully spaced plants. 

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It is these vivid colours that give the garden it’s signature character. Their brilliant hues set off the various shades of green and blue in the plants.  The ground is mulched with a pink crushed stone that is native to the area and is the predominant colour of buildings in Marrakesh.

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I’m not sure what The Glen House would look like painted in such vivid shades…

Watch this space…

Melissa xx

Clever garden!

Back in March we put down a couple wooden raised beds at The Glen House. We filled them with compost and top soil and then the real fun began!

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We planted lettuce, salad onions and cabbages. We covered them with netting to stop the birds getting at them. Month after month we fed and watered them and watched them grow.

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A member of the cabbage family, Curly kale is very common. Instead of forming a head, the leaves grow in a loose rosette at the top of a stem. The leaves are green, sometimes tinged with blue or purple, and their flavour is strong and distinct.

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The lettuce grew beautifully next to the salad onions. They have a relatively mild onion flavour, and can be used as a vegetable, either raw or cooked. Seemingly, the best to harvest the lettuce is in the morning before leaves have been exposed to sun!!

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Finally, nearly three months later the veg was ready to harvest.

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It was a slow process to go through all the veg, but well worth it! I washed and prepared everything that was picked and froze a large portion of it so that I can have fantastic greens all year round.

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It’s vegetarian week at Angie’s place, so I’m bringing the rest of my delicious crop over to the party at Fiesta Friday.

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Melissa xx

Simple Wild Garlic Supper

I’m back! It’s been a while since I stopped by Fiesta Friday, I just can’t keep up with partying! This week I’m bringing a quick and easy dish based on the wild garlic I found all around The Glen House.

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I took about 5 tablespoons of my wild garlic pesto and added it to some fresh pasta along with some chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper.

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You can eat it like this for a quick, tasty lunch or side dish.

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Or you can add a little peppered chicken breast, for a  scrumptious meal.

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It took me as long to cook it as it did to write this post…. I’ll show you why next week (spent all day gardening)!

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Might see you at Angie’s place for this weeks Fiesta Friday with the rest of my chicken and wild garlic pesto.

Melissa xx

Pretty Edible Flowers- Wild Garlic

Joan over at retirement and beyond posted at the weekend about beautiful flowers in the Irish countryside. Stunning bluebells (I was reading her post wishing we had more here at The Glen House) and wild garlic (oh how pretty I thought)…. HANG ON A MINUTE, they look like the white flowers growing all around The Glen House. I dashed home to pick a bit, wash it and try….. OH WOW!!

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So unbeknownst to me, this incredible herb and salad leaf has been growing all around. The delicate white flowers on long, grass-like stems are like a white bluebell, however the white flower has a slight garlicy smell.

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Seemingly, there are dozens of similar plants called ‘wild garlic’ that are grown across the world. The Irish one grows in damp woodland as a floor covering, which creates a fantastic spectacle of white blooms appearing in April and May.

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When picking your wild garlic, be sure to only pick healthy, undamaged specimens and give them a good wash before using. I used scissors to snip the garlic off at the base.

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The whole of the plant is edible; the flowers have a mild, garlicky flavour and are perfect for salads and garnishes. The long, grass-like leaves can be snipped into salads and savoury dishes as you would use chives. Or as I did, blitzed up as a pesto or sauces. The bulbs can be sautéed up like shallots, or leave them in the ground for next year’s crop!

Here’s my wild garlic pesto recipe, I adapted it from Donal Skehan.

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50g of Parmesan cheese, grated
140ml of extra virgin olive oil
40g of pine nuts
80g of wild garlic leaves, stems cut off, washed and dried
Sea salt and ground black pepper

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Having thoroughly washed the wild garlic, place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

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Once blitzed, I added a little more oil to loosen the mixture up.

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Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and taste.

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Transfer to clean jars and top with an extra drizzle of oil to create a seal. The jars will keep in the fridge for at least one week. And hey presto I have pesto!

Melissa xx

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