Sunday, 30 June 2013

Come Dine with my favourite sleuths

Who would you love to invite to a dream dinner party? This was the task given to bloggers by Taylor Wimpey blog:
"We're asking bloggers to submit a dream dinner party menu, including a starter, main, dessert and an accompanying wine - you can also include a welcome drink of your own invention. The menus will be sent to our judges: Ruth Clemens, author of The Pink Whisk blog and finalist in the Great British Bake-off 2010, and Mr P of influential food blog DeliciousDeliciousDelicious."

As this is an imaginary dinner party, I thought I would absolutely love to invite three detectives that I admire the most: Inspector Montalbano, Hercule Poirot and Brother Cadfael. All three appreciate the good food and would be perfect dinner guests.
I read all books with Brother Cadfael, most of Hercule Poirot's adventures and a good amount of Montalbano's series, and of course, I have thoroughly enjoyed their detective work on the screen.

I am going to lay the table in the garden (if it's raining, we have a lovely summerhouse to retreat to). Just before the dinner, we could chat wandering in the garden and enjoy the heady perfume of the roses.
I have just asked my husband: "What would you serve as an aperitif?", to which he replied: "A spritz, like they do in Venice". It is a refreshing drink that is commonly served in the Northern Italy. 

For the starter I'm going to offer a selection of appetisers: Bresaola rolls, Endive Boats and Stuffed courgette flowers.
Bresaola rolls are so quick to make, but taste great: roll the slices of parmesan with the rocket leaves in the slices of thin bresaola.
Bresaola goes well either with robust white wine or delicate reds.  I would try to impress my guests with the local Oxfordshire wines, maybe, Crispin. Crispin is a "soft-dry blend of Reichensteiner and Bacchus grapes, where the acidity has been balanced to give a softer edge. Crispin shows a subtle fusion of orchard fruit and herb flavours with lingering hints of pears. Reminiscent of Pinot Grigio, Crispin is a very easy drinking wine that is ideal as an aperitif"

Endive boats always disappear quickly whenever I serve them for dinner.They look pretty, and boast a combination of flavours and textures: salty blue cheese (how about the local Oxford blue?), crunchy toasted pine nuts and sweet dressing made with honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

To make the stuffed zucchini flowers, I would pick the flowers in the garden (couldn't be more local than that) and stuff them with ricotta, chives, freshly grated parmesan and some chili (also from the garden, I have a big pot in the greenhouse with the chili plant, and oh boy, it is hot, you don't want more than one for this recipe). For the batter, beat the egg in the bowl with the fizzy water and plain flour, dip the stuffed flowers and deep fry in plenty of oil.

As we are dining al fresco in the garden, a pasta dish would look both festive and casual enough, without any pomposity. So many wonderful pasta dishes to choose from, what will I go for? Perhaps Nigel Slater's recipe for Squid Romesco which I tried recently and loved.
You start by roasting the Romano peppers in the oven, brushed with the olive oil. Once ready, remove the skins and whizz the peppers with the olive oil, crustless white bread, paprika and balsamic vinegar. You will get a lovely bright sauce. Add the chopped garlic to a frying pan with a bit of the olive oil. Once it softened, add the squid and a dash of sherry. Cook quickly, or it will get rubbery. Serve with the pepper sauce which has been warmed in a small pan on a bed of pasta.
I might not be Montalbano's beloved cook Adelina, but I bet he would appreciate the robust flavours of this tasty pasta dish.

Hercule Poirot once said: "You know, every wine, even a small wine, has its own personality with its own secret past and its own promises of pleasure in the future."

What would I serve the squid pasta with? I think I'd go for Bacchus from Brightwell Vineyard. "Bacchus is a soft and fruity white wine with a slight sweetness to balance its dry structure. The wine captures the aromatic apple flavours of the Bacchus grape in a gentle and easy drinking wine... a perfect accompaniment to pasta..."
I wonder whether Poirot or brother Cadfael would rather have a glass of cold beer? Our little town is a home of the world famous brewery, and I could offer my guests not just local, but also seasonal beer, like Snake's Bite, which boasts a "sinful distinctive fruity flavour with a bite".

Moving onto the dessert? My guys love the Advocaat bundt cake, I bake it very often, it is fabulously soft and sweet. In fact I baked it earlier today.

As this is the season for strawberries, how about eating a slice of warm cake with the custard and strawberries?! Heavenly.

I bet even Hercule Poirot, who often complained about the British food, would agree that there is nothing better than the English strawberries in June.
I would serve my dessert with a glass of Sauternes. It has distinct notes of peaches, honey and apricots and it is one of my favourite sweet wines.

And that's my menu for the imaginary dinner party.
Who would you invite and what would be your ultimate menu?

P.S. Competition links are removed as expired

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Picnic times for teddy bears

"What do teddy bears drink on a picnic in the woods, Mama?"
I think they have hot tea with honey in flasks and also bottles of the elderflower cordial. What could represent the more typical example of a summer drink on a picnic than a glass of sparkling water with the cordial? You might have noticed a limited edition bottle of Bottlegreen Elderflower Cordial in the shops. This well known and much loved brand has produced two new elegant designs for their elderflower cordial and sparkling presse.

The delicate sweet scent of the elderflower is so evocative of the British summer with its long evenings. The newly designed bottles of the cordial will add a touch of glamour to any picnic (weather permitting, of course, as the British summers could be a very elusive phenomenon, hot one day and pouring with rain the next one).
For an adult picnic why don't you mix some smashing cocktails: does an Elderflower G&T sound good? Mix the ingredients and enjoy.
If you are not keen on alcohol, make a super non-alcoholic cocktail from the elderflower cordial, apple juice and sparkling water, with lots of crushed mint leaves. Very refreshing and won't give you a hangover.
As for your teddy bears and other kids, they would love a drink of a cloudy lemonade with ice topped up with the elderflower cordial.
What do you like to eat on a picnic? Pies, potato salad, sandwiches? I always enjoy a good old tub of hummus with crudites, and plenty of crisps.
If you are a crisp lover, "Burts Chips, the artisan crisps with the big crunch, is proud to announce the launch of its latest and most adventurous tongue-tingling flavours ever!"
How can you stay indifferent, reading such a pitch?
What do you notice first? Very funky amusing packet design of an apron and hands on hips.
Go on, open the packets!

Red Pepper & Jalapeno flavour has been inspired by the traditional Mexican cuisine, and oh my, it does have a kick. Perfect for any picnic or as part nibbles. I can well imagine it pairs nicely with a mojito.
It is more of an adult flavour. I have offered the crisps to my guys to test, my older son licked the first crisp, made a funny face as he didn't expect it to be so hot, laughed at his own reaction and wanted some more. Eddie, a sensible young man, decided he didn't want them after watching his older brother.

If you prefer more traditional flavours, you can't go wrong with Sea Salt & Malted Vinegar. A British classic, great with dips, and quite addictive as a snack. It's good the packet is not too big (40g). You can also get it in a bigger size packet (150g).

And that's our teddy bears' picnic's sorted. What do you like to have on a picnic?

To find out more about Bottlegreen and Burts, visit Bottlegreendrinks and Burts Chips.

Disclosure: we received a bottle of Bottlegreen and packets of Burt's chips for the purposes of reviewing, all opinions are mine.

Elderflower and rose petal cordial

I love the elderflower cordial, and was wondering if it is difficult to make your own. We have an elderflower bush in the garden, but it is pretty young, and doesn't sport more than 3 heads of blossom this year, so I let it be. While returning from my older son's school, I noticed heaps and heaps of the white lace, and decided to do a bit of foraging. And as the roses in my garden have gone amok this year, I thought I'd make an Elderflower and Rose Petal Cordial, to combine the two quintessentially English favours.

Elderflower and Rose Petal Cordial

15 heads of elderflower              
1kg granulated sugar     
1litre water
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, cut into strips
1 lemon, sliced
20+ mixed roses

I went for the mix of roses, as I wanted for the cordial to turn pink. But I suppose the pure white roses would produce a lovely colourless cordial.
Pick the flowers, divide the rose petals and shake the elderflowers to get rid of any tiny bugs. Place in a big bowl and pour the cold water over them. Drain the water.
Place the sugar into a pan with the water, bring up to the boil, keep stirring until the sugar dissolved completely.
Using a paring knife, peel off the lemon zest in strips, add to the sugar.
Slice the lemon and add to the pan with the sugar.
Add the rose petals and elderflower heads to the sugar syrup, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes.

Leave in the pan overnight under the lid. The next day strain the cordial and pour into the glass bottle.

To serve, dilute the cordial with sparkling or still water and add a slice of lemon.

I have strained the cordial into the bottles, but also left some rose petals in (the elderflower heads were discarded) for a couple of small jars. I just like to add a couple of teaspoons of rose petals in sugar syrup to my tea. It is so fragrant and flavourful. And very pretty too. I can imagine it would go nicely with champagne.
It was dead easy and cost me almost nothing (I only bought the sugar).

Link up your recipe of the week

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Buying tat? Guilty as charged

I often pop in the local 99p store for the gardening supplies to buy: a plant protection fleece, plastic gardening gloves or a plant pot. A few sweet things get sneaked into the basket along the way as well, like KitKats or Toffifees. And each time we end up buying some tat for Eddie.
Just earlier today he grabbed at least ten different items that he "needed" including a mini-mop and a bucket, a water spurter, a car with wobbly wheels, a football etc. No, No and No.
"Mama, how about these?", holding a bag of mini multi-coloured balls. Definitely not. I can just imagine myself picking them from the floor.
"Mama, I want some popcorn", looking with admiration at the multi-coloured popcorn, as if painted by a toddler in poisonous shades of green, yellow and pink" "Eddie, put it back please"
"Mama, should I have some... (insert the rest of the plastic tat on the shelves)" "No, darling, we don't need any of that"
"Mama, you are a bit grumpy"
So far, so good. I persisted. I am not going to give up, despite his voice getting higher and thinner, with some fake tears added to a melancholy look of despair.
And as I was congratulating myself for holding my ground, we came across a display of the garish sunglasses. Eddie looks at the tatty shades, like Paris Hilton would at a new pair of Louis Vuitton Evasion.
The voice acquires a trembling crescendo: "They are so beautiful".
Mind you, last week he got a pair of pink shades with the diamante motifs, and I couldn't dissuade him it was for the girls. The glasses didn't last a day.
"Eddie, please, we have to go".
You know how tots become so heavy like lead when they don't want to move, they fall down in an artistic heap, and if you try to lift them, they slid down through your arms as if made of liquid.
The audience started to aggregate. And how tots love an appreciative audience?!
To escape the stares and tut-tuts, I grabbed the sunglasses and Eddie and rushed to pay.

The likes of Supernannies would crucify me for my inconsistent parenting and being a pushover. Perhaps they have a point.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Courgette cakes

Green vegetables? Love them or hate them? I love my greens, but my hubby is known for pushing his salad leaves and green beans round the plate (I can just imagine him as a kid, doing exactly the same thing with a sulky face while his Mum told him off for not eating his vegetables). And while my younger son is a bit more adventurous with fruit and veg, Sasha is very difficult to convince what's good for him.
So, I'm always looking for ways of sneaking in some veg in their dishes.
When I saw the recipe for Little Italian Courgette cakes on Abel & Cole's website, I knew I had to try them.

I have followed the recipe closely enough, though skipped the salt and added zest of 1 orange as well. My guys love the breakfast mix from Holland & Barrett (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pine nuts), so I have added a sprinkle of it on top of the courgette cakes.

They looked very pretty. Once I broke one of them to see what it looks like inside, I got worried that my guys would be suspicious of the grated courgette, as the green bits looked very green to me.
But No, they seemed to accept it without questioning and quickly polished off the cakes that I've offered to them.
A little miracle! Especially in Sasha's case, as due to his autism, he's very set in his ways on what he accepts to eat. He doesn't like trying anything new, and every time he does actually eat something new to him, I am ready to sing Hallelujah.

A total success! Yippee! I don't know if this is an authentic Italian recipe, or just the name of the dish.
If your kids are as difficult as mine food-wise, I can definitely recommend the courgette cakes, they taste lovely and are pretty easy to make (you can find the link to the recipe above).

Friday, 21 June 2013

Dinnertime with Schwartz: 2 in 1 Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Where do you find fresh inspiration for cooking? Is it celebrity chefs on TV? Cook books and magazines? or maybe blogs with their mouthwatering recipes and photos? Pinterest?
One of my blog readers emailed me a while ago, saying that she felt a bit intimidated by the food images on Pinterest and some foodie blogs as they looked so glamorous and perfect, and she said she could never achieve the same result. She also kindly said that she enjoyed my blog as she felt I was, quoting her "One of us, just a busy Mum who cooks". And as busy Mums round the world know, the shortcuts in the kitchen could be a true blessing.
Schwartz has recently launched a new 2 in 1 seasoning range.
“Тhe new 2in1 range offers easy to use recipe mix sachets in one handy pack: one sachet flavours the main dish whilst the other contains а seasoning for a complementary side dish or topping. With 5 different varieties to choose from, and an easy recipe on the back of each pack, it’s a great way to try out new dishes or transform an existing family favourite.”
As I enjoy BritMums' challenges, I have signed up to receive 2 advance samples from 2in1 range:
  • Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping: A blend of herbs and spices for chicken pasta with a cheesy topping
  • Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes: Roast chicken seasoning, with garlic and thyme, accompanied by a special seasoning to create perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes
I have tried the first of two packets, and here is what we thought of Mediterranean Chicken pasta and Cheesey Crumb Topping.

The new mix comes in a packet with 2 compartments: one contains a mix for the pasta, the other is a cheesy crumb topping.
Following the instructions on the packet, I have cooked the cubed chicken breast and sweet pepper, mixed it with the recipe mix and tinned tomatoes (I also added a handful of olives). Once the pasta was cooked, I have placed it in a baking tray and added the garlic and herb crumb topping., then the cheese.

The tray went in the oven until it all bubbled.

And that was our dinner a couple of days ago. What did we think?
I thought that the tinned tomatoes need more time than specified on the packet to lose the acidity. I prefer to cook the tinned tomatoes for the sauce slowly on low, so this part of the recipe didn't quite work for me.
We eat lots of pasta dishes, and as my husband is Italian, he has his opinions on the pasta and what it should taste like.
When I asked my husband if he liked it, he hesitated before saying "Sorry, I didn't like it."
And I tend to agree with him.

I do love Schwartz dried herbs and marinades, and also buy their packet mixes and inspiration kits, for example, the beef casserole is very good as a flavour booster, but this mix is not a winner. It tastes too packety. I know it is a packet mix, but the crumbs were too powdery and tasted quite artificial. I don't think their addition as the pasta bake topping was an improvement of the recipe.
One part of the packet, with the pasta recipe mix was better than the herb crumb topping, if honestly, I wish I didn't add the crumbs' mix to the pasta bake.

I understand that this review probably kills any chance of me winning the competition, but I cannot feign any enthusiasm for a product which didn't impress me. Sorry, Schwartz, I know you could do much better.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’(link removed as expired) sponsored by Schwartz.
Find out more about the new 2in1 mixes here.

I will try the 2nd packet and will duly report on what we think of it.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Narnia library giveaway (c/d 12 July 2013)

In conjunction with the fabulous Narnia food and feasts competition (you can read all about it in my previous post Are you a Narnia cooking star?) Harper Collins kindly offered a beautiful Narnia book set for one of my blog readers.

The Narnia library includes one copy of each of the following:

1.       The Magician’s Nephew
2.       The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3.       The Horse and His Boy
4.       Prince Caspian
5.       The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6.       The Silver Chair
7.       The Last Battle

If you would like to win this prize, please fill in the Rafflecopter form.
Only the first step is mandatory: all you need is answer the question by leaving a comment.

All the other steps are optional, you don't have to do them all. All it takes to win is just one entry.
Only one entry per person is allowed (however, you can tweet daily and do a bonus click entry daily as well to increase your chances).
The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
Once the Rafflcopter picks the winner, I will check if the winner has done what was requested. I will contact the winner, if they do not reply within a week, the prize will be allocated to another person.
The giveaway will close on 12 July 2013 at midnight.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ancient Light by John Banville

I started to read Ancient Light the day after I finished Leftovers by Stella Newman. While I enjoyed Leftovers to some extent, after I read a few pages of Ancient Light, I thought: "This is literature. Real literature". As opposed to the light reading.

I haven't read any of Banville's books before, this novel was my introduction to his literary work.
Alexander Cleave, the main protagonist of Ancient Light appears in the other two novels by Banville. He is a classical actor whose career has been reawakened.

The novel is set in the 1950s Ireland. A small provincial town. Alexander Cleave looks back at his own 15-year-old self, falling head over heels in love with a thirty-five-year-old woman, mother of his best friend.

Half a century later, Alex is trying to recall his past. He is grieving the loss of his daughter Cass, who had mental health problems and committed suicide in an Italian town Portovenere (this story is told in Shroud).

Alex's life is influenced and shaped by the women around him, be it Celia Gray, his first love, his wife Lydia, late daughter Cass, researcher Billie Stryker and actress Dawn Devonport. Men are simply in the background, more of an audience than performers in the drama.

The novel is moving from the present to past, the dividing borders are blurred, and the threads of narrative are interwoven.

A mature Alex doesn't make a moral judgement on his first love, he tries to recreate the events of the past, but is often left wondering if he has been inventing details and mixing up the events.
"Images from the past crowd in y head and half the time I cannot tell whether they are memories or inventions. Not that there is much difference between the two, if indeed there is any difference at all. Some say that without realising it we make it all up as we go along, embroidering and embellishing, and I am inclined to credit it, for Madam Memory is a great and subtle dissembler".

Not even once Alex reproaches Mrs Clay for seducing him and stealing his innocence.
His narrative is a hymn to a female body where every freckle is worshiped and every imperfection is admired as a work of art.

Spoiler alert (if you haven't read the novel, perhaps you should stop reading here):
In some way the novel reminded me of Life of Pi, as it is very much about the protagonists's memory of the past, and whether his version of events is what has really happened.
Did Mrs Gray really throw herself in the arms of her juvenile lover with such abandon, meeting him in a half-ruined cottage and making love on a dirty mattress? Or is it a figment of Alex's imagination, did he invent the whole affair out of one episode, which took place after the rain, when Celia helped him to change his clothes?
If it happened, what would have caused a grown up woman to find snatches of happiness in the embrace of a very immature lover? Was it the fear of the imminent death that pushed her to taste the forbidden fruit of an illicit affair?
The love scenes are a bit too Freudian, including Alex's slip of the tongue when he calls Mrs Gray mother after having sex with her.

I am compelled now to read the prequel to Ancient Light, Shroud, to find out more about Alex's disturbed unhappy daughter Cass. The notes and letters which she left in the hotel room and which her father read after her suicide, often mention someone she called Svidrigailov.
Svidrigailov is of course a reference to Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. He was the most unsavoury character, a villain and a child molester who drove one of his victims to suicide. An interesting allusion.

Going back to Alex, he undertakes a trip to Liguria, supposedly to distract Dawn from her recent failed attempt of suicide, while in fact wishing to revisit the place connected to his daughter's death. Italy doesn't bring him any sense of closure, if that is what he wanted to achieve, he is not able to go to the location where his daughter died.
"Ten years; she has been dead ten years. Must I set off in search of her again, in sorrow and in pain? She will come no more to my world, but I go towards hers"

The final pages make you rethink everything told earlier. I found the story of a little boy Alex who couldn't sleep after his father's death extremely poignant. His mother didn't let him climb into bed with her, but would reach her hand down to the scared boy curling in his sleeping bag beside her bed and he would clutch her finger in his sleep. And then years later, after Mrs Gray's departure, he finds himself creeping in his mother's room and sobbing on the floor only to find that she offers her finger to hold on, as in the old days.
And thus ends this devastating story of love, lust, death and loss.
An incredible book, thought-provoking and multi-layered.

Leapfrog Numbers: Learn Numbers and Shapes DVD

Eddie is pretty good at counting, even if he gets over-enthusiastic occasionally and keeps counting fingers up to 11. The latest release from the popular children's learning series Leapfrog called Leapfrog Numbers: Learn Numbers and Shapes encourages kids to learn their numbers, counting and shapes.

This DVD comes as a bumper pack of 3 episodes. The cartoon is a loosely-based story of adventure, the main purpose of which is to learn to count and recognise numbers and shapes.
Eddie enjoyed watching it and counting with Tad and Lily.

You meet little buddies Lily, Tad and Scout, and follow them on an undersea adventure in Numbers Ahoy.
"Tad and Lily need a little number sense to help them get through a complicated game. So their magical firefly friend, Edison, takes them on a fantastical journey under the sea! When a pirate mistakenly captures their cute puppy pal Scout, they must use their new understanding of counting, grouping and estimating to rescue him. Join them as they navigate the deep and face foes such as sharks, crab henchmen—even Pirate Pythagoras himself—and begin to see numbers in a whole new way!"

In Numberland Axle the magical car takes Scout and his buddies to Numberland "where the pets (thanks to the help of Max, a new friend) meet some very helpful numbers, and learn basic arithmetic along the way. In the meantime, the residents of Numberland team up to give Max a surprise birthday party"

Adventures in Shapesville Park is designed for preschoolers learning about shapes, measurements and dimensions while helping to complete the construction of a new playground.

Personally I found the music a "tad" annoying (it's not just the DVD, we have one of the Leapfrog books with Tad singing about animals, and more than once I felt like throwing it away, as I cannot stand the jolly music). Eddie didn't mind, if anything, he was quite happy to listen to the songs, and as he is the target audience for this DVD, it works (and if you are a long-suffering parent, buy the ear plugs).
As you can see from the photo, he loved counting the undersea creatures.

This DVD introduces the concept of number 0 as well, and tots learn some beginner math skills, for example, how to do an estimate.
It will work well as an educational tool. It is interactive, and I would advise watching it together with your child so that you can ask him questions along the way. But I can consume it only in small portions.

Released on DVD on 17 June 2013.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Potato cakes with duck eggs and smoked salmon

Over a week ago I had a little chat with a fellow foodie blogger Dom from Belleau Kitchen on the subject of chives' flowers. He is a true artist in the kitchen, and his photo styling is always impeccable. I was impressed with his photos of a delicious celeriac soup (if you fancy to have a look and admire his photos, here is the recipe link): a pretty scattering of chives and a purple flower. Dom confessed that the flower was purely served as a decoration. I looked online on what you could do with the flowers of chives, and they are mostly used in salads and soups. Would they work in potato cakes?

The dinner on Sunday was a result of what I had in the kitchen (the smoked salmon needed to be eaten). I also bought a box of duck eggs at Cogges Manor Farm when we visited it earlier that day. And I had plenty of potatoes. Chives grow like weeds in the garden, and keep reappearing every year. I often use the green bits, but haven't eaten the flowers of chives, so this was an experiment for me.

Potato cakes with duck eggs and smoked salmon
4 small to medium potatoes
1tbsp olive oil
4 heaped tbsp of Greek style yogurt (I used Chobani fat free plain yoghurt)
1tbsp plain flour
a handful of basil leaves
a handful of chives (including 5 flowers)
1 egg
salt, pepper
Cook the potato in salted boiling water (in skins). Once cooked, remove the skins and grate the potatoes. In a medium sized bowl mix the grated potatoes with the olive oil, Greek style yogurt, plain flour and chopped herbs. Add the flowers (just divide the purple mini flowers into sections). Season well.
Using hands, flatten the potato mix into 6 cakes. You can fry them, but I'm trying to cut down the calories, so baked them in the oven on a tray covered with foil and slightly sprayed with the olive oil.
Traditionally I would use a lot of butter and maybe mayo for the potato cakes, but this time Chobani and olive oil worked as a substitute perfectly well.
Cook in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve the warm potato cakes with slices of the smoked salmon and poached duck eggs.
I think adding the flowers to the potato cakes was a pretty good idea, they added a lovely flavour which wasn't overwhelming.

And that's why I love Twitter, you can stumble upon some tweets almost accidentally, get an idea (or in the words of the glorious Baldrick "I have a cunning plan!") and get inspired.

Cooking with Herbs

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Roll up your sleeves: Kids Grow Wild challenge

Our garden at the moment is the kingdom of roses. You open the door in the garden, and almost drown in the perfume of the white cascading roses which managed to climb on top of the big plum tree and fall down like a luxurious waterfall of the white petals.

We also have the other varieties of roses, including some yellow, red and salmon pink.

But having a garden requires a great amount of dedication. You really need to work on it daily. Thankfully, my younger son loves our garden as much as I do, and is happily digging along, or running around, watering the plants (even those which don't need it), the path and his shoes.
Eddie was delighted to receive a new gardening starter kit (see the photo below). He already has one, but in his opinion, there's never enough of digging tools. He relishes his time in the garden, and is proud of his own tools collection.
We planted the sunflower seeds recently, and hopefully we'll have some beautiful flowers to admire.

Here is Eddie telling me what he plans to do with the new tools.

Happily digging in his designated area. I do not let him dig in the strawberry patch, as he is over-enthusiastic.

This year we are growing tomatoes, cucumbers and chili peppers in the greenhouse. The grafted cucumber in a pot is doing really well. We check on it daily to see how it grows. We even had a couple of cucumbers to eat. Here is my very proud mini gardener with the first cucumber of the season. And you bet it tasted delicious.

And as we recently discovered, it's not only berries, fruit and veg that are growing in our garden. A silly mummy bird has done a nest on top of the flower pot in the basket on the wall. It is well hidden, and you really need to know where to look. Now Eddie tells everyone who would listen that Mummy bird needs to keep the eggs warm so we should not scare her.

This post is an entry for BritMums' #KidsGrowWild Challenge which is sponsored by Moneysupermarket.
We received a children's gardening kit to take part in this challenge.