23.03

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A  T A S T E   O F   S U M M E R . . .

There’s nothing like the taste of summer vegetables. Crisp tomatoes, sweet carrots, bright herbs, crunchy lettuces and cucumber, and soft velvety aubergines- I look forward to them all year round.

Over the past year or so I’ve made it my personal challenge to eat within the seasons to the best of my ability. That’s meant no strawberries in October, no courgettes in December, and no tomatoes in February. And at times I’ve found it really, really hard! It’s given me a real appreciation of how lucky we are to have such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables flown in from around the world, and also how much more delicious food is when eaten during the season in which it grows best within our own fair country.

And so with seasonal eating in mind, when Le Creuset, that most beloved classic kitchenware brand, dropped me a line to see if I’d like to create a summer-inspired recipe as part of their Nature’s Kitchen campaign, I jumped at the opportunity!

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Due to be released in-store and online later in March, Le Creuset have recently launched a collection called ‘Nature’s Kitchen’, inspired by all that nature offers us be it from land or sea. Alongside some of Le Creuset’s iconic Cast Iron cookware and Stoneware in four new spring and summer-inspired colours, the collection also includes 3-ply Stainless Steel and Toughened Non-Stick products that are the perfect tools for getting the best from fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Le Creuset sent across their completely beautiful Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill for me to create the dish with, and it’s fast become the most used piece of kitchen equipment I never knew I needed. Griddled veg? Perfect! Toasted sandwiches? Done in an instant! And I bet it’d be perfect for cooking fish or meat on too, if that’s your jam!

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As you know though, for me, veggies are king, queen, and everything in between. As a keen veg grower entering year two of my ‘grow your own’ endeavours, there’s nothing I’m looking forward to more right now than eating from the garden for the first time in 2018. Our living room window ledges are currently heaving under the strain of dozens of seed trays, with broad beans, leeks, chillis, cabbage, and broccoli seedlings, all waiting to the weather to turn warm enough so they can migrate outside. The first pickings of the year will make me a very happy lady indeed!

But until then, it was to the supermarkets I went in search of ingredients for this summer-inspired recipe…

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And the centrepiece of this dish are the aubergines, griddled to perfection on the Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill.

Doused in olive oil and salt and then set on the sizzlingly hot bars of the pan, the aubergines are turned occasionally until their flesh turns meltingly soft, and then drizzled with some maple syrup or honey or agave. The sweetness sets off their salty, slightly bitter flavour so well, and makes them a dream to eat.

Combined with some thyme-roasted carrots, miso and smoked paprika-dressed chickpeas, soft grains, and a handful of parsley and mint, it’s the perfect summer lunch bowl.

Now, all we need is for winter to wave its final farewell so we can get cooking…

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Ingredients:
1 large aubergine
Drizzle of maple syrup/honey
1/2tsp dried thyme
3 large carrots
2 cans best quality chickpeas
1tbsp miso paste
1tsp smoked paprika
Juice half a lemon
1 cup quinoa
Salt + extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley

 

Method:

- Slice the carrots into lengths, toss in olive oil, fresh thyme and a pinch of salt, and then place into an oven preheated to 200 degrees celsius for 40 minutes or until cooked through.

- In a large frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the drained chickpeas. Stir in the miso paste, smoked paprika, and lemon juice, and then stir to allow the miso to melt and coat the chickpeas. Fill one of the chickpea cans with water, pour into the pan, turn the heat up high and allow the mixture to bubble for a minute or two until a rich, amber sauce has formed. Turn off the heat, put on a lid, and set aside.

- Slice the aubergine from top to bottom in 1cm slices, brush generously with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Heat the Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill over a medium heat, and then lay the aubergine slices onto the bars. When the aubergines have taken on colour and have beautiful dark golden char marks on them, lower the heat under the grill pan and allow the aubergines to cook through.

- Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions, and dress with a squeeze of lemon juice.

- To serve, fluff the grains through with a fork and then tip out onto a large serving plate. Top with the warm chickpeas, roasted carrots, and grilled aubergine. Drizzle the grilled aubergine with the maple syrup/honey, top the whole dish with a handful of chopped parsley, and serve with a side bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

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 This recipe was created for Le Creuset. The wonderful Nature’s Kitchen collection is now in-store and online, celebrating cooking with beautiful, fresh ingredients this coming season.

Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible!

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15.02

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S P R I N G ,   S U M M E R ,   A U T U M N ,   W I N T E R

Do you ever wish you were better at shopping? I mean, it’s a skill many of us practise with relish (much to Jason’s dismay, in my case…) but am I actually *good* at it? I’m not sure!

I seem to forever be buying the same things over and over, never stopping to think if they’re actually adding much to my wardrobe. I’m drawn time and again to the same pieces- stripy tops (see last blog post for proof!), soft knitwear in oatmeal colours, and oversized boyfriend jeans…though I’ve just come round to the Mom jean trend and am loving it!

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the reopening of TK Maxx‘s new look Guildford store, and of having a one to one consultation with colour expert Pam from House of Colour. Pam specialises in providing a personalised colour palette recommendation, which is designed to help you shop smarter! It’s a completely fascinating process, and it was so interesting to learn that despite being drawn to the earthy autumn colour palette, I’m actually more of a summer girl! I should’ve guessed really, given how much I’m drawn to pale blues and pinks!

She also recognised just from the outfit I was wearing that day that I’m a very soft and natural person, and she guessed that I’m likely drawn to loose fitting clothing with an often quite feminine feel. She couldn’t have been more spot on!

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And so armed with new knowledge of what clothing colours and styles might suit me best, what better place to put it all into practise than a treasure trove like TK Maxx!

The new-look store felt so fresh and easy to shop, with key pieces highlighted at the end of rails and everything broken down by size. Deliveries come in several times each week so there’s always something new to find, and with such a wide range of clothing- from casual wear to active wear, winter coats to evening dresses, I think it’d be the perfect place to shop for something completely unique. And given that TK Maxx’s prices are up to 60% less than RRP, you’re certain to find some real hidden gems. I’ve actually found that it’s an amazing place to shop for baby bits over the past couple of years- you often can find brand names at a completely amazing price point!

I decided to go in search of some new sportswear, with the muted summer colours Pam had recommended in mind. I’ve not invested in any new gym gear for years, and so thought it’d be lovely to take inspiration from the colours that suit me best when picking out some new pieces. Have a peep over on my Instagram to see what I picked out!

The other piece I chose was a gorgeous oversized slogan sweater, in a off-white shade that made up part of my summer colour palette. I think it’ll be perfect to throw on with a pair of soft denim jeans and my favourite leopard print trainers.

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There were so many beautiful pieces in store, and being able to make a beeline for specific colours and prints thanks to the colour consultation experience made shopping so much easier!

Do you want to know what my favourite piece of advice Pam gave me was?

‘Shopping is a skill, and we should practise it to get better!’

Have you ever been so inclined to take someone at their word before?!

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This post was in collaboration with TK Maxx! Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible.

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30.01

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I know, I know. Rosie’s outfit of the day consists of jeans and yet ANOTHER striped top. Groundbreaking. But LOOK! This one has French on it!

True it may be that the Breton department in my wardrobe is already full to bursting, but when I found myself out shopping last week (by myself!! Bliss!), I spotted this particular specimen and just couldn’t leave it behind.

Not only did the cute slogan on the front draw me in, but I’m in love with those navy cuffs and the slightly relaxed fit. Jason always laughs at me for buying my clothes a size bigger than I need (he may have been right about the Mom jeans I purchased at the same time that are so roomy round the waist they’re practically maternity jeans…), but I’m adamant that the cut of this one was calling out to be worn a bit slouchy and oversized.

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Though I hate to admit it, I do fit the Mum cliche of wearing jeans and a stripy top an awful lot of the time. And so a jazzy stripy top totally makes me feel better about the situation!

Seriously though, fellow Mamas- what do you wear that makes you feel semi put together and stylish when home with your children? I’m always looking for that perfect blend of comfort, practicality, and design- something that’ll look nice when out and about with Ottie, but also well suited to romping around on the floor of the living room with her!

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It might be time to start taking a leaf out of the ever-fab Zoe de Pass’ (aka. Dress Like A Mum!) book, and start rocking sequinned tops and bright pink jackets on my Mum days!

But until then, I’ve got my new stripy top, and I’m happy.

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24.01

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T I M E   F O R   N  E W   B E G I N N I N G S .

The beds are finished and filled. Finally! It’s taken us a full month to complete, in scraps of time stolen whilst Ottilie naps and between our work and the household chores and trips out as a family.

The first lorryload of compost was delivered five days before Christmas, and carrying it all round to the vegetable patch round the back of our house one wheelbarrow load at a time was the most arduous task imaginable! During one of the days I spent trudging back and forth fetching soil and tipping it out into the beds, I managed to walk 7 whole kilometres without ever leaving our garden!!

There’s still such a lot to do though, it’s a little overwhelming! Our soil is heavy clay and seems to be slug central (heaven help me and my lettuces this summer!) so I need to copper tape the edges of the beds, the perimeter fence needs rabbit-proofing, and I’m also desperate to lay some pathways to suppress the nettles that are already popping up all over the place!

And possibly more urgently, I need to find a way humane of deterring the moles that have started creating mounds in one of the beds I so painstakingly filled and raked smooth. No doubt they’ve been tempted along by all the worms in the layer of sheep manure that’s spread along the bottom of the bed!

p.s. Anyone want links for my outfit in that photo above? ;) ;)

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But first things first, time to sow the first seeds of the year! My ‘to sow’ list for January has been as follows:

+ Garlic ‘Carcassone Wight’

The garlic went directly into the bed in a double row at the beginning of the month, and almost all the shoots are now up and poking their tiny green tips through the soil! It’s a happy sight.

+ Leeks, ‘Musselburgh’

These I’m hoping to sow successionally over the coming months, to give us a long harvest of leeks starting later in the year and continuing through next winter. I’m also going to test out a technique called ‘multi-sowing’, where a clump of young plants is placed into one position (instead of the traditional one plant per position) and then the leeks can be picked and eaten as they mature one by one. An unclear explanation I’m sure- have a look at Charles Dowding’s videos on YouTube for a much better demonstration of the technique!

+ Mini Savoy cabbage, ‘Caserta’

This will be my first time attempting cabbage (last year I didn’t have space for any winter veg in the tiny garden of our previous house), so I’m a bit nervous about keeping the dreaded cabbage white butterflies away from my crop! I’ve invested in a large sheet of Enviromesh (pricey, but brilliant by all accounts!) and plan on planting the cabbages next to carrots (which will also need netting against carrot root fly), to kill two birds with one stone! Or rather, deter two pests with one big net…

+ Spinach, ‘Red Kitten’

The sowing instructions on these say outdoors from February, but I thought I’d pop a few in a seed tray and try to raise some nice strong, healthy baby plants in the greenhouse to be planted out in a month’s time! If it doesn’t work or they get nipped by frost, then hey! I’ve only lost a handful of seeds.

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And lastly, to the broad beans!

I sowed a tray of broad beans (the variety is ‘Aquadulce’ in a modular seed tray back at the start of the month, but have since learnt that our dining room and kitchen definitely don’t get enough sunlight to raise healthy plants! The seedlings have grown so stupidly tall and leggy that some have keeled right over, so it’s off to the compost bin for them and onto a new batch!

This next lot I’ve sown direct into the bed next to the garlic, and am keeping my fingers crossed that they grow well! I’ve heard that mice like to make a meal of broad bean seeds, so it’ll be just my luck to find out that alongside the slugs, snails, moles, and rabbits, we’ve also got mice to contend with too!

If the broad beans do well though they’ll be one of our earliest crops of the year, with the beans ready in late spring. They’re so delicious added to risottos, pasta sauces, and whizzed up into falafel and hummus, so I’m desperate for them to do well!

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And that’s our progress for the month! I’m so, so ready to start eating homegrown food again. The crisp lettuces and tender beans and shiny courgettes of last summer feel like a distant memory already.

So here’s to Spring!

~ ~ ~

What’re you growing this month? Are you hoping to grow any fruits or vegetables this year?

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Posted in GARDENING, KITCHEN GARDEN

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