Liz Ashworth explains how to reap the benefits of planting seeds.
This is the month to sow seeds, watch them grow then pick, cook and enjoy. The first food I ever grew was mustard cress sown on a piece of damp flannel laid on a plate. The seeds germinated in a few days to produce cress for our sandwiches.
You could try growing mustard cress, herbs, micro-greens or “cut and come again” salad leaves which grow quickly. Use a small, shallow seed tray or punnet with drainage holes.
Stand it on a plate. Put a layer of damp, peat-free seed compost in the bottom, sprinkle seeds evenly over the surface and cover with a fine layer of compost.
Place on a warm, well-lit window sill, keep moist. Leaves will show in a few days. Harvest when about 2.5cm tall by cutting with scissors just above the compost.
Then prepare and enjoy your home-grown produce!
My gardener friend Dorothy works with Reap, a local environmental charity based in Keith, which teaches us about growing our own fruit and vegetables. It runs workshops and courses which are fun to join. Contact Reap on 01542 888070; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit reapscotland.org.uk to find out more.
Double-decker egg and cress sandwiches
(Makes 4 double deckers)
- 4 medium eggs
- 4 slices white bread
- 2 slices brown bread
- Soft butter
- 2 tbsp of either crème fraiche, Greek yoghurt or mayonnaise
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Mustard cress, freshly picked, washed and dried
- Put the eggs into a pan of cold water, boil, then simmer for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat, plunge into cold water. Leave to cool completely.
- Remove the shells; grate the eggs into a bowl; add the crème fraiche, a little salt and ground black pepper and mix together. Add the cress and fold in.
- Butter the white bread on one side and the brown on both. Lay two slices of white bread, butter side up, on a board and spread each with one-quarter of the mixture.
- Top with a slice of brown bread. Spread each slice of brown bread with the remaining egg mix, then top with a slice of white bread, butter side down.
- Remove the crusts with a sharp knife – get some help with this if needed – then cut each sandwich into two. Serve garnished with a little cress.
- 150ml water
- 12g butter
- 250g oatmeal
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
- 3 x 10cm sprigs of finely chopped rosemary leaves
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4.
- Simmer the water in a pan, add in the butter to melt, then take off the heat. Add other ingredients into the pan and mix.
- As the oatmeal absorbs the water it will thicken into a smooth ball of dough.
- Dust the work surface with oatmeal and roll out the mixture to 4mm thick then cut into approx 5cm rounds.
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, carefully turning once, halfway through baking.
- Cool on a wire rack and store in an air-tight container.
Little fruit mouthfuls
- 375g ready-made shortcrust pastry
- 1 eating apple, peeled cored and finely grated
- Handful of sultanas
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Some icing sugar for dusting
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4. Oil and line a baking tray.
- Mix the apple, sultanas and cinnamon in a bowl. Roll walnut-size pieces of pastry into a ball. Use your thumbs to make a hole in one side and widen it to make a pocket.
- Stuff with a teaspoonful of apple mix, then pull the pastry over and press together.
- Place, sealed side down, on the baking tray. Repeat till the ingredients are used.
- Prick the top of each one a few times with a fork.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar while warm. Cool on the tray before eating.
Home-made salad dressing
- 6 tbsp light salad oil such as olive, rapeseed, nut or sunflower
- 2 tbsp balsamic, fruit or wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Find a clean jam jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add all the dressing ingredients to it, secure the lid, and shake well.
- Taste, and add more salt/pepper if needed.
- Gather together a selection of salad ingredients, and just before serving, pour over the dressing and toss to mix.