Cheery chives and coleslaw

This favourite is often only used as green garnish scattered over potato salad or egg mayonnaise and what a trick is being missed! One of my lockdown pastimes has been revisiting some of my old recipe books and then trying to be creative making meals of out of all the store cupboard oddments.  Some have been a great success –  others have not been quite so popular (beetroot and marigold pilau rice was a low point in some people’s view – I quite liked it).

Chive leaves are usually added at the end of cooking to give a mild onion flavour – over cook and their flavour will disappear.  In French cuisine chives are a consitutent part of fines herbes (finely chopped parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil) which is used to add a delicate flavour to savory dishes at the end of cooking. Chives can be chopped into soft cheese or sour cream as a dressing.

But in my view one of the best uses of chives is the freshly opened flowers.  Picked before fully open they provide a peppery addition to salads as well as looking stunning against the green of lettuce. 

In my lockdown experimental mode I was making coleslaw and didn’t want to deplete the dwindling onion stocks so wondered how to add some life to a pretty bland cabbage concoction? My cheery chives came to mind –  I picked a barely open flower and removed all the petals from the head and scattered them into the coleslaw.  It gave a wonderful oniony, peppery flavour and I wonder why I never thought about it before and so much quicker than peeling and chopping an onion .

A few random chive facts…

Chives  allium schoenoprasum are unusual in that they grow wild in northern Europe and North America and Australia.  Found throughout Asia it is thought that Marco Polo was responsible for bringing them to Europe where they have been cultivated since the Sixteenth Century.

The clump forming plant will tolerate most conditions and looks attractive when used as an edging plant in the herb or vegetable garden.  Chives are said to repel insects and a wash made from their leaves and water is used to prevent mildew and apple scab. 

Keep removing the flower heads and stems as througout the summer to ensure a continuous supply. Do not eat the flowering stems or flowers that have been open for a day or two as they are tough and unpalatable.

Chive flowers with bees collecting nectar

Chives are often used in companion planting as most insects do not like its smell but its cheery purple flowers are beloved by bees. A recent survey of pollinating plants placed chives among the top 10 nectar producing plants in the UK. 
So even if you don’t care for this herb make sure to grow some in your garden for the bees.

More recipe ideas can be found herehave look and experiment!

Home Again

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It’s always hard coming home after a lovely holiday.  There is the thought of work, routine and things to be done,  But as soon as the house appears and we enter the drive there is that feeling of homecoming and familiarity and then there is the excitement of seeing what has happened in the garden – always the first thing before unloading the car or checking the house.

IMG_8391Rosa Mundi

 

 

 

 

When we got back  today I was amazed at how things had grown in eight days.  Yes the weeds have done well but so has the garden.

Roses, delphiniums, hollyhock,sweet peas on long stems and mesembryanthemum which bring back childhood memories of lying on my Hollyhocktummy watching the flowers open as the rays of the sun Mesembryanthemumwarmed them only to close again when a cloud passed by.

 

 

 

Next stop is to check the vegetable garden and greenhouse to see how things have fared. And as usual there are the successes this time- lettuce, radish, cucumbers, courgettes and potatoes.  The french, broad and runner beans are looking hopeful  but where are the parsnips? They are usually one of our best crops and as for the peas it will be a meagre crop.

But after unpacking there was a real sense of satisfaction and living the good life when we picked and harvested and then we sat in the evening sunshine and ate a completely home produced meal Just picked(well except for the mayonnaise).  We enjoyed an egg salad with lettuce, radish, basil, rocket and potatoes. Finely chopped courgettes with a tiny red onion and slivers of freshly picked cucumber.  Maybe comingFreshly picked and prepared home from holiday is not too bad!