No. 31 - March 2005

Welcome to the new look free monthly newsletter.  Not only a new look, but some new sections which I hope you'll find interesting. If you have any suggestions for additions to this newsletter,   please write to me at . 


Happy Cooking ! 



Florence Sandeman, Editor





Food Funny

What's the definition of Preheating?

To turn on the heat in an oven for a period of time before cooking a dish, so that the fingers may be burned when the food is put in, as well as when it is removed.

What's New This Month


Cooking by Country



USA - Cajun/Creole

Click the picture to find out about the Creole/Cajun culinary cultures and history, present day cooking and customs plus lots of recipe



Ingredient Analysis



Don't say Yuk - they're a wonderful ingredient.! Click the picture to find lots of information about prunes plus lots of recipes



Cooking Tip of the Month

To soften hardened brown sugar in the microwave


Place hardened brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl, cover with two wet paper towels. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap, pierce in 2 places then microwave on 100% power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (microwave ovens vary in power so you may need to adjust the timing.) 



What's in Season

Rhubarb, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, leeks, mint, parsley, purple sprouting broccoli



How does your  Kitchen Garden grow


This is a new section where I'll highlight the main things which need doing in the kitchen garden month by month.


March sees a busy time for kitchen gardeners. If you haven't thought about what you want to grow, bought your seed and planned your planting you should get your finger out NOW.


Sowing is the order of the day and although March can still be pretty cold there are some outdoor sowings which can be made towards the end of the month,  not to mention seeds which can be sown indoors



Broad beans, Brussels sprouts, dill, summer cabbage, carrots, turnips cauliflowers, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, peas  lettuce, marjoram, parsnips,  radish, spinach, spring onions


Aubergines, Capsicums (Sweet peppers), Chives, mint,,  oregano parsley, rosemary, sage,    sweet basil thyme, tomatoes


For detailed growing instructions visit growing herbs and vegetables section







Know what you're eating

This is a re-run of editorial piece I wrote last year, but I have such a "thing" about it, that I thought I'd risk repeating myself. With Spring almost upon us, what better time to think forward a little to summer days of fresh harvests, lovingly grown, picked and cooked by your own fair hands.

If you've grown your own before, then I'm probably preaching to the converted, something I try never to do. Having said that, even if you have, this article may still have a few tricks up its sleeve which may be be of interest to you. If you've never grown your own do read on and allow me to tempt you. If you've never grown your own and don't feel inclined to do so.... oh,  read on anyway, just to humour me!


Turn your thoughts away from allotments or 1000 feet rows of stringy green beans or a garden devoid of colour because it's full of Brussels Sprouts. No, I'm going to talk about growing delicious crops whilst still having a garden you'll love to sit in and enjoy. Yup, 2 birds with one stone. AND don't worry if you only have a concrete patio or terrace....that's EXACTLY what I've had (still have) for the past 6 years or so,  but it certainly hasn't stopped me.


I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of growing every single herb and vegetable....there's a really comprehensive section on the site which tells you everything you need to know plus more  Growing Herbs and Vegetables.  What I'm going to concentrate on here are the different ways you can grow edible crops.


Firstly, don't feel you have to grow hundreds of different veggies. If you've never done it before, just pick 2 or 3 of your favourites and start from there. The good old Tomato is certainly worth a try. Why pay extra at the supermarket for "vine" tomatoes. Half the time they don't taste much better than ordinary loose ones. Don't be fooled by that "fresh vine" smell either. It's not always an indication that the texture or taste will be any's just the smell of the stalk. 


Certain dwarf varieties have the added advantage of being able to grow in hanging baskets amongst the lobelia or in growbags or pots. speciality. I have grown all sorts of things in pots and growbags over the years. Dwarf green beans, courgettes (with the bonus that you get the flowers which you can stuff - very trendy) carrots, lettuce, Aubergines, Capsicums, Chillies, rocket, potatoes YES potatoes, spinach, baby beetroot, spring onions,  plus a whole range of herbs such as rosemary, parsley, basil, bay, coriander, thyme, sage and oregano.


Pots sizes can start from 4" in diameter for many  herbs to 6" in diameter and depth for small catches of baby carrots, dwarf green beans, radish and cut-and- come-again lettuce,  to 8-10" in diameter for larger crops like leaf beet which is an excellent substitute for spinach and has the advantage that you cut a few of the outer leaves from the plants at a time so the hearts keep growing for later harvesting ensuring a continuous crop of succulent young leaves.


What about fruit?  Strawberries are easy but believe it or not apples, pears, cherries, peaches and plums are also possibilities. OK, you need a large pot (something like a half barrel) for the last three, but I've done it and got fantastic results and with the dwarf varies available today you don't need the space of an orchard.

All  you  need  are  containers  of   some kind  be they plastic or pukka terracotta flower pots, or wooden (so long as they're water-poof and have drainage holes),  compost or a mixture of compost and soil and preferably something like vermiculite or perlite which not only bulks up the compost but also makes it more free draining and lighter in weight (easier if you have to move the pots), and a proprietary fertiliser. When you first start, don't get too bogged down with the myriads of fertilisers on sale: choose a general one and it should suit most of your needs. Ummm, I suppose I should also mention seeds or plants?


For those of you who love your flowers, be it in containers or direct in the soil, why not grow veggies or herbs among them? In our Growing Herbs and Vegetables we not only tell you how to grow crops, but we state their height and spread so it's easy for you to figure out what to plant where so they don't obscure your flower display. Just imagine the front of your border with colourful plants softening the edges of the path - petunias, nasturtiums,  alyssum, coriander, sweet peas, lobelia, basil, pansies....


We also explain about not having to grow veggies in the traditional long rows and sowing in succession which means you don't get a glut of veggies all ready at the same time. Growing crops in these ways also often eliminates the need for all that time-honoured double digging. The most you'll need is a hand fork and trowel. SAVE YOUR BACK!


Remember, veggies are just plants...many  just as beautiful as flowering plants but with the bonus that you get to eat them. Oh, and don't forget you know where they've grown, how they've grown and what chemicals have been sprayed on them. Personally, I haven't used ANY chemicals on my crops in the last 15 years. That's a lie! I have used slug pellets AROUND the pots but not on the soil.


Why not have a go? Just a couple of 2ft square or round patches, a few 2 ft rows in the border or 5 or 6 pots or troughs will do, but I bet once you've tried it and harvested your own fresh vegetables or herbs, you'll be hooked. 


Happy Crop Growing!




Picture of part of my terrace showing flowers and cherry tomatoes (by the window)  and bottom Right hand a couple of leaves of a Courgette plant....all growing in pots or growbags




! ! !    STOP PRESS    ! ! !

Don't forget St. David's Day on 1st March AND St. Patrick's Day on 17th March. We have sections dedicated to them with,  of course, LOTS of recipes



Celebrate Easter with our fabulous Easter Menu. We've laid it all out from start to finish with a timed countdown to help you get everything ready at the right time, in the right order. No more wondering if you've forgotten anything. There are even check boxes to tick off once the stage is completed.



Recipe of the Month

Mustard Rhubarb Salsa

Did you know that rhubarb was originally classified as a vegetable? Well it's true  and it was only re-classified as a fruit in the 40's.  With early rhubarb coming into season now, I thought I'd get away from the usual rhubarb crumble or stewed rhubarb and give you a more unusual recipe. It's very quick & simple but gives a wonderful edge to grilled fish.

1 tsp Olive Oil
225g/8oz Rhubarb
2 tbsp Sugar
1-1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Red onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp freshly chopped Parsley
1 teasp freshly chopped Basil
Salt and Black Pepper



Serves 4     Cooking and Prep time:    15 minutes



1. Chop the rhubarb into 2.5cm/1-inch pieces.


2. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat then add the  rhubarb and sugar and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.


3.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve warm

New and featured Recipes 

V = Vegetarian       GF = Gluten Free      DF = Dairy Free

Main Courses

Prune Tomato and Feta Salad      GF

Steak with Balsamic Prune Sauce   GF   DF

Buckwheat Lentil Pilaf       GF   DF

Highland Sausage Plait

Chicken and Prune Tagine   DF

Cajun Style Gator Tail     GF   DF

Cajun Cod        DF

Jambalaya      DF

Roast Pork Cajun Style    GF   DF

Creole Meat Loaf

Easy Chicken Gumbo     DF

Seafood Gumbo       DF


Desserts Cakes & Bakes

Prune and Apricot Compote       GF   DF

Banana and Prune Muffins      V

Prune Cake       V

Moroccan Baked Fruit Dessert      V

Baked Prune Cheesecake     

Bananas Foster      

New Orleans Brownies      V

Louisiana Honey Cake     V

Sweet Potato Pone      GF

Mississippi Mud Pie    





Soups, Appetisers & Starters

Angels on Horseback

Prune Polenta Canapés      V

Gorgonzola Prune Crostini       V

Fried Okra       GF

Bayou Fried Crayfish

Hush Puppies     

Oysters Rockefeller

Crayfish Chowder



Prune and Thyme Stuffing      V

Bulgur with Leeks       DF

Sour Prune Sauce        GF   DF

Prune Sauce for Turkey

Pickled Prunes      GF   DF

Fried Okra       GF

Hush Puppies     

Creole Seasoning       DF

Cajun Marinade      GF   DF

Creole Sweet Potatoes       GF   DF

Louisiana Green Beans   DF

Red Beans and Rice  GF   DF



Whether you're looking for everyday,  exotic or unusual food and drink,  visit 

Food shopping has never been easier !


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