Monday, 11 June 2018

Words for winter ~ and warming desserts

Winter is upon us and as the darkest time of the year draws near mood can drop with light levels and temperature.  Good food is a great way to stoke up and make us feel good, as is the lively warmth of an open fire... 


For me finding words, images and rhythms to express inner gloom can also really cheer me up - it's one of those paradoxes with which our good world abounds!  It's like singing the Blues, I guess, or winding up a bit of loud Rock or Heavy Metal!  Or if I'm in the mood for Classical, organ music can work wonders.  Anyway, here is my little effort for the evening:

Sun gone
     light fades,
          mist and chill rise.

I wander the swamp
     tinderbox in hand
          seeking fire.

Darkness and the swamp
     draw me in.
      
Peat burns below.
     The swamp and I are one.

....
Phew!  That feels better!

Note: peat can burn underground, as noted here:

Okay, on to three of my favourite winter desserts: 



And it must be about time to make marmalade as grapefruit will be ripening now - don't miss out:

Marmalade ~ my recipe ~ ratios for citrus, sugar and water


Loads of other yummy food recipes can be found on this page:
Keep warm now, and be sure to stoke that inner fire as well.  

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Mushroom pie ~

This pie is a great all-rounder: it's great as a mains dish when flanked by streamed potatoes and vegetables or salad, and is just as good for a light lunch or snack, hot or cold.  It is also good to take to gatherings as it's easy serve and you can eat it with your fingers - no knife and fork to grapple with.  Cut into slices it is easy to freeze and later reheat.


In the pie photographed I had rolled the extra pastry into a 'snake' and placed it onto the pie in the spiral pattern once I'd put in all the ingredients.  Decorating the surface of the pie is a good way to use up scaps of pastry. 

You will need a metal pie tin - 20 to 25cms in diameter, as the pastry simply won't cook crisply in a glass or china pan. 

Ingredients:
Filling:
  • Onion - 1
  • Capsicum - half to one of these.  I think yellow capsicums are best with mushrooms, but other colours are fine.  
  • Oil - just enough to saute the above
  • Mushrooms -  125grams. 
  • Thyme - a pinch - this is the secret ingredient in cooking delicious mushrooms, but don't overdo it!
  • Salt - a little to taste
  • Milk - quarter of a cup
  • Eggs - 2
  • Flour - 1 Tablespoon
  • Mustard powder - half teaspoon
  • Sour cream - half a cup
  • Cheese, grated - from one to one and a half cups.
Pastry:  
A single sheet of a standard shop-bought of puff or flaky pastry will do - 20-25 cm pastry square

Or - make your own.  I have made this one but it is fairly rich, so no good for those of us now on cholesterol-reducing diets!  It's a while since I made this, so I can't recall if it makes enough for one pie or two.  I think it's enough for two!  If it's more than you need the extra amount can be wrapped and put in the freezer for the next pie. 

Cheese pastry:
  • Flour - 2 cups
  • Salt - half a teaspoon
  • Butter - 100gms
  • Cheese, grated - 50 gms or half a cup
  • Milk - half a cup or perhaps a little more
  • Vinegar - 1 teaspoon
A food processor can be used to put this together.  
Grate or chop butter and whiz with the flour and grated cheese until it's the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs.  Then add the milk and vinegar and whiz briefly to combine.  Do not whiz it until it becomes a ball of dough!  Tip out and gather up the 'crumbs' and chill or roll out as required. 

Method:
This pie is baked at 220 degrees Celsius, so make sure you preheat the oven in plenty of time.  
  • Make the pastry, or if using a shop-bought sheet fit one to your lightly greased tin.
  • Grate the cheese and spread it over the uncooked pastry.
  • Beat the eggs, milk, flour, mustard powder and sour cream together and set aside.  
  • Chop up the vegetables, setting aside the mushrooms.
  • Saute the onions, capsicum thoroughly in a little oil.  
  • When they are well cooked add the sliced mushrooms and thyme.  Do be careful not to overcook the mushrooms - they should be tender but not starting to lose moisture into the pan.  This makes a considerable difference: the fully baked pie will be much better in flavour and texture.  
  • Spread the vegetable mixture over the pastry and cheese.
  • Pour the milk and egg mixture over the top of that.  
  • Bake at 220 Degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until the filling is set in the centre. 

Removing the pie from the tin:
You don't need to do this before cutting and serving, but I prefer to - but it can just as easily be cut and served directly from the tin.  Here is my method:
  • When cooked lift the pie in its tin out of the oven, loosen the edges of the pastry from the tin by running a table knife around the outside walls of the pastry between the pastry and the tin; place a large dinner plate upside down over the pie while still in the tin and, holding the two carefully together, turn them over.  The pie should now be upside down on the plate, and the pie tin should lift off easily.  Place another dinner plate on the base of the pie and turn it up the other way.  It should now be right side up and ready to cut.  

Notes and tips: 
  • From time to time I've had difficulty with the bottom of the crust not being sufficiently cooked.  If after turning it out you find that the bottom isn't fully cooked slide it onto a metal baking tray or sheet.  Then put it back into the oven for five or ten minutes.  Having it on the baking sheet will enable you to check the browning of the pastry without having to turn it out of the pie dish again! 
  • If freezing it cut into portions first.

To find all my recipes and food articles click the link below:
My list of vegetarian meals options, a large number of which are linked to my recipes, can be found here:
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Sunday, 29 April 2018

No shampoo ~ happy hair care easier than I thought

Choosing hair products can be daunting with supermarket and salon shelves loaded with a vast choice of shampoos, conditioners, mousse, gel, 'defining' creams, you name it, row upon row of fancy plastic bottles and tubs each claiming to serve some special purpose.  How to choose has been a hard question.  In addition to the overwhelming choice my not-particularly-discerning nose finds most of them downright smelly!   Why, why, why is the simple task of washing our hair and having it nicely manageable so complicated?

After lengthy experimentation my conclusion is that happy hair care need not be complicated at all, and that I should have listened to my grandmother - who said that she only ever used Sunlight soap and rainwater on hers.  She had beautiful soft wavy hair which always looked lovely, so there was ample proof that it worked for her, but what about me?  Decades after her death and even longer since I'd heard her say this (for she did tell me herself) I decided to try out her way.  The thing about rainwater is that it's 'soft' which affects the solubility of soap and its residues, but I didn't have a handy barrel of rainwater, so what to do?

My solution is nearly as simple: Sunlight soap and diluted white vinegar.  See below for the image of all the hair care products I hop into the shower with.  The tumbler of white vinegar is about a fifth or a quarter full, which I fill up with warm water from the shower head when I'm ready to use it.  The tumbler is plastic rather than glass as a safeguard against possible breakage and glass fragments underfoot.  An enamel one would serve just as well.


My method couldn't be simpler: I wet my hair under the shower, rub the soap on to it to get a nice lather, and then rinse it out with water.  It feels a bit 'squeaky' to touch after that.  I then fill up the tumbler from the shower head, and, tilting my head back, carefully tip it over, rubbing my scalp with my fingertips as I do so, and rinse it with water once again.  After that the 'squeaky' feel is completely gone and my hair just feels nice and soft and clean.  Any trace of the smell of vinegar is of short duration, and after drying isn't noticeable at all.

I've found it just as easy to do this over the bathroom basin or kitchen sink with the aid of a large jug.  Although the vinegar water can get into my eyes a bit it easily blinks out in a palmful of clean water, and I wouldn't rate it as more troublesome in this respect than ordinary shampoo.  I asked a chemist if he thought it could be harmful and he that in that low dilution it would be fine. 

And what else?
My hair is like my grandmother's in that it has a nice wave and is very fine, thick and soft, so it can easily go flat and out of shape.  The best treatment I've found is, once again, one I make myself, and similarly easy: a tiny amount of guar gum, which I buy at the supermarket in powdered form (it's a food thickener) mixed with an equal quantity of vegetable oil and a little water.  You can find my recipe for this is here:
Before applying it I comb or brush my wet hair into some kind of order.  To apply the gel I wet my hands under the tap and then scoop a small amount of the gel onto my hands and rub it over my fingers to coat them; I then bend over so that my hair is hanging down, and rub it in as much possible around the roots of the hair.  Because my hair is so soft I don't need much.  After that I stand up, finger-comb it into the shape and apply a little more with my fingertips around the crown where I want it to have a bit more body.  As it dries I scrunch and lift it a bit to encourage the waviness and the little bit of extra height and volume that I want.  

It's that easy!  It took me a while to arrive at though, and what suits me may not suit others.  This is because each of us has different hair and skin, so if trying this out you'll probably find that it's worth experimenting with the ratios, frequency of washing and hair management routines.  When I get up in the morning my hair has usually gone fairly flat and shapeless, and I've found that rather than washing it I just need to wet it with wet hands, running them through it a few times, and then comb it into shape.  The tiny amount of gel that is already in it helps it take the shape I want and once dry it's pretty again.  Others might find that periodically wetting it under the shower - without washing it with anything else, works fine. 

Before arriving at the solution described here I had wondered about alternatives to shampoo for years.  I was finally prompted to experiment seriously at a time when my scalp became irritated in patches.  Although a pharmaceutical product gave some relief I realised that a better longer term solution to my usual hair care routine was needed.  The doctor recommended Johnson's Baby shampoo, which is very gentle, but I found that even that was too drying.  I knew that plain, undiluted vinegar can be used as a soothing application for irritated skin, and took it from there.  With regard to soap I tried the very gentle all purpose pure vegetable oil soap that I use even on my face, but found that that was too drying.  Sunlight soap suits my hair best. 

I've used this method for at least a year and these days happily stroll past all those shelves of hair care products with a sigh of satisfaction - I don't need them any more.  

I avoid hair care products even at the hairdressers: I have a very good stylist, who accepts that I wash my hair at home before going in to have my hair cut, and also decline the blow dry and use of any hair care products.  Establishing this early in our acquaintance was also helpful in arriving at a lower than advertised price, so this point can be well worth talking over - before sitting down in the stylist's chair. 

Here is my the shopping list for hair care products:
  • Sunlight soap, which comes in a pack of four in a nice cardboard box - no plastic or cellophane
  • White vinegar - 'plain pack' is fine, nothing fancy required here, and
  • Guar gum powder.
As well as being free of strange and unpronounceable chemicals this regime is the ultimate in thrifty hair care!


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      Friday, 6 April 2018

      Potato and asparagus pie ~ self-crusting

      This vegetarian pie is great on the day and freezes well to serve again another time.  Portions stored in the freezer reheat in the microwave within minutes so it's a great stand-by for those got-to-eat-something-substantial-quickly occasions.  As you can see in the photograph it keeps it's shape so is easy to serve and looks appetising.  Furthermore it's a great crowd-pleaser. 


      Please note that you will need a metal or enamel pie dish.  The pie will not self-crust if baked in a glass or ceramic dish.

      Ingredients:
      • Potatoes, cooked - 350 grams (approximately 2 - 3 medium sized) 
      • Onion - 1 large chopped
      • Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed and chopped
      • Vegetable oil in which to saute onion and garlic
      • Eggs - 3
      • Salt - 1 teaspoon
      • Milk - 1 cup
      • Flour - 1/2 cup of plain flour
      • Baking Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
      • Asparagus, cooked and drained - 200 grams from a 340 gram tin
      • Cheese, tasty or other - 100 grams.  Aim to fill about a cup.  I like to combine Edam with feta cheese.
      Method:
      Assemble and prepare the different parts:
      • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius  
      • Cook potato - I steam mine.  Allow it to cool and then chop into dice-sized pieces or similar.
      • Saute onion and garlic and allow to cool. 
      • Drain asparagus and chop into lengths about 1 inch or so long 
      • Grate or crumble whatever cheese you are using
      • Beat eggs, milk and salt 
      • Grease or otherwise butter your metal pie dish. 
      In a large bowl combine, mixing with a fork: 
      • Eggs and milk with onion and garlic.
      • Sift in the flour and baking powder.  Do not over-stir or try to get all the clumps of flour smoothed out.
      • Stir in cubed potato, then finally the asparagus and cheese.
      Pour into the pie dish and bake at 220 degrees Celsius for 20 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.   

      Do not overcook.  It needs to be firm and golden but is best if still slightly gooey in the middle when cut.  This ensures that it will still be deliciously moist after reheating in the microwave.    

      I leave it to stand for about ten minutes before serving it in wedges.  When cool it can be carefully removed from the pie dish in wedges after being loosed with a spatula - see the photograph at the top.    


      Variations:
      • Last time I made this I added cubed tofu, and in place of one of the eggs substituted a tablespoon of chick pea flour (besan) mixed into a paste with a tablespoon of water.  It was the best yet!
      • It can also be made including vegetables other than asparagus.
      My other food articles can be found by clicking on the link below:
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      Sunday, 22 October 2017

      Beetroot ~ raw in salad with ginger, orange and mint ~ and cooked by itself

      A reminder about the nutritional value of beetroot prompted me to think back about a recipe for a salad that I hadn't made for years.  I decided to unearth it and try it again.  It was even tastier than I recollected and I wondered why I'd forgotten about it all those years.  No matter, I have it back in use now!

      Before I set out the recipe take a look at the delicious ingredients: grated raw beetroot, chopped orange, chopped crystallised ginger, chopped dates and fresh mint - yum!!!  You'd think that the raw beetroot would be crunchy, but it isn't particularly.  This salad is easy to eat as well as being very tasty. 


      Beetroot salad
      Main ingredients:
      • Beetroot, raw - 150 grams, which is about half of a medium sized beetroot - peel and grate
      • Orange - about 50 grams, which is half of one - peel and chop coarsely.  Reserve the other half for juice to add in the dressing.
      • Ginger, crystallised - 25 grams - chop finely
      • Dates, dried - three - chop
      • Mint, fresh - one generously sized sprig - refer to the photograph for an approximate quantity - chop finely
      Dressing:
      • Orange, about a tablespoon of fresh juice from the other half of the orange used above
      • Salt - about a third of a teaspoon
      • Oil - about half a teaspoon.  I don't know why I add this really, probably completely irrelevant!
      Method:
      Combine these and then pour over the other ingredients.

      Toss it all and leave to stand for a bit.  All the ingredients immediately turn various shades of  pink and dark red, so you lose the startling colours shown above, but the taste is so worth it!

      We had ours with slices of feta and spinach pastry roll, which was a very good combination.  

      If you prefer beetroot cooked, steam the beetroot before grating.  It takes about 45 minutes.  Allow it to cool before combining it with the other ingredients.

      When I made this today I made two separate salads exactly the same except that for one of them I used steamed beetroot.  I wanted to find out which I preferred.  The two of us enjoyed both but slightly preferred the raw.  I'm often not that keen on raw vegetables as I find they don't always agree with my digestion, but there was absolutely no problem with this salad. 

      Cooking beetroot:
      Steamed beetroot has a great texture: not crunchy, but distinctive and very nice.  As stated above, steaming takes about 45 minutes.  The recommendation I've come across is to wash the root and cook it whole, and peel and chop it afterwards.  The reason given is that it 'bleeds' more if cut first.  I've done both, and can't see that it makes all that much difference, and the colour of the cooked root is still dark red.  Whether you do or not it's easy to handle.  Either way you get a lot of red moisture to wipe away, so it's best to wear an apron and to use wiping and drying cloths that you're not going to fuss about afterwards.

      The tinned stuff is dismal in comparison: I find it unappealing both in texture and flavour, so if that's all you've had you may be in for a pleasant surprise if you cook your own.   

      The most common way that beetroot is served is in a brine which is almost entirely vinegar combined with a lot of sugar.  As I understand it this makes it a pickle.

      My mother used to make something of this sort which was good, but in looking for an equivalent recipe I found only those with all that vinegar and sugar, which is how you make the aforementioned brine, and I don't want that, so what I'm after isn't pickled beetroot.   

      Beetroot has plenty of its own sugar so why add more?   What I want is to do is enhance its flavour so that it's nice with a meal or in a sandwich.

      It's worth experimenting.  To do a consistent set of tests I first tried it with the vinegar but without the sugar.  It was, quite predictably you may say, inedible!  Even when I added sufficient water to equal the amount of vinegar the vinegar was still overwhelming, and taking a mouthful of that sample sent me into a fit of coughing - impossible!  After a few hopeless efforts I found it was much simpler than that: I steam it just like any other vegetable and then add a bare minimum of seasoning as outlined here:

      The simple solution I have arrived at is to peel, slice and then steam my medium-sized beetroot in a wire basket steamer over water.  Steaming it when sliced is much quicker than if whole and unpeeled.  The water below still becomes bright red, but perhaps there is less bleeding than if simply boiled directly in water.
      Once cooked I added to the water:
      • Salt - 1 teaspoon
      • Cider vinegar - 1 teaspoon 
      • Kikommen sauce - 1 teaspoon 
      I then give it a good stir, decant it into a medium-sized glass casserole dish, add the cooked sliced beetroot, ensuring that there was enough liquid to just cover it, or thereabouts, place the glass lid on the casserole dish and let it cool before storing it in the fridge.  It keeps fine there for three or four days during which I enjoy beetroot, mint and feta cheese sandwiches!  

      Here is a photograph of my effort.  It is decorative!  The colour does continue to leak though, so if I'm using beetroot in a salad sandwich I don't use my customary cloth napkin to wrap it up in.


      In its raw state it's such a non-descript vegetable and a complete contrast to its peeled state!  This one came from the supermarket so is devoid of its leaves.  The leaves are also edible, but I haven't seen roots with leaves attached in the shops, so growing ones own would be an advantage.  Those shopping at a farmers market may have more luck.  


      Nutritional and health benefits:
      Beetroot is a good food in so many ways: it's a good source of fibre, iron, manganese, potassium, vitamin B9, vitamin C, is advantageous to heart and gut health, and much more.  The links below are to articles which give more comprehensive detailsThere are plenty of recipe suggestions included in the first of these two articles:

      My other articles about food and recipes can be found here:
       .

      Sunday, 15 October 2017

      Salad in my sandwich ~ and my favourite no-fuss salad oil and wrappers

      A well made salad sandwich can be a meal in itself, a great way to pack in all those good fresh veggies and make them really tasty.  This needn't involve costly or pre-made ingredients.  In this salad shown below, I've chopped and mixed rocket greens and tomato with my oh-so-easy salad oil.  There's cheese underneath the salad veggies.  I've lately cut down on dairy products, and found that chopped walnuts (very nutritious) are delicious in place of cheese, or even with it, for that matter, although rather rich!


      Simply-the-easiest salad oil:
      I make the salad oil up freshly each time and when I say easy I mean really easy: for one serving, for a sandwich filling, or to go on the side with other food, I put half a teaspoon each of cider vinegar and vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt.  That's it, no sugar, no preservatives, no special ingredients, no equipment required other than a bowl, fork and spoon.  I put the salad oil into a small bowl, add the chopped tomato, turn it over to coat it nicely, then add the chopped salad greens and any other ingredients and it's ready.  That simple salad oil is just enough to coat the veggies and make them really tasty.  It also holds everything together ever so slightly. 


      Before I started using this salad oil I often used tomato relish to add flavour, but have found that I no longer want it, so that's another simplification in my pantry and shopping. 

      Sandwich wrapping - cloth napkins:
      I like my sandwiches absolutely bursting with goodies with the predictable result that eating them readily results in bits of filling going in all directions, so the sensible thing to do is to wrap them so that everything is contained while I'm munching them up.  For a while I used paper lunch wrap; then it occured to me that a cloth wrap would be nicer to hold and way more elegant.  I thought of a set of table napkins I've hardly ever used which would be about the right size and style, and that I could make them like that.  Then it occured to me that actually those would do just as they were, and decided to try them out.  If they got a bit stained, never mind, they were for wrapping food after all! I've done this for a while now and found these napkin sandwich wraps a great success:


      Laundering:
      They do get a bit marked, but not enough to matter.  I tried not even rinsing them after use to see how well and found it made work soaping marks out prior to machine washing and that even then marks tended to linger, even though they were not all that noticable.  The best way to care for them is to rinse them in cold water in the kitchen sink after using, and then toss them in a bucket to go through with the ordinary washing.  This is much more effective and no bother.  

      But what about wrapping for picnic lunches, or taken sandwiches to school or work?  There is absolutely no need to use plastic wrap.  Since this is a hobby horse of mine I'll repeat that: There Is Absolutely No Need To Use Plastic Wrap!  Waxed paper is just fine.

      Paper wrap for sandwiches:
      Fabric wraps are fine when eating at home, but when going out I use waxed paper by Mono:


      There you go, neat and tidy and no fuss at all.  Don't be deterred by the prospect of the bread drying out: I've never found this a problem, and if it is for you where you live, read on below about damp muslin cloths.


      Continuing on about the paper wrapping: once finished with it it's not wasted: toss it into the sink, pull it apart and put it in the compost bucket.  It's already decomposing and has its place in the food chain.  At my place that compost will go into nourishing the garden.  That's how it should be!  The cycle of goodness and nourishment continues.


      Keeping sandwiches fresh, from the days before plastic wrap: damp muslin cloths!  
      I remember my mother and other women using these to cover plates of sandwiches prepared before guests arrived - easy, effective and once you have them, no cost other than ordinary laundering.  The value of muslin for this purpose is that when damp or wet it adapts its shape and clings in a way that other cotton fabrics and polyester don't.   (Note to self: I must make some!)

      If using a lunch box and wanting to ensure that sandwiches don't dry out, you might like to try one of these in that.  Away from home a chilly bag or ice brick would ensure coolness. 

      There is no one right way to do things.  
      It's well worth experimenting with different ways of doing things that suit us and our difference lives.  For me an important guiding principle is to keep an open mind and continue experiementing to find what is wholesome and practical for myself.  That makes ordinary everyday things satisfying.
      My other articles about food and recipes here:

      My articles about housekeeping and shopping are here:
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      Monday, 2 October 2017

      Drifts of daffodils ~ yellow, cream, orange and white ~ so many lovely variations ~

      I've always loved daffodils.  Some years back we lived in a place which had a field of daffodils just over the fence.  To my mixed bafflement and tantalisation it was clear that cultivation had been abandoned long ago and the whole area overtaken by long grass.  For most of each year sheep grazed there, but each spring they were excluded while a multitude of deeply buried bulbs sent forth their tender growth; these worked their way through layers of matted roots and overgrown grass in an annual pilgrimage to the light and sun, then burst forth in golden glory.

      I'd grown up near market gardens of flowers so knew what I was looking at, and it seemed a crying shame that this great show took place in such an inaccessible spot.  They deserved to be seen and shared!  I was much inclined to hop over the fence and help myself, not only to bunches of flowers, but also to buckets of bulbs; no one else seemed to want them, but I did, or at least a selection of them.  Each spring I looked at them with both disappointment and envy but as I had no idea who the field belonged to and it seemed wrong to help myself without permission I did nothing. 

      One spring, after we had been there a few years, I finally got my act together and decided that it was now or never - that if I didn't make an effort to track down the owners and get some while they were still flowering the opportunity might not come again.


      Finding the owners took determination: I had to beat back ingrained shyness and summon up a degree of persistence but it wasn't actually hard, and when we met it was a pleasure.  Kathleen was happy for me to dig up my choice of bulbs, and said she had been meaning to dig up some for her daughter as well; she suggested we do it together.  What could be better!  To ensure goodwill I offered to pay for them, and we agreed that a suitable donation to the SPCA in her name would be a satisfactory arrangement.  I also offered her some of my irises, which she was happy to accept.  Just as she had a surfeit of daffodils, so did I have a multitude of irises!  It's great to share the good stuff! 

      A week or so later we met in the paddock and spent a contented afternoon digging around those overgrown beds.  From our side of the fence you couldn't tell that the daffies were laid out in rows and beds, but once I started walking around the paddock it became obvious: I could see from the flowers that each bed was of different sort.  There were at least a dozen varieties.

      Climbing around the paddock brought back happy childhood memories of the market garden nearest our home, where daffodils nodded in long rows on steep terraces.

      It was hard work but great fun prospecting around the hillside, picking out different clumps, and then, depending on what worked best, carefully inserting my large spade or gardening fork to lever those bulbs out.  It took care and patience as most of them were buried deeply under thick mats of grassroots but I managed to get a lovely big haul.  With the daffodils still in flower I was able to put each clump into a separate bag so as not to muddle them up.  I got a full set of all that I could see, which was at least a dozen different sorts.

      It rained for a bit but it didn't matter, and after we had been thus busily at work for well over an hour my sister came up with cups of tea and cake - food for the gods!  There is nowhere else in the world that a cup of tea and a picnic tastes as good as the garden in which one is at work!  (It is the best restaurant on earth, but you have to have been working in it and be still in your gardening clothes.) 

      Kathleen got a good haul too.  After we had got as many as we could possibly want I helped Kathleen carry hers to the top of the paddock and thanked her.  She generously said I could hop over the fence to pick flowers whenever I liked.  The care I took in being courteous with my enquiry and request seemed richly rewarded.  We were both happy and took home stacks of golden treasure.   

      Here is a bunch I took in for the house.  What a lovely variety there was.  I love seeing them all together:


      As soon as I could I planted those carefully defined clumps of daffies in a row arranged so that I could keep track of which was which.  I decided that this was the best way to build up my collection.  Although I like them combined once picked, when they are in the garden they have much greater visual impact when planted with others of the same sort.

      It was just as well to have been particular about how and where I planted them as when it came time to move house it was winter and all those bulbs were invisibly below ground.  This meant that although I had little idea which clump was which I did know exactly where they were, so was able to get them all out.  Once they flowered again it took me a while to figure out which was which, but the main thing is that I had managed to keep them all in their original clumps and to take them all with me.

      Identifying them:
      For my own reference and for the pleasure of others I have photographed them and shown them here.  I've numbered rather than named them.  I don't know their names, and even if I did, the identifying tags are more easily numbered than named, as you will see from the descriptions below.  Where I've had a range of good photos of one sort I've included them to improve the chance of accurate identification.

      I have observed that they don't all flower at the same time, and that colour faded somewhat as blooms aged, which can lead to confusion: for example, is a large one with the cream outer petals and an orange centre (number 9) the same as the one with yellow outer petals and a bright orange centre (number 2), but just faded a bit?  And is the timing of their flowering innately different or due to some other factor.  I've commented as accurately as my recent observations allows, but can't say for sure; next year I will be able to compare notes and take a better informed look.  It has taken time and attention to detail to establish these probable answers, and as a result I've become a lot more observant!  Now when I'm out and about and glancing at other daffodils I can see right away if they are like mine, or different, or if I've never seen that sort before!  I've found this with other things I've taken the time to observe and learn about: the more I look and learn, the more I see, which is a particular form of wealth. 

      Here is my collection:

      Number 1:
      This is a favourite.  They are large, with golden bowl-shaped centres and rounded pale yellow outer petals.  This year it was one of the first to flower.  Flowers lasted for ages.


      Here is one close up:


      Here they are fading.  They flowered vigorously and lasted a long time.  We had a lot of wind which was ageing for all the daffies.  They stood up to it well, however.


      Number 2:
      These are large, with pale orange bowl-shaped centres and yellow outer petals. 


      Number 3:
      These are large.  The centres are perhaps more cone-shaped than bowl-like and a very dark orange.  The outer petals are almost white.  They flowered vigorously and rather later than some of the others.


      Here is a close-up:


      Number 4: 
      I'm much inclined to call this one "Miss Frilly" as it's sumptuous!  The blooms are large, and the centre is a combination of cream and yellow, with these rather like layers of petticoats.  As you can see in this image the centres are in distinct layers: each centre is yellow, then a layer of cream, then a yellow outer petticoat, and then the outer petals are cream.  They flowered later than the others. 


      Here it is again:


      Number 5:
      These blooms are medium-sized, with two blooms on each long stalk: they have a small neat central cone which is orange, and the outer petals are white.


      Looking at blooms close up gives no clue to size:


      Number 6:
      The classic large yellow trumpets.  Glorious!  These seemed to flower longer than all the rest, but I might have imagined that. 


      Number 7:
      These are medium-sized and starry looking, with smallish lemon-coloured cones in the centre and fairly narrow and pointed outer petals which are more cream than white.  In my previous garden this clump grew up through a clump of catnip, which my little cat Louisa enjoyed, so I think of them as hers.  Daffodils can be particularly effective when planted in ground cover plants which 'don't mind' their post-flowering dying back. 


      Number 8:
      These blooms are small but on full-sized stems.  There are five or six blooms on each stem.  Flowers have a lemon yellow cone in the centre and the outer petals are creamy white. 


      ... and here they are again...


      Here they are close up...


      Number 9: 
      A large bloom, with a bright orange cone and yellow outer petals.  It is very like number 2, but the central cone is a much darker orange.  I don't think this is due number 2 fading with age.  The time of their flowering was quite a distance apart:



      Number 10:
      This may be a miniature, or maybe the small flower is due to a small and young bulb?  I'll be able to observe it again next spring.  It has a large yellow trumpet and cream outer petals.



      Number 11:
      This is like number 10 but full sized.  The large trumpet is lemon yellow and the outer petals white or cream.



      Number 11 again and faded?  I don't know.  I took the photos some time apart and by the time I took the second one I'd had a go at sorting out the numbering and had lost track!



      Number 12:
      Blooms are medium to full-sized: the centre is an extended yellow cone rather than a trumpet, and the outer petals are white/cream.  


      Numbers 13 to 15 I'm not sure enough to describe.

      Number 16:
      The bloom is large with an orange centre and the outer petals are cream, which is somewhat similar to numbers 2 and 9, but quite distinct (I think?!).


      I've looked for information on the internet about possible names of these varieties but found nothing conclusive.  

      Classification is based on detailed analysis of petals and their colour and the number of blooms per stem, etc.  I couldn't be sure that any mine are shown on any of the pages I've looked at. 

      At present all my daffies are in tubs where they will remain until I find a more permanent home.  Some of them need re-potting, which I will do once the flowers have fully died back, but they are doing okay and don't seem to mind being in tubs.  In fact they have done very well.  I wonder about the paddock of  daffodils we left behind.  Maybe I should go back there for a visit...

      For your interest here is the link to:
      And two nice pages by the Mercervale Nursery, the first one about classification:
      ... and this one about the planting and care of daffodils:
      To find my other gardening articles click the link below:
      The story about my previous garden which was next the field of daffodils is here:
      .