Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Making a Start

After looking at my poor neglected greenhouse, I bit the bullet and braved the elements and emptied it!  Not popular with the man folk in my house, I piled the fishing gear, tools, bikes etc and just as the heavens opened...again, I left them to it.  The day was incredibly dark so just thought I would make sure everything that was left was meant to be in there and then swept up.  I am full of ideas now that I can see the surfaces and the glass.  Because of the rain and then sun, the plants have gone mad around there so the next day where there is some respite I will chop these back to make sure the greenhouse gets as much light as it can.  Then, some of the glass will be replaced and I will then use some glass sealer to make sure there are no drip drips from the roof.  Once cleaned it will be time to start painting the staging.  A plain wood at the moment but will soon be a clean white.  I also started looking through the pots and decided to go for my favourite pinks, greens and white.  Making it feminine so that the men folk will leave well alone!

A little way to go yet, but just getting the 'non garden things' out was so satisfying!

Also during the weekend my poor mumsy was left with all her cards as the fete was cancelled due to the weather.  So these came to work with me to see if anyone would like a bargain hand made card.  These were greatly received.  She is so talented but so disappointed that the craft fair didn't go ahead.

And the rain continues.  My plants love it but I so want to get everything tidied up.  I am going to start buying winter vegetable seedlings and clear the way for these as it won't be long before Autumn knocks on the door.

One good thing in the garden is the vine. This has been twisting and turning its way through our pergola for about nine years and has now extended it's amazing tendrils to in front of our garage. There are grapes beginning to form but my favourite part is the large, lucious leaves.
Each year I cut the larger leaves and then parboil them for about a minute and then make mine and Bex's favourite dinner - dolmades. This is from my school days when I used to go to my friend's house for lunchtimes and she would share her Greek/Cypriot mother's cooking. The taste was amazing, it was so different. The flavour of the vine leaf is a little bitter, but offset by the herbs, rice and meat. I can never get it exactly as she did, but the recipe I use is this:

20 larger vine leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g pork mince
50g long grain rice
1 small tomato, chopped small with seeds removed.
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
a pince of ground cinnamon
625ml hot chicken stock
a small knob of butter

1.  Parboil the leaves in a large pan of boiling water for about one minute until the leaves go to an olive green.  Drain and pat dry.
2.  Heat oil in plan, add onion and garlic and simmer until the onion is soft.  Add to a large bowl.  Add the uncooked mince to the bowl, uncooked rice, tomato, herbs and cinnamon, add salt and pepper and mix with your hands making sure everything is well combined.
3. Take a small amount, about the size of half your palm and press together with your hands making a small sausage shape.  Please this at the base of the vine leaf (vein of the leaf facing you) and then fold the side of the leaf and then roll to the top enclosing the filling.  Put this at the base of a large pan.  Keep doing this until the parcels are closely placed together at the base of the pan.  Pour over the stock and dot with the butter.  Put a small plate on top of the parcels to make sure the rolls do not come apart and then simmer covered for about an hour or until they are cooked through.

I usually serve it with a salad, lemon juice and some home made chips cooked in the oven with garlic and onions in the roasting tray.

This is so moreish, and I always make extra so we can have some for lunch the next day. I also freeze the vine leaves after they have been parboiled so that I can use them during the winter. You can also freeze them after putting the parcels together but before cooking them.

I have also been making my own bread, as there is nothing better on a cool, wet day than breathing in the smells of fresh baked bread. 

I have been sitting in my favourite chair in the evening, pretty much as I would in Winter, crocheting a granny blanket.  It is taking about an hour to do one line!  But it is gradually getting bigger.  I keep thinking of the projects I need to do in the house before winter sets in again, such as finishing the utility room and the bathroom but have resigned myself to doing this in August when I will also start washing all the soft furnishings ready for the 'winter clean' before Christmas!  I'm already getting ready for this!!

I have also started a Pinterest Board which I will put on here when I work out how to create a suitable link.  At the moment I am gathering pictures of shabby chic greenhouses.  There are some absolute beauties out there!

Also, as it is Friday and the end of the week, I have been busy dodging the rain drops and collecting flowers for any containers I can find to bring them into the house where myself and my family can enjoy them.
I love my Peace Lillies, they always give such a grand show.
And my beautiful 'Geoffrey Hamilton' Rose.  This is my absolute favourite!  So much so that I now have two plants in the garden!!  He was an amazing gardener.
I was so determined to get as many flowers in the house that I have even used a 'shot glass'!!  This one contains my Grandmother's lavender, a pink, mint and the gorgeous smelling jasmine which is trying it's best to open up it's flowers, but with no sun it may just go to sleep and come back again next year.

Let's see what the weekend brings xx

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