brussels flowers, dame washalot & bald pipe-cleaners

DSC07021 DSC07029Brussel flowers are nearly at an end and I have Ruby-picked narcissi. Spring has taken my kitchen by surprise and it’s very lovely. I can hear the lambs from the window (which has been flung open for most of the weekend) and I’m totally relishing the sunshine.

Driving over the hill on our way to Ruby’s swimming lesson yesterday, it was one of those mistily beautiful mornings, with the slightly greening countryside looking so atmospheric. Beautiful in a different way to an Autumn or winter misty morning, with the Spring sun bringing such hope for a fabulous weekend as it burst through.

Hopeful though the sunshine was, swimming lessons have changed to a very unkind hour for a Saturday morning, so this was definitely necessary when we got back home:


Gorgeous coffee that is sourced by a couple from Blockley, a village near to us. They source and roast the coffee beans themselves, visiting the producers and so ensuring that their coffee is the best sort of fair-trade. Totally delicious too.

As it has very definitely been a weekend to enjoy being outside, most of the food has been as a result of previous efforts. I’m finally eating a semi-hard cheese that doesn’t have a suspicious sheen, unlike my glittery cheese of a few months ago. It goes well with the quince membrillo style jelly that is proving to store well.

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Of course the days may be unexpectedly balmy, but the evenings are still chilly – I’m not unhappy with that, always glad of an excuse for a wood-burner. Last night I cooked a tagine on it with the very tasty hogget chops I mentioned here. Broad beans from the freezer (keen to use them all as I’ve just planted more crimson flowered broad beans for this year) cumin, garlic and preserved lemon went very well with the wonderful meat.

Chilly evenings are a great excuse for creamy rice pudding with the last of the rhubarb and rose petal jam too that you may remember as below.


Mornings are definitely not too warm for porridge yet either. I experimented with the banana porridge as recommended by Rachel of the fabulous Well Worn Whisk. It went down very well with Dame Washalot, aka Ruby Martha as you can see:


It was World Book Day and she was in need of sustenance for a school day dressed as one of the characters from her current favourite book, The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

In my March kitchen there are also many bald pipe-cleaners. Ruby has been as keen on making things with pipe cleaners as I have been in curdling milk lately. She’s now taken to de-fluffing them – can’t remember why exactly bald pipe cleaners were needed but they were vital for some sort of making project. Unsurprisingly my hoarder of a daughter couldn’t throw away the by product and one day asked for a bowl of water. She made a potion with the fluff.


I know, yummy.

Meanwhile though, as I simmered the leftover chicken carcass for stock (used in risotto & soup) & wondered what I could use the latest batch of whey (leftover from cheese experimenting) in, I realised that I wasn’t exactly in a position to criticise one thing leading to another in potion making.

One last thing from my March kitchen (joining in Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial’s fab IMK once again) on the subject of Brussels flowers. I’ve been supplementing the home-grown veg with a few extras from our wonderful local veg growers and greengrocers, Drinkwaters. One of their freshly picked veggies that we’ve been loving as a change from our own root veggies and chard are these beautiful, purple-tinged flowers/buds:

DSC07021Now, we grow Brussels Sprouts ourselves and enjoy the sprout tops but these are something different, both in looks and taste. Do any gardeners know, are Brussels flowers a different vegetable altogether or if left long enough, do regular Brussels Sprouts ever flower? Would love to grow them. And if your local veg shop stocks them, would definitely recommend.




17 thoughts on “brussels flowers, dame washalot & bald pipe-cleaners

  1. Brussels sprout flowers look very interesting. Is this what happens to sprouts if they’re left to grow? How do you cook them?

    • I think so too – hadn’t come across them until the last few months and that’s exactly what I want to know. I just steam them for a few minutes and they’re very tasty.

  2. I haven’t come across sprout flowers either, and don’t grow sprouts so I can’t help with your question – not much use, am I! Your Ruby sounds to have an endless enthusiasm for creating, although fluff potions might not be to everyone’s taste…

    • She certainly does – and is very keen to have the dubious potions lingering for a while too. I sneak them away when she’s on to the next bout of making! Will let you know when I find out about the Brussels.

    • She certainly does – and is very keen to have the dubious potions lingering for a while too. I sneak them away when she’s on to the next bout of making! Will let you know when I find out about the Brussels.

  3. If I remember correctly Brussels sprouts go to seed if left long enough.
    That really was an amazing spring day yesterday – 18º here :-)

  4. I adore flower sprouts and cooked a recipe on my blog about them a while ago. I have also discovered sprout tops recently and they are also delicious. Not only that bit they look so pretty too, with their frills and decorative look!

  5. I love the purple tinge with the green. Looks really pretty!

    Funny that Ruby and Sam picked the same book. He went as the saucepan man. I was quite looking forward to reading the book to him but he read it all by himself 😉

    • I know, funnily enough Ruby thought about going as saucepan first of all before deciding on Dame Washalott and blimey he’s a good reader It’s a shame sprout flowers are pretty much over – you’d take beautiful pics of them.

  6. Dame Washalot! I love that Ruby’s favourite character wasn’t Silky the fairy or one of the children, because I think Dame Washalot never got quite enough attention – no wonder she was always throwing water at people! :) Glorious early spring in your kitchen, Andrea – I’m glad the days of early morning swimming lessons are over for us, but I remember them well. Bring on the coffee! And I’m so impressed with how well your cheese making has gone – good for you! :)

    • Dame Washalot is an odd choice isn’t she! Funnily enough she made an appearance again today – washing in the treehouse & trying to catch Mum & Dad with buckets of water below!

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