Greek Style salad with Pelargonium graveolens,cherry tomatoes & feta cheese

This healthy & spicy salad filled with cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black olives, feta, pelargonium graveolens leaves and herbs make
a refreshing side dish to enjoy with your meal,
The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, aromatic flavour of the herbs, as well as the tangy fruity taste of the feta and black olives
creates a beneficial & nutritious dish filled with delicious
vegetables and greens.

Ingredients 4 servings


125g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cos lettuce, leaves removed and ripped into small pieces
I red onion cut into small wedges
3-4 leaves of pelargonium graveolens, finely chopped
Finely chopped herbs- basil, oregano and mint
Salt and pepper to taste
80g Black olives
12g chopped Walnuts or pine nuts
180g of feta cheese, cut into small cubes
A sprinkle of red wine vinegar
80g of olive oil
1 cucumber, cut into thin slices and cut in half
Tinned Anchovies in olive oil optional

To prepare
First remove the lettuce leaves and wash them thoroughly, drying them well with kitchen roll. Then rip the leaves and arrange them on a salad dish.

Add the cherry tomatoes, black olives and cucumber, then blend the ingredients together with your hands or with salad tongs, sprinkle over the herbs and pelargonium leaves
making sure all the mixture is well blended.

Cut the feta into small cubes and place them around the dish,
sprinkle with oregano followed by red wine vinegar and olive
oil.

You can also choose to add a few leaves of batavia lettuce,
beetroot, green peppers or mix with pasta.

Chocolate, hazelnut and Pelargonium tomentosum mousse

This creamy chocolate and minty dessert with pelargonium tomentosum leaves, hazelnuts ,Greek sheep yogurt and fruit makes a mouth watering delicious sweet dish to enjoy after your main meal in spring and summer.

Ingredients
1 packet of chocolate pudding power (7 servings)
I pot of Greek sheep yogurt or plain Greek style yogurt
4-5 leaves of pelargonium tomentosum, finely chopped
25 grams of chopped hazelnuts
3 to 4 small pears cut into small cubes
A sprinkle of cinnamon
A large drizzle of honey for each dish
Other fruits of your choice like peach, nectarine, strawberries, blueberries, prunes, watermelon or kiwifruit.

Dessert with pear and nectarines fruits

To prepare
First follow the instructions on the chocolate pudding packet, usually 48 grams of pudding power with 4-5 tablespoons of sugar and 660 ml of fresh or evaporated milk.
When you have prepared the mixture ready to add to the dessert dishes, add the chopped hazelnuts and pelargonium tomentosum leaves and mix well, then pour equally into each dish and leave to cool.
You can also choose to prepare only a few desserts and keep some back for later placing them in the fridge.  
Spoon the yogurt on top of each pudding individually, then add the chopped pear along with other fruits of your choice.
Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of each dessert, a few chopped hazelnuts and a large drizzle of  honey .

Greek style meatballs with Pelargonium citronellum, spearmint & graviera cheese

These pungent & flavoursome meatballs filled with spearmint, pelargonium citronellum leaves and nutmeg make a delightful meal especially when added to tomato sauce and spaghetti.  The sweet spicy taste of peppermint, delicate lemony flavour of pelargonium citronellum scented leaves and the nutmeg, garlic & onions creates a tasty nourishing meal that enlivens the taste buds.

Ingredients
Half a kilo (17 oz) of minced meat
100g fine bread crumbs
2 grated onions
7-8 leaves of pelargonium citronellum, finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 ½  tablespoons of fresh or dried Spearmint, finely chopped
50g of grated Graviera cheese or Swiss Grugere
A sprinkle of wine vinegar
2 table spoons olive oil
1 egg
A large Mixing bowl, refrigerate for about 2 hours

To prepare
First fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes or until softened then remove from heat & leave to cool.  In a prepared mixing bowl add the bread crumbs, spearmint, pelargonium leaves, nutmeg, vinegar, olive oil and then the fried onions and garlic and mix together.
Add the mincemeat and blend the ingredients together with your hands, add the egg and continue to mix, making sure all the mixture is blended well.
Make small meatballs by rolling a tiny portion on the palm of your hand or on a chopping board in a circular motion, then place them in  a container or wrapped in foil and place them in the refrigerator for about two hours
You can either dip them in egg and toasted breadcrumbs or in flour before frying in oil for about 15-20 minutes or until it has cooked all the way through.
Add them to Tomato sauce preferably containing mushrooms, garlic, onions, chicken stock, a little paprika and spaghetti.

Pelargonium capitatum lavender & chocolate cup cakes

These tempting & delicious cupcakes are just heavenly to snack on during your coffee or tea break. The natural flavours of chocolate, rose leaf pelargonium and lavender create a delicate rose, minty floral taste along with the sweetened  lemon icing.

Ingredients
75g (3 oz) self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder)
100g(4 oz) caster sugar
100g margarine
2 eggs, beaten
3-4 sprigs of lavender flowers, flowers taken off stalk
3-4 leaves of pelargonium capitatum, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (mixed in with the eggs)
A pinch of cinnamon
Topping (optional) lemon icing or another favour of your choice
One lemon,  100g icing sugar

To prepare
First place 18 paper cases onto a prepared  cupcake baking tray, then add the margarine and  the sugar into a warmed mixing bowl, cream the two ingredients  together using a wooden spoon until it is lighter in colour with a fluffy consistency, also mixing in any of the mixture left at the sides of the bowl.
Mix the  cocoa with a small amount of water in a small bowl  so that it turns into a paste and then add it to the beaten eggs, blending it well together with a fork. Then Add the egg/cocoa mixture a little at a time to the margarine and sugar mix, beating well together.
Next slowly fold in the flour making it as light as possible, adding the pinch of cinnamon, chopped rose scented pelargonium leaves and lavender flowers, Mix together and then spoon the mixture into the paper cases  and place them in the oven for 20 minutes at a temperature of 190 c (375 F mark 5)
lightly press the top of the cup cake with your finger to tell if they are ready and if it bounces back then they can be taken out of the oven and allow to cool.
After baking you can choose to add a layer of icing sugar with a sprinkle of lavender flowers and  then serve with a refreshment such as tea or coffee.
Icing sugar (optional)
Prepare a bowl and add 100g of icing sugar, then pour in one tablespoon of  lemon juice and mix together using the back of a spoon until it is the right consistency, adding another tablespoon or icing sugar  if needed.. Make sure the cakes are on a level surface then gently pour a small amount on top of each cake and spread it over with a knife, or if you prefer you can use a piping bag. Sprinkle with lavender flowers and or decorate with pelargonium flowers.

These Scrumptious and flavoursome scones are delicious drizzled with honey and walnuts or simply a spreading of jam, The herbs rosemary and thyme create a piney and minty flavour along with the balsam and lemony taste of the Pelargonium citronellum leaves, a lovely addition to your coffee or tea break.

Ingredients

225g (8oz) self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder)
5ml (1tsp) baking powder
50g margarine or butter cut into small pieces
1 egg
A little milk
A pinch of salt or 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (depending on taste)
2-3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves taken off stalk
1-2 leaves of pelargonium citronellum
A Peel of half a lemon finely chopped or grated
Topping honey and or walnuts or jam

To prepare
Sift the self raising flour with the added baking powder into a mixing bowl, add the margarine and  rub in lightly with your fingers & thumbs above the bowl until the texture is similar to that of  fine breadcrumbs.
If you have a sweet tooth add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar  or just a pinch of salt as the drizzle of honey will act as a natural sweetener. You can also add a little olive oil if you like.
Add the finely chopped rosemary leaves and thyme as well as the finally chopped lemon peel and pelargonium citronellum leaves. Mix together in the flour mixture then make a well in the centre and add a beaten egg, stir the contents together adding a little milk until you reach the right consistency to form a soft dough.
Knead lightly to take out any visible cracks, then a light dusting of  flour to your work area and rolling pin, roll out the dough with a thickness of approximately 2 cm’s.
When the dough is rolled out carefully cutout the pieces using a 2 cm cutter or cut into triangles, add them to the baking tray lined with a baking sheet and place them in the oven for 8-10  at a temperature of 230 c (450 F mark 8)
you can also replace the egg with soya or almond milk.
After baking, cut the scone in half and add a layer of honey and or walnuts, or jam served with a refreshment such as tea or coffee.

Scented gardens

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Photo by Jannine Joles-unsplash.com

Scented flowers and leaves have many benefits for your health, well being, positive energy and also for providing beauty and fragrance to your home & garden.
Flower petals and scented leaves can be used to make perfume, essential oil, pot pourri, soap, rosewater scented candles, incense, a bouquet of flowers as well as for food and beverages. Recent research have shown that the aroma from scented leaves and flowers can influence our feelings and mood, by reducing stress, anxiety, fatigue and to improve memory and relaxation. The purpose of the flowers fragrance in nature is to attract bees, butterflies and moths, & the scented leaves to deter insects away from the plant.

Whether you choose to grow your scented plants near to the house, along a walkway in the garden which releases fragrance as you pass by, in a container garden on a patio, on steps, close to a dinning area, a pot full of herbs or grown along a wall or trellis they can bring great joy and pleasant aromas to your surroundings.
Planting aromatic lily bulbs in deep containers near to the home, or by a doorway or window box can be very inviting to your friends and neighbours with its strong sweet heavenly scent like the L. regale, L.henryi, L. longiflorum, L.casa blanca, . L. auratum, L. candidum, L. hansonii and various oriental lilies.
Scented flowers and herbs which have been cut and taken indoors to be dried in spring or late summer, are edible and can be used in cake making, tea, in desserts and drinks as well as for sachets, bath water, potpourri, dyes and candle & paper making such as marigold, violas, lavender, cornflowers and roses.
Fresh edible flowers such as hibiscus, honeysuckle, lavender, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, citrus flowers, roses, violets and daisies can also be used for cake decoration, desserts, liqueur, mousse, salads or as a garnish. The flowers usually have a delicate flavour so it will not effect the overall taste of the food and can also look appetizing & artistic.
An arrangement of freshly cut scented flowers in a vase can not only lightens up a room with its array pastel shades or exotic colours but also emits a delightful fragrance.
Other scented plants ideas for creating more fragrance within your garden space include a Lavender hedge, sweet peas for their scented flowers or a rose garden.

A garden full of pleasantly rich highly scented plants can be captivating & uplifting, especially when they fill the air with perfume bringing tranquillity and relaxation to your surroundings while encouraging wildlife and creating a peaceful environment.

Scented plants can be grown not only in the garden by the side of a walkway, in a flower border or low growing varieties around stepping stones but they can also do well in containers & window boxes which is especially lovely grown close to a window, doorway or gate or archway
Frangipani has a very strong beautiful rich sweet fruity floral fragrance which come in a choice of pastel colours of pinks, white, yellows and oranges and is associated with love & romance which can also be used for essential oil, skin care and perfume, It originates from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, so it needs a hot & sunny position and in cooler countries it may need a green house or conservatory.
The Lily of the valley (convallaria majalis) has sweet scented delicate bell shaped flowers which is used for perfume, for bridal bouquets and has medicinal properties. In Greek mythology this plant was discovered by the god Apollo and is also the national flower of Yugoslavia and Finland. Gardenia has large white flowers with a strong sweet fragrance and is used for essential oil and perfume, it has been customary
in France to use the flower for decoration on tuxedos and suit jackets and also as a garnish for Tiki cocktails in bars in the South Pacific. but the downside is that it requires humid conditions in acidic soil as it is native to tropical regions.
The peony flowers range in shape with colours of purple, pink, red, white or yellow and some are more strongly scented than others usually with a sweet delicate rosy scent which is used in perfume, skin care, and has medicinal properties. The petals can also be used for making peony water, tea, salads, drinks and is also popular for cut flowers, and is a symbol for the twelfth wedding anniversary. Sweet peas have a rich intense fragrance & pastel coloured flowers of purple, blue, white or have two colours, the scent can range from low to very highly scented and is used for bouquets, essential oils, perfume & skin care and has medicinal properties. Lathyrus Odoratus ‘Matucana’ is said to have the strongest perfumed flowers of the sweet pea.

Having the luxury of growing beautiful & colourful fragrant flowers in your garden or in containers can be captivating, but they can also be used to add beauty and taste to your food and beverages such as syrups, cakes, iced drinks, teas, ice cream, salads, cocktails, jams, desserts, mousse, lemonade, stew, with cheese or simply for decoration especially if they are grown naturally without the use of pesticides.
Scented leaf pelaroniums like the P. tomenosum mint scented leaf, P. citronellum lemon scented leaf and P. capitatum rose scented leaf can be used in cake making, jellies, desserts, to flavour drinks and ice cubes more. Anise Hyssop has lavender coloured flowers which has a light liquorice like taste and is related to the mint family, this plant alone is said create up to 90,000 flowers which attracts bees and butterflies, the leaves have medicinal properties which has been traditionally used by the native Americans and the flowers can be used in hot tea, iced tea, salads, pies and sweets. Carnations are believed to be originated from the Mediterranean when it was described by Theophrastus an ancient Greek botanist 2000 years ago. The native colour is purple pink but are also available in colours of white, yellow, red, blue & green and the flowers and scent is often used in beer, wine, vinegar, sauces, salads, yogurt, cakes and desserts. Lavendula is a very popular culinary herb because if its very strong feminine floral fragrance which is also used for essential oil, L. Angustifolia ‘Munstead’ is the most usual lavender for its use in cooking which include cupcakes, sponge, scones, dressings, desserts, salads, buds in tea, honey, marshmallows, jam and can be mixed with rosemary in savoury dishes. Elderberry has white or cream colour flowers usually in clusters with a fruity floral scent and is part of the honeysuckle family, the berries when cooked are used to make wine, juice, dye and for the treatment of cold & flu. The flowers are used to flavour jam, ice-lollies, cake, desserts, marshmallows, honey and is used to flavour the french liqueur ‘St Germain and ‘Halland Flader the Swedish distilled spirit known as Akvavit.
Flowers which are used for food and beverages include Angelica, Bee balm, Begonia, calendula, carnations, Chamomile, chicory, Chives, Chrysanthemums, Clover, Cornflowers. Daisy, Dandelions, Day lilies, Elderflower, Apple/Pear/Plum or Citrus blossom, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Marshmallow, Lilac and Nasturtum.

Freshly cut fragrant flowers picked straight from your garden for an elegant bouquet arrangement for your dinning area, living room or bedroom can be exquisite especially when they fill the air with their heavenly scents while adding beauty with many colour varieties to your living space area,
Flowers such as Chrysanthemums, Sweet pea, lily, sunflower, tulips, gladiolus, roses, corn flower, peony, carnations, dianthus and gypsophila, eucalyptus and succulents can be grown from seed, bulbs or plants from a garden centre or nursery, When you cut your plant for a bouquet it is best to cut the stems at an angle so that the ends will not settle at the base of the vase and to remove any leaves and branches from the stems which will go in water, Place the flowers up against the vase and measure the length, cutting the correct size you desire, the flowers will last longer if the vase has been cleaned frequently after use with the removal of previous plant debris. Spread out the flowers evenly around the vase removing any dead blooms, the primary flowers are the ones you wish to show up the most in your arrangement such as large or colourful ones and the secondary flowers are usually smaller in size, you also need to add interesting plant leaves to create a balance of flowers within your bouquet. Place the flowers into a vase which has been half filled with water add a table spoon of sugar or mix in plant food to your vase to help to preserve the flowers for longer and it is advisable to change the water every three days.
Zinnia, which is part of the daisy Asteraceae family with brightly coloured flowers of white, yellow, orange, red and lilac, native to North & South America and is said to be the longest lasting flowers in a bouquet, followed by orchids ,carnation, delphiniums, chrysanthemums, alstroemeria and gladiolus.
Succulent types such as Scabiosa flowers that forms a rosette shape in various colours of purple, red, Pink and orange, goes well with roses in a vase. Echereria are greyish blue succulents that has flower stalks with brightly coloured rosettes which can make a bouquet look more sculptural and elegant, another is Aeanium a low growing succulent with leaves that form a rosette also know as the house leek, there are a number of species and cultivars some with dark reddish brown leaves.

Highly scented fresh flowers and herbs can be used to make essential oil from your own garden for treating a range of aliments, relaxation and massage.
Flowers such as chamomile, geranium, clary sage, jasmine, juniper berry, lavender, rose and more are made for floral scents so you can make your own face or body cream, soap, face mask, massage oil for aromatherapy or to add it to your bath water.
Collecting fresh flowers, leaves or herbs from your garden and adding them to a steam distiller with water which is heated from underneath, the steam from the plants goes through the chambers of the pot and then drips out as essential oil, it can be purchased in a range of different sizes.
Cold pressed essential oils are made from citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes which are peeled and placed in a cloth, then crushed to release the essential oils.
Maceration is when the flowers are infused in a carrier oil such as sunflower or almond, then placed into a copper pot and heated underneath for a few hours and the remaining essential oil is filtered.

Enfleurage is the oldest method where essential oils are extracted using the hot or cold method for more fragile flowers like jasmine and rose, this can be done by using a glass frame with a coat of animal fat or fatty oil, the frames are stacked on top of one another and after a few days to weeks the flowers are replaced with new ones, later alcohol is added with the fat and then separated to create essential oil.
Blue tansies are perennial herbs with yellow flowers that resemble a button in shape, the essential oil is dark blue and has a fragrance similar to apple which is great in skin care for delicate and irritated skin and making it look more glowing. It is also used as an insect repellent and to flavour sauces, omelettes and puddings & the Cherokee also used this plant for medicinal uses.
Ylang Ylang also know as the perfume tree is native to tropical Asia and is part of the custard apple family. The leaves are oval and shiny with yellow star shaped flowers which face downwards. Essential oil is pale yellow beige in colour with a custard like fragrance and a dash of jasmine & neroli, used in perfume and aromatherapy.
Jasmine meaning ‘gift from god’ derived from the Persian word Yasanen is popular for its highly scented flowers and is part of the olive family, the flowers are white or pale yellow and grows as a shrub or vine. The essential oil has a sweet exotic floral scent and is used for perfume, aromatherapy, for favouring tea and for religious ceremonies. Other flowers include helichrysun (sweet rich fragrance), bergamont (floral citrus), neroli (sweet spicy floral), rhododendrom (fresh light scent) and yallow (fruity herb).

Nature ways to improve the immune system

At this difficult time all our lives will be affected by the covid-19, so it is important to support one another.

We hope all are well and keeping safe as much as possible.

Here are a few natural ways to improve your immune system

Adding fresh thyme and rosemary to your food if possible (or dried from a supermarket ) with half a clove of garlic chopped into small pieces and added to food while cooking such as chicken, eggs omelette, fish ,soya mince or other meat and vegetables etc.

 

rosemarry

Olive oil uncooked (preferably virgin olive oil) added to food after cooking can also help.

Rosemary is great for strengthening the immune system and also for respiratory problems such as sinus infections and the common cold & flu.

You can add a sprig or  a half chopped into small pieces or dried with garlic while cooking, it can also be added to soup and tea.

It is also a disinfectant, anti inflammatory, anti oxidant with vitamins c and A, copper, zinc, phosphorus, iron and also improves digestion.

thyme cutout copy

Thyme also helps improve the immune system, the lymphatic system and against respiratory infections. It is full of iron, calcium, vitamins A, B6, C, E, K and magnesium. Thyme also has antiseptic, anti inflammatory, anti spasmodic, anti fungal and antibacterial properties and improves memory, depression and sleep. A few  sprigs pushing the leaves off downwards or dried.

 

Garlic has antibiotic properties and can help against infection and cardiovascular disorders also reducing the risk of chest problems, digestive and fungal infection.

Half a clove of garlic cut into small pieces and added to food while cooking.

Please note that too much garlic can irritate the stomach.

 

Lemon may also help the immune system as it is full if vitamin c as well as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and is also good for the  heart and digestion. Add Hot water to a cup or mug with a squeeze of half a lemon and honey.

 

Hope this helps

Pelargonium capitatum

Pelargonium capitatum is an elegant rose scented plant with attractive light pink flowers and can look especially lovely in a large pot with the trailing branches. The leaves can be added to a sponge cake by place them upside down at the base and placing the mix on top or/and chopping up 3 leaves and adding them to the sponge mix which has a delicate rose taste.