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Three days in, and May is looking pretty good – could it be that winter is really over?  There’s been blossom on the greengage tree for a little over a week now, and in the last few days the flowers have started to open on the damson tree too.  Last year the fruit trees blossomed and the bees buzzed around the flowers, then it turned really cold again and come autumn there was no fruit.  I’m hoping for better this time… there will be jars of damson jam, and lots of apple and greengage crumbles.

Greengage blossom

The warmer weather has brought out the insects too, I know this because I spent a large part of yesterday rescuing bees from the greenhouse.  Bumblebees and tawny mining bees seem to be drawn to the greenhouse, but then can’t find their way out again.  I only started noticing the tawny mining bees a few years ago, when tiny volcanoes of earth started appearing in the garden.  They’re lovely bees with ginger hairs and no sting.  They nest in lawns and flower beds (the tiny volcanoes mark the entrance to their nests), and lay their eggs in underground tunnels.  The adults are active from April to June – just the right time of year for pollinating fruit trees, and the busy females collect pollen and nectar to feed their larvae which then overwinter as pupae before emerging the following spring.

Tawny mining bee

In other news, this is The Garden Deli’s 100th post… so really I should be offering a celebratory cake recipe.  But, with two birthdays to celebrate in the last week, and some fabulous biscuits and a cheesecake made in school food technology classes, the house is swimming in sweet goodies.  Instead, here’s a recipe using my favourite plants from the garden – seasonal herbs to flavour some Yorkshire puddings.  With a bit of sunshine, the chives, parsley, marjoram, tarragon … well all the herbs really, are starting to put on some serious growth.  I already have a list of herby recipes to try over the next few weeks – Cathy’s herby stuffed mushrooms, Louisa’s roasted mushroom pearl barley risotto with parsley and thyme, and Andrea’s wild greens pie are all bookmarked to be made soon.

Herby Yorkshire puddings

Meantime, here’s my offering for May’s Herbs on Saturday – I used a mixture of parsley, chives, tarragon and young thyme leaves in these Yorkshire puddings, but any seasonal herbs would work well.  Herbs on Saturday is run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and is always a great source of ideas.  This month the challenge is being hosted by Anneli who blogs over at Delicieux – another blog to read for lots of great recipes.

Herbs On Saturday Badge

Herby Yorkshire puddings

175g plain flour

salt & freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

4 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped

2 eggs, beaten

200 ml semi-skimmed milk

60ml water

12 tbsp olive oil

Sift the flour into a large bowl, season with salt, pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.  Add the chopped herbs and stir to distribute evenly through the flour.  Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the egg and stir to mix.  Add the milk and water and whisk the mixture until there are no lumps of flour left.

Let the batter rest at room temperature while the oven heats.  Preheat the oven to 220oC, 425F, gas 7. Put 1 tbsp olive oil into each hole of a 12 hole muffin tin and put the tin in the oven to heat.

When the oven is ready and the oil is hot, add 21/2 tbsp of batter to each hole of the muffin tin.  Bake the puddings for about 20 minutes – until they’re risen and golden brown.  Best eaten straight away.