Ten Uses For Mint

The mints are a versatile family of plants.  They are perennial and if not confined can become invasive.  They usually respond well to having their growth restricted by planting in a sunken container or using some other form of physical barrier. There are many that are commonly grown including spearmint, peppermint, common mint (winter mint) and apple mint.

They are semi shade to shade lovers and are easily propagated by root division. I love to use it fresh but it can be frozen in sealed plastic bags or in an ice-cube tray.  Fill the compartments with chopped mint and top up with water before freezing. It is also easily dried. Best to hang the leafy stems, cut just before flowering, in a dry airy place.  Keep the dry leaves in an airtight container as the full aroma does not last long when exposed to air. Here’s just ten ways you could use up some mint……


1   Add some dried leaves to Pot Pourri and fill a herbal “sleep pillow” for relaxing and refreshing sleep.


2   Tea made from dried or fresh peppermint leaves tastes delicious. It is said to be relaxing and a good start or end to the day.  Iced peppermint tea in the summer can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days for a refreshing drink.



3   Mouth and breath freshener.  Chew a sprig of your favourite mint for a quick breath freshener.


4   Mint is a natural deodorizer and bug deterrent.  Use diluted 10 parts water to one part peppermint oil in a spray bottle around doorways and windows or add a few drops of oil to your floor cleaner for a beautiful fresh smell as you mop!


5   Add some mint along with some coriander in a Fattoush salad, just brimming with fresh flavour.


6   Freeze strong mint tea in ice cubes for cooling summer drinks.



7   Mix one part strong mint tea to one part cider vinegar and use as a hair conditioner.  Can be left in or rinsed out.


  Make some mint jelly or mint sauce and have with a lamb roast… mmm.


9   Try a Mojito muddled with fresh mint. Muddle mint sprigs with sugar and lime juice.  Add Bacardi and top up with soda water.  Arriba!!



10    Sprinkle some chopped fresh mint on to some Greek yoghurt and mixed berries. Delicious….


Quails Eggs

I took a visit to one of our local markets yesterday and stumbled across some quails eggs.  I had to buy them as they looked amazing! The seller said to hard boil them and eat them in a salad.  They have a thick membrane under the outer shell but otherwise are similar to chickens eggs, albeit a much smaller version.  Had lots of fun trying them out in various ways, hard boiled, fried, poached……will try some mini scotch eggs later……recipe to follow…..


Milo Slice

This is a quick and easy slice, ready in under 30 minutes…..



1 cup SR flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup coconut

1/2 cup Milo

1 egg

120g butter, melted


Combine all dry ingredients. Mix in butter and egg and stir well. Press mixture into lined slice tray. Bake at 180C for 15-20 mins. Enjoy!….

8 Strand Bread Plait

Today I tried out an eight strand bread plait, inspired by The Great British Bake Off! I used the basic bread dough recipe that I’ve already published, did the first rise and then set about making my plait….

Divide the dough into eight equal portions and roll out with your hands into strands about 40cm long. Number the strands from 1-8 from left to right.  When you move a strand it takes the number of its new position.

Now the fun starts…

Step 1: Place 8 under 7 and over 1

Step 2: Place 8 over 5

Step 3: Place 2 under 3 and over 8

Step 4: Place 1 over 4

Step 5: Place 7 under 6 and over 1

Repeat steps 2-5 until all the dough is braided. Leave to prove for another hour, brush with an egg wash and then bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven at 200C.


Tarka Dhal

Dhal is a great source of protein and is usually served as part of a meal in an Indian household.  This is also great on its own with naan bread…..


1 cup red lentils

750ml water

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp salt

25g ghee or unsalted butter

1-2 medium onions, sliced or diced

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

fresh chilli or chilli powder, optional

coriander to garnish


Put the dhal, water, turmeric, cumin and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes on medium, stirring frequently. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 -30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meantime melt the butter or ghee over a medium heat and fry onion until well browned.  This takes about 20 minutes.  Towards the end of the cooking time add the garlic (and chilli if using). Stir half of the fried onion mixture into the dhal and arrange the rest on top.  Garnish with fresh coriander and serve. This freezes really well and I usually make a double batch!


Plate Size

Plate Size

Have you heard of the Smaller Plate Study (aka The perils of large plates: waist, waste and wallet) by Drs. Wansink and Ittersum?

They found that reducing plate size from the traditional 12″ to 10″ resulted in about 22% less calories being served up. (We typically eat about 92% of what we serve ourselves)  They predicted that using a smaller plate for a year could lead to weight loss of about 8kg.

However, once the plate size went below about 9.5″ a lower limit was reached probably because people realised they were tricking themselves and went back for seconds and thirds!


Here’s a ten inch plate on the left and an eleven inch one on the right….. only a small difference but an easy way to control portion size.


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I thought I’d start my recipes with bread.  That everyday food that we always seem to run out of at the most inconvenient time!  I’m the proud owner of a Thermomix which makes baking bread easy and it’s lovely aroma fills the house, making it warm and cosy and making me feel like a domestic goddess!

This is my go-to bread recipe for plain, simple, delicious white bread.


300g Water

600g Bread flour

2 tsp Dried yeast (one sachet)

2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Sugar

2tsp Bread improver (optional)

15g Olive oil


Place water, yeast and sugar into Thermomix bowl and heat 1 and half minutes/37C/speed 1

Add flour, salt, bread improver and oil.  Mix 5 seconds speed 5 to form dough. Knead for 6 minutes (Interval setting).

Place dough into lightly oiled bowl.


Cover with cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  This takes about an hour or up to two depending on how warm it is.

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Give the dough another quick knead by hand.  Today I made a selection of big and small rolls but it also makes one huge loaf or two small ones…… To make rolls, divide up into portions and shape and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Otherwise place into a lined bread tin. Leave to rise until they’re doubled in size again or the dough has reached the top of the tin.  Put the oven on at 200C to warm up.
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I like to brush with a little milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds to make them look pretty!

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Cook in the oven, the smallest rolls took 10 minutes and the larger 12 to 15….. The loaf takes a little longer, about 25 to 30 minutes.  I often take the loaf out of the tin and pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes which makes an extra crunchy crust.  It should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom if it’s done.

They freeze well in a plastic bag for up to a couple of months if you can resist eating them all immediately!  We had ours with roast pork, crab apple and chilli jelly (recipe to follow) and some home grown lettuce….delicious….



All in one apple cake

It’s nearly winter and time for delicious warm from the oven apple cake.  Nice on its own or with ice cream, custard or cream if you’re feeling wicked!  This is the easiest apple cake ever, especially if you have a Thermomix.  If you don’t then you just have to chop the apple by hand to the size you want them, melt the butter and mix all ingredients by hand….


125g butter

3 large apples

180g caster sugar

300g self raising flour

1 egg


Preheat oven to 180C. Put butter in the Thermomix and melt at 60 degrees, speed 4 for 3 mins until melted.  Add remaining ingredients. Blend speed 5 for 40 seconds. Pour into greased and lined slice tin or square tin.Cook for 40 mins until done when tested with a skewer….yum……

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