Melting Moments

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The crown? Just a heads up that we could get a little regal at the end of this delicious recipe – an afternoon tea favourite that won’t take all day to make…

 

Melting Moments (originally from a Good Housekeeping Recipe book)
Makes about 24

100g. (4oz) butter or alternative – butter is best.
75g (3oz) caster sugar
150g (5-6oz) self raising flour
1 egg yolk
Few drops of vanilla essence
2 or 3 handfuls of crushed cornflakes

1. Pre-heat oven to Gas mark 5 (375F, 190C) Adjust for fan ovens
2. Grease 2 fairly large baking sheets
3. Cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon (or a mixer if available).
4. When the mixture is pale and ‘fluffy’ beat in the egg yolk and vanilla essence
5. Stir in the flour to make a smooth dough and divide the mixture into 24 pieces, or thereabouts.
6. Form each piece into a ball, roll in crushed cornflakes and flatten slightly.
7. Place on baking sheets, leaving space to rise.
8. Put into pre-heated oven, not too near the top, for 15-20 minutes until turning golden brown
9. Remove from oven, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then carefully lift off the tins on to a wire tray to cool completely.

I used to make batch after batch of melting moments – they disappeared off the cooling tray very quickly in my house. I hope you manage to save a few for afternoon tea 🙂

Linda x

Afternoon Tea

And now the posh bit!

Afternoon Tea helps you create a regal afternoon tea – no need for pomp and ceremony 🙂 Find out more here

No More Scarves

Royals do it, top models do it, children do it, grannies do it and men used to do it before women (quite spectacularly) took over.

Knitting is making a comeback!

I am so pleased. After furtively knitting and designing knitwear for years, now it’s time to wave the woolly flag and share some of my creations 🙂

When you start to knit, the first thing you’re likely to make is a scarf, which is okaaay, but a teensy bit boring perhaps. It seems to take forever to knit a scarf when you’re just beginning, and pretty much guaranteed to put you off knitting before you really get started.

So, now for something completely different!

Once you can cast on, cast off and knit a couple of basic stitches, you can unleash your imagination and create all sorts of things; practical, decorative and even entertaining, which is where The Ekokids come in.

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The Ekokids are knitted teenage dolls with vast wardrobes of clothes – an eco-version of ‘Barbie’ but so much more.

They are:
Quick to make with very few tools and materials needed
Easy to dress and undress
Unique and personalized
Soft and cuddly
Fun and edgy
And very inexpensive to make.

The Ekokid patterns have been in development for 10 years and are easy to follow with step by step instructions to make your own collection of Ekokids and outfits.

Browse the delightful designs here.

Happy Knitting!

5 Steps to a Healthier Mind, Body and Soul

Take a Break

All of us want a healthier mind, body and soul. And the programmes, courses, books, audios and videos available to help us on our journey are mostly wonderful, but there’s always the action part to take care of.

Dedicating a portion of a busy day to follow your preferred course, however much you want to do it, isn’t always an easy step to take.

Even if you write ‘meditate’ at the top of your to-do list, how often does it get blipped over in favour of more ‘important’ stuff.

So, as with any change you want to make or learning you want to undertake, baby steps are key. Try these healthy body hacks to get your healthy lifestyle rolling. As you change the small things, the bigger picture becomes clearer, and that linear time thing just evaporates 🙂

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1. Ditch the Chemicals

**Replace bleaching products with lemon! Save bits of old lemon and use them to clean the sink. Leaves a lovely lemony smell in the kitchen and bathroom.

**Grow an aloe vera plant on the windowsill – takes about 3 seconds every few days or so to water. Burns, cuts and scrapes are soothed by the gel inside an aloe vera leaf. Potions and creams often contain chemicals that could be counterproductive to healing.
**Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Fuel your body with fresh organic food and you can almost guarantee 100% health and wellness.

 

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2. Boost your Immune System

**Fresh fruit and vegetables are the obvious choice but sometimes, during seasonal changes especially, our immune systems can take a dip.
**Try fresh blackberry tea to give your immune system a boost. Put a few young blackberry (bramble) leaves in a jug. Pour over boiling water and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Cover to keep the flavour in. Strain into a cup or glass and sip when cool enough.
**Add fresh watercress to salads and soups. Chop finely and sprinkle over rice dishes etc; Watercress is full of nutrients that help keep your immune system healthy.

 

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3. Engage your Imagination

**There are many craft skills that can be learned in short bursts; knitting, crochet, sewing, scrap-booking, even basket-making if you have the room. The secret to success is to allocate a space and work on your project for a few minutes at a time.

**Another quick and easy way to get your imaginative juices flowing is to create inspiring words and pictures to hang around the house or your office. Draw them yourself if you want, or find the pictures you like and print them off. Create a vision board of your dreams and goals.
**Can you draw a cartoon or write a poem? Do you make up stories in your head or out loud?! Buy yourself a sketch book or get typing and develop your skills. Creations don’t have to be marketable. The reward is the journey and the finished product itself.

 

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4. Relax and Think

**A favourite way to relax but let the mind wander is to do a jigsaw puzzle. All sorts of ideas spring up – the only problem with leaving out a puzzle to work on is that you can get obsessed with finishing it!
**Or take a gentle walk and let your mind wander where it will for 10 minutes or so. Then remember to enjoy and appreciate your surroundings.
**Crosswords and similar puzzles keep your mind sharp and can be very relaxing. Again, don’t obsess about it or it becomes a chore.

 

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5. Relax and Don’t Think

Meditate, meditate, meditate… If for only 10 minutes. If you’re not used to meditating – or sitting still for ten minutes doing nothing at all – a guided meditation or creative visualization audio or video may help.
Plug in some headphones, lie back or sit comfortably, relax and allow yourself the few moments it takes to give your body, mind and soul a burst of energy and well-being. Do a little research and find those you resonate with.
Don’t bother to put ‘meditate’ on your to-do list, just have your headphones at the ready as soon as you wake up – or when you have that ten minutes you’ve allocated….. you have allocated them haven’t you ?

Be nice to yourself – you deserve it!

Linda x

Kitchen Garden Recipes – Tomatoes

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It’s tomato season! Let’s go for something different…..
These wonderful tomato recipe ideas are taken from the book SCIENCE IN THE KITCHEN published in 1893.

You may have to lean on your instincts a little to interpret them. There seems to be an abundance of sugar and cream, but you could always omit or use alternatives. If you have fresh herbs, especially basil, add some to your tomato recipes to really enhance the taste.

Don’t be reluctant to cook fresh tomatoes, they are one of the few fruits that don’t lose vitamin C during cooking!

Baked Tomatoes #1

Fill a pudding dish two thirds full of stewed tomatoes; season with salt, and sprinkle grated crumbs of good whole-wheat bread over it until the top looks dry. Brown in the oven, and serve with a cream dressing.

 

Baked Tomatoes #2

Wash and wipe a quantity of smooth, even-sized tomatoes; remove the stems with a sharp-pointed knife. Arrange on an earthen pudding or pie dish, and bake whole in a moderate oven. Serve with cream.

 

Stewed Tomatoes

Peel and slice the tomatoes. Put them into a double boiler, without the addition of water, and stew for an hour or longer. When done, serve plain with a little sugar added, or season with salt and a tablespoonful of rather thick sweet cream to each pint of tomatoes.

If the tomatoes are thin and very juicy, they may be thickened with a little flour rubbed smooth in a little cold water. They are much better, however, to stew a longer time until the water they contain is sufficiently evaporated to make them of the desired consistency. The stew may also be thickened, if desired, by the addition of bread crumbs, rice, or macaroni.

 

Scalloped Tomatoes

Take a pint of stewed tomatoes, which have been rubbed through a colander, thicken with one and one fourth cups of lightly picked crumbs of whole-wheat bread, or a sufficient quantity to make it quite thick, add salt if desired, and a half cup of sweet cream, mix well, and bake for twenty minutes.

Or, fill a pudding dish with alternate layers of peeled and sliced tomatoes and bread crumbs, letting the topmost layer be of tomatoes. Cover, and bake in a moderate oven for an hour or longer, according to depth. Uncover, and brown for ten or fifteen minutes.

 

Stewed Corn and Tomatoes

Boil dried or fresh corn until perfectly tender, add to each cup of corn two cups of stewed, strained tomatoes, either canned or freshly cooked. Salt to taste, boil together for five or ten minutes, and serve plain or with a little cream added.

 

Tomato with Okra

Wash the okra, cut off the stem and nibs, and slice thin. For a quart of sliced okra, peel and slice three large tomatoes. Stew the tomatoes for half an hour, then add the okra, and simmer together for half an hour longer. Season with salt and a little cream.

 

Tomato Gravy

Heat to boiling one pint of strained stewed tomatoes, either canned or fresh, and thicken with a tablespoonful of flour rubbed smooth in a little water; add salt and when thickened, if desired, a half cup of hot cream. Boil together for a minute or two and serve at once.

 

Tomato Salad #1

Select perfectly ripe tomatoes, and peel at least an hour before using. Slice, and place on ice or in a cool place. Serve plain or with lemon juice or sugar as preferred.

 

Tomato Salad #2

Use one half small yellow tomatoes and one half red. Slice evenly and lay in the dish in alternate layers. Powder lightly with sugar, and turn over them a cupful of orange juice to a pint of tomato, or if preferred, the juice of lemons may be used instead. Set on ice and cool before serving.

 

Broiled Tomatoes
(These days we grill instead of broiling!)

Choose perfectly ripened but firm tomatoes of equal size. Place them on a wire broiler, and broil over glowing coals, from three to eight minutes, according to size, then turn and cook on the other side. Broil the stem end first. Serve hot with salt to season, and a little cream.

 

Tomato Pudding

Fill an earthen pudding dish with alternate layers of stale bread and fresh tomatoes, peeled, sliced, and sprinkled lightly with sugar. Cover the dish and bake.

 

Are you growing your own tomatoes this year? Get the most from your plants with the handy tips in this handy mini-guide:

Tomatoes

 

Listed here

 

 

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Gardening in August

Gardening in August

At this time of year, there should be tons of crops available. Remember to pick them, oh, and eat them of course. If you have too many, give them away or swap with other growers, or if possible freeze a few for later in the year.

**Keep an eye out for bugs and birds. Warm days tend to encourage wildlife to feast on your veggies. If you are netting fruits and vegetables, choose a wildlife-friendly netting system so birds don’t get their wings tangled.

**Blight can be an issue when the weather is humid – keep earthing up your potatoes or use a Bordeaux mix to prevent outbreaks of blight. If plants have already been affected, pull them up and burn. Don’t let them infect other plants.

**It may be worth sowing a few fast growing veggies now; radishes and mixed salad leaves tend to come up very quickly, and they’re also great crops for children to grow.

**Create a small patch of garden for the children – they’ll have fun while learning about food and how to grow it! Choose fast growing crops though to keep them interested.

**Tidy up strawberry beds, removing any runners or diseased plants.

**Pop in a line of dwarf french beans – they grow quickly and love the warm weather. Remember to water them. Try the ‘pongo’ variety.

**Water thoroughly if you are experiencing a hot dry summer in your region, and don’t forget the pots. Pots dry out faster than open ground.

**Some onion sets and garlic can be planted now. Garlic tends to like a period of cold weather – but check on the variety before you buy.

And while you’re relaxing in the sunshine, why not do a little garden planning for next year? Growing your own food is so rewarding – and nourishing, and can save a few trips to the supermarket as well. 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Feel-Good Triggers

Love You!Can you look into a mirror, into your own eyes and declare your love for yourself? This is powerful stuff. If it comes easy, cool. But if it doesn’t, practice makes perfect. Repeat ‘I’m worthy’ and ‘I love myself’ or ‘I totally love and accept myself’ anything that resonates with you – but it has to be about loving yourself – and you need to look into your eyes and feel the love.

There are those who believe we can’t love anyone unconditionally until we love ourselves. This is kind of true when you think about it – it stings but that’s nature for you! Keep loving yourself until you know you can look in that mirror and love unconditionally the wonderful person looking back at you.

Now that you know you’re wonderful 🙂 there will be a part of your mind that tries to force you back into your comfort zone – which in reality is not a comfort zone but a place that’s so familiar it feels like it’s okay to be there….

But is it?

We can all become masters of our thoughts, although few of us in a busy world believe we have time for self-improvement. But we can find moments to help us along the way. As soon as the doubts, anxiety and fearful thoughts turn up – and they will – don’t ignore them. Acknowledge them as part of the ‘old’ you and use a trigger to push you back into the ‘new’ you.

Triggers could be:

**Post-It Notes – in strategic places with uplifting quotes or even simply ‘I am worthy’ in big bold letters. There are tons of inspirational quotes you can find with a simple google search.

**A favourite song that gets you up and dancing – not one that makes you melancholic. Move the file of your favourite song of the moment and have it available on your desktop to play at one click.

**Vision Board – if you have a vision board, enjoy it. If you don’t have one, create it now. They’re great fun and you can change them whenever you want

**A chat with a friend or family member who always makes you feel good about yourself. This isn’t the moment for needy friends, call them later when you’re back on track.

**A quick dip into a feel good novel or a self-improvement book. There are some great books out there waiting to be enjoyed.

**Physical activity – always good for you – dancing, exercise, pottering in the garden, even housework can energize you and make you feel good – not one of my personal favourites, but I know it does work.

**Play! – one of the best quotes from George Bernard Shaw is ‘We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing’ – having fun, playing catch or a board game can really lighten the spirit.  So if you’ve got a couple of kids around, leave the washing up, turn off the TV and play a good old fashioned board game or get out in the sunshine.

 

The bottom line is that if you’re aware of your thought patterns you can consciously switch on your triggers. They won’t come bounding into view just because you feel a bit low… remember, you are worthy of joy and happiness and those pesky negative thoughts that keep on rolling in uninvited don’t have to control your feelings.

Take Aways

**Create a vision board if you don’t have one – or refresh the old one
**Choose some uplifting quotes you love and post where you can see them
**Do a little research, treat yourself to an uplifting book or even a course.
**Have fun and enjoy the moment.

And love yourself always.

Linda x

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P.S. Healthy Body Hacks (listed on The Good Life page) expands on some of these triggers and focuses on healthy changes that can be made in minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Edible Flowers

10 Edible FlowersThere are hundreds of edible flowers you can grow in your garden. However, you must be 110% sure they’re edible before you eat them!

Some garden flowers such as crocus, foxglove, clematis, azalea, mistletoe are HIGHLY POISONOUS and should never be taken internally.

If you’re allergy-prone, introduce very small amounts of flowers into your diet – one at a time.

Most herbs produce flowers you can eat. They are usually slightly milder in flavour than the leaves and stem. Herb flowers can be used to garnish salads.

Many flowers and flowering herbs can be infused in boiling water and drunk as tisane. Regular lawn daisies help relieve stress and a few young bramble ( blackberry ) leaves will give your immune system a boost. Thyme and lemon balm will help prevent colds and relieve cold symptoms. Lavender flowers and oil have been used medicinally as well as in the kitchen for generations.

Do you have edible flowers lurking in the back garden right now?

Carnations – add to wine, sweets, and use as cake decorations

Elderflower – make elderflower champagne from the flowers – make it non-alcoholic for a refreshing summer drink (and full of vitamins!)

Honeysuckle – flowers taste of honey and can be eaten raw and added to wines and desserts. Please note honeysuckle berries are highly poisonous – DO NOT EAT

Jasmine – jasmine flowers are normally used to make tea. Simply steep the flowers in boiling water and strain.

Marigolds are another antiseptic herb and the flowers are a great culinary asset. Again, children love the bright orange petals and can be easily persuaded to eat their veggies.

*Mix a few petals into a plain rice dish to add colour and taste, as well as a few extra vitamins.

*Sprinkle over dishes to garnish

*Stir into a green salad.

*Make a soothing tisane by steeping petals in boiled water for a few minutes, strain and serve.

Marigold petals can also be used to soothe aching feet! Pour hot water over petals, allow to cool a little and soak your feet.. bliss!

Nasturtiums are wonderful garnish flowers. Scatter a few over a large bowl of green salad. The colours are stunning and you can mix in a few chive flowers for a purple touch. Nasturtium flowers will only stay fresh for a couple of hours so should be picked as close to dinner time as possible. The leaves will stay fresh for a day or two in the fridge.

Roses – Rose petals can be used to garnish desserts, flavour ice cream or add to jams. Rose hips (a great source of vitamin C) can be made into rose hip syrup or wine. Rose Petals can be crystallised and used to decorate chocolate cakes, cup cakes, or use them for celebration cakes for weddings or Thanksgiving. Roses are always a pleasure and being able to actually eat them is divine 🙂

Thyme is an antispetic herb and a soothing remedy for the symptoms of colds and flu. Pick off a sprig of thyme, flowering or not, and put into a jug with a spoonful of honey and a little lemon juice. Pour boiling water over and stir to dissolve the honey. Cover the jug to keep the heat in and leave to steep for a few minutes. Strain through a small sieve or tea strainer and drink as soon as it’s cool enough. This tisane recipe gives you an instant feeling of good health.

Violets – Sprinkle a few violet flowers into a salad. They have a slightly perfumed taste. Violet flowers are traditionally crystalized and used as cake decorations.

Zucchini flowers have been served in the finest restaurants for many years and are a delicacy, apparantly! They can be simply used as a garnish or dipped in a fine batter and deep fried for a minute or two.

Edible flowers are a stylish addition to any meal. The Romans used them to garnish their banquets 2000 years ago! Many restaurants will have a variety of edible flowers to garnish their more elegant meals. You can grow them at home in your garden, backyard or window box.

N.B. Never use pesticides or chemicals on plants you intend to eat.

Bon Appetit!

This little kit seems to have everything you need to grow your own gourmet flowers.

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Plant Theatre Gourmet Flower Kit 6-Edible Flower Varieties to Grow

 

 

Linda x

Loving Lemons

Loving Lemons

In an attempt to reduce my caffeine intake, I’ve started enjoying lemon, ginger and honey.. it really is delicious – and healthy!

Just pour boiling water over a sliver of ginger, a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey in your favourite mug and remember to drink it!

 

Lemons are so versatile. Here are 5 delicious ways to enjoy lemons…

1. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into a hot tisane to help prevent colds and flu during winter months. Fresh thyme leaves, a spoonful of honey and a little lemon juice is delicious and a great preventative medicine.

2. Pour lemon juice, to taste, on pancakes and sprinkle over a little sugar.

3. Use lemon juice in home-made salad dressings to add a little extra zest to your greenery!

4. Squeeze a little lemon juice over cooked kale or other green veg, according to taste.

5. Grow a lemon tree at home and you can pick a fresh lemon every time you indulge in a G&T!

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Lemons have been used in medicinal preparations for generations. They are a source of dietary fibre and an average lemon weighing approx. 58g contains around 30mg of vitamin C.
Lemons are used in many commercial products because of their grease cutting and bleaching agents.

(I’ve heard it said that real lemons are used in lemon polish and lemon-flavoured chemicals are used in lemonade .. hhmm )

MORE THINGS TO DO WITH LEMONS
– Lemon juice is a well-known astringent and is beneficial in helping dry out very greasy hair. Lemon juice will dry the hair so don’t use too much.
-And because lemons are so astringent, they can help cut grease in the kitchen. Many well-known washing up liquids and detergents have lemon juice added.
TIP: Don’t throw away old slices or pieces of lemon. Use them to wipe round the sink every time you wash up. It cuts through any greasy spots and leaves a lovely smell behind. Leave a slice over the outlet so that the water draining away will contain some lemon juice and help clean through the pipes and drains.

There are lots of lemon trees on Amazon and they vary greatly in price. This is one of the cheaper ones…looks delicious though!

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Lemon Citrus Fruit Tree 45-50cm Supplied in a 2 Litre Pot

 

 

Linda x

P.S. There’s a downloadable Lemon growing guide on this page Growing Guides

10 Awesome Facts about Aloe Vera

healingplants-aloeveraAloe vera has been widely used as a medicinal plant for centuries and in the last decade or so, we westerners have finally proved it’s value beyond any doubt. So, of course, aloe vera now appears in every conceivable product from juices to shampoos, creams to potions and beyond!

These ten facts are just the tip of the iceberg – the research that has been done using this miracle of nature is totally mind blowing.

1. Aloe vera was discussed in an ancient Egyptian document – around 3500 years ago – and gives 12 formulas for mixing aloe with other agents to treat internal and external disorders.

2. In the first century AD, the Greek pharmaco-botanist Dioscorides describes aloe vera as being a useful treatment for boils, bruises and mouth irritations. He also attributed it’s juices to cleansing the stomach and inducing sleep.

3. In the 1850’s, aloe was used to expel intestinal worms.

4. In the 1950’s, research was carried out on patients with gum disease. Sap from the plant was injected into affected gums and the treatment eliminated gum disease in most of the 150 patients.

5. Aloe vera is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. In fact nature’s first aid kit in a leaf!

6. When aloe vera is applied to a wound, as it dries it contracts and closes the wound keeping it free from infection. This is particularly good for animal wounds because if they lick the wound they won’t be affected by any unnatural chemicals found in some over-the-counter products.

7. Aloe vera helps reduce and stabilise the BMI (Body Mass Index) by stimulating the metabolic rate in liver cells so we burn more energy – and therefore helps in weight loss programmes.

8. Besides building cells and repairing tissue, amino acids are essential to keep our bodies healthy. Aloe vera contains 19 of the 20 amino acids we require.

9. Aloe vera contains at least 3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids making it a very effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, allergic reactions and, of course, burns and cuts. It’s also a powerful cholesterol reducer.

10. Aloe vera is a wonderful alternative to products we buy every day that contain chemicals, such as shampoos and conditioners. The gel can even be used on damp hair instead of ‘setting’ lotions before drying and styling.

This quotation was written by Christopher Columbus:

“Four vegetables are essential to a man’s health: wheat, grapes, olives and Aloe. The first is a nutrient, the second fortifies the spirit, the third brings harmony and the fourth heals.”

If this has inspired you to grow a few aloe vera plants, you can! I’ve grown aloe vera in pots indoors for many years and it has proved itself over and over as a wonderful natural healer.

I’ve never tried growing plants from seed although it must be possible I guess. The easiest way is to make a relatively small investment in one or two plants and with a little tlc they will produce babies year after year 🙂
These plants on Amazon UK are about two years old. Have a look around, but grab a cuppa first – there are some great plants to browse!

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Set of 2 Aloe vera plants – approx. 2 years old – 10,5cm pot

 

 

To Your Good Health!

Linda

Perfect Roasties

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Potatoes are so versatile…. try these perfectly delicious roasties!

Peel (if needed) and cut potatoes into chunks. Par-boil for 5-10 minutes depending on the texture and size of potatoes. When you can see that the outer part of the potatoes are obviously softer than the centre, remove from heat and drain well.

Heat goose fat (for best taste!) or other cooking oil in a baking dish in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes. Remove dish from the oven and sprinkle dried oregano or herbes de provence in the oil. Add potatoes to dish and carefully spoon melted oil over them. Remember the oil is hot!

Cook in a pre-heated oven (around 200F, Gas mark 5-6) for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn them over. Return to oven for another 20 minutes.

Depending on the size of potatoes you may need to add an extra 5-10 minutes each side. Eat them while they’re hot and crunchy 🙂

Optional extra – Sprinkle some freshly ground sea salt half-way through cooking time.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. Practise a few recipes in time for National Potato Day (US) on 19th August. Subscribe to our weekly email and download your FREE ‘Easy Potato Recipes’ book (pdf)