Author Archives: hollysnewhome

Homemade Booze from the garden

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I went to the River Cottage festival this August bank holiday, and as well as it being a gloriously hot weekend, I went to a great wild cocktail workshop with the fantastic John Wright.

I came home full of enthusiasm for homemade booze, and have been experimenting ever since.

As well as inspiration from John’s book ‘Booze’, I’m a huge fan of Pinterest, and find many recipes in there. I tend to save them in my Recipes from the garden or Scented geranium recipes or my Cocktails folders.

I thought it was time to share a few of my successes. Some are made with lovely natural ingredients from my garden, and others purely from shop bought ingredients. This post focussed on the ones from the garden, and I will write other posts about the man made ones!

First up is a rhubarb and rose geranium vodka. I used this recipe from The Telegraph, and added a little pink food colouring to make it this gorgeous light pink colour (otherwise it’s a bit green). I also used rose scented pelargonium because rhubarb and rose are good together, but you could use any scented pelargonium leaves I guess. I think they were Grey Lady Plymouth pelargoniums. The Telegraph recommend mixing with champagne or prosecco, and I may well do that at Christmas.

Next up is rose scented gin, which I made by mixing gin, sugar and Attar of roses pelargonium leaves. This is my favourite rose scented pelargonium. I just had this as a gin and tonic, and it was delicious. But I’d like a stronger rose taste so next time I’m going to add more leaves and let it steep for more than a couple of weeks. Crushing the leaves probably also helps. Again I added a (teeny) bit of food colouring (less than to the vodka) to give a slightly better colour.

For both of these I let them steep (best to do it in a jar as it’s easier to get the bits out afterwards) and then strained and decanted into bottles after a few weeks. I strain mine twice. Once through a sieve lined with kitchen roll (I use a piece of that brand called Blitz and it’s lovely and thick) and once through kitchen roll as I’m decanting it into the bottle (I line my funnel with kitchen roll – you need to lift it from time to time as it creates an air lock).

I have also made some pelargonium scented simple syrups for use in cocktails. The simple syrup was made by heating 50% water and 50% sugar together. Then you mix in the leaves and leave it to soak for a while. Then strain.

And finally I’ve made some rose pelargonium sugar. By simply layering sugar and leaves for a while.

Recipes for the syrup and sugar can be found here.

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Homemade booze from the larder

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Homemade booze from the larder

Another post about homemade booze – I feel like a lush!

These two are made from store cupboard staples, and are both nice and wintry.

The first is inspired from watching the new Paddington movie (which me and my daughter both loved), and it is, of course, marmalade gin.

Recipe is a Good Housekeeping one, and can be found here.

I made it tonight, (late November), so it should be nice and ready by Christmas, when I will post a photo of it decanted into nice bottles. Right now it looks like this…

I imagine it will make good cocktails.

The second one is very Christmassy. It’s mulled gin, and is a recipe from Morrisons supermarket. It can be found here. It’s basically gin, orange peel, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and sugar.

I made more than the stated recipe, and just added a bit more sugar and cinnamon sticks, but left the rest of the ingredients the same. After hearing to melt the sugar, this is poured m straight into the bottles, and looks really pretty. It shouldn’t need straining. It would look nice in small bottles as Christmas gifts.

It also has to be left for at least two weeks, so make it by the first week in December if you want it to be ready in time for Christmas.

Homemade Christmas Chocolate Booze

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Homemade Christmas Chocolate Booze

As Christmas is coming, my thoughts are turning to nice warming drinks, and cocktails.

I love a good cocktail, and I particularly like Baileys style drinks at Christmas!

I thought I’d have a go at making my own, and then I thought it would be good to share how I got on and where I got the recipes.

The flip top Bottles are from Wilkos homebrew range. Much cheaper than the Kilner ones.

The first is Nutella liqueur. The recipe I used for inspiration is here. I made a larger batch, used single cream, and added a teaspoon of almond extract to up the nutty flavour (I’m a huge amaretto fan). I didn’t write down my measurements (I converted it into UK measures), but looking at the recipe again, I may have miscalculated and put in an equal amount of cream, Nutella and vodka. I think I did 400g nutella, 400ml cream and 400ml vodka.

I had a shot over ice, and it’s completely awesome.

It needs a good shake before you use it, and I’ve been keeping it in the fridge – it needs to warm a little before shaking it as it solidifies a bit with the high fat content!

The next one is most exciting – caramelised white chocolate liqueur. It’s to die for (if you have a sweet tooth). The recipe is here, but I didn’t have any condensed milk, so I replaced it with extra cream. I also doubled the quantities.

The making of the caramelised chocolate was the best bit. So exciting. The recipe for how to do it is here. I used 300g of Green and Blacks white chocolate, and I got about 200g of caramelised chocolate. I guess some is lost through evaporation, and some through my thorough taste testing!

I thought I would share some photos of the process.

It looks like toffee, but it has chocolatey undertones. Amazing. Delicious. Could eat it off a spoon.

Anyhow, you mix it with warm cream and vodka, and the result is like a lovely boozy pudding. If you like your drinks sweet, you should add the condensed milk, as I’ve tasted mine and it’s not particularly sweet (certainly not when compared to the Nutella one).

And now I have to think about what to do with the leftover chocolate…

Pizza Party -Uuni 3

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Pizza Party -Uuni 3

I just bought an Uumi 3 Pizza oven from John Lewis (other retailers are available 😉), and it’s the best thing ever!!

It’s small enough to take camping, and cooks the most amazing pizzas. Proper ones like you get in a decent pizza restaurant. 

At £199 it’s not cheap, but if you regularly eat pizza, it would pay for itself pretty quickly. I reckon each of my pizzas cost no more than £1. 

(Yes that is a pink wheelbarrow and pink football in the background – that’s what you get when you have a house with no men in it!). 


There is a Uuni owners forum on Facebook that has some proper pizza geeks on it, and it’s worth a look as there are a lot of helpful tips on there. 

I made the dough in my KitchenAid with Wessex Mill pizza/pasta 00 flour using the recipe on the back of the Uuni instruction booklet. I let the mixer knead it for 10 minutes. 


Then I cold proved it in the fridge for about 48 hours. This is it before proving. 


I then let it warm up outside the fridge for a couple of hours, rolled it into 5 small balls (about 160g per ball), and let it prove again. 


You can see the dough in this picture  below to get a sense of how much it rose again. 


For the tomato base, I used passata 


And chopped in loads of fresh herbs from the garden (oregano, marjoram, Greek basil, parsley, thyme and sage), plus salt and pepper. 


I cooked it gently to reduce it down to a nice sauce. 

I also made some garlic butter using 1/2 a pack of butter, 3 cloves of crushed garlic and chopped parsley from the garden (both curly and flat leaf). I mixed it all together and created a sausage using cling film. I will keep it in the freezer and chop bits off as I need it. After all, you can’t have pizza without garlic bread. 




I chopped up some veggies, sliced some mozzarella and goats cheese and bought some prosciutto for toppings. I also had some fresh Greek basil from the greenhouse. 

First up I did a pizza base to test the oven, check out that flame..


and then when it had cooked I brushed on some of the lovely garlic butter. It took just 60 seconds to cook (yes, you read that right, just one minute) and it was amazing garlic bread. It was so delicious it got eaten before I took a picture. I managed to get a picture of the last slice!

The next one was asparagus (which I steamed beforehand), prosciutto, red pepper and mozzarella. 

This is it uncooked. It’s sat on the Uuni pizza peel, which you use to slide it into the oven. It cooks on a pizza stone in the oven, which gets incredibly hot, hence the fast cooking time, and gorgeous crispy base. 

Lots of people seem to have problems with the pizza sticking to the pizza peel, so I tried semolina underneath. But to be honest I had no problems with sticking, so I reverted to a bit of flour under the pizza as it didn’t slide off and burn in the oven (unlike the semolina). 


And here it is cooked.  We added the basil after cooking. 

It genuinely only takes a minute or so to cook. You turn it round half way through to make sure it’s evenly done. 

There were a few more that didn’t get photographed, and this is the last one we made. We added an egg. A great tip I got off the  Facebook forum was to break it slightly off centre (towards you) as it moves as you slide it into the oven. And look – it came out perfectly in the centre, cooked white and runny yolk. Delicious!



I really can’t recommend this oven highly enough, I foresee lots of pizza parties this summer. 

Tea Pot – grow your own tea

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Tea Pot – grow your own tea

I’ve blogged quite a bit about the various pots in my garden, but thought I’d do a post all of its own for my special ‘Tea Pot’. 

I’m a complete tea addict, and drink gallons of green tea every day. 

Inspired by a visit a while ago to Sarah Raven’s fabulous garden at Perch Hill, where I tried some of her herbal tisanes, I thought I would give it a go myself. They taste good, and don’t have any caffeine.  

She has written a good article for the Telegraph here, and there is a nice video on her website here

I decided to grow the ones she ranks as the best. I’d be interested to hear other recommendations. So I’ve gone for Perlagonium Attar of Roses, (which really does smell like Turkish Delight), Black peppermint, Moroccan mint, Orange mint and Lemon Verbena. The Perlagonium and Verbena are from Sarah Raven and the mints from the very lovely people at Pepper Pot Herbs. Who have the most incredible selection of herbs. Way more than anyone else I’ve seen. I’m also going to add in lemon basil and lime basil, but I’m growing them from seed, which I got from Nicky’s Nursery

I bought a nice big pot from Priory Farm Nursery, which I filled with compost and some polystyrene (to make it a bit lighter!

Here it is just planted up in early May 2017. 

This is the pot on the 3rd June. I moved the perlagonium to the front as the mints had got so tall!


So far I’ve tried the perlagonium, which smells and tastes amazing, and the lemon verbena, which is also really delicious. You need to leave them to brew for about 5 minutes, and they were both lovely mild, fresh favours. I used 4 leaves in a small teapot. Add more leaves if you want it stronger.  Pictures below. Perlagonium at the top, lemon verbena the bottom two. 



Next to try the mints…

Wheelbarrow Fairy Garden

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Wheelbarrow Fairy Garden

My daughter and I share an obsession with fairy gardens. Actually she is obsessed with caries, and I’m obsessed with gardens. 

We did some serious Pinterest gazing for ideas before embarking on our first garden, which was in a shallow pot.  

I then saw some wheelbarrow fairy gardens, and realise I had one knocking around that had a wheel that I couldn’t fix.  So here is the new and improved fairy garden. 

The fairy is a solar light and lights up at night. 


The plants are mostly succulents with a few pansies for colour. There is also Corsican mint, which will spread and give ground cover. 

We’re not done yet.  We’re going to make a fairy house out of a bird box, and Holly wants to make a swing. We also need more stones to make more of a path. 

Updates soon…

Pot luck – round three

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Pot luck – round three

I was pretty happy with my pots last year (see post ‘Pot Luck – round 2).  But I’m trying to cut down the work the garden requires, so this year I’m trying more perennials in pots. 

I couldn’t resist some of my favourite annual plug plants, but I’m gradually introducing perennials. 

I potted up a lot at the beginning of May, so they are the first photos,  and I am gradually adding in second photos to show what they look like when they are in full bloom. 


Lollipop verbena (perennial) under planted with verbena Aztec magic silver (annual). 


Wine crate planted with summer jasmine and honeysuckle (to climb the fence) with lavender and aubretia (all perennials). 


Cherry tree and fairy rose, both under planted with aubretia (perennial) lobelia (annual). I’m hoping the aubretia will tumble down the sides of the pots over time. But for now I’ve added lobelia that will do it in one season!


Osteopermum (3d violet ice), verbena Aztec magic (silver), surfinia (rose vein). All annuals. First photo early May, second is end of June. I think they look amazing together. 


Petunia (phantom), bidens (golden eye), calibrachoa (can can coral reef) (all annuals). First photo early May, second end of  June. Looks particularly good because the petunia in the pot next to it is a very similar colour. 

Euphorbia x martini (perennial) , underplanted with helichrysum (golden) (annual). 


Petunia (tumbelina Susanna), verbena Aztec magic (white), verbena Aztec (coral). All annuals. 


Petunia (cascadia Indian summer), Calibrachoa (can can double dark yellow), verbena Aztec (coral). All annuals. 


Scabiosa (blue jean). Perennial. Except it’s not. It’s achillea summer berries!

Coreopsis (golden joy). Perennial. 



Osteopermum (serenity blue eyed beauty), Diascia (little dancer), verbena Aztec magic (plum). All annuals. 

Perennial wallflower (planted last year), under planted with 3 annuals –  Scaevola (blue print), verbena Aztec (violet wink), calibrachoa (cabaret deep blue). 

Tanacetum coccineum (Robinsons red). Perennial. 

Sweet pea Cupid pink (annual). 


Salvia superba (snow hills). Perennial. 

Gaillardia snappy. Perennial. 

Gazania daybreak tiger stripe mixed. I think this is a perennial but people grow it as an annual. 

Potentilla nepalensis (Mcbeath). Perennial. 
That’s not actually all of them. But they are all new for this year. 

Look out for an update in June/July!