Saturday, 27 February 2010

The twelve months

A different view of the calendar:

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

George Ellis (1753 - 1815)

I love that - says it all, really, doesn't it? Hope that makes you smile like it did me.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Naan bread

Friday night is curry night in our house (or pizza if you'd rather, but MrL and I always have a curry). The murgh makhani (one from Hugh F-w"s books) is simmering nicely, just the cream to add later, and there are fresh naans waiting in a clean tea towel - Friday doesn't get much better than this! Here's my recipe:

Makes 4 medium naans

6oz of plain flour, plus extra for working
1 medium egg
approx 3g dried yeast ( about 1/2 sachet)
2 dessertspoons of plain ypghurt
warm water to mix
good pinch of salt

Put flour in bowl, add yeast and salt and mix; add egg and yoghurt, then mix to a softly stiff dough with a little warm water. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then return to the bowl and let the dough rise to double size. Turn out again and knead for a further 3 - 4 minutes. Cut into 4 pieces and shape each into a tear drop shape or circle. I cook mine directly on the hotplate, no oil or fat; another method is to grill them under a hot grill - they will puff up and brown on the risen areas. Remove from heat and wrap in a warm tea towel until required.
Best eaten the same day, or put into the freezer as soon as they are cold.

As an aside, my duck/s have decided they will lay again; they stopped after the last fox attack, but over the last three days, I've had three lovely big eggs - one from a Muscovy, the others from the runners. Nice to see them earning their keep again!LOL

Sea foam scarf

I knitted this as my February entry in My Poet's Calendar Project(; it will also be my entry for the Guild's challenge on the theme of "elements", this one being water. I dyed the wool with acid dyes, wound into tight balls, which gives a nice gentle random effect of sea green and white, water and foam. The pattern is a traditional Shetland lace pattern - New Shale -one of my very favourites for scarves. It's a simple, but effective two row pattern, which I'll write up and post in the Make it! pages if you'd like to have a go; any thickness of wool will do from chunky to lace weight, and it lends itself to stripes too, so you could make a stashbuster!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A day out

MrL,EJ and I spent the day in Exeter yesterday - EJ's choice, for his birthday. He wanted to go to Mansons music shop, so we left him there for a few hours and had a look around - mainly down the more interesting end of the shopping area, Fore Street and further down. Some lovely shops.
We had tea at the Real MacCoy's:

Fabulous retro clothing and more, excellent cup of tea too - I know what's important!

We took a look around Otto's:
Some great stuff in there, looks like our tip sometimes a bit, where I get my things from!
Another one was a music shop up a side street, full of violins, mandolins and cellos - beautiful to look at.........
Found an excellent wool shop called heavenly Yarns - pop in if you're in Exeter, she has some very beautiful wools in there, lovely friendly girl helping out and a nice retro table to sit at, just like we had in our kitchen when I was wee LOL. I was very taken with her Open/Closed sign. If and when I get my wool shop, I shall have something similar:

One for all the NIMBYs LOL:

We found a lovely shop making handmade shoes, so might save up and order a pair from there for next winter.
The town itself hasn't changed much since I was last there in 1987, really. Even the Peace/CND shop is still there! Needless to say I went in and got up to date with a bit of petition signing.
It was nice to spend a few hours in a vibrant, colourful place, especially down that end of the town, away from the "normal" shops at the top. Makes me realise how much of my "alternativeness" I have lost.............need to re-address that, definitely. LOL
Great day out. :)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Goat's yoghurt, blueberry and orange cake

I've been intrigued by the yoghurt cake recipes I've come across on the net recently, so thought I'd give it a whirl, but customised ofcourse! It's the recipe where the ingredients are measured out using the yoghurt pot as a measure. This would be a useful recipe for when you're low/run out of butter. I also think it sounds a bit healthier than usual, especially with the fruit in it; at least it was until MrL decided to change his into a pudding and piled a big dollop of double cream on it!

1 pot of goat's milk yoghurt
2 pots of sugar
3 pots of self raising flour
1 pot of vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 good handful (about 4 oz or so) blueberries
zest and juice from 1 large orange

Mix everything very well until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake in a hot oven until well risen and golden brown. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

I used a big 350g pot of yoghurt and ended up with two huge loaf tins of it; I'm fairly sure it will all get eaten, though. Must use a sensible sized pot next time.......I had this one as it was very well marked down on the reduced shelf in the shop! Creative shopping makes for creative cakes:)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee......

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree,while the night hatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw;whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

from Frost at midnight, Samuel Coleridge Taylor

This part-poem seems very pertinent today as I sit here looking out at lashing rain accompanied by a goodly wind; I know it will pass, and we can't have spring without winter. Spring is definitely on its way, but I'll take advantage of the wet weather to stay inside and catch up with indoor jobs today; might make a quick sprint to the greenhouse for an inspection, and tend to the beasties, but I think that'll be it! lol
A good day for turning up the stove and baking - ahve an experimental cake in my head again..................

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Hot off the needles!

Thought you might like to see how I spent my Sunday afternoon; felt a bit out of sorts (think it's the ****** neighbour and his trees..........), so I sat and knitted/sewed up. I got these two finished. The first is the Samhain tee from Yarn Forward magazine, the second a cropped cardigan from another back copy of a knitting magazine I picked up somewhere. The purple is some very beautiful Donegal tweed, all the way from Ireland. MrL raised his eyebrows at the cost but hey ho, it's I fared better, cost-wise, with the second one, as the yarn for that (Patons Vintage in "Burnished" came in at only 7.08 - yes, even for my size! I also paid for that oen msyelf.;) lol Both for me, and about time too; very pleased with both.
Back on the socks again now.........

By the way, bullace gin is every bit as good as sloe gin...........

The grander scheme

Over the years, especially more recently as I have begun to crystalise my own thoughts and views, opinions and ideas, I have come to realise the importance of the grander scheme of things. No man is an island, there is total interdependence between everything that exists on earth - the ripple effect of a stone thrown into water, or the butterfly effect.
This was brought into sharp focus for me at the end of last week, when I discovered my neighbour wobbling about in one of his apple trees wielding a chain saw (flimsy ladder, no safety gear, him alone, to boot.......)
I have lived here for over 12 years now, and every year, his fruit trees have given bountiful crops - left to rot on the ground - apples and plums. I have had some of them a couple of times, but not recently, and not given with good grace, so I didn't enjoy them as I should, and didn't ask again. We now have our own trees. He mowed over the apples with his mower, or just left them to rot where they fell. He could have heaped them into a barrow, wheeled it around to the front for others to help themselves (or pay for them) - share the bounty, especially if you don't want it, or have no need for it all.
They will be the ones down at Sainsbury queuing to pay for their plastic bags full of apples.............
Now, I realise that it's his property, as are the trees, and technically he has a right to do with them what he sees fit. However, what about the grander scheme of things?
Those trees were thickly covered with blossom in the spring - a haven for bees and other insects; sources of nectar and pollen; birds nested, hid, played and courted in them; the fruit provided food for birds and wasps, other insects; the living trees provided shelter and homes for myriad insects and other wild life. A microcosm of life on earth, a little micro biodiversity in a world increasingly becoming covered in tarmac for cars, houses and gravelled over gardens.
Have they not heard of the struggle of bees? Of wildlife? Lack of trees? Importance of keeping older varieties alive (not that I'm sure what these were, but...)? Being self-reliant in food? Sharing abundance? Millions of people starving in the world?How many forms of life, apart from man depend absolutely on trees? Global warming and climate change? Habitat destruction?
Apparently not.
I could go on, but I don't need to.
As I look out of my landing window, over to the fields and woods, my eye is drawm to the ugly destruction he has wreaked on these lovely trees. He's not known for his gardening prowess, and has just lopped the tops off them, left lying sadly all over the garden in untidy piles. No doubt he will return to his deathly ways and remove them completely.
What a sad and tragic end for beautiful trees. My heart breaks.