Friday, 26 July 2013

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Piece of my past

- literally!  This is my ponytail from my very first haircut, must have been about 46 years ago now. It's been kept ever since in a wee paper bank bag, now sadly falling to bits, but the hair and the ribbon are still going on strong. :)


Moon over the Tor

 photo from

Black Knight

This is one of my very favourite buddleias; the flowers are long, a very rich, dark purple and heavily scented.  It's not the favourite for the butterflies, they prefer the more common light purple one, but the Red Admirals and others do visit it. Mine is right outside the front door, the scent fills the open porch with a sweet promise of beautiful butterflies as we head towards the end of summer.  It looked at its best this morning when I opened up the house - long arching stems of velvet purple against a steely sky. I think more rain is on the way soon, it's in the air.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013


This is one of my all time favourite pickles

Essentially a good mix of vegetables, cut into bite sized chunks, not too small, brined overnight then pickled in a sauce of vinegar, sugar, honey,  cornflour, mustard , ginger and turmeric.



Done for a bookmark swap with  online friends; love this yarn :)


Monday, 22 July 2013

Little felting project

These pieces were woven on a small 8 peg pegloom, using dyed merino tops. This is them after their first washing.
I wasn't sure what to do with them next, but decided eventually on wet felting them for texture and to strengthen the fabric. While I loved the colours I used, I felt they were a bit regimented, so the felting results in them looking like this now

I've left the wee 'dots' showing through - they're the warp threads - I like the spotty effect.   When they're dry and ready, I'll make them into a small pouch bag.

Berry ripple ice lollies

Inspired by a recipe from the Waitrose magazine supplement, I made these yesterday,  my own version, a creamy custardy body with a mixed berry coulis through it.  Place your berries in a small saucepan (I had blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) with some sugar - not too much, a tart coulis will better offset the sweetness of the main lolly. Leave on a gentle heat to dissolve the sugar and soften the berries, then push through a sieve to extract the coulis, leave to cool. meanwhile, make half a pint of vanilla custard, leave to cool until just warm and beat in half a tin of condensed milk. When both the coulis and the custard mix are cold, layer them in your lolly moulds, then stir very gently with a skewer. Freeze until solid.

Monday night supper

I was aiming for something with shin of beef tonight, but it's still too hot really, and the beef benefits from a long, slow braise, so it's all made up and simmering away on the cool end of the Rayburn. More on that tomorrow. Instead, inspired by a recipe I saw in the Waitrose magazine, I made this - sugarsnap, courgette and mint tart; I've made Dijonnaise potato salad to go with it, followed by pear and blackberry crumble. I can shut down the stove now!


Cooking with Nigel

'Right food, right place, right time. It is my belief - and the point of this book - that this is the best recipe of all.  A crab sandwich by the sea on June afternoon' a slice of roast goose with apple sauce and roast potatoes on Christmas Day; hot sausages and a chunk of roast pumpkin on a frost-sparkling night in November. These are meals whose success relies not on the expertise of the cook but on the more basic premise that this is the food of the moment - something eaten at a time when it is most appropriate, when the ingredients are at their peak of perfection, when the food, the cook and the time if year are at one with each other.

Yes, it is about the quality of the ingredients too, their provenance and the way they are cooked, but the very best eating is also about the feeling that the time is  right.

Learning to eat with the ebb and flow of the seasons is the single thing that has made my eating more enjoyable. Our culinary seasons have been blurred by commerce, and in particular by the supermarkets' much vaunted idea that consumers want all things to be available all year round.  I don't believe this is true.  I have honestly never met anyone who want to eat a slice of watermelon on a cold March evening, or a plate of asparagus in January. It is a myth put about by the giant supermarkets.  I worry that today it is all  too easy to lose sight of food's natural timing and, worse, to miss it when it is at its sublime best. Hence my attempt at writing a book about rebuilding a cook's relationship with nature.'

The above are excerpts from the introduction to his 'The Kitchen Diaries'.  I really think that Nigel Slater is a national treasure.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

A sad tale of gooseberries

I have three gooseberries. That is all. On Friday I had 3 large bushes dripping with green gooseberries, and two with red. all gone, bar these three. Thought at first might be badger/fox, but on weighing up the evidence and thinking about it all afternoon, am now, sadly, convinced it was two-footed predators. There will be hell to pay if I ever find out who it was, followed by a prosecution. I'm now considering getting geese or llamas, possibly both. Sad beyond ken :( x

Simple mead recipe

I got two gallons of mead into demi-johns today. I use a very simple recipe, easy and economical to make, with very good results.

6 lbs honey, any kind, mixed kinds etc
1 gallon water
1 lemon, sliced
1 egg white
sachet of yeast per gallon

Warm the honey in a sink of hot water to enable the honey to pour more easily and result in as much of the honey as possible going into the vessel as possible. When runny and pourable, pour into a large saucepan; add the water - I rinse out the jars into the measuring jug to ensure very last bit of honey goes in. Add the lemon, and bring to just under a simmer. Beat the egg white and add, simmer a while longer, removing scum from top. Simmer about half an hour, then remove from heat. leave to cool to blood heat, then add yeast, stir well, and leave for 4 - 5 days. Strain into a demi-john, leave 6 weeks or so, then bottle. Leave 6 months if you can, before trying
Metheglin  is another good one to make, mead with added herbs.