Friday, 19 January 2018

An easy lunch ...

The Christmas goodies have all been eaten and we are craving simple, easy to prepare food here at fenland lottie.

This variation of shakshuka was just perfect for lunch the other day.

Shakshuka is a middle eastern dish of eggs lightly cooked in a spiced tomato and pepper sauce.
It's an easy and adaptable recipe. The sort of recipe to use up oddments from the fridge.
This was my version with lightly fried mushrooms instead of red peppers.

To softened onions and garlic, add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of smoked paprika (the mild, not really hot version). Simmer until slightly reduced, then add the lightly sauted mushrooms. 
Make an indentation in the sauce and carefully drop in an egg.
At this point, I put the dish into the oven until the egg was cooked.
However, this resulted in a yolk that was slightly overcooked.
I think a better method would be to cover the pan and continue cooking on the hob until the white is set and the yolk creamy.

Today has been a bright, sunny and cold day, so I seized the opportunity to go down to the allotment to check it over.
The sunny weather inspired me and within a few minutes I had seized a spade and dug up the raspberry canes!
I had been contemplating removing them for a while. They had turned into a thicket which was difficult to tame and were spreading into other parts of the plot.
So the deed is done!
 I may use part of the space to grow dahlias!


Saturday, 6 January 2018

January thoughts

January -
 is a much maligned month, so often dismissed as dismal, dreary; a month to be endured.
A month of anti-climax after the Christmas festivities.
But there are treasures to be found in January:

A brisk winter walk, to admire Nature laid bare.

The promise held within a bulb,

 maybe the fragile beauty of Paperwhite Narcissus or the dainty delight that is tete a tete,
or the heady scent of hyacinths.

January is an opportunity also to make plans for the garden and allotment.
A small brown envelope arrived this morning containing treasure in the form of seeds from The Real Seed Catalogue.
I am going to try a new ( to me) variety of winter squash Hokkaido, a summer squash Crookneck (instead of the ubiquitous courgette) and the beautifully named Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing bean.

In addition, January is my birthday month and also marks the start of an exciting new venture for me - but more of that in a week or two.

So lots to celebrate.
Hoping January and 2018 brings good things for you too.
Here's to a cheerful January!


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Happy Christmas!

The shopping is done, the cards have been written and the presents are wrapped.
 The cake is decorated too.
I seem to have gone a bit mad with marzipan stars this year.

Family are arriving later today, so it's time to relax, sit back and enjoy a festive time of family fun.

Wishing you a wonderful time this Christmas full of love and peace and joy.

Annie and Mr Digandweed

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas countdown - week three...

We had snow.
But not as much as we were expecting.
This was the view last Sunday from dear daughter's flat in Nottingham.
There was just enough to magically transform but not enough to make travelling difficult.

And the mince pies have been made.
Some to eat now and some to pop into the freezer to be enjoyed when the Big Day arrives. one long tart .

That's one more thing crossed off the list!

Wishing you a good week ahead.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas countdown - week two

Home-made mincemeat is one of my absolute favourite things to make at this time of year.
A little chopping, mixing and stirring, preferably with a few Christmas Carols playing in the background, is the perfect antidote to the frenzy which can so often engulf us.
And as for the taste - well I could happily eat spoonfuls of the stuff straight from the jar!

This is the recipe which I have used for the last few years and which I think is delicious.
It is a recipe which I adapted from a Waitrose magazine and uses coconut oil instead of the more usual suet.

Here is the recipe again if you wish to try it.
Don't be put off by the amount of brandy. It soaks into the fruit overnight and makes the mixture deliciously boozy.
Since the mincemeat is not cooked or heated in any way, I keep it in the fridge and use it to make the mince pies within a few days.

Excitement for the Big Day is mounting here and this year Tiny Girlie is 3 and beginning to understand a little more about Father Christmas.
There have been a couple of Santa sightings so far.
Last week, when we were shopping in Cambridge, he popped his head around the door of the cafe we were in and gave everyone a cheery wave and earlier this week made an appearance along our road riding on something which resembled a fairground ride.
No sleigh or reindeer in sight!

And snow .... if the weather app is correct, we are fully expecting to wake up tomorrow morning to a world transformed by a blanket of pure white!


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Christmas countdown - week one.

And so December is here and it's ok for a few twinkly lights to start appearing around the house!

I spent a happy half hour fashioning this star from a few spare twigs I found at the back of the shed and then winding ivy and lights around it. 
Pinterest has a lot to answer for!

And December, of course, also means baking and more specifically baking the Christmas cake.
After last year's success with this recipe for a chocolate Christmas cake and following a request from younger dear daughter, I have made the same cake again.

Fear not, it is still the rich, fruity, boozy cake beloved by so many, but with the addition of some luscious melted dark chocolate.

Here it is in its naked state straight from the oven, ready, when cooled, to be tucked into a tin and anointed with brandy at regular intervals over the next few weeks.
Are your festive preparations under way yet?
Some people have had snow I hear, but not us - unless a few brief flakes over the space of 5 minutes counts!

Wishing you a good week ahead.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Hygge, heiter, cosy .....

.....whatever you like to call it, Millie the cat has it cracked.

Millie is a recent addition to our family. She arrived by default; a rescue cat whom we 'fostered' for a few weeks when dear daughter couldn't look after her and who has now made her home permanently here!
And she certainly knows how to do cosy.

This morning was very cold and frosty.
Time for warm blankets, candles in the evening and comfort food.
'Tis the season for crumble!

With some of the plums from the summer's huge harvest still in the freezer, I decided on a plum crumble with the addition of chunks of dark chocolate and some toasted hazelnuts.

But when the plums had defrosted they had, for some unknown reason, a distinctly 'off' flavour. 
Feeling rather disappointed, I rummaged around in the cupboard and found a tin of pears which made a good substitute.

So here is pear crumble, with oats, dark chocolate and hazelnuts.
I tend to go with Delia's recipe for the crumble mix, but I replace half the flour with oats and in this case added some dark chocolate broken into chunks ( as much as you dare!) and some toasted, chopped hazelnuts to taste.

Serve warm with cream or custard.
Guaranteed to cheer up a grey cold day!