Saturday, 28 September 2013

small pleasures

When I was about 6 or 7 and at school, we each had an exercise book in which we wrote our news for the week.
The book was a source of amusement and some embarrassment to my mum when she read it on  parents' evening, for with the straightforward truthfulness of a small child, I gave away lots of secrets.
One entry read
 'Mummy has bought me some new navy blue knickers. She is going to use the old ones as dusters'
And another one, written just after a Christmas holiday, stated rather bluntly
'I had a bag of marbles for Christmas'
The point of the latter being that, of all my presents, it was a small bag of marbles that had captured my imagination.
I had a similar experience last weekend when, courtesy of mr digandweed's work, we enjoyed a fab all expenses paid trip to London, staying in a wonderful hotel, seeing all the sights and going to a show, but it was the seemingly tiny details that stuck with me and gave me most pleasure.

Here are my London weekend highlights:

A sea of pink tables and chairs outside Tate Modern against a background of slender silver birch trees.

Finding little oasis of green in a huge bustling city.
London seems to have lots of these peaceful green hideaways. It would be lovely to spend a weekend finding and exploring more of them.

The plaque in this one is self explanatory and you can read more about it here.

 It was a wonderful place to sit and rest after walking for ages.
I loved the contrast of the big banana leaf against the modern building.

The final highlight was our beautiful breakfast, eaten in the hotel dining room overlooking the Thames.
The breakfast buffet was a work of art!
Rows of kilner jars lined up full of delicious goodness:
beautiful amber apricots
jewel-like blackcurrants and cranberries
crunchy seeds and dried fruit
ebony coloured prunes
all to be enjoyed atop bowls of creamy yoghurt.
Followed by baskets of croissants, crusty sourdough bread and heaps of coffee.
Returning home, I had to have a go myself at re-creating some of the magic!

I now have jars of soaked apricots and mixed seeds and berries to enjoy with my morning yoghurt.

Friday, 20 September 2013

wild harvests

There is nothing nicer, when autumn makes an entrance with a nip in the air and cooler nights, than to pull on a woolly cardi, grab a bowl and go blackberrying.

The hedgerows are bursting with food for free at the moment, but blackberries are surely the most popular and easily recognisable.


Delicious and versatile, they are also very good for you.

So what to do with my delicious free harvest?
Bramble jelly is delicious -
 but at the moment the cupboards are well stocked with preserves, having turned our allotment blackcurrants and surplus marrows into jam.
Blackberry and apple crumble?
Always yummy - soft fruit oozing into a crumbly, crunchy top.
Or -- maybe this?
Blackberry and vanilla ice cream.

Thank you once again to Sarah at The Garden Deli for posting her take on what must be the easiest ice cream ever originally found here.
I substituted blackberry puree for the plums in Sarah's version.
Very yummy and no whisking required!


Saturday, 14 September 2013

harvests ....

.... the colour of autumn.
The lovely purples and oranges of autumn are reflected in our allotment harvest at the moment. 
Remember the little plum tree on our allotment?
 Well here is our harvest.

Just three little fruits - but they were delicious!
We ate them straight from the tree.
 We have been harvesting the beetroot for some weeks now, but these are the first of the squash.

Earlier in the year, when  the butternut and harlequin squash seeds seemed very slow to germinate, I bought two munchkin squash plants from the garden centre.

They romped away and have loved the hot, sunny weather this year.

I don't know yet how the flavour compares to the butternut squash, but will report back when I've had a chance to try them.

Meanwhile, the beetroot, Bolthardy, have been delicious, boiled, roasted and raw.

This was a recipe from Hugh Fearnley -Whittingstall's book River Cottage: Veg Every Day.
Called Beetroot with Walnuts and Cumin  I can really recommend it.

Simple, but delicious!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

west country compilation

Things to do when you are in the west country:

1.  Meet up again with mister Fudge
2.  Marvel at the self sown melon in your sister's front garden.
( To get your very own self sown melon, put the seeds from the melon which you have enjoyed for dinner, onto the compost heap. The following year spread the resulting compost onto your flower beds and watch as an odd looking weed starts to grow and produce mini melons!)
3.  Go 'Gromit hunting' in the historic city of Bristol.
See Debs Dust Bunny for more info.
4.  Have a wonderful meal at the River Cottage canteen.

And finally, ignore the weather forecast which predicted wall to wall rain and revel in the sunshine at
If, like me, you love gardening, growing veggies, cooking and eating, then this is heaven on earth!
Beautiful, inspirational  flower gardens,
a lovely vegetable garden - I particularly liked the space-saving squashes and courgettes growing up metal supports-
and a quirky tea-room selling delicious homemade food.
What more could you want!
Picture on the door of the ladies' toilet!