Friday, 24 April 2015

a celebration of spring

spring flowers on the windowsill

a very shaggy sheep and its baby

new leaves

more new leaves

a carpet of bluebells

bluebells and wild garlic

wild garlic

Bluebells and wild garlic love to grow together in damp and shady woodland.
Both are growing in profusion in woods near to here and this is a perfect time to forage for wild garlic.
I am an anxious forager; the prospect of an accidental poisoning always looming large in my mind!
But wild garlic is easy to identify. Even before you come across it, the lovely pungent smell announces its presence and as a double precaution the same garlicky smell is emitted when the leaves are bruised.
( In this way it is easily distinguished from lily of the valley which has similar leaves but which is toxic!)

A few days ago, mr digandweed and I made a trip out to collect some wild garlic. We made sure only to pick a few leaves and were careful not to uproot any plants.
Back home, after washing and chopping the leaves, I mixed them with some home-made mayonnaise.

It gives a lovely subtle garlic flavour, which I liked.
There are many other uses for wild garlic and I found a lot of useful information in a book called  The forager's kitchen : Fiona Bird .

I'd love to hear of any foraging experiences/tips you may have had.

I am also growing quite used to the beautiful warm weather we have had lately ...not sure it is going to last though!

Happy weekend everyone whatever the weather.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

simple supper

I am an avid collector of cookbooks. I simply cannot resist the beautiful photos and the promise of more recipe ideas.
This is not a new thing.
 When I won a prize in my first year at secondary school and was asked what book I would like, I requested a cookery book. My prize : The Good Housekeeping 'Basic Cookery' book still sits on my bookshelf.
I am also a hoarder of food related magazines.
From time to time I have a big clear out, tearing out recipes that particularly interest me and keeping them in big ring binders. Some cuttings date back to the late 80s !

It was during a recent blitz that I found two recipes in old Waitrose Kitchen magazines.

The first recipe was for roasted spiced cauliflower.
Roasting vegetables has become very popular over recent years and rightly so as chunks of roasted veg are delicious - but roasting cauliflower? I had to try it.
The recipe was very easy;
a medium cauliflower divided into florets and a small red onion sliced mixed with
 3 tbsp oil,
 2 crushed garlic cloves,
1 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have to hand)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
Roast in a hot oven (180c ) for about 25 minutes then stir in lemon juice and yoghurt to taste and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

It was delicious!
 The roasting gave the cauliflower a lovely rounded, nutty taste.

The second recipe was for sweet potato and feta fritters; another easy recipe.
Peel and grate 225g of sweet potato and cook for 1 minute in 2-3cms of boiling water. Drain and when cool, squeeze out as much water as possible.
Add 4 finely chopped salad onions, 1 tsp ground cumin, a pinch of dried chilli flakes, a handful of chopped coriander leaves, 100g feta cheese, 1 beaten egg and 2 tbsp plain flour.
Form into walnut-sized balls, flatten slightly and fry in a small amount of oil for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden.

Delicious little savoury mouthfuls!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

lowlands revisited - the vernacular of landscape

I have recently been reading Landscapes : Robert Macfarlane.
The book was first brought to my attention by oldest lovely daughter who sent me a link to it in the latest issue of Cam Magazine, but it has also been  featured in a recent radio 4 interview and in the Radio Times.

It is a fascinating look at regional and sometimes forgotten words which were once used to describe particular aspects of the countryside.
In the book, Robert Macfarlane notes that the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed a number of words relating to the environment such as heron, acorn, kingfisher, mistletoe to name but a few, in favour of words like chatroom, cut-and-paste, celebrity. 
Of course, the latter are all useful words but it is a reflection on how much our children's lives are now being lived on a virtual and internal ( both mental and physical ) plane, rather than a childhood connected to the outside which maybe we, or certainly, our parents enjoyed.
An interesting thought, don't you agree!

So here, in homage to Robert Macfarlane's book and the Cam Magazine article, is a list of fen/East Anglian dialect words with more photos taken on our visit to Holme Fen the other week.

donk: adj. wet,moist or damp;generally applied to land or soil.

grimmer: n. large, shallow, weed-infested pond

fizmer: n. rustling noise produced in grass by light winds

lode: n. fen drain

And to finish, maybe one of my favourite words horizontigo: n. A word, which Robert Macfarlane says was coined by a correspondent to describe the malaise induced by sustained exposure to flat terrain; the sudden feeling of fright brought about by contemplation of an intensely lateral terrain.
A word particularly pertinent to someone like me for whom the fens are an adopted, though much - loved homeland, but who sometimes longs for a hill or two!

Saturday, 4 April 2015


For me, Easter is a wonderful time of year.
Resurrection in every sense; new life, new hope, new beginnings.

It's traditionally the time of year when gardeners get busy sowing and although Easter is early this year, we have had some mild weather and I'm happy to say the lottie is looking spick and span.
So time to get sowing!
First will be beetroot and spinach. I am trying a variety of beetroot called rainbow and a variety of spinach called reddy which has contrasting red stems.

The garden too is starting to take on a fresh spring look with new growth visible everywhere.
The lovely spring flowers below were from the local florist, but the hellebores are from the garden.

There has also been some traditional Easter baking.
I spent a pleasant half hour making some crystallised primroses to decorate a simnel cake.

The primroses originally came from my mum's garden and have now merrily self-seeded themselves around our garden.

It is a while since I made a traditional large simnel cake, preferring to make mini simnel cakes.
But this year I decided to try Mary Berry's recipe.

I like simnel cake; Christmas cake but with a double hit of marzipan!

At fenland lottie, we will be enjoying a family Easter .
Tiny girlie will be joining us for her first Easter, but no chocolate Easter eggs for her ..yet.

Whatever your plans, I hope you all have a very Happy Easter.