Sunday Lunch

Son no.1 messaged me to ask us if we’d like to join him for Sunday Lunch just at the very moment hubbys head was deep in the freezer looking for a suitable offering for our Sunday lunch the next day. We jumped at the chance to be catered to and spend a lovely afternoon with him.

It was an absolutely lovely afternoon and the food was amazing. 85AB3EB0-FDD9-48AD-97E2-26F9E21E9B9DI hadn’t realised just how confident a cook son no.1 had become. It was wonderful to see him happily throwing ingredients around, handling knives and pans like a real pro, clearly enjoying his kitchen in his new place. We had roast chicken and stuffing, roast potatoes that were meltingly delicious yet crunchy on the outside, roast parsnips, honey glazed carrots, mashed potato with cheese and mustard, roasted onions and garlic and roasted tomatoes with herbs along with a delicious capture all the juices gravy. It was sooo good.3808EDD6-B0AD-4763-9C7C-4E1252139F5CI brought along a home made apple crumble and some custard (shop bought! How I let the side down!)25AF53B0-2C0F-4125-A387-EDDDE8316DA9We gossiped until early evening, when we all pulled together and did a big washing and drying up stint, returning the kitchen to its former glory, well apart from the draw, that hubby broke! I’m so glad it wasn’t me!, and said our goodbyes to travel home in the golden light. Reader, in the scheme of teaching food cookery to ones off spring, my work here is done and very proud of him I am too.

Reading in Heels, September 2018

314BFAC8-3704-40FA-8BAC-63A0D94C25E4Ooh goodies!!! After last months box which was so enjoyable, I’ve loved reading all about Princess Margaret’s antics, she certainly knew how to party; I’ve very much been looking forward to this months treat. EEEF8A3D-F450-46A3-BA35-7B140DBA9777This month we have The rise and fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning. A modern retelling of Vanity Fair, this brings the story of the beautiful, brilliant and totally ruthless Becky up to date. She’s sexy, fun and outrageous, sounds like it could be quite a giggle, I can’t wait.

And as for our treats, well they look lovely. Firstly we have Mythyn Melusine Silk Bath Soak. A bath soak inspired by a French mermaid. It contains essential oils, Celtic French salts, natural mineral clay, silk and spirilina. It sounds very soothing,it will be lovely to try in a nice warm bath with candles and a good book!

Next we have Juno skincare Joie face oil. Which sounds perfect after that lovely long soak in the bath. I thought I might pop mine in my swimming bag, my skin needs all the help it can get after an hour in the pool.

Then we have a new way to stay hydrated! Conscious Water, each sachet contains 100% natural flower essences. One squeezes the sachet into a glass of water, it’ll be an interesting try.

And lastly, Kacao chocolate botanical bar. Grapefruit and basil in white chocolate! Well I am either going to love it or hate it, but it’s going to be fun trying. 57903840-F385-4E15-9235-CBC642A4909D.jpegI think this has all come together very well this month. Last month it was a treat that kept on giving, looks like this month might be the same.

 

Wilko’s seeds.

I’m probably sharing this a bit too late, but it might be worth a look. Wilko’s have reduced their seeds for vegetables and flowers down to 10p and 30p. I was very lucky to get £75.00 worth for just over a tenner. They all have very long shelf lives and I’ve just got a few vegetables that are missing for next year – along with the seed potatoes and onion sets of course.

Compton Verney – The marvellous mechanical museum.

Hubby and I had a marvellous afternoon here yesterday. I won’t bore you with all of the details as here is a link The marvellous mechanical museum.

We went away completely satisfied by our adventures, if you too enjoy the quirky humour of mechanical yet childlike things that one simply has to smile about, this may be the exhibition for you. Hurry it closes on the 30th of September.

Photography was strictly prohibited – I much prefer the view of more enlightened London museums and art galleries on this, where they understand a little free advertising is no bad thing. So I have scoured utube to show you, what I think is the most wonderful exhibit they are showing. A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley by Rowland Emett. Enjoy.Please click here.

Keeping the home fires burning.

I was brought up in a house with a coal fire for heating in the living room and a stove in the kitchen to burn coke for hot water. We had the best winters, my favourite place would be sat in the cats chair next to the stove with the kitchen lights off gazing into the red hot embers I could see through the grate. It was the cosiest spot in the house and I’d always be a little disappointed when someone walked in and flicked the kitchen light on. In the living room the coal fire roared and hissed when in full force, steam splitting the large pieces apart to reveal bright orange caves that one could imagine fairies and pixies living in.

My Nan had a coal fire and she was an expert at putting all her rubbish on it, she’d burn anything would Nan. The wet potato peelings would get thrown on making a great big hiss quickly followed by watching them curl up and burn. All manner of plastics would get thrown on which Nan when questioned if it was safe or poisonous was that ‘it’d be alright’. And she was a devil with a sheet of newspaper which she would use to draw the fire with, the amount of times the drawing of the fire would roar, she gaily laughing as it got louder and louder, us children screaming with a little fear as ‘poof’ the newspaper would catch alight and with luck fly into the fireplace. The amount of times she nearly set the living room on fire and only the quick use of a poker, prodding it back into the fire saved us all. They were magical times.

One of the reasons I bought this house was that although it was boarded up we knew it had a baxi fireplace – which is basically a fireproof hole in the ground in which one puts a metal bucket to catch the hot embers. It can take two or three days worth of ash, depending on the duration and size of fire. We looked at a new estate of houses and completely ruled them out, no chimneys on any of them – all that magic never to be experienced, all those memories never to be made.

My homefire smokeless fuel arrived yesterday, I know it looks like lumps of black coal to you,but to me it’s old magical memories and new ones to be made, it’s the promise of warmth and happy evenings, cosy dogs and happy cats, it’s laughter and contentment, reading and sock knitting, it warms old bones and soothes tired brows and eases one into a soporific state while gazing at its red hot embers. It is always the perfect end to any kind of day.

Soup and bread

I love the change in seasons, it gives one a chance to step into familiar but almost forgotten flavours. For me this time of year is a reminder of all that is good about home cooking with soups and stews returning to the table. The time spent chopping vegetables, often homegrown, the senses heightened as the onions start to fizz in hot oil, the alchemy as tomatoes breakdown and form a glorious gravy of their own. Which is then followed by steaming pots of wholesome goodness hopefully with enough left for the next day and the freezer, or enough to feed a family if they are at home.

I hope that I will always retain the imagination and excitement of the art of cookery. To lose it would be a very sad day indeed.

This soup started with an hours cooking of the chicken carcass in my instant pot pressure cooker. It’s a marvellous bit of kit and one I can’t recommend highly enough. Next I made the soup by sauté onions, peppers, carrots and bacon, popped in a lot of tomatoes, butter beans and pasta and simmered until the pasta was cooked.

The rolls are a sourdough cheddar cheese and spring onion and are absolutely delicious. I thought I’d try rolls this week instead of loaves and they are going down a storm with hubby.

Lunch, home made, what could be better than that.

Chocolate

I have finally come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try not to I will always eat chocolate at least once a week. The truth is I’d be happier if I could eat it every day. I’ve pondered on that truism for a very long time, years in fact, knowing that I’d be happier but also knowing it probably isn’t a good idea is a difficult tightrope to tread. So I don’t buy chocolate and I don’t plan for chocolate until the Friday evening bottle of wine comes into view and then I allow myself a smallish treat, I say smallish because if it’s hubby that is doing the choosing, it will be a big box of something. Hubby can be a bit of a guzzler where anything sweet is concerned – and yet he still keeps his figure!

We popped into Birmingham last week and Hotel Chocolate came into view, so we had to pop in and buy our favourite pralines, Illegal Gianduja, they are so deep and dark and smooth. As we enjoyed the packets I bought over many days, something inside me snapped, and I realised I want to eat Good chocolate, not any of the cheaper substitutes that are often so disappointing. So I sat and ordered a boxful of our favourites.

There are a couple of other chocolatiers I want to try over the coming months, isn’t it lovely to give yourself permission sometimes. Now I’ll be able to treat myself to a little good chocolate every day.

Growing Protein

Apart from my obvious love of the growing, cooking and eating of fruits and vegetables, I also gain great satisfaction in providing protein to the kitchen. I’d love to go back to keeping chickens who gave us their lovely eggs but hubby is not so keen and I do under the work involved so the next best thing to eggs is beans!

I always grow half a row of French beans in the full knowledge that once I can no longer keep up with their vigorous production I can leave them on the plants to dry and they will miraculously turn into haricot beans, the same variety that tumbles out of a tin covered in tomato sauce. The beans after having been left to dry on the plants for a couple of months, they are just so pretty.With a few left over still needing to dry out.These will continue to dry out and then I will pop them in a jar for winter recipes. I’ll pop a few in an envelope and label it well for next years growing, then it really will be food for free, which always puts a smile on this allotment holders face.

Blackberries and Apples

Are not wild blackberry bushes the most giving of all fruits. Spend an hour picking and one often comes away with a huge bounty, leave them a day or two and the next lot of fruits ripen and one can repeat the process. The only downside is their huge thorns and the attack dogs on the allotment.

Attack dogs on the allotment, I hear you say, well yes, but in human form. I’ve been on this allotment for ten years before I went to London and then a gap of five years to return in March this year. I wander around the allotments with never a word of a challenge as to whether I should be there, but should I pick up a wicker basket and approach the blackberry bushes that are dripping in fruit, taking life and limb in hand because of the torturous nature of the ditch and the very real risk of stretching a bit too far and slipping into the ditch with a bunch of stinging nettles, I am almost immediately accosted as to which track I’m on, what number, a comment about never seeing me before and often a rude comment about how much fruit I have, with the underlying current that they are not for me. Now don’t get me wrong dear reader, I can certainly look after myself and normally make comment, well yes, but it’s a Sunday afternoon and the bushes are dripping with fruit and I’m not going to leave them to rot on the bushes.

But really is this all really necessary. If I was sniffing around sheds, looking to see what was around to sell down the pub I could understand it, but I’m a fat, bald, fifty something woman picking a bit of wild fruit. In the very real days of food poverty, where there is a food bank in nearly every town and ours was crying out for extra donations recently, would you not look at a persons activities with a keener eye before one attacks to see if they should be there. I know I would.

As children our jaunts in the countryside at this time of the year made a very great difference to our diet, blackberry along with apples that somehow my mother was always given by the bushel made a very real difference to our winter diet. Apple and blackberry pies along with crumbles and custard appeared at least three times a week until well into February, keeping us five children supplied with full tummies and abundant vitamin C. My mother was an excellent pie maker and would spend Sunday afternoons baking making six big pies for the coming week, along with a cake and jam tarts or mince pies. This skill alone probably contributes to the fact as to why my brothers are all over six foot, we all grew up big and strong. But not everyone is so lucky, maybe this is something to talk about to the next attack dog, I can feel an idea beginning to germinate.

In other news, I tried our apples and joyous news, they are so sweet and without a grub in sight! Autumn is well and truly on its way.