Sunday, 27 May 2012


At last we have actually had some sunshine, the trouble is, and I don’t want to sound grumpy, it’s now too hot and we are watering the garden and generally getting stressed with it all. I’m sure that when I was younger! It gradually got warmer from about the end of March, so that by June although it was hot you had got used to it. Then from September it gradually got colder as winter approached. Now it seems that one day its cold, then the next its hot, then the next its cold, all through the year. Certainly this year it’s been miserable until last Sunday night, we went to bed cold and woke up to a hot Monday. And then it just got hotter. By Saturday it was really hot, and although it rained on Sunday morning, it’s not cooled down.
We were in Totnes on Friday and saw a very inspiring sign, at the Leech Wells,

There was a strong Easterly breeze when I took the dogs round on Saturday morning, and I could hear the waves on St Mary’s beach from quite a distance away. It was a hypnotic sight and I stood for a long time just feeling the energy.

In my quest for sourdough excellence, I have built a small proving (or is it proofing?) box to help in controlling dough temperature. It just takes one banetton, as yet I haven’t tried it out, as I am on other projects.

Jason has started catching Mackerel again,

 and my freezer is now bulging, just in time as we used the last of our stock this week. There were four fish left in the freezer, so I wrapped them in foil, after oiling and sprinkling with herbs, then in the oven for 20 minutes. I always cook first and bone second, as I find it easier with smaller fish, the remains were used to make Kedgeree, a favourite from the seafaring days, when it was routinely made to use up whatever fishy was lurking around. 
I started mine by boiling rice until just a little liquid was left and the rice was 95% cooked.
In a separate pan I  fried onions with some curry powder until soft and aromatic, 

 adding the flaked fish and a few prawns,

 then the rice and liquid, warming it all through together before serving with the traditional accompaniment of hard-boiled eggs and some tomato halves. Home-made Naan bread completed the meal.

Saturday was multi-tasking day, I think I told you about the Sausage Shed a while ago, well we decided to try their Pork and Marmalade sausages,

 with onion gravy and mashed potato for dinner (dead sophisticated aren’t we?) followed by mixed fruit crumble (Apple, Blackberries and Strawberries from the freezer) with custard.

Whilst that was cooking I mixed boiled water with the elderflowers, lemons and sugar, now I must give it 4 days to infuse before bottling.

I also picked some elderflowers to dry for my store.

I found a visitor in the Kitchen, peering over the leaves of our aloe,

and when he (or she) moved I got a better view. Please ignore the dirty window.

There was a scary moment over the front patio, a pigeon perched on the woodwork eying up the seed feeder, when I looked back there were two, a moment later I glanced up at movement and there were three, it was like something from Hitchcock!

Ages ago I brought a book called Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, which advocated a no-knead method of bread-making. I had a go and then left it, not because of any other reason than that I had other methods to try, anyway I was surfing a couple of days ago and found a link for no-knead bread on an American website.

So I thought that I would revisit it, and the initial mixture started to rise so well that I had to move it to a bigger container.

However I must have made a mess of converting the measurements and ended up with batter instead of dough, I was actually using 100g less flour than I should have been, which I didn’t realise until it came to the final preparation of it for the oven, still nothing ventured etc. It actually came out quite well, like a crusted ciabatta, and the taste was superb, next time however I will check the conversation before I go blundering on.

Bottled Apples update, Yvonne used a bottle of the apples that I preserved in Campden tablets and water last September to make a cake this morning.

The cake wasn’t allowed to cool before sampling. Yum.

Also I wanted to try a recipe I had found for Pistachio shortbread,

and make some elderflower cordial for summer drinking.

So to disprove the theory that men can’t multi-task, I set about doing it all at once, including blanching the Potato peelings for Homity Pie later in the week.

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