September Sampler


Thursday, 30 September 2010

September is such a lovely month, truly a season of mellow fruitfulness. I think productive is the best word to describe my September. I've gathered fruit, made it into jam, jelly, pies, puddings and drinks. I've finished a crochet project and I have written more posts this month than any other. The Quince Tree has had more visitors  than ever and there have been so many appreciative comments that I feel rather overwhelmed.  

It has been so hard choosing which photos to use for my sampler this month. I made several but I've finally settled on this one. I do hope you like it :o)

Almost Wordless Wednesday


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Two eggs in this bowl.

I love getting a double-yolker. Don't you?

Random Deliciousness


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

So many wonderful comments about my blanket. you are all too lovely and kind!

In answer to a couple of questions -

Ends -when I start a new round I hold the tails along the top of my work and enclose them as I crochet. Saves an enormous amount of time.

Speed - I made a lot of the squares when my family were away camping. The rest I made in the evenings, 2 or 3 per evening. The joining and blocking I did while the children were at school. Don't forget I don't go out to work or do housework and my children are no longer little. I luxuriate in time.


Nicky was kind enough to say that she enjoyed my weekly menu page that I had a while back. It was a little tiresome to keep up so I thought the occasional random deliciousness post might fit the bill instead. What do you think?

This is tartiflette, a French dish from the Savoie region. It is potato, bacon, reblochon cheese and cream or crème fraîche. I added some wrinkly  apples which turned out to be a good idea. Any cheese will work as long as it is a good melting one. We ate it with a dish of sliced tomatoes. It makes a great family supper and economical too if you use an everyday cheese.

First stew of the autumn. Beef with beer (Theakston's Old Peculiar to be precise). Lots of carrots and mushrooms in there too. Yes, my children do pick out the mushrooms, and I swipe them from their plates. We ate it with baked potatoes, the weather wasn't quite bad enough to warrant dumplings.
That object you can see hanging from a string on the right is not, as my elder son suggested, a testicle, but a bouquet garni. The correct English expression is a 'faggot of herbs'. I didn't mention this to my son as the testicle remark had already caused the dinner table conversation to degenerate.

And while we are on the subject of plums....these are Marjorie's Seedling plums found in my local farm shop. They became our weekend pudding.

Plum crumble tart from Tender Volume II by Nigel Slater. Easy peasy to make. A crumble mixture of flour, ground almonds (almonds go so well with plums), soft brown sugar and butter. Two-thirds of the crumble is pressed into a tin, not too firmly. The halved plums are placed on top and the rest of the crumble scattered over and baked. Nigel adds pinenuts to the topping. I used chopped almonds because my daughter is allergic to pinenuts. It would have been just as delicious without either nut but they did add a pleasant crunch.

Definitely one to try with other fruits. I'm thinking  an apple and mincemeat version will be delicious in December.



Sunday, 26 September 2010

The blanket is now finished. Daughter says it rocks. I'm quite pleased with it too.

Seven colours -red, yellow, blue, pink, white, blue-green, light green
All acrylic yarns except the red which was wool.
All DK.
A 4mm hook.
70 squares, 7 rounds each, one round of each colour.
Border-3 rows of treble clusters in red, white and blue.
Begun 7th August 2010
Finished 24th September 2010

It's not perfect by any means. The light green and yellow yarns were thicker than the others causing squares with those two colours in the outer rounds to be bigger than the others. The joining isn't as I'd like either -the corners of the squares don't meet properly. This is one of the reasons I wouldn't be prepared to make blankets for sale. They look good in my photos, but don't bear closer scrutiny.

But now what? I have some ideas. But I need to save up. More yarn is required.

The Quince Tree in September


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Such a bright sunny morning, too bright in fact for you to see just how many fruit are on the tree.
But here they are close up.

I was going to attempt to describe them but then I read what Nigel has to say about the quince and gave up.
'Plump, golden, curvaceous. A fat cherub of a fruit, with waxy skin and, here and there, patches of soft, pubescent down'.
Nigel Slater's new book from which that quotation is taken, is the second volume of Tender. Volume One deals with  vegetables in the kitchen and the garden, and Volume Two deals with fruit. Not all fruit, just the ones that can be grown in an English garden. Apples, pears, plums, damsons, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, blackberries, rhubarb.....

and quinces.

Each fruit gets a page like this. I find  suggestions like this tremendously useful, even more so than recipes.
The recipes, though, are glorious.

 Lamb with quinces
Buttered quinces
Slow-roast loin of pork with quinces and marsala
Roast quinces
Soft quinces under a crisp crust
Apples and quinces baked in cream
Slow-cooked quinces with cassis
Quince paste
A fragrant winter breakfast
A quince pickle

Nigel recommends picking quinces when they 'turn from green to canary yellow'. That moment has arrived for my quinces but I'm waiting, gathering my strength, buying sugar, earmarking recipes until October comes.

What to Look For(ward) to in Autumn


Thursday, 23 September 2010

How I love autumn. It's by far my most favourite time of the year. I'm pretty keen on winter too. Spring and summer are lovely but it's the cold, dark, wet, windy months I love best. I'm funny that way.

Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to in autumn.

Collecting conkers. Gosh, I adore conkers. Last year we forgot to go conkering completely. Not this year. I want me a big basketful of shiny horse chestnuts.

Pumpkins and squashes. There's a farm shop near Worcester which has a wonderful selection of winter squash. Crown Prince is my favourite. It has a pale blue-grey skin and brilliant orange flesh. It tastes good too. I cook squash and pumpkins a lot -curries, soups, bakes. They're good paired with coconut, cream, cheese, chorizo, bacon, nuts and spices, although probably not all at once. They keep for ages and look fabulous.

Dark evenings. C and I disagree on this matter. He feels he's missing the infinite opportunities the long summer evenings afford most of which he spends asleep on the sofa. I like being inside my cosy house when it is dark and horrible outside with my crochet and cookbooks.

The first stew of the season. Might be this weekend. Beef or lamb. With dumplings.

Christmas cooking. Yes, I said the C-word. Sorry. But I do love making the Christmas cake, the pudding and the mincemeat.

The quince harvest. Which is rapidly approaching. Oh my, there are a very lot!

The first crisp frosty morning. Photo ops.

Bonfire night. Love fireworks.

Here's the perfect poem for the autumn equinox. Enjoy :o)

There Came a Day

There came a day that caught the summer
Wrung its neck
Plucked it
And ate it.

Now what shall I do with the trees ?
The day said, the day said.
Strip them bare, strip them bare.
Let's see what is really there.

And what shall I do with the sun ?
The day said, the day said,
Roll him away till he's cold and small.
He'll come back rested if he comes back at all.

And what shall I do with the birds ?
The day said, the day said,
The birds I've frightened, let them flit,
I'll hang out the pork for the brave tomtit.

And what shall I do with the seed ?
The day said, the day said.
Bury it deep, see what it's worth.
See if it can stand the earth.

What shall I do with the people ?
The day said, the day said.
Stuff them with apple and blackberry pie-
They'll love me then till the day they die.

There came this day and he was autumn.
His mouth was wide
And red as a sunset.
His tail was an icicle.

Ted Hughes - Season Songs

Did I mention how much I appreciate your comments? There have been a lot lately. I can't tell you how excited it makes me to see a new comment. It's like being paid for blogging only better! Thank you. 

Wordless Wednesday


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Lemon Tart
(from Kitchenella by Rose Prince)

Saturday Kitchen


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday always seems to be my busy day in the kitchen. Tomorrow we are going to an airshow for which we need a picnic and a meal ready to heat up on our return.

First up was a batch of my favourite cocoa brownies to take with us for our picnic. I love these for their economy (no chocolate) ,ease and lusciousness.
Then today's lunch. Carrot and coconut soup. This is one of my children's favourites which pleases me as it's a great way to get a substantial amount of veg into them. It is mildly spiced and creamy. Sometimes I make it with sweet potato or pumpkin instead of carrots. I used chicken stock from my freezer which I made from the carcass of a roast chicken. 
These pears were a gift from my friend Carol. They are Black Worcester pears. Their skins get much darker as they mature hence their name. You can find them on the Worcestershire coat of arms. References to them abound in this county but few people actually eat them. they are as hard as nails. Much like a quince in fact. You must cook them.

I baked them in a low oven for three hours in perry with sugar and cinnamon.

We ate them warm with clotted cream. They were delicious.

The pears weren't the only food gift I received this week. Louise sent me this beautiful swag of homegrown chillies. Isn't it gorgeous?

Thank you Carol and Louise :o)

All that cooking has barely given me a chance to read the new cookbook the postman brought me this morning.

It promises to be a wonderful read, packed with useful recipes and information. It is a celebration of the female cook, the woman who cooks for her family day in and day out, who needs to please husbands, children and herself, who needs to consider budget, time and nutrition with every meal she makes, much as I have been doing today.


A word about my weight loss.
You may have noticed that I have ditched the weight loss page. I haven't given up attempting to lose weight at all, I've just got bored of writing about it. It is a dull subject after all. You can be sure I will let you know if I have any significant progress to report.

Nearly Finished


Thursday, 16 September 2010

It's nearly done.
My vintage granny squares blanket.
Begun here.

First the squares were blocked -pinned out and sprayed with water and left to dry.

Seventy squares ready to go. Please don't look at my grubby mantelpiece.

All laid out ready to join.
I joined them together using this method from Attic24. It's quick and easy but you must concentrate or this will happen.

Middle square is back to front- see all those ends. This happened twice. Fortunately I spotted them both before it was too late.

They're all joined together but I still have a bit of finishing off to do and a border to add.
Won't be long now :o)

Wordless Wednesday


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

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