August Plans


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Monthly Sampler July 2012

~ Make jam. I picked about 5 lbs of redcurrants before going on holiday. They are in the freezer waiting for raspberries to be bought to make  redcurrant and raspberry jam

~ Re-read Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries in anticipation of volume II being published in September.
There are also new books by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Diana Henry to be looked forward to.

~ Continue the war with my daughter over mess made and tasks left undone. Nail varnish is the current battle. I have no objection to her wearing it. I just wish the towels, window sills and furniture didn't wear it as well. I hate the smell of nail varnish remover, am sure it cannot be good for her, and fail to see why she thinks I should buy it for her.

~ Enjoy 'Not Camping' which is due to take place between 15th- 22nd August. I'm planning some lovely things to eat and drink and looking out for something good to read.

Cornish Clotted Cream


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Cornish gold

Clotted cream.
A West Country speciality traditionally made by putting rich, creamy milk into wide shallow pans and cooking it over a gentle heat so that the cream rises to the top and forms a thick, wrinkled, yellow crust. It is so thick you cannot pour it and has a distinctive cooked taste which is quite delicious.

Rodda's is the largest commercial producer of clotted cream and has the status of Protected Designation of Origin by the EU. This means it has to be made with Cornish milk and have a fat content of at least 55%. Cornish grass apparently has higher carotene levels which produces a yellower cream than Devon clotted cream.

Rodda's is, I think, available countrywide. I can easily buy it in supermarkets in Worcester. However, in Cornish supermarkets you can buy it in 1lb tubs rather than the little tubs we get elsewhere.

Clotted cream is similar to the Middle Eastern buffalo cream kaymak. There is a theory that two thousand years ago Phoenician traders looking for tin came to Cornwall and passed on the method for making thick cream to the Cornish.

I brought a tub home with me to put in a birthday cake. George had requested a Victoria sponge filled with jam and cream. Clotted cream is traditionally eaten with jam and scones as part of a cream tea. I'm always a little disappointed with the jam in a cream tea. It is often cheap commercial jam, stiff and lacking in fruit. I've used homemade blackcurrant jam in George's cake which is, of course, much nicer.

This cake is by no means my original recipe but as I am running out of month it will have to be my July Cake of the Month.

Easy All-In-One Sponge Cake

Mix all the following ingredients together well
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz soft butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

Divide mixture between two 8 inch (22cm) loose bottomed sandwich tins which you have greased and base-lined.
Bake for 25 minutes at 180°c (160°c fan oven) until well risen and golden. The cake should spring back when pressed with a finger.

When cool spread one cake liberally with good quality jam (strawberry, raspberry or blackcurrant are good but use what you like. Lemon curd is a delicious possibility).
Spread cream generously on top of the jam. Clotted cream is fabulous but whipped double (heavy) cream will be wonderful too.
Top with the second cake and dive in.

Cornwall 2012


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cornwall last week.
Perfect weather. All week, every day.
Perfect beaches, perfect countryside.
Lovely blogladies to meet for coffee and icecream.
Why would you go anywhere else?

Now we are back in Worcester where the weather remains good and the washing machine is in overdrive.
A birthday cake must be made for a 17 year old, a leg of lamb must be roasted for his birthday meal and as much Olympic action must be watched as possible.

Let The Games Begin!


Friday, 27 July 2012

I am ridiculously excited about the Olympics.
I am planning to watch as much of it as possible starting tonight.

Just before we went on holiday last Friday I bought five ring doughnuts and made some coloured icing for them.

I put them on a tray and into the freezer for the week.
Now, they are ready to eat.
One each.
We will enjoy them after a meal of pasties brought back from Cornwall.

And then we will sit down to enjoy the opening ceremony with a glass or two and maybe a tube or two of Pringles if we are very good.

The Quince Tree in July


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

 This year I decided not to post monthly updates on the Quince Tree because I thought it was getting a bit boring. After all, it goes through the same cycle of bud, leaf, blossom, fruit every year.
Or so I thought.
Look at the pictures of the Quince Tree in July 2010 and in July 2011.
Compare them to the pictures below of the tree this year.

Something is missing.

There are no quinces this year.
None at all.
Remember this in April? The wind and rain wiped out all the blossom before it had a chance to set.
No quinces.
Not a single solitary one.
I am quinceless.

I will buy a few quinces from Waitrose if they have any Turkish ones (presumably the whole UK crop has failed) but I will not be converting my kitchen into a quince processing factory this year.
What I thought I'd do instead is post lots of apple recipes as apples are something everyone has access to and I don't cook with them nearly enough. Apple trees blossom later than quince trees so I'm hoping the local apple crop will be in good supply this year.
Apple pies and pasties, apple cakes, apple betty, apple charlotte, apple jellies and  apple chutneys.

: :

The Quince Tree will be on holiday from Friday 20th July until 27th July

Today Was a Sunny Day


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Here at the Quince Tree we have had a peaceful weekend.

George has been gliding, Tom has been skateboarding and Katie has been watching Twilight.
Twilight was on telly yesterday and today her friend leant her the next instalment. I think it is a load of badly acted bilge but it has made a change from endless episodes of Glee which is utter tripe and barely suitable for a twelve year old.

I have spent a pleasant time adding to my new Pinterest board -The Sarcastic and Irritable board which has proved a welcome outlet for the irritation much of what appears on Pinterest causes me. For every sane adult woman pinning interesting craft projects, interior design ideas and useful recipes there are twenty silly girls with unrealistic expectations of life, poor grammar and a taste for desserts made out of something called Cool Whip. 

By the way, there is also a lot of porn on Pinterest which is easy to stumble across completely innocently. Worth being aware of if you let your daughters use it. And I don't mean artistic nudity, I mean porn.

The sun has shone today.
See, sunlight through the leaves.

Making my CD bird scarers flash with colour.

And my redcurrants gleam.

In My Kitchen Today


Thursday, 12 July 2012

For the nose ~ Z├ęphirine Drouhin, feverfew, lady's mantle and lavender

For the biscuit tin ~ oaty ginger biscuits
The recipe is very slightly adapted from this one

8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz oats
1 tsp ground ginger
Melt in a saucepan
8 oz butter
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp golden syrup
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix contents of the pan into dry ingredients and bring together into a dough.

The biscuits you can see in the picture were rolled out and cut with a cutter but the dough is not easy to roll and I would advise making little balls and squashing them before baking. If you pat them down after they come out of the oven they will spread a bit more. They are wonderfully crunchy.
Place them well apart on greased or lined baking sheets.

Bake at 180°c (160°c fan oven) for 15 mins.
Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to cooling racks.
Makes - quite a lot.

For lunch ~ Roasted peppers, courgettes with anchovies and olives. Some feta would be a nice addition.

For supper ~ onion tart

For pudding ~ homemade vanilla and honey yogurt. I usually keep my yogurt plain but this time I added a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the milk as it heated. Lovely.

Perfect Housewife, That's Me*


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I find disorder unsettling and uncomfortable.
I am convinced that living in a well-ordered environment is vital for one's mental well-being. A home with structure and rhythm is pleasant, easy to run and restorative to its inhabitants.
I think my best housewifely skill is orderliness.
   If we ignore for a moment my daughter's room I think we can safely say that my house is very orderly. A place for everything and everything in its place. It helps enormously to live with a man who is also very orderly and two boys who are at least happy to fall in with my desire for order. If they were all like Katie then I may well be telling a different story.

This is our sitting room.

This is how it looks pretty much all the time. It's comfortable and pleasant although I can't help feeling, now I look at the photograph, that it is a little cold and stark.
Of course it didn't look like this when the children were little, then the floor would have been covered with toys although they were always gone by bedtime.
Well, it looks tidy and the floor has just been hoovered but close up all is not as it seems.

 Dusty surfaces

Dirty windows -inside and out

and mouldy skirting boards.

My house is superficially clean only. Time to get to grips with the dirt. Writing about my laundry routine the other day prompted me to think about instituting a routine for other housewifely tasks.
I decided to add a new 'household' category to my recipe box.

The tasks ringed in coloured pen are the most essential.

*An example of irony

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