Category Archives: In My Kitchen

Bits and pieces : kitchen and garden

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This is the noonday sun on the last day in August.  Today is the first of September, the beginning of the new year in my head.

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In my kitchen there is a box of meringue fingers studded with toasted hazelnuts from Normandy – a gift to Brian from my sister, Brian likes them crumbled up on top of fresh fruit with yoghurt as a dessert.

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And there were also some very useful indeed sachets of yoghurt starter enzymes (another thoughtful gift from my sister)  for when your old home made yoghurt has gone a bit beyond being used to seed a new batch. Still wondering why no one in the UK stocks these. Lakeland stock EasiYo, all the way from the Antipodes but not these made in Europe. Funny old world….

asier gurk pickle

Pickled Danish cucumber, the asie gurk, from seed sent me by the lovely Misky,  grown by me outdoors here at home in pots with local manure to help them along, peeled and brined and made according to this recipe  and then lovingly waterbath processed by Brian. I don’t think I would make them without his help as I don’t like handling hot jars, damp with boiling steam from the oven.

I use the pickle juice to thin down our current salad dressing, which is a tsp of dijon mustard mixed in a little home made yoghurt and does a very good impression of a mayonnaise with no oil worked into it. The cucumbers are a joy and a delight and much nicer (variety name : the Langelands Giant) than many of the other varieties I have sampled this year. So many cucumbers are full of seeds and surprisingly bitter, these ones have always been sweet and crisp.

I left a tray of my own home saved angelica seed at the Community Garden at Blaise, where I do a bit of volunteering,  hoping it would germinate and the magic of the place has made it happen already. It is supposed to need a period of cold before coming up and this has taught me that books are not always right.

IMG_6992 I was delighted! I suspect not many people have the patience to grow it, it can take up to three years to get stems large enough to candy, or even that much interest in candying and eating it I got there this year having waited patiently for several years and felt great personal satisfaction and one of these days will make some buns or some icecream and use the angelica I candied at home.

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Angelica archangelica coming into flower earlier this year.

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Candied stems drying, they will keep for ages now.

If you want to know how to do it, you could pop over to my acquaintance Dan at the Apothecary’s Garden as I learnt the basics from him.

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Here is my little old mushrooming basket, given to me by my dear friend Hazel, who passed away many years ago now, I remember her when I pick it up and carry it with me, as I carry her in my heart always. Here it is filled with tomatoes and herbs and some wild blackberries, calendula flowers and cucumbers, and a fairy lights chilli plant coming home from Blaise Community Garden.

 

Apples are falling off the tree before ripening for some reason and the pear tree has long spindly branches and too many pears so I took a whole lot off the other day and bottled them and hope the pear tree won’t break too many more of its branches. I need to get a lesson from someone in pruning.

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A squirrel has had most of the nuts off the red hazel but has left me a symbolic handful

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and here is the eternal game being played out by my hairy friends and companions, another good prompt to get out of the house and breathe fresh air.

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In My Kitchen March 2014

Sunrise with Pigeon

Sunrise with Pigeon

Here we go, I have a collection of stuff to share and what better place to put it than in Celia’s In My Kitchen series? Visit Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and join in by the 10th of the month, any month and have some fun seeing what everyone is sharing.

At the moment  it is not sunrise but the evening of the last day in February, there is the lingering smell of fried haddock in batter and chips from the Fish and Chip shop on Henleaze High Street, next to the Post Office and the Garden Centre. But you will have to imagine that… suffice it to say it has no particular health benefits but is quite delicious and as the temperature dropped to a miserable 4 C today plus windchill I felt it was a perfect supper, as if I need an excuse!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Other delights on the kitchen table have included my first attempts at pot stickers and wontons – I can’t think what inspired me to make these? Maybe something to do with a certain Sydneysider… and the fact that we have a fantastic Chinese supermarket in Eastville where you can buy dumpling wrappers and fresh won ton skins, Jimmy’s satay sauce, fresh choy, tofu, Chinese vegetables, mysterious things lurking in freezers and more.  The supermarket even tweets as @WaiYeeHong and does online orders, so it is a treasure trove of good things. We are quite spoilt in Bristol.

I could get into this making dumplings lark...

I could get into this making dumplings and wontons  lark, Celia is right, it’s very soothing…

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

I also attempted Fran @ TheRoadtoSerendipity‘s breakfast, on the principle that one should try everything at least once (maybe not tripe but you know what I mean)  I thought maybe if I eat her breakfast I too will be full of get up and go and zing and maybe find myself on a beach in Tasmania, magical thinking, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis etc etc … so the other morning I ground up buckwheat and turned it into porridge, dolloped tahini and date syrup and some dates on top and ate the whole bowlful. I stopped half way through and added salt. Not sure why, but there you go.  I have to say, I zinged around all day and felt most loving towards humanity and not at all hungry until at least 3 pm. On the minus side it was a bit too like school semolina in texture, though I did enjoy the taste, so I think I will move on to buckwheat granola production to use up the rest of the bag of buckwheat.

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

I made two small batches of marmalade. Each year I follow a different recipe, it kind of makes it a bit more interesting. This year I used Vivien Lloyd‘s crystal clear instructions to produce a very clear set marmalade. Looks very smart! I bought her e-book and also watched her video on YouTube and asked her questions on Twitter too!

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Seville Marmalade made to a Viv Lloyd recipe

Two different recipes of Vivien Lloyd’s here, the one on the right has a little molasses in and a chunkier cut. It isn’t quite dark enough for Brian’s tastes, who likes that Oxford Style made with lots of brown sugar.

For those of you who like fancy salts and peppers, I have to confess I have got through one jar of this espelette blend from M&S and gone back for a second. It goes very well on kale chips – (I know it is a bit last year to like kale chips, but I am often at least five years behind the trends, slow but steady, that’s me).

I was sent some special lemons and a jar of quince jam from Carla’s trees in Rome and you can see them peeking out here along with a jar of kefir lurking in the background.

Espelette

I have a other few gifts to show you as well.

Fans of QI and Stephen Fry may know what these are. I was sent these as a thankyou for doing some editorial work for an old friend. They are very handsome but I think I need a party of people to help me empty one of those bowls as they are quite substantial.

Everything you need for mate tea

Everything you need for mate tea

Here is a beautiful old brioche tin from my friend Elaine, who goes to France on her holidays most years and found this for me. I am going to make brioche in it very soon but at the moment I just enjoy looking at it!

Antique Brioche tin

then there is a little round of creamy kefir cheese, made from St Helen’s Fullfat Goat’s Milk and sea salt. St Helen’s Goat’s milk is my milk of choice these days, it is mild and ‘ungoaty’ in flavour and I use it in preference to cow’s milk, particularly for kefir. It makes perfect little cheese rounds as you can see.

Goats Milk Kefir Cheese

I made ful medames loosely following Hodmedod’s recipe, though I used less sugar, and using their dried English grown fava beans.  I haven’t tried their cooked range as yet. They also have split fava beans with no skins, perfect for making falafel. They are a wonderful new company and I hope they do really well. Part of food security for any country is growing our own food and this company grows all its beans and peas here in the UK.

Ful medames a la Hodmedod

Here is a mystery photo of something in my kitchen reflecting the outside world, you might know what it is …

Can you figure out what this is?

Can you figure out what this is?

I was only going to spend half an hour doing this and time is ticking away so I am going to retire downstairs to the sofa and grab a cup of tea and an ultra healthy oaty bar from the freezer. These are based on Carl’s recipe for his son which you can find here and they are very wholesome indeed, having no added sugar (I don’t count the dark chocolate Callebaut chips) and no fat at all. I polish my halo every time I eat one !

It’s been fun doing this, i don’t normally namecheck so many companies and businesses, but once in a while it is OK I hope. Anyway you don’t have to click on the links, just thought if you were interested you can find out a bit more if I put them in.

I hope you find something you like here and don’t forget to visit Celia’s blog and see all the other kitchens this month!

Carl Energy Bar

PS In my rush to get my tea I forgot these two images that I really wanted to put in the post, so bad form I know to add after publication but here goes…

From Emily Sincerely I got this surprise handmade card  for Valentine’s Day this week !

Thank you Emily! xx

Thank you Emily! xx

and this is what it had inside … I think she (and Proust!) are spot on!

Beautiful Quote from Proust