Wedding Thoughts


Friday, 29 April 2011

I wasn't going to get into this wedding malarkey.
But somehow it got me.
It didn't matter that they were two people I didn't know and was never likely to know, and who will have no impact on my life whatsoever (unless I need rescuing from the sea off the north-west coast).
I watched every single minute of it.
I loved every single minute of it. 
Two happy people celebrating their wedding and allowing everyone to join in and be happy too.
How can anyone be miserable about that?

Best bits

Westminster Abbey looking like a forest glade.

The gorgeous music. Especially 'I Was Glad' by Parry and 'Crown Imperial' by Walton

The Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire and Hurricane flypast.

The dress. Simply exquisite.

The 'Oh Wow!' as she came onto the balcony

Worst Bits

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie's outfits. Particularly the terrible hats. Good lord.
Do they get it from their mother?

Here is April's sampler. Hope you like it :o)

May in April


Thursday, 28 April 2011

I can't remember the May blossom being so early.
The hawthorn hedges that line the footpaths where we live are in full flower.

May blossom was thought to be full of powerful magic and was therefore never brought inside a house.
That's a superstition I remember hearing as a child and which I always observe. 

The flowers drop as soon as the branches are cut anyway. 

It always makes me think of dairies. 
The creamy curds of  flowers with their sour milk smell.

May blossom is apparently a symbol of female fertility.
Brides take note.

The Quince Tree in April


Monday, 25 April 2011

Blossom and bud.
The picture above and the one below were taken last week.

The tree today.

Now the petals are falling.
 This year's quince harvest is on the way.

Easter Day


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter decorations

Easter eggs in meringue form

Easter chocolate

Chocolate Truffle Tart
First I made some chocolate shortbread. Metric this time.
260 g plain flour
40g cocoa
200g butter
100g sugar
All rubbed together (I used the food processor).
I pressed this mixture into a tart tin and baked it for 25 mins at 180°c/160°c fan oven

When it was cool I melted a 200g bar of chocolate, then beat in half a pint of cream and a tablespoon of rum.
I poured this mixture into the tart and put it in the fridge overnight.

Let it come to room temperature before serving otherwise it will be very hard to get out of the tin.

Easter chick

Easter drink

Inspired by Charlotte I bought a bottle of prosecco and added it to some rhubena.
I'm calling it a Rhubellini. 

Easter egg hunt
There are still three missing.
And hooray for Green & Blacks Easter eggs which come with no plastic packaging at all.

Good Friday with Family


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Sitting in my mum's garden on Good Friday afternoon she asks;
'Who would like a drink?'
Me- 'Ooh yes, glass of wine please' (thinking 'I'd thought she'd never ask')
My dad- 'Cup of tea'd be nice'
My husband- 'Yes, I'll have a cup of tea thanks'
My brother- 'Is there any of that cranberry juice left?'
My sister-in-law- 'Nothing for me thanks'
My elder son, younger son, daughter and niece- 'Ginger beer/orange juice/cranberry/elderflower cordial please'
I realise, yet again, that I am the only one having alcohol. I swiftly change my order to 'Ginger beer please' 
I make up for it later.

My daughter and niece sharing some tunes.

My daughter is outraged to discover that her cousin, despite being the younger by nine days, goes to bed a whole two hours later than she does (in the holidays at least).
I mentally add this to the list of things my brother has done to annoy me, chief amongst which is to become disgustingly fit (sister-in-law guilty of this too). He has largely given up alcohol too and makes me feel like a fat old soak every time I see him. 
Other crimes include observing that this blog is not as funny as it used to be, and telling younger son that his hair cut made him look like Justin Bieber, which is just about the worst thing you can say to younger son.
Younger son has been to the barber's this morning.

My brother and sister-in-law are big fans of The Quince Tree though, checking it every day 'to see what you're having for your tea' .
Their brief stay with my parents also provided us with the opportunity to offload daughter at said parents' for a sleepover with her cousin, which meant a sunny day free of whinging about water fights, paddling pools, sprinklers and ice lollies, so, I forgive them and it was lovely to see them :o)

Easter Baking


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Today I made my hot cross buns. To be eaten tomorrow and not before or after.
I'm very strict about hot cross buns.

The crosses are rustic. 

I used the recipe in Mary Berry's Baking Bible. The dough was very sticky and needed quite a lot of extra flour in order to knead it . Next time I will add the liquids more cautiously.

Scripture Cake
Yesterday I made a scripture cake, sometimes known as Bible cake. This isn't an Easter recipe as such, but I thought it was appropriate.
I've made one once before as a gift to my grandmother. This time I used the recipe in the British Book of Baking although I imperialized the quantities. It is a Victorian recipe and would originally have been in imperial measures. The recipe is a kind of puzzle. The British Book of Baking says it 'required a certain knowledge of the Bible'. Nonsense, one can make it perfectly well with no knowledge of the Bible, you do need a Bible handy though.


1 Bible
If you don't have a bible handy highlight the area after each ingredient to find out what it should be.

8oz Judges 5:25, last clause butter
8oz Jeremiah 6:20 sugar- light brown muscovado for preference
1 tablespoon 1 Samuel 14:25 honey
3 Jeremiah 17:11 eggs, beaten
8oz 1 Samuel 30:12 raisins
6oz Nahum 3:12 soft dried figs, chopped
3oz Numbers 17:8 blanched almond, flaked or chopped
12oz  1 Kings 4:22 plain flour
1 teaspoon 2 Chronicles 9:9 mixed spice
1 teaspoon Amos 4:5 baking powder
a pinch of Leviticus 2:13 salt
6 tablepoons Judges 4:19 milk

III enlisted the help of my elder son to look up the bible references, although there was no real need as they were printed at the bottom of the recipe. He enjoyed his little quest. If you know anything at all about cake making you will probably be able to guess a lot of the ingredients from the instructions.

1) In a large mixing bowl cream together the Judges 5:25 with the Jeremiah 6:20 and the 1 Samuel 14:25 until light and fluffy.

2) Add the Jeremiah 17:11 gradually beating well after each addition.

3) Stir in the 1 Samuel 30:12, the Nahum 3:12 and the Numbers 17:8

4) Mix the 1 Kings 4:22 with the 2 Chronicles 9:9, the Amos 4:5 and the Leviticus 2:13.
Fold it all into the mixture in the bowl with the  judges 4;19

Grease and base line an 8 inch deep cake tin.
Pour in the cake mixture and bake at 170°c/150°c fan oven/gas 3 for 1½-2 hours. 

I shall probably be around on Easter Day but if not, happy Easter to you all.

Three Green Things and One Blue Thing


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

 Green thing number one.

My mission to reduce my family's plastic consumption continues. Gone are the seven large plastic milk cartons which used to fill my fridge. Now we have six pint sized glass bottles (three times a week) which we can return to the milkman to be reused over and over again.
They are so satisfying to handle and so easy on the eye.

'Whoa, what's happened to the milk mum?' 
'It's in bottles from the milkman'
' do I get it out?'
We are saving the foil tops for recycling. 

Green thing number two

Loving my leftovers.
Three spears of asparagus in hollandaise sauce, a spoonful of peas and the last slice of smoked ham.
All chopped together into a sandwich filling. Delicious.

Leftover salmon went into a kedgeree. The rice was cooked in stock made from the woody ends of the asparagus.

Green thing number three.

Our little push mower. Light enough for a child to use, although I couldn't find one willing to use it.
Perfectly adequate for our tiny lawn and so much quieter than a petrol or an electric mower. Took me less than ten minutes.

Blue thing

Speckled wood butterfly.



Monday, 18 April 2011

Asparagus and hollandaise sauce. What could be more delicious?
Hollandaise has a reputation for misbehaving but make it with care and it will not be troublesome. 
I followed Elizabeth David's uncomplicated instructions.

The ingredients are few and are usually to hand.
Put into a small pan 3 tablespoons of wine vinegar or wine and 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Bring to a boil and reduce until you have a scant tablespoon. Watch out as this happens quite quickly.

Put the reduction into a heatproof bowl to cool.

Have ready 3 beaten egg yolks. I do rather dread recipes which require egg yolks only. I already have  egg whites enough in my freezer to make meringues for a royal wedding. This, is however, a once in a while kind of sauce.

Also have ready 6-7oz of butter cut into 1 oz pieces and which has been allowed to soften.

Have ready, also, a pan of barely simmering water over which you can suspend your heatproof bowl so that its bottom doesn't touch the water.

Add your egg yolks to the vinegar reduction and stir well. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water.

Add one piece of the butter and whisk until it is all incorporated into the egg yolks. It will begin to thicken.
Add the next piece of butter and whisk again. Add the rest of the butter piece by piece in the same way.
Do not let the water below the pan boil.

Action shot.
 It is hard to take photos while you are making a careful sauce. I didn't have anyone in the house who I could trust to either stir while I took the photos or to handle my camera while I stirred.

There is something very restorative about standing over a gently simmering pan stirring the day's frustrations away and creating something sublime to eat.

Your sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
If it is getting too thick add a few drops of cold water.
Season the finished sauce with a little lemon juice and salt. I didn't use salt because I used salted butter, something of which Elizabeth David would, no doubt, not have approved.

This recipe should make enough sauce for 4-6 people. Or two, if you are greedy like me.

Salmon and new potatoes make it a perfect meal.

And before anyone says anything about arteries, diets or cholesterol I am not suggesting hollandaise sauce be made a major part of your daily eating. It is a treat, as is homegrown asparagus. I shan't be making it again this asparagus season although I will be eating plenty more sparrowgrass (as they call it round these parts).

Elizabeth David's recipe for hollandaise sauce can be found in French Provincial Cooking and in At Elizabeth David's Table.

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