Crab Apple


Friday, 30 August 2013

My little crab apple tree is certainly making up for last year's dismal crop. The apples are dropping thick and fast. None of the windfalls are really suitable for use but there are plenty of good fruit on the tree still.

What to do with them? I made a lot of crab apple jelly in 2011 but there are still three jars of it on my shelf. Clearly we don't eat that much crab apple jelly. Rather than miss the opportunity to make use of this abundance I think I will use them to make small batches of chilli jelly (chelly) and herb jellies. There are mint and sage growing under the crab apple tree which will make lovely jellies to accompany meat. Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy the bright colour these little apples bring to my flowerless garden.

August has been a riot of colour beginning with a Cornish blue sea and ending with little scarlet apples. Summer is still with us and I think it will be around for a while longer but by the end of September it will be autumn and how I love autumn.

I Made a Thing


Sunday, 25 August 2013

A crocheted twine tote, free pattern by Quilt While You're Ahead (on her sidebar), made with Nutscene Twines in brown, red, terracotta and green. One of each.

Super easy and super quick to make.
The twine is not at all scratchy to use but pushing a crochet hook through the stitches is quite hard work. Ann left a comment suggesting that crocheting into the back loop only would make it easier on the fingers. Doing that produces a ridged effect to your work which would look just as good as the conventional stitch pattern.

Endlessly useful and utterly fab, I love my new bag.

The Colour Collaborative : August ~ Vintage


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Once the word vintage referred to a time only dimly remembered by one's grandparents, a time before electricity, indoor plumbing and motorcars. Now it not only refers to my own childhood but more alarmingly now includes the 1980s and one day, sooner than you think, it will refer to now.

I was born in 1965 when life was very different. We were still using old money and everything was Better. Except there was no internet. Or cheap wine. Women were paid less than men, racist jokes were considered ok, and it was illegal to be gay. So not really better at all. There was colour though, lots of strong colour, and girls were allowed colours that weren't pink or purple or sprinkled with glitter. Girls' clothes and toys were multi-coloured, bright and bold.

Red and black are the colours I remember best from my childhood. Red and black in the form of everyone's favourite beetle the ladybird.

There were the books of course. Four and half inches by seven, costing 2/6 with their brightly coloured spines and backs and colourful illustrated covers Ladybird books were familiar companions to the nation's children throughout the 60s and 70s.

For those of you wishing to wallow in nostalgia I heartily recommend this book . Absolutely packed with fabulous colourful illustrations from ladybird books.

Childhood in the 60s and 70s certainly wasn't drab.

It was technicoloured.

There was another Ladybird in my childhood. Ladybird clothes. We had a Ladybird shop on our high street (a high street, incidentally, exactly like the one in Shopping With Mother) from which my mum would buy clothes for my brother and myself.

All my underwear came from the Ladybird shop; white pants and vests* with the embroidered Ladybird label in them with its loopy L. You needed nice underwear if you were aged between 4 and 7 in the early 70s because you had to do PE and music and movement lessons in your vest and pants.We also got lacy white knee socks and coloured tights from there. My mum was very keen on coloured tights for little girls.

One of the most famous of the Ladybird advertising graphics features two children "checking the label"
click image for link 

When I was in the reception year at school mum often sent me to school in an outfit bought from the Ladybird shop which consisted of black tights, a black polo neck jumper and a red tunic. My teacher, Miss Jeans, used to say that if only I had black spots on the back of my tunic I would look just like a ladybird. Then one day the school had a fancy dress competition and my mum knew exactly what I should go as.
She sewed  a little black cap, which buttoned up under the chin and covered my hair and ears. She attached black pipe-cleaner antennae on the top, she embroidered a bold black line down the back of my red tunic and appliquéed big black spots on either side of the line. With my black tights and jumper I was a perfect ladybird. Off I went to the fancy dress competition and won first prize. It may well have been my mum's proudest moment as a mother, if only there had been such a thing as the internet and blogging in 1970 what a great blogpost the ladybird costume would have made. Never mind, I am blogging it now but I do wish we had a photo. Suffice to say I looked pretty damn cute in my red and black.

*Translations for North American readers
A vest is an undershirt I think. It's a sleeveless top worn as underwear particularly by children. What you call a vest we call a waistcoat.
A jumper is a sweater and a tunic is a jumper. A polo neck is a turtle neck.
Reception year is the first year of schooling for 4 and 5 year olds.

What is The Colour Collaborative? All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways. We're excited by where this might take us, click on the logos below to find out!

Just Now I Am....


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Enjoying watching sugar soaking into cooked blackcurrants for jam. Such small transformations are what I love about cooking. Now I have ten jars of blackcurrant jam and a very satisfied feeling.

Eating everything in the freezer. It needs defrosting. I have scheduled it for Sunday or maybe Monday. There is quite a lot of pork in there at the moment. This week we are mostly eating pork. George ate a pork chop for breakfast.

Learning about clouds. I am becoming a cloud nerd.

Below is an example of cirrus which is Latin for lock of hair. Or they may be cirrocumulus. I'm not sure.

These are cirrus (the wispy ones bottom right) and altocumulus. I think. I'm not really sure. Cloudspotting is quite hard. When I get better at it I might get myself a badge.

Making my twine tote. I shall add the handles today. It will stop Charlie from saying 'that's a big hat'.



Wednesday, 14 August 2013

As the fruit ripens in my garden so do plans and schemes. Not big, life-changing plans and schemes but small creative ones. Summer is a good time to take stock of one's creative life I think. Time out from ordinary life and time to talk to like-minded people have been just what I needed to recharge my creative batteries.

Autumn is on its way and with it a sense of change. I have never been able to shake the back to school feeling I get as September approaches. Not the gloom associated with resuming dreary toil, but the excitement and sense of infinite possibility that a new set of pens and a clean white page bring.

Plans are still unformed but they will include a crochet twine tote in autumnal colours (I won the giveaway!), Christmas socks to knit, maybe a shawl too, there will also be a quantity of quinces to deal with, and I think it is time to sharpen my pencils and take up a long neglected skill.

Not Not Camping


Saturday, 10 August 2013

It's been different this year. It's been better. I've liked having company but I've enjoyed the change of pace having fewer people in the house brings. They return this afternoon however, bringing with them laundry and woodsmoke.

I've made a belated birthday cake for George, a lemon drizzle. The lollies look and taste great and against all expectation there was enough caramel sauce left to make a second batch of caramel salt ice cream.

Now that our holidays are over and despite another three weeks of school holidays I am beginning to look forward to autumn. Quite a lot.

August Posy and More Not Camping


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

An August posy.
Two roses, some lavender, yellow daisies and a couple of sprays of goldenrod.  I love goldenrod, it flowers for so long and carries on looking beautiful long after it has flowered especially on frosty autumn days.

Not Camping continues in its leisurely fashion. Warm sunny days, a little light gardening, pain au chocolat for breakfast, ice creams for pudding and chilled white wine in the evening. We're eating too well and too much. At least, I am eating too much, Tom stops eating when he is full saying that if he eats when he isn't hungry he will get fat. A boy of sense.

Above is a dish of which Tom ate a modest portion and I ate the rest. It is émincés de volaille from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking. It is simply leftover chicken in cheese sauce. The sauce is made with milk, chicken stock and cream and is flavoured with nutmeg and the cheese is gruyère. It is finished with breadcrumbs.

I bought more fruit than we could eat. We like fruit but when there's ice cream..... The strawberries were getting squashy so I decided to turn them into lollies (popsicles). I blended them with sugar and yogurt. That's clotted cream yogurt by the way. I added a big dollop of clotted cream to my last batch of yogurt, hence the golden crust. I reasoned that since clotted cream has been cooked I wouldn't need to heat it first. It worked spectacularly well.

I bought some drippingly ripe cantaloupe melons, such a treat as they are so often disappointing. I thought melon might make an interesting lolly so I blended it with some fruit juice to sharpen it up a bit and thought what a pretty colour it made.

I will post some pictures of the frozen lollies later this week.

Lastly I made my redcurrants into jelly.

I made it by tipping all my frozen currants into a preserving pan and cooking slowly for about 45 minutes until thoroughly soft. My currants had been frozen when quite wet from washing so they had quite a bit of ice clinging to them but I didn't add any more water.

 I strained the juice through a jelly bag overnight. I measured the juice and for every litre of juice I added 750g of granulated sugar.

I stirred it over a low heat until all the sugar had dissolved and then I brought it to a rolling boil and boiled for 8 minutes by which time it had set.

 I potted it into jars which I had sterilised in a 100 degree oven for 20 minutes. I got three 1lb jars from about 7lbs of currants.

 A recipe which adds water to the fruit will naturally yield more jelly but this waterless method yields a better flavour.

Not Camping Day One


Monday, 5 August 2013

Not Camping with Tom is not at all like Not Camping alone. I'm not sure why because he's quiet and does his thing while I do my thing. It just feels different. Having someone else around checks my inclination for over-indulgence (but not entirely) and the experience feels more like normal life than a week of hedonism. I like it better I think.

There have been currants to pick. I have quite a stash in the freezer now. I think I shall make redcurrant jelly later this week.

There has been laundry and ironing too, but there has also been some very pleasurable cooking.

We ate ice cream daily in Cornwall last week. We're eating it daily this week too. Tom approves. This one is caramel salt ice cream. It is bloody delicious.

So easy to make. I used the basic recipe described in this post. Once it had churned I scraped it into a plastic tub and stirred in about half a jar of this gorgeous sauce. It really is seriously buttery. I also sprinkled in some flakes of sea salt. Then I put it in the freezer to get nice and firm.

I shall use the rest of the caramel sauce to make another batch for when the campers return. I will not of course stick my finger in the jar every time I open the fridge.

Tom is very fond of prawns and so am I. These are spicy garlic prawns based on this recipe. We ate it as a main course with salad. Tom had bread with his. Again, bloody delicious.

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