Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Yay! Rhubarb Season, Cocktail Time!

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!, Rocking Dog

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!

The wonderful early spring sunshine has made our rhubarb grow prolifically! I LOVE rhubarb. What could be more lovely than granola or muesli served with some greek yogurt and chilled home cooked rhubarb. Here in Hambrook I have about seven Rhubarb clumps and we are able to enjoy this vegetable from April through to the start of September. The plants are very hardy, and they thankfully need very little to keep them happy and heavily cropping. I have some deliciously aged terracotta rhubarb forcing pots which add to the charm of my rhubarb triangle.

My favourite ways of using rhubarb are in crumbles (delicious with the addition of some chopped stem ginger) and made into a fresh “jam” to serve with freshly baked buttermilk scones and clotted cream. Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Marinated Pork Fillet on Roasted Rhubarb is a family favourite and very quick to prepare. Meanwhile Mark Hix’s Little Buttermilk Puddings are divine served with roasted rhubarb. Similar to Italian panna cotta’s they are a wonderful inexpensive and easy dessert to serve guests.

To celebrate the start of rhubarb season why not toast a good crop with a cocktail! Make a rhubarb syrup using rhubarb (doh!), a little water, sugar and a vanilla pod. Cook in a saucepan until the fruit is soft. Press the fruit and its liquor through a fine sieve and chill. In a pitcher or cocktail shaker whizz up gin, rhubarb syrup and lemon juice. Pour into ice filled glasses and top up with some chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully and add a thin lemon slice to each glass to serve. To alter the flavour of the syrup fresh herbs can be added to the stewing rhubarb, rosemary or lemon thyme would work well. For an eccentric way of serving cocktails, pour your chosen tipple from a pretty vintage teapot. Wind up the gramophone, slump in an old fashioned deckchair and celebrate rhubarb and the cherished sun. Cheers!

Rife Rhubarb, Rocking Dog

Rife Rhubarb

Ready For The Pan, Rocking Dog

Ready For The Pan

Teapot Cocktails, Rocking Dog

Teapot Cocktails

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium, Rocking Dog

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

When my siblings and I were growing up we were always aware that our dad Doug did not ever want to lick someone else’s ice cream or to share a glass. He couldn’t abide spitting and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to sip wine from the Communion Cup!

He later told us that prior to his birth, his mother Emily had been in a sanitorium at the age of 21 for the treatment of TB. She in fact had to have part of a lung removed. TB Bacilli are passed through sputum, and thus a sneeze, a cough or dribble could pass the infection on. This therefore was the reason why Doug didn’t want to share food or spit on the rugby field!

Emily’s illness can be dated by some postcards which have survived a century. These postcards were sent from her sister Susan, serving as a nurse in France and her brothers Colin, David and Walter who were serving in France and the Middle East. The postcards include images of a mosque in Cairo, a Bedouin lady, pansies, the Dead Sea and interiors of French churches. There are also autographed photographic postcards of the brothers in various uniforms. From the postcards I can certainly deduce that Susan had a very sweet tooth as two of her cards mention a parcel of sweets not having arrived and then another saying thank you for a parcel, “You evidently anticipated my wishes, for when I wrote three days ago I asked for sweets”. Brother Walter who was a sergeant major sent one card from Blackpool where he was convalescing for a war injury, a postcard from one hospital to another!

Emily’s treatment in 1915-1916 would have consisted of bed rest, a nutritious diet, surgery and possibly Creosote inhalations. Fresh air would have also been prescribed. Many hospitals incorporated new balconies where patients could be wheeled out in their beds. In inclement weather black mackintosh quilts would be provided. I was very envious of a friend who bought a bargainous sun house that swivelled around on a circular track. This was originally from a sanatorium, for the use of TB patients and it allowed the patients to “move” around with the sun.

Treatment of TB even today is very tricky and lengthy. It involves large doses of antibiotics. In 1815 one in four deaths in England was due to TB. Even 100 years later when Emily was being treated, 50% of those who went to a sanatorium, died within five years. There was quite a stigma attached to the disease as it was often linked to overcrowding, malnutrition and poverty. I am unaware of how Emily’s treatment was funded, though the family were reasonably prosperous. These of course were the days before the NHS.

Eventually, Emily did recover and she was advised to move from Edinburgh to somewhere more rural for good country air. Incidentally, Edinburgh was sometimes called Auld Reekie, translated it means Old Smokey! She moved to the border town of Kelso, and there she met John Warrington Scott (my grandfather) who had been invalided out of the Royal Engineers having been gassed in the trenches….. and the rest as we say is history!

Emily and Brother Colin, Rocking Dog

Emily And Brother Colin

Century Old Postcards, Rocking Dog

Century Old Postcards

Handsome Siblings, Rocking Dog

Handsome Siblings

Rocking Dog Spring Bride Lacy Bunting

Over Gilding The Magnolia!, Rocking Dog

Over Gilding The Magnolia!

Rocking Dog returned to the sewing room and reacquainted herself with unfinished projects. A productive day was spent with beloved Bernina and lots of scrap vintage lace. Lengths of lacy bunting were sewn whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus. It felt very indulgent, but after bathing a very grumpy and grubby dog it was calm respite! Real Live Rocking Dog is destined for his quarterly grooming session on Monday. Rather like the person who cleans before the cleaner arrives, I am the person who baths the dog before the doggy bouffant appointment!

Anyway back to sewing..Rocking Dog is going to have to spend some serious time chained to the sewing machine. A stall at Redland Fair on Monday 4th May needs stocking. If you haven’t been to the Fair before it is a great place to pick up reasonably priced plants, bric a brac, pottery seconds, cakes, vintage clothes etc.. There are various entertainments and good food to chomp on. Additionally you can try your hand at bowling on the manicured green. A blissfully sunny day would simply be perfect for Redland Fair 2015. Best Redland Fair purchases to date are a beautiful tiny old wooden Buddha, glazed nesting dairy bowls (Steve Carter, St Werburghs Pottery), old suitcases (my coffee table) and gorgeous vintage fabrics.

As for my lacy bunting I have concocted various lengths in whites and ecru. Blowing in the spring breeze with a bower of Magnolia blossoms it would be perfect for a spring wedding.

Some of the vintage lace used in my bunting came from lace doilies, dressing table mats and antimacassars.
It was only recently that I became aware of the meaning of the word antimacassar. An antimacassar is a small cloth to protect furniture from Macassar Oil. This was an oily hair preparation used to style hair, and it was particularly popular in the Victorian and Edwardian era’s. The oil was commonly made from coconut or palm oil and combined with ylang ylang. These exotic ingredients were purchased in the port of Makasser, Indonesia and hence the name. Antimacassar is also used to describe the wide flap on a sailors top, again this was to prevent the hair oil spoiling the sailors uniform. Poor Annie Chapman who was Jack the Ripper’s second victim was described as an antimacassar maker. Here endeth today’s history lesson!

Lacy Treasure Trove, Rocking Dog

Lacy Treasure Trove

Beloved Bernina, Rocking Dog

Beloved Bernina

Vintage Lace, Rocking Dog

Vintage Lace

Belated Anniversary Lunch With Andyman

Sunbathed "Pig", Rocking Dog

Sunbathed “Pig”

Andyman and I enjoyed a belated anniversary lunch date at “The Pig” near Bath yesterday. It was lovely to return to the hotel for delicious food, gorgeous interiors, wonderful kitchen garden… and the extensive wine list! So a really quick run through what we ate (Food crit’s are SO boring!) Garden herb infused oil with sourdough, Venison carpaccio, Lyme Bay potted crab with egg mayonnaise soldiers, Roast Beef and trimmings x2, Apple crumble with thyme ice cream, Lemon and verbena mascarpone terrine with candied beetroot and beetroot syrup, coffee. It was all truly yummy. Conversation unsurprisingly centred around our lovely brood and the wonderful spring day beyond our table.

The date ended with the now inevitable wander around the kitchen garden. Greenhouses beckoned to be peeked into, blossoms cried out to be smelt, and plant labels begged to be scrutinised. I truly love the fork to plate ethos. We ended our stroll with watching the eggs being collected from The Pig hens. Palest blue, nut brown, speckled and rust these freshly laid ouef’s were worthy of being given spectacular names on a Farrow and Ball paint chart!

It was a lovely afternoon, Thank you Mr F!

Unctuous Oil, Rocking Dog

Unctuous Oil

Good Pud', Rocking Dog

Good Pud’

Pig Footwear, Rocking Dog

Pig Footwear

Springtime Thrones,Rocking Dog

Springtime Thrones

Pig Hens, Rocking Dog

Pig Hens

Hen To Plate, Rocking Dog

Hen To Plate

Clocking Off For A Wee While.

Time Waits For No Man (Or Woman!), Rocking Dog

Time Waits For No Man (Or Woman!)

When life gives you lemons make Gin and Tonics! Clocking off for a wee while and will be back posting again sometime soon.
Enjoy this beautiful spring weather. Love Liz x

Iced Easter Bunny Cottage

Iced Bunny Cottage, Rocking Dog

Iced Bunny Cottage

A few days ago I discovered a forgotten about Ikea gingerbread house kit in one of my kitchen cupboards. It was one of those projects that surprise, surprise didn’t come to fruition at Christmas time. I decided to set too, armed with a piping bag, icing and Easter sweet treats. It was a good distraction tactic to try and forget about the loft hatch being carved out overhead. Arrrgh! one of Andyman’s latest projects, and one which by the end of the day reduced me to sobbing tears. I just wasn’t in the mood for all the resulting dust, mayhem and redecoration needed. C’est la Vie!

The Gingerbread residence was quickly completed and now sits under a dust free glass dome. I adorned the house with some Lollipop trees made from melted white chocolate. To keep the lolly’s upright I stuck the lolly-stick trunks into some cotton reels. The grass was made by mixing desiccated coconut with green food colouring. As the meerkats say… “Simple”!

So today, there’ll be no twiddling about with Gingerbread houses- there’s a serious cleaning mission to get underway!

Christmas Leftover, Rocking Dog

Christmas Leftover

Ikea Flat-pack, Rocking Dog

Ikea Flat-pack

Lollypop Tree, Rocking Dog

Lollypop Tree