Monthly Archives: January 2016

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I Miss My Festive Gnomes!

Pretty In Pink!, Rocking Dog

Pretty In Pink!

This week has been seen through a blurry Lemsip haze. Thankfully I am on the mend, though I am sporting a rattling cough which is truly attractive, and reminiscent of a ghastly Dickensian workhouse scene! Tasks have therefore been small, dog walks laboured, domesticities minimal and sleep unsettled.

Today I decided to bring some spring indoors to cheer me up. I have missed my kitchen gnomes since they were boxed up and garrisoned in the attic. I organised wired mini milk bottles with spring blooms, Rocking Dog crooked hearts, some pink pom-poms and one or two other spring bits to deck the gilded kitchen circlet.

Yes, it certainly has bought pretty spring cheer to the kitchen and now I don’t miss the gnomes as much!

Whatever you are doing this weekend have a lovely one. Love from Rocking Dog x

 Gnome Place Like Home!, Rocking Dog

Gnome Place Like Home!

Attic Fodder, Rocking Dog

Attic Fodder

Pretty Things, Rocking Dog

Pretty Things

Spring Positivity, Rocking Dog

Spring Positivity

Spring Blooms, Rocking Dog

Spring Blooms

Anyone Seen The Tea Strainer?!, Rocking Dog

Anyone Seen The Tea Strainer?!

Andyman’s Lovely Limoncello Meringue

Frou'd And Ready To Eat, Rocking Dog

Frou’d And Ready To Eat

I was trying to be VERY good but then the weekend came and two lovely eating treats beckoned! We were lucky enough to receive some vouchers at Christmas for the Michelin star “Pony & Trap”, so Saturday was earmarked for that. We then had a delicious invite to join friends for lunch on Sunday. We offered to make pud’, so Andyman made Limoncello Meringue. We first ate this with friends in Italy, with Charlie having made his own Limoncello. Truly delicious.

It’s a little bit of a cobble of two recipes. So here goes :-

Meringue
4 large free range egg whites (use the yolks for scrambled egg or panna cotta)
200g caster sugar

Lemon Curd
125g butter (preferably unsalted)
175ml lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
450g golden caster sugar
4 large free range eggs, beaten
50 ml Limoncello (optional) commercially made or homemade.

Cream filling
300ml double cream
small tub mascarpone

Oven 140 C Fan 125C

1. Whisk egg whites until in stiff peaks.
2. Continue to whisk as you add spoonful by spoonful the sugar. The Meringue should be thick and glossy.
3. Turn the meringue out onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. A rough circular nest is great.
4. Pop into the oven for 25 minutes and then bake for a further 1 & 1/2 hours or so at 110C.
5. The Meringue can be left in the oven once switched off to dry out a little further. Remember to leave yourself a little note on top of the cooker to remind you of the meringues current home! I have burnt too many meringues than I care to remember.
6. For the lemon curd, place the juice and zest, butter and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water on a low heat.
7. Once the butter has melted and sugar dissolved, whisk in the beaten eggs. Continue to whisk over a low heat until the mixture is thick (approximately 10 minutes)
8. Strain the curd through a sieve and once a little cooler, fold through the Limoncello, cover and place in the fridge.
9. Shortly before serving whisk together the cream and Mascarpone until thick and in soft peaks.
10.To serve, dollop the cream mixture over the meringue base and top with the lemon curd. Grate over a little lemon or lime zest.

SHORTCUTS- Shop bought meringue, and a jar of good quality lemon curd would do the trick perfectly.

Andyman did a wonderful job but I could NOT stop myself from doing just a little frou’ing! I walked upstairs and said to him “you are going to be very cross with me”. He immediately knew i’d been dabbling with his delectable dessert (p.s love this link, sweet memories) and yes he was just a little bit everso cross!

Primroses, wild violets, pansies, raspberries or pomegranate seeds would all be lovely to add the final gilding to this gorgeous pud’. I can hear Andyman stamping his feet angrily!!

We ate pretty pud’s and other lovely things at The Pony and Trap. I loved the Figgy Pudding ice cream and the Bristol Cream Pickled Shallots.

Back on the straight and narrow, no more gastronomic misdemeanours for me!

Luscious Layers, Rocking Dog

Luscious Layers

Japonica, Rocking Dog

Japonica

Spring Is Around The Corner!, Rocking Dog

Spring Is Around The Corner!

Pretty Pony & Trap Pud', Rocking Dog

Pretty Pony & Trap Pud’

..And Another One, Rocking Dog

..And Another One

The Savouries Weren't Bad Either!, Rocking Dog

The Savouries Weren’t Bad Either!

Time To Cook The Haggis- It’s Burns’ Night!

Wee Tam' Waiting For His Haggis Supper!, Rocking Dog

Wee Tam’ Waiting For His Haggis Supper!

There is no hope for me and a minimalist lifestyle! Another Toby jug has appeared on the mantlepiece. So old Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) have been joined by Wee Tam. Poor old Toby with his gout and ale supping ailments cannot compete with the handsome Tam! A fine figure of a kilted man, resplendent in his gilded sporran, tartan sash and Tam’o Shanter, he is ready to nimbly sword dance with the blushing Mrs Mack!

Enough of this nonsense, indeed it is Burns’ Night when folk across the world celebrate the Scottish poet Robert Burns. A good excuse then to cook some haggis, neeps (swede) and tatties and wash it all down with a wee dram of whisky. Even better to be eating and drinking to the sound of Andyman and his pipes.

The decision needs to be made as to whether Wee Tam will be filled with whisky or Gravy. Let me see now what makes less mess when he’s doing his nocturnal Highland Reels with Mrs Mack!

Happy Burn’s Night to one and all.

PS. If you haven’t ever tried Haggis before it really is delicious. If you find the thought of the meat version a little stomach churning try the vegetarian haggis which is also very tasty and doesn’t involve any offal!

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!!, Rocking Dog

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!

The Quilt, Ready To Leave The Rocking Dog Kennel !

Coveted Cosy Cover, Rocking Dog

Coveted Cosy Cover

Yes finally, the very first quilt of 2016 is ready to leave the Rocking Dog kennel. Buttons sewn, edging attached and the quilt given its very own embroidered verse, this quilt will be hopefully soon adorning a bed in Plumstead.

I decided against adding the vintage braids, the quilt even by my eclectic standards was becoming too busy! How appropriate to be sewing the quilt with an episode of Little House On The Prairie! There was even a quilt hanging from a door in the Little House, not too disimilar from my folky number! When we did a holiday house exchange to Seattle we took a trip to Leavenworth, a town so totally unique and a MUST for lovers of Christmas. The town was struggling, and in 1962 the towns people came up with a cunning plan to reinvent itself as a Bavarian town. Christmas all the year round, and housing a Nutcracker Museum which boasts over 5,000 examples. It was all very surreal! Anyway, driving away from Leavenworth we drove through land which was so reminiscent of Little House on The Prairie. One day I would love to do a bit of an American road trip to better understand the hardships of those early pioneers driving from east to west. Until then, i’ll have to make do with Little House.. and The Waltons!

Back to the quilt, the hand embroidered verse came about after my daughter Sorrel was decrying the fact that she was going to have to seriously cull her books ready for a house move. Like me, she has amassed a sizeable collection of cookery tomes. I hope she won’t be too ruthless. I thought Flaubert’s quote summed up Sorrel’s love of books and penchant for pickles. I am sure Sorrel’s husband too will have to consider a cull of all his beloved cycling magazines, Incidently, he likes pickles too!

As expected I was a little over ambitious regarding how many little projects I was going to complete. Ticked off the list are the quilt and my velvet jacket to bling. So the lanterns to paint, and dog bed cover still to sew, await my attention… maybe this week.

I don’t know when the next wave of quilting bodgery will wash over me, but I think my sore fingers need a little rest from ALL those buttons!

Have an enjoyable week ahead. Love Rocking Dog x

Patchwork Stash, Rocking Dog

Patchwork Stash

Once Just Pieces, Rocking Dog

Once Just Pieces

Then It Was Sewn, Rocking Dog

Then It Was Sewn

Embroidered Quilt Quote For A Future Home, Rocking Dog

Embroidered Quilt Quote For A Future Home

Labelled & Somewhere To Go, Rocking Dog

Labelled & Somewhere To Go

Quilted Bale, Rocking Dog

Quilted Bale

The Day The Sea Froze!

Lobster Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Lobster Anyone?

Well, the day the sea froze isn’t being completely truthful. I was at Weston Super Mare yesterday morning, and walking along the beach the surf had indeed frozen. The seaweed too had an uncharacteristic white sparkly shimmer. Me thinks Real Live Rocking Dog had a lovely time on the beach. It’s difficult to fathom his emotions, but i’m sure he loves a bit of sea air and the sand between his toes!

As per normal the sea was well and truly out, it could be glimpsed at on the distant horizon, so there was no paddling to be had! Weston has a huge tidal range, it can rise and fall by as much as 14.5 m (48 ft). This statistic is second only in the world to the Bay of Fundy, Eastern Canada.

In the summer the town buzzes with day trippers and holiday makers. Large stretches of sand become congested with sandcastle makers, sunbathers, picnickers, deck chair users and donkeys. This is a traditional English holiday resort, but last summer W.S.M was funky-fied by the arrival of Banksy’s Dismaland. Normality has now sadly returned to the town and no doubt the traders and hoteliers would love another Banksy pop up!

A fan I am not of Weston Super Mare in the summer, but off season I love a bracing walk along the sand to blow away the cobwebs! Yesterday’s walk took me along the beach to the blandish rejuvenated Grand Pier to another older pier, Birnbeck Pier. In a very sorry delapidated state, there are plans afoot to bring the listed pier back to its former days of glory. As a child I remember going there with my parents to a very peculiar all year round market affair. Naff carpet, carpet tiles and rolls of cellophane inexplicably come to mind. More vivid are the memories of the gaps between the decking to get to the pier buildings. Even in the 1970’s the structure was in a perilous state. I was absolutely petrified walking along the seemingly endless planked walkway. I really hope work begins soon for this West Country treasure, for I love piers. They hark back to an age of Victorian cast iron, the Great Exhibition, bathing machines, the realisation of the benefits of taking in the sea air, promenading ladies, straw boaters and children in sailor suit attire. One pier of which I am particularly fond is the little pagoda’d jewel at Clevedon. Its claim to fame is of having been used as a backdrop for the series Broadchurch and in a One Direction pop video.

I found a sunny little cove to enjoy a coffee and bask in the frosty sunshine. It became obvious that this was a meeting place for the Weston ex-pat community! There were conversations about nursing homes, coughs, colds, ablutions and local authority care. Thoroughly depressing, and it was time to move on!

It was lovely to have a bracing blow about, and I hope there’ll be another opportunity or two before dogs are relegated from the beach and the bucket wielding day-trippers return.

Frozen Surf, Rocking Dog

Frozen Surf

Happy RLRD, Yes Really!, Rocking Dog

Happy RLRD, Yes Really!

Waiting For The Boat To Come In, Rocking Dog

Waiting For The Boat To Come In

Forlorn Pier, Rocking Dog

Forlorn Pier

Revitalised Pier, Rocking Dog

Revitalised Pier

Heavy Metal, Rocking Dog

Heavy Metal

Yorkshire Puddings – Plain & Simple!

Still On The Rise, Rocking Dog

Still On The Rise

I cooked a roast for relatives last night and managed to cook but not eat some puffy golden Yorkshire puddings. I know many people reserve making and serving this very British culinary speciality for beef… but I think they gorgeously pimp any roast meat!

So here is a recipe for Yorkshire Puddings, plain and simple. It is roughly based on my Mums recipe, but I love the addition of some fresh herbs. Try finely chopped Rosemary or Sage. Use this batter together with good quality sausages for Toad in the Hole, comfort food heaven!
The same recipe can be used for pancake making, so get that pan ready for Shrove Tuesday on 9th February.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING/PANCAKE BATTER
100g Plain Flour
1/2 Teasp Salt
2 Eggs
450 ml Semi Skimmed Milk
Sunflower oil, Lard or Goose Fat

Set oven to 225 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin (or a roasting tin) by pouring in a little oil to each pan. When desired temperature has been reached place your oiled tin (without the batter) in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

1. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. In a jug beat together eggs and milk.
3. Pour in half the liquid to flour (I added in some chopped fresh sage and teaspoon of mustard powder at this stage)
4. Beat the mixture well. Using a mixer will take all the hard work out of this process.
5. Just before baking your Yorkshire Puddings add the remaining milk mixture. Stir in quickly.
6. Take your prepared tin out of the oven VERY carefully and pour batter into each of the little patty tins. Watch out for spitting fat!
7. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Try to avoid the temptation of checking your pud’s regularly as this will affect the rise.
8. Serve up and enjoy all the adoration, homemade Yorkshire Puddings are SO much better than Aunt Bessies!

Happy Baking!

Batter For Beating, Rocking Dog

Batter For Beating

Sage For Picking, Rocking Dog

Sage For Picking

Into The Oven, Rocking Dog

Into The Oven

Little Projects For The Week

 Vintage Buttons For Embellishing, Rocking Dog

Vintage Buttons For Embellishing

In amongst various admin’ tasks for Andyman, chores, house guests and muddy dog walks I have some little projects for the week!

I feel I am on the sort of home run with the quilt, with stitching in the ditch completed, borders cut and the backing on the horizon. I am looking forward to sewing on all those vintage buttons whilst nestled beside the fiery wood burner, watching something good.

A rather coveted selection of vintage buttons are also going to be neatly sewn in place. Whilst doing last minute Christmas shopping I spotted a sumptuous Ghost velvet jacket which I loved. Alas, it was hideously expensive. January 2016 beckoned, and I found the said same jacket with a seriously reduced price tag….. It was meant to be! I have decided to make it “mine” by adding a collection of buttons. The trove has been carefully stashed away for years, awaiting their star moment to adorn something gorgeous. Therefore blingy paste, carved Mother of Pearl and Art Nouveau gilt will proudly adorn this timeless garment.

Rather less glamorously a new cover for Real Live Rocking Dogs’s bed needs to be made. An ageing Designer’s Guild remnant from Material Mountain will fit the bill. Given the choice that naughty dog would much rather snuggle up on (or even better in) our bed!

If not a little overly ambitious already, there are some seriously huge red lanterns to de-Christmas! Bought in the clearance section of TK Maxx for £13 each, they will be repainted in chalky white and grace the wedding tipi at the boys wedding in May.

It’s lovely to have some little projects to get my teeth stuck into, now let me see now which one do I tackle first!

Naughty Real Live Rocking Dog, Rocking Dog

Naughty Real Live Rocking Dog

A Dog Bed To Re-cover, Rocking Dog

A Dog Bed To Re-cover

On The Home Run With The Quilt, Rocking Dog

On The Home Run With The Quilt

De-Christmasing The Lanterns, Rocking Dog

De-Christmasing The Lanterns

The Final Taboo – Talking About Death

Talking Death - The Final Taboo, Rocking Dog

Talking Death – The Final Taboo

It all started with a simple enough comment from Andyman who said he’d arranged his first Funeral Plan for one of his clients. An investment blokey, he deals with all sorts of products and advisory stuff (I must at this point say that there are other investment managers out there, and investments can go up as well as down)! Will writing, retirement planning, pension stuff etc.., I am certainly not here to sell his wares, I find it blooming difficult enough to sell my own stuff!

Hello…hope you’re still there….and not put off by that first paragraph. I am hopeful that at least my darling children will be in for the long haul of this blog piece…. because, actually I do think it’s important.

That Funeral Plan got me rather curiously talking about death and what a plan like this buys you. Talking simply, because a business brain I do not have, Andyman told me that they anchor the cost of cars and coffins (and other such sundries) at a today’s price for a funeral that will happen hopefully in the long and dusty future. The purchasers of such a plan have the knowledge that their next of kin will be able to use it to secure a reasonable coffin and car(s) without dipping their hand into their own pocket. Bland peace of mind for one and all!

Over a quick coffee, and before heading off into the horrible Friday night Bristol traffic, Andyman and I had a very snatched conversation about funerals and what WE wanted. We had a spontaneous brainstorm (or rather more P.C. these days, mind mapping) of what we did and did not want. With 35 years of knowing each other we quickly realised just how little we knew of each others thoughts on death and funerals. I just wonder how many of you reading this can identify with this, it’s simply a conversation for another day.

I have been to a rash of funerals in the last few years, one of the joys of getting older I suppose. It always strikes me how similar in format they generally are. Maybe their sheer genericness is because the majority of us knows not what is available. For many of us, we are bereaved with little or no warning, funeral planning is done in a stressful tearful blur. If we were buying a washing machine or a car, a mixer or a lawn mower we would research and very probably shop around. How strange it is that we settle for the most local or as recommended by Auntie Margaret undertakers. We are therefore syphoned through a process from collecting a death certificate, dealing with a hospital morgue or funeral home and onwards and downwards. We as mourners and funeral planners are not confident in thinking outside of the box (excuse the pun). That Friday night conversation had certainly got me thinking about being sympathetic to any one that turns up for my final send off.

Let’s be honest no funeral is ever particularly joyous, but there are generally ok bits, bad bits, sad bits, cheesy bits and “when’s this going to end” bits.

Regarding bad bits, for me I have a particular problem with the hearse and limo’s for the nearest and dearest. This definitely stems from my Mum’s funeral back in November 1985. At the age of 24, and fourteen weeks pregnant, it was my first ever funeral. I had absolutely no idea what went on at funerals. I had seen Winston’s (as in Churchill) on telly when I was three and a half and LOVED it! I was however under no illusion that there would be a gun carriage with Union Flag draped coffin for my lovely mum.

As a child, If a neighbour died, on the day of the funeral curtains would be respectfully closed by the villagers. Together with my siblings we found this rather morbidly baffling, and would get reprimanded if we attempted to take a curious peek. Funerals were also the domain of men, I don’t have any memories in the early days of my Mum getting ready to go to a funeral. However, I distinctly remember my Dad having a dark tweed overcoat, a sinister Homburg and a black funeral tie. All these wardrobe staples held a certain morbid mystique, and young though we were, we instinctively identified with this funeral garb! Back to the cars..I remember getting into the limo’. In front, a ridiculously shiny hearse and then I had a growing awareness of a top- hatted figure carrying a silver topped cane reverently walking in front of the cars. This was something out of a harrowing Dickensian novel and not the big shoulder padded power dressing 80’s, it was truly ghastly. A good analogy would be that of being on a rollercoaster ride which I wanted to get off ….NOW! Following the service my sister and I walked home in the November greyness. In short, a Funeral Plan just doesn’t cut the mustard, I want NO black funeral cars!

Other bad bits…the artificial flowers in our local crematorium. At the latest funeral when I half dozed off because of a rather drab eulogy, I contemplated the pedestal flowers and flowers attached to the wall on either side of THE curtains. In my head I questioned whether they would be changed to reflect the changing seasons and then concluded probably not. This was December and these were a nasty orangey brown. After coming to this conclusion, I then wondered whether dusting the flowers appeared on the cleaning rota. Finally, I further contemplated whether there was an artificial flower catalogue for crematoria. THE curtains too I contemplated, they are crowd pleasers, plain, green, sad, and unobtrusive, auspiciously indoctrinating you to think of the person boxed in veneered plywood. I would like to suggest an alternative fabric for these monster curtains.. click this link.

While we are on the subject of aesthetics I have only seen one lovely coffin, a beautiful wicker number which was truly gorgeous. I’m not a fan of the veneered wood, but with wicker and cardboard apparently being decidedly more expensive, I can see why the veneered variety are the coffin of choice.

Hymns sung, eulogy read, poor hypothermic foil blanketed funeral attender carted off in ambulance (yes I really have witnessed this), sad green indoctrinating curtains closed for the final time, it’s time for us cold mourners to depart. No flowers at the families request, but now it’s time to put in a donation for a chosen charity. This spells the time for funeral goers to embarrassedly scratch around for the odd coppers in their pocket or purse. I find it quite amusing that some are so seemingly mean. In years gone by when flowers were the norm mourners would have accepted that a floral wreath spelling “Bob”, a dubious cross or funeral spray would cost them £3O. However, to put in a meaningful donation is altogether a different matter. Somehow it is ok to spend money on flowers that will wilt, be totally unloved, except for a cursory glance outside the crematoria (and I hate this bit where you are expected to ooh and ahh at the flowers and attached syrupy cards… “RIP you have gone to a better place Bob”) etc…before the final indignity of funereal floristry being tossed onto the compost heap. And then on the other hand money given so sparingly for local hospitals, hospices, Cancer Research, Red Cross, and hedgehog charities etc.., it all feels a little mean. One day these miserly donors may require one of these services or charities ( there again, perhaps not the hedgehog charity..) Less cynically isn’t enough that someone has taken a day off work and travelled for hours on choked road-worked motorways all to see those sad green curtains pulled shut. How lovely that no one feels impelled to purchase a showy floral tribute regardless of whether they are son, mother, lover, carer, bingo buddy or the like.

The after funeral hooly is a topic all on it’s own, I can only say why oh why is it so irreverent to serve anything but triangular cut sandwiches with non-descript beige fillings? As I always say it’s a sad enough day without serving up sad food. Why would it be so wrong to have a gourmet burger van, huge knickerbocker glories, charcuterie boards, Pieminister Pies, eye poppingly beautiful cakes etc… Added into the mix some lovely bubbly, good wines and lovely non alcoholic drinks (no J20’s in sight). Milky tea, instant coffee or glass of warm wine served in a cloudy supermarket hire glass seem to be the drinks of choice to complement the cling filmed triangular sandwiches. There are exceptions, and I am not going to tar every funeral with the same brush, but they are very few and far between. How we as a family loathe the comment “lovely spread!” (it sums up beige food, mean pork pies, cling film and anaemic chicken drumsticks).

To balance the bad there have been some good bits to report on funerals i’ve attended. The hearse-less funeral where my neighbours coffin was transported in a specially adapted motorcycle side-car, good music choices (Parisian cafe music, Tom Jones, Bruce Springsteen spring to mind), a model of Concorde on a coffin in place of flowers, and garden flowers thoughtfully picked by my sister for our lovely Dad’s funeral. I love the stories of the ashes of friends relatives being blasted up into space by fireworks, and of ashes taken out to sea in a handmade sea-faring craft (made by the ashes before he was ashes).

Regrets I have about my parents funerals include not feeling able to wax lyrical about them at their funerals. More guiltily I didn’t feel able to deal with their ashes. The vicar gladly sprinkled them in the church yard of our home village. Andyman has taught me a lot. He flew with his Dad’s canister of ashes (he had to have special clearance from Easy Jet to ensure this wasn’t a wily way of drug smuggling) to Scotland. He then took a trip up the Cairngorms where his Dad used to walk, and together with his Mum and brother sprinkled and bagpiped his dad into the snowy mountain air.

I was able to write poems for my father in law and my step mum which I read out, and again I feel guilty that I didn’t do this for my own parents. In all probability it was because I was rather caught up in the syphoning process of choosing hymns, orders of service, baking etc… I’m sure they would forgive me for not creating a Shakespeare style sonnet for them. In fact my dad knowing of my fear of THE black cars said “Pet, just bundle me into the back of an estate car, I couldn’t care less”. In fact we did have THE black cars when he died, because of course he had a funeral plan! He always harboured a desire for his body to go to medical science, however with a step mum on the scene we had to diplomatically steer our way through the process unfortunately much more conventionally. The medical students in any case would have said “drank too much, smoked too much and bloody hell have you ever seen such big hands- they’re like spades!”

My Dad,. Doug, Rocking Dog

My Dad,. Doug

So kiddies, yes you Sorrel, Alex, Livi and plus ones, all of whom we hope will go on living well after our demise, Dad and I are talking about the Final Taboo. You’ll be in no doubt as to what we want and we will try and make it a good send off for all those who choose to attend. I with absolutely conviction would like anything that can be harvested for organ donation to be given willingly (unfortunately even now I don’t think my kidneys are much good, sorry). If it’s true that David Bowie has just quietly gone Ashes to Ashes without anyone in attendance he’s pinched my idea! A blooming good restaurant with gorgeous food and drink, perhaps a few words from someone would be nice, and some good music (remember i’d like a Christmas carol in amongst some upbeat stuff). As there’s not going to be a tombstone perhaps an epitaph can appear on a scrummy calorific cake “She liked nothing in straight lines” is a long standing phrase of which I am particularly fond. I personally have no real preference where I get scattered, buried, or pelleted (perhaps we’ll be sending burial pellets into space by the time I slip off this mortal coil), do something you are happy with and a meaningful place for you all. Donations to a good
cause, again i’ll leave this to you all.

Back to the Funeral Plan I wonder if I can start a new type of plan. The Pig Funeral Plan or
a Souk-Kitchen Funeral Plan perhaps? No Limo’s, hearses, top hats or plywood coffins but great food at a fixed price for a distant celebratory alternative funeral.

I am so sorry if I have made anyone feel uncomfortable or indeed offended. Isn’t it funny how it feels so irreverent to say “you look nice” to someone attending a funeral or to say to a family “that was a good funeral”. I think there needs to be a massive sea change to get away from the no crust triangular sandwich, dried flowers, hearse and syphoned way of doing things. Am I really the only one that wants to “go off piste”?

Well done for staying the course of this blog, I promise you some frivolous topics in the days to follow. At 4am on Sunday morning I just thought “put what you’re thinking out there”. So out in that mysterious place called cyberspace those kiddies can hopefully retrieve their batty old mothers wishes when the time inevitably comes!

Have a great start to the week ahead. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Bob is purely fictional and is used for illustrative purposes only.

Ian’s Cairngorm copy

Village Churchyard, Rocking Dog

Village Churchyard

The Pig Funeral Plan?, Rocking Dog

The Pig Funeral Plan?

Sprinkle Us Somewhere Meaningful, Rocking Dog

Sprinkle Us Somewhere Meaningful

Hold On- Burn Your Food But Not Your Recipes!

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?

It would be great if you didn’t burn your food either.. but hang onto your recipes! My plea follows a conversation with my octogenarian neighbour who happened to mention that she put all her recipes on a bonfire a long time ago. Now she truly regrets her pyrotechnic moment of madness. She realises that gone are the recipes of her Kent childhood, recipes that made food stretch that little bit further during the years of rationing and recipes that she used to feed her own three strapping lads.

Teaching Food Technology in a secondary school was an eye opener for me to find that books and magazines weren’t trawled for recipes. The internet was the place of choice to retrieve inspiration, You Tube instruction and ingredient shopping lists. It was all rather Sci-Fi to me, old dinosaur that I am! I remember thinking how sad it was that in years to come there would be no paper trail. So no food splattered magazine cuttings, no scribbled recipes on used envelopes, no ancestoral handwriting, in short no written culinary legacy.

Anyone who has been a long suffering reader of my blog will know that one of my ongoing projects is the task of deciphering a recipe book, beautifully handwritten in 1846. It is one of those things i’d want to save in a fire. It is not a piece of my own families social history, indeed it was a lucky find in a charity shop. It gives the reader a wonderful glimpse of recipes cooked up in early Victorian England. There are many secrets that I feel are yet to be unlocked as I transcribe the 141 pages. This is a cook in a well to do household whilst it is poignant to ponder on the fact that the Great Irish Famine and Highland Potato Famine were happening. The lucky would escape starvation and start new lives in America whilst many of those left behind would face a life of abject poverty, disease and death.

My 1846 recipe scriber wrote neatly in ink, whilst another recipe book I more recently acquired (£3 at a church sale in Bridport) is much less legible. Written quite erratically in pencil, the writer obviously had a sweet tooth. Daily Pudding, Caramel Walnuts, Almond Rock and Marzipan all feature. I have no idea how old this little black book is, but there may be clue. The writer obviously wanted to buy a book, and the title is scribbled in her best scribble! A Little Book Of Sweetmeat Making For Pleasure And Profit by Dora Luck which was published in 1907. Perhaps I have a confectioners recipe book, can’t you just visualise the glass jars filled with sugary toffee teacakes, humbugs, bon-bons and wrapped caramels! Paper poke bags, crisp white aproned shop staff, polished counter and brass cash register complete the scene.

Lastly I have “borrowed” my Mother in Law’s recipe collection. Tucked into a Lofty Peak Flour recipe book there are type written recipes for Cherry & Ginger Loaf, Banana Bread and Fruit Cake. Alas, there is not much reverence shown to these poor recipes for there are handwritten scribbles for letters to be written, bills to be paid and phone numbers to ring. There are hand written recipes for scones, mince beef loaf and a rather bizarre recipe for Chinese Salad.

This Chinese Salad involves putting some chopped onions and cooking apples in a casserole dish. Then comes a sprinkling of sugar. A layer of tomatoes (tinned or fresh I do not know) sausage meat, cheese and finally breadcrumbs. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Yum! I have no idea what the Chinese connection is, and while we are about it there’s nothing salady about it either, maybe i’m missing something! Interestingly the same writer (not my mother in law’s writing I must add) also writes a delicious (!) Sausage Spaghetti recipe. Sausages, tinned spaghetti and tomatoes are put in a casserole dish before beaten egg is poured on top to give an omlette’y layer! Worryingly there are two recipes for this sausage spaghetti. Perhaps mother in law mislaid first recipe and asked for a replacement from the culinary genius friend!

This week I have given my recipe file a good cull and sort. It’s not pretty like the 1846 book, but is functional and I am very pleased to say there are absolutely no recipes for Sausage Spaghetti!

Remember to ask elderly relatives for their recipes before they bin them. As ready meals, meals on wheels, Wiltshire Farm Foods and the like beckon they may not feel the need to hold onto recipes or ancient recipe books. A bit of family social history lost forever.

Wishing you a lovely weekend and I hope your stove will be busy cooking up something warming and delicious.

PS Kids, Granny doesn’t know I have borrowed her recipe trove. Shhh! Mum’s the word!

Culled & Sorted, Rocking Dog

Culled & Sorted

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!, Rocking Dog

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!

Culinary Hieroglyphics, Rocking Dog

Culinary Hieroglyphics

It’s Coming Together- The Rocking Dog Quilt

Decisions On Quilt Frouing!, Rocking Dog

Decisions On Quilt Frouing!

Yes the latest Rocking Dog quilt is beginning to come together. It’s great to have a project to take my mind off the problems of living in a very old and crumbly house!

There have been many problematic instalments whilst living here for nearly two decades. Defunct Death Watch Beetle, no damp course, THE windows, the roof, a collapsed sewerage pipe etc… etc… The latest issue is electrical. With electrical folks at their wits ends to solve the unpleasant shocking issues, it could come to a complete rewire! The prospect is a truly unpleasant and expensive. Carpets up, floorboards up, kitchen tiles broken to retrieve wiring, furniture moved etc… etc… and ideally for the ease of the electricians we would need to move out for a week… Agggghhhhh! As with the medical field there is to be a second opinion. I hope there is a miraculous and simple turnaround! I can see why the past inhabitants sold up and moved to a new build. Very sadly for us they decided to take their handmade cobbled together four poster bed with them.

Enough of wattage, wiring and wistful new house living! Progress on the quilt continues with rows sewn together and pressed to give a flat finish ready for “stitching in the ditch’. This is a technique whereby the quilter top sews between the squares to attach the pretty top layer to the batting. I have chosen to use bamboo batting as it is eco friendly and very soft. Though eco friendly there are some air miles to factor in, for it has come all the way from Fort Worth, Texas.

Before sewing recommences there has been a session of collecting things together to complete the quilt. Old fashioned pillow ticking will form the backing, and dog tooth check will form the border. I have chosen a selection of buttons to embellish the quilt, and there is green embroidery thread when hand sewing finally beckons. Vintage French ribbon from my treasured haberdashery box will neatly enclose the three layers. The only thing I am still debating is as to whether I give the quilt a border of eclectic vintage braids. Some of these braids are ones I remember from my childhood, so are sentimental. There are braids too which are Swedish and have come from a now deceased bohemian neighbour. I do like the thought of this piecemeal border as it sits well with the whole ethos of patch working. Evidence of patchwork has been found in Egyptian tombs and ancient China, whilst a huge revival of the craft came about during the Great Depression (1929-late 30’s) when American women recycled worn clothing into warm quilts.

The special two sole walking plate is about to be fitted to Beloved Bernina for the task of quilting to begin. I always think that this sinister foot looks like a Scarab Beetle. I must add that thankfully I have never seen one in real life! The damage caused by that old death watch beetle has been enough for me!

With all the components collected, it is time to indeed bring the quilt together in anticipation of the cold wintry nights ahead. Brrrrrrrr!

Stay cosy and I hope you have a quilt or crocheted blanket to snuggle under. x

Pressing Those Squares, Rocking Dog

Pressing Those Squares

Bamboo Batting Buying!, Rocking Dog

Bamboo Batting Buying!

Border & Backing, Rocking Dog

Border & Backing

Loving Buttons, Rocking Dog

Loving Buttons

Walking Foot, Rocking Dog

Walking Foot

Now Shall We Begin?, Rocking Dog

Now Shall We Begin?