Monthly Archives: July 2017

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Rocking Dog’s Alternative Wedding Snaps

Let The Feast Begin!,Rocking Dog

Let The Feast Begin!

Sorry to anyone wanting to see photo’s of the bride, bridesmaids, knickerbockered page boys and a murder of monstrous hats. Alas, there is no such frippery in this post….it’s all about the food! Rocking Dog came out of catering retirement (yet again) to provide a feast for a family friends wedding. I was given free rein with the menu, the only request came from the groom asking for chocolate brownie and hot salted caramel sauce. You wish will be granted young sir!

Rocking Dog came up with a cunning plan a while ago and bought back a wonderful stash of salami’s and Pecorino (plain, with truffle and with red peppercorns) from Umbria. These were sliced and put on rustic boards together with truffle flavoured crisps, parmesan biscuits and olives to eat on arrival in the garden. Bubbly was flowing and the boards were offered to some spectacularly dressed guests.

The sun tried to shine and the guests truly marvelled at the gloriously verdant garden. After an encounter with a drone taking overhead film of the waving crowd it was time to venture into the beautiful guy roped marquee. The sides of the marquee were jubilantly up and there were wonderful views of the gardens very own lake.

The feast kicked off with a mezze plate, it was rather strange to be eating my own food, for today I was a guest as well as being the cook and chief bottle washer! Delicious sourdough bread from Harts was served in Rocking Dog hessian sacks and there was no buffet line up, everything was put on the table. It was all very relaxing and sociable. The majority of the food on the mezze plate came from recipes in Skye Gyngell’s book “A Year in My Kitchen”. Thank you Skye I love this particular book.

Moving on to the main event I turned to Yotam Ottolenghi and did recipes from “Jerusalem” and “Plenty”. I was trying to think of a way of serving the spice rubbed slow cooked lamb and accompaniments. Just a few days before the wedding I had a light bulb moment and decided to serve it takeaway style in foil boxes atop a rustic wooden board. The large flat breads from “Bristol Sweetmart” were given sewn paper bags made from M&S Adventures in Food. Guests seemed to love the informality of the presentation.

The piece de resistance were the eleven brown card pudding boxes which were each magically frou’d by Rocking Dog. The flat pack boxes were bought in Ikea and then given tops of artificial grapes, vegetables, ribbons, bird houses, pom poms and the like. Very scarily I had to buy nothing, all the frou was scavenged within the kennel. The boxes were packed with three types of meringue, local strawberries, a tub of clotted cream, brownie and mini kilner jar’d rosewater & cardamom panna cotta’s. There was also cheese and biscuits as well as a baby milk bottle of Liv’ made salted caramel sauce. Oh! I forgot to mention each box was lit by fairy lights and the lid had a calligraphy’d “Raindrops & Roses, whiskers on kittens etc..” verse stuck on the underside of the lid. Kitsch or what!

Finally there was coffee and Rocking Dog chocolate salami.

It really was a wonderful day. The bride looked absolutely amazing in a completely unembellished, un-blingy dress. Understated classy elegance. Beautiful, as were the flowers.

“My” trusted team were really Trojan-ly wonderful, Liv’s app showed she had walked 8 grassy km going to and fro from kitchen to marquee. Thank you to you all from the bottom of my rusty old heart. I missed being with you all but I was tied to the chair under strict instructions to be a guest for the day!

We left the reception leaving the bride and groom together with young friends happily dancing in the rain. Magical.

The fall out of the day still resides in my kitchen with washing up still to do and china to sort, organise and put away. Yes, I now vaguely remember why I gave up wedding catering!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for tuning in.

Love Rocking Dog x

Ps For the record there were no knickerbockered pageboys, murders of hats or indeed bridesmaids!

Starter Menu,Rocking Dog

Starter Menu

The Feast Kicks Off,Rocking Dog

The Feast Kicks Off

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Wedding Takeaway,Rocking Dog

Wedding Takeaway

The Aubergine,Rocking Dog

The Aubergine

The Rice,Rocking Dog

The Rice

The Tomato & Lemon,Rocking Dog

The Tomato & Lemon

Bread Wrapper,Rocking Dog

Bread Wrapper

Piece De Resistance,Rocking Dog

Piece De Resistance

Boxes To Delight,Rocking Dog

Boxes To Delight

Rocking Dog Frou,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Frou

Grooms Food Of Choice!,Rocking Dog

Grooms Food Of Choice!

6.30am Leopard Footing It Down To Bristol Fruit Market

And She's Off!,Rocking Dog

And She’s Off!

Yes Rocking Dog put on her leopard “flats” and went out at 6.30 am in search of tomatoes.I have a love hate relationship with Bristol Fruit Market. I love witnessing the buzz of seeing fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants being selected and purchased for restaurants, hotels and shops. However, it is a bit of a mans world down there. In amongst the chest beating alpha males there are thankfully a few nice friendly teddy bears! Beautiful tomatoes found, aubergines, lemons, peppers, cucumbers and herbs I was pleased with my boot full of booty!

Wedding cooking continues and I am happy with the progress I have made. Brownie, meringues, salad bases, chocolate salami all made. Lists re-jigged, shopping lists redrawn and Friday and Saturday plans penned in. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes!

Lovely friend Sian has arrived from deepest darkest Wales to keep me in check and to encourage breaks (she is so right that they are a good thing) Thank you Sian for coming to cook and dance in the kitchen with me. What a kitchen hoedown we’ll have when Beth’ and Liv arrive! Diolch x

I’m going to sign off now and will see you out the other side of the weekends festivities. Have a truly wonderful wedding day and life together Josh & Ella.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing, and I hope that the sun shines for us all

Love Rocking Dog x

Thank you in advance to the wonderful team who are serving the bubbly, carving the seven legs of lamb (!), clearing, coffee making and walking many grassy miles!

It's A Mans' World!,Rocking Dog

It’s A Mans’ World!

Tomato Treasure!,Rocking Dog

Tomato Treasure!

Boot Booty!,Rocking Dog

Boot Booty!

Roasted,Rocking Dog

Roasted

Chargrilled,Rocking Dog

Chargrilled

Pan Toasted,Rocking Dog

Pan Toasted

More Meringues,Rocking Dog

More Meringues

Cunning Plan!,Rocking Dog

Cunning Plan!

A Momentary Breather,Rocking Dog

A Momentary Breather

My 400th Rocking Dog Post

Exquisite Setting,Rocking Dog

Exquisite Setting

Sorry that there is no Rocking Dog gingerbread house or cake with the number 400 on it. Life has been busy shopping and preparing for a lovely wedding at the end of the week. Rocking Dog is going to be pulling out all the stops! The atmospheric photo heading this post is taken in the garden where there’ll be a marquee, an undoubtedly very glamorous bride and groom and a melee of equally gorgeous guests. I am slightly worried that my own outfit is all together rather Handmaid’s Tale – I’m just needing the bonnet! The garden this morning was young, fresh, verdant and with the happy sound of little children enjoying the first day of the summer holidays, yay! The borders are looking wonderful with Bears Breeches, Agapanthus, Hosta’s and other botanical loveliness. The old warm brick walls which formerly would have had lean-to green housing for the growing of lemons, pineapples and other “showy” edibles now hosts wisteria with its scented mauve chandelier blooms. There really is nothing like an English garden and this one is truly, yes absolutely truly lovely.

It has taken Rocking Dog 7 months to leap from 350 to 400 posts. There have been times where writing has not come easily. In fact reading doesn’t always come very easily either. I am ashamed to say that in June I read my first book in two years and that felt quite an achievement. The brain is such a difficult organ to fathom.

Importantly, there has been a new grandchild this spring and in turn the nurturing of new parents. The name Biddy (as in old) is becoming a term of endearment I really love. I haven’t given up leopard print or silver wedge shoes and yes, I know I will love him unconditionally even when he’s a grunting spotty teenager!

The seven months have seen Christmas glitzily come and go, and in fact come back again! Indeed, we hosted “Christmas in February” at the kennel and raised £550 (plus GiftAid) for Young Carer’s. We can do “Christmas in a Box” for families in need Christmas 2017. Wee Tam’, Old gout ridden Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) are busy conjuring up the theme for next years Burn’s Night…watch this space!

There has been lots of walking to be done with Real Live Rocking Dog with a myriad of wildlife- deer, kingfishers, weasels, buzzards, swallows and even a Russian Waxwing! The white rabbits still seem to be multiplying in the field and I never cease to think that it’s some weird scene from Teletubbies! Real Live Rocking Dog also got to walk in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany and finally Italy this Spring. Like us he likes the Umbrian way of life and he is particularly partial to the sausages stocked in the village shop!

Rocking Dog has continued to make food, sew, gallantly endeavoured to tackle two unruly gardens, volunteer, homemake, care for friends & family and always tried to be cheery (for a half empty glass gal’ I acknowledge I am).

Seven months in a nutshell! Somewhat alarmingly the next fifty posts should take me to Christmas 2017! There’ll have been Young Carer’s Christmas Boxes to pack, a charity pop up restaurant night under our belts, an olive harvest to bring in (fingers crossed), Real Live Rocking Dog having walked in the snow again and lots of happy times spent with friends and family.

Love to all those who follow my blog, I appreciate you hanging in there with me

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Yes, another phenomenon of the 7 months is the Rocking Dog Creative Huddle. There is a Huddle this Wednesday (26th). Homemade cake (fingers crossed) creative stuff, friendly chat and you’d be very welcome 7-9pm. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Winter Walks,Rocking Dog

Winter Walks

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam,Rocking Dog

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam

Christmas In Feb',Rocking Dog

Christmas In Feb’

Marmalade Making,Rocking Dog

Marmalade Making

Cushion Making,Rocking Dog

Cushion Making

Creative Huddling,Rocking Dog

Creative Huddling

Field Full Of Flowers,Rocking Dog

Field Full Of Flowers

Chelsea Flowers,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Flowers

Quilted Flowers,Rocking Dog

Quilted Flowers

English Wedding,Rocking Dog

English Wedding

Spring In Umbria,Rocking Dog

Spring In Umbria

Swim In Umbria!,Rocking Dog

Swim In Umbria!

Rocking Dog Is All Washed Up!

Plentiful Pretty Plates,Rocking Dog

Plentiful Pretty Plates

Wet day, sore ear, it was the perfect day to hole myself up quietly in the kitchen and wash all the china for our family friends Boho’ wedding next weekend. I’m so glad that the nuptials aren’t this weekend, we’ll take our chances on there being sunshine pretty please for next Saturday.

I was up and down the cellar stairs today with boxes of dinner plates, plates for mezze, bread and pud’. There were cups, saucers, butter plates, jugs and sugar bowls all needing suds! There were flowers, geometrics, sentimental scenes, royal transfers, gilding and crests all to rediscover. My boxes of charity shop, auction and family treasures are a boxed 100 year history of domestic tableware.

China sorted, counted and re-boxed. It will gleam and look characterful on the lime washed tables together with flowers, Babycham glasses and polished cutlery. For me, catering for weddings is an exciting creative performance, showtime!

Well done Rocking Dog with the days worth of washing up under my belt that’s another job ticked off the mighty long list!

Kitsch Tableware,Rocking Dog

Kitsch Tableware

All Era's,Rocking Dog

All Era’s

Pretty Pourers,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pourers

Strawberry Season- A Rocking Dog Salad

Strawberries For Supper,Rocking Dog

Strawberries For Supper

Rocking Dog was inspired to make a quick summer salad using some punnets of local strawberries. I love to use fruit for savoury salads, a favourite is sliced fresh peaches with buffalo mozzarella, basil and toasted pine nuts. Butternut squash, broad beans, feta and raspberries together with roasted pumpkin seeds and a zesty dressing is another delicious summery bowl. In late summer figs and goats cheese make a wonderful base for a salad.

Last nights salad utilised the following ingredients:- Edamame beans (I used frozen), strawberries, baby spinach, whole toasted blanched almonds, finely grated lemon zest, juice of one lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh mint, creamy feta crumbled, seasoning.

Drop edamame beans into boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and refresh the beans in cold water to help retain their colour. Toast the almonds by dry frying them in a small pan ( I use this method as I am less likely to forget them rather than toasting nuts under a grill!) Make dressing with zest, lemon juice, and a good glug of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Grind in some black pepper and salt. Assemble salad by tossing together all the salad components and the dressing. Serve with some good bread.

I loved the baubles I bought recently in the clearance section of Ikea. I knew when I saw them that they’d make good strawberries! I made strawberry leaves from tiny pieces of fabric found on Material Mountain. I used an air erasable pen to draw my leaves. After cutting the pieces out I used Beloved Bernina to sew lines of stitching to emulate leaf veins. I finally cut a small hole in the centre of the fabric to thread through the bauble wire. Voila! summer baubles to decorate gifts or hang for summer parties.

Whatever the weekend holds for you I hope it’s happy and summery

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Huddle Wednesday 26th July 7-9pm. I would love to see you here at the kennel for chat, cake and creativity. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew & embroider.

Strawberry Deliciousness!,Rocking Dog

Strawberry Deliciousness!

Chelsea Strawberries,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Strawberries

Rocking Dog Tart,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tart

Summer Baubles,Rocking Dog

Summer Baubles

Stylish Wrapping,Rocking Dog

Stylish Wrapping

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags,Rocking Dog

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags

A New Rocking Dog Quilt In The Kennel

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt,Rocking Dog

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt

I am still a deaf old bat! Holding conversations has been difficult and so I have used the opportunity to seek solace in my sewing machine. A new quilt has been started and finished in the kennel and i’m rather pleased with it!

It all started with the glorious 1930’s embroidered bolster cover bought at Bermondsey Market. For a long while I contemplated how I was going to do this embroidery justice. I started collecting together lovely floral materials and vintage linens from Material Mountain. They stayed together in a lavender scented box waiting for the day when I could give myself the time to make an heirloom quilt.

Looking at the worn bolster cover I decided to remount the fabulous flower border embroidery onto a new backing. With some intrepidation I ironed Bondaweb onto the back of the embroidery. The Bondaweb was used to help prevent fraying and to eventually adhere the embroidery to the new mounting fabric. I carefully cut around the Delphinium and Hollyhock spikes, there was simply no going back now!

I then cut squares of ticking for the central panel and a variety of floral fabrics to create my double sized quilt. I used a patchwork template, rotary cutter and cutting mat. I spent time creating my quilts layout and as in the past chose to use pattern throughout. I worry that plain fabrics can really “kill” a quilt! Some of my squares were sewn with vintage lace and embroidered coasters to add additional texture. The squares were collected up into rows and pegged together. Sewing could begin!

Rows of squares were sewn and then the resulting rows sewn together. A quilt was forming! All the seams were pressed neatly and then it was time to adhere the embroidery onto its custom made ticking panel.There followed the somewhat laborious task of hand sewing the embroidery using carefully matched threads.The quilt panel was then laid onto its “filler”. For this I used the thick interlining of a bargainous curtain I had purchased a while ago in John Lewis. I pinned the quilt to the interlining using safety pins, working from the centre outwards. I then “stitched in the ditch” sewing carefully through each seam of each square. There was a tremendous amount of fabric to feed through the machine and I found it helpful to roll the quilt to help with the manoeuvrability.

It was now time to add the backing fabric for my quilt. This time I used the actual fabric from my aforementioned Designer’s Guild bargain curtain, it continued the floral theme. Again I used the safety pins to attach the layers together. I then laid the quilt out on my dining room table and sewed vintage buttons to each corner of the patchwork squares (leaving the outer edges free of buttons). On the reverse of each button point an embroidered thread tie was knotted. I chose white and clear buttons for the ticking panel so that the beauty wasn’t taken away from the delicious embroidery. After all that button sewing I added a quote from Oscar Wilde to my quilt. On a vintage coaster I wrote in indelible ink “I have many beautiful flowers” he said “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all” (The Selfish Giant). I Bondaweb’d and hand sewed this in place. Finally I sewed a 5/8ths line of stitching around the outer edge of my quilt before shearing away extra fabric and interlining.

I chose a deep ribbon from The Makery to provide the neat edging for my quilt. I pressed the ribbon in half along its whole length and sewed this in place with two rows of stitching. I finished each of the corners with a pretty button. Loose threads cut, remaining safety pins removed, and quilt pressed Rocking Dogs 2017 quilt was complete!

Happy footnote. I entered this and another quilt into the Frenchay Flower Show. I won first prize in the quilting class and a cup for best handicraft in show. I was quietly chuffed!

Piecing The Patches!,Rocking Dog

Piecing The Patches!

Sew The Rows,Rocking Dog

Sew The Rows

Choosing Thread,Rocking Dog

Choosing Thread

Hand Sewing,Rocking Dog

Hand Sewing

Ditch Stitching,Rocking Dog

Ditch Stitching

Fabric Roll,Rocking Dog

Fabric Roll

Pretty Backing,Rocking Dog

Pretty Backing

Button Anchors,Rocking Dog

Button Anchors

Showtime!,Rocking Dog

Showtime!

The Week That Came & Went

It's A Rocking Dog Summer Wrap,Rocking Dog

It’s A Rocking Dog Summer Wrap

Yes Rocking Dog has been a little bit quiet over the last week. A perforated ear drum in her good working ear has been naggingly painful! She has now entered a world of lip reading, shouting, subtitles and zorb like isolation. Thank goodness for antibiotics (Hallelujah!), analgesics (phew!) and TV subtitles (bliss!)

I have tried to stay calm and carry on, so my 2017 quilt is well underway. More in a future Rocking Dog blog post on that, perhaps when I have anchored the 100 or so vintage buttons to gloriously adorn it. Still on a vintage theme we were invited to a wonderful vintage birthday party and it was simply divine. Carnival glass, beaded handbags, bunting, frocks, cake and cocktails. I wrapped presents in crisp white tissue and customised Ikea baubles for summery frou! Summer Rocking Dog wrapping ideas in a blog post coming very soon.

There has been a trip to Bristol harbourside and HOW I want to stay in that crane! We ate a delicious Ploughman’s on the outside deck at Riverstation and wandered to Swoon for the best ice cream I have ever tasted (possibly some of the most expensive too!) Another trip took me to Clifton to the lovely Sahara to help choose wedding garb for my lovely friend. The staff member was just SO helpful. Thank you.

On Thursday I met oldest daughter and baby Douglas at Kilver Court. Winter wardrobe inexpensively sorted in Toast outlet and garden sorted with plant sale bargains (£1 a pot) Result! Needless to say i’ll be out in the wooded wonderland this week digging in my cut price greenery.

There has been food to cook for friends and family. Thursday Skye’s Roast chicken & bread salad with sour cherries & roasted red onions. Friday Yotams’ Meatballs with broad beans & lemon served with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio & mixed herbs. There was Walnut & fruit crumble cream to follow. Sunday with family gathered I prepared roast lamb on a bed of baby leaf spinach with cherry tomatoes, green beans and baby roasted new potatoes. It was all drizzled with a summery mint dressing. I also cooked Toad in the Hole and a retro pud’ Pineapple Upside Down. This pudding is always the talking point of just HOW much my brother Jem hates this pudding. As a teenager I baked it twice weekly for a number of years and the mere mention of P U Down sends him into a groaning spiral. It was a good job therefore that he didn’t turn up unannounced from New York for Sunday lunch!

The week has also seen me deeply involved in menu planning, detailed shopping lists and ordering for a wedding the Dog is catering for at the end of the month. Meanwhile there are plans already underway for a Rockpipes Burn’s Night in Thornbury next January. There is the small matter of food for the masses. I rather think I have been volunteered for the task….hmmmm! Bah Haggis!

The ear is still sore and tirelessly frustrating but I hope i’ll be spreading the Rocking Dog word a little more frequently than in the week that was.

Hoping your week will be sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

2017 Quilt,Rocking Dog

2017 Quilt

Cotton Spring Clean,Rocking Dog

Cotton Spring Clean

Room In The Clouds,Rocking Dog

Room In The Clouds

Dream Ice Cream,Rocking Dog

Dream Ice Cream

Plants To Buy,Rocking Dog

Plants To Buy

Vintage Loveliness,Rocking Dog

Vintage Loveliness

Wedding Menu Planning,Rocking Dog

Wedding Menu Planning

Retro Family Food,Rocking Dog

Retro Family Food

I Hate Pineapple Upside Down!,Rocking Dog

I Hate Pineapple Upside Down!