Category Archives: Cooking

The Gentle Week That Was

Bringing Autumn In,Rocking Dog

Bringing Autumn In

I hope you have had a good weekend, that there were good places to go, lovely things to eat and the enjoyment of the new season. A week has passed and a gentle week “that was” is now gathering pace.

Too boring to discuss Rocking Dog has not been feeling chipper and now after super charged doses of anti-inflammatories i’m wagging my tail again and ready to play ball! I haven’t been able to let the week pass in a completely nothing’y fug. I have managed to bake and sew, but everything has taken sooooo much longer! There were 70’s zoo print stockings lovingly sewn (and now awaiting whizzy embellishments), a pie for rockstars, and cakes to deliver to neighbours from the cake fairy.

There was even a Sunday roast yesterday and it was lovely to cook for friends and family. I just gently did it. The table looked autumnal with cones, nuts and antique jug filled with rose-hips, seed heads, leaves and twigs. I love a good table!

As ever Real Live Rocking Dog always needs a walk, but last week everything was done at a slower pace. On Friday the autumnal colours were truly beautiful and I revelled in spotting the flash of a Kingfisher and a little further up river a Heron doing some early morning fishing.

There has been planning too for the trip later this week to the cemeteries in Belgium and France for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” Project. Cemetery plans have been studied and details of grave & memorials plotted. Worryingly for me an understanding of Roman numerals has been required. Route planning, accommodation, shuttle, etc… Andyman and I have finally had to buckle down! Thank you to the lovely Eddie Jones of the British Legion at Frampton Cotterell who boxed up forty little wooden crosses for me. The contents of that box made me feel really sad, the representation of so many young lives cut short.

Today there is the small matter of packing and rather like the well publicised shopping list that was circulating last week our car will have a rather eclectic haul. 1 wood-burning stove, 2 sections of flue pipe, various stove bits, a high chair, a chain saw, a child’s circus tent, umbrellas, insect repellant etc..etc..

After stops in France and Switzerland we will be in place to start the olive harvest.

Have a great week. Love Rocking Dog x

Condiments,Rocking Dog

Condiments

Dishing Up, Rocking Dog

Dishing Up

Red Cabbage & More,Rocking Dog

Red Cabbage & More

Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Ready To Embellish

Cake Fairy Packages,Rocking Dog

Cake Fairy Packages

Pie For Rockstars!,Rocking Dog

Pie For Rockstars!

"Remember Me" Trip Planning,Rocking Dog

“Remember Me” Trip Planning

Autumn Leaves &...,Rocking Dog

Autumn Leaves &…

....Autumn Fruits,Rocking Dog

….Autumn Fruits

A Perfectly Vintage Weekend

Rocking Dog Loves A Bit Of Domestic Science!, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves A Bit Of Domestic Science!

After a very difficult week it was lovely to have the most perfect weekend. On Saturday morning there was the sudden and delicious realisation that a Vintage & Handmade jumble sale was happening at Rangeworthy Village Hall. I have a feeling that there are plenty of women like me who attend these events. We certainly don’t need any more textiles, bobbles, ribbons or braids… but we simply cannot resist! My haul this time included some tapestries which had never quite made it to a frame or cushion pad. I have a feeling they will be heading for cushions of the “make it up as you go along” variety. On another stall I picked up a pretty embroidered cloth for £1 which is destined for another Rocking Dog quilt. More contemporary was a stash of small remnants including fabrics by Celia Birtwell. Small whimsical cushions, patchwork squares, appliqué they will await their fate on Material Mountain. My favourite buy of the day was some jolly 70’s Sanderson nursery print. I quite fancy making a pair of dungarees for baby Doug’ (hope not too “Sound of Music”!) and there’ll be plenty for some fab’ Christmas stockings.

After a lovely vintage trawl, and alas no time for delicious WI cake I headed back to the kennel. I then went with lovely vintage friend (we have known each other for over 20 years) to Tetbury. Domestic Science was our first port of call for a sandwich and then a gander over four floors of vintage, domestic, wearable, smellable loveliness. My friend MADE me buy a lovely electric blue linen dress…she’s very persuasive! The honey coloured town was buzzing with people and a throng of noisy vintage convertibles. There are wonderful things to buy in the town but you need deep pockets, especially in one of the many antique shops. A cup of tea, and then it was time to head home. On the way back we passed Westonbirt Arboretum the colour of the Acers were truly spectacular. Autumn has arrived despite the welcome warm daytime temperatures.

Sunday we ate lunch with more gorgeous vintage friends (25 years). I was so pleased with my Yorkshire pud’s. Why is it that when I weigh everything out they are a disaster and if I simply chuck everything in without much thought they are belters!

Vintage fabrics were laundered, dried in the sun and folded. Tomorrow I will sew. It is a lovely prospect and my way of being kind to myself.

Have a wonderful week and I hope the autumnal (or not) colours are glorious in your part of the world.

Love vintage loving Rocking Dog x

Vintage Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Tapestry

Vintage Nursery Print,Rocking Dog

Vintage Nursery Print

£1 Vintage Stitches,Rocking Dog

£1 Vintage Stitches

I Love Celia!,Rocking Dog

I Love Celia!

Make Space!,Rocking Dog

Make Space!

Awaiting A Sewing Day,Rocking Dog

Awaiting A Sewing Day

Cake, Crochet, Salsa and Atilla The Hun

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake.Rocking Dog

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

A small but perfectly formed huddle congregated at the kennel last night. Crochet, cross stitch and chat went on as did cutting a freshly baked Rocking Dog cake. This months bake was from my newest cookery tome “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi (yes that old chestnut!) & Helen Goh. I love the cover of the book, meanwhile there are some truly enticing recipes beyond its jam swirled cover. I surmise that some recipes would need an afternoon of completing layers, compotes, biscuit bases and delectable ornamentation. I needed something quick, there was poor old tooth extracted Real Live Rocking dog to rescue from the vet!

Lemon and poppy seed cake was chosen for the September huddle. The cake was easy to make and rather curiously included double cream in its makeup. After 40 or so minutes in the oven a lemon glaze was poured onto its golden top and it then left to cool. Simple!

As ever I didn’t do any sewing or anything creative but I did talk about my fast approaching visits to Belgian and French war cemeteries for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” project. I didn’t quite realise what a feat it was going to be to pay homage to the local WW1 heroes. There are now currently 22 French cemeteries to visit, together with 4 Belgian cemeteries. Looking for a place to “camp up” for two nights Andyman and I thought it may be convenient to stay in Lens. Looking at airbnb’s in the area we thought it rather strange that everything looked picturesquely alpine chalet. Ah yes the snow, the wooden cabins, pines and roaring fires belonged to Lens, Switzerland and not Lens, France! Back to the drawing board!

Keep Calm & Carry On Karen did come to the huddle and gave us the latest on the house renovation. There were photo’s of buckets catching rain water, tile-less rafters, dust, Atilla The Hun (garian) builder and general chaos. We are in awe of you Karen and your faith in that all will be well. We can all understand your concerns about the 1930’s pump action yacht toilet which eccentric husband has enthusiastically bought. Di’ gave us the grim news that Christmas has arrived in John Lewis, is it just me or does the Christmas frenzy get earlier each year? “Strictly”, “Bake Off”, my being expelled from a salsa class, hoarding relatives, extension plans, olive picking and the joys of being a doctor in 2017 all provided lively discussion subjects.

As for the cake, well it was rather delicious especially eaten with a spoonful of glorious Greek yoghurt. We bow to you Yotam and Helen.

Thank you huddlers you were great company on a dark and wet September night. Love Rocking Dog x

PS No October huddle due to those pesky olives! We will chattily reconvene in November for mulled wine infused creativity.

Naughty Bakery!,Rocking Dog

Naughty Bakery!

Recipe,Rocking Dog

Recipe

Loads Of Lemons,Rocking Dog

Loads Of Lemons

The Glaze,Rocking Dog

The Glaze

The C Word,Rocking Dog

The C Word

Vintage Appreciation,Rocking Dog

Vintage Appreciation

Kitchen Creativity With Lovely Young Adult Carers

Delectable Chicken Shawarma,Rocking Dog

Delectable Chicken Shawarma

Last night I was getting creative in the kitchen with a group of lovely Young Adult Carers. The group of eight cooked three healthy main courses before we sat down for a social supper. The dishes were a healthier version of Chicken & Leek Pie using scrunched up filo pastry,
Chicken Shawarma Flatbreads (including all the bits) and
Butternut Squash & Pancetta Fusilli. We had a great time in the kitchen and in just over an hour we were all sitting down to eat their dishes. Delicious!

We ended the social eating with a fruit platter and many enjoyed trying new fruits. They all left the building having eaten a good proportion of their five a day!

Many of these young adults have been coming to Young Carers for ten years or so. The centre and dedicated team have been a major support system and have provided the opportunity for youngsters to meet others with similar caring responsibilities. The nasty word funding is unfortunately never very far away.

Bravo to all, you were brilliant and it was a real privilege to share the kitchen with you.

PS. More creativity of the sewing and cake eating variety tonight- Rocking Dog Huddle 7-9pm

For The Pie,Rocking Dog

For The Pie

This Too!,Rocking Dog

This Too!

The Golden Result,Rocking Dog

The Golden Result

Choosing Dishes,Rocking Dog

Choosing Dishes

Any Butternut Squash?,Rocking Dog

Any Butternut Squash?

Pasta Plate,Rocking Dog

Pasta Plate

Eating Together,Rocking Dog

Eating Together

5 A Day, Rocking Dog

5 A Day

Trying New Things,Rocking Dog

Trying New Things

Talking Food With Lovely Young Carer’s

Neat Apple Piles,Rocking Dog

Neat Apple Piles

What could be more lovely than talking food with lovely Young Carer’s. I love my time volunteering, this time I was asked to facilitate two healthy eating sessions for 18-26 year olds. I was delighted to be asked. The sessions are part of a Wellbeing course being run over the next six weeks. I quite fancy the Yoga, mindfulness and guided walk weeks!

We had a lovely time talking nutrition, how the group shopped, and top tips for cooking on a budget. The two hours flew! Obviously every good event deserves a goody bag. Dear neighbour Jenny asked me if I would like some apples on a recent visit. Starting to plan my Young Carer’s session I rather cheekily asked if I could indeed have apples for thirteen crumbles! Jenny so kindly obliged and we had a lovely time yesterday picking apples in glorious sunshine. Oats, brown sugar, wholemeal flour and margarine were weighed rather hurriedly and put into sewn paper pockets with the recipe attached. Voila! a DIY crumble pack.

Next week we will have fun in the kitchen cooking some nutritious wintry comfort food. Sorry to the chap who suggested steak, I don’t think the budget can quite stretch to that! I do so love my time with Young Carer’s and it’s a great organisation to be involved with.

On arriving back at the kennel I cleared the somewhat chaotic kitchen. Everywhere had a generous dusting of flour, oats and sugar! I rather disconcertingly came upon one solitary bag of Flour/oats. Oops! I rather hope everyone has got a bag of crumble mix. Apple puree anyone?!

Apple Harvest,Rocking Dog

Apple Harvest

Pick Me!,Rocking Dog

Pick Me!

Tea Towel Recipe,Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Recipe

DIY Crumble Pack,Rocking Dog

DIY Crumble Pack

Crumble In A Teacup,Rocking Dog

Crumble In A Teacup

Apples To Decorate,Rocking Dog

Apples To Decorate

Soundtrack Of A Holiday

Brando Lives On! Florence,Rocking Dog

Brando Lives On! Florence

Having just arrived back from Umbria I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the soundtrack of the holiday! Do you find that there is always a tune that is playing whenever you jiggle radio stations, or step into bars or cafes? Often these songs are slightly annoying or indeed very annoying. In years to come you hear the tune again and it immediately transports you back to the holiday destination where you couldn’t help humming or singing it at full pelt. Our soundtrack this autumn in Umbria was somewhat embarrassedly Bruno Mars’s “Versace on the Floor”! Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” takes me to my teenage French exchange trip and to a cafe with a juke box. Newquay, “I’m In Mood For Dancing” by the Nolans, and my first holiday with Andyman in Umbria (1981) Barclay James Harvest’s album “Eyes of the Universe”. There were holidays with The Proclaimers “Lord, I Want To Be a Christian”, All Saints with “Never Ever” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”etc.. I expect it will be a few days before I lose Versace from my head. Very hopefully I won’t lose the memory of our girls dancing around the Umbrian kitchen with baby Doug’in arms!

We found our Umbrian garden incredibly parched and somewhat resembling Little House on the Prairie. We have been reassured that our “grass” will somehow green up again. The poor Italians have had a scorchingly hot year and it has had a devastating effect on the crops. Vines hung heavy with fruit which I photographed last year tell a very different story this autumn. It has been difficult for the locals to irrigate crops and many wells have completely dried up. In our garden we are lucky to have some olives to pick when the start of November comes. There was leaf clearing to do and a pomegranate and fig tree to plant. Thankfully heavy rains came on our last day and watered those tender new trees. Alas with all the botanical tidying there was no hammock swinging, no sitting in my oak leaved reading nook and no star gazing. One day!

Wonderfully there were little toes in the pool, an inflatable avocado, some luxuriating, and serious lengths done in the cool of the pool.

There were vintage linens to launder and dry in the sun, a chimney to chat about for the woodburning stove, and lovely food to eat both at home and away.

Liv’ and I ventured to Florence and we all loved the lake (Trasimeno) especially the bonfire set up for a wedding. There were delicious custard filled Aragosta’s (lobster claws) to eat, thank you Michele, and refreshing Aperol Spritz’s to drink at Bar Gallo in Panicale. There is the small matter now of working off all that delicious Vongole and Scampi Gnocchi eaten at da Massimo’s! Why is Umbrian food just SO delicious?!

It really is lovely to be back to the green of England in September, with fresh inspiration for new projects.

Have a great week Rocking Dog x

PS Happy 30th Birthday to our boy Alex’. Have a wonderful time celebrating in France. At least there is no embarrassing cake today Alex! In a year gone by (16 years ago) I was seriously inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, in particular a visit to De Taart Van M’n Tante (My Aunt’s Tart). Many of their cakes were bold and risque. What possessed me to think it was appropriate to send a boxed cake with Alex on a geography school trip which was topped by a rubber gimp doll?! Sorry Alex.

Apartment In The Sky,Rocking Dog

Apartment In The Sky

Tiny Toes,Rocking Dog

Tiny Toes

On Dry Land,Rocking Dog

On Dry Land

Vintage Laundry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

There Will Be Oil!,Rocking Dog

There Will Be Oil!

Chimney Chat,Rocking Dog

Chimney Chat

Down At The Lake,Rocking Dog

Down At The Lake

Cake Break,Rocking Dog

Cake Break

Planting For The Future,Rocking Dog

Planting For The Future

Bake, Cook, Entertain, Oh, & Pull Down A Shed!

Sorry To See You Go,Rocking Dog

Sorry To See You Go

It was one of those weekends which just sort of organically evolved! On Saturday Andyman was busy piping and then rehearsing ready for the Rockpipes gig on Sunday 24th September. Are you coming? £5 a ticket or £6 on the night. It will be an experience like no other and I can’t believe I am here actually promoting it, because i’m rubbish at marketing myself! Whilst Andyman was blowing his pipes I packaged a batch bake of squidgy brownie, billionaire’s shortbread and sticky apple and pecan gingerbread. It was sent off in different directions for various sweet toothed friends. Some is being eaten on a beautiful stretch of beach in Pembrokeshire.

An impromptu supper came about and unusually I didn’t dally with Yotam! At Christmas we received a subscription for The Spicery and so every month we receive a box containing spice mixes together with a recipe. Voila! supper sorted. This box included all the spices for Tandoori lamb kebabs, samosas and chaat (a chopped salad). This gift is not for someone who wants a curry in half an hour, indeed I think it is for a loved up couple who want to bond in the kitchen for half a day! By the time I got onto make the samosas I was frankly losing the will to live and I think as a result my samosas were decidedly ugly. How i’d love to be one of those hosts who gets everything ready well before time, slides food into the hostess trolly (!) and takes herself off with a G & T for a long soak! The food was delicious so I was told, so it was worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Sunday we headed to Court House Farm Portishead for the monthly artisan market. It was such an idyllic setting for some lovely stalls. I particularly loved Emy Lou Holmes’s stall with cards, prints etc…Grandma Knitting was great too with gorgeous knits using the softest of “wools” including bamboo. Yes little Doug’, Biddy did buy you something for when the weather gets nippier. The farm is truly wonderful with the most lovely outbuildings. I took photographs of our morning spent there but only later realised there was a great greasy thumb print on the lens (possibly the illicit bacon sandwich!), rubbish! I can really recommend a little trip there.

After the glories of other peoples outbuildings we turned our attention to our own. Our shed sadly needed to be dismantled, it was rottoningly unsafe. Over the years the tiled roof had gained a living moss roof with clusters of ferns, bird nests and ivy tendrils. When I build my eco house it will have a living roof. Four tip runs and still more to go we are left with a rather sad space. I visualise it painted and given huge pots of enormous palms and ferns. However…it could always be an alfresco stage for a future Rockpipes gig!

Rocking Dogs weekend in a nutshell. I must just mention Real Live Rocking Dog who was 10 on Sunday. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea but we all love him so much. When I have spells of feeling sad he gives me the reason to get out and walk. He gives love and grumpiness unconditionally, costs us a fortune in grooming (much more than my barnet) and rather like a toddler has a habit of coming up to see us at night. Happy 10th Birthday Real Live Rocking Dog we’ll celebrate today with a trip to the vet for your rabies injection and to assess just what we can do about that breath of yours!

I hope you have had a lovely bank holiday weekend and that a good short sunny week lies ahead

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Creative Huddle this Wednesday (30th). Everyone very welcome, homemade cake, drinks and chat…oops and sewing, knitting whatever tickles your fancy. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Birthday Boy,Rocking Dog

Birthday Boy

Batch Bakes,Rocking Dog

Batch Bakes

Blood, Sweat & Tears!,Rocking Dog

Blood, Sweat & Tears!

Love Emy Lou!,Rocking Dog

Love Emy Lou!

Beaut' Bootees!Rocking Dog

Beaut’ Bootees!

Huddle Reminder,Rocking Dog

Huddle Reminder

Sad Shed,Rocking Dog

Sad Shed

Still Sad,Rocking Dog

Still Sad

Are You Coming?,Rocking Dog

Are You Coming?

Life in technicolour in the kennel

Colourful Christmas Makes,Rocking Dog

Colourful Christmas Makes

I hope you have had a great weekend and that there wasn’t too much dashing in and out of the showers. Life has been colourful in the kennel with cheery bakes and a feast of colour on the table feeding friends. There have been batches of colourful sewing and colourful floral pickings from the garden.

I so love those blogs and magazine features which are awash with neutral linens, carefully curated whites and muted room schemes…..but I just can’t quite seem to do it! So somewhat ashamedly and predictably a technicolour post this is from the Rocking Dog Kennel.

There was a colourful lunch with a couple of tarts, naturally of the pastry variety! An old favourite was resurrected thanks to Tamsin Day-Lewis “The Art Of The Tart”. A homemade blind baked tart was spread with Dijon mustard and then simply laid up with slices of camembert and tomatoes. It was sprinkled with a good glug of herb infused olive oil and put into the oven for 35 minutes. Before serving it was given a further dose of herby olive. Simple and delicious. It was good to make time for lunch with very special friends. What a long way you’ve come darling girl, I will forever love you.

A colourful midweek evening feast for eight included Meatballs with broad beans & lemon, Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts & honey, Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio & mixed herbs, flatbreads and harissa. There was also meant to be three Lebanese salads, but I was far too ambitious time-wise doing those after a morning of mother in law, shopping and putting air in my tyres! However, I did get to make homemade ice cream and baklava in the three hour cooking slot. It all looked very colourful and the two Michelin star chefs gracing the Rocking Dog table were very kind to me! I do think I need to move on from my darling Ottolenghi, guests must groan… I’ll make it my mission to cook another genre! However… that might be short lived as Yotam has a new book coming out in September “Sweet”. I’m lucky enough to have it preordered as a gift. Any one fancy being a “Sweet” guinea pig?!

I have managed to sew some gorgeously colourful things with a batch of vintage fabric stockings. I just need someone to love them and stock them. I need to sit down and give myself an assertive marketing talk! More fabric awaits me with some gorgeous groovy 60’s vibe glazed cotton. I’m sure the designer must have been on magic mushrooms, there are psychedelic birds, butterflies, leopards and cats. Bought from a great vintage shop, RePsycho on Gloucester Road these stockings are going to be lined with ornate alphabet fabric bought in Flo-Jo. Also on the workbench is some 50’s Heals fabric which I have coveted for a number of years. It will make a great blind for oldest daughters house complementing concrete dining light, scaffold plank shelves and eclectic kitchenalia. She’s not limey white either!

More colour has arrived back in the house with the re-emergence of those Rocking Dog frou’d wedding dessert boxes. Some will be going to Young Carers families later in the year as part of “Christmas in A Box”.

Finally there were gifts to colourfully wrap and muffins to top with vibrant apricot compote, the end of a colourful week in the Rocking Dog kennel!

Hope you too will have a lovely colourful week, Love Rocking Dog x

PS I will endeavour to do a lime washed white post this week

Colourful Characters,Rocking Dog

Colourful Characters

On My Workbench,Rocking Dog

On My Workbench

Groovy Future Make,Rocking Dog

Groovy Future Make

Colourful Gifts,Rocking Dog

Colourful Gifts

Food For Friends,Rocking Dog

Food For Friends

Test Bake,Rocking Dog

Test Bake

Windowsill Colour,Rocking Dog

Windowsill Colour

The Boxes Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Boxes Are Back!

Technicolour Tart,Rocking Dog

Technicolour Tart

Rocking Dog Loves Trotting Around Tetbury

Not In The Show,Rocking Dog

Not In The Show

The Tetbury Flower Show arrived again at the weekend. Andyman was blowing his pipes with City of Bristol Pipes and Drums so I took the opportunity to enjoy seeing what the folk of Tetbury had grown, sewed, baked and bottled. The care that people take to raffia string onions, scrub potatoes and arrange summer fruits is both astounding and hearteningly lovely.

With a break from playing Amazing Grace, Scotland The Brave and Highland Cathedral etc..I left Real Live Rocking Dog with the piper and legged it into Tetbury. I wonder does anyone else notice door furniture? I love a good knocker, bell pull, letterbox and hand plate. There were some really good old examples as I headed to the high street. Many knockers were gloriously offset by paint colours such as “Pelt”, “Dix Blue” and “Cooking Apple Green”. I am SO easily pleased!

When in Tetbury I love a trot to “Domestic Science”. Five uneven floor-boarded floors are filled with vintage kitchenalia, French textiles, divine scented packages, patina’d aged furniture, carefully curated cards and a lovely watering hole to sit for a coffee or lunch. As ever there was lots I loved, but I was very restrained. I need to make money before I can spend money, I need a cunning plan to revive my coffers.

Thankfully many of Tetbury’s delicious antique shops were closed, it’s lovely that Sunday is still sacrosanct in some communities. My shopping purchases in town amounted to buying cake ingredients. After more piping, more sunshine and viewing the dog show (not competing as Real Live Rocking Dog’s days of shows and being humiliated are well and truly over!) Real Live Rocking Dog we know you are beautiful despite your raging halitosis and grumpiness, and frankly that’s all that matters. It really was time to head home and make that cake.

I loosely based it on Delia’s Coconut Layer Cake and topped it off with a spiky pineapple top, vanilla pods and fairy lights for a very special lady.

Hope you all have a lovely week.
Love Rocking Dog x

Tetbury Letterbox..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Letterbox..

Tetbury Knocker..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Knocker..

...And Another,Rocking Dog

…And Another

Delightful Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Delightful Dahlia

Dashing Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Dashing Dahlia

Know Your Onions!,Rocking Dog

Know Your Onions!

Domestic Science Vintage,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Vintage

Domestic Science Linen,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Linen

Domestic Science Scented,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Scented

The Ripening Hambrook Harvest

From Little Acorns....,Rocking Dog

From Little Acorns….

I escaped the kitchen and ALL that china for a brief while yesterday. I was surely succumbing to cabin fever or should that be soapy sud kitchen fever! Real Live Rocking Dog provides the perfect excuse to drop the tea towel and  get out on the Frome Valley walkways which hug our fortunate doorstep.

How lovely to walk in sunshine and have blue fluffy cloud skies as a gorgeous last day in July canopy. Along the walk there were burgeoning and ripening crops of sloes, bullace, elderberries and blackberries. I spied a particularly luscious crop of blackberries over a pennant stone wall. Alas, they were unattainable with the river a watery barrier. A host of birds and other wildlife will have a veritable feast with no humans able to access and pick this precarious crop. Other bird food is ripening ready for the colder less plentiful days of late autumn and winter. Haws, rosehip and holly will serve them well.

Family folklore suggests that my fathers maternal family may have been Huguenots. Have you ever witnessed how  many French folk behave on a beach, they are not sunbathing, they are not swimming .. they are foraging! They have pails and spades, nets and lines and going in search of lunch or to find bait to catch lunch! Mussels, whelks, coastal plants, shrimp and crab are simply not safe. I see ripening elderberries and think of their addition in a summer pudding, an apple pie or crumble, ice cube or stew. Sloes and bullace again are destined in my mind to immersion in vodka or gin. I love to use the bloated alcohol soaked berries in rocky road and in ice creams, sorbets and warming winter stews. Just maybe, yes maybe I indeed do have French foraging blood flowing in my veins!

I love the way the Italians celebrate and give thanks to every crop they harvest and every animal they hunt. There are ancient walled hilltop towns close to where we live in Umbria which annually celebrate the bread, the oil, the wine, the saffron, the wild boar, the sweet chestnut, and so on! In the spring we were treated to the most wonderful feast at the little village hall in “our” village. The valley was vibrantly yellow with Mimosa trees and so this tree was celebrated along with World Women’s Day. The men (with undoubtedly some help of the female kind in the background!) of the village cooked for the women. We sat down to plates of crostini followed by two pasta courses (one with a pork ragu sauce and the other a tomato sauce). Lamb, steak and locally produced sausages cooked on a wood fired brazier together with a delicious dressed salad came next. Finally a specially baked mimosa coloured iced cake was proudly bought out and served with Grappa. Throughout the meal we had bottles of very quaffable locally produced red wine and then it was time to dance. Bad dancing translates and is understood in whatever language you speak! The Macarena danced for the final time it was time to wearily and bloatedly stumble home. Each woman was presented with a branch of Mimosa as she left together with hugs and hearty “buona notte’s”. It was such a lovely multi generational community event and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We do not celebrate anything enough in this country and unfortunately unlike the Italians many British would not embrace a party encompassing all generations.

Back to walking along my favourite Hambrook walk (nicknamed “Mr Badger walk” because of an old sett along its route) the earth was littered with crops that hadn’t quite made it. Amongst the carpet of last years autumnal leaf fall there were conkers, beech masts and cobnuts lying like jewels. They had simply dropped before their time or had been slain by squirrels not willing to wait!

At the stile there was a solitary doe eyed cow with Bully the blooming big bull. I couldn’t help thinking “poor cow!” Perhaps she’ll have her very own harvest in the spring.

Very soon it was time to return to THAT china … but I felt so much better after a brief but wonderful nature filled sojourn.

 

Future Harvest,Rocking Dog

Future Harvest

Ditto!,Rocking Dog

Ditto!

Unattainable Harvest,Rocking Dog

Unattainable Harvest

Too Early....,Rocking Dog

Too Early….

...Too Late!,Rocking Dog

…Too Late!

One For The Pan,Rocking Dog

One For The Pan

Late Summer Harvest,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Harvest

Christmas Harvest,Rocking Dog

Christmas Harvest

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow,Rocking Dog

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow