Category Archives: Food

The Week That Was, Life’s Rich Tapestry

Kaffe Fassett's Rich Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Kaffe Fassett’s Rich Tapestry

Life has been a rich tapestry of differing threads since my last post. There has been a trip to Bath and a lovely meet up with son, daughter in law and sparkling new little Freddie. Apart from the delight of a new baby to cuddle, how rewarding it is to watch your children parent. After coffee and cake and a well meaning mother in law .. “you need to rest”, (I really wasn’t asking for a Victorian six week lying in period…honest!) I took my leave. “Makery” Roman blind instructions picked up, I chanced upon Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth’s exhibition “A Celebration of Flowers” at the Victoria Art Gallery. It was spectacularly colourful and temptingly tactile. There was patchwork, mad mosaic, needlepoint and painting. Eye poppingly inspirational.

I finished my second Rocking Dog patchwork quilt of the year earlier in the week and it will be shortly leaving the kennel to grace and warm another bed. The blind is indeed next in the queue and then a back up of other makes ranging from quilts, a certain wedding coat and Rocking Dog prototypes. The unused overlocker is looking forlorn and needs some dedicated time to make it feel loved and needed. It really is the elephant in the workroom!

The weekend was glorious so with Andyman away playing his flaming bagpipes on the Isle of Man a friend and I spontaneously took ourselves to The Pig near Bath. We had a relaxing afternoon in the garden eating wood fired flatbread and posh choc ice. It was one of those blissful English summer days and was completed by the inevitable meander around the delightful kitchen garden.

A large mountain of ironing, admin’ and a half hearted attempt at cleaning were the more mundane bits of the week, a domestic tapestry!

Flowers were picked for a bright 88 year old neighbour and somehow we ended up reading snake poems by DH Lawrence and Sylvia Plath. We also talked about the frustrations of age related failing faculties. Unfortunately I know you won’t be reading this Molly, but you are AMAZING! Interested and Interesting, together with being a fount of knowledge on “Time-Team”!

Stem ginger scones were baked and given. How delicious they are served with apricot conserve and clotted cream. Not much else to report on the cooking front.

I have been trying to tie up my WW1 Flower Show table for 14th July. My brain is rather full. I know i’m slightly barking as i’m signing present day forms etc.. with a 1918 date. Oops! This week I have been researching eggs and how they were collected for wounded soldiers. There was a National Campaign set up by Frederick Carl, editor of “Poultry World” who classed eggs as as a superfood for the wounded. Even pre-war many families kept a few hens, but now the campaign encouraged hen owners to donate an egg or two for ailing soldiers. Children in particular were encouraged to get involved with the egg campaign and the eggs were often collected together on school premises. In November 1914 a target of 20,000 eggs a week was set to send to the wounded in Boulogne. By August 1915 over a million eggs were received for overseas. This figure didn’t include those eggs that had been sent directly to local hospitals. In the course of the war 32 million eggs had been sent to hospitals in France and Belgium.

Many of the eggs arrived with the soldiers complete with decoration, patriotic messages and names & addresses. This sometimes led to pen pal correspondence and even a wedding! I started researching eggs because in the local parish magazines of the Great War period there were poultry husbandry meetings held at the village hall. I wanted to ascertain the relevance and importance of such meetings.

So indeed there will be a display of WW1 inspired decorated eggs on my Flower Show table.

Today I am visiting my last soldiers grave in Trealaw Cemetery the Rhondda, Wales. Driver John Noble Winter of the Royal Field Artillery died from wounds 17th April 1916. Born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire by the 1901 census he is 19 years old and working as a coal hewer. Untangling a short life is a brain boggling investigative tapestry. Later today The Remember Me Project will have laid the last poppy on British soil and number 45 of the 53 Whiteshill Memorial names. We Will Remember Them.

I hope your weekend is filled with threads of wonderful things, creating your own rich and diverse life tapestry.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Our bath, yes that old chestnut, is on its way! Currently it is out in the ocean after a port of call in Kuwait. Rather like Parcel Force you can track its movements using Vessel Finder, very exotic! It will eventually head up the Suez Canal, it’s taking provenance to the extreme… but then I always love a good story!

Mad Mosaic,Rocking Dog

Mad Mosaic

Kaffe's Patches,Rocking Dog

Kaffe’s Patches

My Patches,Rocking Dog

My Patches

Food Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Food Tapestry

Posh Choc' Ice,Rocking Dog

Posh Choc’ Ice

On Its Way!,Rocking Dog

On Its Way!

Flower Gift,Rocking Dog

Flower Gift

Bakers Dozen,Rocking Dog

Bakers Dozen

Baked Gift,Rocking Dog

Baked Gift

Flower Show,Rocking Dog

Flower Show

Egg Research,Rocking Dog

Egg Research

Brain Space,Rocking Dog

Brain Space

Out With May, In With June!

A New Baby In The Ferguson Fold,Rocking Dog

A New Baby In The Ferguson Fold

May came and went in the wink of an eye! It’s been busy. We are joyous to have welcomed another little Ferguson into the family last week. Another sweet little grandson has bounced into our lives. Newborn babies are scrunched up balls of scrumminess! Thank you to all the wonderful staff at the Royal United Hospital, Bath. The care was inspiring.

There have been spring bunnies aplenty this May. A bunny blind waits to be sewn on my work bench for the scrunched up little ball. I have lost my “Makery” instructions and feel rather lost. Like a well used recipe (Nigella’s Chocolate Brownie for instance) I somehow still feel I need the printed instructions in front of me, a metaphorical comfort blanket! Another bunny came in the form of Eric, a therapy pet who came along to Young Carer’s together with his three Chihuahua “siblings”. I loved the session, what could be more relaxing than stroking a super huge rabbit! As for the bunny field it is full of sweet smelling clover, buttercups, wild sorrel, moon daisies and grasses. Truly beautiful, and enhanced by the pair of swallows that arrive late afternoon which dart so expertly over the sun baked flora.

There was another rabbit to spot in Montpelier when Andyman and I ventured to Geo Jones for bathroom fittings (yawn!) Nearby Picton Street is vibrant and buzzy with some jazzy murals, cafes and one or two nice little shops. It’s an area of Bristol i’d like to spend more time discovering.

There have been great seasonal eats during May with the arrival of British asparagus and continued crops of rhubarb in the garden. How wonderful to see Jersey Royals in the shops again… what could be more delicious!

There has been a quilt that has left the kennel, one that is underway and another which waits for another day. When I was waiting for news of the new babe I tried to distract myself with cutting patchwork squares… it turns out rather badly. The truth be known i’d have rather been in that delivery room knowing what was going on. Once a midwife, always a midwife! I’ll somehow try to cobble and make good my ragged patchwork squares when the time comes… at least it’s the quilt i’m planning for our bed!

Thank you to the lovely electrician who arrived on the same day as the baby. Phew! he didn’t run a mile when he saw the copper lights made by an eccentric Italian chef. We have light in parts of the house that hasn’t seen the light of day for a long time. Yay! progress in our crumbly home.

A considerable amount of my time has been taken up with my “Remember Me Project”. There have been the Gloucestershire graves visited, tidied, poppy laid and photographed. There has been ongoing online research, a visit to Frenchay Museum and a recording done for a radio programme. I am now trying to focus on getting my WW1 Flower Show table organised and created. I have been researching fruit cakes which were especially popular to send out to soldiers in the trenches. There was an official recipe released by the government so that families could bake an economical cake for their loved ones. The recipe contained no eggs and relied on the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to make it rise. It’s been fascinating especially all the facts i’ve learnt about the home front in my local area. More information about the Rocking Dog Flower Show Table will turn up in a future post.

So with May now away.. what does June hold? Perhaps our bath will arrive after its long sea voyage from India, the sun may shine all month, there’ll be gooseberries to pick, babies to cuddle, a soldiers grave to visit in Wales and hopefully guests eating around our table. Oh yes….. there’s the small matter of a concert to go to. My girls are taking me to see Beyonce and Jayzee…..now that wasn’t on my 60 by 60 list! I’m sure it will be great fun.

I hope the month of June brings you many very happy and sunny moments.

Love Rocking Dog x

One Quilt Done,Rocking Dog

One Quilt Done

Another Underway,Rocking Dog

Another Underway

One For Another Day,Rocking Dog

One For Another Day

Bunny Blind,Rocking Dog

Bunny Blind

 Therapeutic Bunny,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Bunny

& Bunny Field,Rocking Dog

& Bunny Field

Regal Rabbit,Rocking Dog

Regal Rabbit

Whizzy Mural,Rocking Dog

Whizzy Mural

& A Batty One!,Rocking Dog

& A Batty One!

Asparagus Season!,Rocking Dog

Asparagus Season!

Rhubarb Anyone?,Rocking Dog

Rhubarb Anyone?

A Good Tart,Rocking Dog

A Good Tart

Research Of The Brave,Rocking Dog

Research Of The Brave

Not Trench Cake,Rocking Dog

Not Trench Cake

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me

Enjoying A Bit Of Baking On A Lazy Sunday Morning

Sweet Infusion,Rocking Dog

Sweet Infusion

I hope the weekend was enjoyable and that you were able to stay snug! My weekend was one filled with lots of bits and pieces. I started on a Roman blind for the kitchen (I thought it was about time I made something for myself!), I looked for a new bathroom and nipped into see a friend. There was also an afternoon tidying the garden whilst coping with a prolonged hail storm. Poor Real Live Rocking Dog decided he did NOT like hail!

However, on Sunday morning it was all about a gentle spot of baking. I cooked another recipe from “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The latest sugary concoction was a Chocolate tart with hazelnut, rosemary and orange. Quite unusual for me I didn’t “go off piste” and followed the recipe almost to the T. Saying that I didn’t have enough hazelnuts for the praline/brittle so made up the shortfall with almonds and pistachio’s. I also chose to make the pastry by hand rather than in the processor. I’m sorry but pastry done with light handling cannot be surpassed by a swanky machine!

Pastry made, Rosemary sprigs brushed with egg white and dusted with sugar, cream infused, it was all gently enjoyable. I loved how the praline/brittle was approached in this recipe. Praline can be notoriously difficult and you can land up with a sugar crystal’y nutty heap. This brittle was made by placing the syrups and sugar into a pan, heating until the sugar dissolved and then transferring it into a lined baking tin to bake for 7 minutes.

With all the preparation done for the tart and The Archer’s sadly at an end I headed out into the garden.

With leaves gathered, steps brushed, little wild violets marvelled at, it was time for a bath and the return to my baking.

Whilst the tart was blind baking I melted chocolate, made a sabayon (egg yolks and sugar), chopped my brittle and read my recipe! The crisp tart base was given a layer of chopped nut brittle and awaited its chocolatey cloak. The chocolate, sabayon and strained cream were folded together and spooned into the tart case and baked for 12 minutes or so.

After cooling, the tart was given a generous dusting of cocoa and embellished with shards of brittle and the crystallised rosemary sprigs. I’m sorry about the finished picture, it honestly looked better in real life.

It was DELICIOUS! I LOVE Yotam, but then I think you already know that.

I hope you have a good week and stay cosy!

Love Rocking Dog x

Read The Recipe,Rocking Dog

Read The Recipe

Handle Carefully,Rocking Dog

Handle Carefully

Blind Bake,Rocking Dog

Blind Bake

Crystallise Rosemary,Rocking Dog

Crystallise Rosemary

Praline For Idiots!,Rocking Dog

Praline For Idiots!

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!,Rocking Dog

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!

Food For Friends – Ottolenghi Style.

Ottolenghi's Sweet Offering, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi’s Sweet Offering

After cooking for 160 Haggis eating folk last weekend it was lovely cook for friends this weekend. How very wonderful it was to have my lovely friend sitting at our table, at last able to eat and enjoy food. Her journey is truly remarkable.

On Saturday evening there were decisions to be made as to just what to cook for our guests. I’m afraid dear old Ottolenghi’s tomes came out…. but I did try some new recipes as well as some old favourites.

There was hummus from “Jerusalem” together with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio’s & mixed herbs. I substituted currants and goji berries for the barberries and totally forgot to put the pistachio’s in! I also did a Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad from “Jerusalem”. Very delicious.

Ottolenghi’s first recipe book (“The Cookbook”) supplied me with the main event, Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad. There was also a citrus’y sauce to go with the chicken. Time didn’t allow me to make flatbreads, so shop bought versions were given a flash in the oven.

Dessert was Pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate and this recipe came from Ottolenghi’s latest book “Sweet” which he co-wrote with Helen Goh.

All food for this lunch was easy to prepare and cook…. and tasted yummy! If you haven’t tried the hummus, it really is the best i’ve ever tasted and can be tweaked with addition of fresh herbs, a topping of crisply fried onions or toasted pine-nuts.

We drank a lovely red and delighted in the warmth of the wood-burner. However more than anything it was so lovely to share food with amazing friends.

Hallelujah Burn’s Night is over for another year! Andyman has been busy piping and being vocal with the Selkirk Grace over a number of evenings this week. I haven’t done my usual little bit of silliness with the Toby jug folk, so I hope you’ll allow me now to be just a little bit nutty to bring Burn’s celebrations to a close. If you haven’t already met my Toby jug folk there’s tankard swigging Toby who’s just a little bit grumpy and gouty. Then there is Mrs Mac who REALLY is a present from Fleetwood. Toby and Mrs Mac were bought on the same day in different charity shops. Their joining was simply meant to be. Living a peaceful and happy life with no doubt some shenanigan’s when the lights went out there was a fateful day when Wee Tam’ came to join them on THEIR mantlepiece. Mrs Mac is really superciliously fickle and shamelessly has a soft spot for a man in a wee kilt… a menage a trois has developed. What goes on after dark is anybodies guess, but we need to remember Real Live Rocking Dog slumbers there as does Luminous Mary! Enough of this super-silly twaddle, all that 36 kg haggis has gone to my brain!

Have a lovely week.

Love Rocking Dog x

The Rocking Dog Creative Huddle reconvenes this Wednesday 7pm-9pm, all welcome. Over £100 was raised last year for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. Thank you. Donations into the teapot to carry on the work of this amazing charity. Homemade cake, warming drinks, gentle chat and maybe a bit of sewing etc… going on!

The Best Hummus,Rocking Dog

The Best Hummus

Gift Wrap Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Gift Wrap Beetroot

Unwrapped Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Unwrapped Beetroot

Pomegranate Garnish, Rocking Dog

Pomegranate Garnish

Gorgeous Grains,Rocking Dog

Gorgeous Grains

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Something Sweet On The Lips!,Rocking Dog

Something Sweet On The Lips!

Nuts For Dessert,Rocking Dog

Nuts For Dessert

Goodbye Burn's Night!,Rocking Dog

Goodbye Burn’s Night!

Blowing Away Some Big Cobwebs!

The Fabulous Dig Haushizzle,Rocking Dog

The Fabulous Dig Haushizzle

After the culinary savagery of the weekend there was still washing up to do on Tuesday. However I decided to throw in the towel and walk! Lovely calm friend and I decided to ditch ideas of a doggy muddy hike and to do something a little more gentle.

We didn’t have very much of a plan, but by the end of our foray I thought our trail was worthy of a blog post. Fellow Bristolian’s or visitors alike would find much to enjoy about our cunning plan. Calm Karen and I can promise walkers good coffee, lovely food, some extraordinary buildings, the historic docks and some quirky independent shops.

1. Parking. We chose to park on Portland Square (pay meter parking, cash or phone). Maximum stay is 4 hours and works out £1 an hour, that’s cheap for Bristol! Do not be tempted to park on nearby Brunswick Square as their maximum time limit is 2 hours. Parking sorted… let the trail begin! Please be aware that parts of this trail would be unsuitable for wheelchairs or prams (Christmas Steps and the possibly the changes in levels around St Nicholas Market) However, St Nicholas’s Market can be visited and circumvented cunningly, whilst the centre can be reached by staying on Colston Street, thereby missing out Christmas Steps.

2. Walk through the Bear Pit, the underpass (much more savoury than it used to be) and head past Loot and then onto Marlborough Street passing the Magistrates Court (Tesco will be across the road from you). Carry on walking, past the Bristol Royal Infirmary (the old bit), without realising it you will then be on Colston Street. Here on Colston Street you will find some eclectic shops which you may want to stop and peruse. Rag Trade is a great dress agency and I have picked up some lovely clothes there over the years. Further on, Makers and Blaze are unique shops to select unusual cards and gifts. A few steps on and you can enter a bookworm’s paradise, Bloom & Curll is a delightful secondhand bookshop and I adore it’s homely and eclectic style. Doug’ and Joe will each benefit from this literary visit. Keep Calm Karen and I then went slightly off piste by crossing the road to visit Dig Haushizzle. A real favourite of mine, I was disappointed that they had sold the lampshade I so loved. It looked as if it had come through moths, flood, fire, and neglect… but it had a certain charm! I know I would have had an uphill struggle to convince Andyman, especially since it had a somewhat eye-watering price tag! Somewhere there is a horror movie-esque lamp shade being coveted….. just not at the kennel! Track back across the road whence you came from.

3. Christmas Steps. You can’t fail to notice the wonderful set of flagstone steps which are the wonderfully named Christmas Steps. They are wonderfully atmospheric and it is easy to conjure up a picture of rather seedy Victorian life. On your way down the steep and worn steps there are a few interesting individual shops. Karen told me about 20th Century Flicks which can be found towards the bottom on the left hand side. Apparently she was invited to a cinema night there with friends. You can hire out the sweet little 11 seated cinema with a vast array of films to choose from. Sounds perfect especially if there is no noisy popcorner or rattly sweet opener sitting behind you!

4. This next stage is a little complicated as the centre is a tangle of road works, cones and taped off crossings (blooming Metrobus!). How ever you manage it, you need to cross to the other side of the road entirely. Try to get yourself into Small Street. Up on the left is a great place to drink lovely coffee (thank you Karen & Joe for the recommendation), Small Street Espresso. They also do delicious cake and serve everything with a smile. After refuelling head up past the Crown Court on your right and you will find yourself on Corn Street, notice the circa 400 year old nails where lots of business transactions were done. It’s where the term “Paying on the nail” comes from. On a Wednesday the Farmers market goes on here and it started in 1998. It happens to be one of the longest running farmer’s and producers markets in the country. You need to pass through the Grade 1 listed Corn Exchange building to get to our next destination.

5. Passing through the Exchange St Nicholas’s Market has an eclectic array of permanent stalls, some good, some tat and some frankly bonkers! Incidentally in the 1960’s the Exchange was a music venue and it saw the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream and  Spencer Davis play here. Carry on through the building and eventually you should chance upon the glorious glass arcade. Bristol was very badly bombed during WW2 and the glass roof was lost in the Blitz. Its roof was replaced in 1949 together with more recent renovation. You can eat food from across the globe here and it all feels very vibrant, fragrant and buzzy. I personally love Eat A Pitta. Close by is  Ahh Toots  a truly cakey spectacle and it sells good bread too. Flowers and fabrics, olives, cheese, lunch to go or to perch, a wheatgrass smoothie, raclette, a pie, the glass arcade is great. After picking up supper supplies head out to the back of St Nicholas Market (in line with the direction you entered the Corn Exchange building). You will probably find yourself passing through the covered market (again you will find the good, the bad and the ugly regarding stalls). You need to be heading for St Nicholas Street.

6. St Nicholas Street is where you’ll find Rag & Bone, another of my favourite haunts. If you aren’t into junk just pass on by! Directly opposite Rag & Bone there is a fabulous and rather regal water fountain set into the wall of the covered market. It looks like a very young Queen Victoria unlike the more matronly version (oops!) found near College Green, Bristol.

7. After dipping into R & B let’s head to the water! You’ll probably find a set of stone steps to head on down to Baldwin Street. You need to use the crossing to cross to the other side of the road. There are choices to be made here. You can walk on through to Queen’s Square and beyond OR you can walk along the cobbled street which is Welsh Back. Unfortunately due to buildings placed at the edge of the river there aren’t any great views along this stretch of water, just the odd glimpse. Eventually which ever way you choose to walk you will end up on a road called The Grove. Turn right along here there are some good places to eat (I love sitting out on the decking with a glass of wine and a platter at the River Station). Unfortunately over the years the Mud Dock has been rather inconsistent with its foodie offerings. Head on down to the bottom of the road (the Arnolfini will be directly in front of you on the opposite side of the road) and take a left turn. A bridge is coming up.

8. The newly renovated Prince Street Bridge will take you over the river Avon. Take a right turn onto the quayside and you cannot fail to notice the massive industrial cranes which make the harbour so iconic. Head past the M Shed  (if you wish you can while away some time learning about Bristols industrial past here). Bristols links with slavery is sadly not very pretty. Very Soon you will become aware of an area on your left which is very new to the harbourside. Wapping wharf is a development of shops and eateries. There are also a number of places to eat and buy art etc.. housed in shipping containers (how apt being a port city). We could have chosen to eat Spanish, noodles, fish, and any number of delicious foodie offerings but decided to carry on walking.

9. Journey’s end! We ate a bacon “doorstep” overlooking the grey water at “Brunel’s Buttery”. Unpretentious, it has been serving up delicious butties since 1980. Delicious!

10. If there was time you could follow the quay along to the SS Great Britain or you could hop on a ferry boat (either to cross to the other side of the Avon or for a leisurely pleasure cruise) Remember your 4 hour parking slot!

11. Our way back. In short, we headed back over Prince Street Bridge and took  a cobbled left then right, taking us past the front of the Arnolfini. Through the centre, through Broadmead shopping centre and into Cabot Circus (new shopping centre). We eventually arrived at House of Fraser (second level of shopping centre needed). Emerge by crossing to take you across the A4044 (Newfoundland Road). Directly across from you is Pritchard Street which will magically take you back to Portland Square and your car (hopefully minus a parking ticket!)

This might not make any sense at all, and I apologise in advance. My map reading has always been a little below par especially when I mistook a river for a road whilst on a journey with Andyman! Please let me know how you get on if you decide to walk this trail and i’d be grateful if you could share with any Bristol walkers, foodies or junkophiles!

It was a really lovely walk and many thanks to Karen for taking all the cobbled twists and turns with me. It certainly blew away the cobwebs.

More Dig Haushizzle!,Rocking Dog

More Dig Haushizzle!

Bookworm Paradise,Rocking Dog

Bookworm Paradise

Christmas Steps,Rocking Dog

Christmas Steps

St Nick's,Rocking Dog

St Nick’s

Pretty Cakes &...,Rocking Dog

Pretty Cakes &…

...Pretty Flowers!,Rocking Dog

…Pretty Flowers!

Regal Fountain,Rocking Dog

Regal Fountain

Love R & B!,Rocking Dog

Love R & B!

A Favourite View,Rocking Dog

A Favourite View

My Week Defined By Vegetables

Chelsea Potatoes,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Potatoes

Indeed last week was rather dominated by all that was vegetable.

MONDAY. A relaxing lunch with friend at The Pig near Bath. As ever it was gorgeous to have a wander around the walled kitchen garden after eating some delicious plates of food. There is something rather special about a garden in winter. The stillness, quiet, and the silent anticipation of shoots and leaves forcing their way through frost crested earth.

TUESDAY. I went on a Social Media course at the M Shed, Bristol. Discussing the merits and problems of different social media platforms I felt somehow rather disillusioned. However, I feel I have a better understanding of feed, engagement, traffic etc… but i’m still a slumbering pumpkin!

WEDNESDAY. I participated in a healthy eating session with a small group of young adult carers. They were great, and we cooked enthusiastically together. Chicken and vegetable wraps together with vegetable laden pizzas were cooked and eaten together. Instead of feeling like a slumbering pumpkin I definitely felt more like a dinosaur trying to explain the concept of seasonal food! It went a bit like this “as a child growing up in the 60’s we only saw strawberries at the start of June through to the start of August, and then we didn’t see them until the following year”. It was quite a revelation to them, as was the tip to “peel” root ginger using a teaspoon. I aim to please….. even if I am a Tyrannosaurus!

THURSDAY. 36kg of haggis was delivered to the kennel from over the tartan border. There was the traditional offal’y variety, there was the vegetable variety, some to suit gluten free guests and of course the ceremonial chieftain haggis for the Selkirk Grace. Fridge space was rather tight with all these wee beasties taking up temporary residence.

FRIDAY. Sorrel, baby Doug and I headed out to pick up 50kg potatoes and 30kg swede. Thank you to Bob at Eastville Market for super fresh produce. I have to say though the potato type, Marfona sounded like some type of mini pill or Intrauterine Contraceptive Device! After our vegetable buying trip we headed to nearby St Werburgh’s City Farm for a coffee. Doug was fascinated by the goats, ducks, black hairy pigs and a large rook. The cafe is definitely worth a visit. We shared Beetroot, chocolate & beer cake gloriously eaten with some good cappuccino’s. We were fortified ready for the mammoth two day peeling and mashing session!

SATURDAY. 50kg potatoes peeled & mashed. Tick. 30kg swede peeled & bashed. Tick. 9 trays of brownie baked. Tick. Let the Rock Pipes Burns Night begin. It was a culinary killer. Thanks to lovely, lovely friends who pitched in to help get hot food out to the 160 paying guests. Everybody seemed to have a fabulous time. I even managed to summon up the courage to hit the stage to promote the raffle which raised an amazing £341 for Young Carer’s “Christmas in a Box”. Rock Pipes did their final set with everyone on the dance floor for an Abba medley, 500 miles and of course YMCA! Auld Lang Syne sent everyone on their way with 50 kg chappit tatties, 36kg haggis, 30kg bashed neeps and a wee dram of whisky in their tummies.

SUNDAY. I woke up feeling as if every bone in my body had been broken and then had been reset really badly! How can vegetables do that?! I’m simply too old for this catering malarkey.

So yes, that was the week that was. After a day of washing up yesterday I am trying to be kind to myself and to let my burnt and chapped hands recover. Still on a vegetable theme I have some lovely vintage fabric titled “Sweetcorn” to be made into a blind for Sorrel & Pete. Some quiet therapeutic sewing should get my aching bones sorted.

A million thanks to my lovely girls who were magnificent in the kitchen and to all those who helped without asking. I have some truly gorgeous friends. Thank you.

PS I picked up a great tip from Sorrel (old dogs really can learn new tricks!) To strip Thyme of it’s leaves poke the woody stalk through a hole in a wire sieve. Pull the stalk and voila the leaves are left in the sieve. Have you any canny tips to pass on I wonder? Please tell all.

Table Veg',Rocking Dog

Table Veg’

Greenhouse Veg',Rocking Dog

Greenhouse Veg’

The Pigs' Pigs,Rocking Dog

The Pigs’ Pigs

Seasonal Fruit &..,Rocking Dog

Seasonal Fruit &..

Seasonal Veg',Rocking Dog

Seasonal Veg’

Veggie Cake!,Rocking Dog

Veggie Cake!

For Chappit Tatties,Rocking Dog

For Chappit Tatties

Let 'em Eat Haggis!, Rocking Dog

Let ’em Eat Haggis!

Vintage Veg' Fabric,Rocking Dog

Vintage Veg’ Fabric

Happy Christmas One & All

A little Piece Of Calm In A Mad World!,Rocking Dog

A little Piece Of Calm In A Mad World!

Sorry I have been quiet. In real life I have been anything but! It’s been like racing around on a super charged Scalextric set. What a race it’s been, with 30 dozen mince pies baked, collected and delivered. A festive Rocking Dog Pop Up whizzed quickly in and out of the kennel, many thanks to all who came (an amazing £200 was raised for Young Carer’s). There have been presents to wrap, covert projects to complete, a shed load of shopping, and frankly little time to breathe. I want to slumber in a sparkly castle for 100 years!

There has been a phone lost and re-found, a friends brand new car reversed into, (oops and sorry) and lots of in-house mislaid items. Grrrr!

Ten “Christmas in a Box” boxes, together with 10 treat boxes (recycled from a summer wedding) have been shopped for, made up and delivered for Young Carer’s on Friday. Many many thanks to all those friends who contributed so generously this year to my “Christmas in a Box”. Your help and support has been truly appreciated by Andy and I.

Many apologies for any cards that weren’t written or delivered. Also apologies for squidged in visits to friends, and no shows at one or two parties. I really have been finding it difficult to get off that Scalextric track!

Vegetables have been prepped, Bailey’s has been drunk, a vaguely Christmassy table has been laid, and now it is time to say “Enough, enough now”, rest your head in that sparkly castle!

Wishing you all an incredibly Happy Christmas. Love Rocking Dog x

Presents Are Wrapped,Rocking Dog

Presents Are Wrapped

Rat a Tat Tat Tat!,Rocking Dog

Rat a Tat Tat Tat!

Hampers Delivered,Rocking Dog

Hampers Delivered

Surfaces Snow Dusted,Rocking Dog

Surfaces Snow Dusted

Stocking Hung,Rocking Dog

Stocking Hung

Off To Bed For 100 Year Slumber!,Rocking Dog

Off To Bed For 100 Year Slumber!

Do Not Disturb! Baking All Day.

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!,Rocking Dog

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!

Yes indeedy, Rocking Dog is cooking all day and possibly into the night baking loveliness for tomorrows Festive Pop Up at the kennel.

Billionaires shortbread (absolutely zilch for Mr blooming Trump), Sloe gin rocky road and chocolate brownie feature on my baking list as do some Lemon & poppy seed loaves. I’m not going to tell you all my baking secrets but there will be the somewhat legendary mince pies straight out of the oven tomorrow morning.

Lovely Rocking Dog preserves have been labelled and will make divine Christmas presents for foodie friends. Make up a breakfast bag with box of granola, croissants and a jar of the Dog’s marmalade. An assortment of cheeses can be embellished with a jar of Citrus Thyme Jelly, whilst Punjab Limes can be gifted with Indian spices and airline tickets for an exotic destination! Yum, Christmas sorted!

Well folks the kitchen awaits me. Vibrant cranberry juice is dripping through a jelly bag to be made into Cranberry & Claret jelly… and there is ALL that baking. Just hope some good humoured elves turn up!

11am -1pm tomorrow. Lovely Rocking Dog edible and non edible things to buy. Mulled drinks and Rocking Dog cake to gobble around the kitchen table, and beyond. Profits from refreshments for Young Carer’s “Christmas in A Box”. I need to buy ten turkeys urgently! You will be warmly welcomed and let’s get Christmas off to a sparkling un-grinchy start.

Much love from Rocking Dog x

PS I apologise in advance if I smell like a mince pie tomorrow!

Rocking Dog Frou'd!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Frou’d!

Labels For Limes,Rocking Dog

Labels For Limes

Jolly Jelly!,Rocking Dog

Jolly Jelly!

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies,Rocking Dog

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies

Our Friends Up North Cushions!,Rocking Dog

Our Friends Up North Cushions!

Don't Be Glum Chum!,Rocking Dog

Don’t Be Glum Chum!

Christmas Has Entered The Building!

Snow Time!,Rocking Dog

Snow Time!

The Kennel has had its festive magic wand waved over it. There is snow, there are carrots, doughnuts and gherkins. There are Putz houses, concertina paper trees that incidentally have seen much better days, a legless half century old fairy and baubles a plenty.

It seems such a short time ago that Christmas last tumbled down from the attic, and then I vaguely remember we did a second Christmas in February! No wonder my enthusiasm for ornamentation, embellishing and frou’ing is slightly lack lustre this Christmastime. I need a magic wand waved over me to get topped up on Christmas spirit ( and not of the yummy G & T variety that I quaffed whilst making my second batch of mince pies ). Maybe I need to just overdose on YOU KNOW WHO for a while!

There are few “new” decorations to report and just a rejigging of the “old”. There are hundreds and thousands sprinkled doughnuts and glittery glass gherkins suspended above the dining table and THOSE carrots have arrived back in the kitchen. There is my £5 Ikea plastic tree, unusually for me a themed affair with animals. Charity shop zoo and farm animals were put through the dishwasher before finding hiding places amongst the branches. There are animal baubles and felt Wire Fox Terriers. A tree for little Doug’. Meanwhile there is an old French bottle dryer which has been hung with a plethora of brightly coloured vintage baubles and a string of fairy lights. Voila indeed!

The real tree was bought from Frenchay Forestry (the small Hambrook out-post) who know I love a lame duck! I like to save a tree that was destined for a bonfire (a rogue branch, no show branch, a lack of symmetry etc..). This years is a beaut’, thank you to the lovely Mancunian father and son team who spend long cold nights for three weeks or so in a rather basic caravan. Hot mince Pies winging their way to you this morning to warm your cockles!

In between frou’ing I have been making preserves for my Pop Up on Sunday. I have also been making some rather strange cushions. Inspired by Andyman’s sporran I have made some tartan cushions with leather sporrans … strange but true! They are my “Our Friends From The North” range.

Cards posted tick, house decorated tick, presents bought & wrapped partial tick. As for the food that’s a completely different matter! How are your preparations going?

Festive greetings to one and all x

PS Message for Gina my mince pie count currently stands at 11 dozen and i’m not fed up just yet, though I do smell like a mince pie!

 

Bauble Boxes,Rocking Dog

Bauble Boxes

Bottle Drier Dec's,Rocking Dog

Bottle Drier Dec’s

Old Bulbs,Rocking Dog

Old Bulbs

Tree Frou,Rocking Dog

Tree Frou

Legless Fairy,Rocking Dog

Legless Fairy

Doug's Tree,Rocking Dog

Doug’s Tree

The Carrots Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Carrots Are Back!

Sewing &....,Rocking Dog

Sewing &….

...Mince Pie Making!,Rocking Dog

…Mince Pie Making!

By Popular Request Rocking Dog Is Opening The Oven Door

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake

Earlier this week I had such a beautifully written request for a Rocking Dog foodie fest. It came with a painterly robin and I was magically lured into saying yes to opening the Rocking Dog oven door. I am so easily persuaded! I am a creature of habit and have decided the kennel is the only place I feel happy selling my wares. So…. Rocking Dog will be doing a short but sweet “Pop Up” on Sunday 17th December from 11am -1pm (if people want to linger after this time that will be great, we’ll see how the party is going!)

Apart from a warm welcome you can expect freshly baked cakes, mince pies and other goodies to give as presents or to stash away. There’ll also be freshly made organic Seville Orange Marmalade (thank you to Abel & Cole for their 6kg box of citrusy sunshine). More will follow in a future post about my marmalade making.. all 44lbs of it! On a non edible theme pick up lovingly sewn items from Rocking Dog, including Christmas stockings and i’m hoping to bash out some fab’ cushions over the next few days.

Mulled drinks and refreshments await you in the Rocking Dog kitchen, bring friends, meet friends, make friends. Profits from refreshments are going to Young Carer’s “Christmas In A Box”. We are getting ready to make up boxes for identified families in particular need. Boxes will be filled with everything for Christmas breakfast, Turkey lunch and TV supper. A last financial push to really make these boxes special would be great. Of course if there is a poultryman (why yes…. I know plenty of those!) out there willing to donate ten turkeys ….that would be simply amazing!

Folk who have come to a Christmas event at the kennel before know just how much I love Christmas decorations and of course you can come and witness winter wonderland for yourself. It’s a pretty kitsch affair i’m afraid. I was going to go cold turkey this year and not go decoration silly, but I simply can’t do it… I’m just not ready to be a Grinch! Poor long suffering Andyman will be passing box after box through the attic hatch..in the next few days and then the frou’ing will begin!

We really hope you can come on Sunday 17th, we’d love to see you. Don’t be shy.

Rocking Dog wishes you a really happy weekend and be sure to stay cosy. x

PS. Unlike many bloggers Rocking Dog receives no payment for endorsing products, she just likes to give praise for a product or service where it is deserved. Amen.

Painterly Plea Mail,Rocking Dog

Painterly Plea Mail

There'll Be Pies!,Rocking Dog

There’ll Be Pies!

...Mulled Drinks,Rocking Dog

…Mulled Drinks

Organic Marmalade..,Rocking Dog

Organic Marmalade..

Cake To Buy,Rocking Dog

Cake To Buy

Rocking Dog Makes,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Makes

Come In From The Cold,Rocking Dog

Come In From The Cold

....To Winter Wonderland,Rocking Dog

….To Winter Wonderland

& Christmas Kitsch!,Rocking Dog

& Christmas Kitsch!