Tag Archives: Granola

Money Through The Letterbox Please!

Wheelbarrow Fruits, Rocking Dog

Wheelbarrow Fruits

Last week I took a friend for tea in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Lacock. This picturesque little place is well renowned for being the perfect place to film a good drama. Therefore the film crews of Cranford, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Downton Abbey, and Harry Potter have all rolled into town at one point or other.

Lacock was mentioned in the Domesday Book and its famous Abbey was established in 1232. In the Middle Ages it had a thriving wooden industry. The dissolution of the monasteries in Henry VIII’s reign had a serious effect on the village. In 1944 the Abbey and the village almost in its entirety were bequeathed to the National Trust.

Unlike many English villages struggling to keep its village pub, shop, post office or bus service Lacock is thriving. Many tourists flock to the village because of its film connections. There is a village shop, a pottery, a jeweller, pubs, tea rooms, bakery and NT shop amongst other commercial interests.

Even more quaint is the entrepreneurial spirit of the villagers. Plants, books, meringues, courgettes, summer fruits, lavender were all to be bought from flagstoned doorsteps. There were bags kindly supplied for customers booty and instructions for payment.

I loved the wheelbarrow with its punnet’s of freshly picked soft fruits. Most mornings I enjoy seasonal fruit to eat with granola or bircher muesli. Berries chosen, it was time to push coins through a very snappy little letterbox. I could get used to this sort of shopping!

Is this wheelbarrow selling a very British phenomenon I wonder.

There was time for tea in the very beautiful garden at King John’s Hunting Lodge and then a further stroll. The last pitstop was at Sue Stokes Decorative Antiques in West Street. Sue has a truly beautiful little shop with such unusual stock, a tiny leather child’s glove, silver milagro’s, religious figurines, even a straw bra! I will be back.

Lacock is delightful and of course there is always Corsham, a short drive away. There has been much excitement in the town because scenes for the recent Poldark series have been filmed there…..not Cornwall at all!

Wheelbarrow Stall, Rocking Dog

Wheelbarrow Stall

Courgette Glut, Rocking Dog

Courgette Glut

Lacock Letterbox, Rocking Dog

Lacock Letterbox

Plant Sale, Rocking Dog

Plant Sale

Money Plant, Rocking Dog

Money Plant

Any Flowers For Sale?, Rocking Dog

Any Flowers For Sale?

Scented Sell, Rocking Dog

Scented Sell

For Bookworms, Rocking Dog

For Bookworms

Time For Tea, Rocking Dog

Time For Tea

Rocking Dog’s Lots Of This & That!

Morning Pick Me Up Bags, Rocking Dog

Morning Pick Me Up Bags

Life has been busy with lots of this and that for Rocking Dog. With less than three weeks to go now before The Boy’s Big Day the sewing machine has been whirring away frantically. Soon Beloved Bernina will lie silent when needle and thread is swapped for the heat of the kitchen. Please tell me why I agreed to cook for 120 guests at my own sons wedding! Not one of my better job offers, and i’m not even on the minimum wage! I have been busy telling friends with adult children to encourage their offspring to simply elope!

One of yesterdays projects was to sew some covers for plump feather cushions. Thankfully not 120, just a generous pile for little ones. I made the covers out of Ikea tea towels and added a Petersham ribbon bow. Less than £1.40 to make they’ll hopefully be used as cushions for outside chairs when the wedding is all but a memory. Other wedding projects have included picking out pretty logs from the wood pile… don’t ask!

It was also time to make the first and largest tier of the wedding cake. The house is thus smelling very Christmassy…no Michael you really can’t come out yet! Nigella’s Easy Action Christmas Cake was chosen, lots of fruit, chestnut puree, spices and huge lugs of dark rum. It was stirred well and lots of wishes made before being poured into a lined tin and encased in brown paper. As my Mum taught me, it was also sat in the oven on a wad of newspaper. How I love the smell of cake and baked news print. Also in the kitchen I finally pickled that 2kg bag of shallots whilst watching a documentary on escapes from Alcatraz. Bathed in balsamic vinegar and a myriad of whole spices the onions will accompany cheese. They won’t be for the faint hearted or any guest looking for lurve!

My life is a series of lists and at times it has been good to escape into the garden. It is an absolute picture of flowering weeds. I keep telling the garden I will give it some attention in less than a month, until then i’ll enjoy its natural wildness. Real Live Rocking Dog loves the garden, but boy is he tired after a trip to London at the weekend. Tubes, trains, dodging crowds he’s pleased to get back to the boring old Rocking Dog kennel and the flowering weeds.

In between all of this and that there have been gifts to make and deliver, and lovely friends to love and support. They really are in my thoughts so very much of the time.

Granola To Bake, Rocking Dog

Granola To Bake

It's In The Bag!, Rocking Dog

It’s In The Bag!

Friendship, Rocking Dog

Friendship

Cake To Bake, Rocking Dog

Cake To Bake

Wishes Stirred In !, Rocking Dog

Wishes Stirred In !

Tea Towel Cushions, Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Cushions

Wonderful Weeds!, Rocking Dog

Wonderful Weeds!

Pretty Logs, Rocking Dog

Pretty Logs

Dog Tired!, Rocking Dog

Dog Tired!

Yippee! It’s Fantastical Fig Season!

Baubled, Rocking Dog

Baubled

Yippee! It’s Fantastical Fig Season and I couldn’t be happier! Used in both savoury and sweet dishes they are a welcome fleeting autumnal delicacy. Perhaps because they are so transient they have an aura of being special and decadent.

Originating from the Middle East, figs were first cultivated in Egypt. The fruit has much religious symbolism and many scholars believe that the forbidden fruit picked by Eve was a fig rather than an apple.

Meanwhile, in Roman tradition Romulus and Remus who founded Rome were said to have been suckled by a wolf in the shade of a fig tree.

Figs were used as a training food by early Olympic Athletes and figs were also presented to the winners. These were in essence the first Olympic medals. Mmmm, I wonder whether the para -athletes who are about to start competing at the World Championships in Doha would prefer a fig to a metal medal! Good luck to you all, and Alex I hope you are slapping on the factor 50!

What could be easier to prepare than fig segments lightly draped with cloaks of Parma Ham, and served with Ciabatta and a dish of olive oil. Incidentally a drop or two of good balsamic or pomegranate molasses could perk up even the most basic olive oil.

Cheese and figs are also a wonderful combination. Young Pecorino,figs, a drizzle of honey and scattering of walnuts would be a perfect starter or light lunch dish to delight guests. My cheese plate includes a yummy creamy blue number, Montagnolo Affine. Despite its very Italian name it in fact is made in Bavaria. It won the Supreme Champion award at the 2013 International Cheese Awards beating 3,900 other cheeses!

Figs could prove a great start to the day sliced over a bowl of granola or muesli. Add some Greek Yoghurt (I however love Lidl’s Turkish Style Yoghurt )and a little drizzle of maple syrup or honey and the day will start deliciously.

Sweet offerings include roasted figs. I made mine by melting a little butter together with 2 tbsp apple juice, honey to sweeten and a cinnamon stick. Cut any stalk off your figs, leaving them whole, cut a cross into each of the fruit. Place in an ovenproof dish and pour over the syrup. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Roast at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, spoon over the hot juices, cover with foil and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, yoghurt or very naughtily clotted cream!

One of my favourite ways of eating my most favourite of fruits is on an authentic Italian pizza. No tomato sauce, just figs, goats cheese or Mozzarella, perhaps Parma Ham, a scattering of fresh Basil and drizzle of olive oil. And that is absolutely why i’ll never been a size 8 (or 12 for that matter!!)

Knowing their mad mothers love of this fruit, my girls recently bought me some glass fig baubles in the Christmas department at Harrods. Yep- definitely the sort of decorations that never find their way into the Christmas boxes destined for the attic! Thank you girls I truly and absolutely love them.

Bavarian Cheesed !, Rocking Dog

Bavarian Cheesed !

Roasted, Rocking Dog

Roasted

Parma Ham'd, Rocking Dog

Parma Ham’d

Granola'd, Rocking Dog

Granola’d

Book'd, Rocking Dog

Book’d

Next Years Lusciousness!, Rocking Dog

Next Years Lusciousness!

Romulus And Remus, Rocking Dog

Romulus And Remus

Apricot Compote For Dusk & Dawn

Feasting At Dawn, Rocking Dog

Feasting At Dawn

With summer in full swing it is lovely to find blushed ripe apricots in season. Apricots, however are a fruit that benefit nearly always from gentle cooking.

With two large punnets full of these soft velvety beauties, I halved each fruit removing their stone. Placed in a large pan I added a little water, a split vanilla pod and some golden caster sugar. Slowly brought to the boil, I stirred, and then covered the pan with a close fitting lid, reducing the heat to a simmer. I cooked the apricots until they were tender (approximately 10 minutes) and left the compote to cool. Later I poured the fruit and its thick juice into a large jar (or use a lidded box). Refrigerate.

The fruit will form the basis of our breakfast for the next week. We will savour the gorgeous taste of the fleeting summer, adding granola, some Greek yoghurt and a trek into the garden!

Alternatively, the compote can be used as the basis for some delicious summery desserts. For a simple light pie, put a generous layer of compote into a shallow dish before topping with a packets worth of crumpled up filo pastry. Brush lavishly with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake in a hot oven until golden brown. A contemporary trifle can be concocted with amaretti biscuits, Amaretto, homemade custard, mascarpone cream… and of course the apricots! Even simpler, lightly toast brioche and top with the compote and good quality ice-cream. Crumbles, pancake filling, waffle topping- the possibilities are endless!

For a W.I. take, bake a batch of light and fluffy scones (gorgeous with the addition of some chopped stem ginger and ginger spice). Serve warm with the compote and lashings of clotted cream.

Thanks to the lovely Matt Waite for his gorgeous cups, bowls etc.. Wonderously, the talented potter bears a passing resemblance to a young Sean Bean!

.....And Dusk!, Rocking Dog

…..And Dusk!

Summer In A Jar, Rocking Dog

Summer In A Jar

Alfresco Breakfast, Rocking Dog

Alfresco Breakfast