Tag Archives: Rhubarb

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

Lazy Sunday Springtime Lunch At The Kennel

Rocking Dog's Springtime Sunday Roast, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog’s Springtime Sunday Roast

A sunny weekend gave Rocking Dog the inclination to do a springtime take on the traditional Sunday roast.

An English leg of lamb was marinated for an hour or two with a mixture of chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, freshly ground pepper, salt crystals and olive oil.
Meanwhile I prepared some beetroot cubes and baby new potatoes to roast, both were given a sprinkling of sea salt a drizzle of olive oil and the potatoes were sprinkled with some fresh sprigs of Rosemary.

A dressing was put together using finely chopped fresh mint, a little sugar, good quality red wine vinegar, salt and olive oil. Put to one side this would be used to drizzle the assembled ingredients.

A lamb joint weighing 2kg will need to be roasted for 1 1/2 hours at 180C (this is for rare meat). Allow time to let your meat stand for at least 15 minutes. Meat juices which have been driven into the centre of the meat during cooking will gradually redistribute throughout your meat if you allow it to rest. The result will be that the meat is more tender to eat.

I roasted my beetroot and potatoes for approximately 45 minutes and cooked some British asparagus spears ( each spear being divided into 3 pieces ) fleetingly.

To assemble my “roast” I laid a bed of raw baby spinach leaves and baby salad leaves in a large serving dish. I quickly added thickly carved slices of lamb, the beetroot, baby potatoes and asparagus. I drizzled on some of the dressing and took my roast to the table. Simple!

A variation of this dish could be to cook Sirloin or Topside of beef. A dressing of fresh horseradish and creme fraiche could anoint this springtime salad roast.

On Sunday I served a starter of arancini, something I had never made before. Basically risotto balls, mine included saffron, buffalo mozzarella and a hidden homemade pesto centre. I used bay leaves from the garden to embellish them. DIY bruschetta ingredients were also laid out, just in case the arancini were a disaster!

Pudding i’m afraid was an old faithful – roasted rhubarb, because we have a pleasing glut, and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Easy preparation, simple ingredients and lovely friends. Lazy Sunday springtime lunch Rocking Dog style!

Spring Has Arrived, Rocking Dog

Spring Has Arrived

Saffron Arancini, Rocking Dog

Saffron Arancini

Saffron Blooms, Umbria, Rocking Dog

Saffron Blooms, Umbria

DIY Bruschetta, Rocking Dog

DIY Bruschetta

British Lamb, Rocking Dog

British Lamb

British Asparagus, Rocking Dog

British Asparagus

Salad Components, Rocking Dog

Salad Components

Garden Crop, Rocking Dog

Garden Crop

Freshly Churned, Rocking Dog

Freshly Churned

Rocking Dog’s Little Bit Of This & That!

The Hambrook Rhubarb Triangle!, Rocking Dog

The Hambrook Rhubarb Triangle!

Rocking Dog has been doing a little bit of this and that…and going nowhere fast! I hate germy long haul flights, and have been laid low with some mild airborne affliction. Multi-tasking has been difficult and I have found myself ineffectively pootling from one project to another like an ant having been sprayed with DDT!

Sunday lunch was a case in point. I couldn’t really decide what to do for friends and family so we ended up with a Lebanese/ British mix up! Lamb Shawarma (whole leg of lamb with an amazing spice rub), chopped salad, roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad together with tahini dressing and bread came from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem”. The English elements were Delia’s roasties and some sausages. Pudding saw the first of the the Hambrook triangle’s rhubarb. I poached the tender pink strips together with a vanilla pod, water and golden caster sugar in a gentle oven. To accompany it I whizzed up a batch of praline ice cream – sorted! It sort of all worked and I was very proud of myself when I didn’t capitulate to Alex’s hint/request for homemade ice cream for 120 wedding guests! Go Girl!!!

Staying on the subject of weddings, the boys is now getting ever closer. So in between feeding people and nursing my aircraft lurgy I have tried to step right on up to Planet Wedding!

When the happy couple came over on Sunday, they bought with them a list (both mothers I gather had been angling for one!) This list was not dissimilar to one of those manuscripts that ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ unrolls, taking you through from present day folk to those walking about wearing furs and carrying clubs! I fear that the brides mums’ weekend of relaxation in a spa will be a very distant memory when the said list is unravelled this week! Maybe all those to do’s were best left on a smart phone after all Kylie!

So menu planning, sourcing, ordering (yelp!), making ten staff aprons, reviewing a colossal crockery order etc…all clutter my work bench together with all the components for THAT wedding coat ….. GET IT DONE! On a more positive note I have finally finished the Roman Blind which had been festering in my To Do Basket. My Beloved Bernina repair and a holiday interrupted its completion. Today will see me get the blind up, I suspect that it may be more than a little wonky!

I sincerely hope you are being productive and more focused than poor old Rocking Dog! Enjoy your day.

PS. Big thanks to my gorgeous sis’ for sorting out more space with SiteGround so that I can keep on blagging oops, blogging!

To The Oven You Go!, Rocking Dog

To The Oven You Go!

Chopped Salad, Rocking Dog

Chopped Salad

Cauli' & Hazelnut Salad, Rocking Dog

Cauli’ & Hazelnut Salad

Blooming Blind!, Rocking Dog

Blooming Blind!

Marital Menu Planning, Rocking Dog

Marital Menu Planning

GET IT DONE!, Rocking Dog

GET IT DONE!

The Rhubarb Glut. Homemade Ice Cream.

Delectable Dessert, Rocking Dog

Delectable Dessert

A little while before Christmas my beloved Kitchenaid Artisan mixer decided it had simply had enough! For a while at least I tried to soldier on without it….but whisking meringues by hand is no fun, Yorkshire Puddings definitely suffered and baking dwindled. An expensive Shopping trip ensued and of course there was the difficult debate of what colour to choose! Purchased 16 or so years before, my previous Kitchenaid came in two colours, white or black, and a much cheaper price tag! Somewhat boringly I chose a graphite matt finish machine but excitingly it came with the bonus of a free ice cream churning bowl.

I am not a new convert to making ice cream, in fact I have a dedicated ice cream making machine. It has given good service over the years churning out ice cream for various parties and weddings when I was running my catering company “Heaven’s Cake”. Favourite flavours have been Gooseberry and Clotted Cream, Brown Bread and Sour Cherry and Praline. I would often serve the ice creams in spectacular ice bowls which encased borage flowers, roses, herb sprigs, fruits and pansies.

My new Kitchenaid Ice Cream attachment is proving simple to use and produces wonderful smooth ice cream. Unfortunately the fit of the beater feels as if it’s a bit of a Friday afternoon bodge job….but i’ll forgive the annoying design details.

I personally love Skye Gyngell’s basic ice cream recipe. To that you can then add your own flavourings. The recipe can be found in Skye’s “A year in my kitchen”. This is a well used tome, with the pages almost automatically turning to Skye’s recipe for “Roast chicken and bread salad with sour cherries and roasted red onions”. It is utterly divine, and great to serve for an informal alfresco lunch or supper. You may be alarmed by the list of ingredients -but it is SO worth it!

As with most ice cream recipes a custard needs to be knocked up using egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar and a vanilla pod. This needs to be cooked very carefully otherwise the mixture separates and your ice cream won’t be so delectably smooth. If I see the custard getting a little bit hot and bothered I simply remove it from the heat, stir it, and return it to the heat when it has cooled a little. Poured into a plastic tub the custard then needs to be chilled thoroughly. Eventually the mixture can be poured into your just out of the freezer ice cream bowl, with the beater already going. After about 20 minutes the mixture will have really firmed up and you can add your chosen flavouring. A further few minutes churning and you’ll have soft clouds of ice cream. If you want a firmer ice cream the mixture can be boxed up and put in the freezer for a couple of hours. For the rhubarb ice cream pictured, Skye’s book gives the recipe for the rhubarb compote to add to her ice cream base. I reserved a little of the compote for drizzling.

To serve I made some simple coconut macaroons from Nigella’s “Domestic Goddess”. It proved an economical way of using up some of the egg whites leftover from the egg yolks needed for the ice cream. Gluten and dairy free, they are a good recipe to have in the repertoire. Approximately 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook they’re a doddle! Prior to baking I pimped my macaroons with some little flecks of 24 carat gold because I love a bit of bling to match the serving plate!

Feeling like summer already!

Skye And The Rhubarb, Rocking Dog

Skye And The Rhubarb

Magic Machine, Rocking Dog

Magic Machine

24 Carat Macaroons, Rocking Dog

24 Carat Macaroons

Yay! Rhubarb Season, Cocktail Time!

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!, Rocking Dog

Gin, Fizz And Rhubarb!

The wonderful early spring sunshine has made our rhubarb grow prolifically! I LOVE rhubarb. What could be more lovely than granola or muesli served with some greek yogurt and chilled home cooked rhubarb. Here in Hambrook I have about seven Rhubarb clumps and we are able to enjoy this vegetable from April through to the start of September. The plants are very hardy, and they thankfully need very little to keep them happy and heavily cropping. I have some deliciously aged terracotta rhubarb forcing pots which add to the charm of my rhubarb triangle.

My favourite ways of using rhubarb are in crumbles (delicious with the addition of some chopped stem ginger) and made into a fresh “jam” to serve with freshly baked buttermilk scones and clotted cream. Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Marinated Pork Fillet on Roasted Rhubarb is a family favourite and very quick to prepare. Meanwhile Mark Hix’s Little Buttermilk Puddings are divine served with roasted rhubarb. Similar to Italian panna cotta’s they are a wonderful inexpensive and easy dessert to serve guests.

To celebrate the start of rhubarb season why not toast a good crop with a cocktail! Make a rhubarb syrup using rhubarb (doh!), a little water, sugar and a vanilla pod. Cook in a saucepan until the fruit is soft. Press the fruit and its liquor through a fine sieve and chill. In a pitcher or cocktail shaker whizz up gin, rhubarb syrup and lemon juice. Pour into ice filled glasses and top up with some chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully and add a thin lemon slice to each glass to serve. To alter the flavour of the syrup fresh herbs can be added to the stewing rhubarb, rosemary or lemon thyme would work well. For an eccentric way of serving cocktails, pour your chosen tipple from a pretty vintage teapot. Wind up the gramophone, slump in an old fashioned deckchair and celebrate rhubarb and the cherished sun. Cheers!

Rife Rhubarb, Rocking Dog

Rife Rhubarb

Ready For The Pan, Rocking Dog

Ready For The Pan

Teapot Cocktails, Rocking Dog

Teapot Cocktails

I Am A Winter Person, Never Happier…..

Frosted Geranium, Rocking Dog

Frosted Geranium

“I am a winter person, never happier than on a clear frosty morning” Nigel Slater. I do indeed love the winter, the cold, the frost, but yesterday I felt sad. There was only one thing to get me out of my doldrums was to get my wellies on and move THAT wall! 6 hours and about twenty five wheel-barrows later, the wall is now a resplendent mountain of Pennant stone. So whilst Andyman has been skiing down his mountain i’ve literally been moving mine! I am now hoping that unlike four years ago the skier will come back in one piece. Selfishly, there are about ten trailer loads of rubble to take to the recycling centre.

I do believe that the past inhabitant Mr Dursley built the raised stone flower bed as a cunning method of secreting breeze blocks, concrete, bricks and other rubbly fodder. Having watched a programme about the stupendous Staffordshire Hoard only the night before, I was ever hopeful I may just find something wonderful whilst in the process of demolition. Alas my yield amounted to two pretty pieces of china, a jaw bone complete with teeth (a large dogs perhaps) and a little plaque (Past Times I rather think) with the words “Love is Enough”. Those words got me thinking a lot. Love is not enough, what about food, water, warmth, shelter, etc… etc… So that little saying kept my brain active for a little while and took my mind off the fact that my back was becoming increasingly crippled with the weight of some of those blooming boulders. It was only with the last barrow load that I remembered that one Christmas not so very long ago that I was recuperating from an emergency hernia op’……oops!

Another day should see me finish de-rubbling the ground in readiness for building the raised railway sleeper vegetable beds.
I have visions of some espalier fruit trees, soft fruits, and something that will look vaguely lovely to look at. I am no gardener but I do enjoy the thinking time. Andyman says he likes running for that purpose, but trust me the only thing i’m thinking about if i’m running is “I’m going to die!”

The rhubarb is on it’s way up, although I fear some of it got rather crushed with my bad wheelbarrow driving. We have about seven plants and we love it for use in both sweet and savoury dishes. We were really inspired to grow a sizeable crop after having been to Le Manoir for our 25th wedding anniversary lunch. The gardens there are truly wonderful and add to the whole fork to plate dining experience. Another good restaurant garden in the south west is The Walled Garden, Wrington.

So yes I felt a lot better after my 6 hours of stone moving. Gardening is definitely good for the soul but I wish I could say the same for my poor old back!

Rhubarb On The Rise, Rocking Dog

Rhubarb On The Rise

The Walled Garden, Rocking Dog

The Walled Garden

Fork To Plate, Rocking Dog

Fork To Plate