Tag Archives: Weather

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!

Celebrating 100 Years Of Women Being Able To Vote

Celebrate The Vote For Women,Rocking Dog

Celebrate The Vote For Women

Yesterday marked the day when exactly a century ago SOME women were given the right to vote. The Representation of People Act gave the right for women over the age of thirty who owned land to vote. Additionally if a woman was married to a man who owned property she too could vote. The Act also saw the voting age of men dropped from 30 to 21 years (19 years for service personnel). It would take another decade for the Equal Franchise Act (1928) to give women the same voting rights as men.

Last night on a slight whim I picked up my keys and rushed into central Bristol to join a Lantern Parade celebrating a century of the start of women being allowed to vote. Understanding a little of the struggle of the Suffragists (peaceful campaigners) and Suffragettes (more militant campaigners) I have always robustly encouraged my children to use their vote, especially for women it’s been so hard fought for.

It was good to stand by side people celebrating this landmark date but at the same time appreciating it was only the privileged few on 6th February 1918 who were actually eligible vote. Bristol had one of the highest levels of suffrage action outside London and so it seemed only natural for the city to commemorate the date somewhat flamboyantly. During the research of “my” Memorial soldiers I came across articles relating to an arson attack on a house more than likely firebombed by a suffragette.

In excess of 1,000 people took part in the lantern parade. Most lanterns were made of white paper bags and utilised a phone with attached selfie stick to illuminate them. So simple and yet so effective. Most lanterns carried thought provoking messages, personal favourites were Vote Wisely, Equality Street, Women Give Birth To All voters, Here For Nan. One or two lanterns were extreme and caused consternation. A lantern with the wording “Skin Men” was regarded by many as plain cruel and unnecessary.

We headed past landmark buildings which had been lit in Suffragette colours for the occasion. The Wills Memorial Building looked particularly spectacular. The parade ended on College Green with a choir of 100 voices. It was bitterly cold with sleet, snow and rain to contend with, but I am pleased that I took part in this event, I certainly won’t be around for the 150th celebration!

Light The Sky, Rocking Dog

Light The Sky

Suffragette Colours,Rocking Dog

Suffragette Colours

Plain Message,Rocking Dog

Plain Message

Paper Bag Gratitude,Rocking Dog

Paper Bag Gratitude

Dressed For The Occasion,Rocking Dog

Dressed For The Occasion

Absolutely, Rocking Dog

Absolutely

Rocking Dog Despises Dusting!

Life Really Is Too Short!,Rocking Dog

Life Really Is Too Short!

Despicable dusting! Rocking Dog thought it was time to have a little bit of a winter clean before Christmas tumbled down from the attic! Snow will blow onto surfaces, there will be bowls of vintage baubles, childhood treasures, garlands, mistletoe, holly, ivy, spruce and bling….hmmm! and I told everyone I was going to simplify everything this year!

I did clean, but didn’t get very far. It was too tempting to reacquaint myself with favourite precious things, re-appreciating glazes, patina, rust, script, and imperfection. I did draw the line at dusting the old postal shelves with their eclectic mix of found and given flotsam and jetsam. Life really is too short!

Logs were lugged to their hole in the inglenook, and the old castle was adorned with a string of sparkly lights. Material Mountain was given a little bit of a sort, and plans were made for Rocking Dog creations as linens and ginghams, velvets and silks were bundled and folded.

Bronze head man will change his Russian sailors hat for something a little more festive very soon and the window seat antlers will make way for a tree. All is calm and all is white, but in a few days festive mayhem will descend!

Stay cosy. Love bad tempered Rocking Dog and her duster x

Precious Things,Rocking Dog

Precious Things

Prickly Seat,Rocking Dog

Prickly Seat

Lugging The Logs,Rocking Dog

Lugging The Logs

Calm & White,Rocking Dog

Calm & White

Sparkly Castle,Rocking Dog

Sparkly Castle

Where's Your Christmas Hat?,Rocking Dog

Where’s Your Christmas Hat?

The Olives Are Picked & Rocking Dog Is Back At The Kennel!

Before They Became Oil,Rocking Dog

Before They Became Oil

Yes indeed the olives are now picked and made into divine olive oil.The nets have been put away for another year and the 1,300 mile journey back to the kennel from Umbria has been completed.The linen has been traded in for woolly jumpers and the wood-burner has been stoked. Brrrrrrrr!

It’s good to be back with fresh verve and inspiration and I look forward to seeing friends for walking, chatting and simply being with. Watch out for new Rocking Dog posts including my trip to fifteen French and Belgian cemeteries over 2 days for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me Project” It was the most incredible and poignant experience.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY– Rocking Dog will be selling Christmas Loveliness together with other wonderful crafty and artisanal foodie folk at the seriously fandabidosi (my Italian is really improving!) Court House Farm, Portishead on Sunday 26th November and Sunday 10th December 10-3.30.

It’s now time to shut myself away like a little elf in my workroom and create some creative and very festive magic!

Love to all, and hope you have a good week. A wine fasting Rocking Dog x

After The Rain, It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day,Rocking Dog

It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It rained heavily here on Monday. It was really wet rain, large long wet drops that saturated everything. With Real Live Rocking Dog and a guest dog, Darling Dougie (a Labrador/Scottie Dog cross) to walk, the weather had to be simply …well..weathered!

How lovely therefore to awake yesterday to a beautiful morning. The warmth and the moisture meant that there were fairy rings of various species of fungi in the field. There was even a circlet of red mushrooms, the stuff of illustrated children’s books. Alas, the mushrooms had been blemished and disfigured by hungry creatures unknown. The field is now devoid of colour save some clover and a sprinkling of moon daisies. Hedgerows of blackberries, haws, elderberries and sloes continue to flourish and ripen. Fat wood pigeons feed and somewhat noisily and ungracefully take to the skies after their fill of natures harvest.

Down by the Frome it was quiet. There were the first characteristic smells of the impending autumn. Leaves, beech masts, conkers and wet mud all formed part of the intricate riverside carpet. This carpet was positively autumnal, but the woodland canopy punctured by blue sky was still decidedly summery.

After dog walking an adored friend and I went to Kilver Court. It was lovely to talk, drink coffee, browse and simply enjoy each others company. As we walked to the car there was the most amazing patch of wild flowers. It was such a lovely splash of colour and so much more magical than uniformly planted beds filled with low maintenance shrubs.

Natures Carpet,Rocking Dog

Natures Carpet

Mushroom Harvest,Rocking Dog

Mushroom Harvest

Woodland Canopy,Rocking Dog

Woodland Canopy

Infant Pine Cones,Rocking Dog

Infant Pine Cones

Rosy Red Apples,Rocking Dog

Rosy Red Apples

Late Summer Colour,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Colour

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

6.30am Leopard Footing It Down To Bristol Fruit Market

And She's Off!,Rocking Dog

And She’s Off!

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

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

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

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

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

Love Rocking Dog x

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

It's A Mans' World!,Rocking Dog

It’s A Mans’ World!

Tomato Treasure!,Rocking Dog

Tomato Treasure!

Boot Booty!,Rocking Dog

Boot Booty!

Roasted,Rocking Dog

Roasted

Chargrilled,Rocking Dog

Chargrilled

Pan Toasted,Rocking Dog

Pan Toasted

More Meringues,Rocking Dog

More Meringues

Cunning Plan!,Rocking Dog

Cunning Plan!

A Momentary Breather,Rocking Dog

A Momentary Breather

Rocking Dog Is All Washed Up!

Plentiful Pretty Plates,Rocking Dog

Plentiful Pretty Plates

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

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

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

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

Kitsch Tableware,Rocking Dog

Kitsch Tableware

All Era's,Rocking Dog

All Era’s

Pretty Pourers,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pourers

Chocolate Roulade For The Rocking Dog Huddlers

A Taste Of Summer,Rocking Dog

A Taste Of Summer

A small but perfectly formed huddle gathered last night. We talked travel, home & abroad heat and stories of the young and of the old. Crochet was learned, calligraphy practiced, a needlepoint made to feel loved again and a wedding shopping list formulated. I also brought out my John Lewis sale buys for Christmas wrapping 2017 (I feel a Val Doonican knitted theme coming on!)

Most importantly we ate cake! This months confectionery was a tried and tested favourite, Chocolate and Raspberry Roulade. The recipe comes from a book called 100 Great Desserts by Mandy Wagstaff. I bought it in the 90’s from a cut price book shop, only later did I find that many but not all of the pages were written in German!

This is a great recipe for gluten free guests and a truly simple bake (promise!)

175g plain chocolate
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp brandy

Preheat oven 180 degrees (lower for fan oven). Line a 33x23cm swiss roll tin with baking paper.
Melt dark chocolate in microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water.
Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the brandy.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then stir in a tbsp chocolate mix to loosen it. Fold in the remaining chocolate.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and use a spatula to evenly spread the batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove from oven and cover with a slightly damp tea towel.

For the filling I used a small carton of double cream whisked together with a small tub of mascarpone and a little icing sugar.

Turn your Roulade out onto a surface prepared with a large sheet of baking paper. Remove the backing paper.
Spread your roulade liberally with good quality raspberry conserve. Spread cream mix evenly and sprinkle over fresh raspberries.
With the aid of the paper, roll the roulade as tightly and evenly as you can. At this point you can wrap it up in the greaseproof sheet rather like an old fashioned sweetie and chill. if you can’t wait to launch into the deliciousness move the roulade to a pretty plate and dredge with icing sugar and white chocolate shards. Voila!

(I used 1&1/2x the mixture to fill a larger swiss roll tin. Cherries and kirsch or cherry brandy would be a great alternative)

Thank you girls for the donations for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

The Whole Deal!,Rocking Dog

The Whole Deal!

June Frou,Rocking Dog

June Frou

Little Black Books,Rocking Dog

Little Black Books

Travel,Rocking Dog

Travel

The Heat,Rocking Dog

The Heat

Calligraphy,Rocking Dog

Calligraphy

Christmas Stash,Rocking Dog

Christmas Stash

The Old & The..,Rocking Dog

The Old & The..

Young,Rocking Dog

Young