Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Food - Cooking it, Eating it, Loving it!

For those of you not interested in food this may be a good time to look away as that is pretty much all this post contains apart from my usual rambling witterings served as a side dish. I cannot imagine not being interested in food. I love eating it, cooking it, thinking about it and reading about it. My usual question to friends when at University was 'what are you having for tea?',  not what is this essay about or what is Melville trying to say in Moby Dick (!!!!) or shall we study Silent Film next term (which we did and it was brilliant). No, my thoughts slipped all too frequently off the agenda and evermore toward food. To be fair I did have four children to feed at the time, but this is really a trend I have followed since childhood when I seemed to be permanently in a state of near-faint through lack of sustenance.

Anyhoo, the above pic is a rather yellowy shot of some of the delicious strawberries grown this year by Isabella. She is only six and already highly interested in food and the growing of it...hurrah! From strawberries we move toward the glorious soft coral colours of this beautiful lobster which was part of the most amazing seafood feast I have ever been lucky enough to eat. Should you ever plan to visit Falmouth and have a real love of shellfish then please try to book yourself in to The Wheelhouse, though make sure you book well in advance as it is very hard to get a table.

I asked for the carcass of our meal to be popped in a bag so that I could make stock for the freezer. Just look at the beautiful colours and shapes of the lobsters combined with mussel and scallop shells; the spiky beauty of a spider crab lies underneath, the whole infused with the flavours of each dish we had consumed: garlic and chilli; Thai rich coconut milk, basil and lemongrass; white wine, ginger and coriander. Oh how I wish I could eat it all again, fingers sticky and fragrant juices dribbling down my chin to be mopped up with copious amounts of the kitchen roll so thoughtfully provided. Sighs deeply in blissful remembrance.

Six pints of shellfish stock stowed away but somehow it is more than mere food in a freezer. Each one I use will bring back memories of a perfect night and hopefully make some new memories out of whatever it becomes - a meal shared maybe with the children, maybe with friends, possibly just the two of us. Who knows, but that's the magic of food I think.

And so, on to luscious dark velvety Tayberries picked from the fence in the hen pen where, thankfully, the hens can't actually reach.

Please note I did remove the mouldy one before using! Isabella helped pick these and was most disgusted that I let that one slip by me.

I had some egg whites in the fridge, leftovers from a carbonara earlier in the week. Aha, meringues then! Soft and chewy on the inside, gently crisp on the out, arranged into a Pavlova and heaped in the middle with soft-whipped cream and topped with a pouring of the Tayberries which I blitzed with sugar. So much nicer than cooking them as they retained a freshness that can sometimes be lost in heat. It was delicious and there are little meringues stowed away for Eton Mess later on this week.

Weekend baking - the hens are laying again thank goodness, so baking is firmly back on the agenda to use them all up - included savoury muffins. These had cheese, finely chopped kale, parsley and majoram all from the garden, and red pepper. So scrumptious warm with butter that we have scoffed most of them even though they were intended to go in the freezer as a change from wraps for school lunches! Ah well, they are very quick to make and you can vary the fillings so I can easily make more later. 

Lucy's friend came for a sleepover so I made my version of Chinese Belly Pork with ginger, soy sauce, garlic and loads of other ingredients that I can't make myself sit here typing! It was very yummy.

And lastly I bring you lemon drizzle cake. I love all things lemony and even once had a duck called Lemony in honour of the yellow fruit. This cake used lemon zest in the cake itself and then had copious amounts of lemon juice mixed with sugar gently poured over it while still warm, the sauce soaking down, down into the soft depths to create a cake oozing with tangy goodness and zingy enough to make you squint your eyes in that particular way. You know what I mean. It was good.

And so there you have it: a post rich in flavours and all about my possibly most favourite topic in the whole world - food. Mind you, I can talk for hours about knitting, gardening, sewing, dressmaking, kids, ducks, hens....you get the gist?

Bye for now x

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Mixed Batch.

Yet more rain making photography rather challenging what with the low light levels and the general disorder in our house. Trying to find somewhere to snap a picture without clutter in the background is never easy in this little over-run home and we have been full to the brim with family and friends staying over lately. Much fun but very cramped times, though I have noticed how drawn to blogs with organisation as their topic I have been (thanks you Sue for making me desperate to clean out my enormous freezer!). 

So, to counteract this wonderful weather - hah - I have been gathering huge handfuls of herbs from outside the kitchen door: Sage, oregano, fragrant golden marjoram, piquant thyme and earthy parsley have all been chopped into most of my dishes for weeks now. It seems the rain has not diluted their flavour even if it has somewhat diluted my pleasure in harvesting them. This was a particularly hearty lamb hot-pot which chased off the chills and was served with creamy mashed potato and a heap of the gorgeous kale growing in my veg patch.

I have finally got around to adding a new drake to the duck pen to keep Pecan company although I have to say he is not the most robust looking specimen I have ever seen! Clarence the Khaki Campbell is much smaller than most of our ducks have been and is a bit scrawny to boot. His feet look far too large for his slender body, he has a very long thin neck (they have Indian Runner in their genes and it really shows with this chap) and when he lies down he looks as though he has given over this life! Yep, I really pick them don't I?  Poor soul. Ah well, at least Pecan is looking after him - yes, I know it should be the other way round but what's a girl to do when her man looks as though he's about to keel over?

The photos make him look a bit rangier than the reality!

Gratuitous image of hot sunny days on Mermaid, sailing the seas in floaty dresses to remind me that there is sometimes colour in the world and that one day it may return. Such a pretty girl that Lucy (biased? Me?)

More green, but this time it is the gooseberries which have been folded into cream and sugar with elderflower cordial - homemade of course - to make pillowy soft gooseberry & elderflower fool.

The redcurrants are late this year but are finally turning into scarlet globes. Surely the prettiest of fruits.

Summer the rabbit and Washington Elderberry the guinea pig are growing away and enjoying cuddles together in the rare sun

while Willow bowls up for a chat. The cutest animal sounds are definitely those of the guinea pigs chatting.

A little dressmaking has taken place with the waistcoat for Elias being followed by a skirt for Isabella and some pyjama bottoms which I have been unable to photograph as the little toad runs at the sight of me with a camera in my hand.

Soft lilac lupins are flourishing despite the rain and are in fact doing better than ever before

and my vegetable garden continues to feed us. I haven't had to buy greens for ages with the kale beginning to slow down only to be replace by huge red cabbages and leafy dark green types. Did you guess I forgot which varieties I am growing? No matter as they are all delicious.

The broad beans are almost over and will be replaced by leeks and other good things to see us through the winter. Look at the fennel growing away. I have never had any success with this fussy veg before and some of these are not bulking out as they should but will come in handy for aniseed  leaves to use with fish. The ones that are thickening up are most exciting to see....well, I think so anyway!

And finally another reminder of how pretty Cornwall looks in the sun. Please come back soon and warm these lovely shores. PLEASE!

Ah well, it's back to the knitting though more of that another day x

Monday, 2 July 2012

Short but Very Sweet!

We have some new additions to our family because we felt there were not enough adults/animals/children already. Allow me to introduce: Washington Elderberry - guinea pig number one, chosen & named by Dave who has a thing for guinea pigs...in a good way of course! 

Isabella finally has a rabbit. She has always loved bunnies and still takes her two favourite cuddly ones with her whenever she is able. She is the instigator of the Babbits I make, so named because her baby mouth couldn't get its tongue around the word 'rabbit' and now they will never be anything else to us. She has bestowed the very pretty name Summer onto her gorgeous new pet. We once had a hen called Summer too back in the dusty years of long ago. I rather like this name as it may be the only lovely summer we get.

Lucy is holding guinea pig number two: a sweet chap now named Willow. She is smitten to say the least and has many, many cuddles throughout the day. Actually, they are all handled a lot and are quite comfortable with people, particularly the little rabbit.

The children are good at caring for their pets and regularly are sent to feed our hens and ducks, though less frequently than i would like considering our torrential weather which sees me decked out in waterproofs and wellies on a regular basis. I would quite happily leave it to the kids at the moment. To be fair, Isabella is never put off by rain.

We have had lovely times watching these sweet things chomping on the clover and dandelion leaves scattered through the grass. I knew there was a reason I don't like perfect grass. It leaves me quite cold to see manicured lawns; it's as though no-one uses them instead of the scuffed patches that tell of endless picnics and games and general lazing around, or the longer parts that remind me of so many wildlife-hunting sessions with Isabella that inevitably lead to lengthy chats about being 'nature girls'. Never quite sure how to respond to that one.

So there we are:  chunky littleWashington Elderberry (we are not allowed to shorten it according to Davey)

Pretty Summer the Babbit

and dear little Willow

Welcome to our world, sweet things.

Bye for now x