Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is a mitre anyway?

My buddy Jeremy has given me a Mitre to restore. I've carefully unpicked it and found a date inside which you can just see in this picture, it says 1896. Boy, that's old.
It's a beautiful thing with pearls and garnets along the Victorian metalwork edge. I've found the perfect red fabric and have replaced these tattered and worn bits.
With shiny new lining tails.The embroidery on iy is exquisite and there are semi precious stones inside the circles on the front.
It has a cross on the top that has two stones missing so a friend, Sheila is going to replace them with moonstones for us.
Do you think you add extra years to your life by dealing with century old Bishop's sweat?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kitchen fun

Masterchef has nothing on us here in East Harling at the moment. We have been cooking fit to burst.It was our annual Blackcurrant blitz on the weekend. Somehow it's turned out that Ricardo makes all the jelly. Thank God for him because it takes HOURS. We picked all the black and red currants at Harriet's on Saturday afternoon (Kelly we missed you), rolling around underneath the currant bushes, trying not to sit on too many, hiding from the odd shower and dodging wasps. We got a mammoth haul of 8 and a half kilos of fruit. So.....we made, redcurrant jelly and black currant jelly and I made blackcurrant sorbet Mmmmmmm and now Ricardo is STILL in the kitchen making Creme de cassis that's been marinating in red wine for 2 days.
Here he is having a welcome respite for a glass of water, "Nothing sugary please as I'm covered in stickiness".
"Wow those sunflowers have grown while I've been slaving away in the kitchen".
Meanwhile we were having our friends Jeremy and Gudrun over for dinner on Sunday night so I hopped back into the kitchen to make slow cooked shoulder of lamb on a bed of fennel, onions and garlic a great recipe if you have 4 or 5 hours up your sleeve. Here's the beginnings of it. 2 whole heads of garlic in this recipe.
For dessert I made a raspberry clafouti to have with the blackcurrant sorbet YUM.
And now I've made a tester cake for a catering job I'm doing on Friday. It's the cake-o-the-month at our house at the moment, lime and pistachio courgette cake My friend Carryll (of morning bike riding fame) has lent me her cathedral shaped cake tin. Perect.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weeting country show

Yesterday we took our friend Harriet Sprigto the Weeting Steam Engine Rally and Country Show.
We were there early, the third car load of people through the gates as she and Richard were mighty keen to be the first ones to peruse the 2nd hand tool dealers. A blokes (or honorary bloke in Harriet's case) paradise is Weeting..... rusty metal, dull metal, shiny metal, any metal at all really...heaven.What is it about a steam engine polished until it gleams that brings a lump to your throat though?
These guys didn't even see me taking the photo. So incredibly focused on handling that massive piece of machinery.
Ricardo always tries to match an exhibit or two...
"Just going to get the milk Mum."
The weather wasn't great and there was a thunderstorm half way through the day but it made for a very other wordly atmosphere and it wasn't really cold if you stayed up close to the engines.The air was thick with smoke and the coal merchants were run off their feet keeping up the supply. These massive oak logs weren't there to be burned but to be part of the 'Look how strong my one is...' display.
Our fiend David Boggia has what's called a 'Living van' that he takes to shows like this one. Here he is looking mighty proud of it, with Harriet reading a book about tractors behind him.
Harriet did a lot of the woodwork inside the van and it's very cute and cosy with a wood burner and all.
I made David a mattress for his bed out of an old horse hair one that he wanted cut down. Boy cutting through horse hair is a tough job, I blew up an electric knife doing it and blunted my scissors really effectively too. If you look closely in the following photo you can see the tea cosy that David's sister made for him that's a little replica of the van.
A truly wonderful day out.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Warm weather and Imam bayildi

For the last few days it's been amazingly warm around these parts. My bike rides in the morning have been magical. The animal and insect world all come alive at this time of year and I usually see something interesting most mornings. Yesterday morning there were three big deer dancing across the road through the mist. Usually there is a hare that runs beside me near the happy-hens-farm and my friends the skylarks who sing non stop every day in West Harling, one on either side of the road make me wonder when do they ever eat? This morning there was a snake squashed on the road with its pink ribbon of guts stretching a good meter across the road.
It's been warm enough to eat outside for the last three nights and we lapse into silence as we watch the swallows swooping and screeing as they practice their acrobatics high above us in the warm air. Last night I had some time to cook as bell ringing had been canceled and decided I would lash out time wise and make one of my favourite meals...Imam Bayildi. It's one of those recipes that seems to be more than just the sum of it's parts. It translates as 'The priest fainted or swooned' no wonder.Here's the recipe from the Waitrose sight and a real beauty. Worth all the effort. Great with falafels and Humus b'tahini.

Imam Bayildi

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
100g natural yogurt
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp harissa paste (optional)
1 tbsp currants, soaked in 3 tbsp boiling water for 30 minutes
1 pinch cumin
½ tsp ground allspice
8 tomatoes, 6 peeled and chopped, 2 sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 tbsp olive oil
2 large bulbous aubergines (about 350g each)


  1. Slice off 1cm of the bulbous end of each aubergine and 6–8cm of the stalk end. Cut the middle into 4 fattish slices. Slash the flesh of the aubergine slices in a criss-cross pattern, salt liberally and press into the flesh. Drain on a rack for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the onions. When they are soft, add the garlic, tomatoes, spices and currants (including the water), and harissa, if using. Let the mixture stew, stirring regularly, for 40 minutes, until thick. Leave to cool.
  3. Rinse the aubergine slices, squeeze out excess water and pat dry. Peel all the end bits (removing the stalk), then quarter the 2 larger pieces length ways. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan, add the aubergine slices and tuck in the peeled bits. Colour lightly, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or so, turning over once or twice, till soft.
  4. Chop the peeled bits and add to the stew with ¾ of the parsley. Press down the flesh of the slices with a spoon and fill with the tomato mixture until domed. Put in a baking dish, put a slice of tomato on each, spoon over the remaining olive oil and season.
  5. Pour a few tbsp of water into the dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered. Scatter the rest of the parsley over the top and serve with a bowl of yogurt with mint and cayenne pepper stirred in (not authentic, but delicious).

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Zebedoodle's bike

What more could a small boy need than a new bike
It's a bit scary hopping on at first but sticking out your tongue helps.
Now I just need a push...any takers....Joey....Mumma?
That's better, faster, now faster.
Now all I need is a helmet and some reflective strips (I've got no idea what they're for but Joey wears them and she really looks the part.)
Who would EVER have thought from this boys first tiny foray into the world that he would be grinning at us and bossing us round like a proper little boy. Thank God for Zebedee.