Monday, 26 October 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Bramley Lemon Curd

Apologies for not adding to this blog for ages; I have been doing a bit more apple cooking, but I'm now totally out of jars so can't manage any more preserving for now, and we are feeling rather puddinged-out, so no more appley puds...  for a little while anyway!  Both of Delia's Pork and Apple dishes (blogged about earlier this Autumn) have made a reappearance recently, and I have stewed pans full of apples, nothing added, simply to use as apple sauce with roast pork meals in the coming months.  These are frozen, awaiting a time when we can no longer simply pop outside to grab an apple or two from the tree.  I also keep a bowl of unsweetened stewed apple in the fridge which I am eating for breakfast with granola and Greek Yoghurt.

Having said that I have now run out of jars, I used my final few for a slightly unusual preserve that I have been dying to try ever since I saw it in one of my favourite books ,the wonderful 'Preserves'  by Pam Corbin (a River Cottage Handbook):  Bramley Lemon Curd.  You might think nothing could beat a traditional lemon curd, but I agree with Pam Corbin that this is actually even nicer - she describes it as 'like eating apples and custard: softly sweet, tangy and quite, quite delicious'.  Irresistable.

Bramley Lemon Curd

450g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons (you need 100ml juice)
125g unsalted butter
450g granulated sugar
4-5 large eggs (you need 200ml beaten egg)

Put the chopped apple into a  pan with 100ml water and the lemon zest.  Cook gently  until soft and fluffy, then either beat to a smooth puree with a wooden spoon or rub through a nylon sieve (I went with the beating option, and didn't worry that it wasn't perfectly smooth).

Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice and apple puree into a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (I like to live dangerously so just threw them all into a saucepan over a low heat and made sure to stir constantly!).

As soon as the butter is melted and the mixture is hot and glossy, pour in the eggs through a sieve (or don't bother with sieving them; I don't) and whisk with a balloon whisk.  If the fruit puree is too hot when the beaten eggs is added the egg will 'split'.   If you want to guard against this you can use a sugar thermometer - the mix should be no hotter than 55-60C when the egg is added.  If the curd does split, take the pan off the heat and whisk  vigorously until smooth.

Stir the mixture over a gentle heat, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes, until thick and creamy.  This will take 9-10 minutes (in my experience this is a conservative estimate, mine takes at least 15, so don't panic!); the temperature should reach 82-84C on a sugar thermometer.  Immediately pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.  Use within 4 weeks (again, a conservative figure, I think it's OK for a  bit longer than this, but your call); once opened, keep in the fridge.

The recipe says this makes  5 225g jars, but I used jars of a variety of sizes and got 3 jars of the size pictured below (a Bonne Maman jar) and 1 slightly smaller one.  2 have been given as gifts and the other 2 are mine, all mine!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Quantock Pudding

Yet another pud from this amazing book:

Photo courtesy of this blogger - who also adores this book!
This is another recipe that hails from the West Country, that great apple-producing area of the UK.  It's a batter pudding similar to the French Clafoutis, which is I believe usually made with cherries.  This Quantock or Somerset version actually uses blackberries, but the recipe states that any soft fruit is suitable, as well as apples, pears, rhubarb, apricots and goodberries.  So apples it was!

Quantock Pudding

50g butter
55g plain flour
4 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml whipping cream
150ml full cream milk
450g fruit (I used peeled, cored and chopped apple)
(Optional) 1 tsp cinnamon (if using apples)
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 200C/44F/gas 6.
Using half the butter liberally grease a shallow gratin, ovenproof baking dish with a 1.2l (2 pint) capacity.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, sugar, cinammon if using, and vanilla, then stir in the cream and milk. 
Place the fruit into the dish then pour over the batter.  Dot the remaining batter over the surface, then bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown (test by inserting a skewer and seeing if it comes out clean).

Leave for at least 20 minutes before serving warm and dusted with icing sugar.  Eat with cream.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Dappy

This comically-named pudding hails from the West Country and is a traditional Victorian recipe found in 'Good Old Fashioned Puddings' by Sara Paston-Williams.  It involves making a dough which you then roll into a square, cover with apple, sugar and spice, then roll up rather like a Swiss Roll.  It's then sliced thickly and the slices are laid in a baking dish.  A lemony syrup is poured over before the dish is put into the oven.  Reading the recipe, this sounded fun to try and delicious to eat, and I'm pleased to say that I was correct on both counts. 

Apple Dappy

- Lemon Syrup
1 large lemon
1 tbsp golden syrup
15g butter
115g sugar
200ml water

- Pudding
225g self-raising flour
1 level tbsp baking powder
55g butter, cut into small pieces
150ml milk
450g cooking apples
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

To make the lemon syrup, peel the lemon as thinly as possible and squeeze out the juice.  Place the lemon rind, juice and all the other syrup ingredients into a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Leave to stand until needed.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and run in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix to a dough with the milk, then roll out onto a floured surface to about 20cm square, approximately 5mm thick.

Peel, core and chop the apples, then spread over the pastry.  Sprinkle with the sugar and spice and roll up like a Swiss Roll.

Cut into 2.5 cm thick slices and arrange in a buttered 1.2l/2 pint ovenproof dish.

Remove the lemon rind from the syrup and pour over the pudding.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed up and golden.

Serve hot with cream, custard or ice-cream.

As you can see, the tips of the apple caught a little in the oven, but the rolls of dough did puff up and expand nicely.  The lemony syrup reduced slightly to give an amazing sweet stickiness around the edge of the pudding, as well as a tart sauce below the doughy rolls.  Absolutely lovely!

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte is a dish first found in recipe books from the beginning of the 19th century.  It consists of buttery bread which lines a basin or dish which is then filled with stewed fruit.  A bread 'lid' is popped on top and the whole thing is baked until the bread is golden and crispy.  The Charlotte is then turned out of the basin to be admired by all before tucking in.  

The idea of trying this dish really appealed to me as I love the combination of crispy bread with fruit (as in the Betty I made recently).  The recipe in my Good Old Fashioned Puddings book however was for Apple and Marmalade Charlotte which I didn't like the sound of, so I adapted it slightly and will give my own version below.

As you can see,when I turned the Charlotte out the bread casing gradually began to splay out, slightly spoiling the overall effect.  Luckily it certainly didn't spoil the overall taste, and I wasn't trying to impress any dinner-party guests!  I think next time however I would arrange the bread slices so they slightly overlapped in order to avoid this 'slump'.  But you can learn from my mistake.

Apple (and Blackberry) Charlotte

225g butter
115g caster sugar
4 or 5 slices of day-old white bread
600g cooking apples (or a mix of apples and blackberries)
1 tbsp water

Melt the butter and brush the inside of your chosen mould.  I used the basin in which I cook a medium-sized Christmas Pudding, but you can also use a round cake tin or a loaf tin.  Remove the crusts, then cutting and jigsawing your bread, gradually line the basin by dipping pieces of bread into the melted butter and then pressing the bread around the basin.  I used a round cutter to create a circle of bread for the bottom of the basin, then strips of bread for the sides (see note above about overlapping). 

Peel, core and slice the apples and gently stew in a pan with the sugar and water (and blackberries if using).  Fill the bread-lined basin with the fruit mixture and then place a whole crustless slice of bread dipped in the last of the butter on top of the apples.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220C/425F/gas 7 for 30-40 minutes until brown.

Slide a knife around inside the basin to loosen the Charlotte, then carefully turn out onto a plate.  Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream.

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Normandy Pork

Much as we love the classic Delia dish of Pork with Apples and Cider, it does require a) quite a lot of preparation by way of chopping ingredients, and  b) a fair amount of forward planning as it has to cook for 3 hours.  The previous recipe in the book  (Delia's Complete Cookery Course) is just as nice (possibly even nicer?), but much simpler and quicker to cook.  Once again, as you can see in the photo below it's no beauty in terms of looks, but it's rich and delicious, hearty and warming for an Autumnal evening.   We like it with rice a green veg, but it would also be lovely with some crusty bread to mop up the cidery juices.

Normandy Pork with Cream and Apples

4 medium sized pork chops or steaks
50g butter
1 medium cooking apple and 1 large Cox's apple (I just use 2 medium Bramleys)
1 large onion, cut into rings
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp dried thyme (I actually prefer to substitute a tsp of fennel seeds here)
1/2 pint dry cider (or a whole can  - we buy cans of cider just for cooking)
3 tbsp double cream
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

Melt half the butter in a frying pan and fry the pork on both sides to a nice crusty golden colour.  Then transfer them to a lidded casserole dish and sprinkle with the thyme (or fennel if using).

Add the remaining butter to the pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes to soften.  Meanwhile core the apples and slice them into rings (or chunks), leaving on the peel as this gives extra flavour.  Transfer the onion and garlic to the casserole with the pork, then fry the apple in the same fat just for a few seconds on each side then put them in the casserole too, sprinkling on the tsp of sugar.

Spoon off any fat still left in the pan (although if you use lean pork steaks you won't need to do this) then pour in the cider. Bring it up to simmering  point, stirring to loosen any tasty bits stuck to the pan, then pour into the casserole and season with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and place the casserole into the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until the meat is cooked (I often leave it for up to an hour, it doesn't hurt and makes the meat even more tender).  Then to finish off stir in the cream.  Serve immediately.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Betty

Another lovely pudding from my cookbook of the moment, 'Good Old Fashioned Puddings' by Sara Paston-Williams.  This is actually in the book as Rhubarb and Orange Betty, but as with most of these fruit puddings substitutions are easily made. 

A Betty is a 19th century pudding invented, I assume, to help people use up stale bread.  It consists of layers of fruit and crispy breadcrumbs, and has been a revelatory discovery for me - I just adore the crunchy breadcrumb topping, made rich and luxurious with the addition of a large amount of butter!

Melt 85g/3oz of butter in a heavy frying pan, then add 115g/4oz of white breadcrumbs.  In reality my bag of breadcrumbs, kept in the freezer, is made up of all manner of types of bread as I can't bear to throw anything away, so I can say with confidence that any breadcrumbs will be fine!  Fry until golden brown and crispy.  At this point you could also add some spices as flavourings.  I added nutmeg, plus a tablespoon of demerara sugar as I felt this would add a pleasing crunch.

As this pudding will have 45 minutes in the oven you don't really need to pre-stew the fruit.  The recipe says to use raw rhubarb when you start layering the pudding, so I just cut the apples (about 450g/1lb) into fairly thin slices (also peeled and cored), before mixing them with 85g of soft brown sugar (you may need more for tarter fruit).

Layer fruit in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, top with crispy breadcrumbs, then another layer of fruit.  Finish with more breadcrumbs, then cover with foil.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue cooking for a further 20 5-30 minutes until the top is brown and crisp and the fruit soft.

We served this with vanilla ice-cream. 

Definitely my favourite apple pudding so far this year!

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Delia Smith's Pork with Apples and Cider

I couldn't possibly begin to count the times we have made and eaten this dish, it's become such a standby that we barely even need the recipe to make it.  It's from an ancient and battered 1983 edition of Delia's Complete Cookery Course.  It's a great shove-it-in-the-oven-and-forget-about-it kind of meal that incorporates meat, some veg, sauce and potatoes, so only needs a simple veg accompaniment (we favour sweetheart cabbage) and dinnerl is complete.  It's not exactly much of a 'looker' as a dish (and quite frankly I only remembered to take a photograph for the blog as I was about to raise the first forkful to my mouth!) but what it lacks in attractiveness it certainly makes up for in flavour.

Pork with Apples and Cider
(serves 4)

4 lean pork chops or steaks  (Delia says pork belly or spare rib chops, we prefer steaks)
6 rashers of bacon, chopped (Delia says unsmoked streaky, we use whatever we have)
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced (we use 2 if we are mid-apple-glut)
2 medium onions, chopped small
1/4 pint/150ml dry cider (we use a whole can)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 juniper berries crushed with the back of a spoon (optional)
1.5lb/700g potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
Olive Oil
A little butter
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 140C/275F/gas 1.

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the pork on both sides, then transfer to a wide shallow casserole with a lid.  Next, in the same pan, brown the bacon then place on top of the pork and season. 

Now sprinkle over the garlic and juniper berries (if using), then the apple and onion.  Add the cider and cover with a layer of overlapping potatoes.  Finally put some dabs of butter onto the potatoes, cover the dish with foil or greaseproof paper, then with a close-fitting lid.

Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Towards the end of the cooking time preheat the grill to a high setting, then place the dish uncovered under the grill to brown the potatoes.  (We don't always bother with this step.  It leaves the potatoes a little anaemic, but doesn't affect the taste).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Cobbler

I have a lovely cookbook published by The National Trust entitled 'Good Old-Fashioned Puddings', by Sara Paston-Williams.  As you'd expect, it's full of wonderful-sounding puddings with intriguing names such as Hollygog Pudding, Whim-Wham, Flummery, Moonshine, Durham Fluffin' and Taffety Tart.  And as you'd also expect, there are many recipes that use fruit native to the UK, including of course lots of apple puds.  This recipe was in fact for a Damson Cobbler, but I simply substituted the same weight of apples, and used slightly less sugar with the fruit as damsons are very tart.  A cobbler is simply a fruit pudding with a scone-like topping, presumably named because the topping looks like cobblestones.

Fruit Cobbler

- Fruit Base
900g (2lb) damsons, apples, plums, rhubarb - take your pick
225g (9oz) caster sugar (this amount given for damsons, I used less for apples, simply add to taste)
150ml (1/4 pint) water (again, this is for damsons, I used less - maybe 50ml - for apples)

- Cobbler Topping
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
Pinch salt
25g (1oz) sugar
55g (2oz) butter
1 egg
1-2 tbsp milk
Graulated sugar for sprinkling

Wash fruit (peel/core apples) and cook slowly in a saucepan with the sugar and water until just tender.  At this point you could also add any other flavourings you like - I grated in some nutmeg as I love it with apples, but cinnamon or vanilla would also work.  Remove stones from damsons/plums if using.  Turn fruit into an overproof dish and leave to cool.

My able assistant chops the apples.

Mix flour, salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl, then rub in the butter.  Beat the egg then add to the mixture with enough milk to make a soft dough.  Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1cm thick.  Cut dough into rounds with a 5cm cutter and arrange on the top of the fruit.  Depending on the size of your dish you might simply make a ring of overlapping scones, or you may cover it completely.  Brush the scone topping with a little milk and bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 10 mins.  Then reduce the oven temperature to 190C.  Sprinkle the top generously with granulated sugar and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until well risen and golden brown.

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Chutney

I may not have blogged for a couple of weeks, but there has been plenty of apple-related cooking going on here.  After a barren year from our apple tree last year, I really needed to make another batch of chutney.  I used my failsafe simple recipe which I have made for many years now.  I've blogged it before, but here it is again:

Penelope Keith's Apple Chutney

4lb windfall apples, peeled, cored and roughly diced
1lb onions, chopped
1lb sultanas
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pint malt vinegar
1lb soft brown sugar
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Put all ingredients into a pan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 hours until dark brown.  (My note - from experience... Keep an eye on it for the last hour as it can stick and burn if left for too long at this point).  Pot whilst hot, in sterilised jars.

The major change that I made this year was to try making it in the slow cooker.  I figured this would stop the chutney sticking to the pan which can often happen if you take your eye off it in the final stages of cooking.  I was correct in that it didn't stick, but the slight problem was that the liquid failed to evaporate as the slow cooker has a lid. 

However, this was easily solved:  Once the chutney was dark brown (after several hours in the cooker), I simply took the lid off for another hour or so until it reduced slightly.  I can't give precise timings, slow-cooking just isn't like that, I just judged 'by eye' when it was ready.

I had an eager helper for the potting process, and am pleased that we now have 5 decent sized jars full of chutney to see us through the coming year.  It's best to leave it a few months before eating, but as we still have various jars of various vintages from various friends and family, that'll be fine!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Butter

If you are North American the concept of Apple Butter will be familiar to you.  If you are not, then it quite probably won't!  As I discovered when we lived in Canada, Apple Butter has absolutely nothing to do with butter.  It doesn't contain it, it doesn't resemble it in the least, so why.....?!  I just don't know.  Apple Butter is a kind of apple puree, but extra concentrated so very 'appley' and usually spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc.  It has a very Autumnal flavour to it because of these spices. 

It can be spread on toast, or used to top pancakes, waffles and the like, it's sometimes used in low-fat baking recipes, I like it dolloped on Greek yoghurt as a dessert, or perhaps on granola for breakfast.  I have been pondering using it mixed with mincemeat in mince pies this Christmas too.  So quite a versatile thing to have around.

It's also an amazing way to use up a glut of apples without ending up with more apple-based preserves that you could possibly eat as the apples cook down so much.  Apart from the tedious peeling, coring and chopping involved, it's incredibly easy especially if you use, as I do, a slow cooker to make it.

This is the recipe I use, adapted from the blog Frugal Foodie Mama:

Enough apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks, to fill your slow cooker.
250ml apple juice (I use one of the small cartons that my son loves)
200g soft brown sugar (mine is slightly tart, you could add a bit more if you prefer it sweeter)
Spices...  it's hard to be specific here, but in my last batch I used about 1 tsp cinnamon, about 1/4 of a nutmeg grated and about 1 tsp from a tin labelled 'mixed spice' which contains all manner of things but definitely cloves from what I can smell!

Put everything in the slow cooker.
Turn it on to 'high'.
Leave for as many hours as it takes to cook down to a dark brown sludgy mixture!  Mine took maybe 5 or 6 hours.
If it is still looking quite liquid you could leave the lid off the slow cooker to let some of it evaporate, but you are looking for a just-pourable puree.  Some recipes say to blend it until smooth but mine always cooks down to a smooth puree anyway, must be the Bramleys I use.
Taste (for sweetness) and then pot (while hot) in sterilised glass jars.

Not exactly a detailed or complex recipe, but these pictures may help.  You are basically looking for it to turn from this...

Into this...

It doesn't look particularly attractive, but it tastes great.  I'll definitely need to make another batch though as this is all I have to show for it...

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Flapjack Crumble

Another appley pudding this week, using a recipe that has (sort of) already appeared on this blog, although in a slightly different guise.  I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of fruit crumble as a pudding.  I don't dislike it of course (who could?!) but it's not something I'd necessarily choose.

This version of 'crumble' however would be top of my list of fruit-based puddings - Flapjack crumble!  I have made this many many times now using various fruit, but never I realised with just apples.  I was going to lunch with a friend and said I'd bring pudding so thought I'd give the apple version a try.

I gently stewed the chunks of apple with a tablespoon of sugar (use more or less according to taste/amount of apples) until just beginning to soften, then put them into a dish ready for their topping.  I couldn't tell you how many I used, just keep peeling and chopping until it looks right to you.

I then preheated the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Here's how you make the flapjack:

150g (5½oz) butter
175g (6oz) demerara sugar
100g (3½oz) porridge oats
125g (4½oz) self-raising flour
2 tbsp golden syrup
5 tbsp double cream

In a bowl, mix together the oats, sugar and flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Now add the golden syrup and cream and mix well. Tip onto the oat mixture and stir together. (Note:  I had no cream in the house so didn't add any, but you could pop a little milk in if you thought it needed more liquid).  Spoon on top of the fruit, level out in a thin even layer about 1cm (½in) thick – try not to make it any thicker, or it may not cook through. Put in the oven and bake for 40–45 minutes, or until set and golden brown.   The recipe says 'spoon' onto the fruit, but I find it easier to use my hands - take pieces of the mixture and flatten them between your palms, then place them onto the fruit.  You can 'jigsaw' them together to cover the apples pretty easily.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes before eating so the top can set a little (this also prevents you from burning your tongue). Cream or vanilla ice cream are the obvious partners in crime.

I only thought to take a photo when there was this tiny amount left, but you can see the knobbly flapjack topping, slightly chewy underneath but crunchy on top.  Delicious.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Mary Apple's Cake

I was browsing back through this blog earlier today, thinking that I needed some inspiration for a pudding this weekend, and I stumbled upon a post I'd written in 2008 which talked about our 'teeny tiny apple tree' next to the drive of Bramley Cottage.  It made me laugh because now, 7 years later, that tree is definitely not teeny tiny any more!  It's easily 10ft high - and probably 10ft wide too - and this year is absolutely laden with huge Bramley apples.  The apple crop seems to be superb on alternate years; last year I think we had the grand total of 3 apples on the tree, but thankfully I had made jars and jars of chutneys and apple jellies during the previous year's glut so it didn't particularly matter.  But this year it'll be back to the stove for multiple batches of apple-based preserves to see us through the next 2 years, and as many apple dishes as we can possibly eat!

So I thought I'd keep an online 'apple diary' of the dishes that we make, sweet and savoury, to refer back to in future years when I'm drowning under the weight of apples again.

First off is an appley pudding that I first made back in 2008.  The recipe is already on this blog but buried in a long post about lots of recipes, so I thought it deserved repeating.  The recipe credit must go to Patricia Wells, but it was posted long ago in the food-forum to which I belong by a wonderful cook who went by the screen-name of 'Mary Apple'.  I have no record of whether this should be made with eating or cooking apples, but I like it with Bramleys as they provide a sharp contrast to the sweet batter and the sweetness of the vanilla custard with which we serve it. 

Mary Apple's Cake

In a pie pan (I used a 20cm springform) peel and slice 4 apples; I tend to quarter the apples and then slice them across each quarter to give approximately inch-square pieces.  (It's hard to judge this amount when using Bramleys as they vary so much in size, but I used 3 large ones - with lots of bruised and buggy bits cut out!  You need the pan to be about 3/4 full with apple.  Yes, that's a LOT of apples!)

In a bowl mix 1/2 cup plain flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tbsp milk (or cream), 1 tsp vanilla, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 eggs.

Mix and pour over apples.  There won't be very much of this mixture, but stir it around in the sliced apples as much as you are able.

Bake at 350F/180C for about 20-25 min till light brown.  Some of the apple pieces may catch slightly if they are sticking up but this really doesn't matter. 

Take out and top with a thin paste made from 3 tbsp softened butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 egg.

Put back in the oven until browned - about 10-15 minutes.

This is really more of a dessert than a cake as its a large proportion of apples to a rather smaller amount of batter.   The batter is partially cakey but also slightly reminiscent of clafoutis, that eggy batter pudding well-loved in France.  The buttery topping adds a slight crispness around the edges of the cake and a rich decadent flavour, almost caramel-like. 

Buttery crispness, mmm!

 Served in a pool of custard.

Edited to add that this is also delicious servedwith half-fat crème fraîche. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Staying Wild

So what did we get out of our 30 Days Wild experience?  We are out doing something wild pretty much every day, but this project did make me think about introducing some new activities to our daily routine. We've been out collecting litter a couple of times since we did it in June, and now I often take my flower identification guide with me on walks so I'm gradually increasing my knowledge of wild flowers. I wish I'd thought of a few more arty things to do during June, but I'm planning more for the future - I'm thinking rubbings with crayons (leaves, bark, etc), and painting with found objects (leaves, sticks, grasses, etc). 

In the meantime we've been enjoying trips in the camper van and continuing to enjoy the beautiful wild area in which we live. 

Making tracks. 


Watching someone fly!

30 Days Wild - Day 30

As mentioned in the previous post, we are now the proud owners of a camper van!  We drove - rather later than planned - to a campsite near Lyme Regis for our first overnight in the van, so were able to hit the beach in good time the next morning.  

Landrover essential!

After a couple hours at Lyme Regis we decided to escape the sun and drive a little further along the coast. We stopped at West Bay, of Broadchurch fame. 

Then we drove a little more to a beach with a National Trust car park (we were struggling a little as we had the van and a car). 

We were rather hoping to find a fossil, but the cliffs were crumbly so we couldn't get close to them. It was a great beach though. 

30 Days Wild - Day 29

Today was an exciting one as we were able to collect our newly converted camper van. We drove down to Devon to do so...  Only to find that they'd omitted to fit something we'd requested, so we had a 4-hour wait while they did it. Thankfully we were able to drive to Teignmouth in the interim and enjoy a wild time on the beach. 

Footprints in the sand. 

Our collection of wild treasures from the beach. We made a 'T for Ted' from the razor clam shells!

30 Days Wild - Day 28

I can't believe I got so close to the end of blogging this wild month...  and then forgot to finish it!!!  However, I have trawled back through my photos and my memories to complete, finally, the record of our 30 Days Wild. 

Day 28: Our visiting family left today and Ted and I set out on our usual walk/bike ride around the village. Today's excitement was... Poo!  Lots of it. In the middle of the road. 

Ted: poo!!
Me: what do you think did that poo?
Ted: a dog!
Me: hmm, I think it might be too big for a dog poo...
Ted: it was a dog. 
Me: ok, let's have a closer look - what can you see in it?
Ted: (bending to examine it) hay!
Me: and what eats hay?
Ted: horses!

Bingo, horse poo identified!

(Note: a month later Ted still stops at piles of horse poo in the road and points out the hay within!) 

30 Days Wild - Day 27

It's the weekend of the Chalke Valley Histoey Festival so today was spent outside in the fresh air enjoying the festival set in the wonderful countryside in which we are so lucky to live. Here is a selection of photos: 

Saturday, 4 July 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 26

Much of today was spent preparing for our visitors arriving this evening (we decided to cook a fairly elaborate Thai meal) but we managed to take some time to pick and eat some wild strawberries for breakfast - delicious!

30 Days Wild - Day 25

Today was spent mainly in the garden. We were looking after a friend's little girl for most of the afternoon and particularly enjoyed bouncing on their trampoline - crazy hair compulsory! 

Their garden backs onto the river so we peered over the fence to watch the passing ducks and swans. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 24

Every time we set out on our little walk around the village I feel a slight sense of boredom hitting - the same walk, stopping in the same places, seeing the same things, etc.  But that feeling is thankfully always short-lived as in fact things are always different and always changing.  And it's lovely how the company of a 3-year-old helps you to notice this! 

So today, same walk, same places...  but lots of new things to notice and chat about:

Lots of fruit growing at the moment.  Many apple trees around (including in our garden), but also lovely to see these quince.

The difference between nettles and dead-nettles.  It was funny seeing T's amazement at being able to touch a dead-nettle without being stung!

A large tree in the village has been cut down so there was sawdust all over the road - a talking point in itself.  But this was a cobweb covered in sawdust which proved fascinating.

Another chat with the racehorses in the local farmyard.  T gets very excited when he sees them coming across the field to say hello... but then pretty terrified when they get up to the fence.  They are huge beasts, so must seem immense when you are less than a metre tall yourself.

Finally I taught him how to strip grasses of their seeds.  I can't be the only person who spent much of thier childhood doing this?!  I seem to recall a rhyme that went with it (something about a bunch of flowers and 'April showers' upon which you threw the seeds over your unsuspecting friend!).  He really enjoyed this and spent ages working his way along the footpath stripping every grass he could see!