30 November 2011

I just love the way a two-year-old's mind processes what they see. Here's an example. It really made me smile.

I was in town with Arthur the other day and workmen were digging up the pavement to carryout some sort of cable work. Arthur watched them taking it all in. After a minute or so he turned to me with a very serious face:

Arthur: 'Digging mummy, men digging'.

Me:' Yes, that right. The men are fixing the cables under the ground'.

Arthur (very matter-of-factly): ' No mummy. Potatoes. Men digging potatoes'.

Arthur's main experience of digging is watching David or I down the allotment digging up the rows of potatoes we grow every year. If I had known I could have just walked down the road, pulled up a paving slab or two and helped myself to fresh spuds, I wouldn't have bothered planting them.

Live and learn.

It's been a while ... but I've not gone anywhere

 Image: Tim Kent

It's been a while since I last published a blog post; the longest gap yet.  I guess it was going to happen sooner or later. I've been writing this blog for ten months now and had put up a least a couple of posts a week. So why no posts? I blame work. Being back in the office three mornings a week has had a surprising effect on the latter end of my week in as far as there isn't a spare minute in the day Wednesday to Friday; I'm constantly on the back foot. In addition to that I've lost my laptop during the working day to the business. We've got ourselves an intern and with no spare computer in the office for her to work from I've had to surrender the home one. I hate to say it, but I feel rather lost without it. By the time the laptop is home it's so far into the evening I neither have the energy of inclination to write. It's been a busy few weeks with many a missed opportunity blog wise. But such is life. I'm sure I'll pick up speed again soon.

A Morning That Turned Out Better Than Expected

7 November 2011

This weekend we popped down to our allotment. It was a cold and windy and my heart wasn't really in it. Enthusiasm can wane as the weather turns colder. But the kids ran around with boundless energy and we dug up the last of the potatoes and planted some onions sets, albeit a few weeks later than planned. 

The best thing about the plot at this time of year is that mother nature gives you a fighting chance; a head start in the race to get the plot 'ready' for spring. The pace slows and the weeds you clear don't grow back before you've reach the allotment gates. We make progress year on year, but our 250 square metre plot still has many neglected areas that we earnestly want claim for our idyllic plot.

It was our first November weekend on the plot and I expected nothing in return for my morning weeding and clearing. But to my amazement we came home with potatoes, beetroot, carrots, rainbow chard, yellow courgettes and some sage. That made, what started out as an unethusiastic venture, a morning well spent. Who'd have thought you could have such a love-hate relationship with a piece of land; this weekend it won me over.

Dainty Little Cakes

1 November 2011

Last week I made these little Honey and Pistachio cakes. My brother, sister-in-law and niece were coming to spend the day with us and I was running short on time to throw a quick lunch together. We were planning on eating out in the evening, so I needed to prepare a fairly light, but still delicious lunch that wouldn't spoil our evening meal.

I made a quick batch of vegi sausage rolls which I served warm with an onion chutney and a pear and watercress salad. However I can't not offer up a 'pudding' of sorts when people come for lunch or dinner, so these dainty cakes were the perfect sweet treat when served with a dollop of mascarpone. Should you wish to give them a go, here's the recipe ...

Honey and Pistachio Cakes

75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 medium free-range eggs
40g caster sugar
3 tbsp of clear honey, plus extra to serve
75g plain flour
40g pistachios, chopped, plus extra to serve
Finely grated zest of an orange
Mascarpone to serve

Preheat the oven to 190C / fan 170C / Gas 5. Grease a 12 hole cake tin. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and honey until thick. This will take 6 - 7 minutes. When lifted out, the beater should leave a trail that its on the surface for a few seconds.

In batches, sift the flour into the egg mixture and fold in gently. Carefully fold in the pistachios, orange zest and the cooled melted butter.

Fill the cake tin holes with the mixture and bake for 8 - 10 mins. Turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone, a sprinkle of the pistachios and some drizzled honey.