You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.
This week I am taking a few days off from work and have left Mr Rigg and our menagerie of animals behind in Cheshire. I am visiting my family in the Cotswolds and trying not to get too hot in this almost unbearable humidity.
My mom’s garden is full of bee’s swarming over her lavender hedges, whilst everything else is looking a little thirsty. We’ve done a bit of shopping, sat for a while to chat and drink coffee and strawberry lemonade (delicious) in Made By Bob, took Alfie the family deerhound for a walk in search of a little owl that is nesting in an old tree (sadly we didn’t see it), and ate a scrummy courgette risotto.
Tonight we are planning a summer vegetable pasta dish, using vegetables from my mom’s allotment – the last of the broad beans, French beans and an assortment of courgettes. All mixed together with a health glug of good olive oil and lots of garlic.
We also rescued a rather forlorn butterfly from the village church, who was covered in cobwebs. We freed him from the dust and webs and set him on a bunch of purple wisteria flowers – he happily tucked into the nectar and I took a few snaps.
Will be back towards the end of the week no doubt with a full round up of making clotted cream ice cream, homemade scones, strawberry jam and other bits and pieces! But for now, I’m enjoying not being tied to the laptop.
I think it’s about time I started to share links to some of the lovely recipes and food blogs that I come across on my internet travels. I have two ‘favourites’ folders dedicated to food – one for food blogs, and another for particular recipes I like.
I have been on the hunt today for a recipe for strawberry jam, specifically (if it exists) for a Swedish recipe. I am after a Swedish strawberry jam recipe because I’m not particular fond of the strawberry jam that we have in this country.
However, when we were in Sweden we stayed at a strawberry farm and I fell in love with their jam. It was runnier, and just much more enjoyable in my opinion. I might even try the strawberry jam from the farm’s website, just played around with a bit.
Anyway…getting back to sharing links. I shall put something together on the blog I discovered today and the dish that inspired me to share it, and then try to do so regularly.
That’s what I’m asking myself this morning. And no, that’s not a typo, I really do have a kilo of clotted cream. Why, you ask? Well, last night the company I work for held a stakeholder meeting in a local community and as part of dinner we served them delicious mini chocolate cakes with strawberries and a dollop of clotted cream.
With open community meetings you never know how many people are going to turn up, even if you tell people they must RSVP. So we usually end up with some leftovers which are divided up amongst the team. I came home with two ice cream tubs full of fresh strawberries…and a kilo of clotted cream.
I’ve truly never seen so much clotted cream in one tub – it makes your heart stop just to look at it! Sadly it’s not the deep golden yellow coloured cream of my childhood holidays in Devon, with that gorgeous crust that forms (my favourite part). But none-the-less it’s clotted cream and I need to dream up how to use it.
Ice cream is my leading idea at the moment. Primarily because it means Mr Rigg and I don’t have to get through a kilo of clotted cream before it goes off! And also because I’d like a new challenge and haven’t made ice cream before.
Perhaps I might make raspberry and clotted cream ice cream – billed as a ‘sophisticated version of raspberry ripple’. Or maybe I’ll just make a simple clotted cream ice cream to go with lemon and saffron cake which evokes childhood memories of saffron buns eaten in Devon on my granny’s terrace.
I could even save a little clotted cream to eat as it is, with strawberries and rose petals in a dainty sandwich.
Image: herebejames on Flickr
I almost forgot – we have signed up to get milk from our local milkman. I know I’m way behind a lot of people in switching to support my local milkman, but the time has final come and we are really enjoying it.
The milk is even delivered early enough for Mr Rigg to have fresh milk on his cereal (he leaves the house for work at 6.30am!). Who could ask for more?
We are a full fat organic milk family, and I’ve been assured that the milk we get is sourced from within a 60 mile radius, which sounds good enough for me.
There’s something so satisfying about a glass bottle of milk and those silver metal tops that you gently push to release. I also like that it’s reducing the amount of plastic we have at home (although we can recycled plastic milk bottles). Happy days.
This is what my vegetable patch is looking like at the moment. All a bit overgrown and jungle-like.
Last week Mr Rigg and I cleared out some of the raised beds – a row of flowering radish, pea plants that had finished podding, some gangly borage plants growing from the pathways, and lettuce that was beginning to go to seed.
You can see in the back corner my raspberry bushes…from the photo they look like a huge sagging mess. Well they are, but they are laden with huge juicy raspberries so I’m not complaing too much – not even about their suckers that are coming up everywhere!
I also had to show off a couple of pictures of my ‘loganberry arch’. Mr Rigg’s parents have a gorgeous loganberry plant growing over a pergola – so I copied them, just on a smaller scale. Loganberries are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry and grow very vigorously.
Mine is growing up over the arch from our garden into the vegetable patch. I’m also growing a purple clematis up the otherside – you can see the first flower in the picture below – so exciting!
Every so often an email from the Chicken Out! Team pops into my inbox. Yesterday, I received an email telling me that ’2 out of 3 farm animals on the planet are factory farmed.’ How shocking is that?!
I didn’t realise that the world was in such a bad state when it came to factory farming. I guess I assumed that many countries still have strong rural farming practices, that don’t involve mass scale production.
Although on one hand it is terribly depressing to hear such a shocking statistic, I am thankful to campaigns such as Chicken Out! for keeping me well-informed.
Following the link to their website I discover that the likes of Waitrose, the Co-op and Sainsbury’s were all ‘Good Chicken Award’ winners – it’s nice to know that some of the ‘big boys’ have a commitment to changing the welfare of the much maligned chicken.
Here’s a great video to tell you more about what Compassion in World Farming are doing:
You can also find an incredible online photography exhibition depicting the lives of farm animals across the world (from a content sheep on a smallholding in India to battery calves in New York state): Focus on Farm Animals.
And if you’d like to sign up for the Chicken Out! e-newsletter you can find details here.
I remember drinking Robinson’s Barley Water squash as a child, so it is lovely to discover that this derives from an old-school drink. This recipe is care of Rose Prince’s New English Kitchen, although I used some of my leftover sugar syrup from my homemade lemonade rather than sugar to sweeten.
Homemade Orange Barley Water
225g approx. pearl barley
2.5 litres water
sugar to taste (or sugar syrup)
Wash the barley well before putting it in a saucepan and covering with the water.
Bring to the boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook for up to an hour or until the barley is tender. (Note – I think I let mine cook too long and ended up with less leftover liquid than I think I should have).
Strain the barley over a dish to catch the barley water. You can keep the cooked barley to use in another dish. Leave the liquid to cool.
While the barley water is cooling, zest 3 of the oranges and 1 lemon. Juice all of the fruit.
When the barley water is cool stir in the zest and juice. Add sugar or sugar syrup to taste – Rose Prince says it should not be too sweet.
Now I decided to strain the liquid to remove the zest – I let it sit a while first – as we didn’t fancy ‘bits’ in our barley water. It was also unclear from the recipe whether you should dilute the barley water, so we did to taste.
Rose Prince says it will keep for a day or two in the fridge – ours didn’t last out the day, it was too delicious and refreshing!
With my head full of thoughts of food for the week ahead, I thought I would start with a quick weekend round-up.
Friday saw more of Mr Rigg’s incredibly good homemade pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella, Serrano ham and rocket. An unbeatable favourite.
On Saturday we spent lunchtime collecting a HUGE tub of homegrown raspberries at the bottom of the garden. I am amazed by how many there were – and there are still lots more to come that are ripening.
Mr Rigg and I made some of our delicious homemade granola – I will definitely post more on this as it’s a staple in our house and best enjoyed on a base of plain yoghurt and fruit purée (even the purée was homemade this time!).
Last night we ate an omelette with eggs from Abbey Leys filled with grated yellow courgette, baby plum tomatoes and shredded roast ham.
Packed lunches for this week include bitter lettuce and pea soup - an excellent (if slightly grassy tasting) way to use up the garden lettuce that is beginning to go to flower. Toasted pitta bread with lashings of goat’s butter is needed in my opinion to help this soup go down…!
Tonight we made a Nigel Slater inspired grilled tomato pasta sauce with roasted tomatoes, garlic and a dash of cream. He is a genius.
We must also use up the gorgeous local gooseberries we bought to make gooseberry fool. They are blushed a claret red so should make a deep coloured fool.
And for the week ahead – maybe a chicken tagine with fennel and preserved lemon and homemade blackcurrant cordial. A plan is needed and some shopping doing.
We have been making refreshing summery drinks to keep us cool in the hot weather we’ve been having. This recipe is from one of my favourite recipe books, one that I imagine I will still be opening in twenty years from now – Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking.
The most complicated part of this recipe is making the sugar syrup – which involves boiling water and sugar together. Yes, that’s it.
Then all you do is mix water, lemon juice and sugar syrup to taste. The remainder of my sugar syrup is bottled up in the fridge – ready whenever we want to make more.
Makes 825ml (20 fl oz)
450g (1lb) caster sugar
600ml (1 pint) water
In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then turn off and leave to cool. Store in the fridge until needed. In a fridge it will keep for months.
Note: this makes quite a lot of sugar syrup, so we made half this amount – I still have leftovers in the fridge.
Homemade cloudy lemonade
Juice of 3 lemons (I use the best I can find – big fat ones from Italy are my choice, available at Unicorn)
225ml sugar syrup
700ml water (sparkling or still)
Mix all the ingredients in a large jug and add the ice cubes when you are ready to serve.