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Yes, I really am cooking breakfast for the dog today.  Silly Buddy has spent the latter part of the week chewing on a mobile phone charger and a piece of wooden beading that came loose in our kitchen.  All of Friday his tummy was making these loud squeaks and gurgles, so off to the vet we went.

He’s now got to spend five days on a diet of white rice and cottage cheese.  Hence, I am boiling rice up this morning for the dog.  Boil in the bag stylee – I love our pets sometimes.  At least they keep life interesting.


Our first breakfast at Cornish Tipi Holidays consisted of a Cornish cream tea.  I know, it sounds sinful, but really how different is it to eating bread with butter and jam?  Not too different in my mind.  Anyway, all that matters is that we were on holiday and it was delicious.  Gone too quickly for a photo though.

After breakfast we headed down to the lake in search of a canoe or boat.  Unfortunately all of them were out in the lake, but a lovely kid called Dillon handed Nick a rod and some bread and encouraged him to have a go at fishing.  Although neither of us are into fishing, it was quite fun to have a go.

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I have had a thumping headache all day, so feeling sorry for myself.  Thought I’d try and cheer myself up and share with you another of my favourite foodie website. 

Image: Design Sponge

Design Sponge may not immediately seem like a haven for fantastic recipes, but they do a great feature called ‘in the kitchen with…’ and as a result have a fab and varied selection of recipes. 

This recipe for Homemade crumpets with fruit curd from Rachel Khoo just sound divine – I have always wanted to try making homemade crumpets and seeing this recipe at Design Sponge has reminded me that I must make time to have a go.

A quick hello at the end of long day.  N and I have had a lovely week of cooking and eating – we’ve made fairy cakes with butter icing and raspberry jam…pink gooseberry and nettle fool…pasta with homemade fresh tomato sauce and basil dressing…and pea, mint and taleggio risotto. 

I’ve spent hours stood in my vegetable patch munching on so many peas that I couldn’t eat anymore….picked juicy strawberries that have never reached the kitchen…tidied the allotment and watched ladybird larvee turn into ladybirds…and been to a lovely garden party in Walton Lea’s walled garden.


My friend Maria is a great cook and a fabulous host.  She has two lovely guinea pigs called Rufus and Ruby – Rufus came from the same rescue shelter that Borage did.  This is her recipe for Marmalade Gingerbread that even those (like myself) who refuse to put marmalade on their toast will enjoy.

Usually I’m not one for taking photos of the different stages of cooking.  This is for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I don’t have a beautiful wooden worktop against which to frame my pictures – it’s some manky plastic fake-marble stuff that I really dislike and swore that I wouldn’t buy a house with it in…  Secondly I can’t be faffed with arranging stuff nicely in all the beautiful bowls and dishes that I have – I just want to get on with cooking.  And finally, I make quite a lot of mess when I’m cooking, so the effort involved to tidy it up for glamorous shots of beautiful ingredients is a bit beyond me, especially if it’s the end of a long day at work.

We made Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread on the weekend, so there was a little bit more time, but the photos are still highly unglamorous and set off nicely by the fake-marble laminate worktop.  So…

The ingredients you need to make Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread are: self-raising flour, butter, golden syrup, a jar of marmalade, an egg, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and a dash of milk.

the ingredients for maria's marmalade gingerbread

the ingredients for maria's marmalade gingerbread

In a pan you melt the butter, golden syrup and the marmalade.  It looks like this…

butter, golden syrup and marmalade melting

butter, golden syrup and marmalade melting

In a separate bowl sieve together the flour, ground ginger and ground cinnamon.  Something like this…

sieve flour, ground ginger and cinnamon

sieve flour, ground ginger and cinnamon

When the syrupy-buttery-marmalade mixture has cooled slightly, add a beaten egg and a glug of milk and mix it well.  Then you pour this into the flour mixture…

pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients

pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients

…and fold it in…

fold it in

fold it in

Finally you tip the mixture into a greased baking tin and bung it in the oven for half an hour or so.  It is transformed from this…

before baking

before baking

to this…



Ideas we had on how to eat it included a dollop of creme fraiche or a simple drizzled icing.  Maria’s recipe recommends that it is best eaten after 3 days – N was very unhappy at this prospect so we made biscuits to get him through.  The first taste will be tomorrow!  Having tasted Maria’s a month ago we are eagerly anticipating it.  Below you can find the full recipe which hopefully you will try and enjoy making.

Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread

Serves 8-10

75g butter
150g golden syrup
225g marmalade
225g self-raising flour
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 170°C.

Select your cake tin (Maria used a smaller tin than we did which produced a thicker gingerbread – we would do this next time). Grease it with a knob of butter and cut out a square of greaseproof paper to line the bottom.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, golden syrup and marmalade over a medium heat. Allow the mixture to cool a little.

In the meantime, sieve the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl.

When the butter and syrup mixture has cooled a little, add the beaten egg and milk. Mix well and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spoon to fold it in.

Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and put in the oven for 30-50 minutes (this all depends on how thick the gingerbread will be). You can test the gingerbread to see if it’s ready by seeing if a skewer comes out clean.

Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This cake stores really well and is best eaten after three days – if you can wait that long!

I’ve got lots I could write about from last weekend, and will try and cover as much as possible in the next couple of days. 

Friday night we made homemade fishfingers and chips.  We also turned over lots of our flower beds and dug out compost to add to our vegetable beds.

Saturday we made mushroom pate, Marmalade Gingerbread, and spicy prawns.  I went to B&Q in search of lights, and anti-weed membrane (how exciting!) and N spent most of the day unsuccessfully trying to remove stubborn wallpaper glue. 

And Sunday we made bunny shaped dunking biscuits for my colleagues little girl – they came round to see the rabbits.  We also had a lovely morning at the Hulme Community Garden Centre’s ‘Potato Day’ and came home with a basket of goodies for planting out.

Borage was a bad bunny – he was caught in a wooden trough, digging up bulbs and chomping on them. 

Borage pretending that he's a little angel...

Borage pretending that he's a little angel...

Linguine with homemade meatballs

Linguine with homemade meatballs

Last night for tea we made homemade meatballs with linguine and a tomato sauce.  When it comes to following recipes, I’m not very good at sticking to them unless requires precision – things like pastry I’m not yet confident at “adding a little bit of this ” and a “little bit of that.”  Instead I often use recipes as a guide, or more often than not just the title or photo of a recipe to make my own version. 

So last night I created my own spaghetti and meatballs after seeing a delicious photo in Jamie at Home (one of my all time favourite recipe books, and probably my most used).  Most of the time I don’t have all the ingredients a recipe calls for, and I’m not very good at planning ahead and going out to stock up on the right ingredients.  So instead I substitute with ingredients I have hanging around in my fridge or cupboards, or just work my way around them.

We made our meatballs from mince beef (from Little Heath Farm) rather than sausagemeat.  We mixed the raw meat with breadcrumbs (I blitzed up a few slices of a Sweet Poppy Seed loaf from Barbakan), some dried herbs that my mom had brought me back from France, and some salt and pepper.  N shaped them into small balls and we cooked them in a good glug of olive oil under brown and crispy. 

No spaghetti in the house, just angel hair or linguine – I opted for linguine I felt as the angel hair was too thin for a thick tomatoey sauce and meatballs.  The tomato sauce consisted of chopped garlic, parsley stalks finely chopped, a tin of cherry tomatoes, and a glug of balsamic vinegar – plus seasoning.  This was blitzed up, spooned over the cooked linguine, and the meatballs piled on top, finished with a handful of chopped parsley.  The recipe called for peas.  I wanted peas, planned on having peas, but forgot the peas.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.



blue squash :: at home ::

Following on from my last post, I have decided to dedicate this post to pumkins and squashes.  I have a strange love affair with pumpkins and squashes – I am drawn to them with their beautiful curves and gorgeous colours, but I almost prefer them as a work of art, rather than food to be eaten.

Part of the problem is that I don’t really know how to cook them in a way that I enjoy, and my partner N particularly dislikes their flavour, which means that I am even more unlikely to cook them.  I am seduced by them at the grocers, and then they end up as ornaments in our kitchen.  I was really quite upset when I hacked apart my pale slate blue “Blue Squash” and transformed it into a risotto.  I really enjoyed it but N ate it grudgingly, slightly happier with crispy pancetta disguising the flavour.  I think I truly preferred it as a ornament, an object of beauty to admire in my kitchen.

A few model shots of the squash that was (how I miss it!) and below is my squash risotto recipe – in my bid to make a squash risotto I liked (I am generally put off by the recipes that have large chunks of squash in them) I blended up my squash before adding it to the rice.  It made the most fantastic, golden orange risotto.

my curvy blue squash

my curvy blue squash


ornamental squash

ornamental squash

Squash Risotto

Serves 2

1/2 autumn squash or pumpkin
6oz risotto rice
1 small onion
500ml vegetable stock
Glug of dry white wine
Generous knob of butter
Olive oil
Dollop of creme fraiche
Pancetta (optional)


Heat your oven to around 200°C.  Cut up the sqaush into chunks, put into a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is soft.  Remove and cool.

In a large saucepan or deep frying pan heat the knob of butter and a drop of olive oil.  While the oil is heating, finely chop your onion.  When the butter starts to gently bubble, add the onion and a generous grinding of black pepper, and cook until soft.

Make sure your stock is warm.  Add the glug of white wine and a ladleful of stock – it should boil furiously for a couple of minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.  Now pour in the rice and stir continuously for a couple more minutes.

You want to make sure it’s a gentle heat and then simply start adding in a ladleful of stock at a time, stirring the risotto until the liquid is absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on until all the stock in used up.  This usually takes around 20 minutes.  If the heat is too high the liquid disappears too quickly and you’ll find you have to use more stock. 

Meanwhile, peel any skin from the roasted squash and blend to a puree.  When the risotto is nearly done, add the puree and stir well – it goes quite sticky.  If you want to fry off some pancetta until crispy, now is the time to do so, you could also drop in a couple of sage leaves as well.

Stir in a dollop of creme fraiche and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil – and crispy pancetta and sage if you wish.


*Note: This froze well and was quickly reheated in a pan.*

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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