Tuesday, 20 October 2009


This is how I'm feeling today, burned out, fed up etc. No, it's not quite the end of the road for me, but today we have the builder in and although I want the work done, and he's a lovely bloke and all that, he is working just outside my kitchen door, it's noisy and messy the outside door is wide open so it's quite chilly as well.

I've brought my coffee to my little office to escape for a while but I know it's only a temporary respite. I can't even go out because I waiting for a delivery from Dell, (my first order with the company) another fed-up making episode. One month ago I thought it might be a good idea to treat myself to a lap-top and it looked as though I had got myself a good deal. It arrived a week later, but with a most peculiar electrical plug, certainly not one I'd ever seen before. So I got in touch. Three weeks to the day of the lap-top being delivered, and four communications later I am waiting for my UK compatible mains lead. Am I holding my breath, not I am not. Will I deal with them again, no 'fraid not. I feel a bit better now I've shared that! It's still a good photo though, surprising what you find in the woods.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Eat Dorset - Food Fair

Yesterday Chris and I went to the Eat Dorset Food Fair at Parnham House, Beaminster. A lovely bright and sunny day, with quite a frost early on, we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent there. Quite a small affair compared with other events we've been to this year it was so friendly and with a wide spectrum of food producers.
We arrived a little too late to hear Lesley Waters in the demonstration kitchen, and Tamasin Day-Lewis was half an hour late starting her demo so we missed the end of that. Today there were more well known speakers but the Brazilian Grand Prix is on at 5 and my husband is a keen follower so we are staying closer to home!!

We bought some Hungarian Hot Wax chilli pepper seeds from a lovely lady from Sea Spring Seeds who was quite happy to talk about the failure of our butternut squash crop this year, as well as various items to be consumed more immediately.

From Bunnies Love we bought a jar of Carrot, Almond and Chilli Chutney, tasted delicious and it was something I had not seen before, but have now discovered it is call Angel's Hair Chutney!

From Townhill Bakery we got a sourdough loaf and the most amazing Eccles cakes.

Like everyone else Bridport Gourmet Pies was giving away generous samples of their produce. We bought a pork, cranberry and brie pie.

Every county in the west of England seems to have their own version of Apple Cake.

We succumbed to more fantastic cheese, this time from North Wootton Dairy.

I almost forgot the kippers and smoked trout pate we bought, I had the pate on sourdough toast for breakfast this morning, and a hessian bag containing 7 varieties of Fudges Crackers and Biscuits. I didn't know they did sweet biscuits as well, I love their Walnut Crackers.

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Traditions have to begin somewhere, and Apple Day (introduced by Common Ground) came into being on October 21st 1990. Now I see that many National Trust properties have their own Apple Day, as do Allotment Associations up and down the land. For information about Apple Days and the excellent Apple Source Book go to http://www.commonground.org.uk/

Imogen has given me the beautiful apples in the photo, from the tree in her garden. I am truly grateful for them, and today have used three of them in my beetroot chutney! Recipe here.

Here is a Somerset wassail rhyme, (although I know that wassailing does not take place until the New Year) found in the Apple Source Book.

Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hoping thou wilt bear,
For the Lord doth know where we shall be, till apples come another year,
To bear well and bloom well so merry let us be,
Let every man take off his hat and shout to the old apple tree.

Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hoping thou wilt bear,
Hat-fulls, cap-fulls, three-bushel-bagfuls,
And a little heap under the stairs.
Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Abergavenny Food Festival

The Food Festival at Abergavenny was over quite a large area of the town, which until about 1 pm gave a feeling of spaciousness, but not long after 1 it became so very crowded that we gave up, bought some bread, cheese and olives and headed for the hills.

It's hard to compare it to Ludlow, where we were the week before, but there did seem to be a lot more emphasis on local producers at Ludlow, and one very marked difference was that there was room to sit down to have a cup of coffee or eat some of the delicious food on offer. At Abergavenny there were very few tables and chairs and the steps were soon full of people eating.

This photographic layout was an experiment which is not altogether successful, but I don't want to delete it.

This is what we brought home with us!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Julie and Julia

Three of us went to see the film 'Julie and Julia' on Wednesday. Very entertaining, although I wished that at least they had put up a picture of the real Julia Childs, or had run one of her television programmes behind the credits. Here is my scruffy 1970's copy of her book. I am re-reading it at present. I hear that the book is currently back in demand because of the film.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Beetroot Chutney

Beetroot and Apple Chutney.

1kg. cooked beetroot, peeled and cut into small cubes.
2 medium onions, chopped
450g peeled and chopped cooking apples.
225g sugar
500 ml vinegar
grated fresh ginger, bruised dried ginger root or about a teaspoon ground
1 teaspn salt

Put all the ingredients except the beetroot into a pan and cook until onion is tender and the mixture has reduced, about 30 mins. Add the beetroot and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until thick enough to be called a chutney.

Sometimes, when using ingredients like apple or rhubarb which produce a lot of liquid themselves I will boil down the sugar and vinegar before I add any solid ingredients. I have never found any difference in the keeping quality and it does reduce the time you spend in the kitchen.

Beetroot and Orange Relish,
My favourite preserved beetroot recipe.

450g cooked, chopped beetroot
450g chopped onion
2 oranges, grated rind and juice,
1 teaspoon salt
6 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seed
350g sugar
500ml vinegar

Put the star anise, fennel seeds, sugar and vinegar in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, add the chopped onion, orange juice and rind, and simmer until the onion is cooked and the liquid is becoming syrupy, add the chopped beetroot and continue cooking until the mixture is fairly thick. I fish out the star anise before bottling. If you have time you could infuse the vinegar with the star anise a few hours before making the chutney, but the flavour is quite pronounced anyway.

I have also made this relish from previously home-pickled plain beetroot, topping up the vinegar from the jar to make slightly under the 500ml, presuming that the pickled beetroot would have absorbed some of the pickling liquid.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

What We Ate Today

Enough for two meals for the two of us.

Spicy root & lentil casserole

SERVES 4 • PREP 25 mins • COOK 20 mins

Low fat

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
700g/llb 9oz potatoes, cut into chunks
4 carrots, thickly sliced
2 parsnips, thickly sliced
2 tbsp curry paste or powder
1 medium sweet potato
Scant 1 litre vegetable stock
150g/6oz red lentils

(I put in one chopped up Black Hungrian chilli , we've grown them this year!)

Low-fat yogurt and naan bread, to serve

1 Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 3-4 mins until softened, stirring occasionally. Tip in the potatoes, carrots and parsnips and sweet potato turn up the heat and cook for 6-7 mins, stirring, until the vegetables are golden.

2 Stir in the curry paste or powder, pour in the stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the lentils, cover and simmer for 15-20 mins until the lentils and vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.

3 Serve with naan bread, and a spoonful of yoghourt. We didn't have any naan bread so ate it without, but as I had increased the lentils by 2 oz (50g) it was more than enough.

Adapted from Good Food Magazine booklet November 2009
Any favourite root vegetables could be used, as well as leeks. Not only economical but delicious