Tuesday, February 27, 2007

planting thoughts

The weather is still miserable and wet (great for the water table) and the planted tulips are starting to point their pointy leaves. Every day they are getting slightly taller and before I know it, they will be in full bloom and Spring will have sprung.
I really should start planning what plants we should dig into our prepared and almost plant free soil. Choosing plants that are resilient to drought would be sensible especially if predictions of hotter summers come true. So I'm thinking spiky plants that are full of movement such as ornamental grasses would be good. For a bigger impact, an architectural palm like a Cordyline and succulents like Aloe and Aeomium would fit in too.
Planting some vegetable seedlings this weekend is a must. Last year, the patch consisted of salad leaves and potatoes, broad beans, sprawling squash plants with no fruit and yet more salad leaves.

On this years veggie wish list are...
New potatoes; soft, buttery salad variety
Florence fennel
Broad beans; both green and red varieties
Courgettes (out the front)
Sweetpeas - anual 'must grow'
Strawberries and Tomatoes  (out front in containers)
Curly Kale or Spouting Broc for the winter months (must remember to cover young palnts with net a curtain this year)
Runner bean and French beans

Carol Klein's BBC show Grow Your Own Veg  has been inspiring and informative. Apparently, even a small 3m x3m plot can provide vegetables all the year round. That gives me hope and what a great incentive.

To be transformed...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

wired, feathered birds


Cathy Miles bends beautiful birds out of wire and decorates them with feathers, thimbles and other small finds. They are so enchanting, I would love one or perhaps a flock. The simple, drawn-like lines created from the wire makes them very naive and delicate. 

I have something quite similar made by Rosie some years ago,  she sculpted hands out of different gaged of wire (I'm sure the shoe use to be a hand before it was squashed) out of wire. These too are very beautiful...make some more Rosie!



poorly people make poorly food

Never cook when you are poorly. I must remember this and stick to it. I couldn't even read the recipe with any clarity let alone taste anything.
Yesterdays cook-cock-ups consisted of two failed pastry tart cases, a medicinal flavoured lemon meringue pie filling and a runny and rather tasteless Tiramisu. Why I didn't stick to the simple cheesecake I thought I would make I will never know. Is it because I along with many others, still associate cheesecake's with the shop bought ones; solid margarine tainted base with a gloppy topping of citric lard? I think it's these awful reproductions that have destroyed our conceptions of some good old fashioned puddings.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

remaining mound of grey rubble


I took this last week when it was sunny, it's been raining ever since.

I love the contrast of the bright, green foliage of the succulents and the grey mound of grey rubble in the background. Just six months ago, the whole garden was a mound of grey rubble. How we long to play on the grass and not broken glass this summer and actually watch our daughters play and our carefully planned out plants grow as opposed to just weeds and the odd roaming rat.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

creative flourish

The other week, I had a creative flourish and this time it was making cards. Since the flourish, I have made no more which is very typical of me. I'm really keen to make a collection and at least scan them  before posting them off to friends and relatives. I find looking at the creative blogs that I devour at every given opportunity so inspiring. I want to sew things, stick things and create things with my disordered mind and collection of boxes. Today, I am really going to try and make something, infact I may even set myself a goal of one creation a week, even if it's just jottings and ideas.


Due to a toddler dawn chorus I was up early this morning. Evie said she heard helicopters, I'm not so sure. Whilst making the most of an early start, I decided to flit my half-closed-eyes over Bloesem, a stylish blog full of beautiful things. As I was scrolling down, I came across an article about Showhome, a collection of Mid Century Modern and Contemporary furniture set up in a London house. When I clicked on the link to the site, I noticed a familiarity about the house, the illustration is quite similar to our own Bee Hive.

The Showhome as the name suggests, is exactly that. An ordered home full of elegant furniture and accessories. I was rather surprised to see the odd piece of furniture in the Showhome similar to that in  our own home only our furniture is covered in dust, toys and washing. Oh well.

Monday, February 19, 2007



I made two different batches of marmalade a few weeks back. One recipe was taken from The Sunday Times Magazine, a recipe from Sybil Kapoor, and the other was from the wonderful blogger Fanny at Foodbeam. The S.T Magazine recipe was a cinch and could be made even simpler if you cut out hand slicing the peel and instead, whiz it all in the food processor. But seeing as I was making it on a leisurely, bright Sunday morning I choose to hand slice the peel into the long, elegant shreds you only get from homemade marmalade.

The Foodbeam's recipe was also easy too but it was a 3 day event; lots of soaking, boiling and cooling and again, lots of slicing of the peel when the oranges were uncooked which seemed to take a while. This recipe in a lighter coloured, more fragrant marmalade than Sybil Kapoor's. It's less Oxford Marmalade and more Bonne Maman (as I'm sure French Fanny at Foodbeam would agree).

Having already spooned a heavy dent in the two marmalade batches over the past weeks through both greed and generosity, I decided to try and track down the last of this seasons bitter oranges and make a final collection for the store cupboard. Through lucky searching, I come across some at a nearby shop The Green Grocers where I purchased 2 more kilos to make the slightly, but only slightly favoured recipe from Sybil Kapoor.

            Sybil Kapoor's Favourite Marmalade

            1 kg Seville or similar bitter oranges  
            2 lemons
            1.7 litres of water
            1.4kg granulated sugar
            1 heaped tsp black treacle

  1. Wash jam jars ready for serializing in oven at the last stage of making.

  2. Wash all the fruit and place in a large saucepan with the 1.7 litres of water .

  3. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the fruit is easily pierced with a knife.

  4. Remove the fruit from the pan and place in a bowl.

  5. When the fruit is cool enough to handle, slice each fruit in half and scape all the pith and seeds back into the saucepan.

  6. Bring back to the boil and reduce by half, this will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, slice all the skins into thick or this slices.

  8. Strain the pip and pith liquid with a large meshed sieve into a bowl, making sure you have extracted as much liquid as possible.

  9. Add the orange peel and the liquid back to the large pan and clip or attach a sugar/jam thermometer if you have one (I don't).

  10. Bring back to the boil and add the sugar and treacle and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

  11. Boil vigorously for about 5 minutes or until the marmalade reaches setting point (106C/220F).

  12. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

  13. Place clean jars in warm oven (130C) for 5 minutes to sterilise then poor in hot marmalade sealing with wax paper discs.

  14. Finished_jar_1