Thursday 21 February 2013

Spring flowers

We have been waking in the mornings to freezing fog, but for a short while each day the sun manages to break through the mist and encourage the spring flowers, in spite of the bitter cold, to push a little further out of the earth.

Yesterday we went to a friend's house for lunch. I bought some flowers from a pavement stall and spent a happy time studying the display, dithering as to which would be the nicer selection. The paper whites had a label stating, 'very fragrant' but I couldn't decide whether to put them with hyacinths, pink or blue, or various other options. In the end I chose tulips as they would give no conflicting perfume in the  company of the paper whites.

My friend moved into her new home last autumn and redecorated throughout, with a new colour chosen for the sitting room walls. When all the work had been completed I bought a white orchid to celebrate. The first flower stem is still looking good almost five months later!
Now that's what I call a really good doer!

Thursday 14 February 2013

Red roses

Red roses are on sale everywhere for Valentine's Day.

And some rather strange floral arrangements as well.
The sun shone, AT LAST, and we worked in the garden.
Himself did some drastic pruning on the Bramley apple trees
and I planted my new roses.

It was a LOVEly day.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Potato day

What a disgraceful day today was! One for just hugging the fire. But no, a potato and seed swap day had been advertised and I had packed my copious amounts of harvested coriander seed and broad beans into neat little packets. The weather wasn't going to stop me from going out to SWAP!
I assured Himself that this was a money saving event. He looked a little doubtful. We arranged to meet up with friends and follow up our swapping with a drink and a natter.
The gardening stalwarts turned up in waterproofs and wellies.
The potato choice was fantastic! A different variety in each of these tubs.
I bought a couple of early maincrop, 'King Edward Red', a 1916 sport of King Edward which is supposed to have a better taste than its parent and 'Rudolf' which is described as 'top taste' - we shall see! I also bought some waxy salad potatoes 'Belle de Fontenay', as the label read that they improve with keeping.
(I'll still be planting my regular favourites, 'Foremost' for my early and 'Charlotte' for main.)

Some of my swaps. I'm not too sure what they all are - Shoo Fly?! 
I also bought a few seeds from a couple of nursery stands. The Herbary's 'Sugar Ann' mangetout cropped so well for me last season that I have restocked for this year and added some different varieties of squash. 
But nobody had warned me that they were going to be selling roses!
And that's when the 'money saving' notion went out of the window.
But I showed great restraint and only bought two.
I don't yet know where I'll plant Cinderella,
 but aren't the labels lovely? You can see why I couldn't resist.
And  a little iris that I was assured would clump up well.
(Now that's what I call a good day's shopping!)

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Monday 4 February 2013

Richard the Third found!

It has been confirmed today that the skeleton found beneath the car park in Leicester is that of Richard the Third, the last Plantagenet  king, killed at the battle of Bosworth, which marked the end of the Wars of the Roses. They plan to bury him properly in Leicester cathedral. What a disgrace! It's the last place that he would have wanted to end up, they should take him back to York. (I'm a Yorkshire woman, where the white rose rules!)
I bought these roses to take to a friend who has just had her sitting room redecorated. We were going to celebrate with supper. The flower buds were just the right colour, white tinged with green. Then I got ill. "Just enjoy the flowers yourself," she told me when I rang to say I couldn't come.
So I did! As you can see, they have opened to show a warm, creamy heart. And I am feeling much better!
Heidi's present, some weeks ago now, of pussy willows are still a delight
as is the new orchid stem from the plant that Lindie gave me last summer.
I picked a few small flowers from the garden
so very precious at this time of year.
for Jane's Flowers in the House at

Saturday 2 February 2013


In the Sunday paper last weekend there was an article about how annoyed chefs are becoming at having their meals photographed by eager diners. I would have thought it a compliment for them to be happy about, but apparently not. Okay, standing on the chair to get a better shot is rude and annoying for other diners, I agree, but a discreet photo by phone or unobtrusive small camera, where is the harm? If I admire the food and it's presentation when I am eating out then I am one of those ill-mannered people who record it. On the Isle of Wight  I enjoyed very tasty breakfasts. So what did I do - I got my camera out!
At home I do not start the day with such a generous amount of smoked salmon (although sometimes for a light tea I put pieces of smoked salmon in to cook with scrambled egg so that everything is warm and the flavour infuses through. We call it a 'Dennis Healey' as that dish has been mentioned as one of his favourites.) 
Breakfast means porridge with either goats' milk or water and a selection of fruit and nuts,
and it varies only in the variety of fruit, day after day, without my ever tiring of it. 
I try to grow as much of our own fruit and vegetables as possible, but as you know, the last growing season was not a great success. For reasons of health vegetables are our main source of food.
I also use a lot of pulses, great for stews
and curries.

Chilladas with everything home-grown! 
Chilladas, spiced lentil cakes. (They freeze well.)

450g whole lentils, green or brown.
845ml hot water.
110g butter or similar.
finely chopped 2 onions
                        2 peppers
                        2 carrots
                        2 cloves garlic
mixed herbs
salt and pepper
generous teaspoon curry powder/paste
4 teaspoons tomato paste

Put washed lentils into a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently until all the water has been absorbed.
Put butter in a frying pan and soften and cook the veg. Season the lentils (they should now be soft) in a bowl and add all other ingredients. Divide into approx 24 rounds.
Dip into beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and shallow fry in groundnut oil until golden. Serve with home-made tomato sauce.

Pudding usually means fruit, often, like these plums, from the freezer, with the addition of nuts and seeds.
And on a good day a bit of custard to go with the last of the Christmas mincemeat!