Monday, November 24, 2014

Anyone for a game of Scrabble?

For over one hundred competitors at the World Scrabble tournament in London, that was the perfect way to spend a rainy November weekend. 

For me, in between showers, I stored away my summer squash. 
I’m not sure my letters would have got me very far in the tournament but hey, I do like to have an ‘s’ up my sleeve for plurals! 

Disclaimer - 
No jiggery pokery or photoshop was used to create these contorted fruits, they just grow like that!

Officially a courgette, ‘Tromboncino’ can be eaten small and young, just like any other courgette. What a shame though. Rather, leave them to scramble away until the autumn and you will reap massive, thick skinned fruits with tasty dense flesh and just a smattering of seeds in the bulbous end. 

Stored in the cool and dry my crop will keep us in soup all winter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


…by A.A. Milne

"I think I am a Muffin Man. I haven't got a bell, 
I haven't got the muffin things that muffin people sell. 

Perhaps I am a Postman. No, I think I am a Tram. 
I'm feeling rather funny and I don't know what I am — "

I think I am a squirrel. I haven’t got a nut
Perhaps I am a butcher with lots of meat to cut.

I have one and a half pigs lying on my kitchen table. Mostly chopped up by a real butcher. Errr, kidney, ears, heart, tongue? Freeze now, worry later. Wot, no snout?

No I think I am a chef.

Deboned a huge ham and minced up great slabs of slippery liver to made lovely garlicky country pate.

I think I am a sous chef, 
Working for the chef.

Put a couple of trotters and that big ham bone (from the pig with a limp) into the biggest stock pot I own and simmered overnight for broth.

Perhaps I am a vet who is visiting for a limp.

Deconstructed the pig’s knee joint as I was straining my stock. 
Aha, found a cluster of bone spurs - little bony growths that inhibit the smooth movement of the joint.
(I would not ordinarily have been so fascinated but I have just illustrated an arthritic knee for a cookery book.)
Froze pots and pots of stock and supped restorative broth for lunch.

No I think I am a seamstress.

Off to the Haberdashers to buy muslin to wrap up an arthritic ham for air drying. 

I’m feeling rather funny and I don’t know what I am!

Friday, November 14, 2014

In my Farmhouse Garden

“The garden is never dead, growth is always going on and growth that can be seen, and seen with delight.” 
Canon H. Ellacombe  (In my Vicarage Garden and Elswhere. 1901)

Flecks of buttery yellow and russet, splashes of crimson and sherbet greens. 
Poised against the grey sky, the sagging bunting is reluctant to loose its grip 
but is already being elbowed out by next spring’s cheeky pink buds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Easy peas-y soup

Sometimes the sluggard in me triumphs.

I didn’t want to head out into the rain to tug at caterpillar riddled greens or scrub muddy roots.

I just fancied a nice comforting lunch. 

Instead I slunk to the freezer for inspiration and in the frosty depths found the tail end of last year’s pig, 
(no, not literally the tail... bacon stock and gammon) and a bag of peas. 

I whizzed the peas into the stock, threw in a handful of gammon scraps and some fresh thyme. Delicious. 

Only 99% smug though. I really should have grown the peas!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

This and That

This is a tale about a box of grimy, wooden picture frames that I picked up at the local auction two and a half years ago. 
They have been sat under my desk ever since but I always knew they would come in useful some day. 

Sunday was that day. 
It was a grey, dreary, damp day and it was my birthday.

I received three delightful cards from my three children. 
That made me immeasurably happy. 

Time to get out that box.

After a quick dust, a lick of paint, some waxing with a soft cloth and a final polish, 
my cards looked deservedly well dressed. 

And that’s that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not for the squeamish!

At exactly the same time that my husband was limping around waiting for a knee replacement operation earlier this year, I was serendipitously commissioned to illustrate a book called “Nourishing Broth” by Sally Fallon Morell, “the definitive cookbook that can help you treat symptoms of autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, digestive problems and other chronic ailments”.

It made fascinating reading and was definitely a first for me as far as painting gristle is concerned!

“Most people know cartilage as gristle. It’s the blob on the bone of a T-bone steak, the globs on chicken drumsticks”. 

I learnt all about boiling up bones for minerals, which in turn keep our own bones strong, marrow, which is important for stem cell regeneration and gelatin which is obtained from boiling up skin, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. (Hmm, not your average cookbook ingredients, but worth reading on I assure you).  
I now understand that gelatin provides amino acids that the body needs to make connective tissue, i.e. all the bits that hold the body together. Perfect for an arthritic knee! 

At the risk of sounding like a school text book I even got to draw pretty pictures of glycoproteins and connective tissues.

This is all very pertinent, as the pigs are booked to go to the abattoir on Thursday and I’m busy making important decisions as to how I’d like them butchered and do I want the trotters and heads? 
Well, if only for the sake of a post operative knee I think I should boil up anything and everything!

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Earth laughs in flowers" Ralph Waldo Emerson

In which case, I imagine these sunflowers would be a resounding guffaw, enough to cheer any grey Friday!