Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

Over here in Suffolk we’re getting very animated about the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival. The weekend promises to be one mammoth harvest festival, followed by two weeks of fringe events throughout East Suffolk.  
There's talks, workshops, cookery demos.... and I'm thrilled to be showing my latest foodie paintings in the Gallery. 

With over ninety exhibitors presenting the best and freshest produce Suffolk has to offer I’m salivating thinking about it.... and very excited at the prospect of gathering some tasty inspiration for new paintings.

......I’d better go and clear the toppling bottles and jars from my desk in preparation!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Seven years ago today, we moved to the country

When you buy a house in the country, “fixtures and fittings” are more likely to include an intractable goose, rather than a nice pair of interlined curtains. 
We inherited a lodger called Andrew. My husband is also called Andrew. 
Fortunately the lodger was a horse (silly name for a horse?) and was confined to the paddock. He is long gone.

Now when you move in September, the anticipated tranquil charm of country life is temporarily obscured. It’s the busiest month of the year. A passing flurry of gargantuan farm vehicles are catching the tail end of harvest before spreading malodorous muck. Ploughing begins. And apple orchards, by which we are surrounded, are ready for picking. Even a calming of cup of tea is accompanied by the tortuous buzz of cluster flies migrating to warmth of the kitchen, and to cap it all at night-fall there’s a bat looking to roost in the bedrooms.

Seven years on we are much more tuned in to the rhythms of country life.
September means the hedgerows are full of blackberries and rosehips, there are big red skies at night and we’re happily busy with our own harvests.

Andrew lives contentedly around the corner, but wild horses couldn’t drag us away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raspberry Vinegar

Vinegar has long been a valuable household cleaner... it will remove a scummy ring from the bath, red wine from the carpet and will blast through the blackened base of a burnt saucepan with ease.

As a child the first tickle of a sore throat was warded off with a hot mug of my mother’s raspberry vinegar. Not only did I love this steaming, fruity concoction, but I’m sure it had the bacteria in my throat reeling too.

Fruit vinegars are also a delicious base for salad dressings, so I’m off to gather a load of raspberries whilst the sun is out.

Raspberry vinegar

Makes about 4 pints
900g (2lb) raspberries
950ml (2 pints) distilled vinegar
Granulated sugar

Leave the raspberries to steep in the vinegar for 2-3 days.
Strain through a jelly bag (where is it when you need it? A new, rinsed kitchen cloth will do)

Measure the liquid and put into a large pan with 225g (11/4 cups) per 500ml (2cups) water.

Over a medium heat, gently stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 10 minutes until it becomes slightly syrupy.
Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal. Dilute to taste, will keep for ages!

Adapted from The Painted Garden Cookbook, Running Press

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


"We returned home last night. At this time of year how a week or ten days changes the growth in one's garden! I must confess that sometimes, coming home after dark, I have taken a hand-candle to inspect some special favourite." 
Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, C.W. Earle 1887  

We too returned home, very late, last night from Mallorca. Having resisted the temptation to inspect the garden by moonlight, this morning I was rewarded with finding the larder fully stocked... and bathed in sunshine. 
What I couldn't resist though, was picking up a chorizo from the deli on the school run!