As if perfectly timed to go with a wet and blustery weekend, when all I wanted to do was retreat to the kitchen and make courgette soup, bake bread and bottle plums, October’s Ideal Home magazine includes a comfortingly “feel-good” booklet of classic bakes.
I was commissioned, a while ago, to provide some illustrations for the recipes which had all been sourced from back issues of the magazine. They're classics that may well have you reminiscing about having to be inventive with basics during wartime rationing or remembering the fun of experimenting with exotic ingredients in the flamboyant eighties.
The project certainly had me digging out my hand-me-down chipped pudding bowls, enamel pans, vintage whisk and 90’s yogurt maker!
“There are few things to be done in a garden which do not require a dexterity in operation, and a nicety in hitting the proper season for doing it”. Loudon 1871
Last year my attempt at growing aubergines was doomed form the start. I bought the seed on a whim when it was already too late in the season to sow them. But sow them I did. They germinated quickly and grew into exotic plants with a profusion of lush, fluted leaves and frilly lilac blossoms. Quite stunning in themselves, but, if you remember the dismal summer we had, there was nowhere near enough warmth to coax anything resembling a fruit from those beautiful flowers.
Sadly I concluded that if it was a purple tinge I was after, I had better stick to stick to native plants like swede, leaving aubergines to our lucky, sunny, southern European neighbours.
This year of course I couldn’t resist the fact I had half a packet of seeds left.... I sowed them at the right time, kept them well watered in the greenhouse and with the bonus of a long hot summer, I now have weary and ragged plants that are weighed down with perfect, glossy, purple fruits!