01 August 2014

in a pickle

This year, Debbie has been growing veggies in three of our raised beds. Her City & Guilds gardening course seems to have paid off, as her cucumbers are amazing. This is one of her smaller specimens:


But one can only eat so many cukes, and the fridge was rapidly filling up. That is, until Smitten Kitchen published her recipe for Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles. They are indeed easy: just add sliced cucumbers, salt, dill, and vinegar to a 1-liter Kilner jar and shake, and a few hours later you have dill pickle chips:


And they're delicious--indeed, positively addictive--not just on sandwiches and in salads but as a side dish or even as a sneaky snack straight from the jar!

As Deb (of Smitten Kitchen) says, 'Everyone needs more recipes like this in their back pocket, ridiculously easy ways to use mountains of summer produce with a delightfully low effort-to-result factor.' Amen! Now pass the pickles please...

30 July 2014

more gorgeous gooseberries

Last summer, I finally tackled my fear of preserving by enrolling in the Preserving in a Day course with Sky Cracknell, founder of England Preserves. Sky sells her jams and chutneys at the fantabulous Spa Terminus food market in Bermondsey while also supplying some of the top restaurants and department stores in London. 

After a very busy day weighing, boiling, and filling, I left with jars and jars of jam, as well as the knowledge and confidence to try it all at home. But sadly our fruit on the allotment had pretty much gone by then, so I had to wait...

...until now! Our gooseberry standards were so laden with fruit this year, even after thinning, that G had to hammer in extra supports.


Admittedly, gooseberry is one of the easiest jams to make, but I'm so pleased with the result:


I'm also so glad I made it before this heatwave set in--far too hot to be boiling fruit now! Perfect weather for gooseberry ice cream though...

28 July 2014

pedalo-ing

Saturday morning, we headed straight to the Serpentine to be at the front of the queue for pedalos:


Pedalo-ing has been on my list of things to do in London for ages, and now having had a spin, I'm wondering why it took me so long to give it a go! G remembers taking one out as a small boy, and it seems not much has changed, as he aimed straight for the swans:


Luckily the swans (and geese and coots) were completely unfazed, and G made amends with bits of bread tossed over the side.


An hour later, still fuelled by coffee from the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, we popped into Slightly Foxed for a quick look: 


Because while water and books don't mix, water followed by a browse round a super (air-conditioned) bookshop on a scorching hot day certainly do!

22 July 2014

bodacious blackcurrants

In the past, I've steered clear of anything and everything blackcurrant-flavored, associating the taste with cough syrup (which I also avoid).

But when my ice cream guru Kitty Travers published her recipe for Blackcurrant Ice Cream in The Observer, I began to have second thoughts. And when the temperature in Teddington hit 30°C, I decided it was time to give it a go...


and ended up making one of my favorite ice creams yet!

As G has always like blackcurrants, we have two bushes on our plot. Which was convenient, as Kitty's recipe calls for 5-6 blackcurrant leaves to make an infused custard. The leaves impart the most amazing, yet completely indescribable flavor. So much so, I actually considered making an ice cream from just the leaves, only to discover later that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has published a recipe for Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet.

So now I've been converted to both the fruit and the leaf. Who knows what's next...!

19 July 2014

broad-minded

This year, we had our first really successful crop of broad beans. The extra-long raised bed G specially built and planted up was a forest of head-high plants. Which then begged the question, what to do with sooo many broad beans? Eeek!

Luckily, once double-podded, the beans came to not-too-much, so the glut wasn't as unmanageable as I'd feared. And in the end, we found a fabulous use for them all--Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Broad Bean Hummus:


Simply whizz the double-podded beans with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Hugh suggests adding garlic (G's preference) but I prefer it without. Absolutely delicious as a snacky dip with plain Kallo breadsticks. We made several batches, and devoured them all. The only problem is that now the crop is finished, we'll have to wait another year for our next batch!

16 July 2014

back to blogging

It's hard to know where to start after such a very long time away...


But maybe it's best to return to an old favorite--Petersham Nurseries,


currently awash with roses:


Because you can never have too many roses...


or too much cake, particularly Petersham's cake:


Some things never change!

15 March 2013

virtual vacation, part two

The rest of our holiday album is similarly devoid of foodie photos: no snaps of our fresh dressed crabs from the Cley Smokehouse, our coffee and buns at the fab new Art Café in Glandford, or our mid-morning croissants at Wiveton Hall Café

But we do have one taken outside the Wiveton Hall Farm Shop:


And we have loads of sand and sea and grass, all taken on our walks along the beach and through the salt marshes at Cley-next-the-Sea,




where we stayed in our favorite home-away-from-home, Manor Coach House,


just steps away from the famous windmill:


And there are photos of our other favorite coastal haunts, including Sheringham Park





where we finally saw the seals we've never seen at Blakeney. But those photos didn't turn out: the plucky pinnipeds are just smudges in the swells. A reminder that sometimes it's better to simply experience and enjoy rather than trying to focus a lens.



Not that I'm planning to put away my camera anytime soon!