31 October 2008

really rosie

Rachel has been much more productive with her River Cottage handbook than I have. Here's some of her yummy Rosehip Syrup drizzled over yogurt:

The River Cottage recipe is based on one issued by the Ministry of Defence during World War II, when rosehips were gathered by volunteers and made into a syrup for the nation's children (rosehips are very rich in vitamins A and C).

While the handbook also suggests mixing the syrup with hot water for a warming winter drink, Rachel thinks it would be even better mixed into a cocktail! Gin and rosehip anyone?

26 October 2008

pinnies please

While we don't have a television, we do watch a few programs each week on BBC iPlayer. My current favorite is Coal House at War, in which three families give up the comforts of modern life to live as they would have done in a Welsh mining community in 1944:

The families experience every aspect of life on the homefront, and the show is so entertaining, as well as educational. But I must admit I'm often distracted by the clothes! I love the floral pinnies, fair isle sweaters and berets (perfect for using up odds and ends of wool), and sensible skirts and shoes.

In September, following a suggestion from Poshyarns, we visited Old Town in Holt, which specializes in just this type of clothing. When you step into the shop, you really do feel you're stepping back in time. This picture doesn't even begin to do justice to the wonderful dark-woody, retro feel of the shop and its fittings:

I'd already fallen in love with the Bungalow Dress online:

Unfortunately, they didn't have the blue blossom print in my size, but they promised to make one up and post it to Teddington (most of their clothing is made to order). And sure enough it arrived yesterday and is just as lovely as I'd hoped. Now I have just the thing to wear (with a nice warm cardi) while watching the next episode of Coal House!

25 October 2008

fat hen

Our Fat Hen foraging weekend started bright and early Saturday morning at Boscawen-noon Farm, where we met ecologist Caroline Davey, chefs Matt Williamson and Claire Thomson, and our fellow foragers over coffee and hogweed biscotti. Following demonstrations of halloumi- and soda bread-making, we headed out on our first foraging expedition through hedgerows and fields...

down to the seashore:

Along the way, we identified and collected numerous edible plants, including Alexander's...

...sea beet...

...and a variety of seaweeds. Our walk was followed by a welcome break on the rocks with warming seaweed broth, which Caroline had toted in her backpack all the way from the farm.

Our baskets brimming...

...we had a quick look at a mussel bed...

...then returned to Boscawen-noon for another cooking demonstration followed by a glorious lunch in the Goat Barn:

We were treated to Alexander's, wild chervil, and dried fennel flower risotto; wild greens salad; and blackberry, rosehip, and elderberry sorbet. But I realized after I arrived home I'd neglected to take pictures of any of the food. Luckily Diana was much more thorough!

Then it was time to head out again, scrambling over boulders and foraging along the coast at Gwenvor and Sennen.

Luckily by this time my rock-hopping skills were improving!

Back at the farm, we watched a slide presentation by Caroline, then enjoyed another fabulous feast: pan-fried mackerel with wild greens salsa verde, followed by a delicate rose carrageen pudding with fennel flower shortbread for dessert.

Although the next day was gray and chilly, we still managed a good morning forage in the hedgerows, fields, and forests around the farm. I tasted sorrel for the first time, learned how to pick and eat a raw nettle, and drank hot meadowsweet tea (G had yarrow) in the Boscowan Un stone circle.

Lunch in the Goat Barn included nettle frittata, wild greens salad, home-smoked mackerel, and potted rabbit. You wouldn't think we'd be able to fit in another feast, but we sure did. Must be all that fresh Cornish air, not to mention the amazing food!

It was very hard to say goodbye, but we were given little parcels of potted rabbit to take home as a reminder, and fingers crossed I'll be seeing Diana (hopefully with some hogweed seed for biscotti making--hint, hint!) and the foragers from the London area again soon!

24 October 2008

go west

Having made a very early start and followed Diana's directions to the letter, we arrived in Cornwall much earlier than expected. So we made a detour to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St. Ives.

Hepworth moved to Cornwall with her husband Ben Nicholson and their children in 1939. I've had mixed feelings about Hepworth's work in the past, but seeing the studio where she worked and her sculptures in situ was a revelation.

G, having studied stone carving himself, was particularly enthralled by the plethora of tools on display both in her workshop and in the museum downstairs.

The pieces in various stages of completion were intriguing:

And the bronzes in the garden were amazing, each perfectly suited to its unique place in the landscape:

Our second stop, recommended by Diana, was the Yew Tree Gallery near Morvah on the west coast:

The current exhibition 'Full Fathom Five' is stunning. Although the pieces are in many different media, they hang together beautifully, united by a coastal color palette of grays, blues, and greens.

My favorite paintings were by Fiona Millais, who is indeed the great granddaughter of John Everett Millais:

Fiona Millais, Fragments of Coast, 36 x 71 cm

We also met the gallery owner Gilly, who is lovely. When we arrived, she was installing a gorgeous gypsy caravan (which we'd actually passed on the road many miles back!) in the garden opposite the gallery. I wonder if she'd let me come stay?

16 October 2008

petersham with pebbledash

Things haven't been so jolly in the Jolly Hockey Sticks clubhouse lately, and as a result, the blog has fallen a bit behind real life.

So it was a few weeks ago that Diana and I met for the first time at Petersham Nurseries. Even though it was a wet morning, the greenhouses were lovely, with new displays in rich autumnal hues:

A few minutes after arriving, I found Diana trying on my favorite wellies: a very promising start!

Both Diana and her sister are wonderful: amiable, engaging, thoughtful, intelligent, and just plain fun! I'll be meeting up with Diana again this Saturday (this time on her side of the country) for a Fat Hen foraging weekend. Very exciting! Must go pack my wellies...

12 October 2008

fruit leather

Rachel and I were quite keen to begin using our new River Cottage handbooks:

So we decided to start with the blackberry and apple leather, as it didn't require sterilizing jars! And after many, many hours in the oven, this is exactly what it looked like:

I adored fruit leather as a child. It's perfect for school lunches and snacks: easy to pack and fun to eat. But while shop-bought fruit leather can contain quite a few things other than fruit, our homemade River Cottage version was all goodness: blackberries, apples, lemons, and honey.

The one thing we learned, though, was that you can't put more than two trays in the oven at a time. We tried four trays--hoping for a double batch--but too much condensation built up, preventing the puree from drying in the set time.

But it all worked out in the end. We'll just have to do fewer sheets next time--difficult when it's so tasty!

05 October 2008

all about audley

While I admit I sometimes find English Heritage and National Trust properties a bit disappointing, Audley End, a Jacobean stately home run by English Heritage, is completely amazing.

One of the highlights of our visit was the recently opened Victorian service wing: kitchen, scullery, laundry, dairy, and larder. These areas were just as beautifully restored and just as interesting as the rooms in the main house, if not more so:

I just wish my washing up pile were this lovely (although I'm sure the washing up itself wasn't so lovely for the scullery maids involved):

The walled kitchen garden was another unexpected treat. When Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing, began restoring the garden in 1999 it was semi-derelict. But you'd never know it today. The garden has been restored to look as it would have done in Victorian times, growing original fruit and vegetable varieties, all carefully labeled in beautiful copperplate script.

The vinehouse is particularly stunning. It was originally constructed around 1804, and is one of the oldest and largest in the country.

Inside the vinehouse we found wonderful citrus, including Meyer lemons and Seville oranges:

Numerous varieties of tomatoes in all shapes, sizes, and colors:

And gorgeous figs:

Out in the garden itself we wandered past row after row of espaliered apples, including quite rare heritage varieties, many of which were on sale in the on-site gift shop:

I only wish we could have returned for Apple Weekend. We've already added it to our to-do list for next year!

04 October 2008

scandinavian saturday

The Saturday after we returned from Aldeburgh, we took the train into London for a fabulous cooking demonstration and lunch at Divertimenti. Trina Hahnemann was presenting recipes from her new cookbook:

Now if I were a proper blogger, I would have taken photos of Trina cooking and all the wonderful food. But unfortunately I was far too busy watching Trina and taking notes and tucking in, so I'm hoping Olive magazine won't mind me borrowing a few images from their November issue, which features some of Trina's recipes.

We started with the most amazing marinated salmon with fresh horseradish cream:

Followed by delicious fishcakes and dill potatoes:

Trina also cooked and served reindeer with anise! G was sure I wouldn't try it, but I did, and it was very tasty.

We finished with a fantastic apple trifle, the name of which, when translated literally from Danish, is Veiled Farm Girls. The layer of whipped cream must be the veil, but I'm not sure how the vanilla-infused applesauce and caramelized bread crumbs resemble farm girls! I'd love to know. We've already made it several times at home with great success.

The cookbook is gorgeous, and the recipes are very doable. The recipes are also organized by month, which I really like. And no, I didn't notice the naked man on the back cover until after I'd bought the book!

I'm already looking forward to Trina's Scandinavian baking class at Divertimenti in November, and I promise to take photos!

03 October 2008

holiday reading

With such amazing weather, I didn't do quite as much reading in Aldeburgh as I'd expected to.

But I was so glad I'd brought along what is now my favorite book of the year so far: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

If you haven't read it yet, you must go out and buy or borrow a copy straight away! The letter format is reminiscent of 84 Charing Cross Road, but the text is even more engaging with a wonderfully witty narrator and a fabulous cast of characters. At times terribly moving and at others laugh-out-loud funny.

Over the past month or so, I've also made progress on my Virago Modern Classics. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter is incredibly well-written and frightfully compelling, but very disturbing...

And although I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Taylor (the author), I wasn't overly impressed with A Game of Hide and Seek. I found the first part much too slow, and while it did pick up in the second part, I found the Celia Birtwell cover more interesting than the story itself.

Do have a look at the Celia Birtwell website: lovely fabrics, wallpapers, and greeting cards. While I knew her name in conjunction with Ossie Clark and 60s and 70s fashion, I wasn't aware of her wonderful range of furnishings!