28 May 2009

flags in

I arrived home in Washington on Memorial Day, just in time for Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Old Guard has done Flags In every Memorial Day since 1948, and every available soldier participates. The soldiers place an American flag in front of each gravestone and niche, nearly 270,000 flags:

image: Getty Images

I know Dad would have been very proud of his:

19 May 2009

petersham at home

I love the orange and almond cake at Petersham Nurseries, and this weekend, I finally worked up the courage to try making one at home. This is the Orange and Almond Cake from Leiths Baking Bible:

You begin by simmering three whole oranges and one whole lemon for two hours, then pureeing them (skin and all) in the food processor. The puree is combined with sugar and eggs (whisked until very thick and foamy), ground almonds, and a bit of baking powder. The result is delicately flavored and unbelievably moist: almost exactly like the Petersham version--woo hoo!

The Emma Bridgewater plate reads 'Lots of Fruit Organic & Green,' and in this case it's true, as the cake not only contains lots of fruit, but the fruit is organic: the oranges were from the sample Abel & Cole veg box I received last Thursday. More veg box details to come...

15 May 2009

whipple and a wander

Yesterday, Darlene and I attended the first Persephone Classics teatime book group. While I'd read Someone at a Distance before, I thought I'd better read it again in preparation:

And it was just as amazing the second time. In her plain, straightforward style, Dorothy Whipple creates characters that seem so completely real you can't help but feel for them, whether it's sympathy for Ellen or sheer loathing for Louise.

The discussion, led by Nicola Beauman, was fascinating: such insightful observations, comparisons, and criticisms. I did feel a bit out of my league at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. I'm just disappointed I won't be able to attend the next two meetings (second Thursday of every month).

On a less academic note, Darlene and I had a bit of extra time beforehand, so we stopped by Orla Kiely in Covent Garden. The new collection is fabulous, especially the tops:

Most of the designs are featured in a beautifully done hardcover catalogue--really a book--which is free in the shop. So perhaps we need an Orla Kiely book group as well...

03 May 2009

cupcakes on columbia

On Sunday, Ali and I made our way bright and early to Columbia Road Flower Market:

While the selection of cut flowers and bedding plants was amazing, the crowds were quite thick. So we stopped for a break in Treacle, where they were cultivating cupcakes instead:

I think this could be the way forward on the allotment!

But somehow I missed the large sign over the counter warning customers not to use the 'c-word' (coffee!). Luckily Ali was more with-it and ordered two strong builder's teas to wash down our mini cupcakes:

The displays were fab, and we actually visited twice to take it all in: bakeware, china, tea towels, oven gloves, and other colorful goodies arranged along shelves, on tables and windowsills, and in vintage pastry cabinets.

This poster says it all:

And carry on we did, right on down the road to Ryantown, home of all things Rob Ryan...

proving there's much more to Columbia Road than just flowers!

02 May 2009

lavender licks

This is the Lavender-Honey Ice Cream from David Lebovitz' The Perfect Scoop:

I did consider adding a bit of lavender color, but in the end decided to go au naturel.

The dried lavender is added in two stages: first the honey is infused with lavender (for one hour), then the completed base is infused with lavender (overnight in the fridge). I was worried the flavor might be overwhelming, but it's really quite delicate.

Lavender-Honey Ice Cream and bright blue skies--a virtual holiday in Provence!

01 May 2009

london gardens, japanese style

Sarah makes the loveliest arrangements, using flowers from her own plot, for the Seed Store Cafe picnic tables:

And Sarah's latest arrangement seems to match, in color and spirit, one of my new √©dition PAUMES books from Yvestown:

The text may be in Japanese, but the images say it all: so beautiful and so inspiring.

Hundreds of photographs document the back gardens of ordinary (and some more well-known) Londoners as well as community gardens, allotments, flower markets, and nurseries, including our very own Petersham Nurseries:

I'm now quite keen to visit Daylesford Organic, not only in the city but at their Farmshop in Gloucestershire...

and Clifton Nurseries, which I've somehow missed hearing about all these years in London:

But in the meantime, I suppose I better get back to work on our own allotment!