30 May 2011

pottering in petersham, take six

It's important to start the day with a good breakfast: lots of fresh fruit

and perhaps a croissant as a treat, made even better with a big pat of butter and homemade apricot jam.

Or you could have crunchy granola,

though you'd have to wait till you got home, as sadly it's no longer on the Teahouse menu. But the lush surroundings more than make up for the missing cereal:

And if you're still hungry, there's always cake!

29 May 2011

dreamlike shortbread

I've been unfaithful.

After years of steadfast devotion to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his shortbread recipe, I've had my head turned by Lorraine Pascale and her Dreamlike Shortbread from Baking Made Easy:

And it is indeed dreamlike: simple to make and yet so tasty--somehow light and moreish at the same time. So while I'll still make Hugh's Lavender Shortbread with our flowers from the plot, I think I may have found my new everyday biscuit.

But does this mean I should desert Jamie and try Lorraine's pizza crust too? This could be the thin end of the wedge.

27 May 2011

colorful kew

It's been a week of color: first at Loop, then at Kew. On Wednesday, Tracy, Nancy, and I met for our most colorful visit yet. There were bright blue skies and bedfuls of orange and yellow roses, many as lemony in scent as they were in hue.

But there were plenty of rosy-colored

and rosy-smelling ones too,

and other pink flowers,

including the most marvellous peonies, some in bud

and some in bloom,

in a hidden garden only Nancy had ever seen before. Which just proves that even after a year as members, there's still plenty to discover. And thank goodness, as Kew has just sneakily renewed our memberships!

26 May 2011

double loop

I did a double loop this week with not one, but two visits to Loop! While I'd shopped many times at the old Loop in Cross Street, I'd yet to visit their new location in Camden Passage.

The new shop is bigger and brighter--a really lovely space, where dishes of custom candy are far from the only temptation.

With yarns from three of my favorite companies--madelinetosh, Quince, and Juno--there's gorgeous wool at every turn:

And on Saturday there was the chance to see Jane Brocket, who'd brought along samples from her new book, The Gentle Art of Knitting,

as well as piles of scones and plates of cakes. I had such an inspiring chat with Jane, and swayed by her glorious color sense--and some good advice from Sarah and Donna--I strayed from my usual grays and bought a skein of Tosh Sock in colorful Clover:

Sarah, Donna, and I spent more than an hour browsing, but there's so much to see. So Ali and I popped in on Tuesday too, right after a stop at the Nordic Bakery for coffee and sugar buns. Because good friends + sweet cake + squooshy yarn = perfect x 2!

20 May 2011

on parade

I've just finished my first pair of non-stripy, non-stockinette socks!

The pattern is Parade, a download from the Spring/Summer 2011 Twist Collective, which looks more complicated than it really is: the cables are formed by knitting stitches out of order rather than by using a cable needle.

And the yarn is Quince & Co. Tern, a blissful blend of wool and silk. These socks are knit in Back Bay, but the entire color palette--'think vintage painted photographs'--is just as beautifully subtle and sophisticated.

The only question now is which sock pattern to knit next: stripy stockinette or solid-color cables?

19 May 2011

in the red

We didn't have long to wait. While the Alice berries are still just blushing, the Honeoyes have ripened to a bright and cheery red:

The skies have finally brightened too, so I could make the ice pops. But Ali's scones and Jane's cake look mighty tempting...

17 May 2011

in the pink

It suddenly seems we're in the pink, both on the walk to the allotments...

and in the allotments themselves, where the poppies on Sarah's plot are literally humming with bees.

And all those bees have been good for the fruit. Our strawberries are blushing pink too,

which means its nearly time to pull out the special ice pop tray--woo hoo!

Though we may want to wait for some warmer weather...

11 May 2011

lemon licks, take two

Blue skies on Monday provided the perfect excuse for making more ice pops, this time Lemon-Buttermilk:

Made with fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and pure buttermilk, these pops are super tart and tangy. I might try whole-milk yogurt next time for a slightly milder flavor. As is, these are definitely adult pops.

But then again, they are quite refreshing, and surely we adults deserve some spring-into-summer fun too!

09 May 2011

east end paradise

Sheltering under umbrellas (for the first time in months!) we headed into London early Saturday morning for a brunch demonstration at La Fromagerie

with Jojo Tulloh, food editor of The Week and author of East End Paradise:

Having loved Jojo's book (published last year as Freshly Picked) I was looking forward to hearing more about her allotment and gathering new ideas for using our own plot produce.

After a brief introduction, Jojo showed us how to make Rice Paper Rolls with Fresh Herbs and Salad. And we were soon set loose with stacks of rice papers, twists of rice noodles, and plates piled high with lettuces, herbs, and julienned veggies. We arranged and wrapped while Jojo made the dip.

We then moved on to preparing artichokes, a skill I'm not sure I'll ever master--a bit worrying considering the size of our plants! But Jojo had hers de-choked in no time,

and they were whisked away to the kitchen for a Pea and Globe Artichoke Heart Frittata, served later with Jojo's signature Allotment Salad of greens and herbs.

To finish, Jojo demonstrated my favorite dish of the morning: Stuffed Courgette Flowers with fresh goat curd and lemon.

They were so amazingly light and crispy:

A wonderful morning all round, but I knew it would be, considering we share a love of allotment white pizzas! Though looking at this picture, I can see how much thinner and crispier our crusts are now, more like the ones in Jojo's book.

And her lovely daughter, who's already a deft hand with an artichoke, proved to be a girl after my own heart too, finishing her brunch with a big scoop of gelato:

The most perfect allotment neighbors! If only Leyton weren't so far from Teddington...