Tuesday, 24 December 2013

flff day 10

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
annjenny and mr digandweed!

Monday, 23 December 2013

flff day 9


 This beautiful rose is cut from a rose bush planted in memory of Mum who died in 2008, at the age of 91.
Dad died many years earlier, a few months after mr digandweed and I were married.

It's just before Christmas and amazingly there are several blooms on the bush. 
 It is a lovely reminder of both Mum and Dad who gave us unfailing love and support and many happy memories.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

flff day 8

It has become a bit of a tradition in our house to have these muffins for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Packed full of dried cranberries, they are yum ..... and healthy, I'm sure!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

flff day 7

Seasonal berries.
This wall at the back of our house is one of several rare thatched boundary walls in our town.
The thatch has worn a bit thin on this one and instead it has a 'thatch' of cotoneaster berries which the birds love.

Friday, 20 December 2013

flff day 6



I am gradually checking items off my to do list.
 Christmas cake marzipanned and decorated.

We love marzipan chez fenland lottie, but not so much the sweet icing.
So my answer is to cover the cake with lots of marzipan and top with a jumble of fruit and nuts.
And, for good measure,this year, chunks of Green and Black's Maya Gold chocolate!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

flff day 5

This lovely Christmas card arrived the other day.
Entitled 'waiting for santa' it is a beautiful watercolour of mr fudge, painted by my very talented sister.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

flff - day 4

winter breakfast - a warming bowl of porridge with spiced berries, flavoured with two spices which I always associate with Christmas, cinnamon and star anise.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

fflf day 3

Mummy and baby reindeer in the garden of a thatched cottage just up the road.


Monday, 16 December 2013

flff - day 2


ingredients ready to make Delia's cranberry sauce
 Fairy lights not part of recipe of course!
 ..... but they seem to be featuring quite heavily at the moment!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

fenland lottie festive feast - day one


Only ten days to go, so here is the first of a daily festive picture as we count down to the BIG day!

First up - the nativity


Saturday, 7 December 2013

feeling ( quite a lot ) festive !

The mincemeat is made and the mince pies are baked !
Of all the culinary preparations in the run up to Christmas, making mincemeat is one of my favourites.
 A bit of chopping, stirring and mixing makes for a perfect relaxing pastime on a dull, wintry afternoon.
And the added bonus is that you can tweak the basic recipe to suit you own taste.
This year, I made my usual recipe which you can read about here but left out the mixed peel and instead added dried cranberries for a change.
But I also decided to try out an idea for quick mincemeat which I had seen in an old copy of Waitrose Kitchen.
The suggestion from Dan Lepard, of bread making fame, was to add chopped prunes, orange zest and orange juice or brandy to a jar of bought mincemeat.
The result was much more liquid than my usual recipe and slightly more acidic, but delicious nonetheless.

So this year we have two different sorts of mince pie to sample over the festive period.

Mr digandweed felt it was his duty, as quality controller, to try one and declared them to be 'probably the best mince pies he had ever tasted'
He certainly knows how to make a girl happy !

So, with the Christmas cake made and the mince pies baked ( and in the freezer) I can definitely say that chez fenland lottie
'it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas'

Musical Notes Stock Photo - 13094940
Tra ..la..la..la! 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

feeling ( a little bit) festive !

 A few weeks ago, after some particulary windy weather, mr digandweed and I went for a walk.
The ground was covered with fir cones and small branches which the wind had blown down.
I collected some and for the past few weeks they have gradually been drying out in the house.

If you look carefully, you can see the sticky pine resin which has gradually dried to look like sugar crystals.
Yesterday, I painted the ends lightly with cream paint, the idea being to make them into a Christmas decoration for our sitting room.

And I just couldn't resist a photo of the old board which I used as a background.
I love the textures of the knotted wood and the peeling paint.
I like to think it looks a little like frost !


Saturday, 23 November 2013

making the christmas cake

When I start assembling the dried fruit, spices and brandy it means Christmas is only just around the corner. 
  We love Christmas cake in our family and I love making it!

The smell of orange zest and brandy proclaims Christmas is on its way like nothing else.


The pretty, vintage stoneware jar was one of my purchases from Fiona @ Streetcomber at her recent sale.
Have you ever wondered how the traditional Christmas Cake came about?
Here is a short history !
The Christmas cake, like many of our Christmas traditions, was popularised by the Victorians, but its origins are much earlier than that.
Back in the middle ages, people would eat a type of porridge on Christmas Eve.
 Gradually fruit and spices were added to the porridge and eventually this became the Christmas pudding that we all enjoy.

But the porridge mixture also gave rise to our present day Christmas Cake, 
for around the 16th century, a type of boiled plumcake evolved as people began adding eggs and butter to the porridge and replacing the oatmeal with wheat. It was still boiled as few households had ovens at that point.
 Gradually, a baked, rather than boiled version of the plum cake became more popular and was eaten on Twelfth Night, but during Queen Victoria's reign, Christmas gained more popularity as a festival and the cake began to be eaten at Christmas and was decorated with wintery scenes and figurines, much like the present day cake.

The recipe for our Christmas Cake is one which I have used for several years now.
It is a very simple simmer and stir method, not unlike the one Sue at The Quince Tree has used.
 There is no tedious creaming and gradual adding of eggs and therefore no risk of the mixture splitting.
 The cake is now tucked away in the tin, waiting for its marzipan coat in a couple of weeks.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

more vegetable beauties

This time the glamorous and glossy aubergine.

Not grown on the lottie I'm afraid, but bought from the supermarket !

They were made into a simple supper which I am calling criss cross aubergines.
The delicate flesh of the aubergine loves to soak up the flavour of spices, so I cut a criss cross into the halved aubergines and rubbed ground coriander,cumin and a pinch of smoked paprika into the surface. A drizzle of olive oil and then they were baked in a hot oven at 190 c for 45minutes to 1hour.

And to go with them, some cooked bulghur wheat dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and harissa paste with added chopped coriander, raisins and peppers...
finally finished with mouth popping pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranates are a relatively recent discovery for me. Each little seed provides a deliciously sweet and refreshing explosion.
And who knew what fun there was to be had from bashing the cut halves with a wooden spoon, a la Jamie Oliver, to release the seeds and juice.
But beware!
 Any seeds that escape and fly hither and thither will leave indelible crimson spots on surrounding surfaces!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

in praise of vegetables

 When rushing to prepare vegetables for a meal, peeling and chopping, it is easy to forget how beautiful they are.
Take for example the turnip.
Just a humble root vegetable ...
but take another look and you see little spheres of alabaster, deftly painted with
a wash of purple.
...or the squash which we grew on the allotment, different shapes and sizes, ranging in colour from biscuit through green and orange, their skin beautifully patterned.

I am thinking of coining the word 'vegephile' as being one who loves vegetables, not just for their beauty, but for the delicious meals which can be made with them.
This is how the squash ended..

.. made into a velvety soup, to warm us up on these darker evenings.

Friday, 1 November 2013

lately on the lottie

Some lovely autumn weather has allowed me ( and mr digandweed of course) to get down to the allotment for some clearing up and planting.

I decided to allocate some space for cut flowers and with this in mind have planted a bed of Sweet Williams and Wallflowers .
I am already anticipating colourful bunches of flowers for the house next spring!

We also have a plentiful supply of leeks to keep us going over the next few months.
Spurred on by the success of the strawberries this year, we have branched out into raspberries!
Five canes of  Autumn Bliss have been planted and pruned to about 6 inches, as per the instructions.

And a couple of weeks ago, we spotted this welcome visitor hiding in the decaying foliage.

Hopefully he will be feasting on the slugs and snails!


Saturday, 26 October 2013

mini bundt cakes

 I love browsing in kitchenware shops, but it is a dangerous occupation because I always chance upon something I didn't know I needed, but which I then can't live without, which is how I came to buy some mini bundt moulds from a well known kitchenware shop.


The name Bundt refers, not as I originally thought, to a particular recipe, but to the distinctive shape of the cake, which was popularised in America in the 50s and 60s after NordicWare began manufacturing the moulds.

After leafing through my cookery books and some 'googling' I decided on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's  How to be a Domestic Goddess book.

The recipe was straightforward, simply a case of mixing the wet ingredients together and then stirring into the dry ingredients.
I found that half quantities nicely filled my 4 moulds and I put the moulds into a deep muffin pan for extra stability whilst they cooked.
The result was a lovely moist cake, quite similar to Madeira cake.

Why is it that little, individual cakes are so enticing, so appealing ?

But I also have my eye on this amazing Christmas tree cake tin!
Although, given its limited seasonal use, I really don't think I can justify the rather large price tag...
but I'm working on an excuse!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

harvest thanskgiving

 Looking back, this has been a good year for the lottie.
There was the very cold spring of course, but that was followed by a 'proper' summer, with lots of sunshine to ripen the crops.
In common with other people, we had a bumper soft fruit harvest with loads of luscious strawberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb.
The squash also loved the hot sunny weather and lay basking in the sun, turning a beautiful golden hue. They are now tucked away on a shelf in the garage.
Earlier in the year we enjoyed lovely buttery Charlotte potatoes ( I've been less impressed with the Anya potatoes and will probably give them a miss next year) and some bug free salad, not forgetting lots of ruby red beetroot.
All in all, plenty to be thankful for.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

parsley pesto

I have been picking parsley.
The parsley seeds I planted earlier in the year took a long time to get going, not surprising given the very cold spring, but now the herb has taken over half of one of the raised beds.
Just look at the amazing colour green.
Something so green has to be good for us ...and so it is, full of vitamins and antioxidants.
Not so long ago, parsley (often in its curly form) simply had a 'bit part' at mealtimes, but it deserves much more than that and as the main ingredient in a pesto, it can, at last, have a starring role.
 I used a recipe from Hugh's veg book, which used more or less equal quantities of pine nuts, parsley and parmesan with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, but the good thing about pesto is that the nuts and/or herbs can be varied to suit and the other quantities tweaked to taste.
The parsley still retains its vibrant colour.
I made lots as I am going to freeze some, so we can enjoy the fresh, summery taste into late autumn.

Tonight, mr digandweed and I enjoyed the pesto stirred through pasta with roasted butternut squash.