Friday, 31 January 2014

Delia's seville orange marmalade

It was back to Delia for a tried and tested recipe for my marmalade this year.

 It always seems serendipitous that during January and February, often some of the most dreary months of the year, that these bright orange fruit are in season.
Their sunny colour lifts the spirits and the perfume as they bubble away on the stove fills the house with warmth;
 the finished preserve, jewel like, a foil to the grey outside the window.
 This was the slogan on the back of my bag of sugar and the zingy, refreshing flavour of the finished marmalade definitely brought a smile to our faces at fenland lottie.


 And spread thickly on hot buttered toast,it is a great wake up call on these dark mornings.
Maybe it is precisely because of our damp, winter climate, that we Brits seem to love marmalade so much.

Happy breakfast!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

leeks from the lottie

It seems to me that the leeks have been star vegetable on the allotment recently.
We planted them last spring and have been harvesting them for months.
Here are the latest ones dug up a couple of days ago.

They don't seem to suffer from pests or diseases and are happy to stay in the ground until ready to be lifted.
When I last looked in Waitrose 500g of trimmed leeks were £2, but since we were kindly given  the leek seedlings last spring by mr digandweed's dad ( himself a keen gardener) they have cost us nothing!
In addition to all this, leeks are also very versatile
and for supper the other evening I made chicken and leek risotto.

Following a recipe for leek risotto with chestnuts from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Veg Everyday book as a basis, I used chicken stock and leftover chicken  ( from a roast chicken meal earlier in the week) and substituted sauted mushrooms for the chestnuts.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

daily bread

a stall on Cambridge market last week 

Isn't it amazing that 3 simple ingredients, namely flour, yeast and water can produce such a wonderful and delicious array of breads.
Every country, it seems, has its own bread speciality.

I've mentioned before that I love making bread and although fairly simple it is not a process you can rush, but if you want bread in a hurry then soda bread is the thing.

Soda bread is most commonly associated with Ireland, possibly because their climate is not good for growing strong wheat flour which is needed for breads leavened with yeast.

I adapted a recipe from this cookbook from Yeo Valley.

The original recipe called for rosemary and olives, but since I was right out of olives, I used raisins instead.
Maybe not an obvious choice and not one I can claim as my own idea, since I have seen rosemary and raisins used in bread elsewhere,
but a combination which I think works well.

 I gathered the rosemary from just outside the kitchen door.
Most herbs are tender little souls which won't survive the winter, but not so rosemary which can be relied on all year round.

I also used spelt flour instead of stoneground wholemeal, simply because I had an unopened bag in the cupboard which was approaching its use-by date!

So here it is-
Soda bread with spelt flour and rosemary and raisins 
and very good it was too!!



Saturday, 11 January 2014

energy boost

It was whilst on the internet the other day, hopping and skipping from one blog to another, that I came across an intriguing recipe for raw brownies on a beautifully photographed blog called My New Roots.
It seemed to me that the recipe, stuffed full of dates, walnuts and almonds would give a much needed energy boost on these grey January days.
Not to mention being a good way to use those leftover Christmas nuts.
There is a lot of talk at the moment about the health benefits of a totally raw diet and I am sure that there is a lot to be said for it, after all, a diet of mostly fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts has to be good.
Not that I am about to embrace such a diet. In this cold weather, I think I would find giving up a comforting bowl of soup or a warming jacket potato particularly difficult.
However, if you are looking for an easy recipe, with no saturated fat or refined sugar but which is delicious and satisfying, then this is for you!

Easy peasy to do if you have a food processor, the recipe produces a dense, sticky, flavoursome treat which is not overly sweet ( although I have to admit, I did miss the contrast between crisp top and gooey middle which characterises a good brownie)
And I just had to show you one of my Christmas presents from lovely daughter, the elder and her husband who know that I have a thing for vintage and retro kitchenalia -
a very pretty little liqueur glass with a lovely message inscribed on it!



Saturday, 4 January 2014


One of mr digandweed's favourite sayings is
' Each day is a blank page, without spot or blemish'
 With that thought in mind, I have never been one for making New Year's resolutions, preferring to think I can start again next day, if for some reason I've messed up the day I am in!
However, a new year is a lovely opportunity to look forward and think of things I may want to do or achieve.
And so -
this year I have decided to get out my knitting needles.
I've been inspired by a number of the lovely blogs I read ( see celia, stephanie, sue) and the beautiful, knitted items they create ...and by my own youngest daughter.

Last year, I popped a crochet hook and a ball of wool into said daughter's Christmas stocking thinking it was something she might like to learn.
With the aid of You tube and a helpful lady in the wool department of her local John Lewis, she taught herself and this year I received a beautiful cowl as a Christmas present.

But for my part, knitting ( or crochet) and I have never got on that well in the past!

I love to browse beautiful wool shops and gaze at the textures and colours, but, if I am truthful, I am always worried that after spending considerable money and time I may end up with something that doesn't fit/suit me/look right.

But I am going to start small !

I have had this wool for some time now, bought for a project which is a faded memory.

But I love the colour and texture, reminiscent of heather moors and I am going to turn it into something warm and cosy to wear should I ever find myself on such a windswept moor!

I will keep you posted!