Thursday, 26 January 2017

January thoughts.

Have you noticed that slowly the days are drawing out? With each passing 24 hours we gain a few more minutes of daylight.

Not that I mind January and the winter months. On the contrary, I find something quite cosy about snuggling indoors when it's cold and dark and wet outside.
Nevertheless, there is still a delight in signs of Spring.
A few Muscari on the kitchen window sill ....

...some cheery daffodils with our morning breakfast.

There have been some beautiful, frosty mornings this month, when the sky is bright blue and the landscape sparkly white, when ducks skid on the frozen dykes and Tiny Girlie stamps with joy to crack the ice on puddles.
There have also been mysterious days when the whole earth seems shrouded in mist and cloud so low that hair and clothes glisten with damp though there is no rain.
Yesterday was such a day. We ventured out, Tiny Girlie her mama and I and found ..... hills!
Just up the road!
Hills are a rarity here in the flat fens.
If truth be told, these were man made hills, the result of years of clay excavation for the manufacture of bricks and now a peaceful nature reserve.

But hills nevertheless and also a place to find a rich variety of fossils. This page from the nature reserve's website explains why it is such a good site for fossils.

Here an ammonite fossil.


Today the wind has returned.
A wind so cold and fierce, it pierces the warmest of coats.
A day to stay indoors
in a warm kitchen and make home-made granola.

This is recipe I have made many times before based on this recipe from Deliciously Ella.

Not only is the granola more healthy than many shop bought varieties, it is also, in my opinion, much more delicious.

Plus you can adjust the ingredients to suit. In this batch, I substituted some of the raisins for dried cranberries left in the cupboard from Christmas.

Delicious for breakfast ( or anytime) with yoghurt and passion fruit.

Wishing you well, whether it be cold or warm in your part of the world.


Monday, 16 January 2017

straw bear

It's that time of year when people in fantastic headgear and outlandish outfits invade our town and keep out the cold east wind by stomping feet, brandishing sticks and brooms and waving handkerchiefs to music.
It was straw bear festival weekend.

The present day festival originated from an old custom, when a man covered in a straw costume was led through the streets on Plough Monday, stopping to 'dance' at local pubs. Plough Monday was usually the first Monday after Twelfth Night and marked the start of the agricultural year.

The custom fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century but was revived in Whittlesey in 1980 and has grown to become a large event attracting dance groups and visitors from far and wide.
It is an enjoyable weekend providing fun and colour in the middle of winter.

This year tiny girlie joined us and needed no encouragement to join in the fun.

Today has been dubbed 'Blue Monday' and it is dark and damp outside as I type this, but as our ancestors who celebrated Plough Monday knew, the dark of winter will soon be replaced by the lighter days of spring!

annjenny x

Friday, 6 January 2017

after the festivities .....

I love the Christmas merriment; turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas cake, mince pies, brandy butter, biscuits and chocolates .... chocolates, did I mention chocolates?
And as far as I'm concerned, a little festive over indulgence is okay.
But come January, I'm ready for something more simple.
A return to more wholesome, healthy fare.

I think we are only just beginning to understand the profound effect diet has on well-being and I am even more determined as a new year begins to maximise the nutritional content of our meals.
Both lovely daughters share this interest and with one recovering from cancer and the other with a small mouth to feed, it is of vital importance to them too and we often share tips, ideas and recipe successes.

And this dish, a sort of warm salad is just the sort of thing we love to eat chez fenland lottie.
Versatile, delicious and nutritious.

It uses as its base two very nutritious ingredients: buckwheat and pearled spelt.

Buckwheat is a seed from a plant related to rhubarb and being a seed rather than a grain, is gluten free. It is also rich in minerals such as magnesium and copper as well as
a good source of B vitamins and of fibre and bound antioxidants. If you want to read more about buckwheat this article is very interesting.

Spelt is an ancient type of wheat, high in fibre, thiamin, copper, manganese, niacin and vitamin B2. Though a grain and therefore not gluten free many people with gluten intolerance find it easier to digest than other grains.

Both are very easy to cook. Just boil in a large pan of water as you would rice. Consult the packet for cooking times as the spelt will take a little longer than the buckwheat. 
When cooked drain and add olive oil, lemon juice, harissa paste and seasoning to taste.
Then add herbs of choice- I used lots of parsley and coriander and some toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.
I then topped it with chunks of squash roasted in the oven ( add olive oil and a little smoked paprika if you wish) and some crumbled feta cheese.

annjenny x