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New shoes, veg plot, book reviews, my Sunday Sevens – 16th September

I can wear shoes again!

September and new shoes seem to be forever connected in my memory! Not only did I spend my childhood years proudly walking along pavements enjoying the September sunshine with new shoes but then went through my years of parenting subjecting my children to the same pleasure!

I will admit, like a lot of women, I have so many shoes – most of them of the high heeled beautiful but cruelly uncomfortable variety. One of the lovely things about getting older is that you get a little wiser – so I find myself buying ‘comfortable shoes’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be fun!

My new shoes are momentous -because it is the first pair I have been able to wear since my major foot surgery! I cannot tell you how joyous it feels to wear shoes again –  I am beginning to get my life back! Not only that – I am enjoying long hot showers where I am not dangling one cling film wrapped foot out of the way of the water! Simple pleasures indeed.

On a practical level – these shoes from Gracosy are sublime – the soul is so cushioned my feet just sink in – no uncomfortable jarring. On a sustainable level, my last pair of clogs lasted me over ten years and were regrettably thrown away a few months ago, when the sole finally wore though. I like clogs because they are so easy to slip on and off. I did see my foot consultant this week with a little trepidation –  he thoroughly approved of them!  If you fancy a pair of your own you can buy them from Amazon.

 

Tea Time

The Bake off is back – I do love watching it – I think Channel 4 have done a good job of continuing the format well. I do admire the bakers – it is hard enough baking but under those conditions – they are inspirational!

I adore toasted tea cakes – but since discovering I have a dairy intolerance I have been a little scared of eating things – so I decided to try Paul Hollywood’s recipe for hot cross buns – and oh my goodness they are delicious! Of course I just added currants to the recipe rather than the crosses and drizzled them with warmed honey rather than sugar syrup. Luckily replacing cows milk and butter with Goats Milk and butter has improved my health! I am not sure if you can see – but the butter was melting on the tea cake when I took this photo – they were still scrumptiously warm from the oven!

little cinnamon buns

E is not a fan of currants – he seems to only tolerate them in Christmas pudding, so I used half the recipe to make cinnamon buns – rolling the dough like a Swiss roll with a mixture of cinnamon, mixed spice, brown sugar and toasted hazelnuts. I put it in a cake tin to rise and this is how it turned out! It was a huge success!

I did not take any pictures of the second batch to show you – the whole process went really well until the baking – where I managed to burn the whole batch and sadly had to resign all the hard work to the bin! I have the attention span of a gnat… I cannot count the number of times the smoke detector has reminded me that I have something cooking – so I have now invented a rule – I never leave the kitchen when something is baking or boiling – our diet has improved from carbon to edible!

Veg Italia book review

I have been pescatarian for over a year –  an interesting journey full of – if I am being entirely honest, an experiment in inedible food. When I was first trying to discover what food was causing problems – I tried lots of vegan recipes – they were expensive and quite frankly, inedible. I don’t want to eat another meal with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. (White potatoes cause arthritis)  I can’t bring myself to eat any more peanut butter – (Veganism seems to use it for everything!) I cannot swallow anything made with ‘wheat free flour’ – it dries my mouth out, my body simply can’t physically swallow it!

So I have relaxed a little – I am not completely free of migraines but I am having them less. My arthritis symptoms have also reduced – but there is good research about the Mediterranean diet is healthy. A ninety nine year old I knew told me his lack of arthritis was down to having olive oil every day – he was walking proof in my mind and at 99 he had been around longer than any of our so called experts! – I am moving away from the ‘alternative’ foods and more about cooking from scratch.

I bought Gino’s Veg Italia recipe book secondhand – what a refreshingly delight it is! every recipe is tantalisingly tempting. We have had an excellent week – home made pizza, creamy mushroom gnocchi and roasted vegetables. (I think, my rule about not leaving the kitchen has improved my results immensely!) Thankfully the recipes are easy to follow and don’t require a whole heap of gadgetry and tins and jars of stuff! I’ve tried gnocchi before – (with sweet potatoes – too sweet) but Gino’s recipe was simple, created not only edible but delicious food! There is a recipe for home made pasta that doesn’t require a pasta machine or slavish dedication to duty!

A little piece of heaven

If you want to know what your heart’s desire is, notice that gut wrenching stab of jealousy next time because it guides you to what is missing in your life. It is more authentic than the fleeting desire to make origami napkins from your Pinterest feed.

I will admit to having pangs of envy – when I have seen posts of home grown vegetables. I have pined for outdoor space since I moved a couple of years ago. It is odd though, how I got so focussed on my dream of having a garden of my own that it is easy to overlook what is just round the corner. This little plot of land is in a neglected part of the grounds where I live. No-one loves it and while it might be very overgrown and sloping, it catches a lot of sun. So  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to grow our own veg!

September might not be the best month to begin – but I noticed a dark patch under large trees that barely gets any light – might just be the ideal spot for a mushroom patch,  we are just coming into mushroom season. Ever since I went on a camping trip with a Bear Grills guy who took us to pick field mushrooms for breakfast – I have longed to repeat the process. Those mushrooms felt like food from the Gods, not just because they were fresh but because they were the work of my own hands!

The Law of Angels book review

Oh joy of joys to discover a new author and a while new series of books! I purchased Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark from a charity shop while we were on holiday in Porlock Vale. The mix of historical medieval fiction – a daring nun, mystery and suspense was a temptation I could not resist! How glad I am that I give in easily to temptation – especially in book form – this was a pleasure to read! Little did I realise that this is the third in the series – but the story holds its own.

Cassandra immerses you in medieval society much easier than all the historical books I have been ploughing through recently. Set in York during the days running up to the Corpus Christi – I felt I was discovering more about the period while being thoroughly entertained.  A nun might seem an odd choice for a gun-ho sleuth but it was quite a liberating role in the 13th Century. Hildergard is her own woman, I liked her as a character – she is just really nosy if I am honest a bit of a Jane Marple with a little more daring do! Hildergard’s home is burnt to the ground, she is kidnapped twice,  ends up close to two terrorist bombings, and still manages to save York’s Mayor from being blown up. Its all well told with enough action and pace that kept the pages turning well past 10 o’clock!  (with my attention span that is praise indeed!) In order to avoid the usual book hangover, I ordered the first in the series when I was just over half way through.

I am determined to read more – I just have to gag the Calvinistic Shrew Mildred,  my inner critic,   nagging me that reading is time wasting… I should be doing so many other things.

It is reading before going to sleep that has really helped with my insomnia – so I am truly thankful to Cassandra Clark!

 

 

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Sunday Sevens..14 August

Saturday breakfast

Somehow, Saturday morning breakfasts are the best of the week, not only time to make these little scotch pancakes (they are low GI and wholemeal!) but all the lovely promise of two days to enjoy.

We went on with our local to Glorious Goodwood Ladies Day, it was a beautiful morning – I think I enjoyed seeing the outfits more than the horses. This red dress really caught my eye – these sisters were enjoying pimms before the racing. Unfortunately, after an hour of sunshine the rain set in! At one point we could barely see the horses! I came home with the same money I left with – having only lost one bet! which was quite an achievement.

cucumber

My cucumber is really doing well – the fruits are enormous! We are investigating a couple of recipes for preservation – it would be nice to enjoy the freshness for as long as possible. My tomato plants are also giving a few ripe fruits – delicious and sweet. It has encouraged me to buy some winter cabbage and spinach seeds to see us through the winter. The veg box I bought a couple of weeks ago is still going strong – with a few fattening leeks among the seeding herbs.

We took a trip to Little Woodham in Gosport – it is a delightful little living history village – populated by re-enactors of the mid 16th Century. More on this visit soon.

cheesecake

 

We are enjoying having the Aga – it is our only cooker – it’s gentle heat is always welcome – despite the summer our kitchen remains pleasant. I decided to try a cooked cheesecake recipe – as the warming oven is perfect.

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I find that if you cook the biscuit base with the cheesecake it comes out all soggy – so I made the cheesecake first then added the biscuits to the top.

Cheese cake Aga

It might look a little messy, but it takes delicious!

Breakfast poached peaches

Mr D made some poached peaches for breakfast on Sunday… enough to bring the sunshine for the rest of the week.

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Garden flowers – spring through to summer

What a wonderful summer it has been, the cherry season seems to have gone on forever, and the blackberries are showing promise but aren’t yet ripened. The gardens have been stunning, the weather has brightened not just the gardens, everyone is happy and smiling. 
There is nothing more pleasurable than having vases of flowers indoors that are home grown.  These peonies were lovely back in May, we have clumps of them in many different beds. We had some wet days,  so I rescued these from the ground their heads were so full of water – they brightened up the kitchen for a good ten days. 


 Peace lilies are so stunning, the flowers are huge – I think they are my favourite lily. We have several clumps but the blooms this year seem to have been extraordinary – the gardener kindly gave me a few enjoy. I am planning to do a drawing study, but time runs away with me.

 The poppies were also abundant, we have a huge bed out the front which was alive with the lovely pink flowers dancing in the breeze.

They have seeded all over the gardens and I spotted them in at least six places, must be the birds!

These are the more traditional poppies I could not resist taking a picture.

The roses were also stunning in June, this one has the most delightful sent. It is amazing just how much nature puts on a display every year, creating such beauty that was hidden under the frost and snow.
The thing I most enjoy about the gardens is that as one flower fades another takes its place. 

In August the hyacinths are all in flower, they make the most magnificent bouquets they are such huge flower heads this vase has only four blooms! Ours all seem to be pink, I think it depends on the soil. 

As the summer is drawing to a close, it won’t be long before the trees change colour – my favourite time of the year. I used to think gardening was boring when I was younger, but now I find I love the ever changing beds. 
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Golden harvest!

I thought I would try some different varieties of carrots on my little allotment.
I got these seeds from an on line catalogue they were a mixed variety some were purple others were yellow. They have grown up beautifully, and these taste divine!

I think carrots in the shops are pretty tasteless unless you buy organic, but by far are the ones you can pull up yourself, wash off and eat!

Carrots are very simple I found the hardest part is the thinning out, it seems so cruel to pull out the tiny seedlings, but unless you do the carrots don’t have room to grow. The other great thing about carrots is that you can plant all year round, summer and winter.

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Lavender Harvest

The front garden gets full sun and very little rain so I planted a lavender hedge all along the front which has thrived.

The problem comes is what to do with it all? It seems such a shame to let it go to waste. I wait until the bees have had their fill and then bring it in to dry for a while.

Then I remembered I had some pretty organza left over from when I made some nets. I also adore my little baby lock overlocker, it makes it so easy to make these pretty little bags. My friend Jo taught me how to make the lavender bottles.

Lavender is good for us in so many ways, not only is it a calming herb, but an anti-septic too. These little bags are great to keep in drawers or the wardrobe as they keep clothes smelling fresh and ensures the moths don’t take up residence in my favourite dress!

If you wish to find out more about lavender click here