It has to be faced up to – summer has arrived. This morning it was 33 degrees by 9am, so I dread to think what it will be by midday, and we’re only just into June. We’ve avoided the air conditioning during the night so far, but I was sorely tempted at about 3am when both of us, and at least two cats, were practically fighting over the optimum position on the bed for maximum overhead-fan benefit. Some years, when we were still naive enough to be here during July and August, and the electricity has gone off during the night, I have slept on a lilo in the pool – I figured I would wake up if I fell off. Last night, I could have gone for that option if it hadn’t meant blowing up a lilo at 3am and Gorgeous Gordon the feline lilo-killer hadn’t been prowling around looking for potential latex victims. Continue reading “Pretty views from my kitchen (and simple scones)”
We are planning a beach trip tomorrow. This is becoming something of a habit of late – partly because our neighbours seem to have the noisiest visitors in the world, and this could possibly incite me to cross words if I have to put up with too much more of it, which I am keen to avoid in the interests of good neighbourly relations. Continue reading “20-minute microwave jam”
When we lived in Istanbul, we used to frequent a fine establishment near our shop, called the Meşhur Tarihi Sultanahmet Halk Köftecisi Selim Usta – yes, a bit of a mouthful, it roughly translates as ‘The famous and historic Sultanahmet people’s meatball seller, Master Selim’. It is my kind of place because I hate making up my mind from a menu, and there’s really only one reason to go there – to entirely pig out on köfte and piyaz. (Talking of pigs, see later para). Continue reading “Piyaz (Turkish white bean and tahini salad)”
I’m having a mangetout crisis. More accurately, I am having a NOT-mangetout crisis. I bought a large bag of what I thought were mangetouts in the greengrocer, but, when I got them home, they turned out to be something that is somewhere between a mangetout and a fully-fledged pea.
When we attempted to eat them whole, they were entirely inedible – stringy, tough and really not very nice at all. And the peas inside are so tiny that they are not worth the effort of podding.
Hating to throw away perfectly fresh veg, I browsed the web for inspiration and found a few references to a Julia Child dish for pea-pod soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though I was unable to track down an actual recipe. I might start my own version of this book – something along the lines of Mastering the Art of Cooking Whatever You’ve Bought When You’re Not Wearing Your Specs.
Continue reading “Fresh pea-pod soup”
We’re on countdown to our trip back home to Turkey early next week. It feels as though we should have loads of things to do, but we left most of our summer clothes there when we came back here in December (not a lot of call for shorts round here over the last couple of snowy months), so packing will take about five minutes.
We’ve been up in Warwickshire looking after a couple of dogs and a cat while their owners were away, taking the opportunity to catch up with our family and friends in the area, including introducing ourselves to Robin’s newest grandson, who put in an appearance a few hours after we’d left Warwickshire on our previous visit! Continue reading “Bakewell Tart”
Robin’s favourite favourite is fish pie. Closely followed by fish pie. It is not mine, on several counts: a) I find it a bit on the mushy, school-dinner, nursery-fare, side; b) it doesn’t look very appetising once it’s slumped onto the plate; and c) it is a right faff to make, what with having to pre-cook the fish, cook and mash the potatoes and then make a bechamel sauce with the cooking liquid. You feel as though you need to start thinking about dinner roughly five minutes after you’ve put the cornflake bowls in the dishwasher, and you’ll need more pots and pans than Jamie Oliver.
But help is at hand. I was idly watching a Mary Berry programme back in the summer and she made a fish and cauliflower gratin – a kind of fish pie by any other name. Now, I am not overly keen on cauliflower and I certainly don’t think it goes with fish – it’s just about OK if it’s been swathed in a particularly Cheddary-mustardy sauce and baked to a golden crisp in the oven, as a bit of a mid-week tea, but as a component of a fish pie, well, yuk. However, I decided Mary definitely could be on to something with her idea for a more simplified method and, with a few judicious tweaks in the ingredients department, I came up with a yummy alternative. Continue reading “No-faff fish pie”
It’s been an eventful few days. Never mind the John Le Carré-style Salisbury poisonings, the Tillerson firing and the prospect of Kim and ‘The Donald’ planning a love-in, we are much too busy in Cornwall being up to our withers in ‘Cream-Tea-Gate’ to worry about any of that malarkey.
If you’re not already up to speed with the news story of the week, the National Trust managed to completely outrage the entire county of Cornwall over the weekend with an advert for its Mother’s Day cream teas at the Lanhydrock Estate. Continue reading “Jenny’s cake (blackberry & apple teacake)”
I can never decide whether these should be called cookies or biscuits. Referring to them as biscuits runs the risk of American followers thinking they are going to get something that resembles what we call a scone, and I’d hate to think of them racing out to the nearest shop to buy clotted cream and jam, in anticipation of a Cornish-style cream tea, then realising they’re stuck with a cookie. And these do spread like an American-style cookie while baking, so I think we will stick with that. Continue reading “Chocolate, pecan & cardamom cookies (vegan, egg/dairy free)”
‘Greetings from snowy Cornwall’ is not a phrase that is uttered very often – we don’t get a great deal of snow around these parts, what with our southerly latitude and the Gulf Stream being just slightly to the west of our garden. Unfortunately the warming influences of the North Atlantic Drift are being ever so slightly outdone by Storm Emma at the moment, and we are stranded at the top of a lethal sheet-ice hill, surrounded by several inches of snow.
Last week, we were cheerfully going about our daily walks without coats or gloves, admiring the primroses and camelias, and smugly congratulating ourselves on living in the part of the country where Spring arrives in February. No doubt the current Siberian conditions being experienced by pretty much all of Britain are our due punishment – sorry everyone. Continue reading “Roasted sweet potato & butternut squash soup (vegan)”
Look at that. No blog posts for a month, then two come along at once.
Yesterday, it hoofed down with rain, so there was absolutely no possibility of a walk. With no plans for the day and a full complement of building team downstairs, it seemed an ideal opportunity to try out my (hopefully) final version of an egg-free, dairy-free (and ergo vegan) sponge cake. Particularly ideal because the said large quantity of blokes meant nothing lying around to scupper my diet later in the day.
Before you all go ‘ugh, vegan,’ I promise you this cake is nothing short of delicious. It has a really nice crumbly texture and a crisp top (it would have been even crisper if I had not forgotten to scatter some sugar on the top before I put it in the oven – it had already started to rise when I thought of it, so I left it naked). And it is filled with lemon and lime ‘buttercream’ with fresh raspberries and blueberries – who could turn their nose up at that? Continue reading “Lemon berry celebration sponge (egg-free, dairy-free, vegan)”