Happy new year to everyone. Rather late in the day, being half way through January, but the year already seems to be racing past at speed.
We are back in Cornwall after spending Christmas and the New Year looking after the most beautiful black labrador in the Cotswolds village of Bretforton, while her owners went off on holidays for a couple of weeks.
Thrown in with the deal was a velvety black rabbit called Bumbles – a comical, cantankerous, unpredictable, dish-hurling, naughty, affectionate little diva. After two weeks, we came to an understanding – she could nibble my jumper sleeves as long as she didn’t nibble my wrists, and I would provide her with an endless supply of brussels sprout tops, kale, cabbage and the occasional stick of celery. That seemed to work. To be fair, the dish-hurling only happened twice – unfortunately this then involved me crawling into the pen on my hands and knees, Christmas-enhanced backside in the air, trying not to kneel on rabbit poo, in order to retrieve it. We’ve had more dignified assignments. Oddly enough, Robin left rabbit care to me, though I admit he more than made up for this by taking on responsibility for the early-morning dog walks.
Continue reading “High-fibre beef & lentil chilli”
Despite the mostly inclement weather, we’re enjoying being back in Cornwall, and it is especially novel not sharing our house with the plumbers, carpenters and electricians. We quite miss them though – they are a happy and helpful bunch – though we don’t miss the early morning start time. They were here last week finishing off a few bits and pieces, but I think that is everything now until the summer. Robin is muttering about ‘getting up the floor of the conservatory’ to install underfloor heating, as that is our only dining space and it can be parky at this time of year. Personally, I favour a large rug. The thought of having the floor up fills me with horror. I am hoping he will have forgotten about it by the summer. Continue reading “Thai noodle soup”
Raining. Again. And I’ve been in the country less than a week and I’ve got a cold. How did that happen?
My life at the moment is a whirlwind of ibuprofen (throat/headache), pholcodine (irritating cough), Strepsils (anything not covered by the above) and gallons of water and tea. The upside is that I don’t have to go out for anything, there are no urgent jobs to do, there’s plenty of firewood, we’ve got English telly and I’ve got about a squillion second-hand cookbooks to work my way through. Continue reading “Oven-bottom bread (and my life as a water spaniel)”
I’m sure there’s been a mistake. On Saturday, I was at Mumi’s Beachclub, enjoying some late winter Turkish sunshine; today I appear to be looking out of the window at what could only be described as a Cornish rain scene.
In between times, we spent what seemed like most of Sunday night languishing in the departure lounge at Dalaman Airport when our plane to Gatwick developed a technical fault as we were about to take off, and we were forced to return to the terminal. I won’t go into details – let’s just say it wasn’t the best-organised delay I have experienced. On the plus side, Thomas Cook managed to drag some poor engineer out of his warm bed in the early hours of Monday morning and he made our plane work again. Even better, it magically stayed in the air for the four hours back to London. Phew. I did even more braking (with my imaginary brake pedal) than usual, especially during the turbulent bits. In fact, despite it having been designated a 5:2 day, I was forced to eat my James Martin treacle sponge pudding just in case it turned out to be my last, AND I had to have a bolstering glass of red wine. Continue reading “Blueberry cornbread muffins”
The rain we have been promised for days has finally materialised. But it is what we call ‘straight-down rain’, which anyone who lives here will tell you is the type that does not come in through every crack and crevice of your house to collect in pools which lie in wait if you are foolish enough to venture out of bed barefoot. We should be thankful for small mercies though – this is only the second time it has rained since we arrived in September, so it would be churlish to complain.
We have had a trying ten days with only intermittent internet and phone services while Turk Telekom installed new cables in our village, no service at all for several days, in fact. With limited opportunity to waste time on the internet, it has surprised me just how many jobs I’ve been getting done in the house. Not to mention plenty of beach time. Continue reading “It’s raining, so it must be a jam day”
I’ve just been looking on the memory card on my camera to find the photos for this bake, and I came across some shots I took when we went to Kastellorizo a couple of weeks ago. The harbour there is always a good place for loggerhead turtle spotting – before we’d even reached the hotel, we were treated to a group of three of them playing together in the water near to the harbour wall.
They are such fantastically benign creatures, who don’t seem to mind at all if we are swimming next to them, and they’ll often pop up in an inquisitive way near the harbour wall or next to the boat to see what’s occurring in the human world. Continue reading “Farmhouse fruitcake (vegan)”
Living in a total backwater and being two days drive away from the border that Turkey shares with Syria, Iraq and Iran, not to mention a very long way from Istanbul and Ankara, we’ve always felt somewhat insulated from the ‘real world’. That all changed with the failed coup of July 2016 and the many terror attacks that followed.
Two of the attacks were launched this side of our nearest city, Antalya, making it uncomfortably close to home. We wondered if we should leave. On the night of the coup we stayed up into the early hours, glued to the BBC and occasionally hanging nervously over the terrace to see if we could see or hear anything amiss. Our Turkish neighbours were doing the same – unlike us, they didn’t have the option to leave. It all happened just two days before we departed for our summer holiday in Britain, and we began to wonder if we were going to be crossing the bay to Kastellorizo in a kayak or sailing dinghy to pick up a ferry to Athens instead of catching a Thomas Cook flight from Dalaman to Birmingham.
Continue reading “Six things I love about Kaş”
Have you ever seen such a forlorn fruit bowl? A couple of pomegranates – fresh from the tree in the garden of Erol’s garage, where our car had its pre-MOT checks this week – alongside the inevitable black bananas (see last week’s post) and a lonely as-yet-unripe avocado.
Last week’s banana drizzle cake had an undignified ending. Having no Tupperware box the right size or shape, I put half in the freezer and wrapped the rest in clingfilm and put it inside the cold oven, where I thought it would be safe from the attentions of Annie Cat (the four-legged midnight stealth shopper). It had companions in the form of a half loaf of soda bread and some leftover simits. I am sure you can guess where this is going – the following day when I turned on the oven, I only remembered they were there when I smelled the plastic melting. The banana bread was totally shrink-wrapped in a coffin of melted clingfilm. Its friends were similarly entombed and also had to be jettisoned. Ooops. Continue reading “Fruity banana muffins – egg-free, dairy-free, vegan”
Is it just our household that only ever seems to have black bananas? I am sure they are yellow when I buy them (or green, even) but by the time I glance at them again, they look as though they are suffering from terminal black spot.
Over the years, I have made squillions of variations of banana bread, all pretty straightforward, but I think this one is hands-down the easiest. As long as your bananas are really soft, you just chuck everything into the bowl at the same time and give it a vigorous thrashing with a wooden spoon (if your bananas need a bit of help, mash them well with a fork first or just mix the cake in a food processor). Continue reading “All-in-one banana drizzle cake”
When is a cake a cake and when is it a torte? Sachertorte is the one that everyone knows, and it turns out that ‘torte’ is simply a German word for ‘cake’, though Sachertorte originated in Vienna of course.
It seems that if a cake contains luxury ingredients, such as ground nuts and fresh fruit, rather than just flour, butter, eggs and sugar, then it may well be a torte. Tortes also tend to be more dense in texture and less tall than their cakey cousins, so I’ve decided today’s offering qualifies on all counts. It contains ground almonds and fresh fruit, it has a deliciously fudgy texture, redolent of marzipan, it is under-tall and it looks pretty posh, even though it is extremely simple to make. Continue reading “Gluten-free berry almond torte”