Vegan banana bread with candied walnut topping

Vegan banana bread (600 x 356) resizedI am fully stocked with flour again – a box containing five large bags of organic plain flour from the Cotswold Flour Mill arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. I am not intentionally stockpiling, but they are struggling with the sheer volume of orders, so are currently only delivering if you buy the entire box. Hopefully it will last me until the shops return to normal, whenever that will be. Continue reading “Vegan banana bread with candied walnut topping”

Springtime minestrone with wild garlic & butter beans

20200504_195728I have set myself a challenge of going to the supermarket an absolute maximum of once a week (though I do allow myself a quick dash into the village store to get fresh milk and fresh fruit in between). Robin is staying at home apart from our daily walk on the Bissoe Trail, owing to his advancing years and marginally dodgy ticker, so I figure that the fewer times I expose myself (and ergo him) to our new friend Corona, the better for everyone.

This means we end up with an odd collection of bits of this and bits of that in the veggie drawer, inevitably leading to either a cheesy-veggie tart or a bowl of soup. Last night we had severe storms down here on the coast, don’t you know, so soup was just the ticket. And the sourdough starter was calling to be topped up, so it seemed the perfect time to bake a couple of loaves of rye/durum wheat sourdough for dunking purposes. Continue reading “Springtime minestrone with wild garlic & butter beans”

Toscakaka (Swedish almond cake)

Toscakaka cakeWell, these are strange times. I hope you and all your loved ones are well. We should have been going back to Turkey about now, but it looks as though we will be in Cornwall until after the summer.

I am very much aware that there are worse places to be – today we were out for our daily walk on the Bissoe Trail and I think it’s fair to say that spring has thoroughly sprung. Primroses, daffodils, tulips, camelias and rhododendrons are in full and beautiful bloom – a cheering site to say the least.

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A very good gluten-free loaf

IMG_4024I promise I am not on a mission to simplify other people’s recipes, but I saw a recipe in this weekend’s Guardian newspaper that I was keen to try, but didn’t actually have all the ingredients to hand. However, I couldn’t see anything in the list of ingredients that couldn’t be replaced with something I already had lurking in my pantry, so threw caution to the wind and gave it a go. And the result was excellent, even though I say so myself.

And before you think ‘uh oh, bread, complicated and time consuming,’ think cake mix rather than bread dough. For this loaf, you literally have a bowl with some (gluten-free) flour in it, plus a jug of wet ingredients, then you pour one into the other and mix with a spoon. No kneading or stretching, just a quick mix, then a little wait while it proves and you get on with something else. Continue reading “A very good gluten-free loaf”

33p sourdough loaf

IMG_3997.JPGEvery time I switch from Cornwall to Turkey, and vice versa, I give away my sourdough starter to other bread-making friends and neighbours, then begin a new one when I get to the other end. However, when we went back to Turkey last September, and having managed to produce a particularly potent batch, I decided to take some with me. Unfortunately, despite being in a sealed plastic pot inside two zip-lock freezer bags, it sort of exploded while in the hold of the plane, and then got out into my suitcase. Ooops. This was not ideal, as we had a two-day stopover in Göcek on our way back to Kaş, so I had to sit and pick lots of little concrete-like blobs of dough off the least-affected garments, so that I had something to wear. The other slightly unexpected outcome was that all of my clothes had a vague whiff of a brewery about them. Oh dear.
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Lemon semolina cake with rosemary drizzle

IMG_3880I know I am back home in Turkey because a) I have to have a shower or throw myself into the pool every time I’ve completed even the least arduous of chores, owing to looming heat exhaustion, and b) when I bent to pick up a towel that had blown down from the line, I realised I also seemed to be holding on to a viper. Ooops. That tends not to happen in Cornwall, though I am sure there is a first time for everything.

Anyway, said viper was not in the best of health and I lived to tell the tale – AGAIN – this would be about the eleventy-twentieth time I have picked up something that I didn’t intend to. Despite rescuing said asp on the long-handled dustpan and brush we keep for this very task, and taking him to a ‘safe place’ in the long grass across the road, he didn’t make it in the end. I suspect there had already been some foul play on the part of one of our moggies before the poor thing took refuge beneath the fallen towel. Continue reading “Lemon semolina cake with rosemary drizzle”

High-fibre beef & lentil chilli

img_3479Happy 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.
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Hot and sour Thai noodle soup

IMG_3417Despite 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 “Hot and sour Thai noodle soup”

Oven-bottom bread (and my life as a water spaniel)

IMG_3401Raining. 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)”

It’s raining, so it must be a jam day

Quince tree

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”