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” →
Happy new year to everyone – it is so hard to believe that we are already half way through the first week of 2018, yet it seems like only last week that we left Turkey and returned to the mayhem that is our house in Cornwall.
We’ve had a couple of weeks off from our lovely builders, who will be here with their boots shined (and coffee mugs at the ready) towards the end of next week, ready to start on Phase 2. This involves knocking down a wall (eek) and installing a new RSJ (not necessarily in that order, I realise, no need to write in to let me know that my house is about to fall down). I shall be glad to avoid the accompanying mess by being away in the Midlands, visiting friends and family, and cat-sitting for the same trio of Greek cats that we looked after back in the summer. In return for providing Claridges-style five-star catering and door-opening services for the Grecian trio of whiskered musketeers, we get to stay in Rosie’s lovely home in a pretty village on the Warwicks/Northants border, which handily means we are minutes away from our family and friends. Continue reading “Steak & ale hotpot” →
Christmas appears to be almost upon us, though it will be a quiet event in our household this year. Last year we went to Prague, having spent much of 2016 to-ing and fro-ing to various distant bits of the world, so we promised ourselves a much quieter year in 2017. That didn’t exactly go to plan, what with buying and renovating a house in Cornwall and going backwards and forwards between here and Turkey, so we shall be very grateful not to have to shop for – and entertain – legions of guests, or to be cooking (or eating) mountains of rich food. We have friends coming for the new year, but we’re looking forward to spending the next few days builder-free, not doing chores and generally chilling out by the fire with a book. Continue reading “Oxtail & pearl barley soup, and The Cookery Calendar Challenge” →
With the exception of the occasional overnight monsoon, our gorgeous late summer weather continues unabated. We sneak down to the beach most afternoons, determined to make the most of the sunshine before we return to Cornwall at the beginning of next month. Nature is certainly confused – the banana trees in the marina are loaded with fruit and the Brugmansia clearly hasn’t spotted that it is winter either. Continue reading “‘Cornish’ pie” →
When we were in Prague over Christmas, we had goulash in various forms. It was served in pretty much every bar and restaurant and was the perfect winter warmer after walking around the city in the freezing cold. In some establishments, it was more of a stew, but most versions were much more soup-like than we are used to.
Regardless of style, it was all completely delicious and I have been meaning to have a go at replicating my favourite since our return, but then Veganuary got in the way (not really conducive to testing beefy soup), closely followed by a trip to the UK and then a dose of the particularly pesky virus that seems to be circulating the British Isles this winter. Continue reading “Goulash soup with caraway dumplings” →
We’ve been in the UK for the last ten days, mainly drifting about in Devon and Cornwall, where the temperatures were surprisingly mild and the sun shone most of the time. Now that we are back in Warwickshire, things have taken a downward turn, with strong winds and pelting rain.
My parents are due back from a holiday in Madeira today, so if I can ever brave the rain to get across to Tesco, I am planning to make a warming beef and ale stew to leave for them to heat up when they get home – they have a two-hour drive from Gatwick when they land, so my mum certainly won’t be wanting to cook. A bowl of stew and a herby dumpling or two should be just the ticket. Continue reading “Slow-cooked beef and Old Speckled Hen stew” →
Hmmm, we seem to have a change in the weather. Shock, horror, only 25 degrees and very blustery. Lots of white horses on the water (or ‘white geese’ as our neighbour calls them) and the sun keeps hiding behind the clouds. Last night, we ate dinner inside for the first time since May – it was so windy that the contents of half of the garden were blowing around our terrace (which always includes the possibility of a flying saucer in the shape of a carelessly discarded cat bowl), and I also feared for the wine glasses – we’ve had so many blown over in the past, so now we always go for low-slung models when we are choosing replacements. Continue reading “Mediterranean beef & cinnamon braise (and Cevdet’s carrots)” →
My brother loves a ‘lobby’. The kind of thing where you just lob everything into the pan and hope for the best. Despite his enthusiasm for throwing caution to the wind, I tend to be marginally more scientific about it – I start with a recipe, pick it to pieces, keep the bits I like the look of, and change everything else. I don’t apply this principle to baking, I hasten to add – in that case, I would definitely try the recipe first, then make modifications. Continue reading “Asian ‘lobby’ rice pot” →