Raspberry & salted caramel cheesecakes

IMG_3606It’s official. Spring has well and truly sprung. Well, it has in this part of the world anyway. We have early rhododendrons, all kinds of magnolia, and camelias galore. Not to mention the daffodil fields, which are now in full bloom. I am pleased we are leaving for Turkey in a week’s time, as I hate to see the daffodils which have been grown for their bulbs dying out – they look so sad.

IMG_3530

Continue reading “Raspberry & salted caramel cheesecakes”

Advertisements

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.
Continue reading “High-fibre beef & lentil chilli”

Hot and sout 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 sout 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)”

Blueberry cornbread muffins

IMG_3344I’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”

Farmhouse fruitcake (vegan)

IMG_3325.jpgI’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)”

Fruity banana muffins – egg-free, dairy-free, vegan

IMG_3248Have 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”

Fruity banana bread (vegan)

IMG_3013We’ve been back in Cornwall for three weeks and, ahem, I believe there have been no blog posts during that time. We’ve been busy trying to get the house finished and there has also been the lure of the unusually fabulous British weather, so we thought we’d squeeze in some walks and see a few more places before the mass arrival of tourists when the school holidays start in a couple of weeks time.

On the house front, we are nearly there – it has been almost a year since we started, but we are delighted with the result. We are far from tidy and there are plenty of finishing touches to do (like swapping the Turkish carpet in our living room, which doesn’t remotely complement the furniture, for the one that is currently underneath the dining table in our  house in Turkey – despite our best efforts, it was too big to go in our largest suitcase, so ended up being left for our next visit). Continue reading “Fruity banana bread (vegan)”

Pretty views from my kitchen (and simple scones)

IMG_2924It 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)”

No-faff fish pie

IMG_2702.jpgRobin’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”