Down on the Farm

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Our external hard drive is getting a little full so I’ve been going through my out of control and badly organised photos folder.  The idea was that I would clear some stuff out but instead I fell down a rabbit hole discovering photos I’d forgotten about.  These shots of a derelict farm on one of our regular walks were taken in April over two years ago!  I love how the spring light is captured in these photos with the promise of summer just around the corner.  Something to warm me up on this blustery October day.  It also reminded me that I need to take my camera out more like I used to rather than just relying on my iphone.  Practicing my photography is something I really want to get back into.


Monday, 13 October 2014

How time flies when you disappear off to have a baby...  Lately I’ve been spending my sleep deprived days getting to know our gorgeous little boy.  Things are a little chaotic.

In my last week of pregnancy I suddenly found the urge to cook but the seasons also changed on me and now this cherry crumble looks a little wrong.  Throw in plums or blackberries or whatever autumn fruit tickles your fancy.  Recipe here from Green Kitchen Stories along with impossibly beautiful photography.

I also made these incredible sugar free cookies.  In fact I took a batch to give me much needed energy while I was in labour.  Ha, that didn’t happen.  Labour and food did not go together.  This recipe is so good.  I’ve managed to make a couple of batches since and can’t stop munching my way through them.  Recipe here from A Sweet Spoonful.  I used pecans, pistachios and cacao nibs in place of the walnuts. Make sure you top with flaked sea salt.  Don’t skip this part, it’s key to the overall taste of the cookie.

Now that autumn is well and truly under way I’ve been getting back in to soup in a big way.  I’ve been making batches of this curried sweet potato soup at the weekends and I also made a parsnip version of this carrot and ginger soup and added a pinch of cumin to spice things up a little.  So glad it’s parsnip season again!

Novelty Vegetables

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I seem to have found my way back to the kitchen lately.  I’ve dusted off my camera and found a little inspiration again.  It helps that there is so much crazy good food to be eaten at this time of year.  I’m literally coming back from the market sinking under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Ok, my husband is sinking under the weight.  I pretty much carry nothing apart from the small human I’m overcooking.  41 weeks, come on!

I was instantly charmed and intrigued by the purple cauliflower I saw at the market last week.  Obviously I had to buy one immediately and take pictures of it with my phone because that’s the kind of weird stuff that amuses me.  Purple cauliflower tastes much the same as regular cauliflower but I was pleased that it retains its colour while cooking.  A little research revealed that it also has added health benefits containing extra levels of antioxidants.

I was roasting some new potatoes for lunch so I decided to throw some cauliflower in with those.  It made a great side dish.  I’ll definitely be having my husband schlep one home from the market again.
Spicy Roasted New Potatoes and Purple Cauliflower
Serves 2 as a side dish.
New potatoes chopped in to bite size pieces
½ head cauliflower broken down in to bite size florets
For the spice mix: I tend not to measure so add or subtract amounts according to your taste.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon of cumin,
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7.  Line a baking tray with parchment.
Place the new potatoes and cauliflower in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  As soon as the water boils remove from the heat, drain and allow the vegetables to steam dry for a couple of minutes.
Mix the spices, thyme, olive oil and honey together in a bowl and add the vegetables.  Combine until the vegetables are well coated.  Pour the vegetables into your prepared baking tray.  Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes turning occasionally until golden brown.

Lamb Ragù

Sunday, 17 August 2014

After months with scarcely a blog post two have come along in close proximity, much like buses apparently.  While I’m here twiddling my thumbs and trying to be patient I thought I’d share my ragù recipe with you.  According to Nigella, ragout is French and ragù is Italian.  I tend to think of this version as the latter.  I have no doubt it’s far from the traditional recipe but it’s one that has evolved for me over the years and I like it just the way it is, simple and easy to throw together.  Partly because I like to buy organic meat which is expensive I tend to add lentils as this means I can use less meat to make the pennies and the meal stretch a little further.  Lentils also add a good fibre element.  I cook them in the sauce along with everything else for a long time and you can barely notice they are there if hiding lentils is your thing.

Serves 2, easily doubled
The measurements here are approximate.  I tend not to measure anything but just throw it in ad hoc.
200g lamb mince (I like to use organic lamb mince)
30g (two handfuls) Lentils (either du puy, brown or green), rinsed
Extra virgin olive oil, about 1 ½ tablespoons
1 small onion or large shallot finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 carrots peeled and sliced
½ a large fennel bulb, fronds removed, diced
1 generous teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon tomato puree
400ml Passata
Water as necessary

In a non stick pan brown the lamb mince in a dash of extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
In a sauté pan fry the onion in extra virgin olive oil until translucent.  Add the carrots and fennel and continue to cook over a low heat until the vegetables begin to soften.  Next add the garlic and the rosemary.  Add the browned lamb mince to the pan and then add the tomato puree.  Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the passata and a little water.  Finally add the lentils and give everything a good stir.  Leave to simmer for 1 ½ hours and add water if the mixture begins to look a little dry.  Serve over your favourite pasta with grated cheese on top.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

We are awaiting a big event around here at the moment. Part of the reason for the silence on this here little blog.  Cooking and taking photos hasn't been much on my mind lately.  So all I can offer is a few random photos to share with you from this summer.

The only cake I've made this summer and I burnt it!  Blackberry and buckwheat adapted from this 

Eating a lot of ragù.


Eggs for breakfast.

Re-learning how to knit.  I don’t know what it is at the moment.

Smoothie: frozen banana, blueberries, peaches, chia seeds, almond milk, sheep yoghurt.

Afternoon jaunt to Watts Gallery.

Cooking millet on the stove for my lunch.

Eating millet with roasted veggies.

Shots of a derelict farm on a favourite walk.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s A to Z of summer recipes from the Guardian. Inspired by lunch at my brother’s house.  The flavours going on here are out of this world.

Summer toastie: goats cheese, peach and avocado on gluten free bread. Also favourite napkin.  About the only thing I could afford in the Anthropologie sale.

Obsessed with columns at Polesden Lacey.

Cherries, can’t get enough.

Breakfast: peaches, blueberries, sheep yoghurt, quinoa pops, toasted almonds.

Roasted Summer Vegetables and a Rosy View

Friday, 13 June 2014

There is a rose in our garden coming out in full bloom.  If you knew what bad gardeners we are you would be impressed.  A few weeks ago my husband cleared an over grown and mostly dead flower bed which had been doing a good deal of looking very ugly for the past year.  We took ourselves off to the garden centre and set about buying plants having no clue what we were doing except that we wanted a few hardy shrubs and a rose bush.  We returned home somewhat out of pocket but with a car boot full of promise.  My husband dutifully planted everything while I idled with a book in a chair offering up helpful and sometimes not so helpful directions.  He planted, we watched, we waited.  The centrepiece of our new flower bed is an English rose bush and I’m happy to report this morning there are two lovely heads in bloom.  The rosemary we bought is thriving, the fuscia is doing well.  As for the others, the less said about those the better.  You can’t win them all.  The tenuous link to this salad being that we can now sit outside and enjoy our lunch with a decent view.

I’ve been enjoying roasted vegetables in various incarnations so far this summer.  I buy whatever is in season but the main players have been fennel, courgettes, carrots, tomatoes and of course kale.  In this version I used up some potatoes and threw in an avocado but I’ve also mixed roasted veg with pasta, quinoa and even millet.  The flavour comes from the roasted veg as they caremelise in the oven, the lemon zest adds a bright note to the whole affair, toasted nuts or seeds add crunch and of course goats cheese for tang.

Serves 2
1 large potato peeled and cut in to chunks
2 carrots peeled and sliced to your liking
½ large fennel bulb or whole bulb if smaller, cut in to wedges.
8 or so small plum tomatoes cut in half or quarters if larger
1 bunch of kale or other greens
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted
Goats cheese
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Zest of half a lemon
Teaspoon rosemary
Preheat oven Gas Mark 7, line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Parboil the potatoes, drain and set aside to steam.  Prepare the other vegetables.  Add the potatoes, carrots and fennel to the first baking sheet.  Sprinkle with rosemary and olive oil.  Place on the shelf of the oven.
Lay the tomatoes cut side up on the other baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and roast in the bottom shelf of the oven.  Keep an eye on the vegetables, turning occasionally.  Everything should be done after about 40 minutes.  The vegetables should be golden and the tomatoes should be beginning to caremelise.
Once the vegetables are ready add the kale to the baking tray to allow it to slightly wilt for about one minute.  Remove from the oven and grate over the lemon zest.  Serve up the roasted vegetables and kale in bowls, top with the tomatoes, avocado, goats cheese and pumpkin seeds.  Season to your liking.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

A few things...

I made Green Kitchen Stories Turmeric Breakfast Muffins.  They are very wholesome!

We took a day trip to Lewes to check out the antique shops and to stop by Harvey's Brewery.

We followed this up with a visit to Charleston Farmhouse, home of the Bloomsbury Set.  I'd definitely recommend the house tour for a little creative inspiration and the garden was stunning.

I loved these mosaic tiles

Pretty pond weeds

We've had a lot of flowers around the house lately.  Sweet Williams.

My friends bought me these gorgeous roses.

Back to food.  I've been making this veggie loaded pasta for lunch a lot lately.  I'm loving my greens and roasted tomatoes at the moment.  There's courgette, fennel, toasted pumpkin seeds, lemon zest and goats cheese in there too.

FYI just finished Blood Bones and Butter, it was a brilliant read.