Sunday, October 26, 2014

She Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

My Great-Aunt Clarissa has written from Rome to ask why the tea towel she sent in 2007, bearing a humourous Latin inscription, is not among my three special tea towels.   It is because of the motorcycle spare part incident. Husbands can be so thoughtless. It was, however, a perfect present.  The reader will be wondering what to send me for Christmas. Tea towels, by all means.

Indeed, anything made of fabric. Myself, I ply people with blankets, cushions, and charming bags in which to store their unwanted blankets and cushions. This is my latest fabric acquisition: Agatha in Aqua for the landing window. Isn't it simply lovely?



Being on Bloglovin' has made me acutely aware of the scrapbooking menace in our midst. Grown women spend their time gluing little bits and pieces into scrapbooks and blogging about them when they could be chairing an international pharmaceutical conference, keeping a goat, or, as I do myself, strolling around the parish, bringing peace to a torn community by admiring the horses' heads on people's gateposts. Would that my gateposts were thus adorned, I tell them.

Word has swept round the Internet of Jane's new blue bench. I have flicked back through my 2013 Scrapbook Number 5(c) to find some images of my own blue benches, as I am very cutting edge. I have several, as you will see, plus a painting of one of them.



If you would like to be with Jane and myself in the madding crowd at the cutting edge, why not join the Fellowship of the Blue Bench? You know what you must do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nutella Scone

You must all be wondering why I have called you here to the library today. Is is so that I may show you my Nutella Scone.

[special dotty tea towel]


To make these, prepare your normal scone dough, omitting the usual small quantity of sugar. Roll or press it out into a rectangle, spread with a layer of Nutella, roll it up and cut it into slices. Arrange on a baking-tin and bake at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Am I right in thinking you don't have a few special tea towels you keep folded away in the table napkin drawer, to be used only for blog photography? No, me neither.

[special pink stripe tea towel]


But if I did, I'd only have three: the dotty, the pink stripe, and a blue floral. I plan to raise my game and acquire more, or risk my blog being remaindered.  While I haven't posted, so many of my readers will have gone off to finalise their book deals, or launch their range of cashmere ponchos. They'll be too busy and important to loiter round here, shooting the pink breeze. The mushroom will show willing.

Lucille, if you haven't already read it, you will like Elizabeth Von Arnim's Elizabeth and her German Garden.  Sue, you too.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

the turbot problem solved

Are your dinner guests annoying? Do they congregate in your celebrity kitchen with a glass of wine, talking about how they've been, as you fret over the final touch of parmesan on the asparagus starter? Mine mill insufferably round the stove, despite my harried suggestions that they may wish to make themselves more comfortable on a Louis Quinze reproduction sofa.

And so I have frequently suffered the embarrassment of being observed as I stuffed the turbot clumsily into my normal copper fish kettle.

A bright new future with the turbot kettle.
I hope no one thinks I have bought shares in the copper mines.
Rather, I am motivated by joy.
Those sorry days are done. This is my latest discovery, the copper turbot fish kettle, 13 litre capacity. Turbots at my dinner table will remain perfectly turbot-shaped, so long as they do not exceed 13 litres. I would say the average superior Irish turbot is about 11 litres, so that leaves a safe margin of error, no?

Anyhow, the copper turbot fish kettle is now in my Amazon shopping basket. Amazon will leave my many tentative purchases in the basket for weeks and weeks, waiting for the day when I have had two glasses of wine rather than one and click on 'Checkout now'.

How would Friday next week suit you for dinner?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

lying low


A 9th birthday cake. The colour scheme looks a bit seventies, now that we are all here in glorious 2014, but that was unintentional, as is my absence.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line until the next post becomes available.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line until the next post becomes available.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the red dogwood

Now that the sun is shining, I thought everyone would be delighted if I were to post a photo of the shelf over the range, with the red dogwood looking well in some coloured bottles.



It's hard to fathom the thinking behind the newly designed Cadbury's chocolate wrapper. 'EASY RECLOSE'?  Is it now the done thing to reclose one's chocolate bar rather than consume it all in one sitting while browsing for an old-fashioned brass locket to send to America? It is only a small bar, a mere eight squares.




I have also fallen a bit behind in blogging conventions and have been slow to notice that it is an essential of lifestyle posts to shoot the same photo from various angles and distances.




To make amends, you will see that my camera and I have backed cautiously away from the chocolate in order that the image should also encompass my petit four serving dish, my pink poinsettia, and my Greengate tea towel. One could almost call the ensemble a vignette.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hot Cross Muffins

A moment of thought fusion occurred in my celebrity kitchen on Saturday: why not combine two of my favourite foods, English muffins and hot cross buns?

Hot cross muffins: standard English muffin recipe,
plus cherries, sultanas and spices.
Secular version.
These are extremely nice, and they bake in about 12 minutes on the stove hotplate. If you have a top tip on kneading glacé cherries into bread dough without breaking them up, please make haste to the comment box to set me straight.  Is my brand of cherries too puny?

I haven't posted in a while, as I've felt awfully cut up over the state of my sourdough starter. It's a living thing, I'm told, a colony of well-intentioned lactobacilli, so I don't like to abandon it to the storm despite its iffy appearance, but, anyhow, soldiering on, the verbena is casting splendid autumnal shadows,


and posies of flowers still come in from the garden although it's nearly November.


People keep getting in touch saying they want to rush me a truckload of pistachio cookies or ergonomic secateurs for me to review on my blog, no strings attached. Does this mean I have risen from C-list to B-list, or do they fail to realise that I only have seven readers, not all of whom are partial to pistachios?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

flowers and food

Blogging always reverts to the classic themes of flowers and food while the rest of life whirls unsuitably on around the camera moments.


Pink Daughter packed up this year's pressed petals to show at school. She was surprised that her classmates don't know the names of even the easy ones, such as cosmos and hydrangea. The One Direction Official Compendium of Garden Flowers should remedy that.



The last of the unpressed flowers still linger outside, getting somewhat in the way of the bulbs waiting to be planted. I've set up a scientific experiment in the corner by the rocky mound: a bed of autumn-planted perennial sunflower, purple toadflax, and Japanese anemone, vigorous invaders all. Time will tell which one overwhelms its companions.


Pizza with blue cheese, rosemary, and potato. It was a great revelation to me that I could make pizza sauce by sautéing courgette and onion rather than cooking tomatoes.  So bourgeois, tomatoes.


Homemade doughballs and Nutella for after school.   I've considered making my own chocolate hazelnut spread in that idle way one toys with the notion of giving up alcohol, but the children would be upset if it contained antioxidants.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

homemade baked beans

Shop-bought baked beans are my enemy, first cousins to that most detestable of foods, ketchup. So I didn't think I'd like the homecooked sort either, but, with my characteristic saintly approach to feeding the family, made them nonetheless. They were jolly nice.

The English muffins on which the beans are served are homemade.
The coriander is homegrown.
The dahlias are from my dahlia-bucket on the terrace.
The butter is handspread.
Hurrah for me.

To make them, sauté a chopped onion in a small casserole dish until soft, add a tablespoon each of cider vinegar and maple syrup, two chopped cloves of garlic, half a carton of passata, and a tin of cannellini beans. A teaspoonful of cumin or a little chilli powder is good too. Stir and bring to simmering point.  Place in a medium oven for an hour (or an hour simmering on the hob is fine too if you don't want to light an oven).


If you're wondering how big a carton of passata, this big.
Like many slow-cooked foods, they taste even nicer the next day.

Friday, September 27, 2013

the pictures from Paris

Goodness, I said to myself, it's Friday. I had better post something or my defenceless little blog will be lost amid the stampede of lovely things bloggers have handcrafted this week.

It wouldn't be honourable to post the pictures from Paris. So many people don't receive, out of the blue, an envelope containing original artworks, inscribed with a kindly message, from a chic European capital.  Bad feeling would ensue.

Flowers, by Margaret

Bakery shop (detail) by Elizabeth

No, I said, still talking to myself, I will do the decent thing and post a photo of the inconsequential jellies instead, the ones that look so pretty in the light. 


The jellies
The jellies will do until I cease to be so busy and important.  There has been such a rush of requests to critique websites and blogs in the aftermath of my recent pro bono work in that area, and I shall certainly get round to yours once I have finished the report on this particular one, with its many manifest lifestyle deficiencies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the crocheters

After Annabelle's dress, depicted here recently, had spread around the international crocheting community like wildfire, a flood of three emails sought to see more of her wardrobe. Here are a few more ensembles:

Pleased to meet you, Mr Ambassador

Crocheters of the world, I greet you! 

I am delighted to accept this lovely, large parcel

What you are saying about your yoga is truly fascinating

You must forgive me for partially obscuring the lovely cushion
Beautiful!, you kindly think.  As Jen so rightly tells me, the poster struggles to reply thought-provokingly to a comment that simply says 'beautiful!' so I am happy to propose a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby you will save yourself the effort of leaving an admiring comment on this post and I will take 'beautiful!' as read.  We will remain best friends.
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