Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bank Holiday fun...

Hello there! I hope you had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend? We spent the long weekend camping in Dorset! We stayed at Greenfields Forest which was so peaceful - I feel all relaxed right down to my bones and am struggling to get my brain back into gear this morning! I'll have to snap out of it though as I've got a big cake order due Friday and another little trip planned for next weekend! More on that soon ;) Enjoy the short week and don't forget to pop back a little later on as I'll be sharing some photos of our lovely weekend in the countryside!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A quick and easy Summer fruit crumble...

Last Summer, after my Grandad's funeral, my family and I waved goodbye to the last of the many friends and relations who had come to pay their respects and took a walk around my Grandparent's pretty garden. We soon came to my Grandad's pride and joy - the vegetable patch. It was quite a sight - rows and rows of raspberries and blackberries stood neatly around the edges while little goosberry bushes squatted in the middle. By this time most of the vegetables were finished for the year but the berries were at their absolute prime and every branch drooped heavily. We couldn't bear to let anything go to waste so we picked and picked until everything was safely gathered in.

I'm something of a preserving enthusiast and love nothing more than bottling Summer in jams, chutneys, syrups and pickles but I'll often find myself three batches of jam deep with a huge glut of fruit still to go. In this case I just pop any leftover fruit into the freezer and continue to enjoy the juicy and flavoursome berries right through the winter - taking them out as and when I need them for compots, puddings and to go on top of my breakfast cereal with yogurt. When I picked these berries last year I felt like the human equivalent of a wet flannel that's been tightly wrung out and drooped over the side of the bath and couldn't face doing anything beyond washing them, putting them into little bags and burying them at the very bottom of the freezer.

Cut to yesterday afternoon when I made the happy discovery that the berries were still there! One thing sprang to my mind - crumble! As I mentioned in my blog post about last weekends camping trip, I reject the notion that Summer is in any way on the wane and though Autumn is one of my very favourite seasons, will not be yearning for my jeans and jumpers any time soon but hang on a minute what's this, cinnamon and ginger? Tell me more... 

This crumble is easy! It ain't' no thing. It's not even a real recipe. To make it, first fill an oven dish with frozen berries of your choice (I used a mixture of blackberries, goosberries and blackcurrents) then stir in some dark brown sugar to taste (I used about a tablespoonful but you could use more or less or substitute the sugar for a good squeeze of agave nectar or a big spoonful of honey). I used my home made breakfast cereal as a ready made crumble topping! I put a couple of cupfuls in a bowl and mixed in around two teaspoons of ground cinnamon and two teaspoons of ground ginger plus a bit more sugar. Tip the crumble mixture over the fruit and press down gently. I dotted the top of the crumble with a few knobs of butter as a treat.

Bake in the oven at around 170c for half an hour.

This is the perfect pudding for a lazy late Summer Sunday when the sun is low in the sky but still warm. Eaten warm with a dollop of ice cream it will feel wonderfully decadent, left to cool and spooned over natural yogurt it will feel like Summer personified (or desertified!....no?). It was so lovely to be eating the fruit from my Grandad's back garden over a year later and brought back so many memories and feelings of being looked after and loved - something I'll always be grateful for! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sleeply Head

Whilst sifting through the tangled web of folders and sub folders on my hard drive I came across this sweet picture of Toby, our fearsome fighter, as a little yawning kitten and couldn't resist sharing! I hope you've had a dreamy weekend - I can't believe we're half way through August already!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Raw Chocolate Brownies!

I felt that these brownies deserved a post of their own because, well, just look at them! The texture is absolutely perfect - they combine just the right levels of softness and squidge and absolutely melt in the mouth. I can hardly believe that they're not even baked and only contain four ingredients - Medjool dates, walnuts, almonds and sea salt. Believe!

The recipe is from My New Roots: The Raw Brownie - go take a peek!

I roughly halved the quantities and made them as follows...

1 cup organic whole walnuts
1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup raw organic cacao (not cocoa!)
1/2 cup organic almonds
1/4 tsp salt

1) Blend the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground (as Sarah of My New Roots explains, the ground walnuts act as the flour in this recipe - so clever!). The texture will be more like finely ground breadcrumbs rather than a powder.

2) Add the cacao and pulse to combine.

3) With the food processor running, add the pitted dates one at a time. Next time I think I'll prep the dates first so that I have them ready pitted and to hand by the time I come to this stage. I was too excited and just had to get started so that when I came to add the dates I ended up running the food processor for longer than I needed to while I pitted the dates as I went. They still turned out fine but I think they could have had an even lighter texture had I not processed the mixture so much by the end of the process. Nuff processing!

4) Place the almonds in a freezer bag and whack them a few times with a rolling pin (or, chop the nuts using the method of your choosing...)

5) Place them nuts in a mixing bowl and add the walnut / cacao / date mixture. Combine the almonds with the mixture and tip into a lined dish or cake tin. Obviously the larger the receptacle the thinner the brownies will be - mine could have been a little thicker I guess but we solved that problem by just eating double.

6) Sieve a little extra cacao over the top to make it look pretty then pop in the freezer for about half an hour. Remove from the freezer and slice them up using a big sharp knife.

7) Engorge yourself.

Oh yeah.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sleeping under the stars...

Hello! I hope your week has got off to a cracking start? Isn't Summer funny sometimes the way one minute it's on it's way and the next it's on it's way out? Midsummer is elusive but I've decided to seize it (or what's left of it) as much as I can and hold Autumn at arms length for as long as possible. Why don't you join in? Let's squeeze the Summer dry! :) 

Here's a few pictures of our lovely weekends camping! On Friday night we pitched our tent, lit the BBQ, cracked open a bottle of wine and sat back to watch the stars. On Saturday morning we woke up to a bright blue, blustery sky and reached straight for the kettle! We had a cup of tea and some delicious raw brownie (more on this later) with strawberries and raspberries whilst we stretched, yawned took in our surroundings.

 Feeling refreshed we fired up the BBQ and got the bacon, toast and eggs on the go!

We've got a great little box on wheels that has everything we need - a camping kettle, pans, cutlery, mugs, even a kitchen sink (really!).

We take organic soy milk with us and it usually keeps OK for a couple of days out of the fridge. It works well in tea and even in scrambled eggs but you have to boil it over the camping stove or on the BBQ before you put it in coffee or it curdles in the most disgusting way!

After our rather hearty breakfast we set off to explore the sweet little village of Ringwood where I visited every single charity shop! I got some great bits and pieces like a beautiful pressed glass cake stand (£3.99!). I actually came back with four carrier bags stuffed full and am looking forward to sharing some pictures soon!

Later on that afternoon we took a walk to the nearby village of Fritham and visited the Royal Oak pub which dates back to the 1600's!

My eye infection is getting better you'll be pleased to know. Trust me you do not want to see what's behind these sunglasses.

We had a couple of pints, shared a packet of crisps and I pretended to sympathise with Ciaran's manly camping injury...

As the sun started to dip we made our way home breathing in big fresh lungfuls of air.

Do these ever last more than a Summer? Not on my feet!

As I walked through the long grass lots of these little butterflies rose up into the air - it was magical!

In the car on the drive home on Sunday we switched on the radio and pricked up our ears when we heard on the news that a murderer had been on the loose in our exact area the whole weekend! How crazy is that? All in a weekends camping eh?