Thursday, 3 September 2015

Autumn Show

The September Show was a great success last night.  This is the first time that I have been Show Secretary at the Kenilworth Horticultural Club, and I could feel the tension mounting.  Therefore despite having bought some of the ingredients for baking, I decided to  let others have a chance, since I have been winning prizes in those categories for a few years now!  I did have have nice comments made to me though last evening on how I ought to have entered etc.

It was easy enough for me to grab a couple of jars of jam, and a couple of jars of Chutney, remake the labels without my name on them, and put them in.  I had not even tasted the spicy Mango Chutney, and I am very pleased with the Judges's comments on that one.  The Piccalilli won the second prize.  The Wild Plum Jam, fruit picked by Steve and left on my doorstep, won first prize, and The Kenilworth Cherry Jam, fruit from Roz's garden,  won second prize.  The judges' comments on this last one amuzed me:  a Little Chunky.  I though, am really pleased with this, as I wanted at least half of the cherries to be almost whole, as I intended it to be used with yogurt, or wedges of almond cake etc for desert, so for this it was spot on for me!

My 'wild' fern, which just grew by itself on the edge of one of my beds, and later transferred to the lovely container found for me by Penny, was not placed, but the judge really likes my Scilla.

I bought the Scilla at the Shrewsbury Show in 2014.  I thought then that the name was incorrect.  I tried to contact the seller but the company had closed due to retirement, but today through Google and searching pictures I have found out that it is Ledebouria socialis, or Scilla socialis, Silver Quill, Leopard Lily...By looking back just one year, I am amazed at how well it have filled out.  Now that it has its prize, I shall be splitting it up, with one piece already being reserved by the Judge!  Loving plants with nice details I feel for this one immediately.  The bulb grows on the surface and is covered with a purple flaking skin, and the flowers though not showy are well worth peering into.  I love the word socialis and I imagine it is because of the way all the small bulbs just crowd up on themselves.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Holly Blue Butterfly

It was almost impossible to catch this one still, and never when it had its wings open.  It seemed to settle with its wings closed.  I think it is the Holly Blue.  Now that I think of it, there is a large variegated Holly Tree in the garden, and there are signs of the blossoms having been nibbled!

Monday, 31 August 2015

In a Vase on Monday - Not putting the Dormouse into the teapot

A few weeks ago, I believe someone posting In a Vase on Monday mentioned the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so please if your read this, please 'admit' to starting me along this road.

This is an old book, a little wormy, which has my father's name written in the front and which I remember reading from when I was a little girl.  It has travelled across oceans and back again.  I love the old plates and think this is a 1930's edition.

Instead of putting the dormouse into the teapot, I am putting flowers in the sugar basin!  This is a little pewter teapot, sugar basin, and milk jug trio.  I had to rush Mr S to get it down from the loft, get it polished, and madly go into the garden in the rain to pick the blooms!

Flowers this week are Blue and White, I always used to see Alice as wearing a Blue Dress and white pinny, even in the black and white pictures, so White Centaurea,

Blue Aster frikartii Monch

White Agapanthus
and a little of my new clover

Trifolium repens Dragon's Blood

I have liked Pewter for some time now, I even prefer it to silver!  For many years I had wondered if I could use it as I thought it contained lead..but what a wonderful thing the internet is:

This what the Pewter society says:

Towards the end of the 18th century a new alloy called Britannia metal was discovered which could be used for large scale manufacture of teapots, tankards and the like through its ability to be rolled pressed and worked on wooden formers and cold stamped. Up to then pewter had been cast in expensive moulds. This change in tooling with Britannia metal gave resurgence to the industry and new centres were created in Sheffield and Birmingham.
As Britannia metal is an alloy of tin, antimony and copper there are no restrictions on its use for drinking. All pewter of modern manufacture meets the same standard.
I had thought that I may be poisoning myself if I used this, and would end up as Mad as the Hatter though his poisoning would have been from mercury.  If sometimes I am a little made, a little skittish, its not on account of having a tea caddy made of pewter!

Cathy has gone all red this week, so please go and visit our hostesse's  site.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Khubza Bil Ashab

Just over a year ago this bun was the third bake on The Book of Buns facebook group.  I have very nearly caught up now.  This is just about the easiest bun and tastiest of buns.  You don't knead the dough, but just mix all the ingredients together, put the bowl in the fridge overnight, then when ready to bake, just form into buns, and put straight into the oven.  After first posting this, without the recipe, I contacted the Author Jane Mason, and she has given her permission for me to post the recipe below.  So whether you have baked bread or not before, try this one.

With chopped olives, olive oil, red onions, lots of chives and parsley from the garden, and a few seeds, these are great with a nice bowl of soup, and really just on their own.  I can really understand that in Libya, where they come from they are eaten as a late night snack, with tea and lots of chatter.

This herb bread requires no kneading at all, and its the perfect finger food at parties and picnics and will be a winner in any lunchbox.  Jane's descriptions like this one at the head of each recipe gives an insight into each type of bun. ( I have added extra comments, which may help)

Day One: making the dough

The night before you would like your bread, put everything into a big mixing bowl, (it will rise overnight, so use a large bowl) and stir well.  Cover with clingfilm and pop it into the fridge.  Allow to rest until the next day.( You could do this first thing if you are baking late at night)

600g strong flour, which can be white or wholemeal or a mixture
3g instant, or 6g dry yeast, or 12g fresh yeast
12g salt or cut down to 8g if you are using olives
50g olive oil
500g water just from the tap/room temperature
any combination of diced olives, chopped spring onions, or onions red or white, crumbled feta cheese, a few handfuls of fresh herbs, pinch of paprika, zahtar or other spices.

Day two: shaping and baking

Preheat the oven to 220C , Gas 7, Take the dough out of the fridge, and gently pull in out onto a floured surface.  Divide the dough into 16 equal portions, and then with floury hands, shape into balls.  ( Handle gently, so as not to knock all the air out of them). Transfer on to 2 baking sheets, lined with baking parchment.

Pop them immediately into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. ( I needed a little longer, I baked them till they were browning on the bottom.  Once they are part baked, you can move them around on the baking parchment to ensure they are equally browned all round if the oven has an uneven temperature.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

I made 20 smaller ones, and they freeze beautifully.  The dough is quite wet, not like usual bread dough, but don't worry.  You could always make half the quantity the first time you try these.  You could add a few seeds or other cheese, I used just over one handful of herbs, but it could have taken more. I love them zapped in the oven for 5 minutes if you want a nice warm snack.

New insect in the garden may be Potter or Mason Wasp

I was out in the garden and spied this interesting wasp. 

The wide number of insects which visit the Blue Centaurea is amazing.   This is the first time I have seen this insect in the garden.  The many insects which come on this flower are particularly interested in the involucral bracts below the flower. 

This Potter Wasp or Mason Wasp catches small caterpillars and 'buries' them along with its egg, in a hole, then covers it with mud.

Within a minute other insects spied... about four all on the same bloom.