Saturday, 11 September 2010

Spending time with relations

This week we have had our nephew spend a few days with us. I loved the day he and I spent together in Coventry. Its great to see the City from a different angle. Having lived in Madrid and Berlin for a few years, we talked about city scapes and also different ways of looking at things.
We walked around the City, through the Cathedral area, and on to the Herbert Museum. Following lunch in the crypt beneath St Mary's Guild Hall, we went up to view the superb rooms, with a wall covered with a tapestry made for the space.
This is what the guide says about the tapestry:

Manufactured around the years 1495 to 1500, its significance lies not just in its age and remarkable state of preservation, but also in the fact that, incredibly, it remains hanging on the very wall for which it was created more than five hundred years ago.
At more than nine metres wide and three metres high, this magnificent artwork dominates the north wall of the Great Hall, and is testament to both the skill of its Flemish weavers, and the wealth of the city of Coventry at the end of the fifteenth century.
We spent some time going round the Motor Museum, and Carl was impressed with the collection.

The cup returns

September is the month for taking entries to Kenilworth Horticultural Autumn Show. I was going to enter some baking, but was not at all in the mood for baking that day. Having studied the schedule, I went through my preserves cupboard, and the garden, looking for suitable entries. Here they are together with the cup I won last year for my jam, polished and ready to be returned and who knows where it will end up for the next year........

The following morning, I lay out my prizes, the cup is back having won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize for my jams, first prize for my marmalade and again my wild plum jam won the cup for the class of jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles and marmalades. There were many entries so I was well 'chuffed'. After the presentation, I offered my pots up for sale, with proceeds going to the club. My geranium won third prize in the flowering plants section, but my two pots of succulents were not ranked as they were marked 'not as per schedule', because the schedule said one plant, which I had quickly read as one pot! As they say in exams your must read the question and only answer that!


Hedgerow delights

Finding a couple of hours a few days ago, when the sun was shining, I walked through the fields enjoying the wonderful late summer weather, with a couple of lidded boxes. The blackberries which I had spied the previous day had all been picked so I had to walk much further, but I was not to be deterred. As soon as I got home I set to: washed and picked through the fruit, and set them on to boil together with a few chopped up windfall apples. Overnight I strained the lot through some muslin, which I draped over a colander. I had a wonderful dark liquid. I make 500ml with 400 g sugar into cordial. This is the first time I have tried this, and it was very successful. After boiling up the mixture for five minutes, I poured the liquid into some small bottles which I had been saving, and then with the tops on, I put then into a big pan full of boiling water, and felt that 30 minutes was probably sufficient to sterilise the lot. Both Mr S and visiting nephew have finished off the two smaller bottles already!

I then made some superb jelly, clear and well set with 500 g of sugar to 500g of juice together with the juice of one lemon. The rest I made up into 'cheese', having pushed through almost everything except the pips through a sieve. This took me ages, but the results were well worth it.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Great Stasher Bake Off

Its great to see baking coming to the fore, and I'm enjoying the Great British Bake Off. Mr S loves lemon buns, and I usually get them ready baked from Sainsbury's. With the quantities from the internet I made twelve pretty large buns. I think making eight would have been the size buns one would feed to the elephants at the zoo. At least when I was little you could feed buns to animals in the zoo, now I am sure it is a nono. I decided to ice only six, and having given some to Lita and daughter to sustain them for long car journey, left some for Mr S for Friday and Saturday. They are a sure winner. Shame I am currently off wheat at present!

Then without thinking to check the recipe for Paul Hollywood's loaf on line, I decided to go back to basics and follow the recipe exactly as in the book, which has been on my shelves since it was first gave 1 tablespoon salt to 500g...I read and reread, but decided to stick to what was printed. After all one of the sure comments on the programme that there was not enough the loaf baked beautifully but the taste was far too salty. Hummmm having just checked the BBC website, it gives 2 tsp salt, thank goodness for that, I was thinking that new fans to bread making would be suffering for an overdose of salt.I've tried many of the recipes before but always altered the salt down to what I think reasonable 3 tsp for a kg of flour, 4 tsp at the most. I wonder whether this was an error throughout the book, and maybe it has been corrected in more recent editions.