Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mr S with a big smile on his face

When looking at the local paper, we often see open days or events advertised which could be interesting...with nothing to do that day in May, and being interested in transport especially trains, the open day at Electric Railway Museum at Baginton appealed. It seemed to follow on nicely from our visit the previous weekend to the London Transport Museum at Covent Market.

Although nothing to do with Electric Railways, there was a steam engine which was chuffing away nicely, which I was invited to climb on...... what a terrific feeling to feel all that power rumbling through one's body! The engine was originally made in Basingstoke by Wallis & Steevens Ltd, it was the Basingstoke association which first caught my eye.

They have an old station which Mr S climbed over, and this expression sums up his day....oh happy days....

There were some great locos and carriages for the aficionado, and one kitted out for tea and snacks. One carriage has an excellent display of the development of electricity and the electrical motor and its use in railways, something every budding engineer would be interested in. The story boards and information contained was so clear, that it would make an excellent booklet, and there were also a couple of hand on exhibits which explained some of the phenomenon. I would definitely recommend a visit for anyone interested in transport or with children interested in getting up close to trains.

Summer Baking

Lots of scones made with goats milk and butter, and finding that 'Pure Sunflower' which is Dairy Free works very well too in baking, as in the Victoria Sponge, I am finding wonderful ways to use this season's strawberry jam. The pure web site has given me lots of ideas as well as helping find gluten free recipes for baking for friends.

Just in case I get too confident, from time to time, I come up with a flying crust.

I have now 'cruised' the Internet and think I have found how to avoid them in the future, but there is no definite cause. I shall slash, put ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, and not over prove...we'll see.... Its strange that I baked four loaves in this batch, and this was the only loaf like this one!

We've had some splendid cherries this year. A sponge with ground almonds in place of some of the flour, and the top sprinkled with pitted cherries, slivered almonds and demerara sugar, was the basis of a tasty pudding. The remainder of the cherries were braised in the oven. Whilst still warm, I plated up portions, drizzled them with some delicious mixed berry liqueur, and dressed up the plate with sheep's yogurt topped up with the cooked cherries. The bake is also excellent cold either as cake, or dressed up for pudding with whatever one fancies.

She liked this so much I made it twice....My sister Lizzie has been here on several occasions over the last couple of months, and Lemon Meringue Pie is one of her favourite puddings. Just don't work out how much sugar there is here.....I love making the filling, as lemons are grated and squeezed, and eggs are broken, the magic of cooking turns them into the most delicious of fillings....but using an egg yolk in the pastry, means I can make an even bigger meringue!

Growing up fast

With there being some distance between our two homes, it is sometimes more weeks than I would wish between my seeing my little grand daughter. I find it facisnating just to watch her and to see how little minds and bodies grow and develop. I was lucky to spend a few days watching Izabelle at the stage when she could balance and walk a few steps, but prefered to crawl. Just like her dad, she is an excellent climber, and is happy to work out the next move, or move to adjust her position. I have just heard that she is now walking very well, and that crawling is in the past.

A little study toy box, works as a table, and also a step up to look at the plants on the window sill and also out into the garden. Best of all, its just the size to also climb into!

Out in the garden, there is a climbing frame and slide, with flatforms to climb onto and from which to look around. Although not yet talking, Izzie understands so much, and I had great fun 'instructing' her for instance send bunny down the slide or come down on your front. As it was a little chilly, she still wanted to be outside and here she is wearing a charming handknit jacket knitted by Diane from Kenilworth Knit and Natter.

She's even learnt the names for daisy and buttercut, and we made a 'salad' of these in a little pot. Although she's yet to say the words, I did check the next day, and she did point the right ones out. There are a few pots of strawberries growing in the garden, and Izabelle checks to see for ripeness, and 'feeds' ripe ones to bunny. On one of our walks I had Izabelle in a special back pack, and all I can say is that when I took it off, I felt as if I was floating, and also when out shopping if there are any people with young children behind me, then I shall let them go first.

On one of the days we girls went swimming to the pool right in the middle of Basingstoke shopping complex. This is one big water baby....climbing out onto the sides and falling back in again. I don't think it will be long before she is swimming. No arm bands for her but she is held and guided along the surface, going under is no problem for her either. There is just lots of fun to be had in the pool.

Whitchurch Silk Mill

Earlier in June I caught the train and went down to spend a few days with my other most cherished ones. On the Thursday the 'girls' decided to have a day out, and we went out to Whitchurch to visit the silk mill. We had the most picturesque drive along the Test Valley. The water powered mill is still busy weaving silks and special fabrics, and there is much to see over the three floors.

After the little one finished her morning nap in the car, we made our way from the car park, and spent the first five minutes or so watching the ducks and the huge trout. Izabelle was delighted by these. The chalk stream was so clear that even the smallest of fish were clear to see.

On the top floor there are lots of bobbins, winders, and swifts holding the fine silk yarn. I've taken many more pictures and can just marvel at the engineering and skill of all those involved in weaving to this standard.

On the second floor there was an exhibition of silk embroidery, and kimonos, but I think it was the view to the gardens below which held the most interest for the youngest girl.

Along the edge of the tea room, was a display of photographs, showing recent commissions for specialist silks. It pleased me that this was not just a museum open to the public, but a mill where craftsmen/women were weaving fabrics which are just breathtaking. The framed samples, and pictures showed costumes worn by Lady Sarah Hill in Garrow's Law, costumes worn in the series North and South, Miss Potter, Sense and Sendibility and The Aristocrats. I loved the Royal Blue Silk Moire Taffeta and other fabrics which were commissioned for the restoration of The Day Saloon of Queen Victoria's Railway Carriages.

After the visit we found a local tea shop where we had lunch. I had an excellent of bowl of fresh pea and watercress soup, which I have since 'replicated' and this is now in my soup repertoire as a firm favourite. Afterwards we explored the small town, and went a short walk passing another mill which is now a private house.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Kenilworth Show

Having checked the weather forecast on Wednesday I bought advance tickets from Kenilworth Library. So on Saturday 4th June we set out for Stoneleigh. Last time we went the show was on Crackley Lane. Looking around the whole show, we 'tailor made' several themes : the first being the woolly theme. There were well turned out sheep, some with very curly horns....

On the other side of the field, we had a demonstration of shearing, and the rolling up of the fleece ready to sending off for processing.

In the area of penned sheep I spied Grey face dartmoor sheep, they are a breed which had the most wonderful fleece which had tiny little curls on the end.

In another area, there were a group of spinners, who were demonstrating their craft.

With a lot of processing and work and skill, the sheep was shorn, the fleece turned into yarn, which can be dyed into beautiful colours.

There were several other themes, which I may cover under separate headings: water buffalo, buffalo produce which meant wonderful tasty buffalo burgers and icecream in the morning and the afternoon, toys for big boys etc. At the end of the day, everyone had had a wonderful but tiring time, and some needed just a little rest before the homeward journey.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Bread makers tools - Its a Pancheon that I want

Some people use bread makers, some use big mixers with dough hooks, and I have been tempted by the later when my hands are hurting, but I keep on with the hand method. I love the feel of the dough on my hands, and being able to feel the change in the dough as it is manipulated.

I feel a connection through dough and bread making to my Lincolnshire ancestors. I was thrilled to be taken by my Uncle Noel some time back, to see Wrawby Mill, which was owned and worked by one of great grand parents. Several years ago, when discussing bread making with my mother, she said that my Grand mother used to make her bread in a Pancheon. I have looked out for them in Museums, and old houses, and even sourced old ones. Each time I thought I had found the right one, Mr S gave me the look which meant that he did not think he wanted his bread made in them...maybe OK if I wanted to use it as a planter. Recently I even heard them mentioned on the radio, when it was explained that their manufacture died out because they were heavy, difficult to stack and transport, and once mass production started a different design of bowl took precedence.

After seeing my last 'old' pancheon which was not good enough for using on Friday, I just decided yet again to search. My mother's mantra to me of 'Seek and you shall find' is echoing in my head, as I found a Potter who is making them. I have viewed some of the Pancheons Paul Jessop makes on his blog, and I am in the process of contacting him to see what he can suggest. I can feel a weekend away to his neck of the woods coming up as soon as there is one ready.

At the weekend I was pleased to hear that Ian had tried out my sourdough recipe, and found it to be really good, with a thumbs up from Kevin too.