Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Pulmonaria stars of the garden this week

Spring has sprung in my garden with bees and bumble bees are buzzing around.  This is the second week that a Brimstone Butterfly has been flitting in and out of the garden, and I have spied other types as well.  A pair of bullfinches are visiting the feeders regularly, and so long as they keep off the fruit trees, they are a welcome sight.  Its the Pulmonaria which are flowering away in various corners of the garden which are the stars this week.

From the darkest one a plain blue colour with dark leaves: Blue Ensign

to a beautiful dainty white one which grows with leaves well marked white blotches:  Sissinghurst

Against the gazebo a pretty pink unknown, and several more around the garden...I've taken pictures put for some reason they are not uploading and I shall try again.

Is Sainsburys committed to reducing food miles?

I was washing up the tetra pacs ready for recycling, and was astounded by a few very small words on the back, saying packaged in Spain.  I thought this must have been a typo as it was English Apple Juice.

I spent a few minutes on the phone to Sainsbury help I discovered that English apple and William Pear Juice...not from concentrate, goes all the way to Spain to be packed....I did not get far really, they did confirm it was English apple juice, but it joins the Pear Puree and is packaged then comes all the way back to the UK.   I suggested it would be better for the Pear to come and meet the apple juice in the UK and be packaged here.  If I wanted to take it further I would have to there is no email address etc!!! 

I think the marketing of this Apple and Pear Juice is ridiculous and a false way of getting people to buy British with less food miles....but the apple juice goes all the way to Spain and back to meet up with pear puree and packaged in Spain, why cannot the pear puree come to the UK?  Moreover surely we could have UK Pear Puree? 

A couple of days ago I heard on the radio that Sainsburys had reduced the diameter of the cardboard centre of their loos rolls so that they could pack more into a lorry and hence reduce the number of lorry journeys....what a shame to then squander them sending Apple Juice to Spain, only to bring it back again.

Wrote about this to the BBC Food Programme, but I had an automated message come back that they had so many emails there was no guarantee than they would be read or a reply sent.  If you can get a message someway to Sainsburys, please do so....

Anyway I usually get Copella Juice, grown, juiced, packaged on the farm in Suffolk, and will stick to this in the future.  

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Paul Hollywood's Malt Loaf

In addition to a  batch of multi grained bread, I wanted to bake something sweetish for the weekend.  At our Knit and Natter group this week, I sat next to Ronnie, and she talked about how well her Paul Hollywood malt loaves had turned out.  I have been looking through Malt Loaf recipes for some time, and still have half a jar of malt extract, left from my Banana, Walnut and Malt cake  made some months ago.

I scoured both my Paul Hollywood's Books, but nothing for a sweet malt Loaf, so this must be in his latest book.  At the moment I am trying not to buy any further books, so was delighted to find the recipe on line

So Friday afternoon, just in time for Mr S coming home, and the usual 'hello what is that lovely smell', but a reply from me, saying 'not yet, they are still warm, and any way they will be much better tomorrow'...the loaves were on the cooling rack.

It sure was a sticky affair, and when I make this again, it will be in the mixer, a kind present from Vickie...this time I decided not to take it out of the bowl, but used my Bertinet scaper, again a present some 10 years ago from Vickie, to mix the dough, which also dissolved any bingo wings I may have grown since the last good pummelling on the worktop only a couple of days ago.

I got my two newish Silverwood tins and buttered them well.  Divided the dough weighing each tin and contents to get them more or less equal, and looked at the sad level them came up to in the tins: not even half way.  Once the dough was in I was starting to have qualms as to whether I ought to have lined the tins with parchment.....but the dough was so sticky I decided to leave them in the tins and work out how to remove them later.

There is no second rise, and it does say a couple of hours....some ironing, a bike ride and my shopping done, I came back to find the dough had risen to the top of the tins.  You can see that it really needed a more thorough mix!

When I got the tins out of the oven, I thought it was going to need a knife round the edges to dislodge the loaves, but I turned the tins over, and rested them on the rack, so that the steam went round to the bottom of the tin, and a few seconds later, they almost self voila, perfectly cooked, and released. 

We've just have a buttered slice each with our afternoon drinks, having just come back from a foray to the Leicester area to view model railway layouts and a big steam engine.

The structure is perfect, the loaf less sweet than a shop baked one, and very satisfying.  Mr S read out a nice letter a few days ago from the Radio Times in which a viewer praised the latest PH shows, and mentioned the piles of washing up, and their kitchen covered in flour etc.....its the same here...but its all worth it.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter Pastimes

My Easter week started with meeting up with a good friend, a bit of wool shopping, and lunch and natter, and a promise to this again but in Stratford, then back to collect and take Mr S to the dentist....
Mr S had a big extraction at the beginning of last week, so most of our holiday was spent looking after him.  A few days later he was fit enough to enjoy our trip to London, booked weeks before we knew he had a cracked root canal filling.  With the cold weather, it was the British Museum, Heal's restaurant, a saunter round the iconic store, and recognising items made in the gorgeous wool woven by Melin Tregwynt , and the Wellcome Collection, coffee and cake shop and brisk walks.  I cannot remember going to the British Museum before, this is the first of many visits.

As we had caught an early train, we arrived at the museum before the galleries were open, but later the place was packed, and it seemed that every person visiting London was there.  At the Wellcome Collection, we were rather underwhelmed by an exhibition of Japanese Art, the words Emperor and Clothes came to mind, but upstairs we found many items in the displays interesting.

The really chilly weather, with icy fingers penetrating even several layers has meant more time than normal spent inside.  This time last year, the garden was bounding along...this year, well for the last few days I have ventured out with coat, gloves and hat to hang out washing, and that is about it.  Our front garden being shady had snow lying around for over a week.

In between various indoor cleaning tasks, yes its that time of year, when low sunshine shows up those dusty nooks and crannies....I baked:  a soft milk plait for Mr S with no poppy seeds, which ended so big, half went into the freezer.  Yesterday I completed my lovely sourdough wholemeal loaves, as an antidote to the soft white bread.  One is kind to the mouth, the other much kinder to one's guts.

So with the cold weather, and 'nursing', I worked on a design for a little jumper for new baby Daniel.  At first I knitted a nice swatch, which is a practice piece with a knot design, but then when I knitted it up in the yarn I had bought, it just did not work, as the yarn was variegated!

Less than a week later, I have the little jumper and hat ready for Penny to collect for her grandson today.