Friday, 28 October 2016

Pumpkin Cake with pumpkin seeds recipe

This morning, I found a lovely bag of large cranberries in the freezer, and looking through my books for inspiration, settled on making some cranberry chutney, with red onion, apple, and cider apple vinegar, with a mixture of festive spices. It will not need refrigeration, and will be nicely matured for Christmas.

I've also finally baked theTurk's turban pumpkin which has been adorning the conservatory for the last few weeks.  It had got jolly hard, and I had to have a second pair of hands to break it open.  I simply placed the quarters skin and all in the oven to bake, and when soft scooped out the flesh.

There are no pictures...a small piece of the cake was cut off to eat, and the rest went into the freezer! Its going to come in very handy in the next week or so!   I am very busy using everything up.  I know what needs to be used from the freezer, fridge, and store cupboard, and ideas just appear from somewhere.

As well as making the cake, today I made up buns with pumpkin flesh, strong flour, home candied peel, the remaining of the preserved ginger, aniseed, butter, milk, yeast, eggs etc.

I've been sorting out recipe books, magazines, my card index box and hand written recipe books which date back many years, when I came across a typewritten recipe for a pumpkin cake...and it was from this that I have developed the Pumpkin cake below.  The original recipe which had margarine and walnuts, used the creaming method, and had a different blend of spices, and far too much sugar for my taste buds now.  Joyce Hatwood had brought some of her pumpkin cake to a crafting session about six years ago and it was so delicious, I asked for the recipe. I've been on a mission to eat more pumpkin seeds as they are high in zinc, and yes that's another item which needs using up!

Mr S has also been on the use up path, and when I emptied the teapot in which he had been brewing his spicy chi...I knew that would make a lovely soaking liquor for the raisins...I've kept back some of the last teabags to use for soaking raisins in during the next few days.

Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Seeds

225g plain flour...I used white spelt flour
1tbsp baking powder
175g soft brown sugar
225g cooked pumpkin flesh
75g butter, I used goat's butter
150g Raisins soaked in strong hot chai tea...enough to hardly cover the raisins
50g chopped candied peel
A good handful pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp ground mace
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs

You could sprinkle the top with some demerara sugar and more pumpkin seeds, but may need to cover part way through baking to prevent these scorching.

Sift all the dry goods, add the sugar, and rub in the butter.
Add the drained raisins and the orange, mix eggs into the pumpkin puree, then add this to the mixture, with the pumpkin seeds.  Stir well, and add sufficient of the soaking liquid to give a softish texture.

Bake in a lined 2 lb loaf tin for 60 to 70 minutes in a preheated oven gas Mark 4.  Test with a skewer.  Cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack.  The cake is very tender, and it is best left till completely cool if you want neat slices.

One of the tips on the guides to making the removal process as smooth as possible is ensuring there is plenty of tea and biscuits...well there will be buns and cake!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Avoncroft Museum

We have a little note book...and in there we list places we would like to visit, places we may have glimpsed or heard mention, and we have been meaning to visit Avoncroft for some time.  With just a few days remaining in this area, we choose a lovely sunny day...and we were completely entertained.

The staff were really friendly, and we were invited to pick fruit from the orchard, and I found some lovely chestnuts..of course a little contribution was accepted.

One of the many exhibits which was really well done was the prefab house.  My mother lived in one in Hull, for a while when her home had been bombed, so I was very interested in all the details.  It was well furnished, and I recognised the style.   With very little money and fewer items to buy after the war, people continued to have the same things through the fifties and well into the sixties, and my mother had transported many of the items including a washing machine, half way across the globe!  I remember an old bathroom foot towels just like this one, but maybe it was in red.

The house felt quite spacious..modern homes must be getting smaller and smaller!

There was a lovely little tin chapel

and beyond a barn whose sides were made up of beautiful woven wooden lattice

was a working post windmill..we had a guided tour.

I haven't listed all the buildings or mentioned that two young burly men were enjoying themselves blacksmithing and turning out manly pokers, with lovely elegant twists, or the lovely apple orchard...but you get the idea....

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Durum Rye the Sourdough Way

Another sourdough loaf from our Facebook challenge group,with the recipe on page 60 of Jane Mason's Book.  Mr S reckons it tastes really good.  The crust is very tasty, and the crumb smooth and silky on the tongue.  We should be using durum flour...I used a bag I bought earlier this year from and Italian Stall which is Semola di Grano Duro Rimancinata by Arco.  This is so typical of me..looking around and buying ingredients that look interesting!  I do believe it is Durum flour: it is very finely ground and has semolina's yellow tint, and is very absorbant and elastic.

I have a much better picture from the other side, but I want to show the tear along the base.

The first time I baked this, I put in in a 800g banneton, and it split only on one side along the as it was eaten up so quickly, I tried again, this time splitting the dough into two 500g bannetons...and I had the same splitting along the bottom, on the sides of the loaves facing each other.  Still...this is a journey to improve and perfect I shall have another go soon!

I've been reading around, and I shall try the tray of steaming water in the bottom of the oven for the third try!

Fougasse looking like Swiss Cheese Plant Leaves

When I last baked Fougasse I had an idea:  make them like the leaves of the Swiss Cheese Plant with a little cheese scattered over the top...the ideal bread for the farewell party held at Liz and Bob's with friends from the Kenilworth in Bloom and Kenilworth Horticultural Club Committees and judges.

We were really touched by Liz and Bob's offer to hold this party at their home.  Many of the guests were co-opted to make different dishes, and Liz asked me to make the canapes and bring some bread and chutney, and all the dishes, with desert and cake too, made for a lovely spread.  Bob cracked open some magnificent wines from their cellar.  We even had a tour of their home, and what a wonderful house, full of their personality and also hard work reviving and decorating family treasures.  It was a wonderful send off!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Day out to Hampton Court Castle and gardens

Jenny organised the last of this year's Kenilworth Horticultural Society outings to Hampton Court Castle.  We had a local coach company pick us on Sunday morning, and the trip through the countryside on one of the finest of Autumn mornings was a joy in itself.

The Castle of which little of the original remains is still picturesque, having been remodeled over the centuries, and is beautifully positioned in lush countryside.

There are some wonderful tree specimens surrounding the house, and the gardens, although now almost at the end of their display of plants, have been well laid out, with interesting walk ways, reflective pools, a wonderful maze, with tower in the middle, secret gardens, topiary etc.  As with many gardens, from the planting, it is definitely summer when the garden would be at its best.

scattered around are some interesting sculptures by the artist George Webb

This pergolas was displaying the hips of the rose Francis Lester which were bright and beautiful against the deep blue sky...and how about this for a novel plant label, which had been well hammered into the ground?  There is no fear here of the label disappearing or getting moved to another plant.

A few other plants were performing well late into the autumn:

and even where the vegetables had been grown, the green maure Phacelia of which I am found was a late source of nectar and pollen for the bees:

Mr S and I had lunch in the orangery, and then joined our group for a tour of the castle.  It is rented out for parties and weddings, and it has some lovely large rooms.

Inside none of the furnishing are original but a previous American Owner did his best to bring the dramatic element to the property:

Towards the end of the day, I went in search of the zip wire, and since there was no one else around, had a lovely exhilarating ride!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Bagels the sourdough way

This is the recipe set for the first half of October on our facebook group working our way through Jane Mason's Perfecting Sourdough.  The usual recommendation is to read and reread the recipe.  I noted that Bagels are made with a very stiff except for all the other ingredients I held back some of the water and added sufficient to get the stiff dough...not too stiff, but not slack.

I activated the sourdough overnight, and it has taken most of today, with the buns coming out of the oven just after was the dough doing its the meantime I cleaned the brass and silver, and attended to other urgent matters.  I had a lovely call from my friend Penny this afternoon.  We chatted about the time she spent in the US which is when she tasted the real thing!

We have never really been 'bagel' people...I think I once had a little chew on a piece and did not think it was worthwhile finishing the bun!  We'll see what these are like tomorrow.  I had intended baking the sweeter version: Montreal Bagel from the Book of Buns, which coincidentally is being baked on the 'sister' group!  However I had no malt syrup...and our local honey is also coming to an end.  Maybe next week!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Exciting threads

I am so fortunate to be in a little group of knitters, and we love a challenge...this is a project that I am still working on.  It was reading a blogging friend's post: Not yet mitten weather,  that got me looking further into colour work.  I have fought shy, much preferring lace when I want a challenge.  So firstly its thanks to knitting friends for 'stretching' me into this area.

The thread then lead me onto Be*mused where I was thoroughly interested in the stashes of Latvian Mittens.

Also I have discovered that one can knit a braid..and have them as interesting elements in knitting on circular needles.  This is where I shall be spending quite a few hours learning more, so many thanks to Klionik

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Fougasse from Paul Hollywood's How to Bake

More and more, we are recording TV programmes, then watching them when it suits us.I had heard from friends that a couple of weeks ago, Fougasse had been Paul's choice on the Great British Bake Off.  Like a worm, this became buried in my mind, and then on Saturday to go with soup for lunch, I rustled up some Fougasse.  Whilst we went for our half an hour power walk, they were proving nicely under their cover.  From the recipe based on 250g flour, which the recipe says makes one, I made two: a nice sized fougasse for two people to share.  His book gives only two slashes, whereas on the show they were making six slashes each side.  The ones I made reminded me of the leaves from the Monstera House plant, but in them, the slashes go to the edge...As it is also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, how about a cheesy version......I'll try that next time, maybe a great idea for our Gardening Club parties!

That evening we watched the episode, where for the Botanical Week, Paul asked for a herb fougasse.  Wish I had put fresh herbs in mine, as well as scatter them on the top.  I can't remember exactly what Paul said a Fougasse should be like...but Mr S said that is exactly what yours was like!

I've made Paul's bacon and onion fougasse in the past, and that too was delicious, but that has several stages and is more time consuming, whereas this Fougasse on page 70 of the book, can easily be made in a couple of hours.

Monday, 3 October 2016

In a Vase on Monday - Birthday Posy

With the few remaining flowers in the garden, I managed to make up this small arrangement.  It is dedicated to my sister, whose birthday it is today.  Just three types of material...three sisters, arranged in my mother's favourite little vase brought back from Japan by my father.  The darker bronze foliage tipped by small white flowers is the Persicaria Red Dragon, a present from Cathy, the little roses are Ghislaine de Feligonde, and white Michaelmas Daisy.  

The Persicaria has now yielded at least five new plants, and all going to members of my gardening club, to raise funds for getting some great speakers for the new year!

The Michaelmas Daisy is magnificent.  I bought it as a small flowering plant, in a pot, the sort you get at the greengrocers for about £1, but it must have been sprayed with dwarfing compound as it was flowering then at about 20cm high.  This year still at the front of the border where I thought it belonged, it has grown to about a meter and is covered with lovely blooms, must appreciated by the bees and other flying insects at this late time of the year.  The stems are strong and there is no sign of flop at all, most probably the best white daisy I have seen!  It very nearly got grazed completely to the ground by the hoards of slugs and snails we had earlier in the year.

The little dish I bought at the airport in Spain returning from my visit to the birthday girl many years ago.

This afternoon we had a walk to the birthday girl's favourite woods, which earlier in the year are bathed with dapple light and bluebells.  Now there is the the 'straw' from the leaves and stems, but on a long fallen silver birch tree were were beautiful since this is one of the reasons we walked out there, to see if there were any fungi..I was pleased to see this one.

Cathy is also thinking of Autumn, but her arrangement full of colour is an echo is the glorious weather we are having at the moment.  Do go and and have a peep!