Thursday, 21 December 2017

Echeveria Elegans

This plant has really performed for me over the years.  Since first acquiring it several years ago, and bringing it down with me to Somerset, I just keep on propagating it.  I used it as bedding on newly turned soil, both in the front garden and  in the back garden.


It is  Winter solstice and this picture of the summer planting on the front garden is rather pretty.

What I cannot have imagined is that the ones which had grown rather too large, and which I left in the garden, are still fine.  We had had several days of freezing weather on the trot, what seems like the wettest of winters, with days of mist and mizzle, and still them are going on well.

The fuchsias have been nipped by frosts but I am leaving these as the top cover will give them protection until they start to sprout in the spring, when they will be pruned back.

Crassula Buddha's Temple

This is the slightly etiolated Crassula Buddha's Temple...with half over spilling its container.  I can just get half in the picture.  This is one of my favourite succulents, and I have written about it several times: earlier this year, when it was in flower back in May 2014, and when I had had it for about three years in February 2014.

In Wells Market from time to time, and for several days this week, at the Christmas Market, there is a stall selling rather tasteful containers of succulents.  I often stop for a chat if there are not buyers which of course should have priority, and had mentioned this plant to him.  Today I took three offsets, one of which had already started to grow tiny roots into the grit, to give to this fellow succulent enthusiast.  He had not heard or even seen this form.  With so many possibilities for cuttings it is a pleasure to share this rather rare form around.  Once Christmas is over, I think I shall start some in pots in a well draining gritty compound.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Shawl for Christmas

I've had the ball of rich red silk laceweight yarn in my Stash for ages.  Each time I have come across the ball, carefully wound by hand from a hank of silk which I got over ten years ago from Posh Yarn, I think of my friend Judith.  She was a huge inspiration to me and got me back into knitting.  Judith and I joined the lace shawl club and received frequent special hand dyed yarns, and have knitted most of them up over the last few years.

I had been waiting for a pattern to do the red silk  justice, and finding that my new Christmas top needed something bright, started on the Elowen Shawl.  The pattern is by Anniken Allis and is in The Knitter No 113.

Although this photograph shows its true colour taken in the conservatory, with the dismal light, knitting indoors with our 'super energy efficient' bulbs, it was more of a strain.  I overcame some of the problems by making up charts with repeats highlighted and columns to tick off each of the rows, as they were knitted up.  Usually I work from charts which I either sketch up in my knitting journal, or blow up from the copies in the pattern.

Have I ever mentioned life lines?  Probably not on this blog...but  I always suggest that they be used.  Did I use them...not at first, till I had a problem with a dropped took me three days worth of knitting to unknit back about 20 rows, and another two days to get back to where I had spotted the dropped stitch.

I needed to use a super smooth thread as I did not want any fibres leaving their tell tale marks on the silk.  Out came the fine but very strong knitted thread given to me several years ago by another knitting friend Diane from Kenilworth.  As well as being an excellent hand knitter, Diane was also a virtuoso of the knitting machine.  I called her a couple of weeks ago, to find out if I could get some more of this thread which knitting machinist use.

From then on, every few lines, in went a life line....

As I was knitting on a circular needle, it was very easy to thread through the yarn, by slipping all the stitches onto the nylon cord between the two needle tips.

When you start with just a few stitches, and increase by six stitches every two rows, each row grows longer and longer, and soon, faced with 417 stitches on the needle, a row is probably all I have time to knit through in a sitting.  Some knitters can sit for much longer...

The other dilemma is will there be enough yarn to finish all the shawl.  If I had the yardage when I first received the yarn, it is lost!!!!  Of course this is not the yarn suggested for the shawl, so I spent at least a couple of my even more sleepless nights pondering and worrying.  Even when I restricted the final pattern repeats to only two, and had started on the very open edging, I still had visions of having enough yarn for only two thirds of the edging.  Had I been using the yarn suggested, and had only recently bought it, and was running out, I would of course have the comfort of being able to buy a second ball.

After another worrying episode, I decided just to undo the part of the edging I had knitted, and finished off the shawl with a couple of rows including an eyelet edge and the Russian cast off.

A shawl is not complete till it is washed and blocked!!!!

My new Knit Pro blockers were really useful...and out came my two Pilates mats specially donated by teacher for blocking...Jane is a knitter too!  It is on the floor as I write this, with the dehumidifier going.

I had been following Anniken's tutorials working through different shawl shaping techniques, and had worked through all the little mini shawls...but just had not blocked, so did not feel that I could enter for her prize, but my prize is my finished shawl.  It is a truncated version of Elowen, and I have a very little ball left.....but I am pleased..I spotted the row of hearts...roughly outlined with paintshop!

Lessons learnt:  Be can work out adaptions.  Always use life lines for lace.  So many nice memories of friends.  Make more memories with new friends.....knit for friends in 2018.  Learn new techniques, use up Stash.

Monday, 11 December 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Codswallop

I can just hear my mother say: that's a load of codswallop.  I would laugh and say well it is in a Coddswallop bottle.  Cathy who hosts IAVOM, by complete coincidence as staged her offering this week in an old bottle, and she has had snow, and snowdrops, so do go there and see she and other contributers have come up with.

The colour of the stem is almost the same as the acqua blue of this vintage bottle which still has its marble.  I love old bottles and recently on our visit to Bath, spent the best part of the day at The Museum of Bath at Work, where they have a complete bottling plant, with all the old bottles.  This is one of my top five museums.

A couple of my other vintage bottles are standing in with Festive bits and pieces...

My mother's idea of in a Vase on Monday would be brimming with flowers, but at present most have been beaten down by the heavy rain.  Unlike friends in the Midlands, we have had no snow settle, only a few flurries of sleet to cool the ambient temperature in the conservatory to the very low 5 to 10 C.

My echeveria 'Curly Locks' which was bought at the Wells Plants festival earlier this year, decided to throw up a flower spike.  It grew rather tall, most probably because of the poor light levels.  Since the plant had to be brought inside, and the flower size was starting to be rather top heavy, it made the ideal material for this weeks In a Vase on Monday.

Mistletoe grows in abundance in the area around Glastonbury, and at the great wreath making shindig at Wells WI last week, someone had brought in some vast bunches.

Together with some variegated ivy, aka: love stones, some Rosemary for remembrance, some bay, from the garden and old man's beard which another member had brought , I give you my loose Christmas Wreath, hung against the stone wall by the front door.

All the wreath bases had been made up by a Member's husband from willow and other shrubs from their garden...I can just imagine there was a great pruning spree as there were about 70 wreaths.  I think they have a 'willow' orchard....well we are very close to the Somerset Levels which are renowned for their Willow products.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Cranberry and Nut sourdough Loaf

This is one the December 2017 baking challenges from Jane Mason's Book: Perfecting Sourdough.

I doubled up on the bulk fermentation ingredients, then make half with dried cranberries and pecan nuts, and the second one with hazelnuts and raisins.  For the flours I used a mix of half and half white strong wheat, and creamy spelt.

As always the nuts were first baked a little in the oven till smelling and light golden, then with the fruit they were soaked in some of the liquid overnight, whilst the sourdough from the fridge had its overnight refresh.

These loaves took a very long time to rise, most probably because it was so cool.  They are meant to rise in proving baskets, but I felt more confident using tins for this dough.

They were shaped up and put into tins around 15:30 on Saturday, and by 18:00 still were not ready, so they went into the very cool conservatory for an overnight 'refrigerated' rise...but at 6:00 am they still were not high enough in the tin.  Having been brought them back into the kitchen then, and having been given a boost by sitting on top of the cooling toaster from breakfast, they finally went into the oven at about 11:00 am.

The Cranberry and Pecan Nut loaf is now in the freezer, and will come out for Christmas morning breakfast...but I could not resist cutting into the hazelnut and raisin loaf:

The flavour is topnotch, with hazelnuts warm and mellow, and the raisins soft and tangy in contrast..spread with a little butter and thick honey, then have made a tasty snack with Sunday afternoon tea.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Pumpernickel Rye from Perfecting Sourdough

For this loaf, I used regular wholemeal rye flour as an alternative to the coarsely ground specialist rye pumpernickel flour.  As Mr S has definitely said that he did not want any more caraway seed, I substituted this for fennel seeds.  I followed Jane Mason's recipe from #Perfecting Sourdough where she recommends soaking the seeds overnight in some water.  To give this loaf a little texture, in the soaking water I added some rye berry flakes and a handful of pumpkin seeds.

The dough was rather sticky so kneaded it in the mixing bowl, which worked rather well.  This is probably the sort of dough which, had I had a table top mixer, would have preferred to mix this in a machine.

Looking at the size of the dough, I felt that my standard 500g loaf tins would have been a little small, so opted to use the Silverwood tin, which in my opinion needs about 750g to 800g dough.  As I have been finding turning out long proving baked sourdoughs from steel tins a little tricky recently, I also lined the tin with some baking parchment, as well as buttering it.  This worked rather well.

With molasses in the dough, it is obvious that the finished loaf would be on the dark side, but I think this time the loaf was a little overbaked.  I should have noted this as the loaf was well shrunk from the sides by the end of the baking time. Not to worry, it is getting softer since it has cooled, and given that sourdough bread is probably best kept for a day or two before cutting, there will be a good flavour.

I think the Silverwood tins transfer the heat very efficiently compared to my black heavy non stick tins, and next time will omit placing then on a preheated baking tray.  I usually bake tins on on preheated baking tray which helps the bottom of the loaves bake well.

Monday, 27 November 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Lovestones

The more simple and 'common' the material for my vase, the more I feel that I have to find something to say about it which may be unknown or 'uncommon'.  Its been rather soggy and frosty over the last few days, and maybe it was because of this, we felt like a walk down the lane to enjoy some low summer sun.  In Somerset just along the boundary between the Mendips and the Levels we have hedges and ditches and  banks of evergreen Harts Tongue Fern, with ivy and other twining plants growing in the hedges.  Now the hedges are more or less leafless the outline of trees and longer views are a delight.  Being of short stature this is a bonus, where normally I have to stop at gateways, as a contrast Mr S being tall can normally forewarn me that a great view is coming up.

When I found that one of the old English regional names for Ivy was lovestones, I knew I had found the title for this week's arrangement.  Also it is just right because I love stones too.  Whether it is at the coast, or along a lake, or river, or just on a walk, my eye is drawn to pretty stones.....Just as my eye was drawn to the ivy in the hedgerows.

Ivies are wonderful for wildlife, it flowers late in the season, offering up their late nectar to nourish the last of the flying bees, bumblebees and hoverflies, and the berries too are enjoyed by the many birds here.

Upclose the geometry and texture of the flowers is interesting. Although this is the wild ivy, I do have a variegated ivy in the garden, not shown here, and enjoy the wide variety of shapes and forms in this family.

As always Cathy who hosts this meme has posted a colourful 'up beat' edition of In a Vase on Monday, so do go and see what others have come up.

Monday, 20 November 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Seeing is believing

I had a peep at Cathy's blog, and I had not thought it would be worth my posting, but when I saw what she had posted I thought I should try, so went out into the garden.  I was amazed at what I could cut, and putting them together is a record of how the weather has treated the garden here this year.  Do go and see her arrangement this week.

Whereas yesterday it was bright and sunny, a lovely bonus especially as we had old friends visit for lunch, today it is rather murky and posed my arrangement in the conservatory, where the light would so much better than in the house for the photograph.  I was just about to move the radio off the shelf..but saw that it gave the time and date...just so that I can compare this with post with posts from other years.  Seeing the vase and the date: 20.11.2017 I will believe in the future, and remember this mild but wet autumn.

There's no doubt that Autumn is coming to an end.  I am a bit of a weather watcher, loving clouds and the way many days and seasons are so variable.  I would have said from my experience of previous years that Winter should be well on its way by now.  Yet we still have bees and butterflies in the garden.  We have had a couple of slight frosts...yet this new garden with its stone wall on one side seems to have its own micro climate, with nasturtiums still in leaf and flower.

Contents of small green glazed round vase:  leaves of Mahonia Sweet Caress, Astrantia Major 'Sunningdale Variegated', two types of fuchsia, Wall flower Bowles Mauve, the lovely purple leaf and long flower spike is African Blue Basil I believe, a present from AlisonC, and some nasturtiums.

I remembered seeing the African Blue Basil at the Autumn Malvern Show in 2015, and adding it to my wish list then..., and wrote about it on my post!  The plant been moved to spend the winter in the shed just by the window, but anytime soon it may have to come indoors if the temperatures start to drop too low.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Beijing sesame buns or Shaobing for Sourdough Saturday

I knew the weather was going to be soggy today, which is why I have put off meeting with a friend to do a tour of the Christmas Fair at Well's Bishops Palace until tomorrow.  One of the best things I can think of in the way of 'distractions' on a bad weather day is a spot of baking, and since sourdough can take most of the day...its the night before that one has to prepare by reinvigorating the sourdough starter.

This morning my big bowl of sourdough was frothing away, ready to be used.   Following the recipe in 'Perfecting Sourdough' by Jane Mason, for Beijong Sesame Buns, set as one of this month's baking challenges, I substituted peanut butter for the roasted sesame paste.  In no way do I imagine that these would pass the test by a Beijing Sesame bun connoisseur!  For one I used a little walnut oil instead of sesame oil to lubricate the laying of the peanut butter, and I substituted the pinch of salt on the layer of peanut butter for a little sugar.

They were a bit tricky to shape, but I was not in a hurry, and got there in the end.  They came out as it said in the recipe: crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

There are layers within the bun, and quite nice with our afternoon cup of tea.  Sometimes when having a completely new tasting bun with a different texture I am not always bowled over.

I may feel differently when having my second or third bun!  But for now, they will be going into the freezer and taken out to have occasionally over the next couple of weeks.

We needed some bread so I experimented with some white flour to which I added some maize be cut at breakfast time tomorrow. Two 500g loaves the sourdough way of course!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Spelt and Apple Cake

A few weeks back I made a cake, I remember that it was delicious, and also that I had used spelt and not the flour suggested in the recipe, almonds, apples, and had added to the recipe a handful of raisins.  I had not written my changes in my book, but I did remember which book I had been reading at the time: Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard.  The flavour of the cake changed over the days, was very good on day one, and still very good on day 4!

Mr S is off to do a session of archery with his new pals this morning , and I thought to send him off with a cake to share at coffee time.  Since his host had very generously supplied us with some apples from his orchard, this cake would just meet the bill.

As a whole I much prefer cakes without butter cream or icing, and when I was looking for an apple cake this recipe of Dan Lepard's had a different and very easy technique.  Next cake bake I shall try the recipe exactly with the Rye Flour.  Again another question and the possibility for two variations: white rye flour or wholemeal rye flour?  If I have not picked up any rye flour, I shall probably use sifted wholemeal rye which I always have in store for the sourdough base.

Here is my variation, but to read the technique see the link to Dan Lepard's  recipe for Rye and Apple Cake published in the Guardian.

1 Medium Apple, washed, cored, and chopped small
1 tsp cinnamon
75 almonds, I used 50g ground for the cake, and 25g flaked for the topping
150g spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g goat's butter
A mediumly generous tablespoon of golden syrup
About 75g raisins from my pot of raisins soaking in Calvados
100g Billington's soft light muscovado sugar
75ml goat's milk
2 medium eggs
Demerara sugar

I slightly upped the above for instance 175g spelt 85g butter, 120g sugar etc as I wanted to have two 500g tin cakes.  After all, I wanted a cake to have at home!

Monday, 6 November 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Fire works and Opulent colours

The skies may have been lit up with fireworks over the last couple of nights, but I prefer peace...can you imagine what it must be like for all the small creatures and birds.  Moreover we pollute the air with chemicals which for most of the year we are trying to reduce!

My vase this week is my contribution with bright colours and opulence....

Hardy Fuchsia with golden leaves  Genii just leaps out.  With the intense magenta sepals, blue petals and long pistils this has the ow wow factor. I acquired this as a tiny rooted cutting from a major international wholesale grower for 25p when they gave a lecture at Kenilworth Horticultural club.  I brought it in a pot and it was planted out in the border earlier year, and both in foliage and as soon as it started to flower it has performed beautifully all summer.   Last night we had the first frost and it is still standing tall!  Yesterday we even had butterflies and bees visiting the fuchsia blooms.  I picked the flowers just as the light was fading Sunday evening, and this morning the light is perfect for taking pictures.

Staring for the first time as a cut flower is Salvia Corrugata...I bought the plant earlier this year at the Bishop's Palace Rare Plant Fair having fallen in love with the deeply corrugated leaves, and the lovely pale tan hairy reverse of the leaves.  The flowers are a brilliant deep blue, which closely match the blue of the Fuchsias. I saw the flowers on a larger plant further along and went back to buy the smaller plant.  Some nurseries say that it is not hardy, others that it is has now been plated up in a larger pot, and I think it will continue there for a year or two, so that I can move it to shelter during inclement weather.

The Jasmine nudiflorum has been flowering for a few weeks.  I choose a couple of stems.  They are off a rather old woody plant which is destined to have the full rejuvenation treatment in the Spring.  The fading head of a stem of Autumn Joy, from one of my favourite plant families the Sedum, and the last element to give a little light froth a few stems of the flowering gold and green Japanese Grass Hakonechloa.

When about to link in with Cathy's Post this week, I see that she has gone for the Firework theme.  For lasting non polluting effects you can't beat her arrangement.  I wonder who else will have been inspired?  Do go and have a look.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Stuffed focaccia

I've had Bread from Ciabatta to rye by Linda Collister since it was first published in 2001, and its one of those books that is a keeper.  Having made sourdough for weeks on end, I was looking for a bit of breadmaking that would be a little quicker.  That means to say I fancied a bit of baking, but had not made my preparations the previous evening.

I was taken by Linda Collister's recipe for stuffed had a spinach, chilli and anchovy filling.  However I had none of the stuffings...but was inspired by this idea.  It is rather like a stuffed pizza or is my take on the focaccia, and it is really open to so many other interpretations regarding the filling.

For the dough:
7g dried yeast, left to melt in a jug of 300g warm water.

It nestled in the bowl of 500g strong bread flour helping to warm up the flour too.  I took a few tablespoon of the flour and added it to the water to feed the yeast.  Then I draped over a tea towel over the top, and went away for a little while.

One of the things I did was roast all the little peppers which I had bought on Wednesday from one the veg stalls together with some rosemary and loads of garlic.  I love to have a few roasted pieces of garlic which I then add to things like Hummus, rather than raw garlic.

Before kneading the above, I added 3 tablespoons olive oil, a few leaves of chopped purple sage, 2 teaspoons salt and a good few twists of the pepper grinder.  The mixture needs to be quite soft and supple, so you may need to add a little more water, I did!

After it is well puffed up, after about an hour and a half.  I divided the dough into four, as I was making two stuffed focaccias.  I just stretched a piece into an oblong straight onto the parchment lined baking tray.

This one has torn leaves from the swiss chard which I have been growing for the first time this year...stems were kept back for another dish, roasted peppers olives, thyme and rosemary.  The second one had big spoonfuls of soft goat's cheese as well.

After the covers went on, they were left to prove for about 40 minutes, then brushed with oil from the roasted peppers and sprinkled with maldon salt crystals.  25 minutes at fan 210 C left us with two lovely baked focaccias.  Nicely browned on the bottom soggy bottoms wanted.

We had the one with cheese with a nice large mixed salad for our lunch...the other one went in the freezer.

Last Saturday when Mr S and I sauntered into town and walked round Wells Market, I spied some Somerset Grown Garlic, but did not get it.  Today I asked again, is this really garlic grown in Somerset?  Yes it definitely is.  I shall find out exactly which farm it is from.  Having googled it I find that there are several garlic growers in the county.  This lovely bunch of 9 huge heads of garlic cost £ it is with a small head from the supermarket as contrast.

Monday, 30 October 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Still a few flowers

Cathy has posted a lovely bright arrangement and I am linking in with her blog as she leads this great coming together of gardeners and lovers of flowers and posies.  Do go and see what she has cut from her garden.  You too may love to join in and share what is going on in your garden with material cut for a posy.

Here is my little arrangement this week.  I really thought I would have no flowers at all by the end of October.  Whilst the garden is still in a very early development stage, I am still longing after the wide variety of material in my previous garden...but a little time enjoying the low autumn sunshine during a spot of weeding found enough material for this little mauve and white posy.

Earlier this year I found some plants of Verbena rigida at the market.

Herein the vase both flowers and seed heads make an appearance.  For a few years, I have seen Verbena rigida in other gardens.  It is planted out in a patch of earth and was hiding behind the courgettes, which only last week gave up the ghost.  It has been tucked behind the courgettes and edged by parsley, the verbena rigida has been flowering its socks off and providing nectar for the bees and butterflies, and its amazing that there are still a few this late in the season.  I do hope it will carry over to next year....

The Fuschias seem to love this garden or maybe the season has suited them. I cut a little spray of the hardy Star Wars Fuschia.

It has made a nice compact plant and has lovely flowers made up of white sepals over a violet corolla, which shine out in the poorer autumn light.  I bought it at the Tatton Park show last year...and wonder how large it will grow.  It needs to be moved closer to the front edge of the border, I shall have to read up about the best times.  I would hate to loose it, and may wait and take cuttings first and get these going before disturbing the plant.

The white begonia is just one of the bedding fibrous rooted ones which I had planted up in a tub with other plants, and I spotted this for the vase when I was moving the tub to be closer to the house to protect it from the frosts which were forecasted last night.

Of course a couple of stems of Red Dragon which is still flowering...well one grows it for the leaves, but with their little white flowers it makes a good back filler.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Holiday in St Davids

A visit to the smallest City in Britain has long been on the cards, maybe a little later in the year than we would normally have planned, and finally we made it.

Our 'resting' point for the week was a very smart and well appointed place looking right onto Cross Square with views to the countryside.  From the lovely bay window in the living room, each evening we watched the display as the jackdaws arranged themselves both on roofs, in trees, arriving in groups, calling to each other, and swirling around for the sheer pleasure of flying, against the background of clocks and church bells ringing.  A local artist Amada Wright had a delightful embroidered piece in the Cathedral, and it well worth a peep at her work in the gallery on Goat Street.

What did we do on the couple of wet and windy days?  I had taken my knitting of course....wool, grey like the skies and stones, we watched the wind snatching the clouds across the sky, sat, relaxed, and enjoyed the 'lack of jobs to be done' feeling.

From the Bishop's Palace and the Cathedral set in a valley carved by a fast flowing stream there were many different views and walks...

We caught glimpses of lots of birds on our walks: red kites, and the chuffs on the cliffs, along with many sea birds, kestrels and warblers.  I was surprised by the number of flowers in bloom in little sheltered pockets: campions, violets and gorse were quite plentiful.  We caught glimpses of seals along the coast and found a pup snoozing on rocks, I'm not sure whether it was trying to find a comfortable position on the rocks or  maybe it was trying to to rub off its baby fur.

Even though we had two great storms in one week, we had several days during which we could walk along the coast.  Walking straight from St David's we visited St Non's Bay, and walked along the cliffs with fine views of the sea.

I watched the waves travel up with layer then fall back down like a waterfall for quite a long time .

The rocks varied in colour with change of bedding plane angles...

On our little expedition to Melin Tregwynt Mill where we stopped for lunch, we thought we had found the perfect cloth for some new cushions.  Sadly when we got back home the pattern just did not work on our furniture....

On our way back, we took a little detour, and walked along the coast again to an Ancient Monument: Carreg Sampson

As there were quite a few cattle in the field, some of which were sheltering within the stones, we daren't go any closer and inspect the stones at close quarters!!

On another much wetter day we visited Solva Wollen Mill, and there enjoyed some refreshment.  Having spied a rather interesting Aeonium,: green with narrow purple border, I asked if I could have a couple of cuttings, they were really pleased that I had asked, and were more than happy for me to have them.

We had a long and arduous drive home to Somerset, partly because of the traffic holdups, due mainly to the density of vehicles.  As usual we had a stop at a NT Property: Tredegar House.  We felt it did not quite match the standard of other NT properties we have visited.  Having since read up a little more, I understand the background, and since the NT only took over the management of the property from Newport City Council in 2012, it may change in time.  Going up the stairs I felt it had been used for something like a school, and having read since, that it had been for a time a Catholic Boarding School, it may be interesting if the NT maybe could display some rooms as they would have been set out for the boarders.  It would be well worth another visit...for example isn't this store cupboard in the Housekeeper's parlor a dream?

I brought back a selection of seaweeds from The Mermaid's Larder to remind us of the smell of the sea.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Basic Sourdough Batter Bread

Again another bake from Perfecting Sourdough.  From its title you would expect this to be a ...basic...bread.  Well it didn't turn out that way, I would describe it as 'a tea loaf the sourdough way'  With the following ingredients:

65g wheat sourdough starter
345g white spelt
65g water
100g cold pressed rapeseed oil
100g sugar
120g milk
1 egg
3/4 tsp baking powder

Like another member of the Facebook group, I felt with the sweetness it cried out for some fruit.  I added a couple of my small fistfuls of raisins.

I chose to line the tin with baking parchment, as it was loose bottomed, and with the long rise to the batter, I wondered whether it would ooze out of the bottom otherwise.  There is no kneading at all with this one, and therefore the texture was definitely cake like, more so since spelt has that soft melty mouth feel even in a well kneaded loaf.

My first taste left me a little underwhelmed.  I thought it would be much more tangy with all the long took somewhere around five hours rather than the three suggested, even though my refreshed starter was almost jumping out of the bowl in the morning.

However on the following day, sliced with butter and jam, it was rather good.  I froze half the loaf, and have had a piece on day 2, 3, and four, when it is still a lovely treat with a drink of coffee.  It has grown on me.  I think next time I may add some spice, and other items, and making this loaf has given me the confidence to try variations of this 'sourdough tea loaf'.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Sedum sieboldii

This is the little Sedum sieboldii sitting in the front porch.  As normal it waits till autumn to put on its show.  I planted it some years ago in a very long tomb, which shows its trailing stems and pretty flowers to great advantage.  For some reason this sedum is the go to plant for snails, slugs and the very large number of woodlice we have.  It hails from Japan.

Sedum sieboldii

Next spring as the fresh growth emerges, I'll have to put the pot high up hopefully about of the reach of the gnawing creatures, and also try to take cuttings.  This must be one of my favourite Sedums...well for the moment!

Last week I was given part of a friends plant which I very much admired on a previous visit.  It was the finely serrated leaves with a lovely glaucous green colour.  I have found that its name Sedum Pachyclados has been changed to Rhodiola pachyclados, it hails from Iran and is suitable for hot dry borders.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

October Garden Update

Last month the Amalanchier trees in the front garden turned red and golden, and lost the majority of its leaves within the month.

I managed to buy three packets of wallflower plants from the market this week, all thirty hopefully ivory white,  which have taken the place of the antirrhinums and asters.  By the trees I planted bulbs of Allium Purple Sensation.  This is the first time I have Allium Bulbs.  I hope the colours of purple and white work in the spring sunshine, we shall see!! All the golden lonicera: Lonicera nitida 'Baggensen's Gold have established themselves nicely, and will continue to be trimmed, maybe ending up as four topiary balls.

The Fuchsias are still doing very well, and this lovely 'coral' coloured one taken from 'cuttings' gleamed from a posy of flowers given to me by Janet in Kenilworth has found a shady position on the table.

As the light changes I am finding different plants associate well such as the Pseudowintera Colorata Red Leopord with its red spots against the waving Japanese Grass Hakonechloa macra Albostriata, both growing on in pots, but with the grass having a leg up on another upturned pot!

This last week I could not resist spending all my pocket money in one go, buy five get one free:

I had been speaking to Graham who sits at the pop up stall in Wells close by the bus station with plants from his Tadham Alpines nursery, about one of the plants, and since it was there again I just had to get it...that started a selection of another five pots!!!!

In effect this is a pink hawksbit.  Since I have yellow ones growing wild in my front lawn, I feel that this pink one will add a touch of class.

Just because this lady loves leaves, form, and little astilbes.  I had this in my previous garden, but left it behind.

Lovely leaves...looking forward to seeing how this differs from the other Tiarella I brought with me.

Where we have finally placed the washing line, will be the thyme 'lawn', with several varieties forming a low patch.  Around it, about where we stand to hang out the washing, there will be stepping stones and small loose stones through which I hope the thymes will crawl.

I just have a thing for Primulas, I used to win prizes with golden showers in particular, but with a smaller garden, I thought they would be behind me, but I just loved this one.  When I read up that this had been collected from 'Napoleonic trenches', I know one friend for whom I shall buy another one, this week.

Such a well grown plant, and a had to make up the sixth plant for this group.

And just in case I think that I now have every plant a happy girl could have, I saw this one in my friend's lovely garden...thou shalt not covet came to mind!!!!  I made sure that Alison checked it was still there as I was leaving.  Maybe next year there will be sufficient tubers for propagation, or I will find the plant on my 'hunting' expeditions to nurseries.

With lovely fern like leaves and red stems, then blue flowers next just has that wow factor for me!