Monday, 26 September 2022

In a Vase on Monday - 26 September 2022

 Its hard to take on that it is near the end of September.  After a week away when we had the best of weather and wonderful walks, it is back to our lovely home.  

Our housekeeper had left a little posy on the table in our cottage by the coast, picked from flowers from the very attractive garden.  On one day during the week, it may have been Saturday well it could have been Sunday or even Monday or Tuesday, on holiday I like to forget which day it is, we received a posy.  Mr S called out early in the day, that there people walking past the cottage with flowers in their arms, and in baskets, towards Noss Mayo Village Hall, just a few doors down.  I must have been out on the back terrace reading, and did not take notice.  

After a long walk that day which obviously did not entail walking in the opposite direction from the hall, around tea time, say 5 p.m., we had returned and were enjoying a rest in the downstairs living room, with the Stable door top open, and there was a movement outside, but it was quick.  By the time I had opened the door no one was in sight, but there on the mat was a lovely posy arranged in a jam jar.  There were blue hydrangeas,  pretty pink fuchsias, and a few other pieces.  Sadly I never found out the occasion, but many of the cottages had posies on their steps.  It really touched me. That's an idea isn't it to make a posy and leave it anonymously on a step.

Back to this week's posy arranged in a little blue vase.  The Fuchsia Tom West has soldiered on remarkably well so deserves pride of place this week, supporting it  are Chamomile, some dwarf Verbena: Verbena bonariensis 'Little One', and the seed heads of Limonium bellidifolium, both of these a souvenir from our visit to Beth Chatto's garden last year.

Always with a clever title and props our Chief's anchor point is the one to go to each week, and many others also join in. 

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Six on Saturday - 24 September 2022

 Having just arrived back from a lovely week ago, I was delighted to find my garden still offering a few things to share this week.

1. My pots have been carefully watered by my neighbour Val, who was suitably thanked with a little thank you of Fudge made by Father Francis at Buckfast Abbey.  The gardens, café and fudge is why we stopped there on our way to Devon.

2. A new little Daphne was planted out in the gravel garden before leaving.  This was one of the plants acquired at the Bishop's Palace Plant Sale. It has taken the place of the silver leaved Achillea x lewisii 'King Edward' of which I have now several little clumps elsewhere in the garden. I forgot to make a label, so that is a task for later in the day. 

Daphne x hendersonii 'Kath Dryden'
came from Potterton's stall.  It was by fluke that they came to the event this year, but they had a large order to deliver 'down south', and I am very pleased to say that they hope to come to future plant sales in Wells. I've not grown Daphne before and I am looking forward to it flowering next year.

3. Another plant bought was  Geum Pink Petticoats. .  Alison a gardening friend who was with me recommended this one as one that was also good for cutting for vases,  and the plant has been divided and shared.  All the pieces are in a nursery area straight in the ground, and hopefully will be moved in a couple of weeks to a suitable place. 

4.  The Cyclamen Hederifolium are up and showing pretty blooms, even with very little rain, with clumps of white and pink flowers dotted around.

5. The white flowering Nemesia Wisley Vanilla is still in flower and wafting its lovely scent around.  Of course much dead heading is required, and I shall try to take cuttings to make sure I have some for next year.

6. Those late planted climbing French Beans are yielding good pickings, so Fred was right when he suggested that would be the case when they were planted at the start of July.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Blackberry and Apple Jam

 It is that time of year again, the time for making use of free pickings and offerings from friends with surplus apples.  

From an old apple orchard same brambly apples, and half an hour walk with a little picking of blackberries along the field edges, this old traditional autumn preserve our grannies must have made will be absolutely delicious cine the winter months. I've picked blackberries without fail each year, and hardly saw anyone doing the same.  It is a different story this year, and it is lovely to see whole families some with young children indulge in such a simple pastime. Yes it is most probably out of necessity, but hopefully at the same time, new and family traditions will be built.

Six on Saturday - 10 September 2022

Leafing through a free paper these few words "Gardening is like a game of poker.  You've got to hold your nerve" written by Ritula Shah, I looked out across the garden and thought that is a bang on description of my 2022 Gardening 'Game'. I don't play poker but I was on the verge of loosing my nerve last week, and just had to take a break and maybe to be point I've had a bout of pain just after I thought I was recovering.  However my chums with their weekly Six things on Saturday from the garden all under the Prop's are often playing the right cards of encouragement.

1. At last rain has arrived.  There is beauty in watching the rain drops and imaging them penetrating the hard baked earth. Even watching the rain pitting patting against the conservatory or dripping on the new table is a thing of beauty. The succulents were removed as they were drowning in water.  Luckily most are in smaller pots or I would have had Mr S's wagging finger, and have been placed under the porch .

2. From my favourite vantage point under the conservatory, I have a long view of the gravel garden, and this clump of  Allium senescens montanum var glaucum, here taken through the double glazing. Planted in 2020, it is now probably as large as I would want it to grow.  I'll be dividing this next spring.

3.  Erodium Fran's Delight rather drastically cut back, it too had outgrown its space.  I wonder if it will survive? I need to hold my nerve. It may grow back, maybe I played this card at the wrong time of the year?  I've placed a few cuttings in the open ground some way away, and hopefully there will be a new plant to take its place if it fails.  I do have a rooted cutting now flowering which was created in the same way last year.  It did survive in the open ground which hopefully can be relied on to continue the line.

4.  There is a nice show of blue against autumn coloured leaves as with this Aster King George and the Dogwood Cornus Sanguina Midwinter Fire, again taken through the glass.

5.  This Summer the Pelargoniums Capricorn did very well, and a few weeks ago I took some cuttings.  They have taken very nicely and this week I potted up the best four separately,  but still couldn't resist setting a few more.

6.  Suddenly seeds are germinating, where other plants had been given a bucket of water, and taking full advantage of gaps such as this nasturtium: what a bonus to have fresh new plants for free late in the season.

That's it folks, off to The Bishop's Palace Plant Fair tomorrow, to view delectable plants and maybe get tempted. 

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Classics from a Home Kitchen - Cucumber Salad

I hardly leafed through this week's Waitrose free paper, that I had wedged it between the washing machine and the utility sink unit waiting to act as my food waste liner, but this morning I remembered a title to an article called 'Classics from a home Kitchen'. Well I couldn't remember the exact quote, so it came out this morning and I've found plenty of articles to while away the post Sunday lunch sitting at the table time.  

This week's lunch on Sunday will consist of smoked trout Pâté, on delicious toast from home made bread, with a little cucumber salad as a side. Just as the Lemon Meringue Pie made during the week, a quick but delicious cucumber salad is one of the 'Classics from my home kitchen'.

I made this salad with just these combinations during the week, and there is no apology for making it again today to compliment the smoked trout Pâté.

Using a home grown outdoor ridge cucumber, peeled with a potato peeler, and cut into chunks.

In the serving dish, I spooned out a tablespoon of sheep's yogurt and mixed it with equal amounts of mayonnaise.  To this I added a tablespoon chopped mint from the garden and this is the little addition that adds that special flavour, a few dill seeds ripe but freshly harvested from the garden. This should not be seasoned but allowed to steep for an hour or so for the flavours to blend.  A little sprinkling of cayenne just before serving is all that is necessary.

These little stainless steel dishes with fitting lids are constantly used in our kitchen, useful for storing, in the fridge or in the freezer, when the contents can also go into the oven for reheating, and also serving straight to the table.  These I believe are obtainable as Puri dishes from Indian Outlets.  These are old, and just stainless lids and no silicone rings have nothing to cause deterioration. These are over 40 years old now.

I shall be making a pea and cucumber soup, in which the peelings will add a great cucumber taste.

Friday, 2 September 2022

Lemon Meringue Pie

 I tend to make Lemon Meringue Pie when my sister visits, so it is some time since I last made one.  Maybe I have made it just the once in between, but it took me ages to psych myself up to make another one, and realised that it was not having the exact details of some of the small things to hand.  

One thing I dithered over was the size of the tin to use, for my future reference it is the smaller of the deep fluted Silverwood flan tins the one measuring about 20cm. 

Remembering just how good Clive Mellum's pastry was, I opted for this again but could not recall how much as required, so went ahead and made 300g of flour up, but I have pastry to spare, and using 200g flour, 100g butter, 50g caster sugar, and 25g beaten egg, will be sufficient for this tin size. I did think that using plain organic flour would be good, but the pastry was far too short and difficult to roll without it breaking up.  Clive's recipe is partly to demonstrate how technique affects how flour behaves, and all his recipes including the pastry one does use strong flour, and therefore when I made this again, it will have to be with strong white flour.

My second quandary was regarding  the lemon filling and meringue on the top.  I couldn't remember which book I took it from, and checked various ones, but lemon meringue pie is not in many of the more up to date books I have, but I did find a good one in Leiths Baking Bible, p 116.  The curd was easy to make and the meringue included an unusual addition of a cooked cornflour paste.

The proof in is in the pudding, and between our friends Colin and Julie, we made a very good indent with a piece small enough to have for a late snack for Mr S. The meringue held very well for the day and did not weep.