pudding for main course

I love bread and butter pudding.  If there was no other pudding on earth I would be content.  I can take queen of puddings at a pinch, but find the breadcrumb base a bit namby-pamby compared to the thick crusts of a hearty bread and butter pudding.

So for supper the night before we left for our trip to the deep south of London and Brighton we had this.

Savoury bread and butter pudding, or more honestly fridge bits bread and butter pudding.  It was quite as delicious as it looks.

I don’t like to leave stuff in the fridge to go off whilst we are away.  So armed with:

  • an elderly sour dough loaf
  • butter (homemade no less)
  • tomatoes
  • half a red onion
  • milk
  • an open tin of anchovies
  • an open jar of tomato jam (from the Azores, keep an eye open for it, it’s very good)
  • the heel of an elderly chunk of strong cheddar
  • 3 eggs
  • an open jar of dijon mustard
  • an open jar of olives
  • an open jar of capers

I created a main course from my perfect pudding.  This made a hearty meal for two hungry people (one had been fishing all day).

There is no real recipe, it’s a make do and mend meal, as long as you have the basic ingredients (bread, butter, milk, eggs) it’s not unlike making a pizza, add what you have/like until you are content with the balance.

  1. Slice the bread thickly, I always keep the crusts on.  Spread with butter and tomato jam (you could use chutney or leave plain).
  2. Slice and soften the red onion in olive oil over a low heat for a few minutes.
  3. Beat the eggs into about 400ml of milk.
  4. Add 1-2 tbsp of mustard to the milk mixture and beat in well.
  5. Layer the bread and the rest of the ingredients in a greased oven proof dish.
  6. Pour the milk mixture over the bread and leave to soak in for 10 minutes or so.

 

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7.  Grate the cheddar over the top.

8.  Bake in a medium oven (180C) for 30 minutes until the top is golden and crusty.

You could serve with a lovely crisp green salad, or you could be greedy and lazy like us and just eat a great big dollop on its own!

I don’t make any claim to this as  my own invention, there are varieties of bread and butter pudding all over the internet, but this was particularly delicious and cleared out our fridge as well as filling up our tummies!

Love Gillie x

 

 

 

photo quiz

Whilst the girls have been away I have taken to sending them a montage of photos, they have to guess what we have been up to.  This was Thursday’s collection

I was astonished when Bea came back quick as a flash “London” , apparently the seat on the platform at South Ken station gave it away.

Thursday was the beginning of a lovely, albeit somewhat exhausting weekend.  In true British fashion I had been checking the weather on multiple sites and the packing plans were changing on a daily basis.  Fortunately the doom and gloom at the beginning of the week gave way to this.

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and then this

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Yes that’s Andy Murray!  We had a fabulous day at Queens, superb tennis.  More match points and tie breaks than I can remember and of course this.

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All rounded up by an excellent meal and deeply comfortable bed at The Malt House in Fulham.  Fired up by breakfast, any place that offers Eggs Florentine on their breakfast menu is a winner in my book, we headed to Victoria for the next stage in our southern trip.

Love Gillie x

knitting in a not quite summer

Despite purchasing a pair of splendid summer shoes, summer has failed to turn up in our corner of the UK.

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The upside is that the garden is wild and lush, a northeastern jungle.  Unfortunately it is too wet to actually sit in it and enjoy the smell and sounds.  We have to admire it through the window.

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However, it does make for excellent knitting.  At this time of year I am usually more inclined to sew or embroider, knitting in hot weather can be a little hard work.  But this year the productivity rate is soaring.

These came along with me on our trip to London a couple of weeks ago.  I dyed the yarn using Wilton’s food dye on a wonderful Saturday morning with Lucy at Woolaballoo.  There is definitely a yellow and green theme to my wardrobe this [not quite] summer.

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Unfortunately I forgot the stitch holder and the yarn shop I found only had large ones ,  too big for my socks.  So I had little option but to put them aside and purchase a replacement yarn.  I couldn’t spend the entire weekend without something to knit!

I discovered The Village Haberdashery was only a hop, skip and a jump from our Airbnb and I was persuaded to step back from the yellows and greens so plumped for this gorgeous colour combination, Almond Rocks from Knit the Bed.

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Meanwhile back at home (too big for a weekend away project) The Boxy by Joji Locatelli is coming along well.  The yarn is The Barber by Uschitita.  I originally read the name as The Berber, which explained why I failed to find any examples of what it looked like knitted up!

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However, I am feeling the urge for something a little more challenging.  So I intend to finish the socks this weekend and start on The Roadside Beanie so I am ready for Shetland Wool Week.  I think that will play along nicely with the Boxy, something to think about and something I can knit on autopilot.  Perfect.

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Love Gillie

 

neville’s cross ecofest

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I can’t remember how long the ecofest has been going, but it must be getting on for at leat 10 to 15 years.  Now quite a fixture in the Durham calendar it is a wonderful mix of information, talks, music, food and, like weddings and funerals, one of the best places to catch up with people I’ve not seen in ages.

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First stop Transition Durham where I was helping out on the stand (aka talking to friends).2019-06-16 16.14.39

Right next door to the splendid Abundant Earth, picked up some fruit and veg and locally grown fava beans and stared wistfully at Matt’s beautifully turned wooden bowls, lunchboxes and much more.

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The call of Jo’s baskets was strong but I really don’t need another basket, although these are quite special and I yearn for the one with the wooden handle.

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By now is was time for lunch from the fabulous Refuse, part of the international Real Junk Food Project they turn unwanted food into pay as you feel delicious meals.  If you are ever in Chester-le-Street pop into their cafe.  They are also superb outside caterers if you happen to have an event coming up.

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This was at least the third pan and as you can see there was not a lot left.

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Subscription boxes too.  Why not combine it with a fruit and veg box from Abundant Earth?

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And whilst we are on the subject of food.  Our food choices matter, and we ought to have a genuine choice and even if we are on the breadline, even if we rely on food banks we have a right to know what is in our food, how it has been prepared and packaged, where it came from, how it has been processed.  Which is where Hannah and Peter from Food Durham come in, raising awareness of the importance of food and how it relates to the economy, the environment, health and well-being, and issues of social justice.

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Handmade crafts (the children and adults were swarming over the workshop Erica ran) all made from driftwood and sold to support the camps Erica helps run in Romania.  She also makes exquisite fused glass jewellery and decorations.

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Then perhaps you can clean up with some gorgeous soaps from the Durham Soap Company.

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Fancy a rummage?  Try the Swap Shop your unwanted books could be somebody else’s heart’s desire.

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Talking of books how about a bookcase from Handcrafted?  Handcrafted are based in Langley Moor and “was born out of a desire to see people who are disadvantaged due to crime, alcohol or substance abuse, unemployment, ill health or old age making a positive step and becoming active members of the community again”

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Durham Wildlife Trust (of which I am a member) manage some of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in the county and have masses going on all year round.  You’re not too late to take part in #30dayswild.

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And a quick diversion to pick up a loaf of bread from Sue.

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When it’s all over and you need somewhere to take a break and refocus.

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And finally …..

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Love Gillie x

albanian chai

I don’t drink coffee.  I used to, lots of it, strong and without milk or sugar.  But about 15 or years ago I fell out of love with it and hardly touch it now.  Occasionally, maybe once a month I may have a mid morning coffee with friends, but certainly no  more than one and it is a notable event.

However, tea is another matter altogether.  I start the day like this.  One pot of English breakfast tea (also without milk or sugar).  Always in  my chicken pot and always with my chicken cup and saucer.  I am a creature of habit.  I do vary the tea cosy!morning tea

However, on or around 10.00 am I switch to this.

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On our recent visit to Albania I saw somebody drinking a proper herb tea (i.e. the full plant not dried up bits in a tea bag – I HATE tea bags, but that’s another story). Curious, I asked what it was and ordered a pot with my lunch.  Actually I did that the other way around and drank it first and discovered what it was afterwards!

Sideritis raeseri (not to be confused with Sideritis scardica or any of the other wild Sideritis many of which are at risk of extinction and should not be picked or indeed purchased), also known as ironwort, mountain tea, shepherd’s tea  is the only Sideritis which is cultivated  and has been drunk as a decoction for thousands of years (even mentioned by Dioscorides). It has a pleasant taste and I had it with breakfast every day and frequently during the day as well.  It is a habit I have continued since I returned home.  I brought plenty of the dried herb home with me and though I can replenish my supply through various well known internet sales sites it is not clear that I can be sure that it is the raeseri I am buying rather than one of the endangered species.  So I am trying to track down some seeds.  Unfortunately all I can find from a reputable (i.e. I know that the seeds will be what they say they are) supplier is Sideritis syricia.  So I’ll have to try that out instead.

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The dried Sideritis raeseri

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Ready for the boiling water.

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Brewing.

It is traditionally taken as an aid to digestion and to strengthen the immune system.  Considerable research has been undertaken on this unassuming plant and it has been proven to have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action.  As we were travelling I restricted my tinctures to just digestive bitters and left the echinacea I usually take at home.  Whilst we were away Stuart developed a monster of a cold which went straight to his chest.  I drank my Albanian chai every day and remained entirely cold free despite all his coughing and sneezing 🙂

Love Gillie x

 

 

 

an english country garden

… in the rain

I seriously considered putting on wellies just to walk round to the orchard to let out Mylie and Francine.  Seen here in sunnier days at Easter

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Francine on the right and Mylie on the left.

The rain seems to be endless and I wonder if I will ever sit outside with a book and enjoy the garden.  But let’s be honest, the long, hot summer of 2018 was an aberration and this is a more traditional English summer.  So here are some pictures of the beauty of an English country garden in its more usual “habitat” … the rain.

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The flagstones under the garden table, where we will not be eating supper tonight.

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Rosa rugosa holding up against the rain, not so delicate after all!

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Leaf sailing on across the overflowing water butt.

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Snail hiding in the fallen rose petals.

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Bounty in the garden.  Woad, fennel, motherwort, mugwort, artichoke (globe and Jerusalem), runner beans, peas, yarrow.

It may be wet, but it’s still beautiful.

Love Gx

making room

I love the period between Christmas and New Year.  I am fortunate enough to be able to spend that week gently chilling at home.  After the hustle and bustle of the preparations for the festive season I enjoy the sameness about each day and forgetting which day of the week it is.  Many years ago when the girls were still at home we had a huge blackboard (about 3 x 2 ft) in the kitchen upon which we wrote shopping lists, messages etc.  After I we had eaten Christmas lunch I would ceremoniously wipe the board clean and write in capital letters “MUMMY’S DAY OFF – FOOD IN THE FRIDGE!”

I don’t need to put the message out quite so clearly now, but the message is the same.  For the next day or so meals are assemblies of existing preparations, Mummy is going to knit/read/walk/watch old movies.  Because I am more still, there is less running around, I have time to have a closer look at my surroundings and notice how they have changed over the year.  What has gone, but more often, what has crept in.  Time for a whizz round.  Not a deep declutter of the kind that takes a couple of weeks at least, but a focus on one or two areas where accumulation has taken on epic proportions.

A few years ago whilst I was visiting my father in the States the girls and the Boss arranged for some beautiful waxed pitch pine shelves and bookcases to be built in the the sitting room as a Mothering Sunday present.  Because of the weird shape and history of our house (the original dates back to the 13th Century and bits have been added on all over the place over the years) we have a lot of doors and a lack of window sills and wall space for shelves.  For the first time ever I was able to display some of my precious carvings, silverware and photographs.  Books could come out of the dark and DVDs and CDs no longer made tall skyscraper skylines behind sofas and chairs.

However, as we all know, stuff expands to fill an empty space and as I was curled up with my knitting last night I knew that the DVDs and books in one corner of the sitting room just had to be cleared.

Two bin bags later it looks like this.  Not exactly minimalist (there was some discussion over some of the DVDs – they are now on a secret watch list and may yet have only a short time left in the house!), but there is now order and some space.

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Why not give a small corner a quick makeover, you won’t believe how much better it makes you feel.

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If you are struggling to decide what should stay and what should go, then turn to William Morris, he always has the answer;

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Love Gillie x