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 standing...it 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 geranium...it 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 year....it just has that wow factor for me!


Monday, 2 October 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Good enough to Eat

Its with apologies that I post yet again a simple vase.  The garden is not quite planted up with the permanent shrubs and perennials which no doubt will find their rightful place in the next few years.  The vase was made up in a rush on Friday evening minutes before friends arrived for supper.

It was a supper for 'new' dancing friends Peter and David, and as Peter's wife is vegetarian I decided to make everything suitable for the entire company.  I even wanted the flowers to be edible hence the nasturtiums.  I had sown the seed collected from my previous garden rather late in the year and these are just starting to flower, and they could be cut down any day by frosts.  In the meantime lazy slow bumblebees are collecting nectar from these.




After a celeriac and cider soup, the main dish was a quinoa 'rissotto' if there can be such a thing, maybe it should be called a quinotto, with quinoa grown just a few miles away, with pumpkin and smoked chestnuts from Madeira, pumpkin seeds, etc....with a side dish of braised swiss chard from the garden, with whole orange sicilian almond cake to finish.


  I had been in a quandry as to what to make until I was inspired by another Friend and blogger's post about her pumpkin rissotto.


I wonder whether Cathy would like a dish like this?  I can't remember what I made for lunch when she and the golfer visited my garden in Kenilworth?  Cathy is the person who each weeks leads us gardeners and In a Vase on Monday posters to join together.  This week her arrangement is based on Persicarias.  I hope that like me you will visit her page too, and that of other friends to see what they have posted.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Cake in Moderation

Usually Friday is bun day!  Ever since I baked nearly all the recipes in Jane Mason's Book of Buns, this has been the rule.  Either fresh or from my stash of frozen buns, two are served on lovely white china with a pot of tea on Friday afternoons, and if friends can pop in then, they are of course included.

We missed out on buns last Friday, and we were to have cake on Sunday at the pump rooms in Bath, but the queue was unbearably long.  We planned to pick up a cake or bun somewhere on our way back...but we were turned away at 4:02 because Morrison's close at 4 on a Sunday and were just letting people leave, not enter.

Mr S requested very nicely  cake and tea instead of buns and tea this Friday.  He wanted a cake like the granny cake we used to buy from the COOP on Fridays on the way home from work from the COOP.  I'm not talking about the large birthday cakes or sticky confections that are available these days.  The cake was a rather plain, lightly fruited affair with bits of sugar on the top. This was over 20 years ago!  The cakes were rather small, but quite tasty and came in a square box that made them look bigger than they were.

I wanted to make a cake as close as possible to the one we had years ago.  I looked for a 'frugal' type of cake recipe, but ended up devising my own.  The next problem was size, all my cake tins are 'ample sized', and making a frugal fruit cake in a small 1 lb fruit tin would not have looked like the one we used to buy.

I just could not get out of my head my 'contretemps' with Kenco in August, which I posted about on facebook, and recently copied here for my friends that are not on facebook.  If people are having smaller cups of coffee, then 'moderation must be 'en vogue'!  So I bought a small round baking tin....Here is the small 6 "cake tin which is still not as small as the standard 5" cake currently being sold in Sainsbury's!  If we cut the same number of slices from a 15 cm cake rather than 20 cm cake and had that with the 'smaller' cup of coffee, we can still have cake and coffee despite the recent hike in prices in the shops!!!!!!  Both are much smaller!!!



With this smaller cake tin...and thanks to Kitchen Craft the manufacturers they have printed the size in inches and centimeters on the outside, such a brilliant idea, I baked the following....

6 Inch Frugal Fruit Cake to be enjoyed in Moderation

200g self raising flour sifted
1/2 tsp mixed spice sifted with the flour
100g butter
100g caster sugar
150g mixed dried fruit
1 egg
75g milk or thereabouts
Coarse Sugar to sprinkle

Rub the butter into the flour and spice, add the caster sugar and mixed dried fruit, stir well to distribute the fruit.  Crack open the egg into a small bowl and mix with 50g milk, stir this into the main mixture, then gradually add the remainder of the milk to a stiff but not dry constituency.
The fruit was a mixture of raisins, currants and my home made crystallized orange and lemon peel.

Bake at Fan Oven Temp 160/ Gss Mark 3 for about forty minutes.  It may take less but watch, and cover after about 25 minutes to avoid scorching, and test with a skewer to check that it is fully baked, before removing.  Leave in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Eat only when completely cold!


Friday afternoon tea and cake time, with a neighbour invited over so that we could plan our joint order for autumn mulches for the garden.