Posts Tagged ‘ceps’

Dried cep- a painting a day

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment


size 4″ x 6″ 12cm x 15cm approx.

These are the little slices of dried cep which make the most fantastic soups, sauces and scrambled egg possible. They are such good quality, being home made , that a slice can be crumbled into scrambled egg just before serving or even just eaten as it is. They have none of the stringy dirty look of the commercial dried cep you see in the supermarket and elsewhere. I like their shape too – an angular folded version of the slices which went into the dessicator.

We have collected about eight kilos of cep in the last ten days, most has been dried as the crop can never be guaranteed and I would hate to run out.



Cep with child – a painting a day

November 23, 2011 2 comments

SOLD to another mushroom hunter!

size 5in x 5 in, 12cm x 12cm approx

I went with no1 son, who is very fond of mushrooms for breakfast, to see if anything had come up…There was, as the day before, nothing… but on the way out of the woods I nearly trod on this little beauty. The little side one is often pictured in German and Polish illustrations, not to be outdone I painted it.

No2 son has cooked his goose over a stuffed chicken thigh recipe for food DT (that is what they call lessons in cookery at school in the UK now). Having made all the effort to buy his raw ingredients I then spent the evening reminding him to get it all prepared for the morning.” Don’t leave it to eleven o’clock!”, I said, not thinking that he would leave it until 8.15 the following morning…I was out of sorts for everything , late, furious and forgetful. Boning out chicken thighs in the morning hustle when I could have BOUGHT ready boned had I not been told to get them bone in is so far from my idea of fun there will be consequences for this.

#185 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog



March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

We went to Florence for my Christmas present….to see the art not to do any, but I did sketch the Duomo and Campenile from across the river. I note with some jealousy that you wouldn’t get a view of St Pauls this uncluttered due to the tall piles of steel and cement which now surround it, thanks to the banks for a lot of that of course. On top of the financial desecration.

At the central market there were literally sacks of dried ceps or porcini, they varied in grade according to how perfect the dried slices were. The price went from 5 euro to 30 euro per 100 gramme. There were also blood oranges from Sicily and baby artichokes in heaps as well as fabulous piles of fresh damp salads in all sorts of colours. The buffalo mozzarella was really fresh and made a great lunch with olive bread.

This would have been my next sketch had there been time. Its a view back to Florence from the top of the Boboli Gardens.

You find what you are interested in anywhere-Medusa I do find interesting, this is her decapitated body conquered by Perseus. She is fairly ugly faced in this but with a decent body; I was very struck by the muscular female nudes that were carved by MichelAngelo, legs like footballers or my legs on a good day. If the models were women they were involved in some very strenuous work…washer women? 


Buy one get one free

November 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Lentil and ham soup with sippets

There is nothing better than a bargain, but I prefer to pre-plan my bargains and make sure there is enough variety to keep us all (well me ) happy.

There are times when I have regretted the buy one get one free in the supermarket, it tempts me into buying outside my normal pattern and then I find I end up eating more than I want of one thing or never working it into a meal schedule and throwing at least some of it away. I make an exception for packs of satsumas and new potatoes pausing to check that the pack price is not simply double what it would be normally.

My big plan to get us though the next few years is to go back to some of the habits of the frugal fifties and earlier. As a kid I loved this as it meant you knew that if you had boiled bacon joints one day the next week would contain a soup either made with lentils or with leeks and potato. My grandfather could recite the weekly menu that his mother used to get the family through until she had more than one working adult at home-1900-1916. I wish I had written it down, it was fairly austere but it had a takeaway for the day when the washing was done-chips and mushy peas. Apart from that day it was all home cooked and each meal dovetailed around another. They made good use of cheaper cuts of meat and offal too of course, cowheel stew , tripe, elder, breast of lamb, steak and kidney and liver all featured until my childhood in the fifties/sixties.

So the take on buy one get one free is to plan a meal for one day which produces one or more meals for the next two or three days. Today’s example is a gammon piece which was quite dear but it made one meal  on Friday night, it will make one more main meal for four and also lunch on Saturday.

 It is very cold today, warming food is vital; I put a jar of the water in which the ham had boiled into the fridge in case I need it again. The rest I tasted and made a judgement on the salt level, I then diluted it to taste and brought it to the boil. I added half an onion which was left over from something else, a cup of lentils (red) and boiled until it was getting smooth.  I then added a cooking apple peeled and chopped. It had gone a little thin when I add the extra water so I thickened it with semolina ( I could have used ground lentils), I didn’t use cornflour as it could have made it a little too smooth and the soup needs to have a texture to it. Once the semolina was worked in gradually I boiled it for three minutes. Just before serving I diced a slice of the ham and added chopped parsley, winter savoury, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Serve with sippets, they are easier to cook than croutons. The sippets were made from the heel end of a malted grain loaf; each slice cut in four and gently fried in olive oil. It helps if the bread is old and beginning to dry out. Funny the boys eat brown bread without a word when it is fried. There is still enough on the gammon joint for an evening meal. It keeps well in the fridge so I will leave it until Monday by which time I will have some leftover chicken from Sunday, at the moment I am thinking chicken and ham pie in a creamy sauce. I’d be thinking ham chicken and dried cep risotto if the fussy member of the family didn’t have quite such an anti-risotto stance.

We moved back into our decorated room with a sealed sanded and polished floor, bliss. It has some furniture in too now which is going to take a bit of getting used to. I could end up with all my clothes in one room….odd that.

Three very rude tomatoes – a painting a day

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment


   size 6 in x 12 in 15cm x 30cm charcoal and wash on heavy weight rag paper

Today and for the last few days DIY dad has been playing musical chairs with the radiators downstairs, this is a rush job as soon we will need functioning radiators- we will have reached the equinox in the morning. First of all a new rad. appeared in the dining room, and then one disappeared in the downstairs loo, then another went in this room and its replacement which used to be in the dining room can’t be put on the wall because the screws are wrong, or the rawl plugs, some small but vital widget is not what it seemed at first and its absence then derails the whole process.

What with that and a rather unsuccessful woody walk I got a little late in the picture painting but here are the maddest of the tomatoes. One looks like a teapot and the others are just rude.

Yes, it seems that the unending supply of ceps has ended.

Yesterday we uprooted all the tomato plants and brought the fruit inside. I will burn the haulms as there is a little blight on them. The tomatoes were bred to have some resistance to blight which may be how they have survived so long outside.

I set up the dessicator to heat the green tomatoes to 40 degrees for twelve hours, if this helps there will be a huge supply of ripening tomatoes. The idea is that the heat does not damage the fruit but finishes off the blight so that it doesn’t infect all the ripening fruit. See article in The Organic way issue 200.

 #130 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Three very red apples – a painting a day

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 12 in 15cm x 30cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

These are the last of the early apples they have turned yellow and shiny red. I think they are past their best in terms of eating but the next tree is ready so that doesn’t matter. They are very pretty for a painting however. It’s a pretty rough and ready painting but I like the colours.

There was a mini apple day today at the back of the Mayflower pub, this all went very well as a mixture of people came to look and try the apples and juice. The organisers were not allowed to use fruit from the community orchard site as the council have not yet tested it ….for landfill contamination. As the apples are growing on what was a farm (according to some) and next to a nature reserve this seems quite farfetched.

I started this sketch in between helping set up a juice maker and the official opening time. Trying to juice apples with a press but no apple crusher was hard going, I did improve our yield by half freezing and then defrosting some ripe fruit and cutting it up.

There are still ceps to be found but the cold nights are going to discourage them. I am bored with the same old wood and want to go and check some different places. That’s not to say that I don’t get a thrill when I see a neat and prim baby cep sitting in the moss where there was nothing yesterday. When they are young they are very upright and straight-laced, as they age they get more wild and blowsy…no parallels there then. I have been watching a round ball slowly emerge from the woodland floor by a path, I had decided that it was not likely to be a cep, now it has sprung up and it stinks. See the photo below, the stinkhorn- it does what it says on the can.

#129 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog


Turkish figs with Serrano ham – a painting a day

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Day One hundred and twenty eight  –   a painting a day

The figs are very pretty cut in half and lovely with some Serrano ham.

A few leaves of curly endive or fancy lettuce in a strong but slightly sweet dressing would be perfect with this. Not that I can get the endive easily here. I should try and grow it.

The ceps are moving around the woodland or rather the pattern of fruiting is changing. The best area previously was very sparse but we found another which was in full production. The drying routine is getting to be just that, a night-time routine, an easy mindless chore.

The quality of the ceps is phenomenal some days. They dry a pale creamy white and are good enough to eat like that, also the thin dry slices will crumble into scrambled egg and soften without soaking to make the most delicious scrambled egg imaginable.

I looked at the Tigridia plant and it is doing what they almost always do- producing a second flower, I will try and get a picture of this next time.

#128 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Lily lily rose – a painting a day

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment


size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

The hunt for this year’s bumper crop of ceps has taken up rather more time than usual. On a normal year, you go out and come back with a few bits and bobs content to have had a good walk. This year a short walk can yield two hours of cleaning and slicing.

That and the start of the school term is my feeble excuse for not blogging much this week. I feel a sense of having got out of rhythm, of getting a little off centre. On the plus side the jars of beautiful dried ceps are quite cheering. Yesterday we feasted on Parasol mushrooms which have to be one of my favourites, their rich nutty taste just goes so well in a proper fry-up. I also raided the freezer for chicken carcases (the remains of several months of Sunday roasts) and made a chicken stock so that I can quickly make cream of chicken and wild mushroom soup. The chives have regrown fresh new leaves so the soup was filled with snipped chives to give the onion taste and slivers of celery to increase the colour and taste.

One evening returning to the car I spotted some pale toadstools under some trees, they were nothing to get excited about but once I was under the trees my eyes adjusted to the low light levels and I saw the biggest cep I have ever found in edible condition. It weighed 1lb 10oz and was a good eight inches across the cap. An unusually disappointing walk had turned to a legendary experience.

There are a lot of other fungi out there this year , we think we have found The Miller and have checked that the spore print is pink….but as there are near identical poisonous species around and divided opinion on how good it is to eat ,we gave it a miss. The recommendation is to spore print check every one you eat before cooking it…. good grief get a life, get a cep- it’s easier.

The flowers in todays painting are a gift handed on; one of my neighbours had a birthday shortly before going away so I was bequeathed her splendid flowers. There were carnations and lilies and roses in addition to what looked like some sort of gentian.

The sheer numbers of apples that have been uneaten and are past their best forced my hand and I decided to help the school lunch situation by making a tray of apple cake and, as I tend to avoid cake due to the egg in it, I also made a flapjack using pecan nuts and muscavado sugar. Both turned out well.

#125 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Eat me said the giant mushroom.

Ceps for tea – a painting a day

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment


   size 8 in x 12 in 20cm x 30cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

There are two sorts of fungus, no three, there are those that are interesting because you can eat them, there are those that are interesting because they look extraordinary, and then there are the bbj’s (boring brown jobs ) that are just not interesting in any way, well not to me.

It’s like bird watching, the bbj’s  are quite common but owing to their nondescript brownness they are at once boring to look at and difficult to identify. I did a lot of bird watching when I lived in the prospecting camp in Botswana (there was not a lot of entertainment laid on), but I knew that I was not a serious twitcher because I couldn’t be bothered to nail all the boring birds just to increase my list of sightings. I was more than happy to take a daily look at the pair of white faced owls that lived in the knob thorn tree over the tent, and to follow the squabbling buffalo weavers soap opera type existence lower down the same tree. I likewise know my limitations with mushrooms.

Returning to fungi, today I offer a painting of the beautiful sculptural ceps, they boast spectacular curves of the sort mostly found on women with large hips and bums. The photograph is of the more sinister and lumpy boletes that were in the lawn. These come up every year but there are more this year. Thinking about it they would have made a good subject to catch the eye of the judges for the Threadneedle prize had they been growing on an urban dual carriage way.

#124 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

These would grace the mantelpiece of Fungus the Bogeyman, I had to remove them as they were big enough to trip over and the lawn mower would have been ill on them.

These are DIY dads DIY new tomato varieties.

It looks as though someone has inserted a pink LED into this one.

A Sussex Cep – a painting a day

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Ceps ready for slicing and drying

The end of the summer holidays –

The what? It can’t be , that means uniform and packed lunches, No2 son is in a decline just thinking about it.

However before he went into his decline (i.e. lying in bed- hard to see the difference on normal existence over the summer really),the clever little sprat found a way to sell paintings over the internet in a site of one’s own using Paypal. It’s a BT government initiative so I got a call from a pleasant young Scotsman asking if I was planning to sell bulk quantities of paintings..”.ah, um, I could try, but honestly not very likely”. He was very nice about this in fact I think he used the word groovy which always makes me laugh (fresh young thing using jaded old hippy words).

 Anyway, No2 and I have set it up as the Lemonaday Shop . On this you will find some of my older blog pieces and some other paintings that make an attractive addition to the site. The prices reflect that there is no chance of competitive bidding and include postage for simplicity at the moment. The prices also reflect my own attachment to the painting, some pictures fit into groups that could be exhibited together so may not appear.

There were a few more outings to the woods in the last week. (understatement,  we went nearly every day) In the last two days we have picked over ten pounds of ceps, this is one of my favourite edible fungi, one which I didn’t find when I was a teenager and started collecting fungi to eat. Some years we find two or three in a season, even when you know where it grows, you have to get there on the day it produces its fruit or toadstool, before someone else takes it or kicks it over. This year is phenomenal and we have found a quiet wood where, it seems, no-one else collects. They will be sliced and dried and stored for winter soups and rissottos for years possibly. We are going to have a lot at the end of this year, the season could go on to November.

In the garden the red apples are finishing and the Ellison’s Orange is ripening. Ellisons orange is a fantastic apple when you get it just ripe and before it goes grainy. The official line is that it has a spicy taste: to me it tastes just like the ice lollies that ice cream vans used to sell called cyder ices. The tomatoes are showing some sign of blight but not much, they are ripening up fast now.

I  am very pleased to see the creamy flowers of the Hedychium opening out in its new position and in its original site.

#122 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog