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Dried cep- a painting a day

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

20111124-102048.jpg

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.

#186

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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.

Pear Precoce de Trevoux -a painting a day

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Day One hundred and thirty three  

   size 5 in x 5 in 13cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Today I am considering the subject of my blog, I have been asked to do some Morning Glory, I quite fancy doing an outdoor picture but it will probably rain on me, and then again there are flowers and apples in the garden which I like but haven’t put in a blog painting yet…some days to have plenty of choice seems a luxury and on other days it is too much. I have decided upon one of the stored pears ,you can tell its been stored its gone a little crumpled.

I made a big tray of apple sortofshortbread this morning for the weekend, but it smelt so lovely that when my neighbour popped round to look at the builders progress on their house( getting there) we got stuck into it with a cup of coffee. Apparently her daughter K. reads the blog which is lovely to hear.

The shortbreadsortof is an attempt to pass off more apples on the family in an acceptable form. I made a mix half way between shortbread and pastry using butter and stork and plain flour (1lb flour,3/4 shortening,1/2 sugar,1 cup raisins, two large aromatic eaters diced,pinch of salt…I used the Ellison’s Orange, but Cox or anything suitable for a French Tarte au Pommes would do. It’s quite crumbly but tastes good*. There are many opinions on what should go in a real French Tarte au Pommes, something like Calville Blanc d’Hiver apple is classic, it has a very strong flavour and thin slices cook but do not break up, however modern writers including French recipe sites suggest Golden Delicious or Granny Smith ,these will look right but they will not have the intense flavour of the older apples which are used by better restaurants in France. If you tend to think that Tarte au Pommes is OK but a bit insipid I suggest you seek out one made with the sort of apples around which the recipe was created. I wonder how many old recipes we miss the point of as we do not have access to the right varieties of fruit and vegetable to make them special. Ellison’s Orange is actually a cross between a French Calville Blanc d’Ete and an English Cox so it probably is a good candidate for a proper Tarte au Pommes. The apple can seem dry as soon as it starts to overripen , but that I think is the sort of characteristic required.

Last night I put apples in the salad and in the pudding and the night before I made Bolognese sauce with fresh garden tomatoes ( they thought it was marvellous…no of course they didn’t they moaned that it was different from the standard brew).

Method for recipe if you would like to try:

Put the flour and the shortening and the salt into a food processor, blitz until it is mixed and starting to stick together in lumps.

Mix in the raisins and the diced apple, press into a lined tray bake for half an hour in a medium oven or until it is firm and beginning to brown in places. Cut up when nearly cool and eat, but you could guess that bit.

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

Pear leaves in autumn, or the galling bit – a painting a day

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

 

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

 I appear to have a Likedin account that I am unaware of as people are asking to be professionally associated on it. This is worrying as I don’t wish to be rude to them but I don’t want another site to look after either, neither does it seem that I can check what’s going on without making an account which is what I don’t want to do. Oh frets and worries of the electronic age.

I forgot to mention a memorable bonfire last week. It was the day that things became horrible at No1 sons new school. I was very annoyed so consoled myself by lighting a fire to get rid of all the diseased stuff I have been extracting from the garden, and a little of my own bile perhaps. I was really enjoying myself when I noticed that I had set the fence on fire. The fire had travelled under the cover of some dead leaves two metres along to where there were piles of holly leaves against the bottom of the fence. Once there they had ignited a soft rotting log and the bottom of the fence. My panic was that the fire would leapfrog along the base of the hedge and kill it or the rotting boards on the fence. Luckily I got to the water butt and back in time. Holly leaves do burn well live or dead; I always looked from them when we were doing the” light a fire with two matches and no newspaper” test in Guides, I forget which badge that was for. I think it must have been the Arsonists Badge; there was definitely a badge that featured flames.

The rain finally got here as I was heating up some spaghetti puttanesca for my lunch, well it was the easier than the original version as no cooking is required: put a little virgin olive oil in the bottom of a heatproof dish add thinly sliced garlic, olives stuffed with anchovy chopped, a teaspoonful of drained capers, any fresh herb in reach +/-, tomatoes tinned or fresh Place a blob of left over spaghetti on top and microwave until the pasta is hot, stir, eat. It beats a cheese sandwich. I’m not sure I’d serve to anyone but really close friends, i.e. those who know better than to complain.

Apologies to those blog readers who like beautiful things, today I have painted dying leaves it’s a bit of a thing with me at this time of the year. I think they are lovely but they are also decaying. They are decaying after a job well done. Think Whistlers mother.

The bright red patches on the pear leaves occur every year, they are some sort of gall, on the back of the leaf there are lots of little spikes behind the red patch.

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

Sibenik apples and pears – a painting a day

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Sibenik reworked #2 (#116)

   size 6 in x6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Sibenik reworked #1 (painting a day #114) with minor alterations

   size 6 in x6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Wedding pictures have begun to trickle through on the e-mail, it looks like I habitually turn my back on the camera as there are only pictures of me from behind! The boys are in some shots which is good.

I have spent a lot of time peeling pears and freezing drying and cooking them.

I also made a tasty salad from Blackstick blue cheese and pears diced with a few stems of Chinese cabbage diced to give a little crunch. The pears are now sweet and aromatic with their special pear drop kick. I also poached some sliced pear in a vanilla syrup…..beautiful.

Loads of apples are tumbling off the trees with the wind and rain, they are also being slowly peeled and frozen or cooked.

There are more and more fungi in the grass, I might collect the red cracking boletes as I have eaten them before and they are OK- not as good as ceps, but then nothing is.

The tomatoes have started to turn so I have picked eight slightly plum shaped ones which are a bit mushy but tasty cooked. The smaller ones are refusing to ripen…next thing the blight will be in there.

I have altered the last reworking of the Sibenik sketch and here is another.

No1 son got his required grades and we are all so happy for him, after all the teachers and life threw at him he has managed to get there. He hates me talking like this so I’ll stop.

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

Red Poppy with black heart – a painting a day

July 7, 2010 Leave a comment

SOLD   size 3 in x 4.5 in 8cm x 12cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

This little sketch is one of the self sown poppies: I’m not sure it is a Shirley poppy, I think it might be a species…everytime I say something like that on the blog my typing slows down as the “you ought to check your facts” part of my brain puts on the brakes. In conversation I’d just breeze on of course, no way of checking the facts, but a computer changes all that. Excuse me a moment.

There is a quote on the web from the Reverend Wilks who bred Shirley Poppies in the first place ,in it he makes clear that no self respecting Shirley poppy has a shred of black about it. This must therefore be a wild form which has shown up in the Shirley poppy progeny. It’s very handsome, but dangerously weedy I suspect.

Today No1 son and I picked blackcurrants and red currants until he was raging with boredom. We had 3lb 4oz red and 1 lb 4oz black. There were a few strawberries, rather manky ones. So I made a pudding a friend invented a few years back for just such a day. This is what to do when the strawberries are a bit manky and or tired or you are tired of them. You stew a cupful of blackcurrants in a tablespoon of water or less with some sugar to taste. Meanwhile you clean up the strawberries(a cupful) put them in a heat proof dish, cut the big ones up and once the blackcurrants are cooked you tip the hot mixture over the strawberries. You can eat it hot or cold. I mixed gooseberries in with the blackcurrants today and that was very good too. I also made double quantity and its nearly all gone.

 I also picked some broad beans from the straggly surviving plants. I saw that the hedge has been cut by the owner but that they have missed some of the brambles on the allotment side and we will have a fine crop of them later.

The star in the garden at the moment is the hardy geranium ‘Patricia’, there is one plant in full sun which has spread its flowers over two metres (6’7″) at its widest point. It is a strong magenta pink with a black eye and there must be a thousand flowers open at the moment.. It has flopped open a bit in the middle which is normally not a good look ,but there is enough other stuff happening in the bed to mean that it doesn’t matter.

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

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Three spears of Asparagus -a painting a day

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

    size 6 inx8in15 cmx23cm, watercolour on heavyweight rag paper

  The asparagus is doing rather better, a bit of watering helps and the general dryness hasn’t done much for the slug population.

 There are lovely rosy purple tones in the green asparagus and later on I may look at the purple which is very handsome too.I placed it on a muted green Wedgwood plate from the 1960’s which belonged to my Uncle Bob.

 Painting the stem it becomes a bit like a harlequins costume alternate triangles of green and purple striped with shadow.

 I also made a pretty salad using new potatoes, asparagus, chive flowers and egg, I used a dressing I make with goats yoghurt, French mustard ,olive oil and lemon juice. Here is a photo:

Today I discovered that the appointment which was made two weeks ago has been cancelled and the paperwork sent on to a different department,” with the porters”, it should get there by the close of business two days later. I know the appointment was sent to them on the internet so why can they not transfer it internally by computer? I also discovered that arrangements I made sure were put in place to help No.1 son get through his GCSE’s better were lost at the last stage. The exam organiser knew that what she had asked for had been organised but the person invigilating was not told. Systems engender despair when they work so badly.Yesterday was blogless but I did take some photo’s of the clematis Montana and the clematis Early Sensation:

  

Alison

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

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