Our blog is dedicated to seasonal living: cooking with local produce (sometimes our own), sewing for the home and searching out vintage bargains.

We believe that most of the pleasure is in the journey - in the making and creating, even if in a simple way.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Happy and Laying

I'm bound to say this I suppose but these hens seem pretty happy to me - farming does not have to be all about intensity and profit, (though a bit of that doesn't come amiss!). These started laying this week, and the yolks are the most yellow you could ever find. I would advise anyone to look for the most free-range they can when buying eggs.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Shine a light

I couldn't believe my luck recently. How often is it that you go looking for something specific and actually find what you want...and more importantly, what you can afford?  In my case, almost unheard of!
Dagfields is one of those places that sells almost anything that folks had in their homes in the past...some beautiful antiques, but all sorts of stuff.  You know the kind of place. ..once loved dolls and matchbox cars, teapots and bits of china, old linen, trimphones, vinyl records....and so on.  Hours of bargain hunting in what used to be barns and cowsheds.  ( A succesful method of farm diversification!)

We were looking for vintage light shades and found two that are perfect for us.  This is the little one needed to replace a broken tiffany style shade...just a tenner, and so pretty, painted with sprays of flowers and bows.  The hole in the top was a bit big for the lamp, but Les found a couple of washers that did the trick.
Looks good at night too.  Will post the larger (and my favourite) shade soon.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Inside for now

Just posting these pictures to brighten the dull days...the cyclamen's still flowering merrily.  Cyclamen do better where it's cool so I guess it likes it in our conservatory.  Gets plenty of light, though.

And hyacinths must be a favourite...the scent just hits you as you walk in.  Cheery, or what?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Lemon marmalade

Loads in the news about marmalade this week - that is, the way sales of marmalade have declined in recent years.  But the good news is that people are apparently now making it for themselves.

This timely recipe (never let it be said that I don't have a finger on the pulse!) is a bit of trial and error, following a number of recipes I've seen and after very useful advice from my sister, who'd already made some.  The quantities are roughly those I used, so not an exact science.  The basic idea is to cook the lemons the night before you make the marmalade, so the peel is much easier to slice.

2 lbs lemons (washed)
3 and a half pounds of granulated sugar
Peel from 2 clementines (optional)

Place the lemons in a large pan, cover with water and simmer gently for about one and a half hours.  Leave overnight.  Next day, remove the lemons, keeping the liquid in the pan.  Cut the lemons in half and squeeze out the pulp and pith, discarding the pips.  Slice the lemon peel (and clementine peel) finely.  Return the pulp, pith and peel to the pan and add about one and a half pints of water.  Heat gently and add the sugar.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. 
Bring to the boil and while stirring, keep at a rolling boil for about 15 minutes.  Test for a set by putting a drop of the marmalade on a chilled plate and push gently to see if a slight skin will show. 
Sterilise clean jam jars in a hot oven.  Pour in the marmalade and seal.

Delicious on toast!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Vera's Shortbread

This shortbread is delicious - trust me!
Vera's Shortbread
8oz Plain flour
8oz Butter
4oz Sugar
2oz Cornflour
2oz Ground rice
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in lightly until the mixture binds together. Roll into a large sausage shape. Cut into slices, a little less than 1/4 inch. Put on a buttered tin and bake until lightly golden, (moderate oven, about 20 minutes)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Knitting as Therapy

Well, it's cheaper than gin and better for you than valium. Isn't it strange and charming how knitting has changed from being corny and old-fashioned to cool?  Doing it is strongly relaxing and soothing - and you even get nice things to wear or give away at the end. Does anyone else think hand-knitted jumpers on men in all those 1940/50s telly programmes just look so darned manly!!  It's doing no harm to the UK wool industry either this revival in knitting, apparently, so win-win all round.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Porter Cake

16oz plain flour
16oz sultanas
8oz brown sugar
2oz cherries
8oz butter
2oz chopped mixed peel
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup of Guinness
Sieve the flour and spices & baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter well. Add the sugar. Mix in the fruit. In another bowl mix the beaten egg and the Guinness. Mix this into the dry ingredients. Put the mixture into a buttered and lined 8" tin. Bake in a moderate at oven for about 1 hour & 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The colours of handmade

Nothing better than a bit of bargain hunting, especially when you find somthing as lovely as these.  There's such a skill that goes into embroidery, not to mention all that time...it's beautifully sewn.  At first I was a bit confused over the range of flowers, until the penny dropped - I realised that they represent the UK and Eire.

Plus a little crocheted blanket I'll use as a throw on the arm of the sofa.  Again, someone has taken the trouble to make this by hand, probably from bits of left-over wool...what a good use, and so much better than buying mass produced.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Simple Pleasure

Our blog and book are very much about simple pleasures, how you can brighten your day in an easy way - for instance take someone a present like this, instead of chocolates or wine...one second thoughts those too!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Hot soup for cold weather

I've been making soup...having some straight away and freezing some for later.
A lump of stilton left over from Christmas makes a tasty ingredient - I'm not too fond of blue cheese on its own but combined with other flavours it's fine - and this is such an quick and easy soup.

All I did was chop a large onion and crush a clove of garlic.  In a large saucepan, fry gently in some olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Cut 2 heads of broccoli into florets. Add about 3 pints of chicken stock to the pan. Add the broccoli and simmer until tender.  Crumble in the stilton.  I used about 8 ounces.
Liquidise until smooth and add seasoning to taste.

Monday, 3 January 2011

All warm and toastie

It's lovely sitting in front of a roaring fire on these dark winter nights.  Just need to take down the decorations now. 
Hope you all had a very happy Christmas and we wish everyone a healthy and peaceful New Year.