in my kitchen this month…..
……….there are lots of tomatoes. And bowls of snozzcumbers.
The tastiest, sweetest tomatoes are from my friend Chava’s greenhouse – she very kindly let me plant a few cucumbers and tomato plants in the corner and the harvest is so much better than that from the plants outside my kitchen door. It’s making me keener than ever to look out for an old greenhouse this winter.
The cucumbers were a variety meant to be picked as gherkin type pickling cucumbers. Ooops. While we blinked this happened. They’ve turned out to be a lot tastier than the BFG’s infamous snack though – chopped in salads as well as pickled. I’m pickling a jar of smaller ones today but have also sliced some of the snozzcumber sized ones and pickled them American bread and butter pickle style. I followed a recipe in Diana Henry’s lovely Salt Sugar Smoke and added lots of dill flowers, wanting to make use of herb flowers more after reading Sarah’s inspiring Garden deli post about fennel flowers.
In my kitchen…..
…….there’s lots of bunting, balloons and birthday cake. I can’t believe that Ruby’s six. And I can’t believe quite how rubbish I am at icing a child’s birthday cake.
Requests for fairy castles (made with a 4 year old who insisted she wanted to make it with me) and sheep made from marshmallows seem a doddle now compared to this years cake. I can manage/even enjoy plastering ice cream cones and dodgy pudding bowl cakes with buttercream and scattering far too many sweets over. In fact the year my daughter wanted to make the fairy castle with me was perfect – I had such a brilliant excuse for those tottering towers and generally wonky construction.
But this year Ruby had a much simpler request. She’d seen friends’ cakes with perfectly smooth icing and she didn’t want anything more complicated than a wonderfully gaudy flower candle that she’d spotted with wedding cake style icing. I was very happy with the gaudy candle but perfect icing doesn’t come naturally to me.
It made me realise that I’m a very rustic sort of cook. I’ll happily bake banana bread or chocolate brownies any day but when it comes to pristine decoration I’m no Mary Berry. So despite being told how easy it can be, the day before her birthday and party I got in all sorts of trouble with fondant icing. Trying to keep it in one piece when I rolled it out vexed me most. Ever more icing sugar was added to stop it sticking to the worktop and when the cake was covered, the icing sugar gave it a distinctly dusty appearance rather than the smooth perfection I was after. Copious decorations and bright ribbons around the side seemed to cover up all manner of imperfections though and I was so pleased when Ruby loved it. Phew!
In my kitchen……
…….. is a lovely print edition of The Foodie Bugle, just the thing to relax with after all that wrestling with icing. Beautifully produced by Silvana de Soissons, it has some lovely articles, interesting to read as well as gorgeous to look at. I’ve already loved reading about foraging for seaweed and winkles by Jill Turton, who also writes about Food and Travel in Yorkshire here and couldn’t resist a peep into Anna Del Conte’s kitchen in Dorset, where she makes a rice timballo for Silvana.
I have a piece in there about Once upon a Tree and the Three Counties Cider Shop too. It’s reminding me of all those delicious cider and perries in the area surrounding Ledbury and also of apples, pears and more Autumnal cooking.
We may have been picnicking in the playground after school last week, but this week the kitchen’s warmth seems much more appealling. Baking, roasting and pickling suddenly seem like the right things to be doing. And I’m making lots of warming curries from random assortments of vegetables gathered from the garden like these:
On a walk across the fields yesterday, I couldn’t resist bringing home some juicy blackberries, green walnuts and a few heads of elderberries.
The blackberries were scoffed, I have a plan to make a River Cafe green walnut pasta sauce that involves lots of parmesan and parsley and I’ve made some elderberry cordial from a Trine Hahnemann recipe. I’m hoping it’ll be good over ice-cream as well as mixed with sparkling water or Cava for a very pretty Autumnal drink. The elderberries I picked turned out to make a pathetically small amount of cordial, especially considering the plans I have for it! But as my first attempt turned out to be a little less runny than planned it may be a good thing; this can be used on ice-cream and I’ll make more in bulk, boiling for less time for a more liquid result.
If the rain continues to batter against the kitchen window, I may end up with some comfort baking later too; I’m very tempted to turn these apples from Granny’s garden into an open crusted pie. A very rustic sort of pie, the perfect sort of cooking to reassure me after that fondant icing!
Once again would love to link this in with Celia’s In My Kitchen, where bloggers from around the world link into Fig Jam and Lime Cordial to share a little of their kitchen.
Fab vegetables and Happy Birthday to Ruby!
Please be reassured – your cake looks fabulous! I bet Ruby loved it anyway. And the garden produce looks so delicious too. Happy baking in your warm kitchen…. the same weather here, cooler days invite to make pies and curries with autumn fruits and veg. Thanks for sharing! 😀
You’re very kind! I just hope I don’t get asked for a smooth iced cake again. There’s definitely comfort to be had in the kitchen from the drop in temperature – although still optimistically hoping we may have a little return to summer before Autumn is properly with us. I’ve enjoyed our wonderful summer so much this year, would be happy for it to keep going!
It’s a busy time in your kitchen then! Hope Ruby had a fantastic birthday, and I can only echo Cathy’s comment – the cake does indeed look fabulous. I saw your article in The Foodie Bugle, a very good read. Oh, and thanks for the link to my blog!
Starting to be a bit less busy since that wrestle with the icing, definitely calmed down a bit. And you are very kind!
Happy Birthday, what a sweetie x
The knobbly snozzcumbers – love them. And takes me back to audio tapes with my two girls….sigh.
We seem to be a bit Roald Dahl obsessed lately – Roald Dahl top trumps was played after dinner last night and I’m starting to regret that we’ve whizzed through such a lot of his wonderful books so quickly. Not sure who’s the biggest fan – Guy and I or Ruby!
I love all your produce, especially the chard. I always feel it gives me 2 vegetables in 1.
Your 6 year old daughter looks happy unwrapping a present and I think the cake is lovely. Very clever ~ even if it did stress you out.
Totally agree re the chard, it’s so easy to grow and so plentiful/useful for lots of the year. Very kind on the cake front!
Happy Birthday to Ruby! I think the cake is beautiful, much neater than anything I’ve ever managed! I’m with you on being a rustic cook. I hope you’ve remembered the ‘Now I am six’ poem from Winnie the Poo, we have made up a rhyme each year, I think we’ll be struggling this year at 13!
Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s gherkins turned into snozzcumbers! our pigs enjoyed them though.
I’ve wished we still had pigs for quite a few overgrown veg this year – including lots of marrows that have sneaked up on me. Thanks lots and am going to dig out Winnie the Pooh, what a lovely idea.
I saw the first foodie bugle and it did look good!
Silvana produces a gorgeous magazine doesn’t she – beautiful to look at as well as read.
Oooh, look at your beautiful basket of vegetables! And the lovely toms and snozzcumbers, I’m sure they’ll be delicious despite their size! Happy Birthday to Ruby, and all power to us rustic cooks, I’ve never been brave enough to attempt fondant icing. I think you did a great job!
Thank you Celia and yes agree re the rustic cooks – no more bravery (well, foolishness) for me again!
I love that you called them snozzcumbers. There’s all sorts going on your end, a very happy birthday too! It’s nice to go and pick the hedgerows this time of year, I’ve just had my first blackberries and elderberries too.
The hedgerows are so tempting aren’t they. I’m very tempted to make elderberry wine this year.
Andrea, your kitchen looks like a happy, heartwarming place. “Rustic” is more my style, too — three cheers for attempting fondant — looks like you made not one cake, but TWO? (Way to go!) Ruby is a blessed lil’ girl. Your gladiolas in the background are pretty, too.
Thanks! I did make two cakes, well spotted – one for her friends at her party and one for family in the afternoon. Lots of baking and icing!
Well long time no read for me, but finally I’m back with the odd snippet of time to check out what else everyone’s been up to. Your September kitchen looks fab, and such wonderful produce as ever. The cakes look impressive enough to me, but I so know what you mean about being a rustic cook as I most definitely am one of those. Fine pastry just has been baffled, though I do find GBBO compulsive viewing. It’s Francesca’s 5th b’day this w’end and I have the onerous task of constructing a ‘Horse Cake’. Ouch. Like you I’ve always got away with cakes before, but this one may prove a little exacting for my capabilities!
Blimey, a horse cake sounds very challenging! Good luck! I’ve just had a birthday too and my Mum made me a chocolate birthday cake covered in beautifully rustiv chocolate topping (aren’t I lucky she still cooks me one!). Anyway, when Ruby saw it she said, “Can I have one like that next year?” and I was so pleased until she continued…”But perfectly smooth”!
So lovely to hear from you. x
So many good things in your kitchen! Sending birthday greetings!
I love Autumn…so many delicious things to harvest and eat!
happy birthday Ruby!
I know, everywhere I look outside there seems to be something edible, Autumn is delicious!
G’day! Happy Birthday Ruby!!!! TRUE!
I know of snozzcumbers, but never heard the word, so thank you for allowing me today to learn something new!
Thanks for your great kitchen view!
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Thanks lots for visiting and commenting Joanne. Snozzcumbers are from The BFG (Roald Dahl) and we seem to be a tad Roald Dahl obsessed in this house at the moment, racing through his wonderful books with Ruby.