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.