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Showing posts from May, 2010

Culinary disasters

Writing about sorbets reminded me of one of the less glorious episodes in my culinary career. I am not immune from disaster now. I do, even though I've now had years of experience, still burn things because I am prone to try and do too many things at once. My children are used to coping with this, though now my son's knowledge of chemistry far exceeds mine, he takes issue with my statement that carbon is the building block of protein and that burnt offerings are therefore good for you.

The particular disaster I am thinking of was a lemon sorbet; at least that was what it was intended to be. It put me off doing sorbets for decades (in fact until last weekend) as I was convinced they were terribly difficult and it wasn't worth trying again. Having made a rhubarb sorbet, I now know the difference between the two types: easy, which has a lot of actual fruit in it, and trickier, in which case you have fruit juice but not the actual substance of the fruit.
Lemon is, obvious…

Rhubarb sorbet

It was an absolutely baking weekend here, so I didn't try Moggypie's rhubarb crisp, though that is still very much on the list to try. I did, however, make rhubarb sorbet, and that was delicious. Neither child would try it, as I had bought a 2-for-1 cookie dough ice cream at Sainsbury's and they preferred the familiar, but OH and I, culinary pioneers always, loved it.

Here's the recipe, which comes from Shona Crawford-Poole's Ice Cream (Conran):
1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb (the recipe says spring, but it's well past the forced stuff now, so I compromised by using the thinnest stalks) 10 oz caster sugar (though I used less - about 9 oz I think, and about an oz crystallised out and stuck to the pan, so I think you could get away with 8oz if you like a more tart flavour, which I do)
Chop the rhubarb up, and put it and the sugar into a deep ovenproof dish. Didn't have one of these, though I suppose if I'd thought about it I could have used a casserole, but I use…

Morning walk

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Some of us are not yet up...






I've never seen this before - young ivy foliage blackened by the frost. My poor maincrop potatoes have all been blasted by the frost. I'm pretty certain none of them are actually dead, but it will set them back a bit.

Allied to the late frosts, it's also very dry.
I love this time of year, particularly the smell, which even I with my very limited sense of smell, notice. There's cow parsley everywhere. I was born in Bedfordshire, where we called cow parsley cow parsley, but in Northamptonshire, where I am now, it's kek. Short and to the point.






All that rhubarb.....

The garden part of this blog doesn't get much of a look in, which probably reflects the time that is spent on it relative to everything else I write about. One thing with living in a fairly rural environment is the glut: at this time of year, everyone I see I mentally size up: are they likely to have rhubarb? - in which case any offer of some of mine is only going to meet with a hollow laugh (it's a good year for rhubarb, this year), or grow only flowers, in which case there will be enthusiastic agreement to take some of it off my hands.

Our rhubarb patch, after a couple of sulky years when it protested that it did not appreciate the wind swept climes of our fruit garden, has now decided that wind is for wimps, and it flourisheth even more than the green bay tree (and I have plenty of that on offer too, if anyone's interested).
Last year I made rhubarb chutney - excellent, but I'm not sure I can face the thought of the reek of vinegar taking over the house for days…

Morning walk

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I haven't done a morning walk for ages - not because I haven't been walking. I've either been deep in thought, or doing a morning run, which makes photographing difficult! Today was the first morning in a while there wasn't frost.



I'm on a semi-ruthless purge of dandelions in the garden. When I was little, I loved blowing the seeds off the dandelion clock (how ever many puffs it took to get rid of all the seeds was what time it was for us in Northamptonshire - was it the same for everyone?) but it used to drive my mother wild as the seeds settled everywhere, and with that genius for germination that dandelions seem to have, grew. Now I absolutely appreciate how she felt. But they are beautiful.



The hawthorn is just starting to come out. I'm not sure why this one bush is out when all around it are firmly not.


We have some village pigs now, who are incredibly popular. Dog loved the pigs when they were piglets, and they spent much time nose to nose through the…

Amazon: the might of the overlarge

Amazon's European HQ is based in Luxembourg. Amazon therefore has to abide by Luxembourg's consumer practice law, which means that anyone in the UK buying from Amazon has up to two years to demand a refund or repair if what you buy was faulty, as long as the fault was present at purchase.

Buyers who try and hold Amazon to this aren't doing very well.