I knew Glenn had been up to something in the garage in the run up to Christmas. And here it is, my own knitting bowl with my name on it but not only that, my name is functional and integral. When I was little, finding stuff with my name on was almost impossible. As I have grown older my name has become commonplace but having my own belongings with my name or initials on still thrills me. This is mine, it belongs to me and no one else. The fact that it was clearly made with love makes it the most prized possession.
I completely love umbellifers. They draw me in. Every shape and size is of equal appeal. I sketch them, photograph them, paint them, collect their seed. Seeing them in drifts like this makes me stop and sigh. It’s like lacey fairy snow on a summer’s day. They are so dainty and detailed and yet so robust and virulent. I should really know more about this group of plants but all I do know is that they are the parsley family and some have edible roots, like carrots. I also know that if you cut them to bring inside for a huge blousey display, they drop their petals within minutes and smell like cat’s wee. So perhaps it’s best to allow them to roam free.
Just near our home is a large expanse of wild ground. In summer it is drenched in this stuff and you can wade through it waist high. If that isn’t relaxing I don’t know what is.
Round about this time of year we throw all caution to the wind and break out the saturated fats. We came across this totally sinful recipe because we had a huge sage plant and wanted some way of using some of it in a flavoursome fashion. A quick internet search took us to Old Farmer’s Almanac and their fabulous recipe for Cheese Crackers with Sage http://www.almanac.com/recipe/cheese-crackers-sage.
This has now become part of our winter routine and strictly speaking we only bake them at Christmas. Mainly because the recipe is mostly butter and cheese bound together with flour. They are so simple to make and taste so utterly scrumptious yet bad for you. However, we have broken with tradition and I baked a batch tonight as we are entertaining tomorrow and need something to go with the cheeses we bought to serve after the chocolate tart.
I would argue that they are not crackers as they do not crack. They are more biscuit-like but then I am British and this recipe is American so cracker is probably the nearest language wise. The recipe makes about 24 square crackers/biscuits which should really be eaten within 24 hours. Not because they go stale but because eating something so terribly disgustingly lardy is best done swiftly so you can move on and pretend it never happened.
There is alchemy in baking. Unimpressive ingredients combine to make something truly delectable and sinful. I am drawn to bake because it is cathartic, creative and everyone loves you for making the house smell wonderful. Plus there is something to go with a cup of tea.
My Pinterest boards are crammed with bakes I plan to make and so far, every recipe I have tried hasn’t failed. There is so much versatility in baking, so many ways you can tweak and develop.
I am by no means an expert. This year I aim to master icing on Christmas biscuits. Something which all Americans seem instantly perfect at. My style is more rustic and wholesome with an occasional flurry into OTT. The picture above shows my daughter’s 15th birthday cake (s). She requested coffee cake which only she and I like and only then in moderation. So I made a trio of mini loaf cakes; coffee, chocolate fudge and Victoria sandwich. There are two left if anyone is hungry…….
It’s been a while since we last uploaded a proper blog and now we have a heap of followers it’s only right we give you all something to read about. So why the long pause? It was summer, it was sunny, we were outside – a lot. There has been a lot of this…
Today is a very grey day however and as it has been raining most of the morning it’s been a good opportunity to go through the hundreds and hundreds of photos from the past few months and put them to good use.
Autumn has hit Wiltshire this week. Our first frosts and properly cold days that never seemed to warm up. The heating has been on and meals are hearty and filling again (hooray). However, since the weather has taken a turn the garden has not. We still have many, many flowers. This is such a wonderful thing for us as last year we planted with Autumn in mind. Our wedding was the focus, we needed October flowers and we got them. This year we got them again and more besides. I am stunned by the amount of vibrant colour we have, something which we have never had in a garden before.
We have spent the year gardening but also visiting gardens, going abroad, buying plants, collecting seeds, planting hundreds of bulbs and in addition, work and family have had their place. There also seems to have been a lot of baking if the photos are anything to go by. So what will follow will be a swift round up of the past few months in tiny bite sized blogs. Mini blogs, blogettes.
Topics will include; Kew gardens, Croatia, the Boat Seat, the allotment, cut flowers, the Isle of Wight, Stratford upon Avon, the great dahlia debate and much much more. So put that kettle on and cosy up by the fire.
Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; Every Garden Needs Cake
Take an old washing machine, hack it to bits, do some very clever stuff with metal, fill with wood and dry garden refuse, light with a match and voila!
Our burner has pride of place and gives off a mighty heat. Enough to make toast, grill sausages and melt s’mores. A three course meal fit for a wintery evening.
It is also extremely useful for destroying evidence, many bank statements and disgraceful photographs have disappeared forever.
An enviable, bespoke up-cycled item no self respecting garden should be without. Home delivery available, order yours today!
Most of the photos I take appear to be close ups. I like detail. This image was taken at Charlecote, a National Trust property outside Stratford upon Avon. If you need a culture fix and an overload of Shakespeare, come to this part of the world. You will not be disappointed. As much Tudor as you can take. Anyway back to the lichen. Teeny tiny plants gripping onto a barren surface totally oblivious to the fact I am bearing down on them with my camera and about to have a cheese scone and coffee in the NT cafe. A world within a world.
Trying to be extra neat with the primer so that gorgeous grey topcoat you have waiting glides on with immaculate ease and perfect coverage. Turn my back for a second and somebody adds their signature to my efforts. Time to step back off the edge and make a cup of tea before slapping on an extra thick layer to hide the evidence. Edge
This is Hinton Ampner in Hampshire. It is a National Trust property, has beautiful gardens, a haunted house, fabulous tea rooms (cheese scones a must) and many many seeds in autumn which I collected last September and grew this year.
I am not sure if collecting seeds on a National Trust property is allowed or not but I did it and have grown a wild selection of plants, most of them mysterious and defying description.
Y’know, some days you can just have too much fun.