Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Forde Abbey

Today we had a lovely day exploring the gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard in Somerset. 

I was especially impressed by the walled kitchen garden. 

The scarecrow was all dressed up for Halloween.

There are 30 acres of garden to explore and that fantastic house!

Click HERE  to find all the information you need to plan your day out at Forde Abbey. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sour Cream-n-Cinnamon Muffins

Here's a little treat I quickly knocked together using that last, little bit of soured cream one always finds lurking in the fridge.  They are just the thing to enjoy with a hot cup of tea on a chilly autumn afternoon OR as a lazy breakfast.

Sour Cream-n-Cinnamon Muffins

Heat the oven to 375F/190C.  Line a six hole muffin tin with paper liners and set aside while you make the batter.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter - softened
1/4 cup caster or granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Mix together the butter, white sugar, egg, vanilla, and sour cream.  Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir together until just combined.  Add the brown sugar and stir enough to just swirl it into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, sprinkle over some cinnamon and sugar before placing the tin into the oven to bake.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Let the muffins cool in the tin for a while before turning them out.  Enjoy!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Blackberries, the hedgerows are full of them and so are the blackberry bushes on our allotment.  In Britain, it is a national pastime scrumping apples, foraging for berries, and making that most autumnal of treats blackberry and apple crumble.

In the past, I've been out in the country foraging for berries but this year we have our own thanks to the previous plot owner.  They are lovely, plump, and juicy.  Best of all, I don't have to dodge the traffic to pick them.  Time to make that crumble.

To make the filling:

300 grams (about 6 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
30 grams of butter
30 grams of sugar
150 grams of blackberries

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Now pour in the apple slices and gently cook them for about five minutes or until they just begin to soften.  Add the blackberries and cook for a few more moments.  When the apples are just about tender and stained a lovely colour with the berry juices, remove the fruit from the flame, pour it into a baking dish, and leave to cool a bit while you make the crumble topping. 

For the crumble topping:

100 grams oats
100 grams plain flour
100 grams sugar
100 grams butter

Rub all the topping ingredients together until you have a nice crumbly texture, rather like rough bread crumbs.   Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.  (Go ahead and sneak a bit of crumble ... you know you want to... I always do.)

Place the baking dish on a tray lined with baking paper before placing it into a pre-heated oven to bake - 170C/350F.  Bake until the crumble topping is a light golden brown and the juices are bubbling up around the edges of the dish, about 30-40 minutes.

I like my crumble served warm with a bit of vanilla ice cream.  Some folk prefer a rich custard on the side.  Down here in Devon, crumble is often topped with a big dollop of clotted cream.   It's up to you... enjoy!

Monday, 3 October 2016

First Pears from the Plot

Pears are a tricky lot.  Unlike apples, they don't let you know when they are ready to be picked.

Gently cup an apple ripened on the tree and it will settle into the palm of your hand, release its hold on the branch, and allow you to take it away willingly.

Pears will stubbornly cling on until the bitter end, or so it seems.  I really am no authority.  This is first year I've ever had home grown pears to pick and I haven't the foggiest idea how or when to harvest them.  I've been told there is a 'horizontal test' for ripeness.  If a pear releases itself from the tree when held in a horizontal position it is ready to be picked.  These four pears passed the test.  

Just because they came off the tree it doesn't mean they are ripe.  Oh no, they are still hard as bullets.  Now comes the really tricky part...knowing when to eat them!