…and in the Lawn Road Garden. See the Garden pages here.
Food allergy and food intolerance, freefrom foods, electrosensitivity, this and that...
…and in the Lawn Road Garden. See the Garden pages here.
Pretty, aren’t they? Even prettier when they were all out in the garden.
Not their best year as they rushed out too early in our February heat wave and then got rather confused as to what they were doing. But none the less pretty.
All dead now – but….all militarily upright so, I thought, would look nice and tidy for the next two months while they died down.
Until this morning…….. When the fox cubs had a play day!! So now what do I do with them? Arwen had no suggestions.
Looking back at previous summer party blogs I see that the weather gods have it in for us. This was the view from the kitchen in 2015 – and it could have been the view yesterday! Except that in 2015 it did clear up enough to get out whereas yesterday no one except our growing band of children were prepared to venture down the steps….
Very frustrating, especially as finally the bougainvilleas have started to perform…. (Of interest only to those who follow the garden blog and know what a struggle they have had!) None the less – a good time was had by all – but I did seriously over cater! But for that I also blame the weather as torrential downpours did keep a number of guests at home – and at least I do not have now to cook for a week!!
As those who follow our recipes in the newsletters will know, I have handed the business of creating free from recipes almost entirely into Katherine’s able and inventive hands. So these days, pen and paper rarely make it into the kitchen with me. However, I did think that for our own summer party, I should maybe try bit harder so here are two of the dishes that we had for lunch yesterday – Red rice with anchovies, seaweed and smoked oysters and a Fennel, bean, avocado and mint salad.
For the record we also had one of what Alex calls my ‘ploughed field Puy lentil salads’ – chillis, ginger, garlic, red peppers, Puy lentils and cavolo nero (they do look rather like a ploughed field!), the most spectacular ham and some rather disappointing chrain. This is a Jewish salad and is a wonderful mixture of grated beetroot, horseradish and cider vinegar which should blow the top of your head off. However, I am not sure what had happened to Ocado’s horseradish root but it had definitely lost its mojo! Still it made nice soup this morning.
Plus lots of cheese, some lovely sourdough breads from Gail’s, huge piles of Kentish cherries and strawberries and some very weird chocolate brownies…. Weird because I could not resist a bit of experimentation with seaweed, buckwheat flour, coconut flour and alternative sugars…. I think best ones were the ones that I decided to rescue by piercing them with a skewer and drizzling them generously with cherry brandy!!
And just in case you are wondering about the bread and cheese, apart form them, everything was gluten, milk, soya, celery, tomato and nut free. Even though the only guest we had with any allergies was Ruth of What Allergy? – although to be fair, she has enough to do for everyone!!
Red rice with anchovies, seaweed and smoked oysters
As you can see, Boris thought that this had definite possibilities!
10g seaweed salad (a mix of seaweeds that you can find in most delicatessens or from numerous on line sources)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 30g tin anchovies
1 large leek, finely chopped
200g red rice
1.5 litres fish or vegetable stock
50g fresh marsh samphire, chopped roughly
3 x 85g tins smoked oysters
freshly ground black pepper
juice 1 -2 lemons
chopped fresh parsley
Fennel, bean, avocado and mint salad
1 x 400g tin of haricot beans
200g fine Kenya beans
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 heads fennel
50g fresh okra
1 large or 2 small avocados
large handful of fresh mint
August, theoretically a month of rest, seems to have been particularly hectic this year… However, we did take a day off last weekend for the traditional summer party, blessed this year by the most glorious day. (Last year we were all huddled in the kitchen around bowls of very chilly looking cold collations…) This year’s offerings were boosted by two delicious bowls of salad from ‘Curly Catherine’ of the Printworks Kitchen but were otherwise pretty traditional. So traditional in fact that I did not record any of the recipes as such… So:
Roast beef very thinly sliced with equally thinly sliced rye bread for those who could and award-winning Smart Eat and Treats gluten (and everything-else)-free bread for those who couldn’t! The horseradish dip with which to ‘butter’ the bread was made with grated horseradish, natural Coyo (coconut yogurt), olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Tucked in a corner above was one of my Puy lentil creations which tend to look a bit like a ploughed field but do taste delicious – there are various recipes to be found in the pulses section of the vegetarian recipes on the FM site. This one included ginger, chilli, garlic and anchovies (so actually not vegetarian really…) along with red peppers for colour and halved tinned water chestnuts for ‘crunch’!
Other favourites were the eye-watering chrain made from freshly grated beetroot, freshly grated horseradish (yes, we are a bit obsessed with it) and organic cider vinegar – and our secret brew of Pimms….. Plus a revival from my catering days – an open flan (gf/df pastry of course) with smoked mackerel and very long and slowly cooked onions, finished off with black pepper and lemon juice.
The dessert table was swelled by offerings from the previous day’s FreeFrom Eating Out Awards judging for category 8 – food manufactured for food service – including a gluten-free cheese cake and loads of chocolate brownies and biccies. And of course all those wonderful cherries which are just at the height of perfection right now. Here they are in full view with one serious luncher and several serious drinkers in the background!!
And now the garden needs to re-group for its next ‘event’ – that wedding that I have mentioned in the garden blog…. And it is going to look a great deal fuller than it does here with 110 people seated under an stretchy roof which will go from tree to tree leaving the sides open for guest to admire the flowers and our newly installed garden lighting…. More anon!
As I was taking pictures of the garden for the garden page this afternoon, I found Tawny Pipit and Arwen together under the weeping pear tree….
Arwen, however, was obviously intent on having more fun than just hanging out…
Now was this just an affectionate lick or was Arwen whispering something in Tawny Pipit’s ear?
Whichever, the affection seems to be mutual…..
Way back in 2010 when I started this blog, as some of you may remember, its ‘header’ was a picture of of our garden here at Lawn Road, complete with Boris, our ginger cat, peering in at the bottom.
Then the lovely Amy arrived to get us properly set up on social media. ‘Why’, she demanded to know, ‘does a FoodsMatter blog have a picture of a garden and a cat at the top????’ Very reasonable question… ‘If,’ she told me firmly, ‘the blog is to be about your garden and your cats, call it Michelle’s garden blog – but if it is to be about FoodsMatter and allergy, you really cannot have a garden as the header!!!’
She was, of course, quite right – but I was loathe to lose my garden altogether. So, after some negotiation, we compromised on ‘garden pages’ and ‘cat pages’ which would not feature in the main blog – and that is how it has remained.
However, hard though I have tried to keep the FoodsMatter blog focused on Foodsmatter matters, other topics (most at least vaguely related to allergy and freefrom but a few totally random) do creep in. Moreover, I am very aware that no matter how much many of my readers may value my words of wisdom on the matters of moment in the allergy and greater world, what they really want to know about is my garden and my cats!
So, I am giving up the unequal struggle. I have removed the blog from the sheltering arms of Foodsmatter and set it up as independent blog on its own at www.michellesblog.co.uk. Its contents will not change that much except that I shall stop feeling guilty about the less allergy focused posts – and that garden and the cats just might creep in every now with posts of their own!
I am hoping that our clever Webmaster will have transferred all your subscriptions from the FoodsMatter blog to Michelle’s blog – but if you do not receive notifications of new posts over the next couple of week (there are several in the pipeline) please log in the www.michellesblog.co.uk and resubscribe.