Friday, 24 August 2012

Mid-Somerset Show 2012

I really did have a proper Westcountry weekend last weekend! As I mentioned in my last post, on Sunday we headed over to Shepton Mallet for the Mid-Somerset Show, a small agricultural show in the lovely Somerset countryside. We always used to go to the Royal Bath & West Show when I was little, but after the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, when a lot of farmers lost their livestock and there were all sorts of restrictions on the movement of animals, it became a lot more corporate and there were more big stands selling farm machinery than there were local producers. But the Mid-Somerset Show was just how an agricultural show should be. It was a boiling hot day and they had a record crowd, and we saw all sorts of fab things.

There were champion chickens...
...and a LOT of Cheddar (unsurprisingly!)
There were also lots of local food producers and small dairies and cheesemakers in the food tent, and I bought some Somerset cider chutney, and some Ringwell and Little Ryding cheese from Wootton Organic Dairy. I love Ringwell - it's made with unpasteurised milk from Jersey cows and it's beautiful, quite dry but creamy and nutty at the same time.

This cow had won all the rosettes...
...and there were lots of very large pigs and lots of old tractors!

One of our main reasons for going to the show was to see The Wurzels, and of course I had to have a cheeky perry (I'm not a cider fan) while they were playing!

And I finished the day with a gorgeous mint choc chip ice-cream from Styles that was made with sheep's milk - it was lovely and refreshing with a gorgeous tang, a little bit like frozen yogurt but much creamier!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Veg Box Day: 21/08/12

I had an amazing weekend - a wedding on Saturday, a country show featuring cider, ice cream, big pigs and The Wurzels on Sunday, and as I'd also taken Monday off work we headed down to gloriously sunny Lyme Regis for lunch and more ice cream.

But more of that later! Yesterday was veg box day, and here's what I got...
...salad leaves, spring onions, portobello mushrooms, charlotte potatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots and the biggest pointed cabbage I've ever seen!

I also finally got round to buying myself a salad spinner - all the things like salad leaves, spinach, rocket and watercress that come in the veg box need washing, and until now I've been washing them in the sink and then using industrial-sized volumes of kitchen roll to attempt to dry them. But now I have this!
Of course I had to get an expensive one (well, it was more than the flimsy £5.99 ones in the cheapo kitchen shop, anyway) because I only wanted a small one. This one fits in the fridge (if you store your salad in the spinner it keeps longer, apparently) and it's solid and the plunger on top locks flat onto the lid so it's really easy to store (very important in my tiny kitchen).

So supper last night was a salady affair - some of my freshly washed leaves with grated carrot, toasted pine nuts, new potatoes, a hard-boiled egg and a dressing made from tahini, lemon juice and a bit of water. I'll have to think of something to do with that cabbage now!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Adventures in decorating...

I mentioned that we did a bit of DIY at home last week...well, it was quite a bit of DIY, really! My parents have really been cracking on with decorating their new house and making it all look amazing since they moved in last November, and the downstairs is now completely finished! So it was time for us to tackle the upstairs rooms...!

Here's what my bedroom looked like halfway through stripping off the hideous 1990s Changing Rooms-style wallpaper border...
...and here's a pic that shows the awful dark-stained plywood 'wardrobe' in the left-hand corner...I know there's furniture in the middle of the room but it was SO DARK...
We started work on the Tuesday afternoon and finished on Thursday evening - my dad and sister did most of it, to be fair! My dad refuses to bodge a job, so where I would just go 'fill the holes, sand the filler, paint the walls', when my dad's involved you have to fill the holes, sand the walls, wash the walls, coat the walls with acrylic bonding stuff, do a 'blinding coat' and then paint the walls. It means the whole thing ends up looking amazing, but it does involve a heck of a lot of work!

Anyway, we (again, I say 'we', but apart from a bit of painting - I'm very good at cutting in - and wallpaper stripping it was mainly Dad and Suze) did all of that, and then the carpet fitters came, and the curtains arrived, and now it looks like this...

Incredible, eh? It's a totally different room! It's so light and fresh and lovely, and it really is a pleasure to wake up in rather than being dark and dirty-looking and dingy. I'm so pleased and quite sad that my bedroom here in London doesn't look as gorgeous!

Cat and the Cream cupcakes...

Can I just take a minute to say OH. MY. GOD...
That, my friends, is a banana, walnut and chocolate chip cupcake with butterscotch icing from Cat and the Cream. Not only is it utterly delicious, it's also vegan and wheat-free (they don't use products containing gluten either, but can't legally label their food as gluten-free or coeliac-friendly as they don't have a specifically dedicated gluten-free kitchen) and they use ingredients that are as natural as possible, like unrefined sugars and nut milks.

I was in Piccadilly earlier and happened to stumble into Whole Foods (whoops...) and then I happened to stumble upon this beautiful range of cupcakes in the chiller cabinet. Look at the cute little container - perfect for keeping your cupcake in pristine condition!
There were all sorts of amazing flavours, but I chose just the one - I'll definitely be going back to try some of the others, though! The cake was quite dense, but that worked with the banana bread feel - I was tempted by the 'pure chocolate' cupcake so I'll have to try that one next and see what their chocolate cake is like! And the icing was gorgeous - so often buttercream can be really sickly but even this butterscotch version wasn't too sweet and it wasn't at all cloying.
They were quite expensive, £2.69 each, but if you're vegan or wheat-free and you want a seriously incredible indulgent treat, I'd get my hands on one of these if I were you! I'm now trying to work out how to get back to Whole Foods to pick up a selection to take down to Somerset for my family next Friday...

Friday, 10 August 2012

Amazing fish pie...

I made this fish pie when I was at my parents' last week, and it was amazing firstly because it tasted gorgeous (I used ordinary cod, smoked cod, prawns and peas, but you could use haddock or any white fish, or salmon even) and secondly because it was completely gluten- and dairy-free! I based the recipe loosely on good old Delia, just to get an idea of cooking times really, but it's obviously nothing like Delia's fish pie. Here's what I did...obviously if gluten and dairy aren't a problem for you, you can just use 'normal' ingredients! It sounds quite involved but it's really easy and it's a lovely thing to do if you've got a Saturday night in.

Fish pie

Serves 4 greedy people (like me and my family) or probably 6 normal people

2 smoked cod fillets
2 plain cod fillets or loins
1 pint non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
About 300g raw king prawns
3 tablespoons rice flour (or other gluten-free plain flour)
1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Large handful parsley, chopped
Large handful frozen peas
About 1kg floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2" chunks
About 1 tablespoon Pure sunflower spread
Big splash of non-dairy milk or soya cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Place the fish fillets into your ovenproof serving dish and pour over the pint of milk. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until just opaque.
3. Lift the fish out of the milk and place on a plate to cool slightly, then sieve the milk into a jug.
4. When the fish is cool enough to handle, remove any skin and bones and place in large chunks back into the serving dish, along with the prawns and peas. Season (not too much salt as the smoked fish may be quite salty).
5. Make the sauce by combining the flour and oil in a pan to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes on a medium heat, then remove from the heat and add the milk you poached the fish in. Whisk to get rid of any lumps, then return to a low heat and whisk until the sauce thickens. Season with pepper and stir in the chopped parsley. Pour the sauce over the fish and leave to stand.
6. Make the mashed potato by putting the chopped potato in a large pan, covering with water and boiling until tender. Drain and mash with the Pure and a splash of non-dairy milk or soya cream. Season.
7. Top the pie with the mashed potato, fluffing up the surface with a fork. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Veg Box Day: 7/8/12

Haven't blogged for ages, have I! I went on a week-long jaunt down to the Westcountry and did a LOT of cooking (and a bit of DIY...) so you can expect a few posts about that in the near future. In the meantime, here's this week's veg box - I haven't had one for a month, as I skipped my last delivery knowing I'd be away. This box is extremely summery, with a salad pack, spring onions, sugarsnap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and new potatoes, and it's all from the UK!

Unfortunately I was a bit hungry and I ate my supper before I remembered to take a photo of it...but it wasn't particularly interesting anyway, just some of the salad with chopped spring onions, a hard-boiled egg, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes (both of which I browned with a spray of oil in a frying pan for a warm element to the salad, yum yum) and a drizzle of balsamic.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...