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Showing posts from July, 2013

Greenhouses, Cats and Bawdy Gooseberries

The base for our new greenhouse is down and dry and officially approved by a couple of the local cats. It is a universal law that no area of fresh concrete will survive without the gift of feline footprints. There must have been some serious toe licking going on this week. 
Other news from the farm front is that we have, thankfully, sold the apple crop in advance. Last year's crop was the poorest in a decade, like many apple orchards around the UK, and no commercial buyer was interested in what scant fruit there was so we juiced a few ton ourselves. This year's harvest will definitely be an improvement but the wet and cold spring were not kind to the blossom and pollination (we still have little pockets of blossom around the orchard now!) so we'll be selling 'per bin' picked. The apple-buyer reckons that he'll start picking around the end of September, nearly a month later than usual, a sign of the late development and growth despite the subsequent heatwave we&#…

On Greatness. And fish fingers.

I ran a writing workshop at Highsted Grammar School for Girls in Sittingbourne, Kent this week. 'How many of you in this room think you're great?' I asked. Unsurprisingly, not a murmur. 
An hour later the room was pulsating with greatness, all the greatnesses we agreed to recognise and appreciate in ourselves.


I am great at making scrambled eggs. My secret is the dollop of creme fraiche I add just before the end of cooking time that keeps them soft and velvety. Then I sprinkle them with chopped chives.
People love my scrambled eggs. 
Between 11 and 14 I'd have been the girl in the corner of the room staring hard at the blankness of the white page beneath the phrase, 'I am great at...'. Perhaps with encouragement I might have been able to recognise that I was great at 'reading'. Or, 'reciting by heart all the names of the books in the Old Testament'. But it's never too late to recognise your greatness.
The inspiration for this exercise came from a…

Science and Chocolate

This is the first week of my online Science and Gastronomy course with Coursera. I was a little nervous about the 'high school level science' prerequisite - I dropped chemistry and physics and miserably failed my O level biology - but I'm happy to report that I'm more than managing the science bits, probably down to the clarity and the sound-bite design of the video lectures. And I'm learning stuff! I use that exclamation mark consciously. Learning stuff at school tended to be a drag, apart from French. I am sure there are people who reveled in, and blossomed during, their senior school years, but I definitely wasn't one of them. But with age, maturity and the desire to expand my knowledge of the world, learning is now exciting.


So far I've learned the difference between convection and conduction, how to make water boil at more than 100 degrees centigrade (add salt or sugar), and about leptin (the appetite inhibitor) and ghrelin (the hunger hormone), and abo…

OCD vegetables

That's what my step-daughter said when she saw them. And she has a point: these are vegetables who'd insist on straightening all the cutlery, folding each napkin exactly. Vegetables that would tell you to sit up in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. But you'd forgive them for their insistence on order and their interference after you've brought them to silence with a knife and fork.
I've had a recipe postcard for these in my cookery scrapbook ever since I moved back from France over 18 months ago but the British summer weather hasn't been conducive to the colours and flavours of the Mediterranean... until last weekend. 
I also invented (I use that term loosely!) a burger wrap. Chargrilled burger, sliced red onion, salad and a few dabs of piri-piri hot sauce all neatly enclosed in a wheat and white wrap. I think the OCD vegetables had more of an effect on me than I realised! 
I think it's still in its developmental stage though. Putting the wrapped …