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I had plans to write one of those looking back over the year posts… well apart from the picture of the lovely lavender field from my holiday in France this year that idea didn’t make it beyond my thoughts! Would anyone really be interested anyway? Although I actually do enjoy reading posts from people looking back over their year.
So it’s a simple post from me to end the year. It has been a great year for my blog this year, thank you to everyone who has visited. (It is still a surprise that anyone does!) My blog birthday passed by this month, I had plans to post something for that but that was another post idea that didn’t see the light of day! Id like to say a big thank you to those who have taken the time to leave comments! Those comments really do make my day.
I leave a wish for everyone who passes by here a very healthy, prosperous, Happy New Year. Jayne x
I am a bit behind on blog posts at the moment but I wanted to take the time to wish all of those who celebrate a happy Thanksgiving.
This time last year I had a few lists on the go and my mind was abuzz with turkey and desserts! I was entertaining for Thanksgiving and preparation had begun the weekend before when I made my cranberry sauce and made my version of this Make Ahead Gravy, what a lifesaver that turned out to be! I was so happy on the day not to have to worry about making the gravy! A few days later I embarked on my first turkey brine experience, I used the Judy Bird brine and it was a triumph and I will be repeating it with my turkey this Christmas.
Although Thanksgiving isnt celebrated here its still nice to stop and take a moment to be thankful! This year I am not entertaining but I am thankful that all who sat at my table last Thanksgiving are well and I hope it won’t be too long before we are all together again.
I am also thankful for my little blog which keeps me very entertained and I’ve “met” some lovely people through it. Thank you to all who visit and comment. It’s a very rainy day here today but even in the rain some lovely pictures can be found, these were taken in my garden.
No food today, I wanted to share some pictures from my week spent camping in the Ardeche region of France, its south just above Provence for those of you who haven’t heard of it. Apparently it’s not very well visited by people from the UK, this is a real shame as it’s just gorgeous. Amazing scenery and hot summer temperatures made for a wonderful week away. I did cook while camping, not all the time though, luckily there was a restaurant on site. My camp cooking is not very adventurous so best to share pictures this time rather than recipes! It’s a while since we’ve been camping and I’m out of practice, although my husband and I do camp in relative comfort nowadays we have a 6 man, Gear Hungry brand tent just for us and a high blow up mattress, the days of crawling around in our 3 man tent and sleeping on the ground are well in the past! Breakfast was the easiest meal to plan, pan au chocolat most days, my idea of heaven! I love visiting France and would definitely recommend the beautiful Ardeche if you haven’t been before.
Campsite beach on the river.
We drove into Provence for the market at Vaison la Romaine, look at the choice of tomatoes!
I had to buy some garlic from this very sweet man!
Lavender fields were such a treat! It was wonderful smelling the lavender and I have never seen so many varieties of bees and butterflies .
Another real treat was seeing the fields of sunflowers
An overnight stop in lovely Dijon on the way home.
Maille mustard store.
So many varieties, they put anything in mustard it seems! Fig, curry and chestnut to name a few!
I was desperate to buy some apricots before I came home, these will feature in a post soon!
It’s the Jubilee weekend! I have had all year to plan what to make but in typical Jayne style I left it until the last-minute! The rest of my life is fairly organised, I’m a lover of lists but for some reason when it comes to cooking I’m more relaxed and often do things at the last-minute, quickly flicking through one of my cookery books minutes before going to the supermarket looking for something new to try. If you come to dinner at my house you will most likely be served a meal that I have never made before! For the Jubilee weekend I wanted to make a cake, something traditional, something with a royal tone. I decide to make a Victoria sponge, strangely a cake that I don’t make all that often, I do like it, it’s just often overlooked while I’m trying other recipes, so many cakes so little time! The Victoria sponge is indeed named after Queen Victoria and was apparently created by her lady in waiting, the Duchess of Bedford, who is also said to have started the English afternoon tea tradition. It seemed fitting then that I celebrated the Diamond Jubilee with a cake that was originally made for a Queen!
This recipe is the one used by my friend Pearl, she makes a wonderful Victoria sponge, her cake rises so well and is wonderfully light. Where Victoria sponge is concerned I think the recipe is pretty standard. Traditionally the filling was just jam but I wanted something a little more fancy so added cream, decadence seemed the order of the day!
- 200 grams Caster sugar
- 200 grams Unsalted butter, softened
- 4 Eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- 200 grams Self Raising flour
- 1.5 tsp Baking powder
- 2 tbsp Milk
For the filling
- 4 tbsp Jam, I used jumbleberry but any berry jam would be nice.
- 300 ml Double (heavy) Cream, whipped. Careful not to over whip as I did!
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 350 F, Gas mark 4. Grease and line 2 8 inch round baking tins.
- Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, I use a stand mixer but a wooden spoon and elbow grease works just fine!
- Add an egg, mix to incorporate, repeat with another egg mix and repeat until all the eggs are used.
- Stir the vanilla.
- Add half of the flour, mix in gently add the rest and mix in gently, do not over stir at this point.
- Gently stir in the milk.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Allow cakes to cool in their tins then carefully remove. Remove baking paper.
- Spread the jam onto one sponge half, followed by the cream. Sandwich the cakes together a sprinkle with icing sugar.
It’s that time of the year again when everyone is trying to be healthy! I know that’s rather boring but after the Christmas period when most of us over indulged and ate less than our share of healthier foods January is a time to nourish ourselves. It makes us feel better to do some good after all that excess. I have yet to decide which diet I am doing this January! (I’m only half-joking!) While I ponder over that decision I am avoiding processed foods, drinking lots of water and stuffing myself with healthy vegetables, especially greens. Green is the colour this January! On a recent trip to the local market I came home with a bag stuffed with greens including kale, spinach, cavalo nero and brussels tops. I had however got carried away with all these greens, too much just for me, my husband has an aversion to greens! I find the shelf life of greens shorter than some other vegetables so as speed to use them was necessary I whipped up a speedy soup using the spinach and some of the kale.
This is a use what you have kind of soup, with a base of potato, onion and garlic and what greens you have or fancy. The greens are only wilted so they retain their vibrant green colour and their nutrients. Its very green, something this green has to be good for you! Although my husband hates most vegetables he will eat spinach so I hoped that by mainly using spinach he would at least try it! Well he did try and whats more really enjoyed it! He knows me well though and while eating said ” I know there is more than just spinach in here and that you will tell me when I’m finished”!
I did tell him about the kale in the soup when we had finished but he declared it to be delicious! Ever keen to feed my husband vegetables I will be making this again.
Healthy Green Soup
- 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 350 gram spinach leaves, washed
- 150 gram kale (I used curly kale) washed
- 1 litre stock, vegetable or chicken as you prefer
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan heat the oil and add the potato and onion. Coat with the oil and turning the heat right down cover and leave to sweat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan and stir.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potato is soft.
- Add the green leaves to the pan, no need to stir. Put the lid on and leave until the greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and puree to desired consistency using a blender or as I did an immersion blender.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
I’ve spent today belatedly trying to add some organisation to the end of the year! Anyone else out there doing that? I’ve tidied, cleaned out my kitchen utensil drawer, made some leek and potato soup and some of Cathy’s fabulous Salad in a jar Giardiniera which is vegetables in a blend of oil and vinegar, so fresh tasting and very addictive! As you can see after the splurges of the holiday season I’m already feeling guilty and looking to a healthier January!
I’ve had a good 2011, its been quite eventful. In May I wrote a review for Five Minute bread by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois on the wonderful online magazine Foodie Bugle!
I went to Vanessa Kimbell’s book launch of Prepped! in June. That was so exciting for me, nerve-wracking too as I made some cupcakes using a recipe from the book to take along!
My husband and I had a fabulous holiday in Florida in August where we managed to drive more than 2000 miles in 2 wonderful weeks of exploring. We also met the delightful Wendy of Sunchowders Emporia this really was a highlight of 2011 for me! I just loved Wendy and know she will always be a friend of mine. Her jams and pickles are amazing too, I just can’t wait for them to hit the big time, she so deserves it!
In November I took part in the food blogging gift swap Lets Make Christmas organised by the lovely Vanessa Kimbell at Fortnum & Mason. By some stroke of amazing luck I won the drinks section with the Slivovitz I entered! My prize is a champagne tasting evening in February which is something to look forward to in 2012!
Writing my blog has been a new experience to me and thank you to all who have stopped by to read it (it still astounds me that anyone, no matter how few, reads this!)
There have been many other highlights and good times, but in fear of losing your interest suffice to say many, many wishes for a healthy, happy 2012 to you all!
I have just taken part in Seasons Eatings, organised by the lovely Katie of Thyme for Cooking. Its a worldwide holiday gift exchange to spice up our holidays! The idea was that we sent a small gift of a herb, spice or food from where we live, with a recipe of how to use it to someone somewhere else in the world. I received a wonderful, generous array of wild rice, dried cranberries, some wild rice seasoning and spud seasoning (see picture above) from Kate in Minnesota. With the holiday season busy as it is I am only just getting around to my Seasons eatings post after Christmas. But that turned out to be a good thing as after the indulgent few days (weeks!) I’ve had I was craving something healthier and my new wild rice is perfect for healthy recipes!
I cooked the rice using the wild rice seasoning in the water. The seasoning contains salt, raspberry granules, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, orange peel and herbs. If you aren’t lucky enough to have this I’m sure you could use stock in your cooking water as an alternative. When looking for wild rice recipes I came across many salads, lots were creamy which didn’t appeal to me, I really just wanted the rice and cranberries to be the stars of this salad so I didn’t add to many other ingredients. I ended up with a lovely simple salad that I thoroughly enjoyed, Id forgotten how much I like wild rice! Thanks Kate for the lovely package and Katie for organising!
Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad (2 servings)
- 100 grams Wild rice
- 1 litre cold water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Spring onions, chopped
- 1 tsp Lemon zest
- 1 tbsp Flat parsley, chopped
- 30 grams Dried Cranberries
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the rice in a medium saucepan and pour over cold water. At this point add some stock or salt as you wish to the water. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for 30 minutes. I stirred a couple of times during cooking.
- After 30 minutes turn off the heat and leave to stand with the lid still on for 20-30 minutes until the rice reaches the desired texture.
- Meanwhile make the dressing by adding the olive oil and lemon zest together and whisking well.
- Drain the rice and place in a dish, adding the chopped spring onion, olive oil and lemon zest dressing. Stir gently to coat
- Add the parsley and cranberries, stir gently and season with pepper to taste.
I enjoyed this salad at room temperature with a mix of green leaves.