July wildflower walk

Simple pleasures for July

Eating vegetables from the garden every day.

beetroot

We’re in that blissful period when there’s enough vegetables for meals but before the summer gluts of courgettes, tomatoes and runner beans.

digging new potatoes

The asparagus and broad beans have finished but we’re eating sweet carrots and thinnings of beetroot and we scrabble in the dirt to lift the new potatoes, so far unsullied by slugs or scabs.

cherries from garden

Picking fruit

It’s a bumper year for cherries. Last year we had a crop of just three cherries that we watched slowly change colour. And then they disappeared. Just as they were almost ready. This year we netted the tree more carefully and have been picking cherries by the bowlful along with blackcurrants, gooseberries and loganberries while out in the fruit field we’ve started to pick raspberries for Raspberry Gin.

baking tins

BAKING BREAD

In July we light up the outdoor oven, though it always takes me a couple of sessions to get back into the different way of cooking. The pizzas were successful, cooking in three or four minutes with a crispy base and bubbling hot topping but the loaf of bread I put into the oven afterwards was less successful because I didn’t let the oven cool down enough. The base was blackened and inedible so I sliced off the bottom, scooped out the middle to make breadcrumbs and put the top into a slow oven (indoors) to dry  out so that I can use it as a bowl. In theory. Maybe.

There have also been experiments with Devonshire Splits, which I’ve started to make instead of scones because they taste so good, especially when eaten with cream and freshly picked strawberries.

cow parsley gone to seed

ENJOYING THE COUNTRYSIDE

A lack of rainfall this year, coupled with a few hot days last week has tipped the countryside from green to yellow. The wheat crops are already turning colour, the oilseed rape is dying off and the cow parsley in the verges has run to seed.

being creative

I’ve been trying some different screen printing techniques and doing more jelly printing. And I’ve been dyeing wool and fabric. With beetroot and rose petals. Hmm. I think I’ll stick to printing.

simple pleasures for july

What are your simple pleasures for July?

The Dinner Party Collective Begins!

Anne Wheaton:

Have you heard about The Dinner Party Collective?
You may have thought that the Dinner Party is a relic of days gone by, but Margot (creator of the food blog Gather and Graze has set out to re-establish them into the fabric of our society. Margot has gathered together a band of food and wine-loving bloggers from around the world to collectively create menus for delicious and successful dinner parties on The Dinner Party Collective website.
While the menus are being tested and tasted ready for the first dinner party posting, you might like to find out who’s taking part.

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

To all, a warm welcome to The Dinner Party Collective! We are a group of dedicated and passionate Food and Wine Bloggers from right around the world who are coming together to collaborate and create what will be an ever-growing series of seasonal menus. In time, there will be a delicious array of formal, semi-formal and casual menus for you to choose from.

The first of our menus are being worked upon as we speak and will be published in early June. There will be a winter menu for those in the southern hemisphere and a summer menu for those up in the north. From then on, with each new season, a fresh duo of menus will be released for each of the corresponding hemispheres.

Included will be an Appetiser, Main and Dessert (each dish beautifully prepared and photographed by one of our individual Food Bloggers) and to accompany will…

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Hatched

Two of my ducks recently spent over a month sitting together on a heap of eggs. Last week, when the ducks had nipped down to the pond for a splash and refresh, I peeked into the shelter and discovered that the heap had diminished to only six eggs. We’ve been losing most of our duck eggs to crows and it seems that a pesky crow had also been raiding the nest as well.

The next evening I spied a duckling peering out from under a wing and it looked as though another egg was starting to hatch. The following morning, instead of staying on the nest as they usually did, both ducks disappeared to the pond with the others, which seemed a little odd as there were no ducklings with them.They left four eggs in the nest and a half hatched egg with a dead duckling inside and no sight of a live duckling. As the ducks showed no signs of returning (my ducks are terrible mothers) I took the four eggs inside. I deduced that two contained ducklings so I left them under a desk lamp and went out to get the half hatched egg so I could dispose of it. But, the [insert any expletive here because I probably used it] crow had beaten me to it.

day old duckling

day old duckling

A couple of days later one of the eggs under the lamp hatched to reveal a little black duckling. My daughter Ruth immediately decided she should have this duckling and that when it was older it could walk with her to work, spend the day on the pond and then walk home with her. To those of you familiar with the novels in the Gamache series, it will come as no surprise that I promptly named the duck Rosa.

Rosa and Ruth

We kept Rosa in the box on the kitchen dresser for a few days and Ruth took great delight in letting her swim in the sink or taking her outside where Rosa would follow her around. But Ruth seemed reluctant to take Rosa home and I was getting more than fed up with a duck in my kitchen, not least because she was a great distraction and time waster.

open farm sunday

Fortuitously, one of the ladies who keeps a horse on the farm said that her school would be happy to raise the duckling, provided that we would take it back when it matured. Before she could change her mind (though giving Ruth time to say her good-byes and Rosa time to do a little Open Farm Sunday promotion) I handed over the duckling so it can take its place in school. I’m sure the children will love her (or him) and it won’t be long before she returns.

baby

Meanwhile, a much more exciting hatching – a gorgeous grandson. It’s a bit of a shock to suddenly become one of the “older generation” and I’m not at all sure that I’m prepared for it.