Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Good Morning to you,

We have had a lot of heavy rain in the last few days, which reminded me of the thunderstorms, we used to experience during the winter, in Cyprus. Luckily none of my flowers have been battered, and my roses are still in tact.  I don't know how that happened, as usually they are the first to fall when it rains heavily, but I am grateful they survived the downpour.

Because we have had a mixture of hot sun and rains, my garden is looking so lovely,

The Lavender is growing really well, but do you see the lavender at the front, it has been used as a cushion.  I am not sure what has been lying on the plant, I am wondering if it is a visiting cat, or it could be a hedgehog, but I need to create a make shift collar to help the plant to grow upwards again. Although it will deprive my visitor of it's cushion, at least the lavender will  survive. My visitor will get a shock next time he or she visits, as it's cushion will have disappeared. 

There are three different types of  lavender in my garden, Munstead, Hidcote and French lavender, they all smell beautiful and when you brush past them, as I often do, when I hang my washing on the line, they release their gorgeous lavender perfume. The lavenders are adored by the bees and there is always five or six bees paying each plant a visit.

You can see all the blues, pinks, purples and white, which I love, but do you see a little yellow creeping into the picture on the right hand side.... this is the bright yellow of Loosestrife.

Look at this sunny plant.  This is one of George's favourites as he loves bright colours, such as red, yellow and oranges. The Loosestrife mingles with the blues and pinks and a little further down on the left hand side, although you cannot see them, the orange flowers of the Montbretia are just in bud, and in another week or so they will be in flower. You would not think the colours would work, but they rub along together, beautifully. These little ladies, the Loosestrife and Montbretia, will be divided when they have finished flowering.  I will plant some in my front garden, where they will have plenty of space to grow.  I have to divide these plants every couple of years , as they can be a little rampant, as they do have a tendency to take over and quickly outgrow the space they are planted in.

As you can see,  the soft blue of the Geraniums and the pale purple of the Penstemons, both don't seem to mind their bright yellow companions.

Clambering at the back are my purple and pink clematis.  This year they have really gone from strength to strength.  Do you know these clematis  only cost me a few pounds and after three years, look how happy they are with their roots planted in the shade.

Now take a look at this beautiful rose, it's name is St Swithun, it is the palest pink and so very pretty. I think I can safely describe this rose as a very romantic looking rose.

 It is a very young plant, but even so, this year, it has produced a profusion of flowers..... next year there will be many more,

to  mingle with the purple and blue clematis, then that will be a sight to behold.

This is a lovely mix of blue and white, well maybe bordering on the purple and white. Do you see the beautiful stamen's... the little crosses inside the flower, aren't they lovely.  Do you know, my mind has gone blank, do you think I can think of the name of this flower..... if anyone knows, please put me out of my misery, because the more I think, the more the name escapes me.  I know it is not a Jacob's Ladder, but that is the name which keeps coming back into my mind..... why is that, when I know the name is wrong. Phyllis always says, don't think about it and the name will come.... I'm trying not to think about it, but I just can't help myself.

Look who is peeking through the mint.  The mint has gone haywire this year, even though I have planted it in a pot.  I don't want to cut it back, because as you can see the flowers are forming and the bees love to visit the mint flowers.  I am very much an advocate of planting to attract bees and wildlife.  I think apart from the odd one or two plants, most of the plants I have planted have been with bees in mind and bees love the flowers in my garden, as it is always a hive of industry. I can be sitting in the garden reading a book, and I can hear the constant buzzing of the bees, sometimes I have to stop what I am doing and watch the bees.  If you have ever watched a bee busy at work, you know where the phrase "as busy as a bee" comes from.

Now this plant I am especially pleased with this year.  Two years ago Natasha bought this grapevine for George, for his Father's Day gift and it has taken really well here in the North of England.  I have planted the vine, so the roots have a long run, as this is what they love, and this year, we have been rewarded with these tiny little grapes.  They will not mature, because even though we have had this heat wave, it is not enough to bring on the grapes. They will never turn into the beautiful pendulous grapes which you see in gardens all around Cyprus during August and September, but I still get pleasure from knowing the tiny grapes have formed.

Look how my Winston Churchill fuchsia is flowering, the buds are fat and you can see the petals are just beginning to open up.  I have quite a few fuchsias in my garden, some whose flower heads are so heavy, they cannot keep their heads up.

My garden is not a large garden, but I want to utilise all the space.  I love flowers but I also plant a few edible plants as well, such as these strawberry plants.  I have to plant upwards to use all the available space, so my strawberries are planted in hanging baskets. I just have to be sure that when the fruit have ripened, I am out in the garden picking them, before the birds decide to have a tasty breakfast treat.

If I am lucky enough to get there first, our reward is these lovely little strawberries. Now, I know they are not as fat and juicy looking as the one's which we buy from the shops, but I have to say, these little strawberries hold their own as they maybe small, but they are packed with flavour.

I was thrilled to pieces with them.  So we divided the strawberries between us and George had a bowl of strawberries and cream, whilst I had a bowl of strawberries and yoghurt.

The radishes have grown well this year and are full of peppery flavour, they are perfect added to a salad.

I had hoped to grow potatoes and peas this year, but the weather had been so diabolical during the beginning of the summer that I had to give them a miss this year...... but there is always next year.

The lettuces are coming on well and I am just about to plant some more radishes.  I plant the second round of radishes,  once I have almost harvested the first, as I do not want to be overloaded with radishes.

The final thing I am waiting for is beetroot..... I love beetroot, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and roasted.  The jackets removed, sprinkled with a little more sea salt and drizzled with olive oil, then eaten warm..... so simple but so perfect.

As are all the best things in life.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining, 


Sunday, 28 July 2013


Good Morning to you,

I was chatting with my friend April the other day, and we were talking about baking and the  various types of cakes which we each enjoyed making. She mentioned a cake, which I had never baked before, and she said it was an absolutely gorgeous cake and so easy to make, so of course I was eager to try it and to share it with you. So today, on April's recommendation,  we will be baking,

a Caramel Apple Cake..... and believe me, you will not be disappointed.  

The recipe for this Caramel Apple Cake is from the Waitrose website.  Waitrose is a popular supermarket here in England. When you shop in Waitrose, you know you are going to buy good quality food, so I was not surprised by how lovely this cake was and I am sure you will feel the same.

So it is on with the apron and the music I have chosen to listen to today, is,

Eva Cassidy.... sadly Eva is not with us anymore, but her memory continues through her beautiful music.


125g unsalted butter,
extra for buttering the cake tin
2 medium sized eggs
225g self-raising flour, sifted
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
300 g Bramley apples,
peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons of semi-skimmed milk
1 tablespoon of demerara sugar

397g can of Carnation Caramel

Do you know, I did a silly thing, I opened the caramel tin and spooned the caramel into a dish. I then washed out the tin, to put it into the recycling and forgot to take a photograph of the caramel tin. Meanwhile George had put the tins into the recycling bin outside, so once I had realised my mistake, it was too late to take a photograph. Instead  I have "doctored" a Carnation Milk tin, I do hope I have not confused you.


Pre-heat the oven to 150 C/ Gas Mark 3
20cm spring-form cake tin buttered
and the base lined with parchment paper
1 small sauce pan

Peel, core and chop the apples into pieces
of about half an inch.

Place the diced butter and 
225g of the caramel into a large bowl
and either beat by hand or with an 
electric whisk until thoroughly combined.

Beat the eggs into the mixture
one at a time.

Until thoroughly combined

Sift together

the flour, baking powder and 
and gently fold into the mixture

Gently stir in the apple

and the milk

until thoroughly combined

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared
cake tin and smooth the top, 
scatter a tablespoonful of
demerara sugar on the top.

Bake for 1 hour, or until risen and slightly
golden on top.
My cake took 1 hour and 10 minutes
to bake, 

Remove the cake from the oven and leave
it to cool for 15 minutes
before placing it on a serving plate

Whilst you are waiting for the cake to cool,

on a low heat, 
warm the rest of the caramel in a
small saucepan 
until you have a pourable consistency

then drizzle the caramel over the top
of the cake.

Cut yourself a slice and enjoy

on it's own or
 with some
whipped cream,
or you might prefer some ice cream.

Are you wondering what the verdict was from my resident taster, George?  Well this is what he said about this Caramel Apple Cake,


yes that's all


well, he did have a smile on his face when he was eating his slice of cake.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining my friends,


Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Good Evening to you,

As a rule I chat to you in the morning, but today, the day has been slightly different.

The reason is, earlier this morning, I had a lovely, unexpected, Skype chat with Natasha, which lasted about an hour or so. 

Then, I  decided I would boiled some new potatoes ready for lunch.  

Once I had done that, I fully intended coming straight to my sewing room, to chat with you, but as I was placing the potatoes into the pan of water, I stopped to look out of my kitchen window, at the new border which we had dug. Well to be truthful, George did the heavy digging and I followed behind with the hoe, breaking up the soil.  I had heard the weather forecast earlier in the morning and the weatherman had told us to expect rain later in the day. So I asked George if he fancied digging in some plants with me before the rain arrived. Luckily he said yes, and I am so pleased he did, because with both of us planting, it got the job done much quicker.

When we finished,  it was the middle of the afternoon, so we had a bite to eat and I made us both a cup of coffee. I came upstairs, ready to catch up with you and now that I have finally managed to sit here and talk to you, the rain has decided to arrive, so please excuse me for a moment, as I have to dash around the house, closing all the open windows.

..... the windows are now all closed and the rain is tumbling down.  I had a quick look at my newly planted plants and they are very happy, as they are receiving a good watering.

All of this means, I am quite a bit behind today. I know you will understand, as I'm sure this has happened to you as well,

but I am now going to make you smile, as look what I found in my local Charity Shop,

This fabulously huge Ironstone Cheese Dish.

It is a lovely size and whilst it is perfect for cheese, do you know what George has put on the dish...... chocolates.  Yes chocolates.  Actually, it is supposed to be George's hiding place for chocolates.   Let me explain, I am not on a diet, I am cutting back on my portions, to lose a couple of pounds, and at the moment I am not eating chocolates, but you know me, I love chocolates and I find it difficult to ignore them, if I know there is some in the house,  they seem to call my name. George isn't watching his diet, so I cannot deprive him of chocolate. George said he would find a hiding place for them, which was a great idea, but where did he put them..... right under my nose, in the kitchen, which was not a good idea. George said, he thought that was the last place I would look, as it was a cheese dish, but I said, the cheese dish had a cover, which was a perfect place to hide the chocolates, so it was the first place I looked. Anyway he has now moved them to a new hidey hole.... I can't help wondering how long it will take me to find them again.

Oh dear, I am going off on a tangent again, let's get back to the Ironstone cheese dish.  This cheese dish is made by Burleigh, which is based in Staffordshire, England. 

Do you see the small round marks? These marks are where the dish has been supported in the kiln. Plates are supported in three places with pins.  This suspends the plates and prevents them from sticking to each other in the kiln.

The glaze which is used is like a thick glass jacket (don't you just love that description), that covers the pottery.  

I am really pleased with this find and I promise you, I do intend using it as a cheese dish and not a chocolate dish.

Now, this is an interesting tablecloth.  When I first saw it at a distance, folded up, I thought it was green cross stitch.

but when I moved a little closer, I could see that it wasn't, it is actually hand stamped.

The material is linen and the stamping is beautifully done,

although you can see in this section, where some of the stamping has not taken cleanly, but I certainly don't mind as it adds to the charm.

This is the tablecloth opened out, for you to see.  I am sorry about the iron creases, but the material is linen and it has been lightly starched and beautifully ironed and before I wash it I need to find out the ratio of starch to water to give this tablecloth a slight crispness.   I feel this tablecloth has a certain Christmas quality about it and will be lovely on my table, so I am going to fold it back up and I promise you, when I have a moment, it will be hand washed, starched and ironed, ready to be used on my table.

I have managed to find some other wonderful things when I was out and about..... but those I will save for another time.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining,

Sunday, 21 July 2013


Good Morning to you,

I am being watched.... someone is watching my every move. Each time I walk into the kitchen I can feel a pair of  eyes following me and you know who that someone is..... George.  

The day has finally arrived, as promised, I am baking a Quiche Lorraine.  George is waiting in the wings, ready to walk into the kitchen to claim his prize. Once claimed, he will exit stage left, into the garden, sit under the shade and totally enjoy his treat, but for George, that moment of enjoyment has not  yet arrived.... the Quiche has to be made.

.....and this is what all the fuss is about, George's favourite, a Quiche Lorraine.

I have not been able to make this Quiche at my usual slow, rhythmic pace. I have not been able to use my lovely pastry bowl. I have not been able to rub the flour and butter through my fingers, before adding the egg and water, oh no, this time I have had to use the food processor to make the pastry. The essence of today's exercise is speed.

I rarely use the processor to make pastry, but by using it today, it allows me to make the pastry quickly, as at the moment, George reminds me of the donkey from Shrek, who keeps saying "Are we there yet?" "Are we there yet?" but in George's case it is "Is it ready yet?" "Is it ready yet?"

So enough is enough. George has gone to visit Sadie and I have asked him to check to see if the lawn needs cutting. By keeping him busy, he will be out of my hair for a little while, so that I can get on with the Quiche.  The sooner I start, the sooner I will be finished.

So, it is on with the apron and the music I am listening to today, is going to be calming and relaxing, an atmosphere which is conducive to baking,

and what could be more soothing than listening to Julio Iglesias.  I love his rendition of Crazy.


200g (7 oz) plain flour, sifted
90g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water


22cm (9 inch) lightly buttered fluted flan tin
baking parchment
baking beans
Oven temperature 180C (350F)

Place the butter, flour and salt into a food
processor and pulse until the mixture resemble
 fine breadcrumbs.

Alternatively you can use the normal
hand method.

Add the egg yolk and pulse.  If the pastry has not
combined, add a tablespoon of cold water and
pulse again, but do not add too much water
as this will make the pastry shrink when baking.
Continue until the pastry has formed a ball, then
wrap the pastry in cling film and place
in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and 
roll out until it fits your flan tin.

You can see that I had to patch my pastry
case, as we are experiencing a heatwave at the moment and my house is  unusually hot.
I could not keep the pastry cool, even
though I rolled it on a granite surface.

Don't worry if this happens, as you will not
be able to see the patches. Just make sure
you seal any cracks with pastry as you
do not want the egg mixture to escape
from the pastry case.

I returned my pastry case to the fridge
to cool for another hour.

It was really just as well George was busy at 
Sadie's, as the pastry case took longer
than normal.

After an hour remove the pastry case from the fridge and
prick the surface with a fork to allow
the steam to escape.
Place the parchment paper and baking beans
inside the pastry case and bake 
for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment
paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.

Keep checking though as you want the pastry
case to be light brown and not golden brown as you are going to return it to the oven.


250g (8 oz) of streaky bacon
300 ml (10 fl oz) single cream
2 eggs, beaten together
3 egg yolks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

Cut the bacon into bite sizes pieces, I find it
easier to snip the bacon with a pair of scissors.

Dry fry the bacon (without oil) in a small frying pan, until the bacon becomes brown. You will
have a little bacon residue left in the
bottom of the frying pan.

Remove the bacon from the pan and place
on kitchen towel to allow any excess
fat to be absorbed.

Add the finely chopped onions to the frying pan. By using the same pan you will incorporate the bacon flavour into the onions. Cook gently until translucent.

When translucent, remove the onions from the pan and
place on kitchen towel to remove any
excess moisture.

Mix together the cream, egg yolks
and eggs.

Until combined

Place the bacon and onions into the bottom
of the baked pastry case and grate
a little Parmesan cheese on top.  If you
don't have any Parmesan cheese use
Cheddar cheese.

Fill the pastry case with the cream and egg mixture

Bake until golden brown

Allow to cool for 15 minutes
and then
cut a slice to enjoy on it's own
or make a green salad with an olive oil
and lemon dressing to turn this Quiche
into a lovely lunch.

George has returned from Sadie's, he gave a happy shout when he opened the door "yes it's ready..... I can smell it" and helped himself to a huge piece of quiche.  He is now content and a very happy chappy...... and where did he go with his Quiche.... into the garden of course.

There are many ways to make a Quiche Lorraine and the purists will wince at mine, but this is how we eat Quiche in our house, and as I have said many times before, as home bakers, we  tweak a recipe, so that it suits our families needs, for me, that is what home baking is all about.

So however you prefer your Quiche Lorraine, I hope you enjoy it as much as George.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining,


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