Thursday, 30 October 2008

winter sends a sign...

winter sends a sign..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

...that it is not too far away. Some very cold frosty nights and flurries of snow here, too early in the year for my liking!

I read a few weeks ago of a German women who had been arrested after cycling with her two year old child naked in the child seat, in very cold weather. She has been charged with offences of cruelty! Her justification for doing this "My two year old wouldn't get dressed so I was teaching him a lesson." - As I read this I am shaking my head, tutting, thinking what a bad mother.

Then, just as life always does when you judge others, the same happens to you. Not that I have been cycling anywhere with a clotheless child, good gracious, me - cycle! No, my two year old, decided he too would object to wearing anymore than a t-shirt! He will not wear a coat or a jumper. Well we often have a 30 minute gentle coaxing routine, followed by a "if you don't do this" five minute stand off, then a "why can't you be like your older brother" exasperated eye role {he knows he is winning at this point - as I have usually gone off to rant at his father as I am late and losing this battle of stubborness}. It finishes inevitably with a "fine, we will have to go without you", as we walk out of the door. Leaving an upset two year, who then agrees to wear his coat. He does mind you not agree to wear the hat, scarf or mittens!

Every morning I take a deep breath and hope each day he will have forgotten his protests - either that or we will have to move to sunnier climbs!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

pumpkin time...

pumpkin carving , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

little pumpkins carved by my little men, well not technically carved but they drew the faces on for me to cut out! During the carving they liked to pull as many scary faces as they could too, which was very amusing! It's funny how this harvest tradition has turned into a Halloween ritual...

"Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within

John Greenleaf Whittier, The Pumpkin 1850

Monday, 27 October 2008


After the success of our beetroot brownies we started to get a little more adventurous and thought we would try the River Cottage beetroot ice-cream recipe. The colour is amazing! It is in the freezer now and we are waiting for it to freeze so that we can all try it! Here is the recipe...

Beetroot ice cream recipe

• 12 x organic egg yolks
• 150g unrefined caster sugar
• 500ml whole milk
• 500ml double cream
• 5-6 medium beetroots, cooked until al dente, peeled and pureed

Method: How to make beetroot ice cream

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Put the milk in a pan and bring to just below boiling, then remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, then pour the milk on to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking all the time.

2. Pour the mixture in to a clean pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t let it get too hot or it will split. Remove from the heat. Strain through a sieve and leave to cool, then chill, covered with a circle of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming.

3. When cold, stir in the cream and beetroot puree. Pass through a fine sieve. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen. (I don't have an ice-cream maker, so have just put it in the freezer, taking it out and stirring every so often).

4. Depending on the capacity of your ice cream maker, you may need to churn the mixture in batches, or you could simply halve the quantities.

We still have some beetroot left, so what better then the beetroot and apple crumble recipe!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Baking beetroot brownies...

A glut of beetroot in our veg box led us to try some of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's beetroot recipes that recently featured on River Cottage Autumn. None of our family are particularly keen on beetroot, having vivid childhood memories of the pickled beetroot jar being brought out at Christmas! So we thought it was about time to exorcise our beetroot demons with some Chocolate and beetroot brownies...

Chocolate and beetroot brownies

Ingredients:• 250g/10oz good, dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces• 250g/ 10oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing• 250g/10oz caster sugar • 3 free-range eggs• 150g self-raising flour (we used wholemeal self-raising) • 250g of beetroot, boiled until tender, peeled and grated

Method: How to make chocolate and beetroot brownies

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a baking tin of approximately 20x30x3cm and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Break up the chocolate into pieces, cut the butter into cubes then mix them up a bit in a heatproof bowl. As the oven begins to warm up, put the bowl onto one of the shelves for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter starts to melt. Stir, and put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Gently fold in the flour then the beetroot – be careful not to overmix or it will make the brownies tough.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes. A knife or skewer pushed into the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don't be tempted to overcook them! Remove the tin from the oven and leave on wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

The rich reddy chocolate colour is amazing and they are delicious served warm straight out of the oven with a little ice-cream!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Autumn unpacked from a case...

So here are some of the finished photographs taken from Saturday's shoot! The idea behind them, is based around my grandma's vintage blanket and suitcase. The gorgeous suitcase is packed with Autumn/Fall which is spilling out of it onto the woodland floor. I don't quite think I have achieved the whole 'spilling out' concept but I love how the blanket totally stole the show and demanded the camera's attention. It really contrasts with the woodland floor well, don't you think?

The blanket is over 80 years old and was knitted by my grandma from all the oddments left from knitting many, many different things, hence the range of colours! I love it, I just wish she was here today to tell me what bits were used for what! It's a patchwork of history and I must start my own 'family' blanket made up of all of our oddments.

If you like the pictures I have a very limited amount of prints available from my etsy shop now

Saturday, 18 October 2008

falling for fall...

... is the title of this months project from "The Photo Trade". I am extremely excited as I was lucky enough to be one of the thirty in this months trade and were that not enough, my partner is someone whose photos I had previously admired and favourited on flickr! Plus we get to trade with each other, which I think is really great change too.

I felt a little added pressure this month, (knowing there were fewer participants in the 'trade') to be as good as Jen and others that regularly take part, so I thought long and hard about which camera to use, the subject and my interpretation of it. So I had a photo shoot, with props and involving the whole family and hot chocolate {of course!}. Here is a shot of our woodland "set"...!

The photo's will be on their way to you on Monday, Steph - I do hope you like them? I will try to contain my impatience and wait until you have received them before posting on flickr, so I don't spoil your surprise...!

Monday, 13 October 2008

tonights menu...

was picked and cooked by the little man, who even had time to write this menu to practice his handwriting! The green beans have come from the school vegetable garden, the blackberries from a local bramble patch. The crumble was handmade from scratch and the apples scrumped from Jenny's tree! Very slow food indeed, but knowing where it came from and the effort gone into making it, made it taste even better!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

How to be s l o w . . .

{extract from 'Go Slow England' by Alastair Sawday}

Write a letter to your mother/sister/best friend
Plan your days around large communal meals
Check emails only twice a day
buy local, buy organic and research recipes that use seasonal produce
Make your own stock, soups and sauces
Learn to meditate
Cook with your children
Have a proper afternoon tea
Plant trees, knowing they will be fully grown after you have gone
Write a diary
Play a board game
Light the fire and turn off the TV
Work from home some of the week
Take granny for a walk
Use public transport
Bake a cake
Knit a scarf
Make a scrapbook for you children out of the memories of their childhood

I am relieved after yesterday's post that there are more things I can tick off this list than yesterday's (phew). But I must do more, I must spend more time planning and preparing meals, I must not work just a few more minutes that ultimately turn into hours of overtime and I really must learn to be calm and not rush everywhere, there really is no need!

Friday, 10 October 2008

How to be fast...

{extract from 'Go Slow England' by Alastair Sawday}

Check work emails at the weekend
Buy quick cook pasta
Buy a children's story tape instead of a book
Use a microwave
Do your make-up while stuck in a traffic jam
Buy ready cut fruit in a plastic container
Drive around the gym car park looking for a space nearest the door!
Ignore the contents of the fridge and order a take-away
Drive to everything, regardless of time of day, distance or weather
Ask someone how they are, whilst busying yourself with what you are doing
Drive to the supermarket and buy a ready meal
Text your teenagers upstairs to let them know dinner is ready
Answer you mobile regardless of where you are and who you are with
Listen to an ipod rather than nature
Check out budget flights as soon as they come out

coming tomorrow - How to be s l o w . . .

Autumn is...

Autumn is..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

pulling on wellies and crunching leaves...
wearing Grandma's handknitted jumpers...
smelling woodsmoke from real fires...
cooking crumbles and stews for hearty meals...
a warming drink of hot chocolate in a flask...
watching the world turn from green to brown...
seeing your breath in the cold crispy air...
foraging for fungi, seeds and berries...
playing board games as the nights draw in...

what is Autumn to you...?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

a bad year for blackberries...

It has been a bad year for blackberries - a summer full of rain hasn't helped. We have had many forages down country lanes, but only managed to gather enough to make one crumble each time and not enough left over to freeze or preserve! This is my favourite hedgerow find and reminds me of many sunny summer days as a child picking, eating and staining my clothes! I hope there have been enough berries and seeds for the birds to eat in preparation for the winter ahead?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

a shrunken apple head!

a shrunken apple head!, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

this is a really good alternative to pumpkin carving and so effective, as the face ages as the apple gets older, until it is really old, brown and wrinkly!

All you need is an apple, some lemon juice and rosehips to decorate. Carve your apple into a face, cover in lemon juice and add rosehips for eyes, leave some skin on the top for hair. Leave to dry on a radiator or windowsill...

Friday, 3 October 2008

making butter...

you will need a jam jar & some double cream (it's better if the cream isn't fresh, else it takes longer!).

1. Take the cream out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature for about half an hour.

2. Pour cream into jam jar, about a third of the way up the side, leaving plenty of space.

3. Screw lid on tightly and shake up and down and all around so that cream bounces against the lid.

4. First you will feel the cream slop about in the jar, then you will notice it stops slopping and goes silent. At this stage you just have whipped cream. Keep shaking! It may take 10 mins, it may take 1/2 hour.

5. All of a sudden the sound and the sensation will change. You should have a big lump sloshing around in a thin watery liquid. The lump is your butter and the liquid is buttermilk - carefully open the lid and take a look inside.

6. Now you have to wash your butter under the cold tap: drain the buttermilk off into a mug and fill the jam jar with cold water. Swirl the lump of butter around in the water and pour the water carefully away. Do this again and again until the water is clear.

7. Put the butter lump on the board and press down on it with the back of a wooden spoon (or use your hands) to force out any buttermilk still inside. This is important as any buttermilk left inside it will make it go sour.

8. Now you can wrap and refridgerate your homemade 'pat' - or eat it stright away on hot toast or crumpets!

Recipe taken from The River Cottage Family Cook Book
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