Monthly Archives: May 2009

What has twitter ever done for you?

On the one hand:  nothing – because it isn’t twitter it’s the people on twitter (as opposed to the bots and spammers) that really make it work.

And on the other hand: Let’s see – 

  •    Given me perspective, actually helped me to decide that it would be better for me to give up a senior management job and bike to a local job, working in the community
  •    Generated a fantastic design coming in from @flashmaggie for our Expo in Dennington on 20th June based on the sciapod
  •     Won a competition thanks to @penelopeelse and @cartoono The Dys-Artist’s Delight – 29 May 2009
  •     Led to potential involvement with @FoodSafariUK, thinking about cottage gardening, liquors, syrups and vinegars
  •     Free coffee at Suffolk Show by saying tweet tweet at the coffee stand thanks to the glorious @paddyandscotts
  • Encouraged me to take part in a script writting competition – but I will have to put stuff on paper rather than wake up with the plot rerunning in my head at 4.00 am.  thanks to @antoniablue

Actually it’s been a great week if you go to my ‘favorites’ list in twitter you will find many other super people


Please leave a comment – what has twitter ever done for you?  what about the foodsaffari idea?


Ohh and the pigs –  they were at the show and I just love pigs

Gala, Gayla, Mop

This weekend was a big one in Framlingham with the annual Gala – which around here is pronounced Gayla.  The last two years it has poured down with rain and been washed out, off, finite so this year glorious sunshine and I am ashamed to say I gardened the whole time.  When the children were younger we would have been watching the parade; as little St John’s Badgers they were on the floats and wining fish at the fair.  Some of the fish lived years and in more recent times our neighbours win them and put them into our pond.

When I was younger, growing up in Gloucestershire the local fair was called the Sodbury Mop.  Chipping Sodbury a small market town with a name that has been the butt of many a joke has a superb wide high street and the fun fair is set up down the street.  I was always fascinated by the sound and smells of the fair; that edge implying that there was risk of wrong doing and nare-do-wells.  The Sodbury Mop fair stems from the old agricultural hiring fairs of Lady Day and Michaelmas, it helped that the September one was near my brother’s birthday so filling up with candyfloss toffee apples and wining fish was an absolute prerequisite to a good time.  The fair has always been somewhere people went on dates and the bravado of the boys trying to show their unflappability whilst the girls screamed was all part of the fun. 

Last week we went to Southend on Sea – actually has much that same atmosphere, the fairground rides, sticky sweets, with the addition of fish, chips, gravy and avery long pier; people on the lookout for a good time no matter what the weather and to win some quick cash on the one armed bandit or the penny falls (which now cost 2p).


What are your memories of country fairs, fetes and seaside towns at their brashest best?

Deconstructing Haiku

On Sunday it was announced the Yoko Ono was going to judge a British Summer Haiku competition.  The haiku submitted via twitter are being displayed at Kings Cross Station on a giant advertising board, with a fresh one selected every 20 minutes or so.  I have always admired haiku as a form but had not previously tried to write one.   I have been submitting them, but still not sure I have captured their real essence, simplicity, seasonality and sharp emotional interplay.  I would welcome feedback from others on the haiku below.  I have attempted to deconstruct some and put them into context.  However, I am not sure that this is a good idea; should they just be left to stand alone and see how others react to them?   There is a very good piece that describes the form at IP .   Although not absolutely essential the form is normally 5-7-5 syllables over three lines.  It should include a seasonal reference and nature, feelings or experiences.

1

Ducks once in a row

Have now shifted fallen gone

Bring sunshine to me

 

Written after something I thought was all lined up to go right suddenly went wrong, I had a little sob and asked the good people on twitter to send me some positive karma – they did.

2

Bike open mouthed

Swallow does not make summer

Just a very dead fly

 

Possibly too limerick like but as I biked today a fly flew into my mouth and this came to me

 

3

 

Don’t count your chickens

Deep yellow sun warms, bakes, dries

Egg earthward, shattered

 

A bit more profound and following some bad news about a friend.  Dropping an egg on the ground seemed somehow symbolic and the deep yellow of the yolk, with all of its potential wasted.  Also reflecting on how the sun with all of its power can provide warmth which is good and can bake to form bricks, food etc  but can lead to an arid, inhospitable environment.  A reflection on fertility, conception and childbirth.

 

 

4

 

Tartan rug spread out

Cloud spotting for beginners

Making hay after

 

After making hay

Beginners to cloud spotting

Spread out tartan rug

 

Not sure if haiku can come in pairs but I wanted to experiment with a kind of pallendromic structure where changing the order of the words could imply different situations.  Take the phrase making hay anyway you like, from literally working in the fields, to making the most of a good time while you have the chance, to making love.

 

5

 

One fresh red strawberry

Juice drips down chin succulent

Earwig rests inside

 

This is one of my earliest childhood memories.  My grandmother gave me the biggest, lushest strawberry she had grown and when I bit into it there was an earwig inside

 

6

 

Hanging washing out

A gentle breeze is promised

It will pour with rain

 

Sums up that first rush of putting washing out and feeling good that summer is on its way, but too often and several fresh water rinses later it comes back in and goes on the clothes horse.

 

7

 

Blossom fades leaves sway

Adolescence out abroad

Ageing recycle

 

It always disappoints me how quickly blossom fades like the innocence of youth and childhood.  Children grow and start going out and about and eventually leave home.  In our part of Suffolk that seems to start with Friday nights where young people with too few clothes experiment with alcohol.  I used adolescence rather than adolescents as I was also thinking of the 20+ in Ianapa and the 50+ after too much wine at the barbecue.  Plus we all think we invented youth but are just recycling one generation after another.

 

 

 

Cricket, football and banoffee pie

Last weekend was a fabulous family sporting and supporting session.  Starting with cricket: Somerset vs Kent at Canterbury.  Cricket is therapeutic; you don’t have to keep watching but can be certain that when you turn your back a wicket will fall.  The fanatics sit on the edge of their director’s deck chairs, score cards in hand, looking at the clouds scudding overhead and recalculating the Duckworth-Lewis in their heads. 

The more relaxed sit back gaze at the clouds, listen to the trees thrashing, the sound of leather against willow and screams of OwZat.  Canterbury is a lovely ground; cars can pull right up to the boundary and part of the excitement when a ball is hit for six is wondering if your car will take the ‘catch’.  The old Lime tree is now performing secondary duties as material for souvenirs and the new tree is developing well, this time outside of the boundary. 

Canterbury allows spectators onto the field during the interval to play ball games and aspiring players young and old practice their bowling and catching techniques.  This is the perfect time too for the picnic.  The banoffee pie and quiche travelled successfully to the match and the left over pie was voted ‘the best ever’ by an independent group of university students so thank you @easternsparkle for the recipe, my only adaptation was to use a biscuit base.

We stayed at the Falstaff Hotel, proper old English Inn with eggs Benedict for breakfast and a stroll around the town before making the long and anxious journey to Wembley for the Blue Square promotion battle.  Nerves were jangling, Torquay have been there before; more than once.  This is the team whose fortunes have previously been won by the bite of a police dog called Bryn.  

The atmosphere even in an only half full stadium was terrific and the total despair of Cambridge fans leaving suddenly at the end was heartfelt.  The Torquay fans, by now pinching themselves in disbelief, did not want to leave the ground and the team played their part by performing various dives for the cameras. – For the record Torquay won 2.0

Unctuous onions

This week I have been making onion marmalade, special request from my daughter.  I adapted a recipe from the River Cottage Handbook No 2 – Preserves by Pam Corbin at the suggestion of @flashmaggie.  The power of twitter, no sooner had I suggested that I was looking for a recipe than two came back from different sources.    Marmalade in this context is to do with slow cooking, the process takes time but is not technically difficult and if you go out smelling of onions and hot vinegar well, there are worse things in life. 

My adaptations were to use red onions, Billington’s caster sugar and Suffolk Mud cranberry sauce rather than Demerara and red currant jelly.  I prefer to use what I have in the cupboards already.  When the onions become soft and slowly darken a pyroclastic flow starts to develop as you drive out the moisture.  As the sugar and later the vinegar is added this becomes more volcanic in nature popping and splashing hot vinegary spray and steam.  The only solution is to keep stirring; I am perfecting the art of stirring with one hand whilst scrolling through twitter with the iphone in the other. 

Must have kitchen gadgets in this process are a mandolin, heavy bottomed pan and a jam funnel.  Ohh, and a plea, could it be made compulsory that all jam and pickle manufacturers put peelable or at the very least soakable labels on their jars.  I like to re-use where ever possible and am fed up of having to scrub stickiness from jam pots.

I have given away two pots of the marmalade in the hope of some feedback and I will try out the other recipe once this is all used up.  Better post this soon; the power is going on and off like a stripper’s robe here this morning.

Brunch in the woods


Today as requested pictures of my brunch dish using chicken in the woods.


Chicken in the woods is a bracket fungus.  I found this one at the base of an oak tree and over the last few days I have been experimenting with different ways to use it.  Initially just very simply cooked in freshly made butter, then with sorrel and finally today using tomatoes and ham hock.  I would not normally use such a strong flavour as smoked ham hock with a delicate fungus but the ham was left over from yesterday and the contrast of textures and the fact that the fungus is now older and a bit more robust in flavour worked well.


Chicken in the woods has a soft almost velveteen surface and colours of sulphur and satsuma no wonder that the Latin name is Laetiporus sulphureus.  When sliced the appearance is every bit that of sliced corn-fed chicken breast.    

After slicing I poach the fungus slices in water for a few minutes as recommended by Ian Burrows in his excellent book, Food from the Wild.  I then drain and fry off in a little butter and rapeseed oil, this intensifies the colour and ensures that the fungus is thoroughly cooked.  Then simply adding the ham chunks and tomatoes and cooking until all is soft and amalgamated.   A little pepper, and job done.  The finished result is not an artistic dish but it is a spectacular colour.

As always if you have not used chicken in the woods before only try a very small amount the first time.  It must be cooked through and should not be taken from yew trees.





With all fungi it is recommended that you cross reference different books.  In this case I used:

Food from the Wild – Ian Burrows
Wild food for free – Jonathan Hilton
River Cottage Handbook No 1 – Mushrooms – John Wright

An acorn out of season

I have been persuaded by other twitterers that blogging is easy and great fun.  I wanted to start a blog to give space to expand on some thoughts and to add more detail eg recipes and photographs to some of my twitter postings.


This is the first day of blogging, I don’t  have a ‘voice’ yet; what will my style be?  What will interest people?  I am a dabbler, who likes to try out different things I am also about to start on an interesting journey, about which more in the days to come.

So for now, this is an acorn out of season; will it be attacked by hungry squirrells or grow into a mighty oak ~ only time will tell.
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