Monthly Archives: April 2011

Cakes, Rides, Local Food and Silicone Knickers

The weather has been amazing in the UK; for Easter Bank Holidays it is unparalleled, not surprising then that I haven’t written anything here for ages.  There seem to be pairs of things queuing up; please skip to the bits that interest you most.  In the following order we have:

2 Apps; the 360Panorama and the Moleskine

2 Cakes; a giant Jaffa cake and a sweet, tart, redcurrant tart

2 Fungi;  A Dryad’s Saddle Paper experiment and St George’s Mushroom

2 Foragy bits; Sea Purslane and an experiment with cleavers and milk in an attempt to make cheese

2 Fabulous cycle rides, mapped from Framlingham, one following the Alde and one Green Bagging in Bow and Arrow Country

2 Local Food Discussions; why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?

2 Swims – How is my training going? – first sea swim of the season

Two Apps – 360Panorama and Moleskine

I have recently downloaded two apps for the iPhone that I am enjoying immensely. The first I heard about from @ssilvestori  who showed pictures of Lecce using it. Fantastic images; Silvestro is currently cycling around Puglia to generate interest in the small towns of the region.  His website is worth a gander, he offers food and wine courses and much more besides. The 360Panorama app allows you to take 360 degree images that can be shown flat, like the one below, or if you have an iPhone, the images can be uploaded and viewed as interactive 360 images.

The second app that I am enjoying is a digital version of the Moleskine note book.  I think it is going to be great fun for gardening and foraging notes, especially as it allows you to geotag pictures.  Now if it could just capture sounds and smells, and if I could draw a little better….. However I am quite pleased with my cover and a simple gardening note.

Two Cakes – Giant Jaffa Cake and Sweet, Tart, Redcurrant Tart

This being Easter cake baking seems essential. I have been quite pleased with two cakes this holiday so I am recording them here so I don’t lose the recipes. The first is a giant Jaffa Cake. Based on a Guardian recipe designed by Ottolenghi and supplied by the lovely @downatheel, it is a rich almondy, moist cake.  I adapted it by adding a jelly layer. Using 300ml of fresh Clementine juice and gelatine at 1.5 times the normal ratio.  I set the jelly in a soup plate before scooping it onto the cake.  I allowed the chocolate coating to cool as much as I dared before covering.

The second cake is described as a tart but is somewhere between a cheesecake, meringue and a desert sponge. It is sweet-sour and just plain lush. I used frozen currants which worked well but makes the meringue very tricky to apply as it part freezes as you mix them in. The whole cake is gloriously messy to make, but well worth the effort.  The recipe can be found on Catalina Bakes.

Two Fungi – Dryad’s Saddle and St George’s Mushroom

Spring is a joyous time for mushrooming, mostly because the spring ones are a bit easier to identify.  A friend brought me a Dryad’s saddle.  Not many commentators declare this to be edible, but it is supposed to be able to be used to make paper. I cooked it for hours, smushed it, strained it and ended up with some thing crispy stuff – nothing to write home about or on…. but it had an interesting transulcence so it might be useful added to other materials.

Much more exciting was the early appearance of the St George’s mushroom. One thing I have learnt is the earlier it arrives the less likelihood of worm damage.  This year there were far fewer, so I only picked two, but they were in tip-top condition. For the record, this year’s photograph April 18th whereas last year they didn’t appear until May 8th – what a difference a year makes. This year I sliced them and placed them with trout and Jack by the hedge, wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbecue.

Two Foragy bits – Sea Purslane and using cleavers to make cheese

Spring is a great time for foraging on salads, two of my favourites at the coast are samphire and sea purslane.  The samphire was not much in evidence this week but there were some lovely snacks of crisp, salty, purslane to be had.

Another favourite of mine is cleavers, a fresh pea-pod taste that makes weeding a pleasure.  I had read that it was used in the past as a rennet for cheese making.  I found a recipe for feta cheese and bought some goats milk.  I heated the milk, added the yogurt and then decided to squeeze a massive handful of cleavers into the milk mixture.  I left it and left it for days at room temperature.  After two days I had remarkably fresh smelling yoghurt, no goaty smell, no cheese though. I think that cleavers other title of ‘milk sweet’ might be interesting to explore further.

Two fabulous cycle rides – Orford/Iken/Alde and ‘Green Bagging’

This spectacular weather has been a great excuse for some serious cycling. Regular readers will know I am hoping to take part in the Dunwich Dynamo so I am steadily increasing my distances.  I don’t seem to be able to increase my average speeds though so I think I will be on the bike for in  excess of 10 hours.  Several chums have asked me how I manage, especially now I have a bike with a more racing style seat.  The seat is quite comfortable, I am naturally ‘well upholstered’ and I have recently invested in silicone knickers, with thick padding they are supposed to be good for up to three hours – so do I need to wear four pairs?

Two great rides though.  I have remapped these from Framlingham for you, parking in Framlingham is good at the Elms car park.  Both rides are mostly on very low traffic routes.  The first takes you to Orford, where there are plenty of pubs and the wonderful Pump Street Bakery, I also include a slight side track to High House Fruit Farm where they have fresh apple juice and Asparagus.  Points to watch out for on this route too Adders! on the Iken lanes, basking on the tarmac.  It is worth stopping and strolling down to the river for a spot of foraging (see above), you may also see Alpacas between Blaxhall and Farnham.  Click on the image below to go to the full map at MapMyRide.

The second ride was my Suffolk version of Munroe bagging.  I recently downloaded an app called Hill Lists, needless to say Suffolk doesn’t feature.  However, if someone would like to create the antidote I think it could be used for bagging greens, bottoms or castles all of which abound round here.  In this ride I count nine Greens, it goes over two commons, the one at Wingfield complete with tethered cattle.  It is worth checking the Wingfield website before you leave, if you have time to stop they have magnificent arts exhibitions and can offer tea and coffee.  There are plenty of pub stop-offs, if your timings suit;  The De la Pole at Wingfield, the Low House at Laxfield (actually named the Kings Head, but called the Low House) and the Queen at Dennington (actually named the Queens Head but known as Dennington Queen) all have solid reputations for food and ale.  If you just want quick supermarket fayre there is a shop in Laxfield and Framlingham has a full range of shops, coffee houses, pubs and a cycle repair shop.  This journey is largely traffic free and you will find miles of Bow and Arrow country – remember too the #bowandarrowtweetup if you are interested in joining a few of us for drinks or to watch The Social Network on 25th May 2011 at Wingfield Barns.  As before click on the map below to go to the MapMyRide site.

Two Food Discussions – Why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?

One of the features of  Twitter is that it is not a forum or a place for lengthy discussions; until one breaks out.  A few comments and before long a group of us were involved in a discussion about why Suffolk and Norfolk have a strong local food culture, as opposed to other areas which seem to feel a bit adrift.  You can read and add to the full conversation synopsis here.  It ranges from great products and producers, through sympathetic media and a relative absence of the ‘big stores’, but covers much more besides.

Pride in local food is important in so many ways.  There has been a food, craft and music festival at Framlingham College over the last three days.  The pre-publicity did not give many clues about who the exhibitors and demonstrators would be and I knew that a couple of local food related people were not involved so I wondered what the outcome would be.  Framlingham has a bit of a reputation for events being called off due to appalling weather, with the Gala rained off, fireworks not even making it to the stage of damp squibs etc.  However, the setting could not have looked better in glorious sunshine, looking at the castle across from the college green was a rural scene befitting of Midsommer Murders.  There were a few local food suppliers, notably the Chilli Company, Jimmy’s Farm, Suffolk Cup Cakes and local chef Emma Crowhurst was providing demonstrations.  There were also suppliers from further afield so it had the air of the food stalls at a county show.  It will be interesting to see if the event is run again and grows to include more local suppliers, they certainly had the best possible of weathers and things looked reasonably busy, with plenty of cars in the car parks and people wandering the grounds and at the demonstration.  I bought chilli sauces, curry sauces, sausages and enjoyed Emma’s demonstration, not least because real time demos are so much better than edited TV for things like sugar work.

Two Swims – How’s my training going?

I think I’m on track for the Grethathalon two swims; one the Great East Open Water Mile and the other a dip at Dunwich Beach preceded by the 120 mile overnight Dunwich Dynamo bike ride.  I am gradually increasing my miles on the bike. I have been doing more reading around the subject and beginning to understand why the training plans also focus on shorter, faster rides.  I hope this will make me try and ride faster, to build up the relevant muscles, mitochondria etc to improve my overall performance.  It has to be said I am a bit sedentary at the moment.   

Yesterday I did my first sea swim of the season, at Dunwich Beach; no way was I going to attempt crawl or put my face in the water though, so back to the old chestnut of controlling the drowning reflex.

If you would like to make a donation, I am supporting Diabetes UK this year.  My Just Giving page is here.

Frog and Hen Duet

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Duet’ but I haven’t made a picture. The garden is too interesting at the moment to be inside attempting my colouring in.  So instead I sat and watched the frog who has left some spawn and then sat with the hens.  It’s all very therapeutic.  So when the weather is less spring like I can listen to the sounds on the videos, if that fails I’ll listen to this Spotify playlist (now I can be sure IT was an April fool)

Most Splattered

Back on Shrove Tuesday I asked which cook book people always turned to for their basic recipes.  The one that is permanently covered in cooking splatters.  Mine is the Cookery Year Book – a Readers Digest staple of the late 1970’s and early 80’s no dinner party could be completed without it.  I was stunned by the number of responses:


Good Housekeeping, BeRo and Delia feature heavily but what a response!!!

@SimonMagus = Dairy Cookbook and Good Housekeeping

@DanHigham = Leon: Naturally Fast Food

@Jocassels = every cookbook she owns is splattered #verymessycook

@SuffolkCupcakes = Good Housekeeping

@mcliffe = The (all new) Purity Cook Book for general basics and The Compete Book of Mexican Cooking (Ortiz)

@WordCheck1 = 1943 ‘Complete Cookery’ by Lilian Mattingly that was my mum’s, with a familiar recipe for ‘rock cakes’

@easternsparkle = McDougall flour book

@JewelleryGenie = my grandmother’s (Cookery Book for Brides – subtitled ‘to love and to nourish’) has lots of scribbled notes in it from her

@Suffolkbloke = Tamsin’s Kitchen Bible and Four Seasons Cookery Book

@SaffronKate = (1)Margt Patten’s Everyday CB, gift from worried MiL when 1st married! & (2) Delia’s Cookery Course (I bt)

@tbosuffolkcoast = Several by Nigel Slater are v. splattered as are ones by Annie Bell &Tamasin Day Lewis.

@janehamerton = I love my new one by Diana Henry

@8CW = 1000 Recipe Cookbook – from when a student plus Larousse’s Gastronomique

@Emma_Crowhurst = Leith’s Cookery Bible, it has all my old trusted basic recipes, I love Diana Henry 2, I used to teach her @ Leith’s back in the day

@SpiersC = Gammon and Spinach-Simon Hopkinson. Promised myself I would cook every recipe in it – have ticked off 2/3 so far…

@mwschaefer = Jam it, Pickle it, Cure It is always in my kitchen

@josordoni = Alistair Little, Italian Kitchen.. this is THE BEST tiramisu recipe ever!

@cardiffbites =  St Delia

@Jo6789 = good housekeeping

@DomesticJules = Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.  for basics, cakes and pastry either Nigella – Domestic Goddess or my 1950’s copy of Good Housekeeping Compendium

@stillcooking = reference has to be larouse. Fail safe recipes probably the complete Robuchon (my old boss)…p.s. later..realised I spent Larousse incorrectly.well chefs are terrible at spelling.CB revision- the good cook(timelife) cakes & pastries

@shopkeeperswife = delia’s complete cookery course. ‘a new edition for the 1990’s’!

@JaqMart = BBC Good Food website – every recipe you’ll need. That or the Bero recipe book that I got free when I collected enough tokens.

@goodshoeday = delia smith cookery course the late 70s/early 80s version

@trufflepigpopup = Bouchon by Thomas Keller would be mine, fab buttermilk chicken and I have made a mean quiche from it too!

@direbonappetit = basics is always to delia complete or a very old 1960/70s good housekeeping!

@susannewilliams = my childhood learn to cook book!

@Meadowitch = 1001 recipes

@Sarah_Woolford = A tie between Delia and Be-ro……wonder what decade that places me in?

@niamhirl = Same answer for most splattered and where I go for basics is “Cookery for absolute beginners” by Lynette Baxter. Copy is 16 yrs old


Thank you all – great list and some fabulous memories of cook books lost (what happened to my learn to cook book with the dog making Croque Monsieur?)




Has anyone seen @Farctum?

I have some new loves in my life – variously Suzette, my speedy new machine and on-line Scrabble like games. Suzette and I are making quite a team, with a trip to Ipswich and back last weekend; once I had left Tuddenham village I only saw four cars.  All part of my preparation for the Dunwich Dynamo I am steadily building up the miles.  Yesterday’s 20 or so miles in strong wind were very hard work though.

I play Lexolus and Words free; neither of which are exactly the same as Scrabble, different layouts, numbers of letters, dictionary they use, which words they allow; still I keep trying.  I’m Grethic in both places if you fancy a game.

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