Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter Sunday

I'm writing this post on Easter Sunday, in a beautiful hotel in the West Sussex countryside, Gravetye Manor. We are gathering together tomorrow to attend the wedding of Blanche and her man Chris. Blanche is a long-time whistle and flute player, a friend from my Burwell Bash times. They have invited a noisy crowd of Bashers to celebrate their special day - folk music is assuredly going to break out tomorrow night! Jim and I arrived today as I didn't know how long it would take, and to give us a relaxed start to the day. I'm sure there will be some photographs in my next post! 

Meanwhile, here's what we've been getting up to at Church Cottage this month.

March has been a really lovely introduction to Spring here in Norfolk; it has been chilly, certainly, but we've had so much lovely sunshine it has even made ME get out there in the garden- actually DIGGING and getting my hands dirty! I'm not a gardener, apart from always having grown and used herbs; I've never felt the garden was one of "my" spaces, but now we have had a bit of a seismic shift in our attitudes and we've been really happy spending time together, pottering around outdoors.

Jim built a large cold-frame to replace the greenhouse which went to make room for the summer house. We've both been sowing herb, veggie and flower seeds to go into the garden and raised beds.

Some plants have already gone into the soil…. the garden is waking up!

Of course there's been ongoing activity indoors too, all the kitchen upheaval, painting, heaving out the Rayburn, digging out the concrete plinth, re-arranging the units and installing the new cooker. The bowls, jugs, plates and other kitchen equipment has been in and out of the living room and been washed and re-washed several times!

The kitchen feels and looks lighter and brighter now, and we had new lighting installed yesterday so the motley collection on spotlights which never really worked has gone and the new lights are SO efficient! I'm loving the light in the cottage now, it was so dark and dim before.

The new trolley is just the job, and snuggles alongside the NEW COOKER!! Yes, all fitted and working very nicely I have to say!

 I painted the high book shelf and the little window frame and sill and the new spice shelves Jim built for me.

                     The summer house is sneakily taking on an additional role as potting shed!

Do you like my tin chickens at the top? I know, I know, they are a short step away from garden gnomes, but we can't keep chickens - no room, so they go some way to make up for it! I love 'em!

Right, I need to dress for dinner, I don't think my short brown tunic and brown Doc Martens will cut it in the hotel dining room, somehow! Then a quiet evening - during which I'll have time to catch up on my favourite blogs,  and we'll be looking forward to the festivities tomorrow. It's going to be so good to meet up with some lovely Burwell friends!! Catch you soon!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Spring in the Kitchen

Although I am agog with excitement and impatience for the arrival of my new cooker, I am in a strange way rather enjoying the challenge of turning out not just 'make-do' meals, but the kind of dishes I'd be producing had I several burners, an oven, and a properly functioning kitchen. So we aren't going without, by any means!

 Meatball prep: minced beef, chopped coriander and chorizo, and breadcrumbs, chopped onion and      garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and an egg.

However, the actual production of meals is curiously hesitant; I'll tell you what I mean, if you'll bear with me.

Meatballs browned, a sauce of grilled red peppers (from a jar!), tinned tomatoes, basil, some passata, salt and a pinch of brown sugar.

When I'm cooking up a storm, I think of myself as engaging in a dance. When you move between the various store - prep - cook areas (even in the smallest of kitchens) naturally and repeatedly, it becomes almost choreographed, a dance.

                                              Meatballs gently simmering in the sauce.

At the moment, with no cooker as such, being short of a permanent place for my herbs, spices and condiments, and my utensils being parked where they wouldn't normally be, I'm constantly checking myself, going to the wrong place, having to retrace my steps to find an item which wasn't where I'd expected it to be!

                                     Giant (Israeli) couscous and chopped pak-choi bubbling away.

I love being in my kitchen. I find it simultaneously comforting, calming and stimulating. I'm so pleased to have even this make-shift arrangement to work in after the four days of culinary chaos while the Rayburn was removed, and new pipes and boiler installed. We aren't there yet, though, and my time in the kitchen is governed by a temporary new, and awkward, rhythm; I am dancing to a different tune, a little discordant and unfamiliar.

                                  The finished dish - lunch for two and lots for left-overs!

The important thing is - I am still dancing!

I hope you are thrilling to the rhythm of your own dance as you go about the things you love to do! Catch you next time!