Monday, 27 April 2009

The aga has landed

We have oil, we have a fixed aga and I am ready to rock...Only one tiny confession, is it wimpy to be scared by an aga?

With a serious deadline looming- our house warming and Darling boys 1st birthday party we have the world and his wife arriving this weekend. I need to get to grips with the beast and coax it into baking the cakes, pudding and biscuits I have been planning for this most important of life events...The 1st birthday party!

However, if it all goes wrong, never fear, I have an ingenious back-up plan. The popularisation of the birthday trifle!

In and out the dusty bluebells

Yesterday, after a fun afternoon of picture hanging and furniture assembling, we decided to strap the Darling boy into his backpack carrier and explore what lay beyond the fields at the bottom of our garden. The cats we have inherited with the house, Booboo and Phoebe accompanied us through the long grass as far as the bottom field. We then headed on, waving hello to the cows as carried on through their patch. We were rewarded for our efforts when we clambered down the hill and into a beautiful bluebell wood. The subtle scent of the flowers and cool air was delicious. We ventured on, after picking a few flowers as a posy for the kitchen table. We wandered down and followed the stream that occasionally turned into a small burbling river and out into a field where sheep must usually be, judging by the tufts of fleece scattered around.

It was all very peaceful and relaxing, so much so that Darling boy even dozed off for a short while in his back pack, all the while holding on tightly to his little drumstick that he had brought as his essential item for the expedition. Later that evening when we got home, darling boy carried on holding this little wooden drumstick all the way through bathtime and whilst he was having his milk. He almost certainly would have gone to sleep clutching this most prized possession, had we not have swapped it for Teddy at the last moment.

Next weekend we have our nearest and dearest joining us for a weekend of fun and a house warming / 1st birthday party for the darling boy and us. We have instructed them to bring wellies so we can all walk through the bluebells together. Hopefully we will also squeeze a few rounds of pooh sticks too as I have seen the perfect bridge just calling out for this most excellent of pastimes.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Aga saga

We have a gorgeous kitchen in our new home. It has a tiled floor, with cream back-splash tiles with tiny painted flowers here and there (think Cath Kidstone meets Laura Ashley) The units are handmade in cream wood with a bottle green worktop. It has a large battered old wooden table with plenty of room for guests to loll around and admire the view over a glass of vino, across the terrace and garden to the hills beyond. It also has a larder cupboard and two utility rooms (oh the storage!) that are each bigger than my last kitchen in our old house...Basically I am a very lucky girl.

When is comes to cooking, we have a lovely cream aga in the kitchen, its an old beast, but I'm looking forward to learning to love my aga. The only problem it needs a new wick, and we haven't got any oil...But once these two little problems are resolved, I shall be cooking.

Oh, and we also don't have a fridge or freezer, (or dishwasher or washing machine) right now, so life is very simple, very turn of the century.

The hills are alive with the sound of mooing.

We have moved and it is bliss!

The packers packed, the van was loaded and everything, more or less made it in one piece into our new home in Devon. We didn't move far, but it is worlds away.

On the first morning, we through open the curtains ready to enjoy the gorgeous views from our bedroom window, but the mist and fog had other ideas. By mid-morning the sun had burnt through and we could enjoy the views of rolling Devonshire countryside we had longed for. Cows were gently mooing, darling boy was joining in (as he now has a special sound for cows and dogs) and we were happy.

I will post some photos of our new idyll as soon as the camera and cables are unpacked, but till then, more stories of fun at home will follow...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Daisies and ice-cream

On Sunday, handsome husband, the darling boy and I went to the wonderful Exeter festival of food, or some such name.  It was a lovely day.  There were tents of local food suppliers, all with scrumptious foods to try, as well as regional wines and ciders.  We did our duty by the local economy and chatted to some lovely folk who are all passionate about what they make and sell.

Handsome husband had a very tasty game pie for lunch, whilst I went for the classic food market lunch of spit roasted pork in a roll, with lashings of apple sauce and some cracking crackling.

We also had three icecreams between us, and darling boy had his first taste of chocolate and vanilla icecream, which he was very keen on.  We ate our icecream and made daisy chains in the sun sat on the grass.  Darling boy also ate his first daisy.  Shoved in his mouth before we go to it first.  He wasn't so keen on the daisies as much as the icecream, but he kept given them a second chance...

Tomorrow we pack!

Well, actually, marvellous mum and I drink tea, whilst the removal men pack for us, but its still going to be jolly hard work, all that supervising.  Just to make sure it all goes smoothly I have got some tea and biscuits ready to keep the energy levels up.

Then the day after is moving day, what fun!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Feeling crafty and buttons for breakfast

I was mooching around the shops looking for something lovely for sister-in-laws birthday but unfortunatley I was rather uninspired by the choice. Sister-in-law has great style and a magpie's eye for the shiny and beautiful things in life. So I was looking for something gorgeous in the accessory department, but couldn't find anything that was quite right. So, darling boy and I decided that we should return home and make something instead.

The next morning, in my pyjamas (all the best craft projects take place whilst you are still wearing your pjamas) I set to.

I got out the old wooden box that used to belong to my grandpa and is now having a new life as my sewing box and is full of treasures. I found some gorgeous burnt orange and dark chocolate brown ribbon and I wound and looped it round to make sister-in-law a ribbon corsage. I then sewed individual beads in the centre to complete the look. Darling boy kept me company, also in his pyjamas, brooming his toy cars up and down underneath the table. Darling boy seemed to be impressed with our offerings to sister-in-law and growled accordingly.

I wrapped the corsage in pink tissue and brown paper and tied a bow around the parcel with pink ribbon. It joined the sticky toffee pudding as our birthday offerings.

Sister-in-law opened her present when she joined us at the farm and modelled the corsage for us all, and very beautiful she looked wearing it too.

Whilst I was busy with ribbons and beads that morning, Darling boy also mananged to eat his first tiny button unbeknown to me (it reappeared later the same day in his nappy, gulp!) He seemed totally unperturbed and very keen to repeat the experience.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sticky Toffee pudding and sticky toffee vodka

It was sister-in-law's birthday just recently and we were planning on converging at my in-laws to celebrate. I wanted to make her a birthday cake and was pondering which sort.

One of my possibilities was a sticky toffee pudding, complete with toffee sauce. I asked sister-in-law how she felt about sticky toffee pudding, she said she felt strongly about it and so the decision was made.

I'd not made it before, but always game for an experiment I gave it a go, and my word, its rather good. The toffee sauce that went with it was obscene, so sweet and, well, toffee-ish. It was so good it was very hard to avoid the temptation to eat the whole jar with a spoon before we went to the farm this weekend.

By some happy coincidence my mother-in-law had recently come back from Amsterdam with a bottle of toffee vodka. We guessed they might go together quite well...and we discovered that the two items are in fact made for each other. We reunited the two toffee deliciousnesses after dinner and everyone went to bed rather happy (hic).

Friday, 10 April 2009

Why I love Easter, part 2...

This morning we had hot cross buns for breakfast, toasted on the aga and served with lashings of butter, and lemon curd for some.  Very tasty indeed.

Then we cracked open our Easter eggs- chocolate for breakfast- the other reason I love Easter!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

New neighbours

I'm very excited to have just found out our new neighbour is the genius who is Willie Harcourt-Cooze who runs his own bean-to-bar chocolate factory.  Apparently he lives on the same hill as us.

I've been following his programmes on channel 4 with real interest.  You have to admire his determination and courage.  I've got one of his special cacao bars that handsome husband bought for me as a gift.  I have been looking forward to using in something special, maybe one of the unusual savoury dishes you see Willie cooking?

Hopefully some of the delicious chocolate smells will come wafting over the vally towards us.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Baking for babes 'n' babies

Today I had some girlfriends and their baby boys over and I was in the mood for a little baking (when am I not?)  I love baking for friends and a social occasion is a great excuse to get the old magimix out.  

So, this morning I whipped up a batch of Oatmeal and Raisin cookies whilst the darling boy was having his nap.  I love these cookies as they are so tasty and yet you can pretend they are good for you (duh, oats are slow releasing energy innit and raisins are a fruit, so one of your five a day clearly)

They went down a storm, especially with my own little boy who swiped my half eaten cookie from my own hand unnoticed during a particularly juicy bit of gossip.  He had munched the lot before I noticed- he seemed quite keen, which I took to be a good sign.  Later, handsome husband also seemed to approve.  Being wary of anything too healthy, he pronounced the cookies, 'seriously tasty'... praise indeed.  

Why I love Easter, part 1...

Tonight I made hot cross buns and, quite frankly, they smell delicious. 

I started trying to bake them last night.  I melted the butter and infused the milk with cardamon and cloves, but that was as far as I got.  Due to an unlikely shortage of eggs I had to wait till this morning before I could really get cracking (hoho)

I always find it rather scary doing anything where there is yeast involved (I leave all that up to my breadmaker) but early reports suggest my first attempt at hot cross buns was a success.  They look pretty darn scrumptious, if a little homespun... 

The proof is in the tasting though,  so I'm off to eat one now!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Hello world

Hello world...this is my first ever post on my first ever blog, what fun!

You join me as we prepare to move into our new house in the countryside. We are finally moving to the sort of home we have always dreamed of. It's a beautiful old house in the Devon countryside and it comes with 2 acres, so plenty of space for the rescue chickens who are joining us soon.

Roll on moving day...

In between here and then we of course have Easter and sister in law's birthday, so there is baking to be done!

First on the list for baking is hot cross buns. I love them, so fragrant and spicy. I especially like them toasted with a great quantity of butter. I have never made them before, but I'm feeling adventurous. Watch this space for the results...