Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Foggy Sunday Afternoon Walk

We managed to snatch an hour or so this afternoon to take a walk around Whitlingham Broad. We'd had a busy weekend at the guest house so breakfast had been busy.  Two dishwasher loads later, the kitchen was now clear, the guests who were checking out had gone and the rooms had been stripped ready for servicing.  We had new guests arriving and some other guests coming back to collect bags.  That left us a window of about 2 hours, not long enough to go far but ideal for a quick trip down to Whitlingham!

On top of that the sun was now finally breaking through the fog that had been hanging round all morning and there were blue skies above, so off we went.

Swans at Whitlingham Broad, NorwichNeedless to say, once we'd arrived, the weather changed pretty quickly and reverted to fog. 

But, we were not unhappy!  The fog rendered the scene into a soft focus beauty of calm and I found myself wishing that I'd brought my SLR camera as I was seeing photo opportunities at every turn.  But I hadn't, so I had to content myself with a few snapshots from my phone camera.

Swans and Geese at Whitlingham Broad, Norwich
We decided to walk along the path which goes around the broad, a walk of about 4.1/2 kilometers, quite a comfortable distance, about 45-60 minutes.

The broad is actually an artificial one, which started life as a gravel pit.  Over the time that we have lived in Norwich, we've watched the process of excavation and the creation of the broad.  Now, it looks like it's always been there and lots of birds have taken advantage of the environments and moved in.

It's in a country park/nature reserve just a mile or so from where we live and it's a favourite spot of ours. Within the park is a river, a broad, wooded areas, a nature reserve, meadows not to mention picnic areas, a cafe and a boating centre.  So there's pretty much something for everyone.  And compatible with the local wildlife.

Being a natural environment, it's different every time you go.

Fog at Whitlingham Broad Norwich
Fog at Whitlingham Broad, Norwich

This is definitely a spot worth visiting if you get the opportunity.

And this is where to find it!  You can see how new the broad is because it's actually not yet made its way on to Google maps.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Carrot, Coriander & Sunflower Seed Bread

The carrots make this bread taste a little sweeter than a regular bread.  Makes a great sandwich with some strong cheese for example or have it hot and toasted with hoummous.  Also great with my soup recipes.

Carrot, Coriander & Sunflower Seed Bread

1.1/4 tspn fast action dried yeast
250g wholemeal flour
225g strong white flour
2 tspns ground coriander
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1.1/2 tspns brown sugar
1.1/4 tspns table salt
30 ml sunflower oil
240 ml water
200g grated carrot

Method
This recipe is for use in breadmaker, using a quick bake wholemeal setting.  Add the ingredients to the pan in the usual order specified by your breadmaker.  Treat the carrot as a liquid ingredient and add it at the same time as the water.  You may notice that the dough will seem a little stiffer than usual as some of the water required for the dough will be taken from the carrot.  It should, however, still form a reasonably elastic ball of dough.

Approx Nutritional Values per Slice (Based on 14 slices per loaf)
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
146 Kj3.40.45.623.11.2

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rosemary & Earl Grey Focaccia

Rosemary & Earl Grey Focaccia


Earlier this year, I added some linden blossom tea to a Blackberry & Apple Jelly that I made and I was pleased with the result. Since then, I've been meaning to experiment with adding tea flavours into other things and I finally got round to it today!

I decided to try Earl Grey tea because of its strong aroma & added some dried rosemary because they seemed to go together well - and also because I love rosemary.  I thought it worked.  It didn't especially taste of the Earl Grey tea but it tasted different because of it.  And it was good with some cooked ham and a bit of butter, as shown above.  (The bread is very soft so butter is really not necessary, however it was very good!)

Ingredients
450 g strong white bread flour
2 teaspoons fast action dried yeast
1.1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1.1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 large cup of black Earl Grey tea (I used one tea bag).  You will need 225 ml of lukewarm tea.
4 tablespoons olive oil

A little additional olive oil, Maldon Sea Salt & dried rosemary to dress the top of the bread

Method
First of all, add a couple of ice cubes to the tea to bring the temperature down to luke warm.  Make sure they are fully melted before using the tea!

Add the ingredients to your breadmaker in the usual order specified by your breadmaker and set to the dough or pizza programme.  When the programme has finished, remove the dough and stretch it out to approximately the size of your oiled baking sheet.  Place the dough into the baking sheet and roll it out gently into the corners - you don't have to be too precise.

Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.  In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to about Gas Mark 6.

Rosemary & Earl Grey Focaccia

After 30 minutes, lightly score the bread into 12 squares with a sharp knife and then make the indentations with your (obviously clean!) finger.  Drizzle some olive oil into the indentations and then sprinkle with some Maldon Sea Salt & dried rosemary.  You should probably use a little less salt than shown in the photos!

Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked.  Cool on a wire rack and then try not to eat all of it at once!

Rosemary & Earl Grey Focaccia


Approximate Nutritional Values per Square
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
172 Kj5.10.75.426.51.2

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Living the High Life

Nigel spotted this little fella doing acrobatics on our washing line this morning.  Not quite sure what it was looking for up there.  We'll leave it a while and perhaps a story will unfold!

I guess that's one washing line that is going to need cleaning today ....!





Friday, 7 October 2011

Tomato, Sweet Potato & Cinnamon Soup

There's something about the smell of cinnamon that really gets the taste buds going. Whenever I cook a meal for my husband and I that has cinnamon in, you can almost guarantee that at least one of the guests at our B&B will comment "that smells good"!

Tomato, Sweet Potato & Cinnamon Soup


Last weekend, I was lucky enough to find a whole box of lovely bright red, sweet & ripe tomatoes at a bargain price from the farm shop in Essex near mum & dad's (the same one where I got the sweetcorn for the Sweetcorn, Leek & Potato Soup ).  I use the whole tomato in this recipe by the way, seeds, skins and everything.

Ingredients
1 kg ripe tomatoes
1 large sweet potato (about 220 g peeled weight)
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 litre vegetable stock

Method
Wash the tomatoes.  Peel & dice the sweet potato. Put all the ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil & then simmer until the vegetables are soft.  If you have time, leave the cinnamon stick in the soup for as long as possible to infuse the flavours into the vegetables.

When you are ready, remove the cinnamon stick & blend the vegetables.  Yum!

Approximate Nutritional Values per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
105 Kj0.20.13.423.510.7

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sweetcorn, Leek & Potato Soup

Found some lovely fresh corn on the cob at a farm shop near to mum and dad's this weekend and bought a load of them for a bargain price.  So this week, I'm concocting recipes with sweetcorn.

This is the first of them and it is a thick and filling soup.  I like to keep some of the vegetables whole for this recipe so not all of the vegetables are blended.  The quantities made about 4 bowls.

Sweetcorn Leek & Potato Soup

Ingredients
1 medium size leek (about 200g trimmed weight)
1 large potato (about 175g peeled weight)
Kernels stripped from 2 ears of corn
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1 litre vegetable stock

Method
Slice the corn kernels from the ears of corn.  Slice the leeks and peel and chop the potato into small cubes.  Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook until all the vegetables are tender.  Remove half of the vegetables and blend the rest with the stock.  Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir.


Approximate Nutritional Values per Bowl
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
136 Kj1.60.34.126.41.8

Take care when re-heating this soup as it will stick to the bottom of the pan, and burn if you are not careful!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Parsnip & Fennel Soup

This was an unexpected success and my other half loved it! Parsnip and Fennel didn't seem like obvious partners but it was what I had in the fridge so I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm pleased I did! I had thought the 'aniseed-iness' of the fennel would be overpowering but in fact it wasn't at all and the combination worked well.

Also not sure why I decided to make soup today, when summer seems to have returned and it's been baking hot outside and in all day.  I guess I've just got the soup bee in my bonnet!

This recipe makes about two large bowls of a fairly thick soup.

Parsnip & Fennel Soup

Ingredients
3 small parsnips (about 150g peeled weight)
1/2 large bulb of fennel (about 150g prepared weight)
1 Scallion shallot or small onion
1/2 litre vegetable stock
Sprinkling of cumin

Method
Roughly chop the vegetables.  Put all the ingredients, except the cumin, in a pan. Cook until soft. Blend with a stick blender. Garnish with a sprinkling of cumin and serve it with either the Pumpkin Seed & Oat Bread Rolls or the Flatbread with Fennel & Caraway Seeds

Approximate Nutritional Values per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
90 Kj0.40.02.520.84.1

Pumpkin Seed & Oat Bread Rolls

Pumpkin Seed & Oat Bread Rolls

Ingredients
225 g Strong Wholemeal flour
250 g Strong White flour
25 g jumbo rolled oats
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1.1/4 teaspoons fast action dried yeast
1.1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1.1/4 teaspoons salt
30 ml sunflower oil
340 ml water

Method
Add the ingredients to the breadmaker pan, in the usual order required by your machine and and set it to either the dough or pizza programme. When the programme has finished, remove from the breadmaker and divide into 16 pieces. Shape into rolls and spread out evenly on an oiled baking sheet.

Pumpkin Seed & Oat Bread Rolls

Brush water over the top of the bread and sprinkle a few seeds and oats on the top for decoration . Press the seeds in lightly. Then just leave in a warm place until it has risen a bit. Preheat the oven while you're waiting.

Bake in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes, or until cooked.


Approximate Nutritional Values per Roll
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
128 Kj3.10.65.119.90.5

These rolls go very well with my recipe for Parsnip & Fennel soup .


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bluet Damselfly

These are to be found in many places around the Norfolk Broads. I love the vivid blue of these pretty damselflies.


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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Photo Prints by Sunlight (cyanotypes)

These are prints that are made using the sun & chemicals to develop the image.  It's a method that works well for prints where the lines of the image, rather than the tones, are important. It's fun to do and you can get quite creative with it.   You can use a photo negative as I have here or you can use objects such leaves, flowers or paper cut-outs to create shapes.



This photo was taken in the cafe in West Runton, Norfolk where we sometimes go - they do a great toasted cheese & onion sandwich! They used to serve the tea in old-fashioned china tea cups which I particularly liked.  The original photo was taken some time ago as they now serve the tea in mugs. If you've never been to West Runton, it's great for cliffs, rock pools, breakwaters and walks on the beach (oh, and of course, the cheese and onion toasted sandwiches!) Anyway, I digress!

The method to produce a print like this is as follows:
  • scan the photo into the computer and enlarge it up to the size of the print that you want
  • invert the image to make a negative print 
  • make an inkjet print onto transparency film
  • brush some watercolour paper with the chemicals.  In my example above, I deliberately brushed the chemicals on, leaving brushstrokes in the style of watercolour painting to match the style of paper used
  • lay the transparency negative on top and clip together so that the negative can't move
  • expose to bright sunlight for between 10 and 20 minutes. The length of time that you expose the paper to the sun for will determine how dark the print is.
  • rinse under clean water
  • dry away from the sun


And yes, one of those books really is that price! It's a rare one.

I mounted my print on to foam board and kept the perforated ends to keep the effect of watercolour.  The chemicals required to produce these types of prints can be purchased from specialist photographic materials suppliers, details can be found online. 

Here are another two of my photos that I did the same treatment on.  These are of a beautiful cafe in Bilbao, called the Cafe Boulevard.









Flat Bread with Fennel & Caraway Seeds

I love caraway & fennel seeds on bread and the little flakes of salt crystals that you come across now and again on this bread are an extra little treat.

I wanted to make a tasty bread to go with the soup I was making for lunch. But there wasn't a lot of time so it needed to be one that could be made in the breadmaker. I also wanted it to be a little bit special as we're entertaining my father-in-law this weekend. After flicking through my recipe collection for inspiration, I cobbled together this recipe.

One of the great things about this bread is that it's quick & easy to make - 45 minutes of the breadmaker doing the manual work, about 20 minutes rising time and 20 minutes in the oven. That's only about 1.1/2 hours total which is pretty quick for a loaf of bread!

Flat Bread with Fennel & Caraway Seeds

Ingredients for Dough
2 tspns fast action dried yeast
250 g strong white flour
250 g Allinson Wholemeal Seed & Grain flour
3 tbspns olive oil
1 tspn brown sugar
1 tspn salt
150 ml semi skimmed milk
150 ml water

Ingredients for Seed Mix
Fennel seeds
Caraway seeds
Maldon sea salt crystals

Method
Add the dough ingredients to the breadmaker pan, in the usual order required by your machine and and set it to either the dough or pizza programme, When the programme has finished, remove from the breadmaker and roll out into a rough rectangle about 1.5 cm thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Brush water over the top of the bread and sprinkle the seed mix over the top. Press the seeds in lightly with the rolling pin. Score the dough lightly with a sharp knife to divide into 12 portions. Portioning it isn't really necessary but I do it because I like to know what calories/fat etc I'm feeding to myself and my family! Then just leave in a warm place until it has risen a bit. Preheat the oven while you're waiting.

Bake in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes, or until cooked.


Approximate Nutritional Values per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
179 Kj4.60.816.127.51.7

It went really well with the Chicken & Broccoli soup that we had for lunch.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Who You Looking At?

 

I turned the house upside down today looking for a mount cutter for some pictures which I am re-mounting.  

As I delved into drawers and cupboards that I don't use very often, I came across this photo which I took a few years ago.   I was quite proud of it at the time because despite hand holding quite a heavy SLR, I had managed to get quite good focus on the face of the butterfly.  

I'll swear he/she is posing for this photograph!

(By the way, I found the mount cutter!)






Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Butternut Squash & Butter Bean Soup

Time for soup!


Butternut Squash & Butter Bean Soup

Looks like summer has almost left us and with the approach of autumn and lots of lovely fresh veg in the shops, it's time to bring out the soup recipes again.

This one is one of our favourites, and it's what we're having for lunch today. It has a smooth, almost creamy texture and makes a soup of medium thickness. It's also filling, low in fat and very quick and easy to make. This recipe makes about 1.1/2 litres of soup, or 4 large bowls.


Ingredients
4 sprays Fry Light olive oil
1  medium onion
2 cloves garlic
850g  peeled weight butternut squash (about half of a medium size squash)
1  410g tin butter beans (220 g drained weight)
1/2  tspn dried rosemary (or an equivalent amount of fresh, finely chopped)
1 litre vegetable stock

Roughly chop the onion, garlic and butternut squash and cook gently for a few minutes until the onions are soft.  Add the stock, herbs & butter beans and cook for about 20 minutes until the squash is soft.  Blend with a stick blender.

Approximate Nutritional Values per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
121 Kj1.00.25.723.83.5

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Blackberry, Apple & Linden Jelly

This jelly is a sweet one and has a very rich red/black colour.

It is flavoured with a "tilleul" tea bag.  Tilleul is a French word used to describe a herbal tea which is a blend of the fragrant flowers and leaves from the linden tree.  I'm particularly fond of this herbal tea, which I drank a lot when I lived in France so when I came across it as a possible flavour combination with blackberries, I was keen to try it out!  It adds just a subtle enhancement to the flavour which I quite like.

Blackberry, Apple & Linden Jelly

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Making Your Own Yogurts



At our guest house in Norwich, we make our own yogurts and I'm often asked for information about how to make them, what equipment I use and so on, so I thought I'd write this blog post as a reference point for those of you that are interested in having a go yourselves. I make mine with 2% fat milk (semi-skimmed) and this makes creamy yogurts which are mild, pleasant to eat and don't need any sweetening. Many of the guests comment that they "feel nice in the tummy" and I know what they mean!

If you prefer your yogurts fruity or sweet, do what the French do and just add a teaspoon of jam or honey!

It's worth mentioning that this post covers making yogurt from cows milk.  Yogurt can also be made with certain types of lactose-free milk, goats milk, sheeps milk etc.  This however, goes beyond my knowledge and experience.  The methods and culture times are likely to be different.

Note:  I have been told that the yogurt maker from Amazon's listing is supplied with a continental plug so you would need an adaptor in order to be able to use it.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Wild Plum & Apple Jelly

Made from hedgerow plums & cooking apples, this jam is not as sweet as commercial jams and has a pretty translucent pink colour.

Wild Plum & Apple Jelly

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