14.10.14

Soup

Earlier a couple came into the shop

"We've been married for 66 years"  They said

"What is the secret to a long marriage?" I asked

"Keep your head down" he said

It is proper soup making weather now.

Roast a head of cauliflower with sage leaves, garlic cloves and some shallots, i peel them afterwards mainly due to laziness the skins slip off so much easier after roasting.

Whilst they roast,  toast some walnuts in a pan chop some parsley and sage.

Grind them up with a ahead of garlic and some table salt and then a generous slug of oil.

This is sort of thing you can keep in the fridge and add to soups, dressings, pastas and such. Or spoon it  onto the top of tomatoes before roasting.

Which makes it sound that i am the sort of person that has in my fridge for instant canap├ęs.

I don't

Just yoghurt and mouldy raspberries like everybody else.

One day i hope to be that person.

Also soak a few dried porcini in a teacup, i love the earthiness of dried mushrooms with the cauliflower.

Tip the cauliflower into a saucepan, scrape all the juices in, add the mushrooms and sieved soaking water, and some vegetable stock.

Blitz with a stick blender

Serve with crusty bread and a packet of butter.

Also this is very interesting if you have access to the BBC iplayer 

9.10.14

The Beehive challenge

It was a cold January day, not much was happening in the shop, when Mr Naylor rang

"I'm putting together a team to work with Farm Africa, your skill set might be useful, do you want to come?"

Skill set - this is how he actually speaks

"Sign me up" said I without much thought, it was cold in the shop and Africa seemed like a very good idea. I have been to Africa before, safari holidays, corporate sales trips that sort of thing, but my first experience of it was our family albums. My great grandfather was a diplomat, and spent many years in different parts of Africa. The photograph entitled "Vera (my great aunt) on a panther 1919" is one of my favourites, years before the health and safety executive would deem this inappropriate given the fact  it isn't stuffed but alive.

and then summer came and with it weddings, and if I'm honest thoughts of charitable endeavours were replaced with peonies and ribbons and swatches of ivory fabric.

Until last weekend, a meeting at the Farm Africa offices overlooking the Barbican, to meet the rest of the team, and discuss how we were going to build 67 beehives in a few days, and the small matter of the £50,00 we are aiming to raise.

In a nutshell that is what the beehive challenge is build hives raise money and awareness. Farm Africa helps African farmers grow themselves out of poverty and end hunger forever. Helping rural families to build a more prosperous life that allows them to take charge of their futures.

Here are some of the questions i now know the answers to, but was too afraid to ask incase i looked like an idiot and some other questions you might be thinking about.

Where are we doing this?
In the Nou Forest in Tanzania - nearest airport Kilimanjaro

Why is Farm Africa working in the Nou Forest?
Poverty is the main driver of deforestation, so our project is designed to show the local community how they can build businesses from sustainable forest products like honey and mushrooms. As forest farmers begin to understand how important the forest is for their future survival, they act as forest guardians constantly on the lookout for anything that threatens it. This virtuous circle delivers better futures for some of the most vulnerable people in Tanzania and at the same time helps restore the country’s valuable forest reserves.

Why Beehives?
Bee-keeping is a traditional method of farming in Tanzania, there is a huge local market for honey

If it is a traditional activity why are you going to build some hives?
To build modern hives (langstroth hives). Traditional log hives are generally high up in the trees, and are destroyed to perform an annual harvest, often killing the bees. The new hives yield far more honey, can be harvested 2 or 3 times a year, and mean that women can start their own honey businesses.
The fact that this project enables more women to run their own hives and sell their honey is something which has really struck a chord with me.

Why 67?
27 for one village, 40 for another. At the end of the task we take the beehives to the villages.

What are you going to wear?
To be fair you probably aren't thinking about this, but it is weighing heavy on my mind, because i can at times be that shallow.

Why are you doing this?
Because it is a challenge, this is very far out of my comfort zone, far away from the wedding world, of life in a small town with hot and cold running coffee and good cheese. And because i have a big birthday at the end of the year and if ever there is a time to challenge yourself, it is just before a big birthday, and because if i see one more picture of a cafe au lait dahlia on instagram i might scream. And like Miss World, I want world peace and an end to hunger.
It is also because i want to see for myself how an NGO works, how does it affect peoples lives, and more importantly who are the people.

What are you going to do with The Hound?
More people have asked me this than any of the above, he is going to Ma Hen's

How can we get involved?
Give me all your money, we need to raise £50,000 towards the project so i have a Just giving page. Click on the link, donate some money.

I'm the editor of a fancy magazine / newspaper can i write about this?
YES - i fully intend to take all the camera memory cards i can carry and spend all my time photographing the people we meet very much like that Humans of New York chap (best thing on the internet ever) So on our return i will be able to tell the story, through the medium of words, hi res digital images, film images and iPhone snaps and video. - i think this is the skill set he was referring to.

If you are going to spend all your time taking photographs, who is going to build the hives?
Ally off the telly  said he would help out with my quota, he might regret that. He made a video, somebody give this man a presenting job.

Have you had all your jabs?
Getting them tonight

Have you built a beehive before?
No, and from the look of the large document and the step by step guide, it doesn't look as easy as i thought.

When are you going?
October the 26th, we are getting the London to Nairobi flight and then a connection to Kilimanjaro. If you work for Kenya Airways get in touch.

Are they going to make you wear that lime green t-shirt?
They already have.

Can we follow your adventures whilst you are out there?
Yes across all the social medias (wifi permitting)

Are you excited?
Very

How many times have you watched Out of Africa this week?
Twice

2.10.14

When you knew that it was over


were you suddenly aware
that the autumn leaves were turning to the colour of her hair


Crumbled feta
2 grated courgettes
handful of herbs
salt pepper
4 eggs
tablespoon of spelt flour

Mix

Make pancakes

Serve with sliced tomato and a crushing of pomegranate


There will be more words next week after a meeting in the city.

Where we are to discuss what happens when you put a florist in a Tanzanian forest and perhaps even why (especially when you look at the other people on the list - I'm definitely the odd one out )

All the excitement all the trepidation thus far.

23.9.14

If you gave me a million years to ponder

I would never have guessed that true romance and Detroit would ever go together. And til this day, the events that followed all still seems like a distant dream. But the dream was real and was to change our lives forever.

19.8.14

Flower school and flower pizza

22nd September
At the shop
Tablecentres
It is a day for anybody who is interested in making table centres.
Whether you are a bride thinking about doing your own flowers, or just somebody that has a lot of dinner parties.

You will make 2 different arrangements in containers provided using two different construction methods. We will discuss the why and wherefores of each method, and the practicalities of providing flowers for an event / different shaped tables, and flower heights.

There will also be chat on linens and candles and other props, and I will also demo other ideas such as garlanding.

Morning coffee, cake, lunch, wine and afternoon tea are included in the price.

To book and to see other information click here.

I am also addicted to yellow courgette and cauliflower pizza.

I have tried many of the recipes, most seem to involve adding a lot of cheese to the cauliflower, and others that involve microwaving and drying it out first, which is all a lot of hassle.

The Hemsley Hemsley method works perfectly every time.

Their recipe
140g cauliflower
1 egg white beaten
50g ground almonds
40g buckwheat flour
salt pepper
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

My "lazy" version

1 medium cauliflower
2 eggs
2 tablespoons ground almond
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
salt pepper
1/2 teaspoon of bicarb and an extra bit for luck.

I can't be doing with separating eggs, or weighing out small grammage of things or having a leftover bit of cauliflower in the fridge.

In a food processor blitz the cauliflower until it looks like rice, add everything else, blitz a bit more.

Line a baking sheet, grease with olive oil or coconut oil and spoon some of the dough and with the back of a spoon spread it out into a base about 1/2 cm thick.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, at about 190 then flip over and bake for 5 more minutes.

I quite often use greek yoghurt as a base instead of tomato sauce, with leftover pork belly, ribbon of yellow courgette, a scattering of parsley and parmesan.

Bake for another 10 minutes.


14.8.14

School days

This morning i received the Old Girls' Guild newsletter. In it were images of the new home economics room. It looks like something from a tv studio, so very different to our day.

I wasn't very good at home economics, at the end of the Upper 4th i remember my teacher leaning over and saying

"I do hope i won't be seeing you next year"

Nice. She needn't have worried, there was no way Mother Hen was going to let me do cooking or drawing for G.C.S.E anyway, not when there was another science or language available xx This is an ongoing joke in my family, as well as the comment i made aged 8 when we were living in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales.

"I want to go to London, If i stay here all there is to do is marry a farmer and bake cakes all day"

Oh the sweet sweet irony of it all.

At school I could cook, i just had no interest in cooking the things in the SHS cookbook. Due to Ma Hen's interest in food and travel we grew up eating anything and everything. Except things like shepherds pie, which was the preserve of going to friends' houses for tea.

In the past i have worked for some great chefs and food companies.

It is A-Level results day, i think this is a sort of it doesn't matter what you do at school post.

It is also a flower school post, we are holding a table centre course in September. If you want to learn how to make something like the above details are being emailed to those on the mailing list on Sunday evening.

That is if i can work out mail chimp.

Sign up here

13.8.14

A wedding

The mother of this bride and I have previous.

We have done this before, for the bride's sister.

So it was an honour to be asked to do the wedding of Mike and Anna.

Roses, peonies, sunshine and morning suits.

A beautiful classic English wedding.

I think that last photograph is so special.

Photographs by Sarah Vivienne

12.8.14

The other side of the embroidery

On Saturday night Mr Naylor and I went to the cinema to see Chinese Puzzle Romain Duris AND Audrey Tatou. hashtag allthefrenchcliches. It is good.

In the film they make reference to life being like an embroidery. The first half is the front, the pretty picture, and the second half being the raw working side, less pretty but you understand how it all works.

And then last night we went to see Looking for light, a documentary about the photographer Jane Bown. In which she talks of a journalist who opened every interview with the same 3 questions. 1. What do you hope for? 2. Do you believe in god? 3. If today was your birthday what would you have for breakfast?

Something to think about.

The images are from Dartmouth, finally a chance to meet baby Martha, a rugby club BBQ with paella and pirates bringing freshly caught bass and mackerel in the sunshine with wine, and then gin on the deck, and a lunch by boat and more wine, raiding the deli and then a lunch at a vineyard, have the fritters.

"we don't live like this all the time" everybody chirped

I think they do.

and then back to land locked Rutland and some more mackerel. their sides slashed and their bellies stuffed with mint, garlic and lemon a la Marte Marie Fosberg.

I have to say i was a little sceptical of the cooked mint thing, i once had a disaster with roast chicken and mint. I'm all for raw mint added to dressings, salads, sauces but cooked is odd, but if it's good enough for Ms Fosberg. I went with a curly mint that has a more savoury flavour, predominantly because it was the one nearest the back door, and is least likely to to taste of extra chewing gum.

They were quite delicious, roasted in a very hot oven, because its less faff and smelly than char grilling and i didn't have a bbq or any rugby players on hand.

Served with roast tomatoes, everything is served with roast tomato at the moment.

and then you must watch The Lunchbox

"sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station"