Friday, October 31, 2008

Samhain and terrific secrets about biscuits

Ignoring the fact that my car is broken down... today is a very beautiful day, The first proper frost coating the fields, and golden sunshine breaking through to thaw it out. I'm really enjoying the crisp starry nights and clear mornings. The garden was a treasure trove this morning of frosty dazzling flowers, sparkling fence-tops and ice-jeweled sheep skulls.

I wonder how soon the passionflowers will stop blooming. Look at them go!

The beech woods up the road are looking amazing too - the leaves turning yellow and golden orange, and providing the best carpet in the world...

And I am enjoying warm drinks at the moment - making plenty of hot apple juice with ginger...mmm...

Meanwhile this rather scary mannequin stands in a shop window in Belleek. Isn't he beautiful? I don't think his mashed condition had anything to do with Hallowe'en.

In the spirit I am today wearing a fairly ridiculous witches hat that I made, inspired by one my fabulous friend Felix once made, which in turn was inspired by one I had! The broom may indeed be dragged out, but unfortunately the black cats are in Cavan.

Felix's hat brings to mind the Hallowe'en she made it and turned up where I lived looking very witch-like and colourful, to share some autumn days together. I recall roasting a rabbit - the first meat I had eaten in many years! It must be a tradition - last weekend I found a hare and cooked it up for another now ex-vegetarian to try! Hurray for roadkill.

And speaking of magic and mystery... a quote on women from a Steinbeck novel I am reading...

"She was a thing of mystery. All girls and women hoarded something they never spoke of. His mother had terrific secrets about biscuits, and cried, sometimes, for no known reason."

So here's to celebrating terrific secrets about biscuits.
Happy Samhain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And another thing...

I almost crashed the car when I spotted a man outside the vets stuffing his VERY reluctant dog into the box on the back of his moped.

I hope they weren't going too far! The dog definitely needed folding to fit him in there.

Food, life, death and beauty.

Well, the weekend saw some delicious homemade not-so-fast fast food. Ham and vegeburgers with multiple trimmings (including home-made sauerkraut for those so inclined), onion rings with a fizzy water batter (oh so incredibly light), and Patates Lemonata, (greek oven fried potatoes), highly recommended.

Patates Lemonata
For four people of moderate appetite.
Use four large potatoes (ours were home-grown Maris Piper) and chop them into big chip size. Put them in one layer on a baking tray with half a cup of olive oil, half a cup of water, 2 tsp fresh oregano or one of dried, and salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes or so at 180 degrees, then add the juice of half a lemon for the last ten minutes. Delicious. And less oily than fried spuds because of the water. Although I would recommend using a very-non-stick baking tray.

And I finally managed to post off a jumper and shoes I knitted for a soon-to-arrive baby. I knitted the jumper in one piece from the bottom up - highly recommended for ease. And the shoes are Saartje's Booties a quick fix for pregnant friends. (I have already knitted several pairs...)

And while we're on the subject of life, I took this photo of St. Ursulla's skull in a reliquary in the museum in Galway.

And I managed to get a quick walk on the beach in...

And caught a smidgen of sun in Salthill.
Ahh, beautiful Galway Bay.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ode to my saw horse.

Ahh, the beautiful saw horse. I love my saw horse and I love my draw knife. I love the squeak it makes when I use it and the little gnawing sounds of the knife on the wood.
And the fact that it wobbles a lot.

Out on a walk I found a handy piece of wood, perfect for making a rattle for the upcoming birthday of a one year old boy with beautiful brown eyes. So a trip to the saw horse and much dodgy whittling later, and....voila!

It makes a pleasing woody rattle, coming from the seasoned bits of horse chestnut I saved from a tree that grew in our front garden for most of my life.
We moved and sadly the tree was chopped down, but a conker my mother saved grows in this garden.

And I had to share this little fat-stemmed mushroom lurking in the woods.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Garden Tour

It might be cold, but the October sun leaves beautiful treasures in the garden.
First up, a drop of rain on one of the last sweet peas. The sweet peas did amazingly this year and provided a wall of smell that knocked me over at times.

This Kaffir Lily, hiding in an overcrowded flower bed, covered in drops.

Giant daisies, taller than me. Ok, I'm not enormous but they are.

A little oca blossom providing a cosy home for an insect.

Pink rose petals. They even look soft in a photo.

Sun through the clematis leaves.

The ever present calendula. Its name is from the latin for calender as it is here almost all year round.


Another tall one, Black-eyed Susan. Although I don't think its meant to be that tall, there may have been some competition for light this year beneath the seven foot sunflowers.

And some little gouging caterpillar eating my purple sprouting broccoli.

Roll on more sunshine.

Roots Manoeuvre

Well, here we go. This year's entire harvest of beetroot and parsnips. From soil to stomach in record time, and the sweetest I've ever tasted, even if they were miniature.
Here they are pre-cooking:

And here they are post-roasting:

And you wouldn't believe how many spellings of manoeuvre/maneuver are out there.
Or maybe you would.