31 July 2015

Weekend reading

This is our lavender laced Barnevelder. Of all the hens we have for eggs, I like Barnevelder eggs the best.

I didn't have much time for reading anything other than my manuscript this week but here are my offerings. I hope you enjoy them.  Take care, friends. ♥︎

Look who I just found is blogging regularly again: Gooseberry Jam. I promise you this blog is as beautiful as the person who writes it.
I've visited this  blog, Little Cotton Rabbits, for a long time but I wanted to show you this absolutely beautiful granny square quilt. I love that it's made out of cotton and the wonderful colour combination, although those of you who know this lady's work, will know her gift with colour.

30 July 2015

My favourite place #4

This is a weekly feature for readers to show us their favourite place at home. This week we have Sue and Ale. Thanks for sharing your homes with us, ladies.

Our first place this week is in Wales, it's Sue's place.  She says:

I have attached two photos of My Favourite Place.

It's the polytunnel !! We waited a long time to be able to erect it after our move to North Wales (UK) as being so close to a busy A road and living in an 'area of outstanding beauty' and being near the edge of the Snowdonia National Park it was considered to be an eyesore. With bushes and trees planted alongside the road that will one day shield it from view slightly, it was finally allowed.

Now it is where I grow our own food, veggies and fruit, and where tiny seedlings are nurtured before facing the perils of the outdoor veggie patch.



In here with my radio on and usually a snoozing dog or two in the corner I can garden no matter what the weather. When it rains the pattering of raindrops on the taut polythene makes for a soothing sound and it's happy place to be.

I blog over at Our New Life in the Country, the blog I started when we did indeed start our new life in the country just over six years ago. http://ournewlifeinthecountry.blogspot.co.uk/


=== ♥︎ ===

And now we travel over to Argentina to visit Ale.

Hi, my name is Ale from Buenos Aires, Argentina (http://ale-ligeradeequipaje.blogspot.com.ar/).
Here we have four seasons, although for some years to now the climate is changing and our winters are not too cold and our summers are very hot!



I live in a little house, in a nice neighbourhood in the city. It´s called "Flores".
We have transformed our garage in a family room, next to the kitchen. Here I have my cooking books, my knitting books, my notebook, toys for my grandchild and a comfortable sofa for rest or reading. From the door you can see in the picture, you go into the kitchen so I can keep an eye on whatever I'm cooking.
It has light and in the afternoons it's sunny and cosy. Specially in winter. There is a big window looking on to my little patio (not in the pics) and at the back, the laundry.
This is my favourite place.
=== ♥︎ ===





28 July 2015

How to make your own cake flour

I started seeing cake flour being use on TV cooking shows about a year ago and I've seen bulk cake flour once but never bought it because of the additives it had in it. So when I was at the supermarket and saw an additive-free cake flour recently, I decided to try it. Cake flour has less protein (gluten) in it than plain/all purpose flour does so it gives a softer texture. If you over beat cake batter made with plain/all purpose or self-raising flour, the extra beating will develop the gluten and instead of having a softly textured cake, it will be firmer.


The cake flour is the Lighthouse brand, sold at Woolworths and probably Coles as well. It's the Lighthouse Biscuit, Pastry and Cake plain flour and because it's plain flour, it contains no rising agent so you have to add baking powder. I use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per one cup of flour.


I made my usual whole orange cake using cake flour and I have to say the texture was a bit softer, but I didn't think it made enough of a difference to warrant the extra expense. I make my orange cake in a swiss roll tin so it doesn't rise much and spreads out. I cut it into squares. Generally, doing this the cake will last us five or six days but after three or four days the cake is beyond its best. Often I freeze half the cake to get around that.  However, using the cake flour I was surprised to find the cake was soft and fresh until the end. There are no additives, except for niacin, which is vitamin B3, so I don't worry about that.  When I saw the freshness of the cake was extended, I thought I might use cake flour, even at the added cost.  BTW, I used the same flour for the biscuits I made with Jamie but it made no difference to the taste or the freshness.


I did some research into cake flour and found you can make it yourself at home, using plain/all purpose flour and cornflour.  I made a cake with this homemade flour and it's as good as the Lighthouse brand. I'll see over the coming days if it lasts as well as the orange cake did.

Recipe for whole orange cake.

According to thekitchn.com, to make your own cake flour at home take one cup of plain/all purpose flour and remove two tablespoons of flour. Then add two tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch and sift it all together thoroughly.  Don't forget to add your baking powder to the flour before you sift.

It always pays to do your research and if this flour works as I think it will, extending the life of my cakes, I'll make up a jar of it and use that instead of buying Lighthouse flour. Lighthouse flour is $3.95/kilo and I buy Aldi plain flour for under $1 a kilo.  It's a saving of about two dollars for each kilo of flour I buy, so the savings will be there in the long run.

To make up a kilo/2.2lbs of cake flour:
  1. Measure out 4 cups plain/all purpose flour, then remove 8 tablespoons of flour
  2. Add 8 tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch
  3. Add 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  4. Sift together.
What is your experience of cake flour?

27 July 2015

The ordinary work of the day

We had a lovely weekend here. The sun was shining and it was warmer than it has been so we were outside with Jamie while he rode his new bike and when we came inside, the doors stayed open to let the warm air in. My main work was to sew a few items for my swap partner, moeymichele, but of course, the ordinary work of the day also came into play.

Getting it all together for the swap.

 Searching through my stash for blue and lavender tones.

On the cooking front I made roast lamb and vegetables for us on Saturday, and used the leftovers for a spicy lamb curry on Sunday. Both easy meals and enjoyed by all of us. All of us included Jamie who was here both days, and Sunny who worked in her sushi shop. I made an extra portion packed in a sealed container for her to take home after work. I've experienced the exhaustion of a full day's physical work when I was younger and the thought of cooking a nourishing meal at the end of it still fills me with dread. I also baked jam drop biscuits on Sunday for our week's morning teas and had the added bonus of giving a pack of them to Jamie for his kindy morning teas and for Sunny's morning coffee. Home baked goodies, eaten when you're away from home, are a gentle reminder of the love you carry with you when you're out in the world.

With the butter, sugar and condensed milk whipped up, it was time to add the flour.
Here's my helper - cherry jam in some, apricot jam in the others.



And then morning tea and biscuits on the front verandah.  BTW, Jamie is wearing his Captain America suit.

My sous chef was Jamie who helped make the biscuits by setting up a work station on the table. He made the thumb hole in the biscuit dough and then filled all of them with either cherry jam or apricot jam.  Cooking and baking are great ways of teaching children the various bits and pieces of life. We counted and added, we washed our hands and talked about the reason for that, we talked about amounts and how long things last. I'm sure Jamie will remember that biscuit making even when he doesn't.

And it was Kerry's birthday yesterday so even though he Facetimed with Jamie and us on Saturday, there was a good reason for an extra call yesterday. Kerry's away at work at the moment and Facetime is a great way for all of us, especially Jamie, to keep in touch and to know he not forgotten. It's one of the good aspects of technology that helps us stay together when our circumstances force us to be far apart.

I'm getting through my swap items and have about another day's work before I'm finished. I've really enjoyed the sewing and I hope what I've made is used for many years. I also spent a little time on cleaning up and I repotted the Herb Robert I got from Nannachel at the group meeting last week. After reading about the herb and how it spreads by seeds, I've decided to leave it in various places in the garden, in the hope that it will spread and I'll have small patches of it growing well all through the year. From all accounts it likes the shady cooler weather so I'll make sure I give it a few places in the shade of other plants. It's such a sweet plant - a member of the geranium family and a very welcome addition to my garden.

I'm looking forward to a busy week ahead. I'll probably have the last read through of the book to complete and if it arrives on time, I might not get back here this week. I hope you have some interesting and productive days ahead too. Take care, friends. xx


24 July 2015

Weekend reading

The chooks and the garden this week. 

Can you believe it? Another week done and dusted. I hope you get the chance to put your feet up this weekend. Look after yourself and those you love. See you next week. ♥︎

Do You Really Need to Refrigerate Butter?
The end of capitalism has begun
Great photographs of animals
Creative alternative to retirement living - Radio National podcast
Here Are 5 Small Ways You Might Have Wasted Money Yesterday (and How to Avoid Them Tomorrow)

23 July 2015

My favourite place #3

Our first favourite place this week comes from Jane in country New South Wales and as it's her canning/preserves cupboard, I think this will be a popular one.

"This is my favourite place at the moment. It is my canning pantry.



We live in central west NSW and have just retired from the coast on to a small 25 acre off grid acreage.. Our house is a bit of a bombsite at the moment as we are undertaking lots of renovations

I have lost control of everything around me, but this room is my small haven of normality. I just love lining the jars up and am continually rearranging as we use jars or i can more. I know,.. I have issues :-) :-) :-)"


Our second set of photos is from Eman in London.





This is our kitchen. The kitchen window is East facing, it is where the first light of day appears. It is our favourite part of the house where weekend breakfasts are made, we have our late night conversations and family discussions or just watch the world go by whilst the busy London commuters make their way home from work. It is where the children wait for our guests to open the front gates or the sound of my husbands car parking after a day's work. It is where I listen to 'motivational' talks whilst cooking/ baking or sitting at the breakfast bar reading the down to earth blog."

Thanks to Jane and Eman for showing us that simple life can be lived anywhere - from the Australian bush to busy London.



22 July 2015

Finding my rhythm again

I've really settled back into my home this week and have been re-establishing routines and trying to find my rhythm again. There was a time when I would have had bread on the rise, cleaned the kitchen, made beds, fed the outdoor animals and tidied up, all before 9am. That's not happening now and I'm not sure if it's because the cold weather is making me slower or if I'm still finding my feet. Either way, I'm enjoying my work and have decided to do things differently now so I'm trying a few things to see how they feel.


I was supposed to be doing one of the final readings of my book now but that's been postponed so this week will be all about routines, tidying up and sewing. I've joined the blue, purple and mauve colour swap at the Down to Earth forum. I've been partnered with moeymichelle in Perth and have some household linens sewing scheduled for her. I'm looking forward to it and when I finish writing this post, I'll be going through my stash to choose fabrics. We can make anything we like as long as it's within the colour range of blue, purple and mauve. I'm sure there'll be a wide variety of crafts travelling back and forth for this swap and I'm looking forward to seeing what the ladies make.


These are my toys - a Steiff dog, bought for me by Hanno when we lived in Germany 35 years ago, and a handmade teddy bear, given to me as a gift. I let Jamie play with the teddy and he lets teddy drive Peppa Pig's car. The iron cat is a copy of an Egyptian artefact found as grave goods in a pyramid. Kerry bought it at the British Museum.

On Monday I cleaned up the bookcase I keep in the kitchen to house my cooking books and some old magazines. Although I've decluttered routinely, I'm far from being a minimalist. It makes me feel comfortable and happy seeing familiar things around me - things I've known for many years. While I was cleaning those shelves, I made a mental note that I have enough cook books. I think the last one I bought was The Thrifty Kitchen and that was a few years ago now. Some of my most loved books were gifts from my family, and my Penguin friends sent me some cookbooks recently as a thank you for meeting all my deadlines. I'll be sharing a recipe from one of those books later in this post. It's the pecan and marmalade slice.
ADDED LATER: I just remembered that the last cook book I bought was The Country Table. I bought two, one for Sunny and one for me, because it's filled with old fashioned Australian cooking. Sunny had just asked me for a recipe for corned beef when I saw it in this cook book, along with a lot of other traditional, well-known food.


I've been asked for this recipe a few times so here it is. You might recall that I rarely stick to recipes and sure enough, while this was a new recipe to me, I did make a few minor adjustments. I'll give you the correct recipe as it appears in the book,  and let you make your own adjustments or stay within the recipe. Either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.  It's an unusual slice because it has a pastry base with a cake top. It's delicious and wonderful with a hot cup of tea.

This recipe is published in David Herbert's Best Ever Baking Recipes, published by Viking 2012.

 Marmalade Squares 

Base and part of the filling:

  • 350 plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 150g muscovado sugar

Filling:

  • 1 rounded teaspoon bicarb
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 120 mls double cream
  • 50 g pecans, chopped
  • 50 g mixed candied peel
  • 100 g orange mamalade
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Oven @ 180C
30cm x 20 cm baking tin, lined with baking paper

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with fingertips, add the sugar and mix until it clumps together.
  2. Spread half that mixture on the bottom of the baking tin and bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool.
  3. Tip the rest of the base mixture into a large bowl and stir in bicarb. Mix in the egg, cream, nuts, mixed peek and half the marmalade. 
  4. Pour over the cooled base and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Warm the remaining marmalade with the orange juice in a small saucepan. Brush over the top of the squares when they finish baking. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Hanno and I had a rare weekend away last weekend when we drove over to Toowoomba for a meeting with the simple living group there. Such a fabulous bunch of women! They all brought along some knitting, cross stitch, crochet or sewing and while we talked, they worked on their crafts. We had hot tea on that cold morning and it felt good to be alive and in the company of like-minded folk.

I'll probably spend most of today sewing and tinkering around in my room. Days when I sew or garden or knit or take time to do that kind of work enrich my spirit and give me hours to think about my tasks, my family, you, me and how it all fits together. It's a small miracle that we gain so much pleasure from fabric and the hours we take to sew it. Part of that miracle is that we connect with our ancestors by using a skill they would have known, that what we do slows us down in the most gentle and gracious way and that what was once a one dimentional piece of fabric, after being worked, becomes part of life. I hope you have a lovely day.  ♥︎


20 July 2015

Pruning the lemon tree

We had some serious pruning to do last week. Our oldest lemon tree, a Eureka which is about 17 years old, had sap seeping from the trunk, numerous insect and fungal problems and was overgrown. The middle of the tree was too lush and one side of it was so out of control and laden with lemons, almost the entire side of the tree was resting on the top of the chicken coop.  Sorry, I didn't take a photo of it before it was pruned.

All these lemons will be juiced this week and the juice frozen in plastic bottles to make cordial in summer. 

Most fruit trees need to have sunlight filtering into the middle of the tree. When the tree is too bushy, it blocks that light and you'll get fewer fruit. We like to keep our trees at a certain height too so we can easily harvest crops every year. But this tree seems to have escaped that treatment and it was suffering. Our tree is about 3 metres high, which is about average for the Eureka, but it's okay to prune down to a more manageable size, and that is what we should have been doing the past few years.


Above: the pruned lemon tree now has three main branches forming a vase shape. If it survives the pruning, next year we'll reduce it in size. After that we should have our healthy tree back producing delicious Eureka lemons for our food and drinks for the next ten years.
This is our two year old backup tree - another Eureka lemon. It's got it's first crop of six lemons on now but in spring and summer, I expect it to put on a lot of growth and to produce at least 20 - 30 lemons next year.

The best time to prune citrus is after fruiting and before the new flowers start forming. It's best to do a small amount or pruning every year so you don't lose too much of the tree at one time and continue getting a harvest.  But we needed drastic action and have a two year old backup tree just in case this tree doesn't survive. I think if we didn't take this drastic action it would have died a slow death anyway.

Hanno harvested the lemons and started by reducing the branches in the middle of the tree. The ones he chose to take out were those that were growing inward, those that touched other branches, and diseased branches. He also looked for the swellings of the gall wasp and cut those out as well. We didn't have time to do it last week, but today the tree will be sprayed with organic horticultural oil and given a bucket of seaweed concentrate.  The oil is to kill of the nymphs of the green shield beetle. The mature beetles have been biting into some of the small forming fruit and and leaving a brown dry patch when the lemon matures.  The seaweed concentrate is to help with the shock of such a drastic pruning.  When we see new growth forming, we'll apply organic fertiliser.

Above is another one of our citrus trees. It's a ten year old Washington Navel orange, one of two in the backyard.  Every year, as regular as clockwork, this tree produces the most delicious oranges I've ever tasted. They're an excellent eating orange and very juicy too. Hanno can't eat too many oranges so in addition to the oranges I ate this year, he squeezed a glass of orange juice for me every morning and brought it in as I was writing the book. :- )

We finished picking these oranges last week and now have the last six sitting in the fruit bowl. This week this tree will be pruned too, but it won't be a drastic prune like the lemon. This tree will have a branch removed in the middle of the tree - it's rubbing up against another branch and it will let more light in. It's a good idea to check the graft too and if there are any shoots below the graft, clip them off. We'll look for the tell-tale deformity the gall wasp leaves behind and cut those out too and finish off by raising the skirt of the tree. That just means that some of the lower branches will be cut off so the tree's lower branches are higher off the ground.  If you can see the top horizontal brace on the timber fence behind it, the lower branches will sit level with that when the pruning is finished. When we do that, it's simply a matter of giving it a bucket of seaweed concentrate, some nitrogen fertiliser, sulphate of potash (all organic) and to mulch around the base of the tree to stop those grass runners robbing the tree of the fertiliser.

Citrus are such a productive tree and all they need is warmish weather, sun, a good feeding program  once a season and some pruning as needed, and you'll have the best organic fruit available. It's a good feeling to be able to walk outside and pick fruit and it doesn't take a lot of work. If you have the climate and space, I encourage you to try growing your favourite citrus.

17 July 2015

Weekend reading - UPDATED

Winter is cold this year, but all is well in our little homestead.  I hope you feel the same about your place.  I'm really pleased the readers' photos feature is so popular. If you want to be a part of it, just send me your photos and a description.  Thanks for your visits this week, I'll see you again soon.


Making good coffee for a crowd, or just yourself
Housing affordability: how long would it take you to save for a deposit?
Little Victorian Sandwich cakes with lemon curd
Vegan choc chip cookies and homemade Oreo cookies
Kookaburra and magpie among Australian birds in decline
Rate of teens abstaining from alcohol almost doubles in 13 years
How to make a Paper Airplane - You Tube
Lace accessories in the home

One of my favourite blog reads at the moment is Broadturn Farm, in Maine. It's written by Stacy and John who run a CSA farm selling fruit, berries, vegetables and flowers. Their photos are lovely, the writing style, and I suspect feeling on the farm, is relaxed and warm. I think you'll like it.

I'm also enjoying reading Our Aussie off grid heaven, written by Jane. She and her husband have just moved from the coast to an off grid bush home further inland. The blog shows the diverse range of skills Jane and her husband need to live on their land, and the joy they feel living there.


ADDED LATER:

My sister Tricia lives in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. She just sent these photos of the snow at her place. They have no electricity either but she's okay with a wood stove and gas stove. Stay warm, Tricia!








16 July 2015

My favourite place #2

- - - ♥︎ - - -
The first photos today are from Anneke south-east of Perth:
This is our outdoor area, which covers the space between our house and my parents' granny flat, which can be seen in picture 2. We renovated the granny flat for my parents almost 2 years ago, and not long after did the outdoor space in between, as a common social area.



We live on an acre in the hills south east of Perth, our weather is HOT, and the sun is very harsh. This area is very lush, unlike much of the rest of our garden, because we chose the highest UV block rating sheets to cover it, and I've fitted it with a drip system for all the plants.

It's sheltered and relatively warm in winter (thanks to the old potbelly which we've installed, just seen on the left of picture 2) and lovely and cool in summer. I can step outside my door, and sit down and have a cuppa, or just watch the birds in the birdbath or in the grevillea.

It's amazing how many people you can squeeze around an octagonal table too, it seems endless. My husband and his 6 siblings all grew up around this table, and it's seen many a gathering of family and friends in it's latest home. And I hope many more to come!

It's a space that's at times calming and at times invigorating. And perfect for every time of the year!

- - - ♥︎ - - -



And this is from Martha, who says:

This is my front porch which looks out over the creek which runs through our bottom pasture. I live in North Calolina, USA, way up in the mountains. Our nearest neighbors are three miles from our drive! It is wonderful! Our porch is spacious because our house was built in 1917 when porches were the escape from heat during the summer. Our ceiling is blue to keep the flies away; flowers and potted herbs grow in pots scattered around the porch. Our dogs and cats spend quality time here with us. At night we can see the Milky Way because we have no light pollution! Heaven on earth! 

- - - ♥︎ - - - 

Thanks Anneke and Martha.

15 July 2015

A new dishwasher

I thought I'd never write this post but I want to tell you about my new dishwasher and why I have it.  As many of you know, five years ago we gave away our dishwasher when I realised it was using a lot more water than when I washed up in the sink. I was happy washing up at the sink. It was a soothing task, warm hands in warm water, looking out the window.

But our water bill started going up and I looked into what we could cut back on. I measured how much water I was using by washing up by hand - it was minimum 8 litres per wash, plus extra for rinsing. I started out washing up once a day but the mess on the sink bugged me, so I was washing up three times a day and using a minimum of 24 litres + rinse water a day. 

I looked at the water and electricity consumption of the newer dishwashers. I'd read that the Bosch dishwashers were good but I wanted a drawer type. When we went to check them out at the shop, the retail assistant steered us clear of them and we decided to look at another German brand, Miele. We have other Miele products and they're good quality and last a long, long time. We ended up buying the Miele 3D Cutlery Tray Dishwasher G6100SCU. It's Eco wash uses 11.3 litres of water. Using the sensor wash, it will detect how much water and heat is needed and adjusts itself accordingly; on that sensor wash, it might use as little as 6 litres a wash. There is also a fast wash that takes 30 minutes.



We've had the machine for a week now and we're using it once a day. If we're using the maximum of 11.3 litres of water instead of the 25 litres a day in the sink we used to use, we're saving 13.7 litres a day and about 100 litres a week. We're actually using less than the maximum because we're using either the fast wash or the sensor wash.


One of the other problems I had with our old machine was the dishwasher powder I used. It was very corrosive and expensive. Now I'm happily using Ecostore's dishwasher powder and rinse aid and I have to say that even if they weren't my sponsor, I'd still be buying it. I asked Liz at Ecostore for some information about the powder and this is her response:

Ecostore’s Autodish Powder and Autodish Tablet formulations incorporate two types of enzymes. Their presence enables us to boost the cleaning performance particularly on protein-based stains (such as from dairy and poultry products which includes meat, milk and egg, etc…) and on starch-based stains (such as from cereals, gravy, potato and pasta dishes, etc. We use detergents (used to remove oil-based stains such as salad dressings, olive oil, butter, etc., and builders (that enhances the performance of the detergents when used in hard water). 

Optimizing cleaning performance while limiting the total amount of active ingredients allows us create formulations where the waste water discharge from the dish wash machine can be made suitable as grey water re-use for gardens and lawns and also reduce the impact to water pollution if discharged directly to the environment from unnecessary chemical loading.

So it looks like dish powder has improved a lot too over those five years. Woolworths is currently selling the 1kg bottle of Autodish powder at $8.99 but keep an eye on it because they have Ecostore specials every so often. Buy then and stock up when it's cheaper.

We all have to be careful when we simplify to make sure we never have the attitude that there is no need to change. We should always look for ways to improve what we do. Technology and circumstances change all the time and by looking at how we do our housework with a critical eye we can take advantage of those changes. Sometimes when you look at your systems, it doesn't make sense to change for a variety of reasons. But when it does make sense, don't get stuck in your old ways. Do your research, think about how those changes might effect you and how you work and if it makes sense and you can afford it, make some adjustments and change.

13 July 2015

Winter cooking on a cold day

There is a cold front sweeping in from Antarctica and the wind is gusting outside making the tall trees that surround our home sway back and forth. The wind is playing havoc with the Willie Wagtail that lives here in winter. He usually darts here and there, running and hovering low over the front lawn and I guess he's looking for beetles and grubs while he does it. But today the wind is blowing him sideways and he can't quite maintain his direction. I've decided to stay out of the wind today and I'm cocooned inside in warm clothes and a knitted shawl around my neck.

I picked a big bunch of curly kale and parsley for Sunny yesterday. This year is a very good one for kale. We've been growing it here for a long time and this year's crop is one of the best yet.

I enjoy days like today for the unusual experience of being effected by unpredictable, wild weather. On days like these my home provides a safe haven and a warm space but I think about the homeless people I know and hope they find a cup of hot coffee and a spot out of the wind. For many years I volunteered at our local Neighbourhood Centre and on days like these we invited people in for hot drinks and a respite from the cold. It never fails to amaze me how lucky I am and I always feel gratitude for the situation I am in; it could easily be otherwise. It could be for most of us.

One of the things that makes cold weather a joy is winter food and the warmth cooking brings, both physically and emotionally. Overnight I made a batch of pea and ham soup in the slow cooker so when we woke this morning the house was full of the aroma of warm nourishing soup. That alone made me feel warmer.

    A ham hock cooked in broth, cooling down to be cut up so the meat could be returned to the soup.


 Pea and ham soup.
 Pork, potatoes and kale.

We have Jamie with us today so he and I are having the soup and Hanno is feasting on his annual pork and kale meal, which usually lasts about three days. It's a traditional north German meal of boiled pork - kassler, pork sausage, ham hock - in a green swirl of kale and potatoes  It's thickened with rolled oats. Hanno swears it gets better with each passing day. We all had dessert of marmalade and pecan slice with warm, homemade custard. 



Tying up the peas that came loose in the wind.

Plenty of tea was consumed, the wind whistled through the trees and we all felt warm and cosy together inside. I spent the morning on the computer and sewing machine, Jamie and Hanno were gardening and when lunch was over, we spend the afternoon inside, out of the weather, with drawing, colouring in books, naps, knitting and music. It was a lovely Sunday.

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