This is the 300th edition of my blog! When I started writing it in August 2016 I had no idea in which direction it would go, or indeed whether I’d manage to write it for 18 weeks, let alone 18 months. But here we are, 300 editions later.
I have been both humbled and delighted by the many lovely comments readers have left, especially considering I just tend to write about simple things – flowers, home-making, books, magazines, cooking, even trips to the supermarket. Occasionally, I have written a more in-depth piece, such as an historic house we have visited, but for the most part it’s been about our day-to-day lives here in this southern corner of Devon.
So, a very big thank you to all my readers, and especially thank you for all the good wishes I’ve received when I wasn’t well with the awful cough and cold which started in autumn and lasted so long, and for my more recent bout of illness (diverticulitis). I am now feeling very much better, thank you.
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And so to this edition of my blog. It’s Sunday 11th February, and although husband collected our paper from our local shop, I’ve not yet opened it. Instead, I started making Sunday lunch. But before that, to yesterday. We visited Waitrose supermarket because I needed to stock up on vegetables and I thought if the snow does come (there is always that possibility) I didn’t want to be out-of-stock of the basics, such as potatoes, carrots, etc. But we were late getting up and a consequence of this was that there were few vegetables left by the time we arrived at the supermarket.
However, I managed to stock up on potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, a courgette/zucchini (for tomato and courgette/zucchini soup), peppers, lemons, oranges (not on the photo), lettuce, but not on greens – no cabbages or cauliflowers in sight.
From the supermarket we drove home via the charity shop just so I could have a look at their St Valentine’s Day window display. While it’s stylish it certainly isn’t my favourite window display, but I do appreciate the message … they are saying that they love all the kind people who support this charity.
The other window had just a few items of jewellery (nothing outstanding) and mainly items for men – brogue shoes, a basket of neatly-rolled ties, a rather nice shirt. And so, while husband drove the car around the block a couple of times (about which he wasn’t best pleased, he doesn’t understand my fascination with charity shops if there is nothing I particularly want to buy), I went inside to have a look-see. There was a very pleasing display of glassware …
And you might notice, on the bottom shelf, another Dartmouth pottery vase (specially designed for flower arrangements) but it wasn’t one I desired. On the second shelf down I saw a blue and green glass bowl which matched a dish I have – it’s half-hidden behind the glass dolphin, another very attractive piece) but although I would have liked to have bought it – it was £8 – I knew that I really didn’t have room in our kitchen cupboards (or anywhere else) in which to keep it when it was not in use, either for fruit or salads or anything else for which I wished to use it.
And so we went home, turned up the heating and had a quiet afternoon reading the paper and watching some of the Winter Olympics from South K0rea.
I bought two bunches of deep pink tulips in the supermarket …
In fact, yesterday was a rather special day for us. It was the anniversary of our first date, 56 years ago. Say it quickly and it won’t sound quite as long ago as that!
Today, I stayed in bed, reading, with my second cup of coffee …
But I made up for my apparent laziness once I was up, showered, and dressed. I decided on making a rather nice Sunday lunch. I had bought lamb steaks yesterday, so it was to be: lamb steaks, gravy, braised red cabbage, leek cheese, buttered carrots, and tiny roast potatoes. Oh, and braised rhubarb, as the new season’s forced rhubarb is now in the supermarkets.
I started by preparing the rhubarb for the oven … cutting it up, adding the zest and juice of one large orange, adding just a little extra orange juice (from a carton), covering the ovenproof dish with foil and popping into the oven (160C) for about 1/2 hr. Once cooked I add golden granulated sugar to taste.
In the background of this photo you will notice a red cabbage, and once the rhubarb was in the oven, I prepared the braised red cabbage. For that I used a quarter of this cabbage, a large red onion, and a dessert apple (peeled & cored). All three ingredients were sliced and then popped into a hot frying pan (containing a little rapeseed oil) and heated through. I then added two dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar, a splash of port, a drizzle of runny honey, salt, pepper and a couple of vegetable Oxo cubes. I cooked this for about ten minutes and then put it all into a lidded casserole dish and popped it in the oven with the rhubarb. The red cabbage takes longer to cook, an hour at least, but you can have it as firm or as tender as you like, just keep testing it every half hour or so.
The red cabbage, onions and potato sautéing on the hob (above) with balsamic vinegar, port, honey, and seasonings. And (below) then into a casserole, lidded, a popped into the oven …
Next I prepared the lamb steaks, rubbing oil into them and sprinkling salt, pepper and ground Rosemary over them – I use dried Rosemary, but it still needs a bit of grinding in my small pestle and mortar.
I then made the leek cheese (as you would a cauliflower cheese but using leeks, sliced – I used strong Cheddar cheese today and all I had left, just a small portion, of Gruyere) and when cooked, I put a portion into a serving dish for our lunch, ready to heat just before serving, and two single portions into dishes for a main meal with granary bread tomorrow (and for that I might add small pieces of crispy bacon to the top before serving.)
Finally, I prepared the small potatoes (I peeled and then cut them into almost bite-size pieces and par-boiled for a few minutes before draining them and then drizzling some oil onto them in the pan, giving the a shake and putting onto a baking sheet and roasting in the oven) and I peeled and sliced a large carrot and steamed that – I served it buttered with parsley. And so, we enjoyed a rather tasty lunch, with apple juice to drink.
I’m afraid a roast meal never looks as good as it tastes, but then food photographers faff with the food, sometimes even paint it to make it look attractive or show some things raw to preserve colour; we were about to eat this and I didn’t have much time to consider presentation!
I hope you are having a lovely Sunday, wherever you are.
Until next time.