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A Relaxing Sunday

Yesterday, I managed to hurt my back – such a silly thing: I opened a cupboard, some baking tins fell out and I made a grab for them, as you do.  When something is falling, you don’t stop and think, you simply try and catch the falling object.  But in so doing I tweaked my back and for the rest of the day and last night I was, to put it mildly, rather uncomfortable.  But today I’ve felt very much better but have taken things easy.  Well, it’s nice to take things easy on a Sunday, isn’t it?  I don’t need much encouragement to do that!

The day started out dull but this afternoon the sun put in an appearance and while husband did some gardening (bless him, he’s almost a decade my senior but he can get down on his knees to do the weeding, while I can’t) I picked a few late-blooms and put them in a small jug on one of the lamp tables.  A mass of different colours, most prominent of all the three primary colours of red, yellow and blue (from which all other colours can be made.)

I cooked fresh salmon for lunch, it’s a favourite meal and only takes 20 minutes in a hot oven (wrapped in foil.)  I sprinkle a little soy sauce on the salmon, then some sweet chilli sauce, then some creme fraiche, black pepper, sea salt crystals and some chopped spring onions, parcel the foil together loosely and pop into the oven for 20 minutes at around 200C.  So easy.  (I lay a piece of baking parchment on top of the foil so that the fish skin doesn’t stick to the foil.)

I served the salmon with new potatoes (with some butter and chopped chives) and purple sprouting broccoli.  Believe me, we didn’t want or need a dessert after that.

This afternoon I just  fancied a cheese scone and the only way to have one was to make some.  So I got out the baking things and within 1/2 hr we had freshly baked scones and the kitchen cleared up again.  It’s such a lovely, easy recipe, too, and unlike so many in the tea rooms, where they seem to use a plain scone mixture and then just sprinkle some grated cheese on top before baking, these scones have grated cheese added to the scone mixture, so they are deliciously cheesy.

I’ve used this photo, above, a long time ago, but this is what they look like when filled with Philadelphia cream cheese and watercress, lovely if you are serving an afternoon tea.  Of course, you can have them with just butter, as we did for our tea (after we had some ham and chutney sandwiches).

The ingredients are:

225g plain flour

4 level teaspoons baking powder

1 pinch of salt

a little black pepper

50g margarine or butter

75g strong Cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg

100ml milk

Set the oven at 220C so that it’s hot when you put the scones in to bake (centre of the oven.)

Prepare a baking sheet with some baking parchment.

Sieve the flour and, with the baking powder, into a mixing bowl.

Add the butter (or margarine) and rub the fat into the flour so that it resembles bread crumbs.

Add the grated cheese, but reserve a little with which to top the scones.

Mix the milk and egg together and, reserving a little to top the scones, add to the flour/butter/cheese, and bring together to resemble a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and roll to around 2cm thick and using a small pastry cutter, make between 12 and 16 rounds, depending on how small/large your cutter is.

Put the scones onto the baking sheet,  brush the reserved egg/milk mid onto the scones (taking care not to go down the sides as this will prevent the scones from rising) and sprinkle on the reserved cheese.

Put the baking sheet with the scones into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Check that they are cooked – they will sound hollow, like bread, when cooked.   If necessary cook for a further 2 minutes, but they shouldn’t need any longer in the oven.

Delicious split and served with butter.

This isn’t my own recipe but it is in the book Afternoon Tea by Susannah Blake (a super book of recipes, which includes lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sandwich, and fruit scones.)

We are going to re-hang the pictures that have the new mounts, and have the tall ones on either side of the mirror above the fireplace and then smaller ones alongside.  Husband hasn’t yet done this – he will tomorrow – but I took this photo from the sitting room door to the hall, so you will get the idea even though the smaller picture needs to be put ‘up’ a bit, to line up with the top of the mirror and the long picture.

As I had my camera in my hands, I took photos of two paintings we have in our hall, soon to be changed for others from those in storage in the loft, I think, just for a change.  The first is a lovely watercolour of St Ives, Cornwall (by the same artist as those in the sitting room of the Wills Tower in Bristol and St Mary Redclifffe in Bristol, W H Sweet.)

My mother gave this to us for a wedding anniversary many years ago (she had others by this artist, which I now have in the loft) but I made the mistake of having it framed with non-reflective glass.  This kills a picture dead, it looks lifeless, proper glass, even though is then has reflections, is much nicer.  This is something I must change in due course.

Another picture in the hall is an oil painting of a gnarled old tree.   It is by an artist called Arthur H Davis and is of Burnham Beeches, near Windsor.

I like to treat our hall, small though it is, as a proper room. So many overlook their halls and treat them just as a passing place to rooms elsewhere.  A hall usually has a lot of wall space, so I think it’s nice to turn it into a personal  gallery, to show pictures, mirrors, even children’s art work. The items don’t have to be priceless works of art, they an be posters, reproductions, anything you like, the more individual the better.

Back in the sitting room, the alstromeria I bought a couple of weeks’ ago were well and truly ‘over’ and so I removed them and in their place put this jug of flowers, standing in a modern Dartington pottery bowl, in their place.  This was in the kitchen yesterday, but it looks equally at home in the sitting room.  Alongside, I’ve put a lovely interiors book by antiques’ dealer/interior decorator Robert Kime (whose London flat is shown in the current issue of House & Garden, the bumper October issue.)

As we had some friends in for a cup of tea and cake yesterday afternoon, I moved one of our Chippendale-style chairs to the window end of the sitting room for extra seating, and I rather like it there, so it might stay there for a short while.  This chair (and it’s similar partner) belonged to my late uncle and we had new seats made for them about 20 years ago.

This evening the sun was pouring in through the back door, and it high-lighted the tangerines on the table.  I put them on a green plate and then onto the round tray which has a design of apricots on it, but the colours sort-of went nicely together, especially with the freesias which are really past their best but I’m reluctant to put them in the bin yet!

This evening there is the new production of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair on ITV. I always worry about these modernized versions, this one even with a modern music soundtrack, I believe, but I’m willing to give it a go, as long as they don’t come out with such phrases as, “I’m good” when someone is asked how they are, or “He’s fit!” and so forth.  Worse still, overplaying the cod-19th century speech, e.g. “How are thee, today, Mistress Sharp?”

I hope you have enjoyed your weekend.

Until next time.



About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Margaret, I am glad to hear your back is improved today! Your salmon looks delicious, I must try your recipe! I normally add a drizzle of soy sauce and a bit of maple syrup but the sweet chili sauce would provide lovely flavour. We are having grilled chicken (marinated with garlic, lemon zest and olive oil) this evening for dinner, a Greek salad will accompany it along with some Tzatziki sauce.
    My youngest son returned to university yesterday and asked that I make him some “Jamaican Patties” so I found a recipe on the internet and ended up making over 20 for him. I froze some of them and sent him off today with a nice container full to the brim! One of his room mates is from Jamaica so I said he would be the official taste tester!
    Your pictures are so lovely and I am sure you must treasure the ones you received from your late Mother.
    I am going to try your cheese scone recipe, they look delightful and they are a perfect size. I agree when you make a cheese scone the cheese should be mixed into the dough not just scattered on top! I often make cheese scones in the winter to accompany homemade soup. My plain scone recipe is below. A dear friend of mine who was from Cheshire gave me this recipe and it is wonderful. The scones stay very moist.
    3/4 cup plain yogurt
    1 egg beaten
    Combine the two and set aside.

    Mix and crumble the following in a large bowl:
    2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
    4 teaspoons of baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
    pinch of salt
    1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
    1/2 cup of butter

    Add the yogurt and egg mixture and stir to combine.

    Roll and cut out. I always sprinkle a bit of fine sugar on the tops. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden.

    • Margaret Powling

      Ooh, that scone mixture sounds wonderful, especially with the yoghurt in it. We tend to use metric or imperial measures here, rather than cup measures, but I could use a cup (I know it’s not an American measuring cup) which I’m sure would suffice as all the measurements would then correspond. I really shall have to try this recipe.
      I’ve never heard of Jamaican patties, I shall have to Google those! But even the sound of the name makes my mouth water.
      It has been a relaxing day at home and this evening we have watched part 1 of the new serial, Vanity Fair, on TV – I expect there will be those who don’t like it because it has a modern look to it, even though it’s all in early 19th century costume, but I quite enjoyed it, it was fun and that is what it’s supposed to be.

      • Hi Margaret,
        I hope the little conversion chart will help:

        ry Goods
        Cups Grams Ounces
        1/2 cup 64 g 2.25 oz
        2/3 cup 85 g 3 oz
        3/4 cup 96 g 3.38 oz
        1 cup 128 g 4.5 oz

        The scones really are delicious especially with some butter and jam.

  2. Your post is sheer perfection, Margaret. I also think you have a lovely, “tastefully done” home; your floral arrangements are beautiful; the food looks so good; and the paintings are wonderful. A thank-you to both you and Marilyn for the scone recipes. I have saved this post to my Recipe folder for future reference (although I haven’t baked in a long time, the urge might strike down the road!). We have just had about two inches of rain, mostly in deluge form, but it is so good to have rain this year! Hope your back continues to feel better. And if I didn’t already say, your husband’s watercolors are delightful! That level of detail is impressive. I am still very much a beginner and on a hiatus, so the prospects of much improvement are a long way off! :O)

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind comments, Bess. I’m glad you liked seeing the flowers. I love flowers, I try and have some all the time in our sitting room, bedroom and kitchen, and often also in the hall, so that anyone calling … well, it’s the first thing they see. Husband is still a bit ‘rusty’ when it comes to painting, indeed, he’s spent more time showing our little grandson how to mix colours than apply any himself, ha ha! Scones are lovely, whether plain, fruit or cheese, I’m sure you will get your baking things out again soon.

  3. I hope your back is feeling better by now. Ouch !
    Your scones look delicious. I simply couldn’t trust myself to bake a batch as I know I’d eat way too many – straight from the oven, warm and then cool for ‘comparison’ – until I felt sick. And I doubt that gluten free scones would be as nice, anyway. I recently went to a ‘tea room’ which advertises on our local radio station with my husband stand and mother and it was a cool, windy day so we had hot chocolate and scones. Mum and I had a savoury cheese scone ache and husband had a plain scone with jam and cream. The cheese scones were divine and just as you described – with cheese through the scone, not just sprinkled on top. Smothered in butter and with good company, they were delicious.

    Your salmon sounds lovely. I leave cooking of fish to my husband as he is very good at it. Our local fishmonger sells beautiful, fresh fish so we are very fortunate.

    ps despite the last post being fine, the name and email fields below are filled with someone’s name (Sarah) and email (Sarah…..@gmail.com). Those gremlins really are tormenting us 😉

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, thanks, Lara, my back is very much better now. We went out yesterday and I didn’t have any problems – but I’ll talk about yesterday in my next post.
      The scones were lovely and I kept some in the fridge and warmed them up yesterday, too, and there are still a few more left for today. They keep rather well, perhaps having the cheese in them, the higher fat content, prevents them from becoming stale too quickly. They are lovely warmed in the oven, and then served with a little butter.
      I hope, after all the work my Webmaster has done in the past 24 hours, that the gremlins have been dealt with and that the strange names and emails addresses won’t now appear. Let me know if they continue to appear, Lara.

  4. I do hope that your back has continued to be alright. If you do get any further problems, I can highly recommend disposable (adhesive to clothing) heat packs from Poundland. Yes really – they are amazing. We like salmon too and are very fond of a cheese scone. I rarely make scones because I’m afraid that they tempt me into being greedy!
    What a beautiful colour those freesias are. I hold onto flowers a touch too long sometimes, cutting them down and rearranging just to get an extra day or two. I only got rid of the last of my birthday lillies on day fourteen!
    Today, the name/email fields below are back to being blank again! gremlins indeed.

    • Margaret Powling

      We don’t have a Poundland I don’t think in Paignton, but I will bear it in mind if I come across one, Eloise.
      Oh dear, still problems. I will write about this on my next post and say what the webmaster has advised, and how readers leaving comments can prevent this. He maintains it’s not to do with my website/blog, and my great problem is, I can’t see these rogue emails on my website, but I shall repeat what he says about this and how readers can prevent it.

  5. My Mum used to say look at the amount of cheese in the recipe and at least double it. She has always loved a good cheesy scone too.
    I hope your back is recovering now – back can be incredibly painful.


    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, my back was better by the next day, surprisingly, I thought I’d have it for much longer because of my arthritis, but it truly hasn’t been too bad. WE have just one cheese scone left, in the fridge, I think we might fight over it tomorrow! I roasted a gammon joint today and we had it cold for supper with baked potatoes with grated cheese on top and Devon chutney, tomatoes and pickled onions – nice and simple and very tasty. And we watch both the 2nd part of Vanity Fair and the 3rd part of The Bodyguard on catch up, so have now seen sufficient TV for one evening (and this afternoon’s Escape to the Country which was in Cornwall.)

  6. I’m going to write down your recipe and Marilyn’s recipe for scones. The picture of yours looks absolutely delicious! I do hope your back is all well now.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, thank you, Jeannine, my back is better. I suffer from backache much of the time, though, but in mainly a minor way, it doesn’t prevent me (usually) from doing things I want, or need, to do. I’m so glad you’re going to write down the recipes for scones from both Marilyn and myself. I might make some more cheese scones today, husband here loves them and they will be nice to have with a cup of tea around four o’clock (the traditional time to stop work and have a cup of tea.) Have a good weekend.

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