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
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.