Thursday, January 31, 2019

A different English Bakewell Tart. . . . . . . . .

The Bakewell Tart is an English traditional dessert often associated with the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, but there is no firm evidence it originated there.

Jane Garmey in her book Great British Cooking: A Well Kept Secret (Over 200 recipes-from meat pies to plum pudding-----adapted for American cooks) pub. by Random House in 1981, states the following -

"The story goes that the first Bakewell Tart was the result of a misunderstanding between Mrs. Greaves, the proprietress of the Rutford Arms Inn at Bakewell, and her cook. Mrs. Greaves requested a jam custard tart. However, instead of mixing in the jam with the custard, her cook spread it on the bottom separately. The incorrect tart was an instant success with Mrs. Greaves's guests and has been famous ever since."

As for this cookbook, it's one I purchased back in the eighties (prior to Internet access) as often I couldn't find favorite childhood recipes with British measurements. 

(FYI - and a real shock - I see my hardcover version of this book is still available on Amazon from $95 to $169!)

Well all that said, this is a new version of the standard, usually red jam, Bakewell Tart -
the Marmalade Bakewell Tart - found when thumbing through last year's January issue
 of the fabulous UK Country Living magazine.

Being a great lover of orange marmalade - best always from Scotland or England 
as not too sweet - I gave this one a try yesterday. With the dense ground almond
 frangipane filling and sliced almonds on top, it has to be somewhat nutritious also!!!

Baking something on a very cold January afternoon raises one's spirits and
warms the house. Anxiously awaiting cooling and slicing for the evening 
dessert, and wondering how it will taste, is all worthwhile. There's nothing better 
than the great feeling of making something tasty, and pretty, in one's kitchen. 

I was very pleased it turned out so well - and was not difficult to make as I cheated a
 bit by using a ready made rolled crust. Tucked into a French removable bottom
 metal tart pan, it baked to a perfect thin, flaky crust, very crisp edge and bottom, 
nothing soggy or burnt, always a big plus!
It was/is a really lovely dessert - yes, there's plenty remaining and should keep for
 a few days. . . . . .and I just went and tasted bit today and think it's even better than yesterday!

Here's the magazine version - let me know if you want the recipe later.

Happy baking and serving days this winter!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


is for

Female Eastern bluebird this morning on the fig tree.
She looks cold and almost grey - I feel a lot like that also.

I'm not outside despite the sunny day - just too cold.
Not complaining though as it's just warmed up above freezing here.
 I was just advised the US mid-west is
 much colder than Antarctica. Chicago-area residents' teeth will
chatter today if they head outside in -15F temperature. 
They could head to Priestley Glacier, Antarctica where it will reach
 a balmy 6F today!!!

Me on a sunny 33F morning in Antarctica - January 2013

Stay warm and safe all my mid-west friends. . . . . . I still have the overly
 padded 'make you look fat', Canada Goose down jacket and cold
 weather gear. . . . . .if you want to borrow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Bubble and Squeak!

    com·fort food

Dictionary result for comfort food

       /ˈkəmfərt fo͞od/
         plural noun: comfort foods
  1.            food that provides consolation or a feeling of
  2.            well-being, typically any with a high sugar or
  3.            other carbohydrate content and associated with
  4.            childhood or home cooking.

I just bet we are all searching for 'comfort foods' at this time of year - well
at least those of us in the northern hemisphere.
Black Bean Chili
Hot Cereals
Macaroni & Cheese
Hot Apple Pie
Baked Fruit Crumbles
. . . . . . . . and the list goes on.

For me, even hot crunchy toasted bread with butter and a 
good Scottish thick-cut marmalade is a favorite comfort food.

This past week I opened Nigel Slater's REAL FAST FOOD cookbook - it's
 a great one - to find a recipe for a nice round Savoy cabbage hiding in the
 refrigerator. When I saw Bubble and Squeak, definitely a 'comfort food' 
associated with my English childhood, I made the not so fast version.
Not having leftovers, I cooked and mashed fresh potatoes, and gave the 
shredded cabbage a quick steam before going ahead with what was a
 nicely seasoned (salt, black pepper, a few caraway seeds, turmeric)
 buttery fry-up in a skillet.

We gobbled it up whilst piping hot and crispy, topped with baked cod, 
a nice dollop of homemade tartare sauce, a small green salad and a
 glass of shiraz.
It was comforting!

Nigel Slater's recipe


Happened to find another Bubble and Squeak recipe over the weekend in a 
back issue of UK Country Living.
In addition to the basics it adds Stilton cheese and chutney which sounds 
a little more posh. . . . . . .  .and I'll try it soon.
I usually get Stilton at Costco but for some reason it's not being stocked
 this winter, at least not in my local store.
 This pungent blue cheese is only made in a certain area of England.
Trader Joe has it currently at a fair price, and of course 
it's always at Whole Foods but rather expensive!

We may get a light snowfall later today and a cold night. . . . . . . . comfort food,
 a fire on the hearth and a warming drink sounds good.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Japanese Ladies and Postcards. . . . . . .

My lovely English friend Rosemary at Where Five Valleys Meet, a truly beautiful
 and very interesting blog, recently shared her pretty 100 year old Geisha doll.
Rosemary, like me, is a world traveler. She stuns us with amazing photos from
the historic places she visits so, if you've not visited her blog yet, I encourage you 
to do so, you will really enjoy all she captures with her lens and the interesting
 stories she writes.

Stories of Japan's Geishas have always intrigued me.  
When visiting Japan several years back, I took the above photo of one of those
 lovely ladies who welcomed us to our expedition ship at the dock in Niigata
 prior to sailing away through the picturesque islands.

At one of our island stops along the way - we were headed to the Russian
 Kuril Islands and  Kamchatka peninsula - we were able to shop for
 Japanese mementoes/gifts, and my purchases included this set
 of beautiful postcards depicting not so much Geishas but classic
 Japanese women.  
I think you will agree that their clothes are so beautiful and of course
the artwork is gorgeous.

What do you do with all the postcards you may have collected over the years?
I really have a large collection which I enjoy thumbing through every so often.
I also use them as bookmarks and, of course, now and again still mail one off
to a friend if the right card pops up for a special occasion and I think might be

Wishing readers a great weekend. Some of you here in the US will be in a
 deeper than deep freeze in the coming days - do take care.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

January -

January is often fickle around these parts. . . . . . . and this particular January
 is one of huge ups and downs in temperature.  How does one contend with
 waking to below freezing as happened the last several days, and this morning at
 8:00 AM it's already 63F? 
I'll be off to physiotherapy (yes, still working on the shoulder) shortly and have to 
find something lightweight among my heavy winter wear. It will have to be a 
short-sleeved t-shirt and a cropped trouser today (topped with a thin rain jacket) as
 it feels almost tropical outside.

No snow of course, but it's pouring with rain today.

Throwing on warm tops and bottoms, such as I did to go for my hair appointment
on freezing cold Monday morning, I also grabbed a heavy coat to snuggle into, 
and trotted out of the house in fur-trimmed booties!

. . . . . . . .and then there's what to eat on a very cold morning. 
This is my all time favorite hot cereal to get me going on
those chilly mornings. Luckily it's great cold too so I'm a planning 
a small bowl with a few blueberries and banana slices.
I find all Bob's Red Mill products to be excellent and, like
King Arthur flour which is the only flour I buy now, supporting
great employee-owned companies makes me happy.

How's winter progressing in your area?
I have Spring bulbs peeking through - daffodils and bluebells - too early!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Scribble Picnic - My Place

For our Scribble Picnic challenge this week, host Michael requested 
something depicting 'My Place', whether town, state, province, county,
borough etc.
This is my own version of "A Place to Call Home".

I felt I had to show you something representing what will always
 be my true home across the pond!

My town on the southwest coast of England, in the county of Devon.
It is is known as "The Queen of the English Riviera", complete
 with palm trees, blue water bay, seven hills rolling down to the sea, 
picturesque harbour, many beaches. . . . . . and faces across the English 
Channel toward the coast of France.
TORQUAY (pronounced Tor-KEY), is a favorite destination for tourists looking
for a fun coastal, or quiet countryside, holiday in the UK.

This is a vintage tourist brochure cover painting - I edited to a b/w sketch and added
back a little pop of watercolor.
Head over to Michael's blog to view special dear to the heart places shared by the 
members of the Scribble Picnic group.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

It's going to be very cold. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . for the next few days.

Today dozens of robins arrived. 
 I don't think they ever actually leave here, they just don't come to the
 garden often in midwinter. They are non-migrators in the Carolinas. 
They were everywhere in our garden, neighboring gardens also.
Pecking away on the grass for worms, searching for berries,
eating dropped seed under the feeders, and drinking from the
 bird baths and fountain.
They helped cheer up the garden which is rather dreary and devoid of color
 now, other than the pansies, yes the same ones the deer was munching 
shown in my previous post!

American Robin: Turdus migratorius

Do you have many different species of garden birds in winter?
Do you feed and water your visiting birds?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hanging out with wildlife. . . . . . .

Male cardinal in the Magnolia liliiflora tree, already budding.

The weather here is typical for January, rain one day, sunny the next, but always
 chilly with murmurings of possible snow which either never shows or surprises
 us when we least expect it.

Little happenings in the garden excite me. Last evening, in the quiet of dusk,
I looked out the window at three young deer standing motionless on the front lawn.
Then the smallest came and started nibbling at my pansy/tulip pots - a no-no!
 I grabbed the camera - sorry a bit blurry - then tapped on the window and he
 trotted off to join his family.

Northern flicker on fig tree suet treat.

I've been out of commission, and may continue to be, when it
 comes to blogging or much else regarding computers.
Just seem to have lost my get up and go since the holidays.
I still have shoulder problems . . . .  .but I shouldn't complain 
as other family members and friends have much more to be 
worried about where health is concerned.

The squirrels are looking fat, healthy and bushy-tailed. 
The females are now pregnant and should have their babies in February.
This one I noticed this morning, perhaps a mom-to-be.
Wildlife all around lately. The fox wanders through the side garden and
crosses the street to the little wood, same one where the deer hang out.
Today is warmer with sunshine and I've just wandered around, pulling a
 few weeds, trying to decide just where to prune the Japanese maple and
fig in late Winter ready for Spring.

As my little sign outside the front door reminds me. . . . . . . 

"A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever"

Problems with Google, Blogger, and now big changes with
'new' PicMonkey have just caused me to lose interest in my 
computer. I'm too old to learn new tech stuff. I was happy with
 what I had and was used to. Why do they do this . . . . . okay, 
okay I know why, we all know why, but that doesn't help sort it
 all out unless you live with a smart IT person! 
 I used to tell Bob I wish I'd married a plumber or an electrician - a
general contractor would be even better. . . . .I can see clearly now,
 I should have tied the knot with a computer genius!

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying time reading some great books. . . . .I'll
 share those with you in another post.

Love to all. . . . . . . .especially any of you Google+ people where 
I've been unable to leave comments for some time now - sorry!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Perhaps. . . . . . .

. . . . . . a light January snow may settle bringing quiet days over this weekend.

Or it could just be more rain which, with the low night temperatures, may mean ice.
We have a theatre date tomorrow night - hopefully road conditions
will not impede our travel into town.

I noticed this beautiful painting in my neighbor's home when cat sitting this week.
Perhaps I should have asked him if I could share it here, but I'm certain he won't mind.
 It makes me yearn to be in the countryside. A few nights on a farm, or in a little
 heated (of course) cabin near the woods. 
We were driving yesterday, just before sunset, and the western sky was awesome
 in shades of lavender and peach. Later in the evening the waxing crescent moon
 was overhead, sharp in the crisp air and dark sky.

Winter does have a special beauty of its own and I'm ready for it.
I wore a real coat yesterday, and gloves for the first time this season.
Tonight a fire on the hearth again. Last night I sat close by until the last
 embers lost their glow. It was very special and I want more.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pie in the sky!

The little mince pies of yesterday's post are long gone!
A bowl of Granny Smith apples were calling to be peeled, sliced
and baked into a pie. Let's face it, apple pie is good, and healthy if not 
drowned in sugar. I often find store bought, or restaurant, American pies 
and other desserts so overpowering from the sugar content, I do not enjoy
 them, especially when containing fruit which is nature's natural sweetener.

So, a couple of days ago I baked my favorite apple pie recipe - it was shared some
 years back by my delightful western North Carolina friend, Penny. 
There's a 'secret ingredient' in her recipe which makes it so delicious. 
I admit I did use ready-made piecrust this time - it was waiting in refrigerator 
begging to be used. It's very light and flaky, which is good. I used 6 large
 Granny Smith apples which made the pie quite high and just juicy
 enough - thankfully it didn't boil over, perhaps as I was able to seal
 the edge well! 

Penny and I go back many years and we have shared several wonderful 
get togethers - they are always a lot of fun. We're hoping to catch up again
some time this year.
You can visit Penny HERE at her blog - Enjoying The Simple Things.  

Have you been baking on these early new year winter days, or did you have
 enough of floury rolling pins, baking pans and hot ovens over the recent holidays?