Monday, 9 September 2013

Behind closed doors in Salisbury

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Just a little nugget of joy today, getting me ready for the first day of my new Asian Art in London internship(!!) which starts tomorrow. This door is one of many black doors set into a brick wall near Salisbury cathedral close. This was one of the handful, if that, of times that I've seen one open to reveal the bright white clean swankiness of the houses behind those doors. Always makes me smile to see behind the plain front so I thought I'd share it with you all.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

India Part III: Aurangabad

some textsome text some text Part three and we're pretty much on the home leg now. After a knackering and confusing set of train and bus journeys we found ourselves in Aurangabad, the springboard city to get to Ellora and Ajanta (keep your eyes out for my next India post). This was a strange city that had obviously been hit by the development boom in one big swoop and was a strange combination of pure materialism superimposed over the top of the bones of a fairly basic Indian town. The streets were lined with scores of clothes shops and bookshops selling pretty much uniquely textbooks, an indicator of the emphasis placed on education as a means of furthering oneself in the world, yet the streets were barely tarmacked and I had to learn to be a very assertive pedestrian in order to battle my way through the usual Indian barrage of auto-rickshaws, motorbikes and the occasional car.
Mumbai, Goa, Aurangabad As there was no chance of us getting up North to see the real Taj Mahal, we went to see its younger, slightly uglier cousin Bibi-qa-Maqbara, otherwise known as the 'Poor Man's Taj'. Slightly ill-proportioned, it was started in white marble but as funds ran out it was finished in plaster from about two meters up onwards. It was still pretty magnificent, though, and huge lattice doors of solid marble shone light onto the tomb within which was covered in coins, notes and entrance ticket stubs.
We also visited the Panchakki, a 17th century water mill where you can peer in and see the stone still being turned by the water. More excitingly, though, the pool into which the water flows is teeming with fish. I watched an Indian family with small children crumbling sesame balls into the water causing the fish to frenzy. They saw me watching and gave me one of the balls to throw into the water and we shared a peaceful little moment all throwing sesame crumbs into the water to see the surface break and bubble as fish piled over each other to gobble up the crumbs. Towering over the pool was also the biggest Banyan tree that I saw in India, reputedly 600 years old and as wide as a small van. Amazing. some text some text

Hopefully I'll see you back here in a few days time for the last instalment!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Evening blackberries.

some textsome text Blackberry season is upon us and, although I was planning on making some blackberry cordial to sweeten up the winter months, i happened across these juicy beauties and ended up cramming the vast majority of them into my mouth, a reward to myself for repotting my struggling little cactus cutting. Anyway, perhaps there may be more blackberry-ing to come, the hedgerows are certainly heavy with them this year.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

India Part II: Badami

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Well, here we are, the second instalment of our Indian odyssey. We've moved on from Hampi to Badami, a couple of long bus rides away after spending most of the day waiting for a bus that most people seemed not to think existed. Eventually, after asking the driver of every bus that pulled up over a two and a half hour period, we made it. We ended up in a weirdly deserted ex-government hotel, the only place in town serving beer and so a spot attracting groups of Indian men drinking late into the night. Map of Chalukya rule I was fairly happy to leave. However, we did visit the nearby rock cut cave temples, the first of our trip! Badami is nestled into a ravine between two red rocky outcrops into which caves and temples were cut and carved by the Chalukyas of Badami who ruled the orange shaded area on the map between 540AD and 757AD. Badami is the red dot. The caves themselves are dark, broken up by non-structural pillars, echoing an earlier wooden temple building tradition carried through into stone. Outside, the red rock soaks up the sun, even on the fairly cloudy day that we were there, and my orange salwar kameez and hair began to blend in with the rocks. Below the elevated caves spans the manmade Agastya lake, tiers of steps disappearing into it draped with expanses of colourful cloth left to dry in the sun by the women, knee deep in the lake washing clothes. To ring out the water they would slap the cloth against the rock of the steps and the noise of the wet fabric against the stone rang all the way round the curved cliff faces, amplified and echoed back over the blue water.
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More to come and I'm hoping try out a dosa recipe, my favourite dish from India and perhaps some wadas, a traditional breakfast dish that we ate on the trains. Keep your eyes peeled!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bay leaves and nectarines.

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Our windowsill is looking very colourful with these bowls of drying bay leaves and nectarines, a feast for the eyes. Bowls courtesy of Frances Marr, as ever.

Friday, 16 August 2013

India Part I: Hampi

some text Hot off the press, as promised, here are some of my photos from the first place that we stayed, Hampi, the incredible ruined city of the Vijayanagara empire who ruled almost the entirety of South India between 1336 and 1565. The area is littered with opulent temples, political demonstrations of power and wealth as well as of devotion to the gods. A pretty magical and unforgettable place. Oh and the coconut and banana juices were excellent, too.

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some text One of my favourite things about the trip was ordering thalis, trays of food that included rice, chapatis, a few little steel ramekins of curry and some lime pickle. They were always slightly different from one another, though, and unfailingly tasty. And this one came on a banana leaf! Food was, of course, one of the hightlights of the trip for me and hopefully in some of the next few India instalments I will be bringing you recipes for some of the food that we enjoyed the most.

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More coming soon!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Travels and thistles

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Well hello, radio silence is over and I am back from my trip to - drumroll please - INDIA! Alun and I scooted off for a month to see some of the Hindu temples and rock-cut caves that I have been studying. I got home this morning and am feeling pretty sleepy but happy to be back and I wanted to share these lovely little bright blue thistles that are attracting all the bees in the garden at the moment. Hopefully I will be getting some of my pictures processed and printed soon and can share some of them on here. Watch this space.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Simple Things: Strawberries and meringue

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Today I was going to make a pie but when it's so gloriously hot I find that I crave simple things, a salad, maybe some bread, just nothing too complicated. So here are two uncomplicated summery things, strawberries from the slightly out of control patch and easy hunks of meringue. Couple together however you wish. I mixed mine together, crushing up the meringue and added some cream and berries that I had defrosted but in retrospect it could perhaps have done without the berries. Do them your way.

Easy Meringues

- 3 egg whites
- 175g caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- oven at 140°C/gas mark 1

1. Begin whisking the egg whites and the salt for 1 minute on a low speed
2. Up the speed to medium for another 2-3 minutes or until the whites form stiff peaks when you take the whisks out.
3. Continue whisking while slowly adding the sugar in a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth glossy mixture that holds the shape of the whisk's movements. They say the true test is to hold the bowl upside down over your head - try if you dare!
4. Spoon meringue heaps onto a greaseproof papered baking sheet and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until they look golden on the outside.
5. Don't take the tray out of the oven, just leave to cool with the door slightly ajar.

Let me see if any of you give it a go!

Also, if you like my little triangle nails, head on over to Oh NO Rachio's little tutorial, I promise you'll get addicted to trying to get the perfect point on them. Her's are still way neater than mine!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Today the world is in bloom.

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I hope that you're all enjoying the sun, i certainly am. Here's a rose from my garden to finish off this sunny happy weekend.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Quick and healthy baked trout with roasted new potatoes.

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Quick and tasty evening dinner for y'all. Two medium trout from the market baked with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, cherry toms, parsley and butter for 25 minutes or until the skin is crisping and the flesh is opaque but still moist. Serve with tiny new potatoes, boiled until they slide off of a knife and then roasted in with the fish until tasty. Enjoy, lovelies!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Lake District Cheeses

some text This week I've been in the Lake District and, as usual, food has been one of the highlights of this holiday. If there's one thing that Alun's family don't do by halves it's food. I've been keeping the house stocked with yummy sourdough bread, perfect and filling for lunch at the top of a fell after a steep climb. We've been indulging in tasty sticky toffee puddings from the excellent Booths supermarket, which I recommend to everybody visiting the Lakes for its excellent selection of local foods, from vegetables to beer. The highlight though, as ever for me, has been the cheese. Booths supermarket has a fantastically stocked cheese counter with local cheeses but I had great fun at the Low Sizergh Barn farm shop, which boasts an award winning cheese counter, recognised as one of the top 200 in the country by the British Cheese Awards (the picture below is just of the blue section). Above, you can see the bunch I picked out. I particularly enjoyed the crumbly tang of the Keverigg, made using milk from Winter Tarn farm's organic cows at the nearby Appleby Creamery, incidentally the same place the Brie was made. My personally favourite though, which if you know me won't come as a surprise, was the Brinkburn goats cheese, a moist delicately sweet and fresh cheese made by the Northumberland Cheese Company.
In the picture you can also see a few slices of my experimental linseed sourdough - all verdicts agree its a good'n!

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy my pretty cheese board and that if you're lucky enough to visit the Lake District you will look beyond the stunning scenery and explore the rich variety of foods that the land provides. If you have any cheese recommendations for me then don't forget to leave me a comment, I'm always looking for new ones!

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pre-craftparty macarons trauma!

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Hello chaps! While I'm having a lovely time in the Lake District (more of that later) I thought I'd share my macaronage trauma from last week after they went down so well at the Etsy Craft Party on Thursday. They went fairly well considering that I've never made them before and, to boot, wasn't baking in my own kitchen, however there is definite room for improvement.

Things that went right:
1. Shape - they stayed round and didn't crazy morph
2. Colour - pretty and pink!
3. Texture - nice and chewy inside and quite crispy on the outside

Things that went wrong:
1. They stuck to the paper - cue interesting double knife scraping technique
2. The inside sort of separated from the crust. Coupled with the sticking you have goo stuck to paper and empty crust. Sad face. This meant that they were super fragile when trying to glue them together.
Anyway, work in progress, I think!

The recipe that I used was from the BraveTart blog with the help of Eat Live Travel Write's illustrated version - thanks both of you! I'll copy it below in case any of you fancy trying it - leave me a link and a comment if you do!

French Macarons
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar*
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) salt
Please refer to BraveTart's blog for instructions as they are lengthy and detailed and I won't do them justice. For my filling I piled a shittonne of icing sugar, cocoa powder and Cointreau into a food processor and blitzed until it was what I wanted. Have fun, kids!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Another cake table - Etsy Craft Party!

some text Today I bring you one of the most magnificent cake tables I've seen in a long time - the one from the Etsy Craft Part that I went to last week at the lovely flat of lovely blogger and Etsier ohNOrachio. The party was cake and craft central and everybody weaseling away on their little projects. You can see my little GROW badge underneath some lovely homemade strawberry ice cream rustled up by Els of Zerabifish (need to get that recipe). That was one of the things that made it such an amazing day - creative lovely people putting their efforts together to make a great day for everybody. I even had a go at macarons, of which I am fairly proud of for a first time attempt and I feel silly for having been nervous of turning up with them beforehand, as everyone was very complementary.
For much better pictures of everything that went on, head over to Rachel's post on OhNoRachio's beautiful blog. And a big thank you to both her and Harriet Gray for their amazing hard work and for organising the day in the first place.

PLUS - Look out for my post on macaronage in the next few days!

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

This Redhead Says HELLO!

Say goodbye to...

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And HELLO to...

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That's right, I'm ditching the woodblocks and ushering in a new era. I've been weaseling away for the past couple of days revamping my blog. As well as the long delayed name change, you may also notice the shiny new buttons above my ginger mug --->
Hooray! So feel free to test them out and follow This Redhead Says on Pintrest, my Tumblr, Twitter etc. You know the gig. Facebook coming soon!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Frances Marr ceramics update - New kiln!

some text some text Exciting things are happening! My lovely mum has bought herself a shiny new kiln and today is it's maiden voyage! Frances Marr has been working hard and there are lots of lovely things packed in there, snug as a bug in rug, and I can't wait to see how they all turn out. I'll keep you all posted! And so will she, probably. Check out her blog, Roundways Reminder, here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Mogwai and a quick salmon paté.

some text A yummy salmon spread with the leftover steak from last night, mixed up with a dollop of mayonaise, some double cream, a teaspoon of horseradish, some fennel and black pepper and a little lemon juice. Yummy with toasted slices my of first sourdough loaf with the new starter!
Oh and some not very summer appropriate music. I can't stop listening to Mogwai's soundtrack to french series Les Revenants (The Returned), which has justed started airing on Channel 4. I watched the first episode on telly and then went and gorged on the rest the next day. Shameful. Oh to be on summer holidays!

Monday, 10 June 2013

A fresh start and a fruity, custardy cake.

Cake and herbs

Well, another year done and dusted, and time to forget exams and essays and concentrate on the good things in life. My herbs are growing, I've conjured up a new sourdough starter and the world seems full of potential once more. Things are changing, growing, getting their energy back after this long long winter, myself included. Although it feels a little like I'm in limboland, sleeping on a pullout bed and flitting between my parents' and Aluns' houses, all of my things in boxes, these weeks are an opportunity to contribute and experiment.
As the garden begins to flourish I've come back from London to a rather over-excited rhubarb plant. I decided to try out this cake, which, with a bit of tweaking, has turned out pretty tasty, very much like some of the buttery Breton offerings from my childhood in France. The recipe is a BBC Good Food offering that calls for rhubarb, although in the picture above I replaced that with black currants frozen in absurd quantities from last year's glut, cooked with the liquid drained off as well as I could. The stronger flavours of the currants worked well with the buttery comfort of the cake and perhaps the rhubarb would be even better if cooked with slightly less sugar initially. Either way, a versatile recipe good for tweaking.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake
- 1 quantity Barney's roasted rhubarb (see recipe, below method)
- 250g pack butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g custard (I mixed up half a pint of Bird's powdered custard - was fine)
- 250g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g golden caster sugar
- icing sugar , for dusting

1. Cook the rhubarb. To do this, cut then stems into finger size pieces, rinse and shake off the excess water. Spread onto a baking tray or dish and coat in sugar, around 50g, perhaps less if you like the tartness, like me. Cover with foil and place in an oven pre-heated to around 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 15 minutes or less. The longer you leave them the less shape they will have to them. I followed the instructions on the BBC Good Food site and ended up with mush. It still worked well in the cake, though.
2. Next, butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. You may wish to follow this instruction but I found that my cake began burning round the sides long before it was cooked in the middle. I have started heating the oven to gas mark 1, although our oven is very hot so this may equate to gas mark 2 or 3, maximum.
3. Keep back 3 tbsp of the custard in a bowl. Beat the rest of the custard together with the butter. Add the sifted flour and baking powder intermittently with the eggs to keep the mixture loose then add the vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spread the tin with a layer of batter, then a dotted layer of fruit and some splodges of custard and keep doing this until you run out of fruit/cutard/batter. Try to keep some fruit back to dot on top of the cake before putting in the oven.
4. Bake for 15 mins then cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes more. This is one of my tweaks to try and stop it burning round the sides before the middle is done. You make wish to follow the original recipe and see if it works better for you. It's ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then cover with icing sugar. Very tasty with a dollop of creme fresh and a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Rodin drawings and watercolours

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While in Brighton I was shown a book of Rodin's drawings and watercolours - I fell in love. They have the rawness of Egon Shiele's drawings and the sensual simplicity of Matisse's cutouts. Amazing. The book that these two images are from is available here, Auguste Rodin: Drawings & Watercolours.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Quick dinner for essay season

some text I bought a massive punnett of cherry tomatoes from the nice veg man on the corner of my road a few days ago along with three big bunches of spring onions. This is an easy tasty way to pack in a lot of veg quickly.

Quick And Easy grilled tomato pasta for 1.
You will need:
- cherry tomatoes
- spring onions
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- spaghetti (or other pasta, although long pasta like spaghetti, tagliatelle and linguine work well) - hard cheese like parmesan or grana padano

1. Preheat the grill on a high heat and put a large pan of salted water on to boil.
2. Empty around three handfuls of cherry tomatoes into a smallish roasting tin, so that there is enough room to roll around a little but the juices will still collect.
3. Chop around 5 or 6 spring onions into roughly centimeter lengths and add to the tomatoes.
4. Pour a little oil over the vegetables and grind over salt and pepper liberally.
5. By now the water for the pasta should be boiling. Measure out enough pasta for one - in my case 90g, in Alun's case 150g! Add to the salted water and set a timer for the cooking time indicated on the packet - usually around 10 mins. Stir occasionally to stop from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
6. While the pasta is cooking, keep an eye on the tomatoes, taking them out and stirring every now and then to stop the skins from charring. If needs be, move to a lower shelf. The tomato skins should be splitting and yielding a sweet juice that mingles with the oil and the softening onions.
7. When the pasta is ready, drain but make sure to keep back some of the cooking water. Add the tomatoes and all of their juices to the pasta and pasta water and mix thoroughly so that the tomatoes end up distributed through the pasta rather than collected at the bottom of the pan.
8. Serve in a nice bowl with shredded fresh basil leaves, cheese and a grind of pepper. And if you don't have essays to write, like me, a glass of wine!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Not so sunny Sunday in Brighton.

some text Just a few pictures of the daytrip I made to Brighton for my godmother's 60th birthday tea party - what a spread it was! I met my mum beforehand and we got caught in the hail, having a mediochre cup of al fresco tea. Always nice to get out of London.

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