Friday, 27 September 2013

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Kings & Heroes

Kings and heroes white as windflowers
Dance around the Promise Tree.
Ears and eyes wide open sleeping
Dumbed the moonless night all laughing
In and out the Promise Tree.

Gypsy Toast cooked over an open fire of twigs

A great way to use up old French bread.  Cut an old baguette into 1 inch roundels, about 9.  Soak in a mix of egg and milk beaten together - roughly 2 eggs/1/4 pint of milk.  Leave for approximately 20 mins, turning once, until all liquid absorbed.  Heat oil in frying pan and shallow fry until golden and slightly puffy - approx 2-3 mins on each side.  Serve 'salĂ©' with bacon or 'sucrĂ©' with fruit compote eg apple and blackberry.  Creme fraiche and sugar optional.  Great with coffee for breakfast.

Of course this can also be done on your cooker in the kitchen.

Off the Wall Pizza

No oven, nor even any electicity, but a need for a glass of red wine and a pizza?  It can be done, over an open fire, with a heavy flat ridged pan for the base and a frying pan for the topping.

The best base is a naan bread:
8 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarb
1 tub Greek yogurt approx 5 oz.

In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients.  Stir in the yogurt and mix to form a dough, adding water as necessary.  Knead.  Put the bowl with the dough into a plastic bag for an hour.  Cover a plate with flour.  Place the dough on top and flatten with the back of a metal spoon until it covers the plate.  Brush the ridged pan with oil and place on top of the plate.  Reverse, so the pizza dough is now on the pan.

Make the topping.  Fry onions and peppers in oil in the frying pan over the fire.  Add a few mushrooms and diced bacon.  When cooked, take off the heat and cover with slivers of cheese.  Sprinkle over some herbs and olives and put the lid on the pan.  Set aside in a warm place.  The cheese will melt, sticking everything together.

Now cook the base on the fire for about 7 mins, turning once.  Remove from heat.  Lift topping in one with 2 fish slices and place on top of pizza base.  Serve.

Note: An open fire cooks at a very high heat.  A pair of thick leather garden gloves are recommended as the pan handles can get very hot.  Hardwood twigs cook better and faster than logs.  Take care where you light your fire.  Our forests are valuable and vulnerable at this time of year.  Perhaps try doing the whole thing in your BBQ with twigs.

If you want to carry on cooking like a gypsy, try the Gypsy Toast with blackberry and apple topping for pudding, also cooked over twigs.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Beech Mast

A magnificent stand of beech trees marked the limit of the wood with the western ridge beyond.  Crunching beech mast underfoot, she trudged on up, trailing a golden-brown wake through the fallen leaves towards the ridge.  A constant stream trickled silently now from the Down, over mossy stones.  Ferns grew here in the dripping hollows.  As she came to the edge of the wood, a rabbit, sitting on a stump, was daintily washing itself.  One of last spring's youngsters, its liquid black eyes blinked in the sunshine, parchment-thin ears twitching information from its surroundings.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Linen & Thatch

'Into the private, dark, snuggling, rose-pink shire of sleep, Walter spun quick, looking-glass years of innocent childhood.  Under linen and thatch he wormed and stretched.  The glow from his Aladdin, paraffin, pig-roasting hot chimney burned the star of wonder on his bedroom ceiling.  A golden, buttermilk, wild rose, cuckoo spit summer melted, lugubrious, into him.'