Monday, 30 November 2015

Sunday lunch

I wanted to get this little post in before we go back down to Cornwall for the Christmas festival in Padstow (yes we're back again, our car is now able to drive it's self down there we've been up and down so much!)
I had been drooling over some of the gorgeous looking food that Scott and Babs at Retorrick Mill had been cooking up for Sunday lunches these past few weeks so decided to book for the next time we were down in Cornwall. I know I've mentioned Retorrick Mill before, it's a very rustic, bohemian sort of place, cobbled together in some old farm buildings - well stables and a barn to be exact. Lots of old squashy sofas, mismatched chairs, tables and crockery all giving a lovely relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
This is what they say about themselves which describes them perfectly.

Our wood fired food set up at Retorrick Mill deep in the valley of Laherne in North Cornwall is a very special place to us.
We are situated in a barn on a farm with a beautiful little campsite with some chalets and fixed caravans surrounded by lots of lovely, friendly animals and incredible wildlife just a 15 minute walk through the woods from the beach.

 Wilf (Retorrick Mill's owner and farmer) is busy rearing fabulous pigs, sheep, cows, ducks and chickens for us to eventually eat! 
We also have a poly tunnel that hopefully, come summer, will be bursting with fresh veggies and salads, A lots of our produce also comes from Gluvian farm, our lovely organic neighbours. 
Come and taste our menu cooked mainly using our barrel smokers  spit roaster and wood fired clay oven. 

This was our menu

Partridge, now I had never had partridge before, Scott was telling us that he had had to cut down a pear tree so decided to use the branches to smoke the partridges - very seasonal!
David was taken round the back to see the smokers (note all the odd windows put together to make the back wall)

But back to the partridge, delicious.

One per person, I managed most of it along with wonderful roast potatoes and vegetables, leaving just enough space for my choice of cheesecake - perfect!!

After all that food David and I went down to a very windy Constantine beach to walk off some of the excess.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A wet week in Dartmouth.

Sitting here looking out of the window seeing rain and wind reminds me very much of Dartmouth the other week, apart from the fact that this was our view there - much better than looking into our garden right now.

We knew the forecast was pretty grim for the whole week but even so I don't think we expected to have to dress like this

to walk the few hundred yards to get a coffee at Bayards Cove Inn

Still the welcome, warmth and decent coffee made getting 'togged up' worth while. We did decide that it really wasn't worth walking up to the castle and maybe lunch back at the apartment with a bottle of wine and an afternoon reading the papers was a better plan.
It did improve slightly the next day and we did get our walk to Dartmouth castle ( a round trip of just 3.4 miles in case you're interested) but as you can see the weather still wasn't great.

However what was great, no not just great, but VERY great was our Sunday dinner at Riverford field kitchen. (You may remember we went there with Charlotte and Angus on our way back from Falmouth after new year) We had wanted to take our good friends C and A there and they were suitably impressed.

We had two salads to start, lamb with 3 gorgeous vegetable dishes and then because 'we know it's hard to choose a dessert so you can have 2 half portions if you like' - well what would you do confronted with 6 or 7 choices. In the end I had sticky toffee pudding and a chocolate torte - delicious. If you are ever down Totnes way, do think about going as it really is a lovely experience, but be sure to book, there is no turning up on the day.

The weather continued to hamper our activities, C and A left and before Charlotte and Nina arrived later that day David and I got a very quick walk on Blackpool Sands till the heavens opened again.

 Blackpool sands is not how I would describe this place as firstly you are not in Blackpool and secondly the beach is pea shingle not sand but it was a breath of fresh air.

Nina was a delight, having changed again since we last saw her a few weeks ago, very contented to lie under her 'jungle gym' knocking and pulling everything that hung on it and putting them in her mouth.

We decided to go to Bigbury on Sea and walk across to Burgh Island

To get to Burgh Island on foot you have to wait for the tide to go out, otherwise you use the beach tractor.

The tide was right for us but my goodness was it windy. It was at this point we realised how sheltered we were in Dartmouth. The art deco, Burgh Island hotel was a favourite haunt of Agatha Christie and was the setting for her novel 'Evil under the sun'. We picnicked in the car watching the sailboarders and kite surfers who unlike us were enjoying the heavy seas and wind.

Our last day started with a coffee in Cafe Alf Resco
This is a 'borrowed' picture to give you flavour of what it looks like in good weather. 

For us the inside was all trimmed up with an autumn theme, but despite the weather we choose to sit in the outside area.

Our last day was spent in Totnes - one of my favourite places

Because it was Friday it was market day. Bric a brac mingling with crafts, organic vegetables, artisan breads and street food. I was so so tempted to buy another basket chair and of course kicked myself afterwards for not. I did get a little something for Nina though which has been put away for Christmas.
Leaving Totnes was made easier by the fact that we were not travelling home but - yes you've probably guessed  it down to Cornwall. We were on our first baby sitting stint whilst Charlotte and Angus went to a wedding, but more about that another time.

As today is the first Sunday in Advent I'll leave you our Advent candles

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A quiet sort of week

I can't believe that David has been away for 3 weeks, and to think I was a little concerned about how I would feel about being on my own for all that time especially the weekends. But no the time has raced by and I haven't crossed everything off my 'to do' list. It's not that I have been out and about all the time cos I haven't. The first weekend he was away I never spoke to anyone (apart from the Asda checkout lady) from Saturday morning till I went in to work for a meeting Monday lunchtime. I was quite happy pottering around cleaning, sorting cupboards, baking and cooking. I nearly always have music on either the radio or ipod. On a Saturday it's 'Sounds of the sixties' followed by James Martin and 'Saturday kitchen' on the television.  Sunday I tend to put the ipod on to shuffle songs and enjoy the huge variety we have on there.
This week 3 friends from knit and natter and I went out to a new fabric shop which also has a rather nice coffee shop. Their fabrics were gorgeous and it was very much a quilters paradise. A couple of hours passed quickly especially once we were sat down enjoying their coffee and scones! I went straight to work from there and seem to spend from then till Thursday in a haze of going to work, coming home, eating, bed, getting up, doing a few jobs and back to work again - no wonder the week passed quickly. I had fully intended to go to knit and natter Thursday evening but the rain came down and motivation left me so I spent the time crocheting at home watching Nigella on catch up. This is my WIP

Image of Canyon Shrug

I found it on Pinterest here and realised that even with my limited crocheting skills I could do it. I am using Stylecraft special aran in midnight 

and it's coming along very well, in fact I've nearly finished it. Unfortunately I have no camera as David has taken it so can't show you any pictures of how far I've got. 
I had company Friday night in the form of Oskar ( our friends dog ) who came and spent the night with me whilst his owners went out for the night. We didn't even go out for our usual early morning walk on Saturday morning as he took one look at the rain and went back to his basket - I have to say I was rather relieved as I wasn't that bothered about walking in the pouring rain! 
After he went home I set to making 'cheat's sourdough'

Cheat’s sourdough

I had seen it in the Good Food magazine a couple of months ago and had made a mental note to give it a go. I have been reasonably successful in that it rose and tasted nice, but I did fail in getting the crust on the top. I would like to have a go at making proper sourdough sometime as I do like it. Whilst it was rising I retreated upstairs to my 'sewing room' to finish a pinafore dress I was making for Nina (there is a bit of a surprise to this so will post more once she has it) and did in fact finish it other than the hem. Today looking at the weather I can't imagine going anywhere, but that's fine as I have a Thai fish pie to make along with a Coq au vin and the advent Christmas stocking line to finish and then I can start Nina's Christmas stocking - something I am very much looking forward to doing. We have a week in Dartmouth booked and then on to Cornwall to look after Nina whilst her Mum and Dad go to a wedding in the village. David arrives back with less than a day to turn himself round before we leave so it may be a couple of weeks before I am back with you but I will have my camera back to look out for pictures!! 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sunday soup morning, sticky parkin and bonfire toffee

I can't bare to waste food and try and throw as little away as possible, so when I found a bag of sweet potatoes that I had bought at least a couple of weeks ago and were getting past their best, making soup was really the only option to use them up. I do have plenty of soup recipes but turned to 'Pinterest' to see what was on there. I found this recipe which although titled 'Sweet potato soup' had coconut milk in. Unfortunately I don't have my camera at the moment so will do some cutting and pasting of photographs.

 It was very straight forward, here is what you need

8 oz (1/2 lb or about 6 strips) bacon, diced (I didn't have any bacon)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large stick of celery ( NOT a whole head), diced
2 lbs (3 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves - (I used a sprig of fresh thyme)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk (I used a whole tin which did make it very creamy)
2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp parsley to garnish, optional

Fry the bacon in it's own fat
Sweet Potato Soup Recipe-3

then fry the onion and celery adding the garlic a couple of minutes later

Sweet Potato Soup Recipe-11

Add the diced sweet potato and stock and simmer till the potato is soft

Sweet Potato Soup Recipe-12

Blend and add the coconut milk - serve hot with the bacon sprinkled on the top - I did adjust the seasoning as it needed a bit of 'umph' but the end result was rather nice.

My second soup this morning was carrot and ginger 

Carrot & ginger soup

a Good Food recipe found here

I didn't do any topping so this is what I used

 again very straight forward to make

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion,ginger and garlic, and fry for 5 mins until starting to soften. Stir in the nutmeg and cook for 1 min more.
  2. Pour in the stock, add the carrots, beans and their liquid, then cover and simmer for 20-25 mins until the carrots are tender.
  3. Scoop a third of the mixture into a bowl and blitz the remainder with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Return everything to the pan and heat until bubbling. 

I liked the ginger in this and have to admit to putting more than the recipe said!  So that's my lunches sorted out for the week with plenty left to put in the freezer.

I was baking yesterday having been reminded by a text message asking how to make  bonfire toffee (which I'll include at the end) that I hadn't made any parkin (there is a connection there) so dug out my favourite recipe by Bella Ivins, which has crushed cardamons in giving it an interesting twist and flavour.

Here is the recipe

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes 24 pieces


  • 110g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 110g black treacle
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 110g molasses sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 110g medium oatmeal
1 medium egg, beaten
  • 100ml whole milk


1. Heat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan oven) gas mark. Grease and line a 30cm x 21cm traybake tin with baking parchment.
2. Put the butter, treacle, golden syrup and sugar into a large pan and melt over a low heat. Leave to one side to cool slightly.

3. Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir together to combine well. Gradually mix in the melted butter mixture, followed by the egg and milk until it makes a thick batter.
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1-1¼ hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin set on a wire rack. Mark the sticky parkin into squares and store in an airtight tin for at least five days before eating.


and finally the bonfire toffee

You'll need 
4oz golden syrup
4oz black treacle
4oz butter 
8oz granulated sugar

Melt carefully, then boil till it reaches the setting point - test by dropping drips into  a cup of cold water, if it 'brittles' when it's in the water it's done and can be poured into a very well greased tin and left to cool.

 Well I hope you find some of the above useful, sorry about the different fonts, I have no idea how to get them all the same. I am now off upstairs to carry on making advent stockings ready to take down to Cornwall in a couple of weeks. So till the next time xx