For a fairly devout non-believer I’ve spent a relatively large amount of time in churches over the past month. Firstly for my inaugural enrolment as a godfather (fingers crossed at appropriate times) and then twice in 12 hours over the cusp of December 24th & 25th – midnight mass in St Laurence’s in Ludlow and the Christmas morning service in our village church. Feeling non-festive at the close of the shop on the 24th I thought that midnight mass might engender some spirit of the season in me.
Today, on a rare day trip away from both work and home, we had 2 rural churches in the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire border lands in our sights. There was also the additional impetus of a visit to the wonderful Butcher’s Arms in Woolhope for lunch.
All Saint’s in Brockhampton is that rare beast, an Arts & Crafts church. Completed in 1902 and designed by William Lethaby it’s a complicated piece of architecture; making use of thatch, stone and timber, but all executed to such a high standard and sitting so neatly next to each other.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail continues inside: beautiful light fittings (both electric and candle), altar tapestries by Burne-Jones and these amazing hand stitched covers to the prayer books.
The second church on the list was St Mary’s at Kempley was more ancient; boasting the oldest roof of any building in Britain and the most complete set of Romanesque frescoes in Northern Europe. Sadly . . . . those that are habitually programmed to not look for opening hours for churches will find that it is closed until March. So both frescoes and roof will require a re-visit; but the Norman exterior (with add ons) was enough on a sunny January day.
Filed under Art, Buildings, Food
When I get around to it I bake biscuits for the shop on Saturdays . . . and then aim to proffer them to customers instead of eat them all myself. Mr Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet has provided many of the recipes for these biscuits – namely the double chocolate cookie and the ginger and spelt cookie this week I turned to his Guardian Weekend recipe.
There was a recipe book in my parents kitchen which was a collection of recipes submitted by residents of the village in which I grew up; my mum was the editor of this fine publication and someone else in the village provided pen and ink illustrations. Lots of these recipes reflect the provincial cooking ideas of the time; concepts of dinner party entertaining that should remain preserved in aspic, WI baking and the onset of the macrobiotic/wholefood school of cooking. I suspect that if you replayed the concept today the WI baking aspect would remain and there would be a surfeit of cupcake recipes. There was a recipe in this book for peanut cookies – and very fine it was too – Mr Lepard’s version is however even better, the rosemary almost tastes like ginger at first.
Today’s desktop biscuits haven’t yet been touched. There’s hope for a mid afternoon snack after all.
Filed under Cooking, Food
Filed under Cooking, Food
Traditionally stir up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent, and I think only applies to Christmas pudding. Autumn term half-term was always the marker when I was growing up for the cake to be made; these days I think it depends on whim. The whim struck last week.
I’ve learnt, at the knee of Nigel Slater (figuratively, not literally) not to be relatively relaxed about the dried fruits. He gives a general quantity for combined weight of currants, sultanas etc and another combined weight for other dried fruit. I don’t see the point in currants (maybe an consequence of having a pet rabbit) so a combination of sultanas, raisins and cranberries went in my cake together with apricots, fig and dried pear (we’ll see how the last of these works out, they are off script and untested). The occasional feed of something boozy will now happen and undoubtedly I will leave a decision about icing and marzipan until the last moment. The basic recipe I used is the one in the Kitchen Diaries, which is a smaller version of the one in Appetite. May I also recommend the Silverwood multi size cake tin; it basically gives you free rein to make whatever size square cake, or indeed multiple separate cakes that you desire.
Filed under Cooking, Food
It’s Ludlow Food Festival this weekend . . . cue much trumpeting of food credentials, food miles and, owing to ludicrous Network Rail decision to suspend services to Ludlow over the weekend, increased traffic. Our food festival window is in place (judging takes place tomorrow – cue tears and tantrums) and I’ve had my delivery from Bloomsbury of stock for Elisabeth Luard to sign on Saturday.
I’m planning to bake a couple of things from her book for our delightful customers, including the almond and cardomom cookies pictured below. As per a previous post – if you would like to be the proud owner of a signed copy of this esteemed tome (or give it away to someone you really like) then let us know and we’ll reserve one for you; likewise if you want a dedicated message delicately scribed by the author. I may even dig out a decent pen instead of an end chewed bic.
Filed under Books, Cooking, Food
The behemoth that is Ludlow Food Festival descends on September 9th-11th. We’re playing our own small food-related role by hosting a book signing by the renowned food writer Elisabeth Luard.
Her recently published book, A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse, is a handsome Bloomsbury publication. Elisabeth will be here signing copies from 2pm – 4pm on Saturday the 10th, if you can’t make it but still want a signed copy please let us know and I will put one aside for you. If you can make it . . . i’m going to cook some things from the book to tempt the good public in . . . probably along the lines of almond cookies with cardomom and chocolate madeleines rather than smoked mackerel fishcakes owing to food finger issues!
Filed under Books, Design, Food
If I had the patience I would make cakes like this.
Actually it’s not a lack of patience that would stop me from doing it, its an overriding controlling attitude that would see me rearranging the colours as soon as one of the cakes was removed and wanting to constantly refill the plate so that it always looked near perfect.
Image half inched from House of Origin.