Saturday, 31 October 2015

Photo scavenger hunt: October 2015

It's the end of the month, which must mean it's time for the Scavenger Hunt. Not surprisingly, my photos have a very autumnal feel about them and several were taken during our walk in the woods last weekend. Thanks as always to Jill at Greenthumb for organising it: here's my entry.

Question: The split in this tree trunk looks just like a question mark.

Cream: The inner flesh of a horse chestnut case.

Number: 28. The number of starlings gathered on this telegraph pole.

Lattice: Wooden trellis at Tatton Park.

Familiar: Our usual path through the woods.

Ring: Ring, ring goes the bicycle bell.

Today: Pumpkin-spiced latte and an apple and walnut muffin - the taste of autumn.

Down: This stag was having a snooze down in the long grass at Tatton Park.

Writing: Letters carved into a tree.

Many: Layers and layers of fungi.

Broken: A wall which has collapsed.

Whatever you want: This little fellow was munching on a monkey nut. A lady had just brought a bagful and there were squirrels running in all directions with nuts in their mouth. Some ate them straightaway whilst others were burying them for later. This one was so cute with his white tummy.

I missed taking part in the Hunt last month and am so glad I managed to get my act together this time. If you'd like to join in with the November hunt, head over to the web site where you can see the categories and this month's entries.

Hope you all have a great weekend. As I mentioned last time, we're heading into the city for pizza and James Bond. Maybe a pumpkin cocktail or two as well :) x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Divil's nose

Today I thought I'd share with you a sweet treat for Halloween. And I have to be honest, it's purely because of the name: my Great Grandmother called it Divil's Nose!  It probably goes by different names around the country but this one seems to be unique to the Wigan area where she grew up. In fact, I found out that it also goes by the name of Singing Lily, possibly in honour of the Wigan lass, Lily Brayton, who was an actress and singer in the early 1900s.

But what is this Divil's Nose? Well, actually, it's what I've always known as a Chorley cake: a layer of raisins between 2 layers of pastry. A frugal dish born of a time when you had to use up every last scrap of food. The ingredients are simply:

Leftover pastry
Currants, or other dried fruits
A knob of butter

Roll out the pastry into a round. Put the dried fruit in the centre, sprinkle with sugar and add a knob of butter.

Run a wet finger around the edge and then fold the edges of the pastry into the centre.

Turn it over so the folded edges are underneath. Roll out until the fruit shows through. Put on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven on 160C/Gas 3 until lightly golden.

Serve as it is or, as we used to when I was little, spread with butter. Mum said mine was a bit thin and I'd browned it too much! Oh dear. It didn't stop her having a piece though :-)

However, she had no complaints about my second version. I wanted to spice it up a bit and, as Chickpea isn't keen on currants, use a different dried fruit.

Instead, I used chopped dates and soaked them in a good splosh of dark rum. Then I spread it out over the pastry as normal.

My pastry was a cobbler mix and already on the damp side. As I folded it in, the extra moisture from the rum made it tear. For this reason, I didn't bother to roll it out but just plonked it on the baking tray.

Rather more rustic in appearance but, oh so good! We actually preferred this version as the rum-soaked fruit made it moist and the cracks in the pastry made the buttery, sugary juices ooze and caramelise on the top. Yum yum yum! I'll be making this version again.

So there you have it, 2 versions of Divil's Nose. What is it called where you live?

I'll be back on Halloween but not with anything spooky: it's Scavenger Hunt time. In fact, I don't even know if we'll be doing anything Halloweeny as we're meeting a group of friends in Manchester for pizza and James Bond! I do have my pumpkin head boppers at the ready though...

See you on Saturday. Almost the weekend. Hurrah!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

This month I've been... Mum and Dad's Golden Wedding party. This was taken before most of the guests had arrived. It was a lovely evening full of fun and laughter.

Admiring...the beautiful autumn colours. The photo of the rudbeckias was taken yesterday after a heavy shower which is why they're so wet.

Harvesting...elderberries to make elderberry gin. It should be ready just in time for Christmas cocktails :-)

Auditioning...fabrics for my latest journal quilt. I'm a tad behind as this one is for June! fabric drawer after pulling out all those fabrics. So satisfying but, alas, unlikely to stay this way for long!

Starting...a new crochet blanket. The pattern is Maybelle Square by My Rose Valley. The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK.

Continuing... to crochet my other blanket. Stylecraft Special again. Tatton Park. the bellowing of a stag as he marked his territory.


Strolling...through the woods today and hunting for interesting fungus.

So that's been my month so far: a curious combination of lethargy and busyness. Apologies for not having been around much and for not visiting your blogs either. I'll try to do better into November. However, there's still a few days of October left and I'll be back later in the week with a Halloween treat. x

Friday, 2 October 2015

Golden celebrations

50 years ago today, this lovely couple walked down the aisle together.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mum & Dad!

Tonight we're having a party with about 60 family and friends. There will be balloons, banners and booze, karaoke and dancing, and enough food to feed everyone for a week! A quiet weekend to follow, methinks. x