Wednesday 24 November 2021


The preserved lemons that I made over 4 weeks ago are now ready to be used in a new to me recipe - Date and Chickpea Tagine.


1 tspn oil, 2 red chopped onions, 3 grated cloves of garlic, 1 grated thumb size piece of root ginger,

1 tspn cumin, 2 tspn paprika, ½tspn ground cinnamon, ½tspn ground coriander

½tspn of cayenne pepper, 1 tblspn tomato puree, 1 aubergine cut into 2.5 cm cubes,

1 carrot cut into 1 cm half moons, 300g sweet potatoe, peeled, chopped into 1 cm cubes,

2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes,

400g tinned chickpeas rinsed and drained,

300ml of vegetable stock,

200g of whole pitted dates cut in half

2 preserved lemons, peel cut into thin strips

Pinch of saffron, parsley to serve.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot over a medium heat. Add onions, garlicand ginger, cook for 5 mins, stiring often. Add all spices and tomatoe puree and cook for a further 5 mins until tender. If the spices stick to the bottom add splash of water. Stir in aubergine, carrot and sweet potatoes, then tomatoes, chickpeas and stock. Lastly add the dates, preserved lemons and saffron. Stir, and bring to the boil, Cover pot, transfer to medium hot oven (160℃ Fan) for 40 mins. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with rice, spicey falafels and Greek yogurt dressed with chopped mint. 

I was delighted with the intense flavour achieved by the preserved lemons. 

Tuesday 16 November 2021

The Trees are............

............slowly turning golden. 

Because we have had such a very late autumn season I really hadn't given much thought to Christmas, which I now suddenly realise, is just over five weeks away.

Time to hastened to our local wood and enjoy autumn's golden splendour before the trees finally do turn bare. The woodland sits on the side of a high Cotswold escarpment immediately below where we live and overlooks a small hamlet down In the valley. A valley that is thought to have been occupied by a Roman General called Vespasian, who eventually became the 9th Emperor of Rome. He built himself a magnificent villa in the valley with one of the finest mosaics ever discovered north of the Alps - The Orpheus Pavement. Today the mosaic still lies exactly where it was crafted and conceived, hidden away, safe but intact, beneath the local churchyard.

A pathway leads us into our beautiful, predominantly, Beech woodland.

On entering it feels akin to stepping inside a cathedral. The soft grey trunks of the Beech trees soar upwards not unlike stone pillars which then form a delicate archway overhead.

The fallen leaves feel crisp and rustle beneath our feet bestowing a sense of peace and calm as we make our way below the trees. There are now two choices - a high or a low pathway. We opt for the lower.  
As the late afternoon sun falls it lightens up the lower canopy, but it is now time to retrace our steps and make for home.
The shadows lengthen,
and the leaves glow even brighter.

Friday 5 November 2021

Out of the Window........

all is calm and serene. The two Sorbus aucuparia - rowan or mountain ash trees display their autumn colour as they have done since the beginning of October. The horse chestnut tree stands tall and proud but bereft of it's leaves, and the other trees continue to wear summer green stippled with hints of colour yet to come. 

Rowan trees are steeped in legend and mythology.

In the British Isles the rowan has a long history in folklore as a tree which protects against whitchcraft and enchantment. The tree itself was said to afford protection to any dwelling by which it grew. To this day rowan trees can be seen growing besides rural dwellings in the Scottish Highlands. I wonder whether the person who planted our trees knew of this tale - maybe we have a double dose of protection.

Greek mythology tells how Hebe, the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost the cup to demons, the gods sent an eagle to recover it. A fight ensued and the eagle shed feathers and drops of blood. These fell to earth where each of them turned into a rowan tree. Hence the rowan derived the shape of its leaves from the eagle’s feathers and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood. 

The rowan is also prominent in Norse mythology as the tree from which the first woman was made.

The news here is dominated by the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, but will the countries of the world finally come together? There are some notable government leaders that are absent from the major decision making. 

There have been some very alarming reports shown on the TV, one of which was done by the highly regarded BBC Panorama team investigating this past year of wild weather from around the globe. Most of which we had been aware of but without knowing the final outcome or details. Happenings which are becoming increasingly common place, but changing the life for millions. I was aware of the record-breaking high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest of Canada but did not know that a small Canadian town called Lytton had been totally overcome and completely devastated by the wildfires caused by the heat. The town was completely destroyed and burnt to the ground. Floods in Germany and Belgium swept away entire medieval villages and towns, places that had withstood storms and tempests for hundreds of years are now no more. Rural communities in the Australian state of New South Wales have been battling a plague of mice that struck the region. Thousands upon thousands of mice have been invading grain silos, barns and homes and infesting the farmers' bumper grain harvest. The harvest has had to be totally burnt in order to get rid of the mice. I have never seen so many mice, it looked like a horror film. The mice numbers boomed following the unusually heavy summer rains and floods which produced bountiful crops when it fell acrosss eastern Australia after years and years of drought. 

South Korea has been blanketed by massive yellow dust storms blown in from China. The Korean Meteorological Administration said that practically all parts of the nation were affected by high levels of yellow dust that originated in the Inner Mongolian region of northern China and the vicinity of the Gobi Desert. The dust storms have become more deadly each year as they pass over China's industrial zones picking up toxins. South Korea, blames hundreds of deaths each year on the storms, especially to the elderly. Children have to wear special masks to school because it causes respirator problems. 

The people of Madagascar are on the brink of the world's first climate change-induced famine. More than a million people need emergency food and nutrition, with 14,000 already in 'catastrophic' condiitions. Starving Malagasy people are forced to eat insects and old dried roots buried deep in the ground.