A little of what you fancy does you good.

Derek
May 6, 2016

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So last weekend, before I went to visit the Haslemere Charter Fayre my friend Viv of the fannyandjohnnymummyandme blog, who is one of the nicest people you can know – and the best cook I have ever met – gifted me two jars of marmalade: A Black Cherry one, which I’ve swirled through some Lebanese Yoghurt, and served with smooshed* figs and  slivered almonds, but which was consumed so quickly that I forgot to take a picture of it, and a Blood Orange and Campari Marmalade that is one of the best I have ever tasted.

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Here it is last night, served on a nutty, rich, almost musty rye bread from Bread of Heaven in Haslemere, and with a sliver of the most intense, salty creamy rich Stilton from the Haslemere Cellar.

I’m not even attempting to calculate the points in this. Sometimes, a little of what you fancy does you good.

(*What? ‘Smoosh’ is a word. ‘Cos I say so. I – after all – am an author, and words is what I know. Innit) and

Mrs Farrell’s Christmas Cake

Derek
December 13, 2015

mams cake

When I was a child – without fail – November smelled of cinnamon, nutmeg, jewel-bright candied carbuncles of citrus peel, and rich, shiny brandy.

My mother baked Christmas cakes then for a mid-December delivery.

It was a skill she’d acquired at a women’s club in the local primary school where I’d been taught by the nuns.

As a kid, I found it impossible to imagine these stern bewhimpled disciplinarians running around the vast industrial convent kitchen, laughing, joking, clucking like chickens as they instructed the local housewives on how to make a fruitcake. As an adult, the image gives me great comfort, and makes me smile every time I imagine it.

Every year, my mother would pull an array of bowls from our cupboards.

Into one, a bag of raisins would be mixed with a bag of sultanas, the dark – almost scorched – scent of the fruit hovering like a lurking threat over the bowl; you had to put your face close to the fruit to smell the musky, oriental funk.

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Autumn Salsa

Derek
September 5, 2015
Just out of shot: Minced Herbs and Kander & Ebbs "The Visit OCR"
Just out of shot: Minced Herbs and Kander & Ebbs “The Visit OCR”

Some debate, recently, around when Autumn starts: Is it immediately after the end of August, or does the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness kick in the September Equinox (23rd, this year)?

For me, it feels like it started this week. It’s been the saddest summers ever for me, and my life has been changed by it. But it ended with news of an opportunity I’ve been waiting my whole life for. A publisher who not only wants – but loves- my book.

So I’m sort of shell shocked at the moment, but the moment I stepped outside on Tuesday morning to damp chill, the scent of decay hanging in the air, and a thin drizzle that could – if one were of a poetic mind – be imagined as mist hanging in the air, it’s been autumn.

But the summer – as far as the contents of my kitchen is concerned – isn’t over yet. So, to celebrate what’s left of the sunshine season, and welcome the coming time of cinnamon and nutmeg, of pumpkins (even here, on the other side of the Atlantic), and of baking slow roasting, and crisp red leaves underfoot I made Autumn Salsa.

“What’s it made of?” my Friend C asked.
“Stuff.”

I called it Autumn Salsa cos so much of what you’d normally put in a salsa is a bit ‘off’ now. But there are a lot of cherry tomatoes that still have a heck of a sweet and sharp punch around.

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