The Crumble Challenge

Does the cold and rainy weather affect your appetite? It definitely does something to mine. Not only does my appetite increase and long for warming foods but I just want to spend more and more time lingering in the kitchen, occasionally and wistfully stirring the odd bubbling pot on the stove. 

Well, this ideal is all very well and good but in order to make such things and stir such pots, ingredients are needed and we were in short supply yesterday so we set ourselves a challenge. 

Without going to a supermarket and at 3:50pm on a rainy Saturday afternoon, could we source all the ingredients needed for an Autumnal bake?

the-search-for-crumble-ingredients

Yesterday, on Social Media, I asked whether I should make a crumble, cobbler or cake with my finds from this challenge. The resounding and totally overwhelming answer was crumble. The topping choices were more diverse and there was about a 50/50 split between cream and custard. 

So back to the adventure in question… with raincoats and wellies on we set out to explore our options.  Foraging was my first thought but was quickly squashed by the rivers of water running down the road and the muddy swamps that were appearing on the footpaths. 

We drove to a few, local farm shops but despite the warm welcomes we received, we couldn’t find both the fruit we needed for the crumble and the kale I had hoped would go with the casserole that was already in the slow cooker. 

At 3:56pm I suggested that we try Goldhill Organics in Child Okeford. The only problem was that they close at 4pm on a Saturday.  

goldhill-organics-farm-shop

As we were not going to be defeated by a mere 4 minutes, I phoned ahead and spoke to a really helpful man who said that he would keep the shop open for us (we were only about 5 minutes away by this point).

organic-onions
kale

Pretty much the first thing that I saw as I entered the shop were beautiful bags of organic kale. As you can see, I clutched a bag tightly as I wandered around the rest of the shop – I was so happy to have found some! 

I was asked how many cooking apples I needed when I stated that I was searching for some. ‘About enough for a crumble,’ was my answer. Mr D-F sniggered (he didn’t think that was an appropriate answer). However, the lovely man in the shop reassured me that it was a very good measure indeed and brought out Goldhill’s own cooking apples for me to add to my stash. 

i-see-plums

It was at this moment that I spotted plums! I think I’m actually saying ‘ooh plums!’ while the photo was being taken.  A plum and apple crumble would be just the thing! 

I also walked away with some bananas (not particularly seasonal, but I had planned for caramelised bananas and berries on porridge for the morning’s breakfast), some fresh ginger and a packet of gluten free biscuits – Mr D-F’s choice. 

gluten-free-apple-and-plum-crumble

Although our meal ended quite late, with lots of chats and catching up, the crumble was made…

…and it was delicious. 

I’m feeling in need of some more Autumnal food traditions. There’s chutneys and jams but what else is there to bake or create? If you have a thought, please shuffle down the page a bit and inspire me by leaving a comment. I know you love that bit! H x

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What I’m Currently Reading ~ September

What I’m Currently Reading ~ September

I feel as if I am the last person on the planet to read this book. More significantly, why has it taken me THIS LONG to read it? It’s amazing!

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

I’m about a quarter of the way through and I catch myself during the day eagerly looking forward to the evenings, which is when I can steal a chance to curl up and read a bit more about the goings on in Eleanor’s life. I’m probably talking to you right now and you’re like ‘I’ve so read this. Have you been living under a rock for the past year?’ 

But if you’re not thinking this and you haven’t read it. I cannot even find the words to describe how refreshingly different this book is.

I won’t spoil any of it. I will just say that I spent the first few pages being frustrated with Eleanor and the way that she deals with daily life and ultimately, the people she comes into contact with. Whereas, I now find that I have such a massive fondness for her. I would love to dive into the pages and experience a conversation with her. I especially, at this point in the book, would like to talk to her about her slightly alarming weekend intake of Vodka (…and why Vodka of all things?!)

Anyway. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Madeleine Shaw a Year of Beautiful Eating Image 2.JPG

So my other book indulgence for this month has been, yes of course, a recipe book! The beginning of September and the cold, dewy mornings has inspired me to fill the kitchen with bubbling pots, crumbles in the oven and stews in the slow cooker. I am already a huge fan of Madeleine Shaw as she really helped us out when I was struggling to cook healthy, gluten-free meals for Mr D-F.

She didn’t come round and cook with me, or offer advice over the phone (just to clarify)! I just bought her first book Ready, Steady, Glow and was hooked.

Her more recent book: A Year of Beautiful Eating advocates the use of fresh produce when it is in season and therefore at its most nutritious. The recipes are set out into seasons and each has a breakfast, lunchbox, snack, sides and main course section. I always find with Madeleine’s books that she packs a lot of useful recipes into one book and you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

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We have already tried this recipe (above) and it is the first time that I actually enjoyed eating aubergines – so that’s got to be a good start.

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Also, for everyone who asked me about the recipe for these Oat and Peanut Butter bars that I put on Insta last week, the recipe is IN THIS BOOK! They need minimal ingredients and are so delicious. I think I made about six bars in the week. How many did I eat? One and a half. Where did the rest go? Well… you can guess I’m sure (sideways glance at Mr D-F, who is probably reading this and then shouting ‘What, they were good. Weren’t they meant for me?!)

A lovely recipe book, especially for those looking for less gluten and less sugar in their food. It gets a big tick from me.

So, that’s it for September reads. I’m going to continue to wistfully think of my evening reading nook and catching up with Eleanor. Are you into any good books at the moment or is life a bit hectic? Please whack in the comments what your favourite read of the summer was. I need something to fill the void when I’ve finished this one! x

This post contains an affiliate link – this doesn’t affect you at all, but if people purchase from the linked shop after clicking, it might eventually cause a tiny payout to me. What would I do with it? Probably go out for a cup of tea and a slice of cake! You are welcome to join me. x

 

 

Travelling 1000 Miles For A Weekend Wedding

Well, not exactly 1000 miles, more like 995.2 according to Google maps. Nevertheless, it was a long way to travel for 2 days but worth it in every way as we not only got to fly, spend some time in the sunshine but more importantly, we got to be a part of the celebrations as Mr DF’s cousin and his lovely fiancée got married.

Apologies for any disjointed spelling, wobbly images or other glitches in this post (hopefully there won’t be too many); I’m currently typing as we drive through the mountains from Monaco, where the legal ceremony took place, to an 18th Century country house situated in amongst olives groves and vineyards.

As the internet connection is sketchy at best, I thought I would share just a few photos from the weekend for now, wish you a happy Sunday and have a proper catch up next week. X

August Is Over And I’ve Been…

Loney planet magazine on table

READING: Lonely Planet Magazines

I’m really feeling the pull to go and explore places that I’ve never been to or revisit those that involved too brief a stay. I’m thinking short weekends away, exploring coastal coves and trying as many different foods as possible.

me-watching-tv

WATCHING: The Dark Tourist on Netflix

See… quite clearly there is some serious wanderlust going on here. I don’t think I’ll be visiting any of the places featured on this series as most of them gave me the mega-creeps. Hence, the serious face.

Lakeland terrier at the beach in Dorset

DOING: Getting outside as much as possible

Walking, kayaking, al fresco lunching… anything involving getting out and about.  Even on the days with the downpours, full waterproofs make you feel like you can stand pretty much anything.

watermelon-and-halloumi-salad

MOSTLY EATING: Watermelon

In everything and with everything. My favourite way is to put it in salads, with a bit of salt and pepper.

editing-home-movies.

LAUGHING AT: Our home movies

It’s only when we record ourselves that we realise how much time we spend just being silly. I love silly.

So, August is officially over and we’re left wondering what September will bring. Keep an eye out on Instagram for daily updates and short videos from me (and us).

…and now it’s your turn. If you could sum up August in 5 words or highlights, how would you describe it? I can’t wait to read about it in the comments below. x

 

Kayaking (And Capsizing) At Studland Beach

Kayaking (And Capsizing) At Studland Beach

This week, Mr DF was on holiday and instead of going abroad (and having to leave the dog – too sad a thought), we decided on packing the week out with day trips and catching up with friends.

One of the activities on our hit list for a while has been to try kayaking. Although we were tempted to go all maverick and try this out on our own with borrowed equipment, we saw a place that runs tours and training from Studland. After phoning Fore Adventure and talking to a really upbeat member of their team there, I was convinced that we were making the right decision and would have the best possible experience.  The bonus being that they provide you with everything you could possibly need.

(This is not a sponsored post – I just really rate these guys). 

 

fore-adventure

view-out-to-sea

The weather was perfect and the sea was calm. We had a practise paddle on the beach before we left and spent almost 3 hours out on the water.  Josh, our guide, talked to us about the marine life, rock formations, the history of Old Harry and (my favourite bit) – which seaweeds you can forage for and eat!

View out to Old Harry

Kayaking Around Old Harry

Old Harry On A Kayak

We travelled close to the shore, from Middle Beach to around Old Harry’s Rocks and back. It was quite easy paddling until we rounded the land at Old Harry where the waves were a bit more choppy. I actually found this bit more entertaining as we got continually sprayed with water as we hit the waves. The only frustrating part was when I turned around to check if Mr DF was managing ok (I was paddling like mad and we weren’t going anywhere) to find him with his paddle on his lap admiring the view! Ha!

Once back into the more sheltered waters we were given challenges and games to play; like swapping seats, kneeling up and then standing. It was during one of our seat swapping manoeuvres that the whole kayak flipped over and sent us straight into the sea. We were quite proud of ourselves, if a little soggy.

mint-choc-chip-ice-cream

boat-anchored

We ended the day by getting ice-cream and sitting to watch the world go by.  Very importantly I didn’t give up the traditional choice of Mint Choc-Chip, especially after I tried Salted Caramel – I just don’t get the excitement over it. Mint Choc-Chip is a winner, every time!

Let me know if you are thinking of doing some kayaking adventures or if you have any suggestions for our next activity. Just scroll down a little way, and enter a comment. It’s really easy. Promise.

(To everyone I have seen over the holidays and bored senseless with my crazy ideas, no, I have not yet tried skateboarding. There is, however, still time…)

All A Bit Too Much

I’m in a bit of a slump. The weather has changed in the UK from being the most amazing, hot, continuously incredible weather to the more usual unsettled, cloudy, sometimes warm, sometimes tipping with rain summer weather that we are more familiar with here. With the change in the weather, comes a shift in my mood from outward looking to more inward, closed and frustrated.

I’m trying not to let the need for layers and wellies every day get me down. I really am. I’m still heading out, finding new places to visit, even if it’s pouring down but somehow it feels like everything is just that little bit harder. By the way, if anyone knows of anywhere to get great juices or smoothies in North Dorset, please let me know, I really want to find a place.

So, today’s moment of frustration was directed at my growing collection of plants. Poor things. Most of them are the easiest plants to care for on the planet but recently I have been feeling the weight of responsibility towards them. Especially since despite my careful attentions, my misting and watering schedule, my Kentia Palm is still looking a bit brown and crispy! The plant I’m loving the most right now (although I must be careful not to show obvious favouritism) is my massive Sansevieria. He’s a beast and always looks happy, no matter what attention, or lack of, he receives!

large sansevieria

kentia-palm-looking-crispy

See what I mean? Brown and crispy. A bit like our lawn a few days ago 😦

mini-sansevieria

cacti-mantlepiece

After I have finished writing, I will take all of these little fellows above, downstairs and give them a water and maybe even a listen to the radio. Hopefully that will absolve my guilt over pretty much abandoning them for the last few weeks.

My mind has been firmly elsewhere for months. I started a new job, which needed (and still needs) a lot of focus. I also have had lots of new plans and thoughts. Last night, I couldn’t sleep for all of the exciting thoughts whizzing around my head. These little sparks of ideas are especially consuming because I am in conflict with them. My creative self (which takes at least half of my physical self) is all ready to go ahead. My anxious self (quite definitely the other half) keeps holding back.

Hmmm…

As always, you’ll be the first to know when (and if) I take the jump.

H x

 

Blueberry and Lemon Muffin Recipe (Gluten and Refined-Sugar Free)

Blueberry and Lemon Muffin Recipe (Gluten and Refined-Sugar Free)

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ideas-baking-book

Hello again! Is it Friday already? Hooray!

You might have read on one of my recent Instagram posts, that I was frustrated with myself. I had previously made some delicious savoury muffins by following an American recipe online. It had taken ages, as I had to translate all of the measurements from American Cups to metric and foolishly, I hadn’t written it down. So when the time came for me to want to make them again, I took a deep breath, ready to embark on the translating for a second time. A gorgeous friend had given me this beautiful notebook a few months ago and I got it out (and a newly sharpened pencil) ready to diligently copy down the recipe. All was not going to be that simple however. As I searched the internet for this favourite recipe, I found that the recipe, and indeed, the entire baking website, was no longer in existence.

I spent the next hour, perhaps it was even two, searching for something comparable. Nothing piqued my interest… either the recipes had gluten in them, or sugar, or un-pronounceable ingredients.

Something wonderful did occur in that moment of desperation… I decided to develop my own recipe. I promise I had no idea how it was going to turn out, I didn’t even know where to begin until I glanced up to my cook books and saw Mary Berry’s encouraging face smiling down at me. After having a flick through one of her books, I decided to re-create her Lemon and Blueberry muffins but make them gluten and sugar free. I had to adapt some of the method as well, as without gluten, I wasn’t sure how well they would rise.

I was so pleased at how they turned out. It really was a stroke of luck! What’s so much more exciting is that we can eat them and still feel great!

defrosting-blueberries

lemon-and-blueberry-muffins-cake-mix

lemon-and-blueberry-muffins-pre-baked

Tip: I always have a packet of frozen blueberries in the freezer. They can be added to so many things and take a very short amount of time to defrost.

Makes approximately 12 muffins:

  • 275g Buckwheat flour (I either get mine online or at Holland & Barrett)
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 70g coconut sugar (again, online or at Holland and Barrett – it is expensive but I tend to use it sparingly if I can)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Eggs
  • 200ml Almond Milk (unsweetened – you can get this from most supermarkets)
  • 100g Softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 150g Blueberries

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas mark 6 and line your muffin tray with paper cases (I used to drop the mixture straight into a greased muffin tin, but cases make putting the muffins in lunchboxes and carrying them about, so much easier!
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, coconut sugar and lemon zest) – I used a stand mixer, but you can easily use a food processor (except for when adding the blueberries later) or a regular bowl and spoon.
  3. Mix in the eggs, softened butter, milk and vanilla extract until everything is evenly combined – the mixture will seem gloopy, but it’ll be fine in the end!
  4. Stir in the blueberries.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes – keep an eye on them. You want them just turning golden brown.
  7. Allow them to cool in the tray for a few minutes before putting them on a wire rack.

Enjoy! H x

finished-lemon-and-blueberry-muffins

This post contains affiliate links – this doesn’t affect you at all, but if people purchase from the linked shop after clicking, it might eventually cause a tiny payout to me. What would I do with it? Probably go out for a cup of tea and a slice of cake! You are welcome to join me. x