Friday, November 28, 2014

something new

gouache on natural linen panel
7 x 9.5 inches
available in the Restless Things shop

notes: it has to be said that i'm struggling with the seasonal shift from autumn to winter. i can't quite cope with the slower pace as i always like to be pottering around, making and doing or being outside. winter feels so claustrophobic! roll on spring...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

recipe for success

earlier this week i woke to the first noticeable frost which put a sparkle on all of the rooftops and leaf edges in the garden. the sun broke through and it ended up being a crisp but glorious day. perfect weather for a hearty pot of warming lentil dahl i thought…

a hearty late autumn dahl
serves 6 (but stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days)

olive oil
2 x mixed peppers
1 x large onion
1 medium courgette
4 x good sized carrots
1 x tin chopped tomatoes (or fresh if you have them)
1/2 red chilli
6 x cloves of garlic
2 x teaspoons marigold bouillon powder
500g red lentils
2L boiling water

add indian spices to taste but i used roughly
4 x teaspoons garam masala
1 x teaspoon ground cumin
1 x teaspoon whole cumin
2 x teaspoons mild chilli powder
2 x teaspoons ground coriander
1 x teaspoon ground ginger
1 x teaspoon kolonji seeds

the beauty of this recipe is you can just wing it and add whatever needs using up in the fridge, today I also added some pumpkin and wrinkly celeriac which worked just fine.

dice all the veggies and add to a large stock sized pot and fry gently in the olive oil. add all of the spices and garlic and stir through. mix in the lentils, half the water and the bouillon powder and stir, bring to the boil and then simmer adding more water up to the full 2 litres if required. simmer for 30 minutes.

serve with a fried egg on top if the mood takes you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


(above) one of monty's lovely dogs from 'the ivington diaries'
with the gradual shortening of the days the call to stay indoors and stay warm is getting stronger day by day. i've already started my autumn ritual of stocking up on books from the library to keep me going through these dark days when I can't get outside in the garden or allotment for a good dose of pottering. here's a few of my current faves…

river cottage handbook: chicken & eggs
i've long had the desire to keep my own chickens for eggs and since i've finally cleared most of the allotment i'm thinking about taking the plunge in the spring. i've looked at a number of books on chicken keeping over the past few years and none of them have come close to the river cottage guide which really answers a lot of important questions and gives step-by-step guides to their upkeep. who knew feeding chooks kitchen scraps was illegal?!

the ivington diaries: monty don
my love for monty don runs deep. ever since a friend bought me a copy of fork to fork about 20 years ago (and i never saw the tv programme until i found it on you tube this year!) i have always defaulted to the oracle of monty for all of my gardening queries. this book is great and i don't know why i've left it so long to read it as it has bountiful excerpts from his garden diaries which are both poetically anecdotal and informative whilst being completely down to earth and easy to read. a visit to monty's garden would truly be a wish come true but this book, as well as his many others, will continue to fuel my imagination…

jekka's herb cookbook: jekka mcvicar
i've been dipping in and out of this one over the past couple of weeks and there is truly a plethora of great recipes involving herbs which range from including your typical parsley and sage to more unlikely varieties such as catmint and myrtle. in recent years my love for fresh herbs has really developed and i usually have a great bounty of assorted herbs available year round so this book was great for getting some fresh ideas on how to use them. for me it is thyme right now. i just cannot get enough of it in everything and am definitely going to try the recipe for thyme souffle as it sounds divine!

Do you have any good winter reading recommendations - fiction or non-fiction?