Thursday, June 24, 2010

peonies and patriotism

Can you believe I bought these gorgeous peonies in Ikea?  You never would, would you?

There were sulks round Farley Mansions as I had so far managed to have gone peonie-less in the very short peony season but hurrah, on a trip to Ikea to stock up on bottles for elderflower cordial, there they were.. and reduced to 50p a bunch. Most were overblown or rotten but with eagle eyes I found four bunches of gorgeousness. Bargain? I think so..  They were called Blomma which I imagine in Ikea language means bloom!

Did you watch the match? We had a world cup tea of cheese and chive muffins and cake for second half, no sucking oranges at half time though, just a couple of g and t's to steady the nerves.

I couldn't take the strain, so had busied myself making England football world cupcakes- and what is the best suited to the team colours- Red Velvet of course, patriotic eh?

Seemed to do the trick anyway, may the football madness continue a pace. Shall I send a care package to South Africa?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elderflowers and confusion at the chemists.

Have you noticed that there is a whole ton of elderflower blossom everywhere? I have been longing to concoct some cordial and finally got round to it last week.

Our local park has been brimming with the starry white flowers and I went to do some 'pruning'.

Returning home with armfuls, it was only then I checked the recipe and read it called for citric acid. So warning to you all, before you pick - get some in. You can buy citric acid online or try your local chemists as I did...
However what I thought would be a simple purchase turned into rather a mission as the first chemist had just run out apparently and refused to tell me when they were going to get some more in. Odd, I thought. Trekking on to the second chemist, they too were devoid of the stuff. I was exasperated and cried 'oh no where can I find some,i've been all over' (ever the drama queen) .The lady asked me what it was for and I explained to which she replied 'oh well you seem genuine' and reached under the counter and brought out a box!  It would seem that it is used for nefarious doings which made me think how could the first chemist obviously assumed that's what I would do. What a cheek..

I guess I do live the wrong side of the tracks, where they might not be used to  Tom and Barbara Good Life behaviour!

There are lots of recipes on the internet, but as I couldn't really work out how much elderflower I had.. I just winged it, but mainly based on this one.
So if you have a large bowlful of elderflowers- say an armful when picked, this should work.

To make the sugar syrup bring 1 and 1/2 litres of water to the boil with 1 kg of caster or granulated sugar, stir to check all the sugar has dissolved.
Whilst this bubbles away,  clean the flower heads by shaking any bugs off and removing any sign of brown flowers, I also gave them a quick dunk in a bowl of water.
I got a great tip through twitter from Easton Walled Gardens to pick the heads when they are fabulously fragrant and heavy with pollen! Don't you love it?

Pare two unwaxed lemons with a veggie peeler and then slice up the fruit and place with the rind in a the bowl of elderflowers.

Pour over the sugar syrup and stir in 50g of citric acid. Simples.

Cover and leave to stand for at least 24 hours, some recipes advise 48 hours, which is what I did as I had also forgotten to get any bottles.

The house was wonderfully scented with lemony fragrance.
Strain through muslin or a new jay cloth and pour in to sterilised glass bottles. Wash and rinse the bottles and place in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Using a jug and a funnel pour into the hot sterilised bottles.  Or pour the cordial into plastic bottles and freeze for future use.

Elderflower cordial is such a delicious tipple,dilute with still or fizzy water and garnish with sliced lemon and mint. A summer's day could be magnificent with a cool glass of cordial in your hand, use it with icing sugar to ice lemon cupcakes or try it poured on ice cream.
Or mix up a cheeky cocktail with a shot of vodka, cordial,  lemon juice and soda water, shake it all up in your cocktail shaker and serve with lots of ice. Doesn't that make your mouth water?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beach Huts and Picnics

So following on from our previous adventures, the Chap and I hotfooted it up to Yorkshire and to our dear friend's birthday celebrations in Whitby. Mrs Lee not only has a fabulous blog full of inspiring finds and mouthwatering recipes but the lucky lady is a proud owner of a scarlet red beach hut called Queenie.

As you can see it was the most glorious day -we were so lucky!
British seasides in the sun just can't be beat and what do you need  for that perfect day on the seaside- why a picnic, of course.
All laid out on a tartan woolie rug,just the right side of scratchy, wicker baskets full of lemonade and ginger beer, and a huge plastic chiller box filled with goodies.. egg and cress sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper, sausage rolls,  a homemade pork pie if you're feeling adventurous,  rolls filled with coronation chicken or ham. Loading melamine plates high and trying to avoid the sand from getting everywhere but of course it always does.
A flask of tea to warm you up after a quick dip in the freezing water, do you remember the Lift Lemon tea? oo that was the taste of seaside picnics for me. Shortbread biscuits, punnets of strawberries preferably bought from a roadside table and a dash to the ice cream van returning with 99's and cornettos for all the family. Now isn't that heaven?

Wouldn't you love to be a bathing beauty on one of these cossies?

The Golden Afternoon Tea Company's vintage seaside picnic is one of our most favourite things to do, we have a number of rugs, vintage deckchairs,vintage hampers and picnic sets to hire, all set with our unique china or melamine for the real retro flavour and packed full with deliciousness, sandwiches, cakes and cordials, there's even a little bottle with the sunshine in. Perfect for a day trip to the seaside.

If you're like me and you adore all these vintage beach pictures, the flickr retro beach group is fab for inspiration and you must look through the Beach Bygones blog for lots of gorgeous pictures and interesting finds. You can even buy your own 1950's costume through her online shop, there are some fantastic styles there, just what you need for lounging on the dunes.

Happy picnicking

          We would love to hear some of your favourite seaside picnic memories, what reminds you of sunny seaside days?

Monday, June 14, 2010