Tuesday, February 25, 2014

'P' is for potatoes

"Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips."
Charles Dickens

Living in Victorian Britain, Dickens would have eaten a very well balanced diet consisting largely of local and seasonal organic fruit and vegetables. 
Funny, how despite the progress of the intervening years we’re now busy striving for those same ideals.
I am imagining Dickens mulling over the onomatopoeia of ‘potatoes’ while I toss up which seed potatoes to buy this year. 
Sarah Raven’s potato trial results are a great starting point as I ponder early, mid and late, and boil, mash and bake.
And then there are some varieties.. like Belle de Fontenay, that simply sound so mellifluent that I'm sure Dickens would have been seduced too!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day


Two wrens engaged in chatter,
wintersweet and flowering cherry, 
despite driving wind wedded to rain.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The perfect omelette

"I break some good eggs into a bowl, I beat them well, I put in a good piece of butter in the pan. I throw the eggs into it and I shake it constantly. I am happy, monsieur, if this recipe pleases you." Madame Poularde as quoted by Elizabeth David in “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine”

Now that the days are lengthening ever so slightly, the chickens have all started to lay again and I am relishing a simply cooked omelette... made with “good” eggs.
I love everything about an egg; nature's most perfect package. I turn each porcelain orb in my hand on the way back from the hen house, enjoying its unique shape and colour, speckle and lustre. Here's what I find.
Fig 1.
Nifty is a small, nearly white hen who lays an enormous nearly white egg. 
Biggest egg to date... 100 grams!

Fig 2.
Saffy favours a deep, coppery-brown burnished shell. 

Fig 3.
Darcy, the matriarch at 6 years old, (and the only surviving hen from our original four) leads by example and still lays a lightly speckled egg most days. 

Fig 4.
Little Hulanicki, hardly the size of a pigeon, lays a surprisingly large, pure white egg. Young and slim she struts around around in sixties style monochrome. I had been struggling for a name for her until I read Barbara Hulanicki's brilliant autobiography, 'From A to Biba'. The first Biba stores all had black and white chequerboard floors. Problem solved!

Fig 5.
Weighing in at a mere 12 grams I’ve no idea who laid this teeny egg. A phenomenon  called "fairy" egg, it didn’t have a yolk and was probably the result of a reproductive cycle getting slowly into gear. Not much good for the omelette.

Fig 6.
Binky lays a small roundish egg. She is a creature of habit with a passion for industrial architecture. She shuns the country-style nest box in the hen house and runs the length of the garden to lay under the oil tank. And the later I let the chickens out in the morning the faster she runs!

Who'd have thought egg collecting could be so much fun?

Monday, February 3, 2014


Anyone else inspired by the sunny weekend to sort out all those old seed tags ready for some early sowings?