Wednesday, 16 December 2009

a country mouse gets glittery

It's not your eyes, it's my photography. I borrowed a smart new camera from a friend to see if my antiquated model was at fault but no, it is definitely me. Perhaps I should claim I meant it to be in soft focus. It is LOVE after all, and a little soft focus is often a good thing in that department.
A great deal of mess was created while making this little decoration. The cones were gathered on a winter walk on a dry day last week and left in a box to let any sheltering beasties escape. Little R had a fine old time painting on the PVA glue and covering them, me, herself and the kitchen in glitter this afternoon while I studded the oranges with cloves, stopping every so often to mop up the combat zone. You can see our new tablecloth in this photo: christmas robins, from John Lewis. It was a present from Grandado and Little Granny and makes the room feel very festive. Fortunately, it is wipe-clean vinyl.
I wanted to include this picture, below, as a reminder to myself that the best things in life are sometimes free, or at least quite cheap. I was picking rosemary in the garden this afternoon to make spinach, lentil and rosemary soup from one of my oldest and most favourite cookbooks when I realised how wonderful it smelled, even in the depths of winter, so I picked a big bunch and filled a jug for the windowsill. The tea lights are in flowery glass holders from Ikea which cost 39p each. And the cherries are a wee treat for Little R, who loves them but was refused them the other day in M&S when I realised that they were £3 a punnet. I bought a handful loose today in the local greengrocer's for pennies.
The spinach, lentil and rosemary soup is a recipe I have made many, many times and is from one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks, Glasgow Greens, by Kathryn Hamilton. My lame photography does not do it justice but it is a wonderful deep green colour and looks extra vibrant when you add some natural yoghurt and a slice of lemon on top. And I see my red Ikea tray making an appearance here for the third time. What a loss I am to the world of food styling.
This soup is great if you're feeling a bit run down as it is so full of nutrition. It's easy to make and you can feel extra smug if you have grown most of the ingredients in your garden, as I have done in the past and plan to get my BTM into gear to do again. You start by softening 2 cloves of garlic and one finely chopped onion in olive oil until translucent, then add 115g red lentils and about 1 tbsp chopped rosemary and stir till coated. Add spinach in handfuls till wilted. The recipe says 450g of spinach but I have found it comes in 200g bags (when not home grown) so that's 2 big bags. Then add about a litre of vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 15-20 mins. Blend, season, and serve. The lemon really adds something and it can be nice to squeeze in some lemon juice as well.
We have some mummy friends and their children coming over to play tomorrow afternoon so I had another go at the River Cottage pear cake, this time making sure to caramelise the pears properly. It looks a lot better than my first attempt. I just hope there's no glitter in it.


  1. So I thought the soup looked great and then I got to this pear cake.... Yum... please, please post recipe. It looks like heaven...

  2. Thanks! Here is a link to the recipe:
    I now see that the quantities have been changed from the original recipe he made on the programme and the cooking time has been extended. Both things would definitely be an improvement as even on this third time of making the cake it is not right, although it is delicious. Also, you will see that it is MEANT to be a bit rustic looking and the pears are meant to sink in!

  3. Great post - I enjoyed it all.
    I'm making your soup right now! I'm hoping it will help my cold, it sounds like it should. I'm just waiting for the kettle to boil so I can add the vegetable stock...
    Your cake looks lovely too, lucky Mums.

  4. LOVE your pomanders (I made one last night) and love the glittery cones! I wrapped some pressies with glittery tissue last week and am still finding the stuff in my hair... x

  5. Hi Louise!
    I read your post earlier but was too busy to leave a comment. I don't know why you worry about your photos. They have a cosiness that I like.
    Now, for the invitation: I've added you to the list. No rules really; just a Christmas post with what you like about Christmas: songs, books, thoughts, extracts, anything. See you tomorrow.

  6. Hi Louise.
    I 'love' the clove studded oranges, and I like the look of the soup too. I have read a lot about HFW pear cake but hav enot got round to makign my own, yours does truly look deep and scrummy.

    As for the photo's, I think you are doing grande. I myself am an amateur and have only recently started experimenting with what I have around the flat. I like the real homely and cosy aspect of our food photo's. The only gripe I have now is with the evenings getting dark, that make many of the pictures look dark. But other than that, I am generally pleased and you should be too.

  7. That soup sounds yummy - and glitter is an improvement to anything, isn't it?

  8. Hi, thank you for having me at this little Christmas shindig!
    That river cottage cake looks absolutely scrumptious, and I LOVE the oranges with cloves....I used to make those and forgot about them, thanks so much for reminding me! They always smell so wonderful.
    It's been lovely dropping by, thanks for the hospitality!
    country girl

  9. Hi!

    That soup looks delicious! I'll keep it in mind, maybe for after the big-eating Christmas! Especially vegetarian, I'm in! :-)

    Have a lovely Christmas!

  10. Just popping in to say Hi. I am so glad that you liked your little giveaway present ~ I loved the jam jar jotter so much that I just had to but one for myself too! Have missed your blog and hope that you are ok :O) x

  11. Hello there and hope everything is well!
    Take care!

  12. Ooh the pear cake looks gorgeous! I hope you're OK, been a while since you posted (I'm a fine one to talk lol). Don't worry about the tray, if you look at my last couple of posts it looks like I'm being sponsored by whoever makes spotty things ;)

    Mel xxx

  13. Hello You -

    Popping by to see if you are ok - its been quiet, hope you are ok, or are you busy with work & home life?.

    Love Lydia xx