When it’s cold and wet outside I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen, pottering about with slowly simmering pans on the stove or baking bread. Sadly we don’t have a huge kitchen so no room for a table in there which is probably a good thing as I’m imagining myself sitting there with a comfy old cushion underneath me, a pot of tea on the table (which would no doubt be all cup ringed and marked), a stack of cookery books all dog eared and pieces of paper torn off envelopes to keep my place for a “oh that looks nice” recipe….I’d wave goodbye to the boy as he cycles off to work and then plonk myself down and take root….anyway I can dream of the day we have a roomier space and content myself in the meantime while washing up with gazing out the window watching the birds at the feeders hanging from the cherry tree….
Baking bread has become part and parcel of my routine, some weeks I only seem to bake on a Sunday, other times I need to do a mid week bake as well…..I’ve been using a natural starter (or a sourdough starter) to make bread for getting on for a couple of years now I suppose, and while it means the bread takes longer to make it’s really more time to allow the bread to prove and rise rather than actually doing anything to it…and I can happily fit my work in and around the bread making.
Usually I add a few handfuls of oats, some honey, a selection of seeds and a glug of oil to the bread flour…whenI remember a grated apple gets put in to as I’ve found that seems to stop the bread drying out too quickly…I can’t really eat bread anymore myself but my boyfriend is a bit of bread fiend and will happily have toast with honey as a pudding in the evening, however there’s a limit to what he can eat and I think homemade bread is always best in the first day or so, so the apple (and the oats too) help stop it going stale too quickly.
Sometimes I like to use an old bread tin, I inheribted a couple of proper oldies when my Nanny died, I think she used them for fruit cakes or tea breads. But mostly I leave the bread to rise in a proving bowl and then just up-end it onto a lined baking tray, cut the top and pop it into a hot oven where the shape it comes out is a happy surprise…sometimes the loaves look all artisanal and I feel right proud, other days they look more like the Venus of Willensdorf..but the boyfriend asures me they all taste good.
Yesterday was a mid week bake day and I ended up letting the bread rise a bit too long in the proving basket (2 hours rather than 1) and when I turned it out on to the tray it sank a little and spread out….I cut the top and put it in the oven….it rose better than I thought it was going to and smelt…my eyes close now as I love the smell when the oven door opens and it’s that warm and homey smell….so good…perhaps a bit too good as within half an hour someone was making hints to bread and honey as a little evening snack…..the bread seemed very light and springy though and I’m not sure if it even touched the sides of his mouth. I didn’t add seeds or apple to this loaf, it’s just oats and honey along with the flour and starter.
And while I’m talking homey comforts…..tah dah…I’ve finished my second pair of socks. I’m really pleased with these as they were a bit me being being all thrifty and using something I had that had been ferreted away in a cupboard…I bought this wool um, 4 nearly 5 years ago I think and it wasn’t getting used…these have been on my feet the past few days and my toes are so so warm……it’s Shetland Spindrift wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. The colour is damson and each sock took about a ball, there’s a wee bit left so I’ve made a couple of tiny balls and have tucked them into my darning tin so I can at least repair them in a matching colour for the first couple of darns. I’m quite a …cough cough…tight knitter…if Anne is reading this I know she’ll be laughing as I don’t think she’s ever seen anyone knit as tight as me….I just need a glass of wine and then my tension seems to improve no end.
I guess I need to test these out a bit first but on warmth alone I’d certainly think of using this wool to knit socks with again…
I’ve spent the past few days reading this amazing book by Debbie Zawinski. (My boyfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s and it’s such a lovely present…sheep and socks…awesome)
I’d mentioned the book after hearing a review for it on a Knit British podcast (which is so good to listen to, Louise reviews some really interesting knitting books and I’ve got a long list of books I’m waiting for my local library to get in for me) …In the Footsteps of Sheep is the story of how Debbie walks and travels around Shetland and some of the other islands at the top of Scotland, collecting wool from the different breeds of sheep that she finds and then goes on to knit socks from that wool…the people she meets are all fascinating and the pictures of the sheep are amazing, you’ll never think all sheep look the same again.
It’s a really brilliant read and even though I’m a beginner knitter, the patterns for the socks are much easier to understand than a lot I’ve seen. It’s such a great book and I’m keen to try out the breeds mentioned in it. In case you’re wondering, there are substitutes given for the wool she has used in her speical socks such as WYS Aire valley so you don’t have to go all the way to Shetland to gather your own wool.
I really like books like this, a combination of things to make and the story behind them.
Mentioning no names, it seems that the shawl thief has struck once again….I’ve already had to share the shawl with him in the evenings, he perches on the arm of the sofa and gives me a right old fashioned Paddington Bear stare, cheeks all puffed out and whiskers forward, then he clambers over the boyfriend’s lap and climbs all over me, nestles in my lap and paws the shawl so it folds around him. But this morning was the limit…I’d only been in the kitchen long enough for the kettle to boil, and came back to find himself all comfy and sprawled out right where I’d been sitting….
….when I asked what he thought he was doing…..he chirped and curled himself all up on his back, wriggling his paws and toes at me as if to say “I’m far too cute to be made to move”…..
He’s been a bit windy again lately, all trumpety trombone noises so there is always the risk of his secret weapon being released if I pick him up, and I’m sure you’ll be more than a little shocked to know when I tried to take the shawl away he bit me, not very hard, he just holds on and shakes his head…I’ve seen cats do something similar with kittens so I’m obviously being told off for trying to steal “his” shawl….I figure it’s easier to just leave it be and hope it doesn’t get too covered in cat fluff.