Bryony's Blog

I'M REALLY PROUD!

(26/01/12)

I love orchids but I have never had (until now that is) any success in keeping them going after they have finished flowering. I bought this beautiful moth orchid before Christmas over a year ago from Tesco's, and it continued flowering well into March 2011. It looked healthy and I thought I would try and keep it going in the offchance that it might flower again.

I gave it the minimum of care, a very occasional splash of rain water and no plant food and then one day I noticed the beginnings of a flower bud! This is the result and I am so pleased and, if anything, the flowers are even larger than last year's.

So don't throw away your orchids when you think they are finished - neglect them totally and you may be rewarded like I have!

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Dusting down the pasta machine...it was worth it!

(19/01/12)

Whilst shopping this morning I spotted a packet of special pasta flour. Into the trolley it went along with a vow to dig out my pasta machine once back home. Miracle of miracles, I found it half hidden beneath my electric lean machine griller - as good a place as any. The ingredients were easy:

300g of pasta flour
3 large eggs, beaten
pinch of salt

I tipped everything into the mixer and within minutes had a lovely elastic dough. I wrapped it in cling film and left it to chill in the fridge for half an hour.

As I was up against time, my accompaniment to the pasta had to be ultra quick to prepare. I had bought a large bunch of asparagus which I washed and sliced half of each spear into inch long pieces, which I boiled in a little salty water until they were cooked but with a bit of bit. The discarded pieces of asparagus will be added to some fresh chicken stock tomorrow to make a soup.

In another bowl I mixed half a tub of ricotta cheese, just under the same amount of half fat creme fraiche, a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and a few torn basil leaves.

I made tagliatelle in the machine which was really easy once I realised you have to keep everything lightly floured or it will stick together. I dropped the lot into the pan of salty boiling water and cooked the asparagus separately. They took about the same length of time - I am not of the brigade which eats pasta almost raw, although I still like it to be firm but not white and hard in the middle. This took more than five minutes.

I drained the pasta, tipped it back into the pan and added the other ingredients. Tossed well, served up in warm bowls and dusted with a liberal amount of parmesan it made a splendid lunch - and I had made everything from scratch! Molto bene!

Simple fish supper - and cheap as chips but without chips!

(18/01/12)

Fillets of plaice in a parsley sauce with hard boiled egg for two

2 plaice, as fresh as fresh can be, filleted and skinned by your friendly fishmonger
1 or 2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
parsley, washed and chopped finely
3/4 oz butter
1 tablespoon flour
milk
salt and pepper
toasted breadcrumbs

Begin by rinsing the fillets of plaice and roll them up like loose cigars. Place them side by side in a shallow dish. Slice the hard boiled egg(s) and lay over the fish.

Make the white sauce by melting the butter with the flour in a non stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir for a minute or two before adding approximately a cup of milk. Bring to the boil again, stirring all the while, until thickened. You may need to add a little more milk. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Pour over the fish, scatter over a tablespoon of breadcrumbs and bake in a hot oven for about ten minutes or until the fish is cooked and bubbling.

TIP - You can always be naughty and dot with butter to add to the crunch, or even a little grated cheese and lemon zest if you want to pep it up a bit.

Serve with mashed potato and veg of your choice. This supper for the two of us cost 4 and was lovely and comforting. I shall definitely do it again.

January frosts + gorgeous sunrises

(17/01/12)

View this morning from the terrace - good to be alive, albeit with cold toeses and noses...

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I've been very busy making bags as per the photo. Soooo easy and such fun to do. The little antique shop in the village is having a go at selling them. Watch this space! I might become a millionnaire yet!

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