Sunday, 17 August 2014

Summer Summary

It's been a busy time as you will have gathered by the long gaps between posts so here's a quick summary of what's been happening at the Country House....

At the beginning of the summer we built something mahoosive in the garden with the help of friends. I'll add a picture of the finished thing in a future post.

 I learned how to do nail art with some friends and now I'm addicted!  Below is a green base with white dots added using a white nail pen.
Our bumper crop of french beans sent me searching for a recipe to use them up.  This is as it says on the jar green bean chutney courtesy of  It's bottled up and having it's little rest to let all the flavours infuse before we try it.  It's the first time I've made this recipe but it looked and smelt great.  And it got rid of a LOT of beans!
Himself and I headed for the North Devon coast on one of the many hot sunny days we've had recently for a spot of body boarding.  We were on the beach when a real life rescue launched into action.  Luckily no one was seriously hurt and the way the various services had sprung into action and cleared a space to allow the helicopter to land had been so impressive that when the helicopter took off the whole beach gave them a round of applause.  Then everyone hunted down their towels, lilos and small children that had been blown all over the place by the down draft of the chopper blades!  Those of us who had stood and watched (doh) got a very sandy whole body exfoliation.
I love baking!  I can't resist cookery books and as soon as I get a new one, I sit and read through it and put page markers against the recipes I most want to try out.  It's great when you find a reliable writer of reliable recipes and I'm currently inspired by Richard Bertinet.  He has a number of videos on You Tube which are worth a look.  I took one of his bread making courses and enjoyed it so much that I hunted down his other books and have been drooling over "Cook".  In a pastry shop I'll always reach for the apple based thing and below is exactly what I'd choose.  So to find the recipe in "Cook" (P.189) was one thing, to make it and find how easy and delicious it was, made my day! My apple slices are a bit on the wonk but I'll just have to practice and naturally eat share the results.
I had promised myself that I was going to have a go at macarons.  I'd tasted some from various places and my Scottish genes were outraged at the prices for a tiny little pack of 6!   With holiday time coming up I armed myself with a book called Mad About Macarons and these little beauties were the result of 4 hours and every utensil and bowl in the kitchen!  BUT if you thought you couldn't make macarons, I urge you to try this book!  It's straightforward and uncomplicated.  The resulting messy kitchen was completely my disorganised fault, not that of the author, Jill Colonna. She warns that macaronage is addictive which I dismissed thinking, "nah", it's just another pretty pastry.  I was sooooo wrong.  Now I'm over my fear of the macaron, I want to get started on all the endless flavouring and colouring possiblities.  Coffee and walnut, pistachio, rose, lavender, mango and passion fruit, Bloody Mary, strawberry etc etc.  My second attempt at strawberry tasting macarons was a lot less messy and quicker but the batch was bizarrely blue after I got my colouring completely muddled and partly brown once they'd cooked.  They were the Quasimodo of Macarons so I'm not showing you them   (Although they tasted unbelievably good!)
 And finally our village show was this weekend and the sun shone.  :)  It seems everyone in the village has a tractor.

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