23.03

Cider-with-Rosie-first-days-of-Spring-8

S P R I N G    F O R W A R D S . . .

Spring is full of so many little joys.

Hot cross buns thick with salted butter. Tulips and daffodils and (my favourite), hyacinths in vases. The door to the garden flung open wide in the morning, to let the dogs pootle in and out whilst I eat my breakfast. Watching the little robins who, for the third year in a row, are busy building nests in the ivy on the fence at the end of our little garden. The promise of a farmer’s market that in just a few short weeks, will be overflowing with ripe peaches and sweet watermelon and all the other treats I dream about during the long winter.

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This Spring is tasting extra sweet to me so far this year, and I’m not sure I could even explain why right now. It feels so full of promise, and anticipation, and I’m soaking in every bit of it I can.

On the first official day of Spring, this past Sunday, I woke up fairly early and sat eating my breakfast whilst the dogs played on the deck. I managed to catch them in the middle of ripping apart some old grasses they’d stolen from an old hanging basket, and have you ever seen such a pair of guilty faces before?

I’m not sure if maybe it was better when Teddy used keep Elsie at arms length- these days they’re thick as thieves and double the trouble, and I don’t think I can keep up with the pair of them!

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Later on in the morning we went out, the four of us, up to our favourite woods, and Jason and I managed to come home almost as thick with mud as the two puddle-waders we own.

The little lane up to the woods has a few beautiful blossom trees growing along it, so I made Jason stop the car whilst snapped a few photos.

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We came home to hot cross buns and afternoon naps, before leaving the dogs behind tucked up in their beds whilst Jason and I nipped into Guildford to run a couple of errands.

I usually feel oh so impatient for one of our beautiful English summers, once spring has arrived, but this year I don’t at all. This year, I’m enjoying every single day of it.

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21.05

Cider-with-Rosie-lemon-thyme-glazed-bundt-cake

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered during the past few years, it’s that the joy of ‘home grown’ is unlike anything else. There’s something special about how unhurried (not to mention patience-inducing) the process of growing is, and the results are all the more satisfying for it. It becomes part of the day’s routine- watering, waiting, nurturing, and tending to. Poking seeds into soil and repotting spindly herbs, then watching them grow wild. Being able to snip a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or sage straight from the garden to add to a dish, instead of having to turn to a few sad stalks taken from a plastic bag from the fridge.

Because of the abundance of herbs we’ve got growing in our little garden at the moment, I’ve been finding new ways of incorporating them into…just about everything. Mint leaves into lemonade and soft drinks and just plain old iced water. Fried sage on top of thinly sliced and fried pork loin steaks. Rosemary inside chicken (along with garlic and lemon, of course), then into the oven for roasting. My favourite combination though, of a herb plus any other flavour on earth, is that of thyme and lemon. I first tried it a year or so ago in the form of a heavily-frosted cupcake (I even blogged about it!) and have been obsessed with the idea of making my own lemon/thyme cake ever since.

Almost a full year on, and I think I’ve got it down. Glazed lemon cake is the taste of my childhood so will forever hold a special place in my heart, but the addition of thyme makes this version so much more grown up. It brings a faintly aromatic, grown-up punch of flavour to a perfectly simple cake, whilst a few tablespoons of yoghurt keep the cake itself (made from a tinkered-with basic sponge recipe) moist and tender-crumbed.

It’s so simple, so delicious, and tastes so perfectly summery, it’s practically a crime not to make one right away…

Bundt-cake-Cider-with-Rosie Cider-with-Rosie-food-photography Thyme-Cider-with-Rosie Lemon-glaze-recipe-Cider-with-Rosie-lifestyle-blog Cider-with-Rosie-making-lemon-glaze-cake Lemon-thyme-cake-recipe

The ingredients are listed first in ounces because I learnt how to make this base cake recipe using pounds and ounces in probably about 1993, and still can’t quite bring myself to measure it out in grams. I’ve listed them though, in case your scale won’t work with silly old-fashioned British measurements…

Ingredients ::
8oz (225g) soft unsalted butter
8oz (225g) caster sugar
8oz (225g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tbsp plain natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 whole lemon, plus the juice of 1/2.
Leaves from 2 small sprigs of fresh thyme

Approx. 300g icing sugar
Approx. 4 lemons

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and generously butter a bundt tin.

- Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk together the eggs, natural yoghurt and vanilla extract in a jug, and sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Grate the lemon zest and add the thyme leaves into the flour mixture.

- Add half the egg mixture to the butter and sugar then beat to combine, and then add in half the flour and beat again. Repeat until all the ingredients are combined, and beat until the batter is smooth and light. Beat it for about thirty seconds longer, fold through the lemon juice, and then stop.

- Pour out the batter into the tin, smooth over the top, and then place it into the oven to cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.

- Sift out the icing sugar (approximately 300g, but it’s totally flexible!), and then squeeze in enough fresh lemon juice to bring the glaze to a consistency just slightly thicker than double cream.

- When the cake is cool to the touch, pour over the glaze (with a plate underneath the rack to catch excess!) and decorate the top with a few thyme leaves and, if you can find them, thyme flowers too.

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^^ There’s nothing like a good drizzle, is there? ^^

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I reckon if you made one this coming Saturday, it’d carry you through the whole bank holiday weekend on a wave of tea, cake, and crackly lemon glaze…

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Posted in BAKING, CAKE, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SPRING, SWEET

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07.05

Fire-pit-smores-Cider-with-Rosie-cover

Tania, Freya and I bonded over food. The first time we ever met was over drinks and French fries in a pub just off the King’s Road. The next time we met up was at Borough Market, which then turned into an evening of cheese fondue at Freya’s flat over in London Fields. Since then, every time we’ve seen one another, whether it’s been for birthdays, special occasions, or just a quick half hour catch up somewhere in town before we all scatter off to different appointments, there’s been food involved in some form or other.

A couple of months ago we hatched a plan to combine our favourite things- cheese, wine, chocolate and uhh…each other (have I made it sound like we’re dating? Because I kind of feel like I have…). We dubbed it ‘Cheese Night’, because we’re dead original like that. And this weekend, on a Sunday evening that stayed *just* dry and warm enough that eating outside didn’t feel like a punishment, our plans came together!

Cheese-board

Let me set the scene…

The night was to be held at the Chappel household (that’s ours), and Tania, Freya and her husband Adam, and Jason and I were each to purchase a couple of different types of cheese, some saucisson (Tania recently introduced me to the wonders of saucisson, and now I’m nothing short of obsessed), a bottle or two of something cold and crisp, and one essential component (you know, marshmallows, biscuits, chocolate) of the s’mores that I’ll get to talking about later on. The scheme was a good one, foolproof! Except that what we actually did was each buy loads of everything, so we ended up with basically an entire deli counter and fromagerie set out on a table in our back garden! Just as well that there’s no such thing as too much cheese, right?

^^ Up there we’ve got a creamy Stilton called ‘Cropwell Bishop Beauvale’, a cows cheese with a vein of ash, Compté, and three different types of saucisson (garlic, venison, and straight up). What you can’t see is all the bread, the three other types of cheese sitting just out of shot on the board, the caprese and green salads, smoked sunblush tomatoes, and olives to boot. And crackers too. Oh, and radishes. ^^

To go alongside our garden dinner party, Rekorderlig sent us over a few bottles of their beautiful fruit ciders as part of their #BrighterNights campaign! It couldn’t have been a more perfect opportunity for cider drinking to take place, and hey look! It’s cider, with Rosie! On Cider with Rosie! I think that’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in 3 years of blogging. (Totally worth the wait.)

Speaking of cider though, Rekorderlig is my hands down my favourite and has been for years. It’s sweet but not overly so, the flavours are divine (the strawberry and lime is the best if you ask me!), and poured out over a few ice cubes and some chopped fresh fruit, it makes the most perfectly effortless garden party drink going!

Rekorderlig-cider-CiderwithRosie Spring-garden-party-CiderwithRosie Rekorderlig-cider

^^ Mango & raspberry flavour is so good! And so is wearing Jason’s jumpers…^^

Garden-dinner-partyCider-with-Rosie

Once the cheese feast was over and done with and we’d all eaten our fill (which took an embarrassingly short amount of time considering we all consider ourselves cheese eating pros and two of our number, Tania and Jason, have Gallic blood…), we moved onto the second course. S’mores!

Jason and I looked into hiring out a fire pit for the evening reception of our wedding a little while ago, but decided that since the hire price was barely less than purchase price, we’d go ahead and buy it instead of having it just as a one off. And considering that we’ve had it maybe three weeks tops and have already worked our way through several bags of marshmallows and two loads of firewood, I think it’s not been a bad investment!

Firepit-Cider-with-Rosie Freya-and-Adam-Cider-with-Rosie How-to-make-smores-in-the-UK

Since Adam is Canadian and Freya herself is basically Canadian too (it’s a long story, you’ll have to ask her for it…), I was under strict instructions not to buy any, and I quote, ‘horrible British marshmallows that always taste really bad’! Instead, Freya came armed with a suitcase-sized bag of giant American marshmallows (those things are like four regular sized mallows all in one), which, I have to say, were the absolute bomb. They toasted up a treat, and were so ginormous they basically were a meal in and of themselves.

We stuck them on skewers, held them over the burning logs until they turned golden and melting, then sandwiched them between chocolate digestives and sat back to enjoy the bliss. I”ll tell you though, I’d not realised until recently quite what a messy business s’more-eating is! Ted had a whale of a time hoovering up the crumbs beneath our feet…

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We stayed sitting by the fireside late into the night, toasting endless rounds of marshmallows (plus the odd piece of bread too, that got slathered in butter and topped with flaky salt- divine!) and soaking up the woodsmoke. In fact, we soaked up so much woodsmoke that I can still smell it on my hair, even though I’ve washed it since! I don’t mind a bit though, because really, who could complain about catching a scent every now and again that brings back memories of crackling firewood, warm hands and faces, belly laughing until my stomach aches, and dreams of cabin holidays in Canada with the very best friends a girl could ask for.
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* This post was sponsored by Rekorderlig as part of their #BrighterNights campaign, who asked if I’d like to include a feature of their ciders here on Cider with Rosie and since Cheese Night was already in the diary, it seemed the most perfect opportunity! As ever, my opinions are nothing but honest, and I’m so happy to be able to recommend a brand of cider I’ve loved for years :)

** Photo of Tania holding a flaming marshmallow, and me holding a corker of a s’more, by Freya!

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Posted in COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, FOOD, FRIENDS, HOME, JASON, SPRING

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05.05

Cider-with-Rosie-lifestyle-photography1

If spring is the time for anything, it’s starting over. Taking a little time out to reflect on the year to date, noting the changes of the season, breathing in warmth, and letting go of the foggy hangovers of winter.

Last week was a week free of screens, for me. I shut my phone away the vast majority of the time, left my laptop to gather dust, and went out with my camera only once- to capture this most picturesque of spots in the bluebell woods.

With no time restraints, we allowed ourselves to linger. Walked farther than usual just for the sheer joy of being out in the sunshine, and seeing Teddy so happy to be charging around after birds and peering at the sheep through fences. I caught a new smattering of freckles, and gathered bites and bruises and bites and scratches on my legs from goodness knows what.

It’s amazing what you notice, sitting quietly in the woods for twenty minutes or so. The coarse pheasant calls punctuate the near-constant chorus of delicate bird song, and the wind sets the bluebell leaves squeaking as they rub up against one another. The sun streams though the trees bright as anything one moment, then fades away in an instant the next. Even the tiny insects sit and bask in the sunlight on tree branches and logs, and don’t seem the slightest bit phased to be sharing their turf with a busy spaniel. Though, to give credit where credit’s due, after five minutes or so of my sitting quietly on that fallen branch, Ted came and stood by my side and seemed to enjoy listening peacefully to the birds just as much as I did.

Lemonade-picnic-Spring Lemonade-in-the-woods

The crowning glory on top of an already overwhelmingly lovely moment was that little flask of lemonade. It had added to it a few ice cubes, a couple of slices strawberries and orange segments, and a few sprigs of marjoram- and it really was the most refreshing thing you could think of to enjoy mid-dog walk on a warm May day. I drank the lemonade, Teddy got the strawberries and crunched through the ice cubes, and the orange slices were a treat both for me and a few bold ants.

There’s a reason this patch of woods is the happy place I imagine myself in when I can’t drift off to sleep at night. There are even sheep to count, just beyond the bluebell patch…

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What I wore :: Breton top || Jeans || Welly boots.

Bluebells-CiderwithRosie Cider-with-Rosie-bluebell-woods-lifestyle-photography

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Posted in COUNTRY WALKS, FLOWERS, SPRING

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