I feel rather grubby and I smell like tomato foliage. I've been out in the garden taming a few rampant tomato plants and giving the front garden a bit of a tidy up (read - hack/slash). I planted two new squash plants (thanks Mum) and they look pretty happy in the vege patch. I've got two big ones about to fruit, so I guess it will be fritters and tomato and courgette pasta sauces coming up. Johnny is making some ravioli for tea. He is stuffing them with mushrooms, ricotta and parmesan. I will make a fresh tomato sauce. I've got a few fat tomatoes coming on, but no red ones yet. I've got a fantastic crop of basil this year, my best ever. On the cooking front, this morning I decided to try out my new River Cottage Handbook on bread. I followed the basic recipe and techniques as well as I could and this was the result:
They look pretty good and taste good too. The technique was a little more complicated than the Jamie Oliver technique that I usually follow, but the result is very good. More even crumb and superb shape. I learned how to use a more complicated technique for kneading, which was hard work, but a real pleasure because I didn't get all caked with dough myself. I am really looking forward to experimenting some more.
Here are some more of my great Christmas presents. Our lovely friend B game me one of her beautiful embroidered cushions. I got to choose one from her collection, which was pretty tricky as they are all gorgeous. I feel very lucky to have one and will treasure it. Homemade presents really are very special. I also got a copy of the 2010 NZ Gardener Garden Diary. I must start filling it in because there has been a lot of action around here on the garden front. And my old friend Te Radar features as well with his very entertaining book about his 10 month adventure in sustainable country living Off the Radar. It is TV gardeners like Te Radar, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Lynda Hallinan who have really promoted gardening in many peoples lives. It is fashionable to dabble in vege gardening and there are some interesting products available for the amateur gardener. You can buy some incredibly expensive raised beds, some of dubious growing ability. My favourite find was individual seed potatoes growing in little pots which made me snigger to myself.
It has been much cooler today. Miss Dog has been hovering around me constantly, and enjoyed a walk this morning. We found some delicious plums on the side of the road.
Hope you had a great day!