Oct 312014


October has brought all that is lovely about the autumn: carpets of bright leaves, the sunlight slanting low through the trees, shiny conkers, new coats, and wellies and the return of woollen hand-knits. We’ve been kicking leaves in the woods, and searching for fossils on the blustery common. There have been days of rainstorms, often with that curious weather phenomenon that combines glowering low, black clouds with pockets of bright golden sunshine.

For one, whole, glorious day, D and I left behind the noisy muddles of our everyday, to spend a precious few hours in the enclave of calm that is the Bristol Lido. Back in the kitchen, my current obsession- Sara’s Almond Biscotti. I’ve made batch after batch of these, the perfect post-school-run breakfast, dunked in a cup of coffee, or an ideal mid afternoon pick-me-up with a quiet cup of tea. On the mantel, joining in once again with Katy and Charlotte for #stylingtheseasons, I gathered together a little collection of ‘October’ themed items.

With today being Halloween, of course there had to be pumpkins. The littlest boy, in the pumpkin patch, during a trip to the farm. The last word, once again goes to Anne of Green Gables:“I’m so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

As always, I’ve been looking back- to last October’s patchwork – and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for November.

November on Pinterest

 October 31, 2014  monthly patchworks 1 Response »
Oct 302014


October, for me, is resplendent with hedgerow pickings- hips and sloes, and with the bounty of the fruit trees, apple in particular. Thanks to a generous friend with an apple tree, and a ever-replenishing basket of free windfalls up the road from our house, there have been windfall apples in my kitchen every day this month. Whilst they sometimes get stewed, or added to a crumble, most of them end up in Windfall Apple Cakes, the cake tin being refilled with a fresh one each weekend. I’ve written a little about this cake, and shared the recipe, over at Leonie Wise’s gorgeous site Weekends Collected. Do head over there, if you have yet to pay a visit. It’s a lovely place to be. I’ve also been picking rose hips, with a fresh batch of Rosehip Jam in mind and I’ve written about my foraging adventures over on This is your Kingdom.

Of course, October wouldn’t be complete without a pumpkin or two. Whilst I haven’t grown my own, I did visit a local Pick Your Own Pumpkin farm with my friend Lou, leaving with pumpkins in a variety of sizes, and a pretty decorative gourd. Having carved our pumpkins, I will be saving the flesh to use in my annual batch of Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes. If you haven’t tried baking these, I can highly recommend them!

Sabrina and I have enjoyed seeing what you’ve been up to via the #growforagecook hashtag. Here are a few of our favourites for this month:

growforagecookoctoberTop row: @littlegreenshed, @amelie_and_richard, @margotbarbara

Middle row: @katgoldin, @foreadventure, @tomodachiwendymac

Bottom Row, @alexis.allan, @rachlees89, @nimblefingered

During October, I found out how the experts go about foraging, in an interview with Fore/Adventure. Sabrina, with an eye to next year’s harvest, shared her considerable knowledge about planning a kitchen garden: you can find part one here, and part two here. In November, we’re looking forward to toffee apples for bonfire night and to bottling and pickling our way towards a few festive gifts. This will be the last month of #growforagecook for 2014. We shall pause for the winter at the end of November, ready to start again in the spring.

How do you bring the outside in to your kitchen in November? Please do continue to share your own pictures, recipes or blog posts using the #growforagecook hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, or in the comments of this post. We look forward to seeing  hot soups, jars of chutney, and warming spirits to be squirrelled away for the cold months ahead.

 October 30, 2014  Grow Forage Cook 1 Response »
Oct 232014


I am documenting the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

Outside the kitchen window, the mornings are misty up on the distant hill. The days grow ever shorter and the nights grow ever cooler. Here on the table are gathered a collection of autumnal pleasures. It may be a cliche, but the natural element on the October table is not the usual flowers, but emphatically seasonal pumpkins, or squash, to be precise. These two beauties arrived in our weekly vegetable box, which is delivered from the local farm. I do love to cook with squash (squash risotto, squash and sage pesto and roasted squash and tomato soup are all favourites that spring to mind). In the short term, however, I cannot resist their chalky colours and decorative charms. These grace the table, whilst another sits on the mantelpiece with last year’s needle-felted pumpkins. Inevitably, at least one of them will wind up in a batch of Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes- a seasonal must in this house!

On these darkening days, a candle is always a comfort. At this time of year, I rediscover my love of scented candles, particularly those with festive flavours. I shall also be making a batch of my pinecone firelighters, which add spicy, peppery, fruity notes to the woodsmoke aroma of our open fire.

After the ritual of my morning coffee, I drink cup after cup of tea throughout the day, particularly when I am at home. This little cup I recently re-discovered at the back of a cupboard. I gave it to my  husband for his birthday fifteen years ago, shortly before we became a couple. At the time, he lived in a shared flat, and the cups of tea that he made for me came in a succession of rather suspect mugs, which was something of a joke between us. Sitting now, at our kitchen table in the home which we share with three sons, warming my hands on that same little cup, those intervening fifteen years seem both an eternity and a heartbeat.

Once again, my knitting has found its way onto the table. The yarn that I shared last month has been wound into a ball and, coupled with a skein of teal, it is on its way to becoming a soft and chunky cowl, to warm my neck on the winter days that are fast approaching. Next up on the needles is a cowl for my Mister, of which more is to come. Whilst I knit throughout the year, during the autumn and winter months, my thoughts constantly turn to my current project, and my fingers itch to pick it up and knit just one more row…

Finally, a magazine to curl up with and enjoy. I love elegant lifestyle magazines, taking huge pleasure in turning their thick, crisp pages. Oh Comely is a particular favourite, and one for which I happily have a current subscription. A moment’s pause, in a mercilessly chaotic week, to sip my tea, read a few pages and perhaps knit a row or two? The stuff of sweet October dreams.

Teal, green and yellow : the October table.

The kitchen story so far:

{the January table}

{the February table}

{the March table}

{the April table}

{the May table}

{the June table}

{the July table}

{the August table}

{the September table}

 October 23, 2014  out & about Tagged with:  8 Responses »
Oct 202014

conker collectors

conker collectors-2

conker collectors-4

conker collectors-5

conker collectors-3

conker collectors-7

conker collector

Three small boys set off for a walk on an October weekend, welly-footed and grubby-fingered. Their destination was an avenue of tall Horse Chestnut trees, bronzed leaves falling onto the grass below. Amongst the leaves, the shiny brown treasure trove of a thousand conkers.

Little fingers winkled them out of their spiky shells, smoothing them gleefully. Every pocket was stuffed to bursting with this autumnal bounty, the scent of leaf-mould spilling out with them over the kitchen floor when we returned home.

The wild boys have gone, for the moment, in playground lines of crisp school uniform. The conkers remain, appearing in the laundry basket, falling out of coat pockets, resting in piles halfway up the stairs. Waiting for the return of the small hands that warm them. In my brief moments of pause, I wait too.



 October 20, 2014  out & about, weekending Tagged with: ,  10 Responses »