Cooking things up

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who visited Forde Abbey recently in the company of my sister Mary.

Forde Abbey

It was a very changeable day today with constant rain showers interspersed with occasion brief dry spells and even the odd bit of sunshine.  The addition of a very brisk wind to the weather mix made it a day that was unsuitable for serious outdoor activity.

I therefore lurked indoors for the most part, except when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing in the church choir. I spent a fair amount of time cooking.  I made a lamb stew with a plum and red wine gravy for the slow cooker after breakfast and a potato and carrot soup for our lunch.

Then I put a so called ciabatta mixture into the breakd making machine and watched the birds for a bit.

Things were quiet, perhaps because of the brisk wind.

A lone jackdaw surveyed the scene for a while…


When I started watching, there were no sparrows about and a single siskin and a goldfinch commanded the feeder.


A sparrow and a chaffinch tried to move in…


…and after that, chaffinches….


…and sparrows….


…flew in at regular intervals…


…sometimes at the same time.


All the same, there were long periods when the feeder was unattended.

Goldfinches returned and this one was not happy about an impending chaffinch.


A hungry blue tit didn’t cause as much distress.


We had a quiet afternoon watching the cyclists of the Tour of Britain going round n circles in the middle of London and then as the rain had stopped for a moment, I went out into the garden and did a little dead heading and picked up windfall apples.

The dahlias, as I have remarked before, seem to be pretty weather proof and were still smiling.


But for once, there were no bees on the Michaelmas daisies…


…and no butterflies about at all.

As the weather seemed to be quite good, I cycled off to do some shopping.

The path along the riverside looked inviting…


…and I pedalled a bit further in search of fungus.  I  didn’t see fungus and had to be content with some flowers.


As I came out of the shop and headed for home, the weather had taken a gloomy turn again…


…but it hadn’t started to rain so I paused for a moment beside the Esk and watched a stream of riders, who had been out on a charity event, crossing the Langholm Bridge…


…and a dipper living up to its name.


The delay meant that the rain was coming down before I got home but it did provide a rainbow for me, although it was only half a rainbow when I looked at it closely.


We had the slow cooked stew for our tea and the  ‘ciabbata’ came out of the bread machine.   Say what you like about bread machines (I am a devotee) but they make a good looking loaf.


The result is nothing like a hand made ciabatta loaf but it tastes delicious and that is what matters.

In keeping with the day, the evening was spent very quietly doing nothing more exciting than making a couple more jars of apple jelly.  I didn’t rush the job this time and it set properly first go.

The flying bird of the day is a distant goldfinch.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

34 thoughts on “Cooking things up

      1. I’m afraid I’m very boring. It took me a while to get my basic bread recipe right – ie use the amount of water specified on the flour packet, not the recipe book – and I love the result, that I have never tried anything else. Though I did start adding a further ingredient – sushi nori – a few months ago, as it seemed a good way of getting that ingredient into my system. ‘They’ say it’s so incredibly good for you.

  1. I can’t remember ever seeing a photo of the path by the river. You’re lucky to have it.
    That’s a great shot of the rainbow. That’s one shot I’ve never gotten.
    That apple jelly will taste great in January, if it lasts that long.

    1. The garden is holding up well and should continue to do so until the first frosts. The lawns are going back though and the dreaded moss is fighting back.

  2. just bought one that also makes cake and yogurt. I have only made cake from a cake mix. Do you use a mix for the ciabatta or so you have a recipe? would love it if you have

    1. No, I just use the recipe out of the handbook that came with the machine. It is basically a standard loaf (500 gm flour, tsp salt, tsp sugar, 310 ml water) with three tablespoons of olive oil to make it a bit different and cooked on the ‘Italian’ setting for four and a half hours whihc is longer than usual.

  3. What impressive cooking skills. The recipes all sound delicious and that loaf looks scrumptious! Lovely photos of the flowers and birds in the garden.

  4. I hope that the weather is more suitable for cycling or walking tomorrow so that you’ll be able to burn off the calories that you consumed from all the tasty food that you prepared today. 😉

    I loved seeing the birds in action at the feeder again, and the dipper living up to its name as well.

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