Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A crooked pot kiln

(Photo: the post lunch waddle)

We have been meaning to go to the Crooked Billet in in Stoke Row since before I had grey hair. This anniversary a trip was planned, and we were finally set to go. Five minutes to blast off and I hear 'It was the Pot Kiln wasn't it?' So the Crooked Billet will have to wait.

From the moment that you see the veg patch as you walk to the pub you know you are onto a winner. We have been here a few times, normally with dog for a pub lunch then a walk. It is set in beautiful countryside and there are some rewarding walks, whether you want to go for a stroll or a two hour march.

This time we were went for the full dining experience. An anniversary lunch for five! Forget linen tablecloths or matching chairs, this is a place with no pretence - it does not need to be feign airs and graced. A simple seasonal menu with a few specials, and a children's menu too. The chief is renowned for his game cookery, so that does feature large on the menu, but there seems to be something for everyone.

I went for the full game experience. I had wood pigeon with celeriac and black pudding to start, a rather ballsy intro but a gamble that paid off. It was earthy yet refined and manageable. Home cured gravaldax and the ubiquitous goats' cheese may not have scored on the originality stakes, but the Pot Kiln has that Jessica Alba vibe - you know the gentle deceit of pretending to be the approachable girl next door while in reality being way out of your league. So, the basic eighties menu staples can cushion you from the challenge 'roe liver and foie gras parfait with muntjac lollipops'.

I was tempted to see if anyone could render the bullets also known as grouse edible, but good sense - or prejudice - prevailled and I went for partridge, a local speciality with chard and farcement potatoes (the humble spud with bacon and plums with calories injected in under pressure). Partridge is a favourite subtle flavour (or game for wimps) but whichever way it was cooked to perfection. The family had a roast rump joint, which they happily suggested would feed not just the recommended two adults but two children too. No fillet steak here, but a meaty cut with all the flavour and the flavour packed a punch.

It would have been sensible to have stopped there but greed tempted us on. The Valrhona chocolate and raspberry pudding looked like a door stop but miraculous it disappeared. Okay, I regret it now as a write like a beached whale, but at the time it seemed entirely logical to trough the lot: lightness offset the rich, and the sour balanced the sweet.

Reading the wine list there was little remarkable, many options that see interesting at around £34, but i bowed to my Dad's rationale that if a good restaurant can't do a decent house wine then they miss the point. Starters were around £7.50 and mains high teens. A special treat, but I am happy to save up for a repeat trip. I am so pleased the Hubster cocked up and we ended up here again, and I still have the Crocked Billet to look forward to, one of these years....maybe.

I waddled out like a beached whale. We did not for our regular stomp across the fields, but a crawl up to St.Frideswide Well. I took a deep slurp hoping that it's medicinal qualities will help my memories survive longer than my enhance spare tyre.

Ps should I have taken some pics of the food? Do you live in the moment and saveur, or snap for posterity.

Pps as you may have guessed - this is in no way sponsored :)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Animals: Molly

Molly was the coolest cat - and my first. We found her dedraggled at an RSPCA centre. She was tiny with short, but scruffy, hair. As she shared a name my best friends Mum I went into her cell for a chat and she claimed me. She sat on my shoulder and drenched me with her tail that had been dangling in her drinking water and our mutual fate was sealed.

Small, shy, scruffy short haired cat became a solid long haired cat in no time. That was thirteen years ago. She was much like her owner, part cool part total disaster (aren't cats meant to be agile? She would often fall off a wall or miss the perch she aimed for, quickly glancing over her shoulder to see if she had been observed).

A month ago we found her; she had keeled over mid prowl. She was stretched out, as if about to dispatch yet another rodent. If she had to go she would have liked it that way. I was so relieved that she did not suffer, it was weeks of her absence that I appreciated how much she was missed.

Molly, rest in peace, you deserve it and you will very missed.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Does my garden still grow?

The pangs of my conscience boomed almost orchestral, as my garden became a wildlife haven good for supporting bees but remiss in the dinner time offerings. Will power out distracted and procrastination triumphant.

Then came the great purge and alongside nine trailer to the tip it slowly dissected wood from trees. If every fairy needs a tree and magician their cloak I found mine.

The great grotty garden gillet, home made yes but grim I admit. I put it on and time sped, a second became hours and I looked down and smiled to see grit ground into my nails and gardening entrails dangling from my hair. I was a mess but my garden was showing promise.

I refuse to turn it into a show garden, I love it's randomness. But the late salad crop will have to coexist with the important mini beast log pile house. You can see it here in the space that used to be a shantytown.

I will allow the flowers a little privacy this week while they settle down, but hope to link up soon, but in the meantime here is our fly eating pitcher plant that we have been decorating with bees and the sun.

Butt firmly kicked into gardening by the amazing Mammeskjur:


Thursday, 17 July 2014

My view right now

I had thought I would write about the purge at chaos cottage but I saw this instead.

The Pickle had just got her school report and The Hubster was reading it.

More about the great purge at another point.

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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Home made chocolate

First point before I start, never trust YouTube! It turned this recipe into an epic of Mum verses coconut and half way through I was left with the blade of table knife in my hand as the handle flew backwards across the kitchen while I attempted to demonstrate how not to kill yourself in pursuit of chocolate. Sod the sanitised versions, they don't work - it is a battle of wits and eventually we won but only after the process has been instantly promoted to family folklore and I can't possibly comment about that large scratch in the work surface...

A fresh coconut, dismembered violently then grated to liberate 4 table spoons of flesh.
4 table spoons cocoa powder
4 table spoons coconut oil* heated as necessary to make it liquid
Sugar to taste - we used 1 1/2 tablespoons of dark muscovado**
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the cocoa powder into the coconut oil until well blended, then add the rest of the ingredients (see note on sugar below) and mix well.
Scrape into a suitable container, I used a square bowl lined with cling film, and refridgerate. After about ten minutes take it out and score lines in it, so that later it will be easier to break.

When it is hard, break up and enjoy!

**add the sugar bit my bit, so you don't make it too sweet. It is great for little people to see how much sugar really goes into chocolate. Pickle remarked on now understanding why chocolate is not good for her - not that it stopped her from loving the results.
If you don't have muscovado don't worry. You can use Demerara but blitz it with a blender to a fine powder as otherwise it won't mix in so well.

* coconut oil seems to be a new wonder ingredient. Pull it through your teeth for virtual immortality, cleanse your face with it or just cook with it. Many websites seem devoted entirely to the joys of it. Either way, if you buy a pot you can probably find a use for it before it goes off.

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Location:Home natch