exciting project I'd been working on? It's finally out and it's totally lovely. A cookbook called Winter on the Farm. It's such an amazing feeling to see a project that you've worked on appear in a real, live, actual book. It's like there's a little bit of me in this book. There's photos of all the cakes and biscuits and soups, pies, tarts and risotto that I cooked. There's jam jars and spoons and cake plates from my very own cupboard. And there's even a recipe credited to me. That I'm quietly chuffed about. Yay me!
But what I love most about this book is the beautiful photographs that Alan Benson has taken of the valley throughout this book. He's perfectly captured the chilling grey beauty of winter in my home. The fog, the frost, the mud, the cold and those wonderful bare winter trees. But Matthew's food makes you feel so warm and cosy, wrapped up inside it's the perfect foil for these chilly winter days.
For me, this book really is heartwarming food in the truest sense. And if you want to read more about our valley, then you must read Steve's beautiful words here.
I was pretty delighted when the huge truck, working on the power lines, blocked the access on our narrow street this morning. It meant that despite a long list of errands that needed to be done, I was stuck at home. We had no power all day, but the weather was sunny and still and Hugo and I got stuck into the new greenhouse. After a series of stops and starts due to bad weather, Pete our handyman finally finished it on Friday.
My lovely louvre windows, essential for good ventilation, were scored from the tip, a door was bought from the off cut pile for $1 and the frames made from timber we had lying around. The only new stuff we needed was the polypipe and the plastic.
My job today was simply dig out the 30 odd raspberry canes, that we built the greenhouse around, build a new raised bed, put down a sawdust path in the middle and move in some furniture. I'm thrilled that I finished and even had time to paint it too, blackboard paint on the inside of the door, a kid blackboard under the louvre windows, and a dusty blue on the outside of the door.
I want to plant tomatoes in the long bed, and have laid cardboard, sawdust, compost, manure and straw down to brew until we're ready to plant in late spring. Never have my tomato beds had such a lovely long preparation. The "benches" on the other side, again made from stuff lying around, will be for seedling trays. I can get started on sowing cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli for late winter planting outdoors.
I love being in the greenhouse. It's my new favourite hangout. It's so warm and bright. I have to stop myself from putting some bunting up and a cane chair inside. Or do I?
...I've spent two days quiet days at home with my sick little girl. But it was a treat to spend two days hanging out with her watching movies, making craft and feeding her chicken soup. At some point she took this photo.
...ate too much pudding. Drank too much mulled wine.
...I've been inspired by so much loveliness on Pinterest.
...we finished building our greenhouse. I'll show you next week!
...I loved walking the dogs in the chilly air surrounded by snow covered hills.
Oh, and we BOUGHT a brand new shiny one of these. Yes. We. Did.
Activities around these parts have been dictated by the weather of late. It's bitterly cold, snowy rainy and incredibly windy. Not that we're complaining. It's beautiful and wild and totally Tasmanian. And any excuse to stay indoors with the peeps is lots of fun.
Saturday's deluge of rain created a stream running through the boundary of our yard. The peeps rugged up and built gnome houses, dams, bridges, light houses and villages with sandy shores. A rare treat, running water and mud in the garden, and the chance for some creative building. Then inside for warm baths and hot chocolates.
Sunday I had a feeling the market would be cancelled, but I packed the car and headed off to Hobart anyway. I was almost there when I received the call that yes, as the main stall had just been carried four meters into the air and split in two, that market was cancelled. That gave me the chance to have an unheard of leisurely weekend breakfast in a cafe in Battery Point watching the snow flurries outside. How lovely!
I drove home over the mountain through the most magical snow fall, plonked myself on the couch and played with Pinterest all afternoon. Bliss!
Today we woke to the news that we were snowed in one road, and flooded in on another. Cut off from school! Hoorah! No option but to head west to the Judbury Crafters meeting. I prepped some stuff for Pip's pom pom project for the children, and dragged out my sock knitting, ahem, from the back of the wardrobe and off we went.
In a beautiful sunlit room with big windows overlooking the wild and flooded Huon river, sat a dozen or so people spinning wool. On spinning wheels. There was jam and scones and warm mugs of soup and lots of sharing of stories and skills. I got some much needed help with starting off my socks, again, and to be honest, felt a little inadequate that I was using boughten wool. I hadn't actually sheared my own sheep or alpaca, dyed it with foraged plants and spun it myself. Not that anyone said anything, everyone was very friendly and welcoming, however that might need to be a project for the future. In the meantime, next month, I'm going to bring a crochet hook and get some help starting a granny rug.
What a creative, warm and happy time we are having. Rain, snow, floods, road closures? Bring it on. We're happily hibernating in the valley thank you. We might see you in the spring.
It wasn't until I was well into making these rolled fruit cookies that I realised how pretty they were and started taking some pictures. I was intrigued by the pastry that was all cream cheese, butter and flour with only a little sugar, filled with cinnamony, sweet, toasted walnuts and raisins. The result is a not too sweet cookie that was very moreish. A recipe from one of my new cookbooks, (I've err, been on a bit of buying spree lately). This one, recommended by Siobhan, The Rose Bakery Breakfast Lunch and Tea, is all beautiful photography, lovely recipes and so very French. I wish we had a bakery just like it in the valley. Actually, probably for the best that there isn't...