Quiet Time

The days are finally starting to get longer again. That makes me very happy indeed. I keep waking up early though, normally about an hour before I actually need to get up, and just as the birds are starting to stir.
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Carrot and Orange Loaf Cake

Have I mentioned that I moved house recently? Well that’s why things have been a bit quiet on the blog recently. It’s well-known that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, and I can confirm this is very much the case.
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Homemade Granola

I do really like granola but it tends to be marketed as a luxury breakfast cereal and this is usually reflected in the price – at around £5 a box/packet it really is stupidly expensive.

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Celebrating Apple Festival 2012

Brogdale Apple festival 2012 www.hewdesign.co.uk
Apple crate www.hewdesign.co.uk
English apple orchards ©www.hewdesign.co.uk

All photography © Heather Elizabeth Wilkinson 2012

Autumn is my favourite season – the changes in light, misty mornings and the promise that we’ll soon be wrapping up cosily in hats and scarves. But of course Autumn brings with it some fantastic seasonal produce – pumpkins, elderberries, chestnuts, game, pears, and the daddy of English autumnal produce: apples.

Apple Festival takes place on 21st October each year and orchards and farms up and down the country organise festivities to celebrate this wonderful fruit. What great month to be an apple!

Brogdale Farm in Kent is home to the National Fruit Collection; the World’s largest collection of fruit trees and plants and home to over 3,500 varieties of apple, pear, plum, cherry, bush fruit, vine and cob nut cultivators.

Brogdale has been on my list of places to visit for a while now, so the Apple Festival (20th & 21st October 2012) was just the excuse I needed to hotfoot it to Kent. The festival itself is quite a family affair, with various food & drink stalls, crafts and live music (it’s safe to say that some of the bands were an ‘acquired’ taste).

Included in the ticket price is a guided tour of the orchards, each one being led by one of Brogdale’s knowledgeable staff, many of whom are volunteers. For me, this was one of the highlights of the visit. You can quite literally loose yourself wandering up and down the lines of trees looking at fruits of all different sizes and colours. And with names like the: Marriage-maker, Blackbird, Prince Edward it really is a fantastic way to spend a few hours.

And of course, no apple festival would be complete without a generous dose of apple sampling. At the heart of the festival arena was a large tent with over 400 varieties of apple on display and over 200 for visitors to taste and buy. To be honest, this part of the festival was a bit of a free-for-all, and you had to employ some elbowing tactics to stand any chance of trying the apples that had been laid out. Still, I managed to try plenty and came away a mixed bag (quite literally) of my favourites.

I decided not to cook with the apples I bought, preferring instead as an alternative to dessert. When produce is in season and so tasty it’s sometimes nice to enjoy it just as it is, don’t you think?

Spicy sweet potato soup

I know my last post was a soup recipe, but the weather has been so ridiculously cold and snowy here in Sussex this week that I’ve been eating little else. Knowing that I’ve got a warm and satisfying lunch to look forward to is about the only thing that makes braving the arctic temperatures in the morning bearable.

I think this has to be one of the simplest soups I’ve ever made: quick to prepare, healthy and a really short list of ingredients. My kind of recipe.

You will need
A glug of olive oil
1 onion, chopped 
½ teaspoon of dried chill flakes or ½ fresh red chilli, deseeded.
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
1 pint of warm vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste.

1.) Warm the oil in a large pan, add your onions, garlic, chilli flakes and ground coriander and cook until soft.
2.) When your onions have softened, add your sweet potato and mix it in with the other ingredients. Leave it to cook in the pan for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.) Pour your warmed stock over the mixture, bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for about 10/15 mins, or until the sweet potatoes soften.
4.) Blend your soup until smooth. Serve with fresh crusty bread (this soda bread is ideal). If you find the soup too spicy then add a dollop of crème fraiche.

All images © Heather Wilkinson 2012

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