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Victoria’s Flower Dictionary in “The Language of Flowers” Novel

A sensation of intimacy, nostalgia and comfort is captured in this color palette, a blend of delicate warm and cool colors with lavenders and pinks at its heart. Romantic arrangements express loving sentiments and admiration to mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, best friends, significant others and brides-to-be.

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Birth Month Flowers

Fun-loving, free-spirited, playful feelings are conveyed by the whimsical floral palette, which is characterized by flowers in bold, contrasting colors. Floral arrangements featuring these hues set an upbeat tone and are ideal for birthdays, graduations, promotions and other celebrations.

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Sourdough Pizza

Four months ago I did a step by step feature for the lovely Jamie Magazine on how to make sourdough.  This left me with a brilliant little starter dough which has fuelled an obsession with all things bread related.  Here’s a link to their website which shows the resulting loaf and talks you through how to make your own starter dough.  It is so worth having it in the fridge and it takes minimum effort to keep it alive, just a little feed once a week.  It will only get more tasty over time and makes the process of bread baking completely wonderful, look at this beauty from earlier this week: Last night James and I made a couple of pizzas from the starter dough which gave them a super tasty crust.  I wanted to make his in the shape of a heart but he wasn’t having any of it.    The tomato sauce is one of my favourite things – great for this purpose but can also be loosened with a little stock for a delicious soup or used as is or with a few anchovies / olives / etc for a great pasta sauce.  The recipe makes more than you need for two pizzas as I fully intend to have it with some pasta. Here’s how to do it: Sponge: 75g starter dough, 220g strong white bread flour, 220ml tepid water, pinch salt Dough: 250g strong white bread flour, 50ml water, 1 tbsp olive oil Sauce: 1 onion, lemon zest, thyme, 8 tomatoes, handful cherry tomatoes, oil, chilli flakes, dried oregano, 4 garlic cloves Toppings: at your discretion… The day before you want to eat your pizza, mix the starter, flour, water and salt in a large bowl.  Cover and leave to sit for about 4 hours, you should be able to see little bubbles coming to the surface. Add the remaining flour, water and oil for the dough and knead for 10-15 minutes (8-10 minutes in an electric mixer) until it is smooth and elastic.  When prodded the dough should spring back out at you.  Place this into a clean bowl, cover and leave for another 4-6 hours, until doubled in size. If at some point you need to got to bed you can put it in the fridge – it will continue to rise very slowly, but just make sure you bring it back to room temperature before using it. For the sauce, preheat the oven to 220c and heat a little oil in a pan.  Add the sliced onion with a grating of lemon zest, the leaves off a few sprigs of thyme and a good pinch of salt.  Cook these over a very low heat for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and place in a roasting tray with the cherry tomatoes and a good couple of pinches of chilli flakes, a teaspoon of dried oregano and the peeled and squashed garlic cloves.  Season, drizzle over some olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes, until completely soft. Place the onions and the tomatoes in a blender and blitz until completely smooth.  Return to the onion pan and bubble down until thick enough to spread on the pizza.  Taste and season, sometimes a pinch of sugar really works to make it perfect.  Set aside. Turn the oven up as high as it will go and place a baking sheet in it to heat up.  Lightly flour a work surface and turn your dough out, cut into two and return half to the bowl and cover.  Roll out the dough and spin it if you’re brave enough (perhaps like…

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A Touch of SE1 in the Massif Central

The Auberge de Chassignolles Unravelling the spiderweb of SE1’s food mafia has been quite a slow process for me, akin to a small child learning to piece together a jigsaw puzzle, the final piece only slotted in on a recent trip to France.  It is in fact incredibly simple and involves basically four institutions and two families.  We start with Harry Lester, famous for his dangerously local (to me) Anchor and Hope.  He is linked to the delicious natural wine suppliers Georgovie of 40 Maltby Street where you can sit amongst the arches drinking phenomenal wines at nice prices and eat beautifully simple food on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  This establishment is the brain child of Raef Hodgson and they are linked by the fact that Harry Lester is in partnership with young Mr Hodgson. The plot is thickened when you realise that Hodgson’s parents are the owners of Neals Yard and Monmouth Coffee, albeit via Covent Garden but now firmly established in SE1 both in Borough Market and Maltby Street.  It is no wonder that he has such great taste in food and wine, growing up surrounded by some of the country’s finest cheeses and sacks full of wonderful coffee beans must certainly have set his tastes and views of food at a very high level.  Most of us develop this heightened sense of taste throughout life as we expose ourselves to varying qualities of food – I certainly find that as time goes by my palate is getting increasingly refined (or perhaps I’m just getting more fussy?).  So it is no wonder that his bar is such a truly excellent spot. This web of SE1 deliciousness expanded itself to the southern climbs of France six years ago with Lester’s opening of the Auberge de Chassignolles and who would have imagined it, but Mrs Monmouth (whose actual name I’m not sure of) has a house just across the square.  These close-knit relationships initially spun me into feeling a little on edge – seemingly privileged people setting up these businesses somehow took the rustic / salt of the earth edge away from them.  Also, it fleetingly felt vaguely conspiratorial – with hindsight I can link this to me perhaps just feeling a little left out of the circle of these people who I hold in very high regard.   Furthermore, when you see how hard Lester and his wife work or indeed notice how Hodgson is always at the heart of his business (not once have I been into 40 Maltby Street and not seen him there) the fastidiousness of these guys is comforting against any doubts.  If success is relative to dedication they deserve every ounce of it that they gain. With all that said, I urge you to slow down your pace, pack an appetite and visit the Auberge.  We flew into Lyon and on picking up a hire car drove ourselves south west, the final leg of the journey found us weaving up and down the beautiful forested hills of the Livradois-Forez Natural Park.  At the summit of our climb, some 900 meters, we found the small sleepy village of Chassignolles with the Auberge resting in the middle of it opposite a stunning 13th century church – if early-morning bell ringing isn’t the thing for you perhaps some earplugs would be advisable.  The welcome is friendly, relaxed and informal as are the rooms and the general atmosphere. This for us was a summer holiday to relax and enjoy some wonderful food and wine and that is precisely what we did.  The food tastes as though it…

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Membrillo

Now this is a great thing to make on a gloomy rainy autumn Saturday – you need a couple of quinces, some sugar and a good dose of patience.  You also want to be doing something else while you’re making it as it cooks for about three hours, needing a gentle stir every ten minutes or so.  I found it combined well with tidying the house and making a batch of muesli and one of granola.  Wow, what an exciting Saturday.  It made up for it in the evening by dancing until 3, so I’m not so old and boring after all.  Plus I got ID’d going into the club.  Molly didn’t.  Enough of that and on with the recipe, make it soon though as quinces will disappear in December.  It could also be an excellent Christmas present – this stuff will keep for months. 2 quinces (or more if you want more…) large bag of sugar Peel the quinces, quarter and remove the core carefully with a knife, chop the flesh up into smallish chunks.  Place in a pan of water and bring up to the boil.  Leave to cook away for about 45 minutes, until the quince is nice and soft. Drain and blitz in a food processor until completely smooth.  Weigh the quince pulp and return it to the pan with an equal weight of sugar.  Place over a low heat – don’t be tempted to increase the flame, I did and it spat out at me and gave me a small burn on my face – go with caution!  At this point you need to stir continuously until all the sugar has dissolved, this will take around 10 minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, you can leave it to do it’s thing a bit more, but you need to stir it about every 10 minutes to avoid it burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.  It will need to cook like this for around three hours.  You’ll know when it’s done because it will turn a lovely deep red colour – I think this is the sugar caramelising rather than any mystic quality of the quince, but correct me if I’m wrong? While all that’s happening, grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin with baking paper.  I think the best way to line it for this kind of thing is with two long strips of paper – one to go across the pan and one to cover the length with an overhang on both strips which will help you to lift the membrillo out when it’s set. Once it has reached the lovely deep colour, remove from the heat and carefully pour into your prepared tin.  Smooth the surface with a palette knife or something similar and fold the paper over it.  Either leave to cool at room temperature, or to accelerate things place in the fridge to set. Remove from the tin and slice – this is obviously especially delicious with manchego (don’t forget the sherry), but I also love it with a hard goats cheese.  Wrap up in greaseproof paper and cling film and it’ll keep for ages. About these ads

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State Flowers

A low, clustered floral arrangement in all shades of pink symbolizes opening the heart and making others more receptive to you. Start and end the day counting your blessings, by placing this floral design of gratitude on a nightstand, dresser or in the kitchen.

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Flower Meanings

Flower & Plant Information and Photos – Meanings of Flowers In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words. But today, with so many flower choices, there are no rules – it’s the sentiment that gives the gift its meaning. Your florist can help you send the right message. Many people assign their own personal meanings – a flower or color that might remind them of a special event or moment in their lives. For those interested in the historic meanings of flowers, the Society of American Florists has compiled this list from a variety of different sources: Alstroemeria aspiring Amaryllis dramatic Anemone fragile Apple Blossom promis Aster contentment Azalea abundance Baby’s Breath festivity Bachelor Button anticipation Begonia deep thoughts Black-Eyed Susan encouragement Camellia graciousness Carnation pink gratitude red flashy striped refusal white remembrance yellow cheerful Chrysanthemum bronze excitement white truth red sharing yellow secret admirer Cosmos peaceful Crocus foresight Daffodil chivalry Delphinium boldness Daisy innocence Freesia spirited Forget-Me-Not remember me forever Gardenia joy Geranium comfort Ginger proud Gladiolus strength of character Heather solitude Hibiscus delicate beauty Holly domestic happiness Hyacinth sincerity Hydrangea perseverance Iris inspiration Ivy fidelity Jasmine grace and elegance Larkspur beautiful spirit Lavender distrust Lilac first love Lily Calla regal Casablanca celebration Day enthusiasm Stargazer ambition Lisianthus calming Magnolia dignity Marigold desire for riches Nasturtium patriotism Orange Blossom fertility Orchid delicate beauty Pansy loving thoughts Passion flower passion Peony healing Poppy consolation Queen Anne’s Lace delicate femininity Ranunculus radiant Rhododendron beware Rose pink friendship red passionate love red & white unity white purity yellow zealous Snapdragon presumptuous Star of Bethlehem hope Stephanotis good luck Statice success Sunflower adoration Sweetpea shyness Tuberose pleasure Tulip pink caring purple royalty red declaration of love white forgiveness yellow hopelessly in love Violet faithfulness Wisteria steadfast Yarrow good health Zinnia thoughts of friends

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Battle of the Burgers

I almost forgot that I pretty much started this year waxing lyrical about the Meat Liquor burger, I had plans to keep ranting about burgers up and down the country, but so far I think I’ve only managed about three more in London and one in New York (oooh).  I was quite obsessed with Meat Liquor for a while and it kept drawing me back.  I can’t say the same for the Lucky Chip number.  Although I liked it and I’ve heard many a person swear by it, it just hasn’t managed to creep into my psyche and entice me back like Meat Liquor. At the bottom of the four I’d like to tell you about here is the Bar Boulud one, which I know is loved by many and I don’t deny that it’s a damn fine meaty sandwich.  To me though, it’s a bit too fancy for a burger.  There’s all sorts going on and you can barely finish the thing.  Plus the atmosphere’s all wrong to be eating burgers, I felt like I had to use a knife and fork for instance, and to add insult to injury it’s got quite a price on it.  I had the Piggie which came in at £12.75 with fries at an additional £4.25.  I won’t deny that it was tasty and hats off to Bar Boulud for its deliciousness, it’s just not what I want from a burger nor what I want to pay.  To me they should be simple. Coming in next would have to be The Three Compasses on Dalston Lane.  This was entirely unexpected – I’m not sure I even realised I was hungry until I saw people eating them.  They call them the Stephen (as in Fry) burgers and they are mighty tasty and only £6.  Love.  There’s no messing around, good burger, good bun and good fries.  They would perhaps rate higher, but they had sold out of the beef burger (they’re that good apparently) the night I was there and I settled for a porky-chorizo burger and very tasty it was. Next is Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien Hotel in New York.  This place is fun.  You’re made to feel like it’s clandestine by them hiding it behind a massive red curtain in the foyer of a very smart looking hotel.  Once you’ve served your time in the queue you go round the corner to see a hipster style joint and very informal.  It’s a fun contrast.  It feels more fast food than the others I’ve talked about as you order from the counter and grab a seat where you can.  All in with fries it comes to just over $10 and was incredibly tasty – a welcome treat after a late night followed by a long morning of art galleries. Last and quite the contrary to the least is the mighty Honest Burger.  They have two restaurants, the only one I’ve been to is the one in Brixton market and it was incredible, the other is in Soho.  Juicy, juicy burger – by far the tastiest meat of any burger I’ve ever committed to memory.  The bun was tasty, not quite as tasty as Meat Liquor, but seriously the meat makes up for it.  Their chips are rougher and more rustic than your typical fries – skin on and seasoned with plenty of salt and a little rosemary.  This  wouldn’t normally please me as I like a good fry, but they were amazing and I’d already been sold on their extraordinarily tasty burger.  They are great. Yum. Yum. Yum.  And great atmosphere with friendly…

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All day smoke out…

I’ve been quiet for far too long, I have a list of excuses but I won’t be boring you with them.  The garden proved to throw out some awesome things at the end of the summer, just when I was thinking I’d been a complete failure.  We had aubergines and green beans, beetroot, swiss chard, lettuces, yellow courgettes and more.  All from our tiny little mostly sunless garden.  I need to get my head round it next year so that it doesn’t all come at once and at the end of the summer.  More planning will be implemented and an earlier start.  2013 is going to be the year that I become an organised person. Now…to the point of this post.  In September we went to stay with the wonderful Carneys in Virginia, one of the Carneys being Van of the pulled pork fame.  Some very good friends of ours had had an amazing wedding just up the east coast so we pootled down via New York to see them.  Arriving at their house in Virginia was so enormously welcome after a few hectic days in a hot sweaty city.  They live in what seems like the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and stunning countryside. I need to learn from them as they grow fruit and veg like I’ve never seen before – melons, squash, peppers, yellow beans, etc, etc.  They may have a favourable climate but they have another thing on their side which seems to be an inherent understanding of how it all works and also a shed load more knowledge.  Hats off to them. While we were staying, it emerged that a good idea would be to have an all day chicken smoking session, this was only the day after we’d spent all day brewing beer, I’m hoping you’re starting to get a picture of how these guys roll…? To start the smoking process you need wood.  Off we dutifully went to chop down some  dying trees, I didn’t exactly do any chopping, but at least I helped carry it. There was much chat about how best to construct the bbq / smoking oven and several semi-architectural constructions were discussed, or even debated, then constructed and demolished and re-conconstructed. In the end though it was settled that the BBQ was a good solution.  Importantly though, we had a small fire beside the BBQ heating up the wood (mostly hickory, some cherry and maple too) to add when needed. We started by rubbing the chicken with a paprika, fennel and salt combination and then onto the BBQ it went, lid on and at a low temperature, I reckon about 100c – read by a little thermometer stuck into the air vent and watched with Jenning’s and Lain’s beady eyes.  It cooked for a good long five hours during which beers were drunk and the rest of the meal was constructed. after two hours… after about 3 and half hours… done! hard at work… We went true southern style with macaroni and cheese (or perhaps mac n’ cheese) made by James, a coleslaw made by yours truly and Van whipped up some corn bread.  The whole thing together was truly absolutely incredible.  The most tender, juicy and fantastically smoky chicken I’ve ever eaten and all the other dishes worked perfectly with it.  I’ve said it before, but the Americans really do know how to BBQ (well this family does anyway).  I urge you to try this – maybe wait until spring and maybe you’ll need to buy the wood, but you can certainly do the rest just the same and…

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Cucumbers!

I couldn’t believe it but it was possible to grow a cucumber in our tiny garden.  In fact it’s pretty much all we got this year apart from a couple of strawberries, some rainbow chard and lots of green beans.  Oh and some tomatoes yet to ripen.  And just before we left for holiday there were some very little aubergines looking quite perky, fingers crossed they’ll be good for when we get back. Anyway, back to the cucumber.  This was an entirely different beast to the relatively watery tasteless supermarket specimen.  It really packed a powerful taste punch – we compared it to a normal one and there really was an almighty difference.  100% worth having a go at growing one yourself.  This one grew from a plug plant from Homebase – I’m learning with the small space and not much margin for error the plug plant option might be the best as you don’t have to worry so much about the seeds sprouting. After waxing lyrical about how our cucumber was the best in the world I did my favourite thing to do with a cucumber which is a salad with dill, white wine vinegar, a good pinch of salt and a little olive oil.  You combine about 2 parts vinegar to one part oil, mix with the salt (and if with a supermarket cucumber add a pinch of sugar).  Toss this together with the chopped cucumber and let sit for 30 minutes or so.  Mix in a couple of tablespoons of chopped dill and eat.  This is particularly delicious with fish, we had it with some grilled dover sole. About these ads

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Heather Rosen from heatherrosenphotography.com