Best foot forward.

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I daren’t look when my last blog post was, they’re all in my head you see, I never seem to have the time, here we go again …

“All or nothing” that’s me. I don’t often do things by halves. Rockbottom or flying high, up or down, no wine or the whole bottle, couch potato or?

Well, that leads me to this blog post …

January saw me at another chubby, yo-yo, clothes going up in size stage. I had been recognising the signs, but ignoring them, as I do, for the past 12 months, then that dreaded Christmas photo !! I looked well, frumpy. No-no good. I also was in constant pain, with diagnosed degenerative disc disease, a pinched nerve and a spine very badly out of shape. To add insult to injury, my Hashimoto’s (Autoimmune under active thyroid) was muddling my brain, disturbing my sleep and adding pounds to my person.

Rollercoaster life rock-bottom once again kicked me into touch. So I flung myself wholeheartedly, I ‘WAS’ in the zone, to sort it out. Weight, fitness, diet, and lifestyle. I decided to take on a few personal challenges that I could focus on throughout the year. Poco a poco, little by little. Goals that I could put a big red tick by as I conquered them.

They’re work in progress and they are as follows:

  • Dry January

To refrain from Alcohol for 31 days.

COMPLETED – SAVING …17,000..CALORIES & …403….€ ( hides in shame !)

Miracles do happen, who’d have thought 😉 coming from a bottle of vino a night girl, plus a few!

THE FOLLOWING STARTED 9TH JANUARY 2017

  • Loose 15 kgs

Following the 5:2 Fast plan. Restricted food intake calories 2 days a week, and eating well 5 days a week, including indulging when called for at weekends.

PROGRESS TO DATE: DOWN 13 KGS 🙂

  • ‘Where’s you Everest’ Challenge

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To climb the height of Everest 8823m wherever, whenever you’re in the world. Set by Trail Magazine.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 6 weeks to climb my first Everest, onto my 2nd …15,424…m Elevation in total.

  • Walk 1000 miles in 12 months

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Challenge set by Country Walking Magazine, with an online FB group and following of ……people. A positive and inspiring group of people, from, excuse the pun all walks of life, all over the world. Some folks counting every step they take, some counting ‘Boots on’ miles.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 350 ‘Boots on’ MILES, On target and banking a few!

  • Walk as many stages of the ‘Gran Sendero de Malaga’

A circular walking route around the province of Malaga 650 KM

GR walk

PROGRESS TO DATE :

Stage 1 & 2 complete, Malaga to Rincon de la Victoria to Velez Malaga.

Stage 3 & 4 complete, Velez-Malaga to Torrox pueblo to Nerja.

Stage 5 complete, Nerja through the Sierras to Frigiliana.

  • Climb Maroma

For 12 years since we moved to our house on the side of a mountain, with looked with awe at the mighty Maroma. La Maroma, also known as Tejeda, stands at an altitude of 2069 m, is the highest peak of the Sierra de Tejeda,  Spain. The summit is located in the region of Axarquía on the border between the provinces of Granada and Málaga.

PROGRESS – Date booked 7th May, praying for good weather and not too hot.

  • Camino de Santiago

To start my Pilgrimage on the famous St James way.

PROGRESS TO DATE: Pilgrim passport ready, flights booked, depart 28th September, 1 week.

EXCITED !

Well, that’s the diet and fitness sorted 😉 should give me something to go on, now to fit in the lifestyle, not sure there are enough hours in the day. Maybe as I walk I can virtually write my cookbook, keep my website updated and plan recipes and menus. Perhaps I need a personal assistant, note to self must work harder, money helps 😉

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Once somebody showed me the ‘Wheel of life’ to balance all aspects of your life, work, rest and play, I even set diary notes for it to pop up to remind me to evaluate my ‘Wheel’ each month. Maybe just a tad unrealistic, or too perfectly formed for ‘real life’ and I know, I often would look at my ‘apple’ Pie Chart and think “ooh b********s”, I’m not that domestic, mantra chanting, chakra aligned, clean eating, goddess. But I’m ME work in progress, ‘watch this space Lynsey’ back on the waggon of self-fulfilment, having a little me time, slipping up as and when life bats me a curve ball, just trying to recognise the moment before it side swipes me to depths again.

So as I put my best foot forward I’m praying for no blisters, hoping my back will hold up and my pill popping will be less. I’m enjoying every moment, breathing in the views, stopping to stand and stare at the top of steep climb or mountain, learning to cope with the wandering of my own mind, ( yes I still think I’m crazy ), and I’m truly thankful that I live, where I live.

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Buen Camino todos!

Slow cooking !

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When you have to be out all day, there is nothing nicer than walking through your front door at the end of it, to the welcoming aromas of supper cooking and ready to eat.  Just a few minutes prep in the morning is all you need, your trusty hot pot and you’re done.

Healthy too, so it’ a win-win situation all round 🙂

Here is my recipe I coddled together yesterday, when scanning the fridge early morn for some inspiration, together with a few store cupboard essentials, Pumpkin Thai curry it was.

Feel free to substitute or add veggies that you have, the basics are just the same.  Once home or 1/2 an hour or so before seeing you could add a handful of prawns or even your rice to make a very hearty dish.

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Malaga a must see !

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Although living on our mountain in rural Andalucia for the last 11 years, I do have to travel back and forth to the U.K regularly for extra work.  Always on my plane journey the inevitable conversation starts by the fellow passenger next to me ‘ Going on holiday ?’ “no, I live here‘ I reply.  I explain my story in brief, and ask of their onward journey plans.

Most, probably 95% of them say they’re heading off to the Costa del Sol, or even say Malaga, when my eyes and ears light up, as this wonderful city holds a dear place in my heart and those that have visited, no doubt share the same enthusiasm for it , but they don’t actually mean Malaga the city, and have no plans to visit it, they either pass through, skirt pass or miss it altogether .

Maybe secretly in my thoughts , part of me feels this is a good thing, perhaps they’re not the kind of folk who would be held under its spell, of passion, history, art, architecture, cosmopolitanism, diversity and gastronomy.  The other side of me feels, don’t judge the place as an airport, be daring, take a detour, spend a few hours and explore, and get hypnotised by the power of this Andalucian treasure.

Go, Malaga is a must see !

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Even visiting regularly as we do, it always feels a special treat to take a day out in the city.  Luckily Malaga is on our doorstep well just a 30 or so KM’s away, but in the mountains nothing is too close.  We can hop on a bus from our local town of Colmenar, relax for the 40 minute journey, only costing a couple of euros and hop off the other end to explore, shop, eat,&  tapear (eat lots of tapas in lots of places).

This visit, we planned our itinerary around roof-top terraces, lazy lunch, cocktails and views to to die for.  Malaga even in 38 degrees did not disappoint .

 

 

 

 

A year of ….

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Yet again my year came & went and my scribblings, notes and plans for writing did too ! But thankfully I have the memories stored deep in my grey matter.  Deciding it was time to finally put finger to keyboard, I’ve spent most of my day, trawling through photos, Facebook posts , pinterest and Instagram, so yes generally procrastinating once more.

So to put it bluntly or should I say sum it up in a nutshell, 2015 was as rollercoaster as any we’ve had in Spain.  Looking on the highs & ups, La Rosilla-Lifestyle and Food has steadily and enjoyable grown.  Guests and travellers have visited from all corners of the globe and we’ve shared tales, recipes & traditions, sat, cooked , ate and drank together and the ‘*Sobremesas’ have been wonderful 🙂

We’ve explored and fallen more deeply in love with Andalucia, flora, fauna, fiestas & ferias.  Our city of Malaga, is forever evolving into a destination of delights, museums, gastronomy, port and each time we visit we stumble over something new.  We have a passion to share this with people who visit, and those who haven’t yet and we can perhaps tempt them by social media.

Somethings have appeared more in my timelines then others, guests, Paella & breads, all passions of mine.  I’ll share a few with you ..

 

I have to make some changes in 2016, foremostly I need to become gluten free 😦 Doctor’s orders !.  This will not be easy for me, and no doubt I’ll have some falling off the wagon moments, but I’m determined and looking forward to the challenge of creating bakes & dishes to suit.  I’ll keep you posted.

The winter so far has been especially kind, with many alfresco lunches and  evenings with friends and family spent by the fire pit under the stars.  Almond blossom is already blooming over the mountains and wild flowers peeping through, heads to the sun.

Strawberries are in the markets, artichokes and broad beans too, all signs of a Happy New Year and we’re ready for it too.

 

Time to catch up !

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Oh my goodness, I can not believe I have not sat down and written since May ! . Shame on me, but mind you It’s not that I’ve been not living life to the full, and sometimes it’s just not the right time to write.  Well I’m back after a full to bursting, memory making, new experiences, catering to the max, foam partying, tapas tours & family and friends filled summer.

Family celebrations and special 18th birthday for my daughter with party and feasting and a great day at a stunning beach club to end it off.

A summer of welcoming guests on cooking and culture days from all over the world.  Honeymooners, friends holidaying together, families sharing new skills and cooking the perfect paellas.

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Girls from Holland.

Mama mia style weddings were a joy to plan and create for clients, with the Andalucian mountains and rustic villas providing the perfect backdrop for events to remember.  My biggest challenge this summer was to prepare, display and serve 800 tapas for an individual and stunning wedding celebration, it was utterly fabulous.

Holidays over, ninos went back to school, first rains appeared, temperatures dropped then rose again and now a heady Autumn we are enjoying.  Still able to eat alfresco and light up the BBQ, maybe just have to don a wrap or shawl as the sun sets.  Plants and flowers are coming back to life, after a long, hot summer.  Bees are busy on the blooming passionflower, and toads a plenty are coming out of their holes.

New season produce is flourishing, Chirmoyas, pomegranates, sweet potatoes to name a few.  Thoughts and tastes are turning towards comfort food, homemade soups and casseroles, long slow braised dishes and home-baked bread to mop up the juices. Most exciting for me is finally getting my new kitchen, which I’ll blog as #operationkitchen.  It has been a long time in the planning and saving, but soon work will commence.

So best foot forward for me, back to blogging, menu devising and planning for the future.  I’ll try to keep my cool when the demolition starts, but hey I can’t promise 😉

Caserio de San Benito

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Time for a change, instead of heading south to the coast, we drove north inland slightly, to the nearby ancient town of Antequera.  We enjoyed a morning of ambling through the streets, window shopping, coffee sipping, monument and church visiting.  Cobbled streets and beautiful architecture, adorned with traditional geraniums, overflowing from their terracotta pots, gives the town a deep Andalucian air.

We decided to delve a little deeper for our obligatory lunch stop, and came across the wonderful Caserio de San Benito just a flew more clicks up the main A45 heading north.

 

This delightful cortijo stands proud and welcoming, with courtyard filled with olive trees, and thrashing ground.  On entering the restaurant, you are taken back to a bygone era, the dining room is beautifully laid and boasts antiques and regalia of this agricultural area.

Welcoming staff greeted us, and recommended dishes.  The house white wine was perfectly chilled and served in a deliciously large measure. Warm bread, crackers and Ensaladilla Rusa was served while we chose the Menu del dia and were not disappointed.  Our main courses of lamb cooked on wood fire with garlic, and Secreto Iberico, were rich and tasty.  We shared a pud with two spoons, a decadent home made cherry cheesecake, YUM.  Two cafe solos were need to get us up and out of this wonderful place, we could’ve have sat there all afternoon.

We shall return, and no doubt take many guests from La Rosilla and recommend to others.

 

 

Humble abode & horses.

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I can’t believe it’s over a month since I’ve written, well I can actually, time has flown and life has been hectic, good but hectic.

Food creations have been a little on the back burner and lifestyle more upfront.  I’m not saying we haven’t indulged, we have but on a more makeshift and mend, rustic style.  Cooking on open fires, eating alfresco, picking salad leaves from the patch, shopping day by day.  Why ? because we had our first guests renting La Rosilla for the season, and we pack up and move to our much humbler shack on the mountain.  It is very picturesque but has no electricity (hence no posting) and only cold water, and washing up outside, think camping but with a roof over our heads !  Fortunately the weather was kind to us, which made life a great deal easier.

Whilst living out of our suitcases, our kitten that we are hand rearing, has grown from strength to strength now nearly 6 weeks old, he is weaned and starting to explore , keeping the dogs entertained and us of course.  I’m now thankful that the sleepless nights of 2 hourly feeds are over, and proud that we have succeeded in the task .  He has traveled with us over the last 6 weeks, wherever we’ve been, the beach, parties, camping and to work.

Rizzo and Nutty

Rizzo and Nutty

Our mountain animal menagerie is growing again.  We have another pony on the way, that we have rescued.  Inca will be joining Tika on the mount, for TLC and a better life.  I too have got back in the saddle after 25 years, my nerve or bravery seems to have diminished though .  I’m hoping my confidence builds as I get used to it again. I’m looking forward to hacks and rides with my little daughter and exploring new paths ,tracks and vistas, with a picnic or two.

This week-end we took part in our first Romeria, (Spanish Horse Fair), along with our friend and teacher Sharon.  We were the only female riders amongst many Spanish men and their stallions !! A great day riding and partying, flamenco and traditions with local musto, embutidos , paella and snails !!!! for all those who rode.

 

Nellie & Me :)

Nellie & Me 🙂

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So once more settled back in at La Rosilla, I can re-focus and get creating again .  Recipe books out and being browsed, to get back on my #cookfromthebooks wagon challenge with menus being planned for guests and visitors.  The veggie patch is growing well, and courgette flowers almost ready for picking and stuffing, vine leaves fresh and green too will be hopefully ready to be harvested at the weekend to be turned into delicious dolmades.  The first figs our Brevas, and plumping and turning colour nicely – Oh the joy of mouthwatering home-grown ingredients.

So from us all at La Rosilla humans and animals, Spencer, Rizo, Fanny (dogs), Baba, Rocket, Nutty (cats) Tika & Inca (horses) and Hens aka lovely ladies.

HASTA LUEGO

#cookfromthebooks Week 15, Family, springtime & kittens

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We have been as busy as the springtime bees at La Rosilla.  Preparations are under way for the summer season ahead, and with the fortunate warm temperatures we’ve been having, we’ve been making hay whilst the sun shines .

The annual paint-a-thon has started, whitewashing and freshening up the outside of the house, bringing back it’s summer brightness.  The garden has been tackled, and weeds pulled.  The vegetable patch has had some new summer seedlings, courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce, pumpkins to name a few.

Guests came from Belgium to experience a La Rosilla Paella Day, and the weather was glorious showing off the mountain in all it’s splendour .

Paella Day at La Rosilla

Paella Day at La Rosilla

Paella cooking adventure at La Rosilla

Our eldest daughter has returned from the U.K for the Easter holidays, so we have enjoyed our first family alfresco meals of the year.  When she returns I like to rustle up some of her favourite Spanish dishes, to welcome her home.  This weeks recipe for my #cookfromthebooks challenge is from the wonderfully complete book by Pepita Aris ‘SPANISH’ .

Pepita Aris SpanishRecipes clearly photographed and presented, covering all aspects of Spanish cusine from all regions.  The book has been republished many times and a while back, I professionally reviewed it, on behalf of Books 4 Spain.  It is a cook book I return too frequently, and all dishes I have prepared from it have become a main part of my Spanish repertoire, tweaking as I feel fit.

Stuffed Mussel recipe

MUSSELS WITH A PARSLEY CRUST or STUFFED MUSSELS

450g Cooked Mussels ( Steam and then cool).

Tbsp olive oil

Tbsp melted butter

3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

seasoning

fresh breadcrumbs.

 

  • Open the mussels, snap off the top shell and leave the mussel attached to the bottom of shell.
  • Lay the shells in an ovenproof dish, packing them closley.
  • Mix the melted butter, olive oil, Parmesan, parsley , garlic and breadcrumbs together .
  • Gently put a tsp of the stuffing mixture onto each mussels.
  • Grill the mussels on high until they are sizzling & golden.

Together with gambas pil-pil, spicy pinchitos and ribs, we truly had a feast 🙂

 

Gambas pil-pil

Gambas pil-pil

Never a dull moment at La Rosilla…

With springtime comes babies ! Baby animals, and while playing on the land, our youngest daughter stumbled across two tiny weeny kittens just hours old, that had been abandoned probably by a mother that had been frightened away by local dogs. Unable just to leave them to perish, we have taken on the task of hand rearing them, a rewarding but very tiring task and with an uncertain ending.  We are doing our best and are taking each day as it comes, 2 hourly feeds through the night too !  So I’m feeling in quite a zombie state today, I do not miss the sleeplessness nights of years ago …So watch this space, and send me luck, patience and stamina.

BUEN PROVECHO

If you would like to join in this years challenge of #cookfromthebooks I would be delighted :) Just add the hashtag #cookfromthebooks and add the logo below & link to this site.

#cookfromthebooks cooking challenge 2014

 

 

 

#cookfromthebooks Week 14 Big wheels & seaside rock.

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I seem to have muddled up my weeks, that’s not difficult for me ;). So my #cookfromthebooks challenge, is a medley of what I’ve been up-to, and a favourite recipe from La Rosilla.  I would love of course to travel with my cook books in tow, well they’re my babies, but don’t think I could get away with that on my low cost airline travel bag allowance !

I am now back on my m0untain at La Rosilla, and have been rewarded by wall to wall sunshine and and balmy temperatures. I have been most lucky, as I too enjoyed lovely warm spring temperatures for my last few days in Sussex. I was fortunate to be given a guided visit of Brighton and amble along the pier, through the lanes and parks and have a birds eye view of the city on the giant ferris wheel.  Suitably proud of my bravery ( I don’t do heights) once over the initial revolution, and only looking forward I actually quite enjoyed it !

Obligatory rock for my children was purchased, and seaside photos taken.  Students, picnicked, and braved the cold sea, folks relaxed on traditional deckchairs, beautiful Brighton was alive.

During my two weeks away caring for my charge, I loved pottering in my cosy cottage kitchen and rustling up dishes and flavours with seasonal produce.  Guests were invited to join us for supper, and I thoroughly enjoyed helping my charge entertain once more since the passing some years ago of his wife.

A trusty La Rosilla favourite recipe of Smoked Mackerel and Horseradish pate, with a Beetroot compote started our meal, and was washed down with a chilled bottle of fizz.

Smoked Mackeral & Horseradish Pate

Smoked mackeral and horseradish pate recipe.

125 g Cream Cheese

2 x smoked mackerel or 1 x tin Caballos de sur (Spain)

1 x lemon juice & zest

1 tbsp of creamed horseradish

handful of finely chopped chives

Salt & freshly black pepper.

  • In a bowl stir the cream cheese until soft.
  • add chopped mackerel and stir through.
  • add lemon juice & zest – Stir
  • stir in horseradish
  • season and just before serving stir through chopped chives.

This is lovely served as a dip with crudites, or put into tiny croustades for canapes.

I served it with home-made bread, and zesty beetroot compote & peppery rocket salad.

During my time away, I perused many a menu, and sampled some delicious hearty fayre. It was a pleasure to see so many cooking styles a multi cultural tastes being offered.  Two simple yet very tasty plates, that I will endeavour to reproduce at La Rosilla, were a Bubble and squeak cake, topped with thick ham off the bone, and oozing poached egg, the other the most succulent pork belly and most crunchy crackling I had ever eaten, I pushed the wheelchair extra hard and fast after that dish to burn those calories, but it was worth it 😉

Case over-loaded with choccie goodies, a delicious leg of lamb for Sunday lunch, and food magazines, I headed home, until next time.

Now to get back on track with my #cookfromthebooks challenge, and create some new tasty morsels for ‘Mi familia’

 

 

#Cookfromthebooks Week 11 Spring flowers and Aga’s

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I am experiencing many firsts over the next two weeks, definitely testing my personal strength and mind and something I am sure once I’ve completed I will look back on and say, it was a doddle, well hopefully that’s my plan 😉 !

I have flown from Spain to care for an elderly gentleman for 2 weeks in beautiful Sussex, an area unknown to me, I’m a Warwickshire lass, it feels very south.  Obviously not as south as the Montes of Malaga, but still South.

I’m staying in a country cottage, down a quiet country lane, in a village like a grew up in where everyone still says ‘Good Morning’, many with a plum in their mouths 😉 Very Dibleyesque.

All though bitterly cold, (my blood must’ve thinned) it is so lovely to see all the spring flowers lining the villages, fields and hedgerows, whether the sky blue or grey these flowers lift the spirits and give hope. I’ve filled a jug with cheery daffodils for my bedside table, a pretty sight first thing in the morning, when the dawn chorus has woken me so early !!!

Leaving ninos behind and OH in charge of our life of chaotic but wonderful, mountain mayhem is the hardest part of my experience, also knowing that I’m in the same country as my folks and No 1 daughter, but further in hours away then a flight to Spain, so won’t be able to see them is a challenge too 😦 The social demons for some !!  of Facetime, Facebook & whatsapp will be my daily salvation and my connection with my ‘Real’ life 😉

It is though a pleasure to be spending time with someone who at the ripe age of 89, loves to wine, dine and socialise, I think some one I will aspire to be like.

So I may have left my kitchen behind, but my La Rosilla apron came with me and when the going get’s tough I’m going to cook myself through it.

Here we come to the Aga, always on my ‘One day & wish list’ having spent many a day warming myself around friends Agas, when living in the U.K, a real feel of ‘The heart of the home’ but never having cooked on one I’m finding it’s a learning curve, a happy learning curve.

After waiting for my eggs to boil for what seemed likes yonks, I realised my pan was on the simmering plate, not boiling plate.  My chicken roasted to perfection, almost like in a dutch oven, and my bread, now that made my day, home-made bread and Aga’s they just seem like a married made in heaven.

So my #cookfromthebooks , book this week, I think will be getting a well deserved airing.  Aga Cooking ‘The contemporary recipe bible for all Aga owners’ by Amy Willcock, not so much for the recipes, I haven’t browsed them enough yet, but as a guide to remind myself what goes where, and how to cook what.  Do you know one of the best things about the cooker is it’s ability to do the ironing ? and of course warm your bottom and hands after a walk in the cold 😉

My recipe is one I use a great deal at home, when I bake bread at the week-end, so this was my first attempt at bread in an Aga, I had to improvise on mixing bowl and scales, there wasn’t any and no bread tins, so a Le Creuset pot, was the chosen recipient.  I bought the fresh yeast with me from Spain I don’t think you can beat the fresh stuff 😉

Sun-dried tomato and seed bread.

500g country grain or wholemeal bread flour

1 tsp salt

300ml warm water with 1/2 tsp of sugar and a cube of fresh yeast, allow to dissolve and yeast to bubble about 10 mins

glug of olive oil

handful of chopped sun dried tomatos

handful of mixed seeds, sunflower, pumpkin etc.

  • In a large bowl put flour, and salt, make a well and gradually add water/yeast mixture, stirring as you go.
  • Add olive oil, and then with your hands bring the dough together and kneed for a 10 mins until smooth and elastic.
  • kneed in the sun dried tomatoes
  • put dough into an oiled bowl and cover with damp cloth or plastic bag, and leave in a warm place (next to the Aga 😉 to prove until doubled in size
  • knock the air out of the dough, kneed a little and then shape to required shape, slash a cross in the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle the seeds on top.
  • leave to rise again for about 20 mins
  • Bake in the roasting oven of the Aga, or in a hot oven for 25-30 mins.
  • You can tell when it is cooked through when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.

 

Enjoy hot out of the oven, with lashing of butter and bowlfuls of home made soup, perfect for a chilly day.

Until my next AGA SAGA, wish me luck on my duty.

and for my hard work I have been presented with these, that made me smile 🙂

chocs

Buen Provecho.