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 🙂