Sunday, November 25, 2012


Tours of Hidcote and Sezincote were part of my Paradise in an English Garden class at Oxford. This was my second visit to Hidcote famous for its design of garden rooms.  Also famous for this gray-blue paint color seen on gates and benches.

   Hidcote should brand this paint color, don't you think? Buckets of "Hidcote Blue" would be sold.

                           Someday I'm going to post pics of fabulous weather vanes I've seen.

                                                                  Hydrangeas in abundance.

                       Archways and paths lead to various garden rooms throughout the property.

                                               A long, wide hallway between rooms.

                  Someday I will post pics of all the fabulous benches I've seen.  More Hidcote blue.

If you look closely at the sky portion of this pic you will see a swarm of bees.  I was the last visitor to see this area before it was closed off.  The buzzing was a little unnerving.

                                      The benches are more comfortable than they look.

                           Trellis patterns are always interesting.  Just the word "trellis" is pretty.

                                                        A gorgeous zinc planter.

       After touring Hidcote, I walked out the front gate, turned right, and walked down the lane to see what was nearby.

               "To Let" looked tempting.  Who wouldn't want to spend a bit of time here?

                                                  Pretty cottages just steps from the road.

                Admired the horses grazing behind a stone wall and then as I rounded the lane came to a screeching halt....                        

roosters, chickens, and ferocious looking swans roaming around as if they owned the place.  Farm animals freak me out. Well, farm animals on the loose freak me out. If I had a stick I would have kept walking but since I only had my bag and camera I retreated. Sad since I would have like to know what was around the bend....

But as I walked back up this pretty little lane I forgot all about what I didn't see and reveled in the view.

                            And looking at a thatched roof cottage makes for a nice ending.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Another perfect autumn recipe from The Apple Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso.  And that gorgeous pumpkin pot by Staub sits atop my stove from mid-September through November 30.

Makes 6 cups

1 pound sweet potatoes (445 g) peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 pound (227 g) baby-cut carrots
1 large apple (about 8 ounces) any apple, although sweet is ideal--unpeeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons (75 ml) olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 to 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into medium chunks
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cups (945 ml) reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh apple cider

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, toss the potato, carrots, and apple with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.  Arrange on a foil-lined sheet pan (I used a silpat) and roast until tender, about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pot and set over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until the onions just begin to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the roasted vegetables, broth, and cider, stir, and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf from the pot and use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.  If using a regular blender, process the soup in three batches to avoid splattering hot liquid.  Return the pureed soup to the pot, taste for seasoning, and serve.