Come on in and see my kitchen. This is the cooker, it also provides endless hot water and heats the radiators. It is a real workhorse and I love it - although it does have some quirks as it is fired by solid fuel. This means that on days when there is little or no wind, it often struggles to draw properly. Max is pretty adept at getting it going though.
The weather today is much cooler than of late and I have felt cold, so Max lit the Rayburn. Now the kitchen feels warm and welcoming.
A change of weather means a change in my cooking habits. We both really like simple meals - home made soups and home made bread being a favourite. So, those two enormous saucepans have been brought out of the pantry, one has a ham shank simmering within, the other has onions, celery and some potato softening.
Max adores pea and ham soup - I love pea soup, but I don't eat meat. So I'm making both. I have an enormous bowl of dried peas soaking, I could use garden peas, but we prefer the old fashioned dried sort
Traditionally, these dried peas had to be soaked overnight, nowadays you can buy quick-soak ones which are ready for cooking in only two hours, which makes for slightly more spontaneous soup-making! Even so, the soup won't be used until tomorrow evening, by which time the flavours will have developed and melded.
I'm also roasting some bulbs of garlic ready for making roasted garlic bread. I use an Andrew Morton recipe which recommends leaving the dough to prove in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Then I'll continue with the bread making tomorrow. Last time I made it, it got the thumbs up from everyone who tried it.
I'll also be making a couple of apple and blackberry pies with a soft crust. This is a bit of an experiment, it's a recipe I haven't tried before. I hope it turns out okay, because the second pie is for our dear old neighbour, Oscar. He is 98 years old and still going strong(ish).
Max had to take him to the dentist today, so I took the opportunity to pop round to see Benedict, the old horse who lives in Oscar's paddock. I haven't seen him for a few days, which means that no one has been there to give him his treats.
He was decidedly grumpy with me at first. However, the juicy apple, followed by three peppermints soon had him eating out of my hand.
Oscar had urged me to pick the blackberries along one side of the paddock - there wasn't much on offer though, so I took a detour on the way home to supplement supplies of them.
Tomorrow I'll make two pies, one for Oscar and we'll have the other one. Benedict will no doubt be happy to make do with apple and mints.
Now, had the weather been milder, I would not have felt like doing any of this cooking and baking. I love seasonality and I like to ring the changes.
This enthusiasm won't last long!