What glorious weather we’ve been having – day after day of brilliant sunshine! It’s a bank holiday weekend, there’s only one thing for it BARBECUE!
If, like us, you only have a small garden or patio, bucket barbecues are a much more practical option than one of those super-duper barbecue grills. Much as we’d love one kitted out with quadruple gas burners, rotisserie, warming cupboard and instant ignition – we’d have no room for table and chairs… or us!
The Hema bucket barbecue (#1) is so affordable, we could buy two and have one each. One for Justin’s steak / burger / rack of ribs and the other for my vegetable skewers and veggie sausages. I’m not best keen on them being cooked side-by-side.
My favourite is the Fortnum & Mason eau de nil number. It’s not dissimilar to the budget Hema example and is almost 3 times the price. By way of justification, I really like the detailing of this one and the fact that you can lift the grill off by the handle – vital when my kebabs need rescuing quickly from certain cremation! Oh, and call me shallow… but I do love the classic F&M logo too.
- Bucket barbecue: £15, Hema
- Gentleman’s Hardware barbecue bucket – black: £26.91, Amazon
- BBQ bucket in Eau de Nil: £40, Fortnum & Mason
We’re making an unusual real bread recipe this time, for our weekly Cakes & Bakes feature; Halloumi herb bread.
Classic Halloumi is made with mint, and the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. I bought a pack of Halloumi from Lidl which was made with basil, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.
Bakery Bits baked their Halloumi herb bread in a Pullman loaf pan, a bit of kit which I don’t own, so I just used a common or garden loaf tin.
A delicious, hearty, intense flavoured loaf was the result. A suitable accompaniment for an endless number of dishes… meat, fish or vegetable based – rice, pasta, couscous or salad.
I had it again the following day, toasted on both sides under the grill – very satisfactory leftovers. Click here to save the recipe for later!
Halloumi herb bread
- 5g/0.2oz dry yeast
- 175ml/6 fl oz warm water
- ¼tsp caster sugar
- 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g/1oz strong wholemeal bread flour
- 4g/0.15oz salt
- 250g/9oz Halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 spring onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
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- In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 15ml/½ fl oz of the water at 30°C/86ºF and the caster sugar
- Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, until it has developed a slight froth on the surface
- Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
- Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water and use your hand or a dough whisk to mix everything together until there's no dry flour left and you have a shaggy dough
- Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 10 minutes. By this stage the dough should be smooth and elastic
- Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 1-1½ hours
- While the dough is rising, put the Halloumi into a medium bowl with the olive oil, basil leaves and spring onions
- Season with salt and black pepper. Stir, then cover and leave for at least 30 minutes
- Prepare a 500g/1lb loaf tin by lightly greasing the sides and base with butter and dusting lightly with flour
- When the dough has almost doubled in size, gently tip it onto the work surface and press it out to form a rectangle three times the length and slightly wider than your loaf tin
- Spread the Halloumi and herb mixture evenly over the top of the dough
- Working from one of the long sides, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Press gently on the seam with your fingers to seal
- Place the roll of dough in the prepared loaf tin, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas mark 5
- Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the loaf develops a golden brown crust and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped
- Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack
Adapted from Bakery Bits
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
We’re working in partnership on this post with Rattan Direct to find out, “How well do you know your neighbours?“.
There are a few things that have helped us feel part of our local community.
Length of time lived in our home
We’ve lived at our current address for 15 years; most of our neighbours have been here even longer than that. If we have a quick think, we probably know the neighbours pretty well in the seven or eight houses in either direction along our street. We say hello and often stop and have a chat when we see each other. As we work from home, we’re generally pottering about which makes it more likely that we see people – we’re also available to take in post – and water plants or feed pets if people go away.
We’re a neighbourhood of animal lovers
Almost half of our neighbours have one or more dogs. The ones that don’t, have a cat… or birds… or tortoises – but more of them later!
Taking a dog for a walk is a guaranteed way of getting to know people. We must know the names of all the dogs within a 3-mile radius of our house… and many of the owners’ names too. Dogs must be the second most popular topic of conversation after the weather!
We’ve pulled together in the face of adversity
Nothing helps you get to know your neighbours better than a shared misfortune. That’s why you hear lots of older people referring to the war as almost a happy time. People pulled together and supported each other as their homes were being bombed or other sacrifices being made.
The homes & businesses on our street have flooded – or have almost – on a few occasions. We’ve helped each other trying to keep the water out that lapped at our front doors. We’ve borrowed, lent and shared brooms and mops and sandbags. We’ve worked together to attach flood barriers to doors as the river level steadily rose. We’ve talked to each other about insurance companies and local authority grants and recommended building companies and workmen. We’ve even had to return a tortoise we found marooned in our garden to neighbours who live a few doors away!
How well you know your neighbours? Take Rattan Direct’s survey to find out.
There’s been another new item purchased for our top-floor bedroom which is currently undergoing a revamp. Most of the natural specimens in this room – fossils, skulls and the like – died long ago; however it’s not the case with the latest addition.
We actually went to the garden centre to buy a small tray of bean seedlings for our allotment, but came home with this huge, beautiful peace lily plant as well. (Intended spend: £1.99, actual spend: £40.00… not the first time we’ve done that in a garden centre!).
It caught our eye as soon as we entered the house plant section. Its abundance of dark green spear-shaped leaves and milky white, almost luminous, flowers. We’d been talking about the lack of plants in that room only the day before… and the need to purify the air. What a beautiful way to do it!
Most plants contribute to a healthier living atmosphere, but some species are particularly good. The peace lily is arguably the best plant at eliminating toxic elements such as benzene (found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust emissions), formaldehyde (found in plywood furniture and some paint and carpets) and ammonia (found in household cleaners) from the air. Other house plants proven to improve indoor air quality in this way, to a greater or lesser extent, include:
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
- Money plant (Epipremnum aureum)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
What a glorious place to spend a warm summer’s evening! Gently rocking back and forth with a cold beer or glass of wine, taking in the view and watching the sun go down.
This rustic porch (and indeed the cottage to which it belongs) ticks lots of boxes for us in terms of materials and décor.
We like the combination of natural wood and stone in a building structure – and the introduction of cane, rattan and weathered metal works perfectly with it.
The look is carried through the various connecting spaces – flowers, textiles and furs softening the harder edges.
If you’re equally taken by the idea of spending some time here – well you can! The cottage is situated in Cornwall and available to rent for holidays (dogs allowed too).
Hopefully we’ll be lighting that fire and rocking in those chairs one day soon!
- Franco Albini rattan rocking chairs
- Franco Albini glass-topped rattan table
- Tree branch tea light holders – set of three
- Large terracotta plant pot
- Storm lamp
- Natural woven straw seat cushions
Last week, we wrote about a vintage Bernard Rooke pottery floor lamp that we acquired recently. We also mentioned that he, at one time, shared a studio in Forest Hill and then Greenwich, London with fellow potter and Goldsmiths graduate, Alan Wallwork.
Wallwork (born 1931) is best known for his beautiful, often colourful, glazed tiles that adorn tabletops, cheeseboards, trivets etc. He also produces the most sensuous, sculptural studio pottery pieces. Often inspired by nature, these textural works resemble acorns, seed pods, eggs, slices of fruit, shells and fossils.
His art pottery pieces can often be found for sale at auction houses all around the country. The tiled items are very affordable and are always available on eBay and Etsy.
Additional imaged credits:
1stDibs | Invaluable