Shoots and Teacups

The garlic has started to peek through but if you watch very carefully  you can almost see the shoots trying to hide from the freezing blasts of wind that have now come to torment us. Last year I used the Utility Room as a greenhouse with good success… but the Utility Room is now the Kitten’s Bedroom and as much as they’d love to have soil and seedlings to play with I’ll have to be more creative with space this year.

The “Nicola” seed potatoes from Sarah Raven arrived in the week so I’ve started to chit them in an old egg tray. I smiled when I notice that one was  heart shaped  as hearts are dotted all the way around our home and it seemed a good sign for the growing year  yet to come.

Garlic and Spuds

I’m quite excited because I’ve made some really tasty bread and it was soooo easy to do that it feels like I’ve missed the point! It’s from a book called Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes which shares the secret of a no knead method of bread making. I followed the most basic recipe and I’m hoping it’s not just a bit of a fluke but it was lovely – I’ll keep baking and let you know. Do you use this method of bread making, and if so, is it successful for you? I’m going to be a bit more adventurous with the recipe next weekend.

Crusty Bread

I seem to have acquired a new obsession – vintage teacups! I’ve decided to hold a small afternoon tea party in early Summer and this has given me the perfect excuse to collect them. I’ll be going full out – home made fancies, crustless sandwiches, scones and gorgeous little cups of tea. They’ll  be bunting, flowers and lots of vintage loveliness and weather permitting we may even be able to sit outside (okay, I’ll stop it now, I’m just getting carried away!).


43 thoughts on “Shoots and Teacups

  1. It’s great to note despite latitude, my garlic is at the same stage as yours – although they face the same risks from the biting wind! I have not tried no knead bread, interesting idea and your loaf look great. Still waiting on my seed potatoes to arrive …..

    • The difference is that when I spend hours kneading and proving bread the results are very different to yours 🙂 This no knead method suits my weak wrist and low boredom threshold!
      I can imagine that the wind is certainly whistling up there at the moment – thankfully garlic is hard!

    • I’m not surprised you’ve not got round to it – you’ve been so busy! I’ll try some more recipes and do a post if it continues to work out well.

  2. Your bread looks really good – I’ve never tried the no knead method, but on your recommendation I may well give it a go! Probably a good idea not to mix kittens and seedlings. Our cat just loves sitting inside the cold frame on a sunny spring day – usually on top of any seed trays that are in there.

    • Cats always know where the best sleeping spots are… and the ones that will cause most aggravation! One of previous cats loved to sit in the middle of herbaceous plants… cornflowers in particular. Pest 🙂

  3. My garlic was peeking up in December despite the leaf litter mulch I used….snow has it snuggled right now…I too adore vintage teacups….I will have to check out the 5 minute method for bread baking…sounds right up my alley.

    • You are feeding my obsession! Thanks for the link – I’m following your Pinterest board and will keep popping back to see what you have. Drinks certainly taste better in china and I love the daintiness of vintage crockery.

    • I know! I’m sure that I’ll be so busy making bunting, cutting the crusts off bread and arranging sugar lumps that I’ll forget to take photos!!

      • You must add “take photos” to your list for the day and assign the task to one of your guests. In the “old days” we put disposable cameras on the table for guests to take pix. Maybe some version of that.

  4. I have no earthly idea what “chit” means. The dictionary did attribute it to the English but it seemed to be a short note or memorandum. I feel sure your potatoes aren’t going to be writing notes. Still, it seemed like a Most Excellent idea for allowing them to grow eyes.

    • It’s a funny word isn’t it? I’ve not done a lot of chitting before so it will be interesting to see how the potatoes progress. To be quite honest it’s just great to see anything sprout at this time of year!

  5. It’s an age since I made bread; in the UK there was always some bread rising in the airing cupboard but here in Queensland the humidiy doesn’t always seem as conducive to baking. Its rainy and miserable thought this week so I might have to break out the cook books again, and I would really love to grow garlic in my garden, can you just plonk in a shop bought bulb that’s already starting to sprout?

    • Rainy weather always makes me hanker for a bit of baking – I’ve baked a lot this year! You can try the shop bought garlic cloves but they may be weaker, less reliable and more prone to diseases. It’s worth using a commercially bred variety that will suit your climate. Either way it’s just fun to grow and great to eat… and homegrown is even more hated by vampires 🙂

      • Awesome, that will come in very handy as I’m writing my Honours thesis on Victorian Gothic Literature this year!! We can grow a good range in the South East of Queensland as we get just enough of a cold snap in winter to set citrus and fruits and then nice hot humid weather. I’ve got lots of green peppers this year which have been great for salads and I have some limes, lemongrass and rainbow chillies so I just need garlic and then I can make Thai curry pastes from my garden! I got my first mango last year which was a bit of a miracle as they don’t usually like salt air and I’ve grown tomatoes and mini aubergines before but I always get invaded by white fly and nasty bugs with anything that has tender juicy leaves and I hate spraying everything with chemicals.

  6. I think that potato is really special, I think you’re right….a good sign for your garden season. I hadn’t heard the term ‘chitting’ before but I’ve also never planted potato’s. Sorry to hear your weather is not co-operating, we’re enjoying sunny but cool days.

    You’ll have a ball at your Tea Party. Did you know I also collect Tea Cups? For many years I’d pitch a dining tent on our lawn at the lake and had girlfriends over for a Tea Party too. We’d always wear a sundress and hat and we’d pretend we were english LOL…you’ll have us beat on that one. It was always a hit and so fun to plan. The bunting sounds so cute, I can’t wait to see what transpires.

    • Nooo! I didn’t realise you collected teacups but I’m not surprised 🙂 It’s so funny that you pretended to be English… I imagine it was like Downton on the lawn with giggles!
      I’m going to make some invitations and we’ll all try our best to speak with an English accent but I’m also planning on having some pink champagne so who knows what accents will come out 🙂

  7. Oh, a summer tea party – what a lovely thought on a snowy February morning! I’ve also just started trying bread-baking and had a first success. But I enjoyed the kneading process – to get rid of excess frustration at the weather! 😉 Look forward to your recipe though!

    • I broke my wrist a couple of years ago so the strain of kneading makes it quite achey. I have a food mixer with a dough hook and a bread machine but, I have to admit, the no knead attempt is much better… but that might be down to my bread making skills (or lack of!).

  8. Ooh, your bread looks lush! I made a loaf of sourdough spelt bread today, really easy recipe (once you’ve made the sourdough starter or have a kind friend who’ll give you some) and no kneading required! Just a bit of stretching and folding and Bob’s your uncle. I’ve no idea what it tastes like yet, it came out of the oven just before I left for work, so I’ve got to sit dreaming of it all day 😦 Smelled nice and looked fab on the outside, just hoping it’s a bit lighter than my first attempt (different recipe, LOTS of kneading…)

    • This sounds very similar in method – in fact the authors state that the longer you leave the dough mixture in the fridge the better it gets and it will also develop a sourdough flavour.
      My previous bread making attempts were always like concrete – it made it even worse knowing that I’d kneaded it for ages, let it prove and then prayed!! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

    • Wow – I can’t imagine my garden ever being ready to open for the NGS! What a great thing to do and the lovely cups and saucers will make people feel extra special. I’ll look forward to seeing your posts about this.

  9. I love the tea cups! They are so pretty. As for the bread – it looks delicious! Well done to you! I had put boxwood cuttings in my utility room, without thinking that our cat would enjoy having something new to dig up… Silly me!

    • Cats love to get into mischief and making a mess is usually a number one past time! The bread pretty much made itself – I just had to throw the ingredients together and cook it for enough time 🙂

  10. I’m making 10 Pita breads a day with the occasional Polish Rye bread for good measure, not to mention the flapjacks! I am looking up no kneed bread method right now, I need a rest 🙂
    Garlic looks great, good luck with the spuds!

    • You must be knackered… you could use the no knead method that takes 5 mins, stay in the kitchen and read the newspaper. After 20 mins throw a liberal dusting of flour over yourself and exclaim how tired you are. It works for me 🙂

  11. Those teacups are gorgeous!! I must admit I too have a thing for them. I love your potato too! What a lovely, cheery, happy blogpost! Thank you PJ Girl : ) Oh, I nearly forgot. I’m really interested in your bread making, the method sounds interesting. I was talking to someone about craft bakery techniques this week (in my quest to eat good decent food) so will be really interested to find out more about it. I make a lot of my own bread now, but in a bread maker. I love the smell of homemade bread : )

    • I like the thought of kneading and proving my own bread but the reality is that I don’t enjoy the strain it puts on my wrist and I could use my time better. Homemade bread tastes lovely and the smell is divine!
      The potato is great isn’t it!

  12. No-knead bread sounds interesting, I used to make bread every Saturday for about 15 years, until my arthritis got too bad and I had to stop. I don’t have a kitchen machine and the kneading just got too much. That’s 10 years ago – I haven’t even heard of no-knead bread until now! Looking forward to your next post about it.

    A tea party this summer sounds great, outdoors….a bit risky, I assume then that you are banking on a summer completely different to last summer!! Let’s hope you are right 🙂

    • I still can’t believe that bread that is simply mixed and left is as good as loaves that I’ve slaved over… in fact, in my case it’s better!
      I’m hoping for a nice Summer but if it is as wet as last year the the party will be indoors. I put a lot of things off last year due to the weather but this year is for ploughing ahead regardless!

  13. The bread looks yummy – my one weakness. I have a small collection of vintage tea cups and saucers on a dresser – I have never used them though – they seem so delicate and knowing me they would end up in pieces. 😦

    • I know what you mean – the little vintage tea cups are so delicate and the china is almost translucent! I’ve decided to use them on special occasions and not get worried if they break. It’s strange to think of the people who may have been using these a hundred years ago though!

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