Thursday, 1 March 2012


See what you can find when you look closely enough...
We were very lucky to attend a talk by wildlife cameraman Doug Allen yesterday evening!  He shared his experiences of filming in the coldest places on earth and showed the most breathtaking footage (some of which has been seen on "Planet Earth" and similar programmes).  What an inspiration!  I am not sure that diving and filming under 12 feet of ice would be my cup of tea :-) but thanks to films and photos captured by people like Doug, those amazing secret worlds are made accessible to the rest of us. We got hold of a copy of his book "Freeze Frame" which can also be ordered on his website - simply stunning!

We have been very priviledged to have some incredible wildlife experiences in South Africa and Tanzania with expert guidance by our friend Marius of Clearly Africa but we have also seen amazing things in our own garden, just by watching the birds, frogs etc. When you truly look at the natural world around us more intently and closely, you will find astonishing things! And when you think about how everything interacts and is connected, you realise that we ourselves are just a part of the big puzzle called nature and you also realise that we have no other option than to protect our planet!  

Monday, 27 February 2012

Old fashioned food - a different perspective

After my post earlier today, I have been thinking a little more about what I wrote and feel I should add something further.  I talked about oxtail as an example of being a somewhat old fashioned cut of meat, not used by many anymore.  I guess this view is very much from a Western European perspective and therefore incomplete - in other countries and especially in less well off places, using every part of the slaughtered animal (if there is one to be slaughtered) is very much a necessity and/or a tradition.  One of the reasons why "odd" cuts of meat or certain fish are no longer eaten as regularly in the UK is the wide choice of food available to most of us at pretty much any given moment. So, what I have labelled old fashioned food may represent something very different in another part of the world.

Old fashioned food

A little while ago I came across a recipe for oxtail whilst watching Rick Stein's Spain on TV and - never having cooked this before - was intrigued by what looked like a delicious slow-cooked meal.  By chance our butcher had some oxtail in at the weekend, so we bought one and prepared it yesterday by oven cooking it over a long time on a low temperature.  It'll go in the freezer today but when we do eat it, I will post a picture.  Judging by the delicious aroma and tasty gravy, I can already say that this is going to be a winner! :-)

I love trying out new things, especially using ingredients that are probably a bit old fashioned.  Often enough they are cheaper than the more popular ones - take fish, for example: cod is probably one of the most popular (and over-fished!) choices but we had whiting the other day, courtesy of our fish monger at Swansea market and it was absolutely lovely and very reasonably priced.  Just dusted the fillets with seasoned flour, dipped in egg and then breadcrumbs and shallow fried these for a couple of minutes on each side...yummy!

Other news: I am pleased to say that I finally got my first ever garlic into the ground yesterday!  It was a beautifully sunny day and I spent some time tidying up the raised bed and then planting the cloves.  I just placed each clove (ten in total), pointy side up approximately 3cm deep into the ground, leaving about 10cm between each to allow for enough space. Fingers crossed they will turn into fat bulbs to be harvested in a few months!