Sunday, October 21, 2007

On Leading The Life Of Riley This Week

I've just lived one of the most delightful weeks. It began on Saturday afternoon last week, 13th October, with a lazy lunch in the garden of pumpkin, chilli and ginger soup. It was really too cold to sit for long, but we managed it anyway, wrapped up in sweaters and scarves for although the autumnal sun was bright and low in the blue, cloudless sky, it was chilly enough. That night we skipped off to the Buxton Opera House for an evening with Ray Mears. I love Ray Mears, and if ever I find myself on a desert island I shall take my eight records and Ray as my luxury object.
"Over the last decade the name Ray Mears has become recognised throughout the world as being an authority on the subject of Bushcraft and Survival. Ray founded Woodlore, School of Wilderness Bushcraft, in 1983 and has been teaching for the past 25 years. Bushcraft is an encyclopaedia; bushcraft liberates and empowers. It re-acquaints man with nature and his roots and provides an escape from the shackles of modern life."

He entered stage right, preceded by smoke. Honestly, this man's an arsonist, and has carved out a successful career setting fire to everything he can lay his hands on. I bet Ray Mears could set a fire using two bits of asbestos. His stage show was really interesting, and if he ever considered getting members of the audience up on stage to try and set light to each other, his show could go global...

Liberated and empowered to escape the shackles of modern life, I nipped off to Bakewell on Monday morning. I parked up along the main road, just down from the agricultural centre, and walked through the children's playground to the river and then on to the weekly street market for vegetables and a few olives. They had black plastic boxes of small mixed peppers in autumnal reds, yellows and oranges, looking so crisp and perky I bought two. That set me thinking of harvest festivals and Hallowe'en. Walking back along the park, I noticed this beautiful scene; the wind had got up and sheets of leaves were drifting and falling right around me.

And all this week the clear night skies and cold mornings led to heavy mists rolling down the hills and filling the valleys with morning fog. Some of the tallest oak trees growing along the hedgerows were the only part of the valleys visible at breakfast time. The ground frosts over this week thankfully began the destruction of the annuals, which should clear some space for mass spring bulb planting in the next couple of weeks. I still haven't potted up the prepared hyacinths for the house, which as last year, won't now flower in time for Christmas. But I have made the most sublime recipe from Sophie Grigson's Vegetables book.

Htipiti, or Greek red pepper and feta dip, contains a small and seemingly ordinary list of ingredients which transform themselves, as Sophie promises, into a dish of sublime delight. I shall take a photo of the page in this cookbook and include it here to encourage you all to rush out to Waterstones and buy it.

Sophie instructs us to halve, seed, grill until charred then skin about 5oz red peppers; and throw them into a food processor with a seeded and chopped red chilli, 6oz feta (I used the standard supermarket 200g / 7oz packet), a clove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil sufficient to make a creamy mass on processing. Pour into your favourite serving dish and force feed to your new best friend who historically claims to dislike both chillies and peppers. She scoffed the lot. This dip is so beautiful to look at, especially if served in a white dish. I made it with the mixed peppers from Bakewell, so got a golden sunrise colour, with the flecks of chilli and a shake of paprika adding a "red sky at night..." note.

So there you have it. A wonderful week full with Ray Mears, markets, vegetables; frosty mornings and late evenings; lolling about on the sofas watching Bridge to Terabithia with Merci Beaucoup Enfant Deux; Sophie Grigson and a Saturday night double bill of NCIS. Life really doesn't get too much better than this.


Jan said...

What a lovely week, with wonderful pictures, and even a recipe! I loved the book "Bridge to Terabithia," but haven't seen the movie. Enjoy that cool, crisp weather for me!

At least the warm weather is still good for hanging sheets and towels outside, like I did today.

Jan said...

Guess what--it's gotten cooler, and I'm going to make a pot of soup today! I am so happy!

Amalee Issa said...

Laundry and a developing obsession with the weather, Jan? You're becoming distinctly British! Now we just have to get you eating Marmite on toast, and you're there!

Jan said...

But you'll have to clue me in to what "Marmite" is! All I can think of is marmalade. . . .

Cottage Smallholder said...

Yhat sounds like a perfect day. I love Ray Mears, lucky you getting to see his show.

Your dip looks wonderful too.