Friday flowers

Close up shot of plum blossom. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Plum blossom. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Close up shot of plum blosssom cluster highlighted against dark background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Plum blossom, take 2. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The plum blossom has survived the rain and wind we’ve had all week, and this morning I noticed the neighbour’s clematis has sent a tendril over the fence with these two flowers attached.

The first clematis flowers of the season. Close up shot of pink clematis against blurred background.Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The first clematis. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

 

Regular Random: five minutes with traces of summers past

All that remains. Close-up shot of four sea-shells; two screwshells, a clamshell and the remains of a whelk. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

All that remains from beach days past. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I don’t think of myself as a beachcomber. Yet sometimes, when I clean out my car or reach into a jacket pocket, I find little souvenirs of a beach walk. Shells mainly, and sometimes pebbles — dry and sandy and somehow not as beautiful as in that first moment I picked them up.

I knew someone once who carefully applied a coat of clear nail varnish to the shells she had collected; an attempt to bring back that wet sparkle which drew her to them in the first place.

I’m not going to varnish my shells. I’m happy to let my camera explore the intricate beauty of their forms and textures and patterns.

Five Minutes of Random (the #RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist. 

If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post
  • have fun!

DP Photo Challenge: waiting

Waiting for the music. Close up shot of young girl about to begin her routine in the Highland dancing competiton at the Helensville Show, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Waiting for the music. Highland dancer competing in the Helensville A&P Show Highland Dancing competition, Auckland NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Competitions always involved lots of waiting; for the event to begin, for your turn to perform, and for the judges’ decision.

Here are a few moments of waiting from this year’s Helensville A&P (Agricultural & Pastoral) Show, north of Auckland.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | waiting

Rosemary and feta scones (a recipe)

Close up shot of rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2107

Rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ingredients (makes six large scones)

300g self-raising flour*

Good pinch sea-salt

50g very cold butter

220-260ml cold milk

100g crumbled feta cheese

Good handful (or about two tablespoons) roughly chopped fresh rosemary. If you’re using dried herbs, about 1-2 teaspoons.

* You can use plain flour and add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. Make sure it’s not bread flour, which has more gluten and the scones won’t rise as well.

Process

Pre-heat oven to 220°C.

Sift flour into a bowl; add salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through rosemary and feta.  Add enough milk to form a soft dough. Don’t over-mix.

Tip onto lightly floured baking tray and knead gently a couple of times. Roll or press dough until it is about 2cm thick.

I kept the dough in a round, and cut into 6 wedges, but you could use a cookie cutter for more traditional round scones.

The dough doesn’t spread much so you can bake them close together on the tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire tray (just long enough that they’re not too hot to handle).

Some additional thoughts

The basic scone recipe I used comes from the Edmonds Cookery Book. It’s a kind of bible of traditional Kiwi food, and I’d wager that most of the home-baked scones consumed here have their origin in an Edmonds’ recipe.

When I looked for alternative recipes, I found some that add extra baking powder to self-raising flour and some that use  baking soda and cream of tartar as separate ingredients. I found recipes that use buttermilk or yogurt, some with a mix of butter and lard as shortening, and even some that included eggs.

I’m intrigued by these variations and will probably experiment — with different leavening agents at least. I don’t think I’ll try adding lard though, and as for eggs? Doesn’t that just turn the mixture into muffins?

Do you have a favourite scone recipe? Baking powder, or baking soda and buttermilk? Butter or lard? Do you add eggs?

I’d love to know how these variations work. And of course, what extra ingredients do you add?

Delish of the day

Close-up shot of roasted golden beetroot and feta salad on duck-egg blue plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Roasted golden beetroot and feta salad. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Following last week’s #regularrandom post (Five Minutes with Three Good Things), here’s a shot of the finished dish.

Because the golden beetroot don’t bleed like the red variety, I was able to peel and chop these for roasting. That meant they got a little bit caramelised; and picked up the flavours of garlic and rosemary which I’d added to the roasting dish.

With quite a lot going on taste-wise in the beetroot themselves, I kept the dish simple with just a few salad leaves, some crumbled feta and a bit of balsamic dressing.

The verdict: pretty tasty. But given how long the beetroot took to roast (about 35 minutes — and they were small pieces), I’d probably only do this again in a vastly scaled-up form — for a summer lunch party maybe.

Regular Random: five minutes with three good things

Loving the freshness of rosemary. Shot of rosemary sprig with golden beetroot and garlic? Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Loving the freshness of rosemary — with golden beetroot and garlic? Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things approach to cooking has found great favour in our kitchen. The combination of simplicity and discipline (just three main ingredients) really works.

Rosemary seems to be my latest food-crush; at least in part because it is so prolific in the garden. Having deemed the rosemary and feta scones a success (recipe to come) I got to wondering how the pungent, piney flavour would get along with some golden beetroot I found in my fridge.

The answer? I’ll let you know when the beets are roasted.

Five Minutes of Random (the #RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist. 

If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post
  • have fun!