LET’S DO THIS!
The Mellow Ground Makery is getting a makeover!
So I’ve been meaning to crack on with this for a while and after taking the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design module 1 course I’ve decide to give my beloved Read More
Great use of an old phone box we found on our amble round Wilton in Marlborough.
It’s been upcycled to contain a heart defibrillator for the village, which will save crucial time whilst waiting for paramedics to arrive in the event of an emergency.
I’ve heard of old phone boxes being used for all sorts of things from village libraries to mini museums; have you found one? What was in it?
Share your pics on facebook, Twitter or on Instagram @mellowground #upcycledphonebox
It’s so important to make time, even if that time is just for yourself, or to leave space for spontaneous things to happen, to say yes to an unexpected invitation or make the most of an unexpected sunny day.
Here are some thoughts from Simpletom on the very subject…
“This week’s really busy”. “Sorry I’m slammed at the moment”. “We’re manic”.”It’s crazy”.
I get about 100 emails every week with something that let’s me know that me that the sender is really very busy.
We’ve created a culture where it’s necessary, cool even, to exclaim how busy we are. The amount we have to do is proffered as a currency of importance. The busier we are, the more important we must be… The more we are needed because everyone just wants a piece of our delectable selves.
I try to avoid these descriptions. My weeks are sometimes quite full, but I hope never manic, busy or crazy. I try to book in time, if necessary, to enable space and spontaneity. Whenever I get too busy, all the work I do suffers. My ‘busiest’ weeks are rarely my most productive. I try to work like it’s the weekend if I can.
View original post 229 more words
I love bread, but here’s the thing, it doesn’t love me.
Is there anything better than the pleasing, comforting and familiar smell of fresh baked bread (besides eating it warm with gently melting butter that is…)? Its inviting aroma wafts lazily through bakery shop fronts, homes, streets, supermarkets and envelopes you pulling you closer to the source. I don’t know anything that can make me feel hungry as instantly as the smell of bread does.
And yet not long after it Read More
Something rather lovely happened this week; our Facebook page sailed past 50 likes and this has made Mellow Ground very warm n fuzzy!
So to celebrate all you lovely people taking an interest in one woman’s attempt at being a more environmentally responsible and conscientious human (with an addiction to cake) Mellow Ground is having a Read More
It’s true ya know, I used to have all manner of little critters visit the Mellow Ground garden, especially in Winter. Early spring would see Mother Hedgehog and usually 2-3 babies snuffle out from under the hedge at the bottom of the garden around dusk, along the lawn and under the gate. Where they went I have no idea, but they came back every evening and I had to be sure the dogs were indoors!
UK wildlife is in decline and the Soil Association are looking for 1,000 Organic Wildlife Warriors to help us save it!
Wildlife is in decline and industrial farming practices are partly responsible. Organic farms, on the other hand, work with nature not against it. They are great for wildlife because:
Organic farming doesn’t rely on harmful synthetic pesticides.
Natural predators are encouraged by maintaining hedgerows and wide field margins.
Mixed farming is encouraged, meaning there’s a diversity of plants and crops for wildlife to thrive on.
Organic farmers use a greater diversity of crops over the years (in rotation) which keeps soil fertile and helps avoid the need for chemicals.- Soil Association.
By joining the Soil Association you’re not only entitled to claim 2 free veg boxes from Abel & Cole (when you sign up for a regular box) you’ll be investing in a “hedge fund” that makes a real difference…
Have you got what it takes to be a Wildlife Warrior? Follow the link at the top of this post and take the quiz to find out!
Whether you’ve chosen a creative life, started a new project or in doubt about a chosen path here’s a visual story with a clear message.
Video / visual story telling by Daniel Sax after he was totally inspired by the original interview with Ira Glass of “This American Life” radio show fame on the subject of the building blocks of storytelling; whilst Ira talks about storytelling in particular, his words resonate in so many other areas of life…
Ok so confessions first; there aren’t any real alligators^ as a secret ingredient ready to snap off your fingers here (sorry to disappoint). The star of the show is in fact the alligator pear (Persea americana) or avocado to you and I.
This nutrient dense super star fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, folate, dietary fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats (also known as oleic acid – omega 9) you can read more about its amazing health giving benefits here.
Feed your face; part 1.
- 1 ripe avocado (any variety – don’t just go for the mass cultivated Hass variety, diversify!)
- 2 tbsp coconut cream*
Last week Mellow Ground wrote about our Wintery woodland walks in “If you go down to the woods today…” and we shared things to look out for without leaves on the trees, lots of lovely coloured and textured bark and architectural habits normally hidden by foliage. You can read it here.
In the same vein a Wintery walk along the coast can be bracing and enticing with lots of little nooks and crannies to find things hiding in while the wind whips the surf; as this great blog and pictures from Sola Photography shows…
What are you finding this Winter?
If you go down to the woods today…the chances are, you won’t find bears stretched out on blankets with wicker hampers.
We often think of woods and forests as resplendent leafy places, where light dances through leaves and the breeze skips through the shadows, preceding rich Autumnal colours that capture entire landscapes, before falling to ground and Winter sets in.
A snow covered icy woodland or forest is a magical place, where branches bow heavy under their new blanket, sound is dampened and the loudest noise besides crunchy footsteps, is your heartbeat.
But what about now? On the average dreary soggy day like today? A whole new Read More
So after a few weeks of helping our new furry friend Marmite settle in it’s time to share what else we’ve been up to.
The Mellow Ground Makery is busy working on some new projects and so here’s a sneaky peak!…
Aaron wool and sheeps roving…
Stay tuned! ♡
Mellow Ground has a new resident!
Meet Marmite… we’ve been quiet on the airwaves, helping him settle in to his new home, new surroundings and learning new rules and routines. This gorgeous bundle of fur will be joining us on all our ambles and rambles and no doubt that inquisitive snout will be helping out in our Mellow Ground Makery projects in pure doggy style.
And for our first joint sewing project we give you………………………chewed cushion!
Mellow Ground: So it’s been a few weeks, how are you settling in?
Marmite: So far I’ve been to a birthday party, band practise, a pub in Cirencester, lots of walks (rainy ones) the tip, grannies house (I got a biscuit), Emma’s house (I got a Read More
New App – Free Download: Love Food, Hate Waste.
Would you throw away £60? Cash. Straight in the bin?
On average that’s how much the British household throws away in food every MONTH equating to a whopping £12.5bn in a year! The equivalent of 7 MILLION Tonnes per annum is thrown out in the UK – half of which is from households.
One of Mellow Ground’s favourite websites LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE which is full of useful storage ideas, tips and recipes has a brand new app available for iphone and Android to help us all manage our food (and wallets!) better.
You can add items from your fridge, cupboard or freezer and it’ll go and find you some recipes to use up all that fine food and drink.
If you’re interested in reducing your food (and money) waste then try downloading the new app here available in English and Welsh.
To find out more explore the website by following the green Love Food Hate Waste arrow above or over there on the right in our links section.
Every day in the UK we waste the equivalent of:
- 5.8 million whole potatoes
- 1.4 million whole bananas
- 1.5 million whole tomatoes
- 24 million whole slices of bread
- 1.5 million sausages
- 1.9 million slices of ham
- 1.1 million eggs
… all of which could have been used to make tasty lunches to take to work, school, university – the list goes on. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many more lunch-friendly foods, such as soup, cakes, dinner leftovers and cheese that are going in the bin when they could have found their way into a lunch box. – Love food Hate Waste.
We’d also like to see a lot more commercial (supermarket and restaurant) waste food (which is normally perfectly ok) go to charities and organisations for the homeless, meals on wheels and food banks.
For the avid fact finder and further reading there’s also more information over at WRAP – a body set up in 2000 to help people recycle more and waste less, both at home and at work. It focuses on 4 main areas of Food Waste, Resource Efficient Built Environment, Sustainable Products and Waste As A Resource.
Wrap also work to divert priority materials away from landfill.
Frozen Yogurt and Mincemeat Chocolate Bombe.
Yep that’s right, show your Christmas left overs some love and you may be pleasantly surprised with the combinations…
(or not…turkey ice cream?!)
At least that’s what happened here. Usually a frozen dessert like this is made with softened ice cream, however my slight obsession with collecting Yeokens means that there are copious amounts of “Yeogurt” in the fridge and a pile of upcycling for the empty containers (that’s a whole other post another time…).
Who has a jar of leftover mincemeat that before long will end up lurking around in dark corners of a cupboard? Well, me for one.
Because let’s face it, after you’ve tried your own, eaten one at every house you’ve stopped at (smiling sweetly and cooing as if it’s the first one you’ve had all festive season) and received some as a gift; there are only soooo many Mince Pies one can eat before even just the thought of forcing another one passed your lips again, is all too soon and makes your stomach groan. So let’s not waste our left overs, let’s love them and try something different.
After replacing the ice cream in this recipe with yogurt and adding the jar of (slightly boozy) Mincemeat – this is very pleasant change for the taste buds and much lighter. The tang from the yogurt cuts through any sweetness beautifully, as does any alcohol you may choose to add.
Your cupboards will thank you too.
TIP: If there is a bit of Christmas cake hiding in a box you could crumble up a handful and add to the bombe mixture too. Have fun with this, rummage in the cupboards, biscuit tin or fridge and see what else you could add.
The particular mincemeat I had was laced with Brandy and Port and really contributed to the overall flavour. If your mincemeat is plain and you fancy a boozy punch then add a shot of either Rum, Brandy or Port. Of course, you don’t have to have alcohol in yours at all.
Quick note on 0% fat anything – if you’re going to freeze it, you’ll have to break it up regularly with a fork during the freezing process. Because it will have a higher water content than products with fat, large ice crystals will form and the end result won’t be smooth and creamy. This won’t be practical with smaller moulds so to get round it you can do what I’ve done here and split it 50/50 and add something with a higher fat content, I’ve opted for Greek yogurt because that’s what I had, but you could use a natural yogurt, softened ice cream or even cream if you’re feeling decadent!
Frozen? Good. At this point you need to remove your tray and silicon mould or pudding basin from the freezer and turn the frozen yogurt mixture out onto the tray. Pop it back in the freezer for a bit to keep it hard.
Measure the mould up one side, across the base and back down the other side. This is the diameter size that you will need to cut your wax paper template to. Mine was 14cm. Lay it on a work surface and cover with enough cling film (plastic wrap) to allow a good border for handling later. See the pic below.
I prefer the old fashioned way of melting chocolate over a pan of gentle steaming water. I find I can control it better that way (and there are no microwave ovens at Mellow Ground, we no likey). Once it’s steaming nicely, place the bowl over the pan, turn the heat off and let the bashed up chocolate melt slowly. No stirring, no fiddling or poking, just patience. Help big bits by pushing them under the melted layer and then walk away. The steam from under the bowl will keep it warm enough to work with, if it starts to harden off the heat you can gently reheat it. As it says in the picture note, if your water boils, gets too hot or splashes into your chocolate, it will seize into a big unworkable lump.
Remove Frozen Bombe(s) from freezer. Carefully lift up your melted chocolate covered cling film and starting chocolate edge to bombe edge, lay it CHOCOLATE SIDE DOWN over your frozen bombe(s). Starting at the top press gently onto the frozen bombe, right the way round the sides to the bottom. Pop them (it) back into the freezer to harden. Repeat for as many bombes as you are making.
You’ll need to turn the bombe(s) out onto their serving plates about 20-30mins before serving as they will be rock hard and unless you want them to become flying objects when you try to put your blunt spoon into them, it’s a good idea to let them soften a little.
After about 10mins you should be able to gently peel the clingfilm off without it tearing from being frozen or sticking to the chocolate (otherwise you or your guests could be chewing for quite some time!)
In the meantime prepare any decorations you want to add. I used some bashed up legendary ginger biscuits from Mother Hen for around the base and some gorgeous candied pecans gifted to Mellow Ground as part of a beautiful hand made Christmas hamper from the talented lady behind Sola Photography, who does more than just take stunning pictures.
If you use seasonal foliage / flowers do take care to make sure they’re not toxic in anyway! Even if they aren’t to be consumed you don’t want any nasties on your lovely grub.
By now your bombe(s) should be loosing their frosty white jackets and waiting for you to crack your spoon into them…
Thank you to all those who have supported us in our fledgling steps into blogosphere, much love. Xx
How many Yeokens have you got?
The more you collect, the more offers you get for money off lovely things…
…From gorgeous hand iced biscuits, magazine subscriptions, food offers, furniture and crockery…
Yeo Valley reside in Blagdon, North Somerset, just outside a 50 mile radius from Mellow Ground and they’ve been running a family dairy there since 1961 in the beautiful valley. (You really should pay a visit). They love their land as much as their cows. Proper land husbandry, the way it should be.
Here’s how it works; When you buy from the range of promotional products you’ll be given a code under the lid or on the label – (how many of us go to the websites and plug those codes in to see what’s on offer?!). It’s worth it as this is a little gem. It’s a lovely website with so much to do, ideas, information, collaborations, events, tips n tricks, competitions to win cottage breaks, books, ideas for the children etc.
So, 20 Yeokens (that’s 2 x 500g yogurt pots for example) will get you discount off a variety of selected products. For every 20 Yeokens you collect you’ll receive another offer to exchange your Yeokens for. You can also collect Yeokens by playing the “Fruit Machine” (which for the month of December has changed into a ski jumping cow…); By submitting recipes, Jokes- “Yeokes” – normally involving cows…
The website keeps a running total for you so you know how many you need to collect for your next offer. So by the time you’ve been through Yeogurt, milk, ice cream, chanced your arm on the fruit machine/ski jump and whipped up some cream and buttered your toast you’ll be collecting and exchanging Yeokens for gorgeous things in no time!
IT’S ORGANIC AND A LITTLE BIT MORE
We’ve been doing great taste the right way here in this Somerset valley for 50 years, and we’re 100% Yeoganic.
Yeoganic is our way of being organic and a little bit more – going the extra country mile to look after the land, our animals and people. Someone once told us that the top six inches of soil supports all life on land. That makes us think that we really need to look after it.
Ginger and Apricot Shortbread.
Quick and easy and makes very little mess.
For years now Mother Hen has made the most amazing ginger biscuits, forget the branded shop versions, hers are totally to die for. Everything you expect, light, crunchy, chewy, a gingery zing and soaks up just the right amount of tea. Anyone who’s tried one knows what I mean – but do you think I can prize this recipe out of Read More
Who doesn’t like a slice of home-made pie with unctuous gravy oozing over it’s warm crust?
This has fast become one of my favourites since making it last year for a friend and is often requested for Sunday lunch. Taken from a Lorraine Pascale recipe this Cranberry, Leek, Mushroom pie is a must, if nothing else, just for the tantalising smell that emanates from the oven.
And here’s the thing – it’s meat free. Even avid meat eaters love this pie and after looking over the table with food envy asking to try some, it has become a Mellow Ground favourite.
You can find the original recipe and method here. In her own words Lorraine says;
“Although this is a veggie roast, this truly is a meal fit for a king. I admit this is not the shortest of recipes, but it is really satisfying to make and the pastry is brilliantly quick and simple.”
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: up to 1 hr (It takes longer to roast a joint of meat for Sunday lunch…)
Tip: For this recipe you will need a food can and an 18cm/7in spring form or loose base cake tin – see pics below.
Tip: I highly recommend, as with any recipe, that you read it through a few times first to understand it and make a shopping list. So go put the kettle on and get comfy. It’s worth it!
Tip: To save time you could make the filling and gravy in advance (up to a day before – so all you have to do is make the pastry and fill the pie on day of cooking).
For the filling
- drizzle olive oil
- 4 leeks, finely sliced
- 4 rosemary sprigs, picked
- 6 thyme sprigs, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 250g/9oz chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
- 5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 600g/1lb 5oz mixed nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts)
- 150g/5½oz Gruyère, grated
- 3 free-range eggs
- 150g/5½oz dried cranberries
- 125g/4½oz frozen cranberries
For the pastry
- 100ml/3½fl oz water
- 80g/2¾oz butter
- 125g/4½oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out the pastry
- 150g/5½oz wholemeal flour
- pinch salt
- 1 free-range egg, plus 1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze
For the gravy
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp yeast extract
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- few rosemary sprigs
- 500ml/18fl oz vegetable stock
- pinch brown sugar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Before you do anything else; Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and grease a 18cm/7in spring form cake tin.
Next we’re going to make the filling;
- Over a low setting heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the leeks, rosemary and thyme for 4-5 minutes, or until softened (We don’t want crispy bits!). Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the mushrooms and sage and cook for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool. (Reserve two tablespoon of this mixture for the gravy later.)
- Toast the nuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on them as they burn really easily). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Blend the nuts in a food processor to a coarse powder and add to the leek mixture with the cheese. Mix until well combined and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Stir in the eggs until well combined.
This is a hot water crust pastry – don’t be scared!
- For the pastry, heat the water and butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture just boils.
- Mix the flours, salt and egg together in a bowl, then add the butter mixture and mix together really quickly until combined. Shape the dough into a ball (it should be quite moist) and chill in the fridge for five minutes. (Have a quick cuppa or do some washing up…)
- Tear off one-fifth of the pastry and set aside, then knead the remaining pastry briefly and roll out on a well-floured work surface into a 5mm/¼in thick circle.
- Flour the top of the dough, fold into four, and use it to line the 18cm/7in springform cake tin. Put the folded dough into the tin with the pointed end towards the middle, then unfold the dough so that the excess falls over the side (the dough will be quite fragile). Now ease the dough into the corners of the tin. If the dough tears, squeeze it back together again, this pastry is very forgiving.
- Trim the pastry, leaving a 1cm/½in border above the tin.
Filling the Pie;
- Spoon half of the filling into the tin, pressing it down tightly with a wooden spoon. Tip over the dried cranberries, press down a little and finish with the rest of the pie filling, pressing down well. (Repeat layers as necessary finishing on a pie filling layer).
- Brush any exposed pastry with the beaten egg.
- Roll the reserved pastry into a circle, and using the cake tin as a guide, cut out a circle with a 1cm/½in border.
- Place the pastry over the top of the tin and squeeze or crimp the lid onto the pie to seal it, trimming any excess but leaving a lip to hold the cranberries on top. Cut a slit in the middle of the pie to let any steam escape and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Tricky bit! – This is where you need the food can.
- Remove the pie from the oven and carefully remove the tin
- Find a food can taller than the height of your baking tin. Stand it on the food can
Unclip the spring on the side of the pan and gently tap the top so the sides slide down off the pastry pie walls and down off the base.
- Slide the pie onto a baking tray and glaze the top and sides of the pie with the beaten egg, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until golden-brown.
- Remove the pie from the oven, glaze the top again and top with the frozen cranberries. Return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
Tip: If, like in the pictures above, the base of your spring form tin has a little lip in it, this can make sliding your half baked pie onto a baking tray tricky – transfer the pie, base and all onto the baking tray – be careful in doesn’t slide off the tray! (You could use a silicon mat to sit it on).
OR; if you have a loose base pan like this, it makes it easier to slide a fish slice under the pie and onto the baking tray. There’s no right or wrong, whatever you’re comfortable with is just fine.
- Meanwhile, for the gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the reserved mushroom and leek mixture followed by the tomato purée. Stir on a low heat for 2 minutes, or until it changes colour to a deeper shade of brown.
- Add the yeast extract, flour and rosemary then gradually add the stock. Bring to the boil, then season with salt pepper and brown sugar.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened. (You can strain the mixture for smooth gravy if you like.)
Fetch the Pie from the oven and serve! ~ Will go well with a side of fine green beans and purple sprouting broccoli.
Sit back on sofa; Hold Belly; Snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze.
What a hoot!
Free Download; Owl Lovers Calendar 2014.
Yes you read that correctly; the lovely people over at http://www.myowlbarn.com/ have released their 4th Owl Lovers Calendar for you to customise and download to print for free. That’s right, nixt, nada.
How is this possible? It’s a well supported collaborative project between Shivani of My Owl Barn and 50 artists from all around the World.
Each artist donates a beautiful piece of work to the gallery.
The calendar is completely customisable; you can select from the 50 images for all the months you want to print and download for; either your own personalised version or the pre-made version.
If you would like to, you can learn more about the Owl Lovers Calendar project here.
TIP: The calendar will make a lovely Christmas stocking filler for your friends and family (or perhaps one for yourself!) ~ Why not make gift tags by printing just one month?
Happy creating! 🙂
EU Seed Directive -4th December Deadline
“Using a chainsaw to crack a nut” Ben Raskin, Soil Association
And why this matters to you…
This makes us sad; to think that 3 large corporations who already own 53% of the WORLD’S seed markets could potentially own more, controlling what varieties of seeds, plants, crops, fruit and vegetables are available to us, the general population.
If indeed as the Soil Association suspects, by imposing a huge administrative and cost burden, the small and medium producers are forced out of business and the local bio diversity suffers, we’re left wondering exactly what that will do to our food diversity, wildlife and really importantly our pollinating insects, on whom we and a lot of plants and fruit/veg depend for reproduction and produce.
Let’s say in one particular Summer, it’s extremely hot or very wet (as British Summers are becoming) and a certain type of flower or crop fail; with a large range of seed varieties to choose from our producers will continue to have the option of choosing varieties best suited to their regions, soils and climates and there is a reduction in the chance of total crop failure leaving us and our pollinators with something else to feed on. You can read more about this on Ben’s Blog.
What happens if that choice has been minimalised? Another question that comes to mind is with limited seed stock, are we limiting our nutritional intake, from just a few varieties as opposed to a broad spectrum of micronutrients and compounds?
Then there’s the question of breeding from plants and collecting seed from fruit, veg and flowers. If it’s owned by 3 large global corporations does that mean “Fred” on his allotment, who has always followed traditional methods of horticulture and land management, is infringing on ownership and copyrights?!
We’re a bit nervous about where all this will lead…and would love to hear your thoughts. Or perhaps you work in the field (every pun intended!) and can shed some light on the elusive answers to the questions posed?
If you want to help change the law you can write to the Members of European Parliament in the Soil Association link below.
“Help us to fight the EU seed law! The new EU Seed Directive could lead to a loss of biodiversity and a threat to small and medium scale producers – meaning more consolidation of the global seed market in the hands of just three corporations – who already own 53% of the worlds seed market. The new proposal is intended to make the current regulations more efficient and increase biodiversity. However we think they will do the opposite – the new laws will drive small and medium sized seed suppliers out of the market, reduce the range of seed varieties available to amateur and professional growers alike, and give more power to the big seed companies. Write to the MEPs who can change this law here.”