Dec 04 2021

Winter Arrives!

The golden autumn is suddenly gone!

A howling wind roars through the valley, a huge whirlwind rages round the house. Golden leaves fill the air. One minute they gather in great piles only to take off again swirling and twirling up, up and away. Great trees bend back and forth as if to snap.

The huge Eucalyptus tree, high on the hill, is doing a terrifying dance, it sways manically this way and that. Can its branches withstand the wind’s mighty force, I wonder?

The weather forecast foretold “snow on the way: a big freeze ahead”. And indeed, today the temperature has plummeted. An icy north wind cuts through, as we walk across the top fields. Dartmoor stands out crisp against the sky; no snow on the south side yet. The river shines an icy blue below.

We have travelled, oh so gently, from autumn into winter this year. Sheep grazed quietly beneath an azure sky. Golden sunlight shone through golden trees as they held onto their leaves rocking gently in a soft breeze.

Morning mists gave way to bright, mild days, the hillside bathed in sun. Can it really be late November we asked ourselves?

Now all is changed! Winter has arrived!

Donkeys play rough games on the hillside in the wind.

Ouch !
Qui Moi ?

Tough Dartmoor sheep graze quietly on the top fields in icy sunshine.

A rose lingers on in the garden as the temperature plummets.

Little autumn camellias cling to their bush, buffeted in the wind

A cheeky squirrel hangs on in the swaying bird feeder!

We’re not used to rough weather down here in South Devon ! So we scuttle in at dimpsy: donkeys fed, chickens safely housed, eggs collected. Even Dog is happy to have her tea and snuggle down with me by the fire!

I turn, of course, to my beloved old cookery books! What shall we have for supper…… Time passes as I read on, finding, ah, another book I haven’t opened for so long, I had forgotten that and that, oh, and that one too….er, about supper?….oh later!

Immersed in the writing of Elisabeth David, Rosemary Hume, Nigel Slater, Joyce Molyneux, and so many more, my mind wanders. Ah, Joyce Molyneux, proprietor of Dartmouth’s wonderful Carved Angel. As I read Joyce’s book, “Angel Food”, I am reminded of all those years ago, oh so long ago now, when I cooked for her contemporary, Kem Bennett, at Nick’s Diner in Fulham!

Joyce and Kem had both started out with the wonderful George Perry-Smith at The Hole in the Wall in Bath. I had no idea at the time, of course, how fortunate I was to find myself working for Kem and his team!

Nick Clarke, former Guards Officer, had a small, very fashionable restaurant in Ifield Road. He also leased a converted garage nearby on the Fulham Road where we prepared Nick’s Moveable Feasts! Long before Take-Aways, these were delivered to the great and the good all over London. I was sent to help the host or hostess dish up and serve the food straight from our garage kitchen. And , of course, I ended up in some extraordinary places! But more importantly, under Kem’s careful eye, I learned to love cooking.

As I emerge from my reverie, I suddenly remember John delivered scallops on his Monday fish round today: hurrah supper!

My favourite way with scallops is based on a simple recipe by Mitch Tonks, he of “Seahorse” fame. Inevitably I never have exactly what recipes ask for but a forage in the fridge usually comes up trumps! Today is such a day. I have anchovies, butter, parsley, garlic. I whizz them up in the food processor to make a savoury butter. I have Japanese Panko breadcrumbs in the larder, for a crisp topping. I put the scallops back into their shell , drizzle a little white wine and olive oil over the top, add salt and pepper and the savoury butter. The crumbs go over the top. Then into a hot oven for five or six minutes. I’m careful not to overcook them, training from Japan!

We eat the scallops with samphire, a green salad and maybe a boiled potato or two. Delicious and so quick!

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