Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sun, Silks and Census

Today we enjoyed a supper of Brancaster mussels, the last of the season. As much as I enjoy them I am pleased that there is a closed season. We are finding the mussels offered for sale in our region of France are very small and lack flavour. We think this is probably due to the fact they are being harvested all year round and most of them   are still immature when harvested. A big fuss is made about the fact they come from a registered area around the Mont Saint Michel, but I think it is time they go back to some old traditions and give them some time to mature.

Today is census day and we have submitted our form online. Really easy to do and online the questions are sifted out for you, as you answer each question. It is interesting to see the differences in some of the questions from the 1881 census with today's. For instance then you were either married, widowed or single, and for women that meant being described as a 'spinster'. Now you have a choice of 9 options including 'formally in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved'  how times have changed!

On Wednesday gave a presentation on the use of the WI website, the mobile broadband signal has certainly become stronger in the area and I was able to do the presentation 'live' with the use of a dongle. It wasn't so long ago that I had problems getting a mobile signal in our house. I think that even more or stronger transmitters have been installed. I do hope it is like this all over the county as it will make giving presentations much more interesting.

We had a day out in Sudbury on Friday as it was Rob's birthday. We visited Gainsborough's house, where there was an exhibition of Alfred Munnings landscape paintings. It was very interesting as I was only aware of his paintings of horses, and as I am not a horsey person, wasn't particularly interested. However his landscapes are very interesting and well worth a visit. This is a temporary exhibition - these paintings are normally kept in store and not on view to the public.

While in Sudbury, popped in to Vanner's factory shop and picked up some lovely pieces of fabric. Now busy creating a stunning silk jacket. Rob found a lovely tie so we were both happy.

Finished off with lunch at the Angel - found the restaurant by chance and had a lovely lunch, well worth trying if you are in the area. A 2 course lunch menu for £10. We have had a week of lovely warm spring weather and we had not expected it to last till Friday but it did so we had a lovely end to a beautiful warm week. 

Now of course much cooler, but it is still only the end of March - plenty of time for the temperature to warm up again.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Homemade Cheese

Last Friday 11th March I heard Lady Antonia Fraser interviewed,  at the Essex Federation of Women's Institutes, about her recent book on her life with Harold Pinter. She explained that everything in her book had been taken from her diaries, which she had written for very many years. She said it wasn't necessary to write every day but on a regular basis. This reminded me that although I don't keep a diary and never had, my blog was a type of diary in that it records events and memories which would otherwise be easily forgotten.

Last week we were in London, and visited the Modern British Sculpture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.  There were some very interesting pieces but also some which needed more than a little imagination.

While in the area we also visited the Aktis Gallery, where there is a showing of 20th century Russian artists. Well worth the visit if you are in the area.

Our day ended at the BAMS where the winners of the  student medal competition were presented with their prizes. It was so nice to see so many really good medals and the enthusiastic young artists were in awe of the surroundings at Cutlers Hall.

Small cheese 175g approx
Several weeks ago I made some cheeses, and I decided it was time to cut into the smallest one, which appeared to be ripe and firm and had a pleasant aroma. We were not dissapointed, in fact I was really pleased with the result.

another image of same chees
It is a rich buttery yellow colour and has a smooth firmish texture, with no air bubbles, or other imperfections. Perhaps a little salty but nothing to spoil the flavour.   This cheese was made with 1 litre of full cream pasteurised milk. See photos.

Today I am busy making another cheese. Just hoping that I have used the same method as before.  The advantage of a small cheese is that they mature quickly, but of course that means it could become dry and hard if left for just a little too long. Unlike a very large cheese, the small size means that it will never develop a really strong flavour as it hasn't the time to develop. However  this  first cheese is a resounding success. 

The larger cheese I made about seven weeks ago is still ripening. I think I will leave it at least another three weeks before we taste it.