I've probably mentioned that I don't just make cakes. Cakes are great, but there are so many tasty treats out there, waiting to be created, sampled and adored.
I don't think I have yet mentioned my love of cookery books, magazines, cookery programmes and recipes in general. I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and I have stacks of recipes that I want to try and make my own.
There are programmes that I always make sure I tune in for, or failing that, watch on my laptop at a later date. I am a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I love my River Cottage Year. I think it's so important to eat seasonally and locally, after all, that's when the food is at its best. (I went to the supermarket recently and I noticed the cherries on the shelves. I love cherries and picked some up. They were from Spain. Right now is peak English cherry season. I know that as I've picked a number over the last few weeks. I was so angry that I couldn't get fruit from my own country when it's actually in season! Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now!)
I'm also a big fan of Rachel Allen, the River Cafe, Sky Gyngell, the list goes on and on! I'm forever looking for 'excuses' to try out new recipes (mine as well as other peoples'. I'm always looking out for inspiration!) - friends' birthdays or spare weekends seem to be good opportunities. Or times when I know I'll be out with friends and I won't have to eat everything myself!
I've been fruit-picking a lot recently. This has been followed by me making jars and jars of jam. I still have some chutney to make, which will be matured and ready for Christmas, but I'm holding out for plum chutney and the plums aren't quite in season yet. (See rant above!) I've a plum tree where I live and I can't get any more local than that!
I also have a lavender plant where I live. I've been meaning to dry the flowers to keep me going through the winter, but I think I'm too late and I'll have to wait until next summer.
When I went fruit picking recently, I decided to tie this in with some baking, so I opened up my Hugh River Cottage Year and his lavender shortbread was calling me. I probably didn't use enough lavender, but it was delicious and it offered an opportunity for experimentation and a pick-me-up in the blackcurrant bushes! It's already gone down as one of my favourite recipes of the year and I'm thinking, just maybe I will salvage the lavender from outside as at least I know it's not made a long journey to my kitchen!