A Walk with Mu'Doggy

Thick fog today – but I struck out with my camera anyway.
Despite the title, I have no dog – it’s more Me + Mud + Fog – you see, as I walked across the fields it was muddy and foggy – combine the two and you have ‘mudoggy’ (never mind! you had to be there!)

At least it was bright fog – the sun was a definite presence, despite not being able to break through the blanket of fog.I was making my way to Drover’s Wood, in Upper Breinton, a tiny wood established in 2001 by the Woodland Trust.

Fog always makes the countryside seem more mysterious and intriguing. Take this orchard, for example
or this monster oak tree –
monster   monster2
– difficult to appreciate its size here, but  it towered above me like something out of a fairytale. At the beginning of my walk, trees loomed out of the fog one by one to mark the path
and along the hedgerow, brightening up the gloom were some ‘umble’ umbels
umbel4   umbel2
Inside Drovers Wood the well trodden path had turned into a quagmire
muddyPath     P1100807
and I didn’t come across another living soul, even though the wood is popular with dog walkers (probably all tucked up at home with a mug of cocoa!)
If you follow the most direct route back to the main road you come across this wonderful weeping willow – in the summer it forms a giant green umbrella over the footpath. Today it looked just as magnificent – from one side the curtain of bare branches just brushing the ground, and from the other its silhouette against the winter sky with another tree just visible behind it – slightly eerie but still spectacular.
willow1 willow2
Once on the main road I was back to civilization – cars with their headlights on (don’t know if we are the only place blanketed in fog today -I think it’s fairly localized, but I’m sure there will be reports later of traffic accidents caused by the fog – usually are!
Ah, is that the bus I see in the distance?
I wonder if he’ll let me on with these muddy boots?

Orange Coleslaw – it's a winner!

Add any or all of the ingredients from the list below to some shredded cabbage in a large bowl –  remember what makes a coleslaw a coleslaw is the cabbage so it should be the star! Red cabbage is much more interesting to look at than white and the more colourful your other ingredients the better. A summer coleslaw could contain broad beans, asparagus, fresh garden peas, even.
This is a winter coleslaw so I used
Black and green olives  (stones removed)
¼ each of red and yellow pepper – chopped small
2 spring onions – chopped small
½ red onion  – chopped small
1 carrot – shredded in food processor
¼ celeriac-  ditto for preparation
Sea salt
1 orange  cut into slices and quartered to garnish
1 cup of orange juice – reduced to a treacly goo
(I potato – cut into dice and boiled – optional)
Mix all the ingredients except the orange and orange juice in a large bowl. The potato is not strictly a coleslaw ingredient – more a component of your Russian salad but I think I just got a bit hungry!
Don’t be mean with the mayo! You need to add enough to coat all the ingredients – not smother – just nicely coat.
And here’s my twist!   Heat the orange juice in an open pan and reduce it till it’s thick and gooey and the flavour has intensified.  Assemble your plate of food – serve some smoked salmon, say, or some gammon with your coleslaw and drizzle the orange juice sparingly over the top.
Garnish with orange slices and  voilà!    coleslaw a l’orange.

New Year – New Salad

Instead of going on a diet (food programme, regime, plan – call it what you will to make it more palatable !) ,  and pounding away on a treadmill (I understand gym memberships soar at this time of year) I thought I would assess the contents of my fridge instead and come up each day with a different meal from my usual ones – either new ingredients I’ve never tried or familiar ones in a new combination.
I don’t intend toiling for hours over a hot stove – I wouldn’t have time then for all my other resolutions – yoga, sketching, visit one new country every six months,   rock climbing (kidding!) No, – some of my favourite dishes are quick to prepare – coleslaw, salads, cous cous with  roast veg, even home made hummus only takes a few minutes.
So here’s my first – tropical fruit salad – melon, grapes, lime zest, coconut milk and mint – okay, mint is not tropical and neither are grapes, but 3 out of 5’s not bad! And remember my objectives – i) use what’s in the fridge!  ii) use a different combination of ingredients.
Prep time: 5 minutes   Result: Delicious.