Food for free – what’s not to love? Foraging is one of life’s great pleasures and now we live in rural France, I’ve been taking full advantage of the numerous hedgerows. When we first arrived in June, there were elderflowers to gather and cordial to make. For the recipe, see here.

elderflower champagne elderflower cordial 2013

elderflower

Throughout the summer, we enjoyed wild mint in salads, raitas and cous cous.

But now autumn is on our doorstep it’s blackberry and rosehip time…

blackberries, rosehips and mint*disclaimer – the flowers are merely a bit of added pretty, I have no idea whether they are in fact suitable for use as a garnish.

Smushi Royal Cafe Copenhagen

‘Smushi’ at Royal Cafe Copenhagen

I think I’ve bored everyone silly mentioned in the past a) how much I LOVE my job and b) how much I ADORE absolutely everything Danish.

An all-expenses-paid trip to Copenhagen you say? Did I mention I LOVE my job?

Relae Copenhagen restaurant michelin star

Relae, Jaegersborggade, Copenhagen
http://www.restaurant-relae.dk/en/

I flirted briefly with the idea of reading Scandinavian studies at university but alas it was not to be. Mistake. Big Mistake. Huge. Why? Well, I spent years of my life leaning Italian but no matter how immaculate my accent or how many colloquialisms I mastered, no one ever, not even once mistook me for an Italian.

Thanks to my blonde hair and English-rose complexion, for the year I spent in Florence, I was given English menus in restaurants, greeted in English in shops and cafes and even catcalled in English. It got a bit annoying to be honest. I just wanted to be able to blend in. I would have made the world’s worst spy.

However, if MI5 has an imminent posting to fill in Copenhagen, may I humbly suggest that I am the girl for the job? Everywhere I went in Copenhagen, people addressed me in Danish. A little awkward as I don’t speak any Danish – but refreshing. Here, I belong.

liquorice

Learning how to make liquorice at the Liquorice Festival, part of Wondercool Copenhagen http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

pork marinated in liquorice

Pork marinated in liquorice, at the liquorice festival – part of Wondercool Copenhagen, http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

The food is incredible, the interiors delicious. It’s all just so damn cool (and not just because it was snowing during my visit in February).

Mussels, gastro cruise Copenhagen

Mussels from Brussels on the Gastro Cruise, part of Wondercool Copenhagen http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

Gastro cruise Copenhagen

A chic stop on the Gastro Cruise
http://www.wondercoolcopenhagen.com/

The minute we get a new house, I am straight back on a plane with an empty suitcase – the shopping is out of this world. Special mention has to go to Illum (http://www.illum.dk/) and Hay (http://hay.dk/) where if I hadn’t been on the damn budget, I would have seriously abused my debit card.

Extra special thanks to Visit Copenhagen for inviting me – I had such a ball. Now, when do I move in? http://www.visitcopenhagen.com

Copenhagen Royal Copenhagen

Lust objects at Royal Copenhagen’s concept store http://www.royalcopenhagen.com/en

Copenhagen

Hygge in action at the Royal Copenhagen concept store

Room set up in the Royal Copenhagen flagship store

Copenhagen Danish pastries in the covered market

Danish pastries in the covered food market, (Torvehallerne), Israels Plads, Copenhagen

Copenhagen Nyhavn

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Our landlord’s peach tree simply couldn’t bear its own weight any longer. A single crack, the unmistakable sounds of birds in sudden flight and it was all over for the poor tree. I’m typing to the strains of chain saw on peach tree.

peach and thyme jam

Still, something had to be done with the fruit, and I was more than happy to oblige. These sudden gluts remind me of one of my favourite childhood books: Ruth Orbach’s Apple Pigs. We’ve had peaches for breakfast, peaches for lunch and still we have peaches. Time to realise my long held ambition to make jam.

I’m warning you now, this is a non-WI approved recipe. I took the easy route and just bought a pack of jam sugar from the supermarket, ready loaded with pectin and printed with simple instructions that even a novice like me can follow. Plus, I don’t have my sugar thermometer or any fancy equipment out here.

peach jam

So here we go, peach and thyme jam.

Makes three jars

1 kg ripe peaches, peeled, destoned and chopped into small pieces. As a guide, that was equivalent to 27 small whole peaches for me

3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

One 500g pack jam sugar

Pop the fruit, thyme and sugar into a large saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat. Let it bubble away for a good five minutes until the fruit is soft – the packet suggested three minutes, but I was unconvinced after three. If you’re unconvinced, take a teaspoonful and leave to cool. If it starts to set, it’s ready to go.

Pour into sterilised jars and screw on the lids. Leave to stand, flipping the jars after three minutes so the fruit sets evenly throughout the jar.

Madeleines apple, honey and lemon

Although as a rule, I am not a baker (too fussy, too precise, too fiddly), I couldn’t resist the allure of a €3 madeleine tray in Auchan, one afternoon – oh yes, we know how to have a good time around here, an afternoon spent in a hypermarket!

It’s funny how one afternoon breeds another. That afternoon, we were on a mission to buy a saddle for my bike. Saddle fitted, we’ve spent many a pleasant afternoon peddling through the Dordogne’s meandering country lanes. That is completely untrue. Sorry, what I mean is, I have puffed myself and bike up the ridiculously steep Perigordine hills before capitulating half way up, muttering several swear words under my breath and kicking said bike before walking it to the top, only to discover yet another hill. Anyway, on one such torture session idyllic adventure, we came across an apple tree. It didn’t seem to belong to anyone, it was just growing on the side of the public footpath, nature’s equivalent of the vending machine. I figured no one would miss a couple of the many, many apples weighing down its bows.

And hey presto, a full cycle of afternoons as those apples made their way into my first ever batch of madeleines. A pleasant afternoon, multiplied as the family piled round to tuck into them the following day.

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Khoo’s recipe

3 medium eggs

130g granulated sugar

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp and 1 tsp honey

4 tbsp milk

200g butter, melted and cooled

2 small apples, peeled, cored and diced very finely

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and frothy. Mix the milk and honey into the cooled butter, and add to the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Gradually add the flour to the batter. Stir in the chopped apple. Refrigerate for a few hours. Rachel says overnight, but I am impatient.

Preheat the oven to 190C, butter and flour your madeleine tin, and spoon in a tbsp of the batter into each shell. If you are using a silicone tray, it’s a good idea to put it on a baking tray before you spoon in your mixture, so the batter doesn’t spill as you put it into the oven (yep, you guessed it, I found that out the hard way!).

Bake the madeleines for 6 minutes (Rachel says 5, but I found them too pale after just 5), then turn off the oven for one minute. Turn the oven to 160C and bake for another 6 minutes. Turn your madeleines out onto a wire tray to cool and repeat until you’ve used up all you batter. I made four and a half batches from the above in a 9-shell tray.

Peaches on a market stall in Thiviers, France

Well bonjour mes amis! It’s been a long time. But I am delighted to report that this little blogger reached her target in May – £6,000 banked.

And a blogger with a penchant for markets is certainly not staying at home with £6K burning a hole in her pocket. There have been huge changes in the LoveRichCashPoor household in the last few months; we put the flat on the market, we took sabbaticals from work and we’ve temporarily set up home in France while we hunt for the dream house. Last week – oh joy – the sale finally completed and we’re all set to go wee, wee, wee, wee, wee and find our new home, wherever it may be.

Now we’re this side of the Channel (and the only money coming in is a small freelance wage I earn by typing my little socks off), the budget has become more important than ever. So stay tuned for cheap eats and free fun…

‘Windfall’ – what a wonderful word; unexpected riches. In this case it happened quite literally. An almighty storm, where lightning flashed, thunder crashed, and rain dashed against the windows.

unripe plum and apple chutney The husband and I looked on in glee – oohing and aahing at nature’s fireworks from the shelter of the porch.

The next morning, we woke to calm and a crisp freshness, as if the world had been through the washing machine and was now gently flapping on the line.

A neighbour’s plum tree, its boughs heavy with fruit, had not withstood the battering, and spilled its bounty prematurely all over the road. ‘Chutney,’ thought I, and duly headed out with a colander.

green plums, unripe plums

The two kilos I purloined have barely made an impact on the piles still lining the roadside, but I like to think I have at least saved some of these beauties from going to waste.

Chutney is an exercise in delayed gratification – never my strong point – as you are supposed to leave it to mature for a few months. Hence, I can’t in truth tell you whether this adapted recipe - my first ever chutney – is any good. Roll on the grand unveiling at Christmas.

Spiced green plum and apple chutney

2 kilos unripe plums, stoned and diced

1.2 kilos apples, peeled, cored and diced

150g sultanas

6 small onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

A good knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

A healthy sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg

Ditto black pepper

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

0.25 tsp ground cloves

3 dried chillies, crushed

1.5 cups cider vinegar

0.5 cup red wine vinegar

3 cups dark brown soft sugar

In a huge pan, soften the onions, ginger and garlic in a teaspoon of water for a couple of minutes, and add the mustard seeds. Once the onions are translucent, pile in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.

Simmer, stirring occasionally for a good two hours until the fruit is soft and sticky, thick and gloopy.

In another enormous pan, boil about an inch of water with the lid on, then pop all your jars and lids in to sterilise. Fish them out with tongs, lay them out on a clean teatowel, then fill with chutney, topping with a layer of baking paper before screwing the lids on tight.

Leave to mature in a cool place for three-four months before enjoying with cold meats and cheese.

spring, easter, table, place setting, eggs, primroses

It’s been bitterly cold for what seems like weeks. At first, it was fun; we watched the snow fall from the cosy comfort of the sofa, we took the husband’s godson sledging, we threw snowballs, we watched the snow fall some more and fantasized about transport chaos and snow-days. Then reality set in. No amount of blankets and scarves could keep out the fristy, frosty, freezingness of it all. We cranked up the central heating, we wore dressing gowns over our clothes. We drank industrial amounts of hot chocolate. Still we were cold.

But today, oh today the sun shone. I haven’t seen that yellow orb for months. I emerged from my cocoon, blinking; my eyes unused to daylight and skipped to the high street to buy some spring flowers.

I know we have a long way to go until Easter, but I hope you’ll indulge me in a little fantasy. For I am waving goodbye to winter. Behold the eggs and feast your eyes on the yolk-yellow accessories.

Like everything in the LoveRichCashPoor household, this spring scene costs very little. I picked up the primroses for £1.50 each and my craft cupboard did the rest as it’s still packed to the gunnels with leftover bits from the wedding. The paper the primroses are wrapped in still has the price on, so I know that it cost £1.50 per enormous sheet; I used three small strips. The twine was a Christmas present.Thanks bro.

spring

The eggs are old, bought at a craft fair about five years ago, but they are a cinch to make: just carefully pierce an egg shell with a needle at both ends, blow its innards into a bowl, run some water through to rinse, pat dry, spray paint them in a lovely duck-egg blue and, when dry, flick a paintbrush loaded with brown paint in their general direction. Sit them in raffia nests and ta da! Luckily, I have a huge bunch of raffia – also leftover from the wedding – and I found these cute little chicken and rabbit clips in the cupboard  too, bought in Suffolk a few Easters back.

Roll on spring…

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