At this time of year, while outside the cottage is a swirling mass of gold and rust coloured leaves, the hawthorn trees in the lanes and the hedgerows are at their best. With its abundant clusters of blood-red ‘haws’ the hawthorn tree heralds the onset of Winter. Many people think its berries are only fit for the birds but they are very tasty, high in vitamin C, and can be made into jams, jellies, preserves, and even wine. Folklore in this part of Scotland tells of how a circle drawn around a hawthorn tree provides a special trysting place for Fairies!
His bad behaviour, at first, I put down to him being in a strange new home and, as he had obviously suffered from being previously pecked, he has been given plenty of time to settle down. However, he had gone from being understandably defensive to downright offensive and the ‘girls’ are not happy. I’m not happy either, in fact, this morning, for fear of being attacked by him again, I asked my six foot four inches tall youngest son to open up the hen house and lay down the food. Although, I still have to plan how to retrieve the eggs (if he hasn’t stamped on them) and clean out the hut. I expect the cockerel formerly known as ‘Prince’ not to be with us much longer…
On a lighter note, Polly and Ruby have had their Autumn hair cuts and are feeling very proud and pretty. You might think they would prefer long thick coats in the wintertime - but they will be much easier to keep clean (and white!) with short coats as the wetter and muddier weather sets in.
Polly and Ruby with their new haircuts
This month, Mr Country-Cottage and I had shared rare quiet time and evenings out together when our youngest son decided to spend his half term in Edinburgh visiting his brothers who are at university there. Then, in complete contrast, we had a busy weekend mid-month when they all returned home. Suddenly the washing machine was going non-stop, the bathroom floor was continually laden with wet towels and, although I had filled the fridge and baked lots of tray bakes and cakes, every scrap of food in the cottage had disappeared by Monday. It was wonderful to see them!
We had a lovely time socially this month when we were invited to dinner by some good friends who live in a converted mill just a few miles away. My dear friend JB is a wonderful cook and a perfect hostess and she always sets the table so beautifully. I took a photo (with her permission) of the impressive table centre she had created on an Autumnal theme.
JB's Autumnal table centre
I was delighted and excited to be given a ‘Lovely Blog Award’ this month by my dear friend, wonderful writer and writing mentor, Anita Burgh. The rules say that you should:
1) Accept the award, and don’t forget to post a link back to the awarding person.
2) Pass the award on.
3) Notify the award winners.
So, I happily accept the award from Annie and pass it on to two friends who have very interesting and consistently updated blogs. They are (drumroll) Rosemary Gemmell, a multi-talented writer who writes articles, short stories, poetry, and novels. And, Sue Houghton, a wonderful writer whose blog is always informative and entertaining.
As venison is so low in fat, I always marinade the meat overnight before roasting it and this is my basic venison marinade recipe:
4 tablespoons of good quality oil – I use olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small glass of red wine
1 grated lemon rind
A sprinkle of nutmeg
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 dessert spoon tomato puree
1 dessert spoon soy sauce
1 level teaspoon mustard – I use wholegrain
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt & pepper
Venison in Marinade
Place the marinated venison meat, in this case a whole shoulder, into a suitable oven tray, covered for half the time in a roasting oven of 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about one and a half hours. Then prepare the seasonal vegetables. I’m roasting potatoes on the shelf above the venison and boiling carrot and swede. When the meat is done, slice it and make a gravy with the strained meat juices. Pour the gravy over the sliced meat and serve with the vegetables.
Next month, in November, we are planning a Big Birthday for Mr Country-Cottage, with friends, family, and fireworks. See you then!