Well there’s me, wrapped up against the cold but still enjoying my Mother’s Day trip to Baddesley Clinton near Birmingham with my daughter yesterday. Mothering Sunday had actually begun for me on Saturday evening when I went out with my son. Sunday morning saw winter making a return with icy winds, grey skies and promise of snow. As I headed up the M40 from London to Birmingham the outside temperature gauge in my car was steadily going down past freezing and soon flurries of snow were being blown around me. It’s always great to see my lovely daughter but especially welcome to enter her warm flat and find she’d prepared a delicious lunch for us after my journey. She was cooking a big meal in the evening so lunch was light – but still a Mother’s Day special! She’d made a dish of chickpeas with tomatoes and harissa, a Nigel Slater recipe, to eat with the sourdough loaf I’d taken up from Ruben’s Bakehouse and there was cheese and salad too.
The chickpea dish was wonderful and with its spicy warmth absolutely perfect for the cold day. By the time we’d finished eating the snow had stopped falling (and hadn’t settled) so we decided to go out rather than spend all day indoors. Nicola is a member of the National Trust and showed me three houses and gardens nearby we could visit. After a bit of discussion and deciding two would be much better visited later in the year when their gardens had come to life more, we headed to Baddesley Clinton.
This medieval moated manor house dates from the 15th century. It was the home of the Ferrers family for 500 years. Its interior reflects the heyday of the Tudor period and contains three priest holes where persecuted Catholics hid during the Reformation. It’s been beautifully restored and kept by the National Trust – both the house and the grounds. On the basis it wasn’t actually snowing when we arrived, we decided to walk through the woods to the lake and go round the gardens before going inside.
There’s Nicola crossing the bridge over the lake. We circled round and came back to the house to cross the moat and go inside.
We passed through a small ‘snug’ area:
Into the kitchen:
Where in one corner we saw a priest hole and were told that sometimes 9 people had squeezed into it, standing in drains:
Then into the sitting room:
And the dining room:
Beautiful stained glass everywhere:
Upstairs we had to sometimes duck our heads!!
By the time we were back at the car and heading home, the snow was coming down again. We were therefore happy to make some hot tea and start cooking. Nicola was doing the cooking but happy for me to photograph what was going on. First of all she made some pitta breads:
She was following a Fabulous Baker Brothers’ recipe. She discovered the battery had gone in her digital scales but fortunately found an old measuring jug that I’d bought her when she first went to university hiding in the back of a cupboard. After 15 minutes of kneading, the dough was put in a warm place to rise. It was then knocked down and divided into balls of dough that were then rolled out into long pitta-shaped pieces. She’d bought a pizza stone which was now hot in the oven, which had been set to the highest heat. The dough was dropped onto the hot stone and about a minute later we could see it puffing up and ready.
Don’t they look fabulous?
I’d given her my favourite cookbook – Moro East – as part of her birthday present last November so she’d made a soup for a starter and a fish tagine for main course – two recipes she’d cleverly guessed I hadn’t tried myself. The soup, Cauliflower and Cumin Soup, was seasoned with cumin, cinnamon and garlic and had coconut milk in it as well, with a few roasted pine nuts sprinkled over the top. It was gloriously smooth and tasted wonderful.
The fish tagine was a recipe with monkfish but as she hadn’t been able to buy any that morning, she’d bought large raw prawns instead. Onion was fried in the tagine with garlic, golden sultanas, ginger, saffron, turmeric and cinnamon. Then water added and firm potatoes cut into small pieces. The lid went on for the potatoes to cook first with the fish going in at the last minute.
Then the prawns went in:
But before we ate it was time for champagne!
We ate the pittas with the soup and then had the lovely prawn tagine dish with some barley couscous and courgettes on the side.
My daughter is a wonderful cook and it was lovely to have her take such care to make a really gorgeous and special Mother’s Day meal for us to share. It was a brilliant day … indeed a brilliant weekend … and lucky for me to have a wonderful son and daughter to treat me so well!!