Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nature table - January 2010

The Christmas just gone was our first in France, and we spent the day with some very good friends.  In the afternoon, stuffed with the most delicious Christmas dinner, the four of us took four lively dogs out for a walk.  The dogs, one belonging to our friends, the others belonging to other  friends who were visiting the UK at the time, were full of energy. We, having just eaten and cleared up, were full of food, good wine and the warm glow that comes with being in the company of much-loved friends. The weather was wonderful - very very cold but bright and sunny. The trail - well, what can I say? It was gorgeous and, guess what I did?  I forgot my camera!  Just two minutes from the house is the most wonderful wide open countryside - bathed in winter sunshine, miles away from roads and traffic, it is stunning and so very good for the soul.

Along the way, I picked up a couple of teazles that had fallen to the ground.  Years ago, I remember my Mum using these to 'fluff up' her knitting - turning plain double knitting yarn into expensive-looking mohair, simply by brushing the finished knitted item with  teazle heads.  They are very spikey to the touch but so lovely to look at. These two, as I say, had fallen to the ground. There were plenty more still growing but I am loathe to pick things just for the sake of it - I rather like free treasure, and these would only have been pressed into the ground by passing tractors, so I brought them home with me. I will knit or crochet a swatch to try them on.

I am lucky enough to have a lovely bay tree growing in my garden. It has been swamped by a very old plum tree for years but we removed some of the plum tree's branches, and the bay is now starting to grow, having rediscovered the light.  I love using the fragrant aromatic leaves in stews, soups and casseroles, so, every now and again, I pick  a branch and dry it by hanging it up in the kitchen. This branch I picked yesterday, and the first couple of leaves will be used in the chicken casserole I will make for dinner today to warm us on a freezing cold day.

Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried. They really add that special 'something' to a dish. A useful tip is to tear the leaves before adding them to your cooking - this releases the delicious oils.  The leaves should be removed and discarded before eating. 

My nature table goodies today are displayed on my lovely old pine coffee table which was lovingly made by my husband many years ago.  Its three-monthly waxing is well overdue; we are clearing the Christmas decorations away today, so I shall persuade him to get the wax out and restore it to its glory, after months of having our feet resting on it as we relax on the sofa.  I love the sight of freshly-waxed pine and will post a photo of it once the grain has been coaxed back into life.

I hope to have a regular nature table on my blog - there are some wonderful things around us and I want to make the most of what I find!


  1. What an amazing table!! Check out this one too for Coffee Tables.

  2. Kathy lovely to be able to "pop" in and share a bit of your life. Sounds wonderful and I know how much you will be looking forward to your trip back to the UK. Hope it has warmed up by then !!! Love Linda