Iconic Toast?

One thing that kept popping up when I first did an internet search on AGA cooking was toast.  (Pun unintended, but I like it.)

We own a two-slice electric toaster, which lays claim to a coveted spot on our countertop. I do not love it. It is thoroughly unreliable: one cycle and the toast is barely warm, run a second cycle and it inevitably burns.

I like toast, especially crisp Italian sourdough toast coated in salted British butter.  Or wheaty wholegrain toast, buttered and covered in homemade rhubarb and ginger jam.  But really… I kept hearing about ‘Iconic Aga Toast’ like it was an amazing thing.  It’s toast! I may have rolled my eyes.

Sarcasm aside, after a couple of weeks with our inherited AGA, I was intrigued enough to splash out on an AGA Toaster.  It’s a wire contraption designed to secure your bread and suspend it just above the surface of the ever-hot Boiling Plate (BP).

Here it is, in it’s glory. The AGA Toaster.

Lest you think this is frivolous – as a blog post and as a method of cooking – please note that the aim is a fully-rounded working knowledge of how to work with an AGA.

For today’s purposes, one slice of store-bought bread goes between the hinged grids. The whole lot is placed directly on the surface of the BP.

First one side…

A couple of notes: I find that putting the cover down over the toaster presses the toast too close to the surface and burns average breads very quickly. Also, don’t step away from the toast because the line between perfectly golden and incinerated could be a stroll to the sink and back. (Mind you, this is also true of other methods.)

I’ve not timed the process, which will vary with type of bread. Just tip the grid and check your toast – when it has achieved the colour you’re looking for, flip the entire lot over to do the other side.

Then the other.

The handle of the toaster can get quite hot, depending on where you put it. For me, the coolest position is to have it over the left front corner of the range, the handle pointing to an analogue clock’s seven.

When the second side matches the perfection of the first, you’ve finished toasting.  Set it aside on your toast rack for attention in good time, or butter and consume immediately.

(Placing a toast rack on the back of the AGA keeps toast perfectly warm.)

Pretty darn good toast!

There it is: Iconic AGA Toast, complete with tidy pattern of toasty squares.

Cons? Well, you have to have an AGA or similar range, and the wire contraption may or may not have further uses.  You cannot use this method if you’re already cooking something else on the BP.

Pros? Very evenly toasted, every time. Every single time.

Am I glad that I bought the toaster, even though we own a separate electric toaster? Yes, actually, I am. Do I use it regularly? Yes, I do.

The AGA toaster will toast two large slices or four smaller slices of toast, simultaneously. It does a spectacular job toasting bagels on one side, and ditto for getting crumpets perfectly done.

Can you tell I’ve enjoyed testing it?

Lots of things to do with toast, eh?

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Walking up Robinson

What do you do when you live in the Lake District and you dog-sit a 15 month old Border Collie?

You take her up the hills and mountains, known locally as the fells. Especially when the weather is not too hot and not too cold.  (Not too wet makes it even better.)

Above Buttermere

While enjoyable, walking around our local loop is insufficient exercise for a young Border Collie. These dogs were bred to work sheep all day, and this particular collie comes from a local farm whose sheep range far across the surrounding fells.

She is athletic with a huge amount of energy.  Smart, too.

I (Herdy Girl) am not fit enough (yet!) to walk up a big fell, and I’m a big scared baby when it comes to heights. So, Best Beloved took to the hills and reported back:

I parked along the road just above Buttermere, near St. James church.  The walk up High Snockrigg (not Snotrigg!) is quite steep. It will test your cardiovascular fitness. The next bit is boggy, Buttermere Moss. The weather is pretty dry at the moment, but I was up to almost the top of my boots in sogginess a couple of times.

Persevere, though. The views ahead are worth it!

From High Snockrigg: across Rannerdale Knotts, toward Crummock Water and Melbreak. Buttermere Village in the bottom left corner.

Looking down from High Snockrigg and Robinson, you really understand why this is called the Lake District.  Buttermere to the left, Crummock Water to the right with Loweswater in the distance beyond. And, in the other direction, you can see  distant Derwent Water.

Overlooking Newlands Valley toward Keswick.  Newlands is one of three local mountain passes.

The weather started to turn, so we retraced our steps down Robinson, across Buttermere Moss, and then down steep High Snockrigg.

Altogether it was about a seven mile journey with roughly 2700 feet of climb. An all round good walk.

I’m exhausted, but the collie is just about warmed up!

Where to next? View from the top of Robinson toward Honister Pass.

My enduring thanks to BB for taking our canine guest out for a good, tiring run.  She’s currently snuggled up behind his chair, napping.

I suspect BB will be nodding off any minute now!

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Saturday Scene for 17 June 2017

Capturing snippets of Saturdays… going to call it Saturday Scenes. Could be all sorts.  This is a good start.

Midmorning Walk with this girl. Beautiful weather. Hardly a soul about.

Mind you, she’s looking at me as if to say, ‘Good grief woman, can we get this photo stuff over with and get back to the serious business of fetching the stick?’

Onward and upward!

Keswick Mountain Festival

If you are able to travel to the Keswick Mountain Festival next year – Do it!

The Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) is the UK’s largest Mountain Festival – a heady mix of sport, music, food and fun held on the shore of Derwent Water, in what must be one of the most beautiful festival spots in all of England.

Note the setting – doesn’t get much better that this!

Sporty and On-the-way-to-sporty types will have lots to enjoy – taster events and challenging races on foot, bike and water are available to adults and young ‘uns.  There are also exhibitors, food stalls, a roster of impressive speakers, a mix of live music, and the chance to enjoy the surrounding countryside.

This was my first KMT, my Best Beloved’s second. (He’s Sporty; I’m just beginning the journey to rediscover my sportiness.)  We went as a sort-of-a date. So it was primarily dinner and a concert for us – we’ve a fondness for fiddle, whistle and pipes, and the setting is perfect for such.

Among the offerings, we chose to share a pizza from Woody’s Rustic Pizza. What a fun lot of people, and they make delicious flame-kissed, thin crusted pizza pies!

And they kindly let me get a close up of their mobile wood-fired oven in action.

One apology, though.  We practically inhaled our Marguerita pizza – so no photos of it.

Our second share was a Chakalaka Chicken Wrap from Safari, specializing in South African fare. Why?  Equal parts food description and how much fun we had saying ‘Chakalaka Chicken’.

And then we needed a drink. BB went the Taylor’s tent for a beer, I opted for a Yorkshire Tea from the fun folks at Oatopia.

We just had enough time for dessert before the Peatbog Faeries arrived onstage. With the sent of deep-fried dough in the air, it was inevitable…

Churromania!!!!

These convivial folk were entertaining and served up some seriously tasty churros.

From the happy FryMaster…
To she who applied sweetness in the form of cinnamon sugar and melted Belgian chocolate. 🙂

Oh. My. Word.  These were so good.

I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff. Delicioso!

At that point, we two stuffed people were joined by three lovely family/friends and a jolly lab named Poppy.

Poppy tugged her person up the top of the hill when the band came on, but the remaining four of us joined the jolly crowd to soak in some celtic-infused music and maybe dance a wee jig or two.

Headed toward the stage. That setting!
Quick close-up of the Peatbog Faeries starting off…

Our quick dip into the KMF was much enjoyed by both of us, and we hope to enjoy a bit more of what’s on offer next year.  They’ve not announced the dates for 2018, but I’ll give a shout out when they do.

Peace,

Herdy Girl

Scattered Roots (My first blog post ever.)

Looking forward to seeing what’s around the bend.

 

So… Mel Robbins’ Five Second Rule keeps showing up in my feed.  Has to be for a reason.

I can take a hint… Time to leap into the unknown.

Here it bloomin’ goes.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1:

Tiny me.

See that four-year old little girl?  That’s me.  By that age, we’d moved several times and were back in my father’s home state of South Carolina.  Dad had joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school, and he met my mother when he was stationed in England.  They married and out I popped just before my folks were sent to a base in Germany.

We moved a lot; we managed.  I was shy. A lovely sister joined us when I was seven. She was not shy. We moved within the US. The moving slowed down, we moved to England.  Suffolk, to be exact. I was a little less shy. Dad retired in 1984 and we moved stateside. I’ve always love both England and America (especially the South), their cultures and landscape and people. Hopefully, I have inherited some of the best traits of both!

In all that moving, my juvenile roots didn’t go deep. I never really knew either my paternal or maternal families very well. Friends came and went. (In gardening terms, my roots were just spinning around my little container, pot-bound.)

So much life ahead of us…

In quick order followed HS Graduation (30 years and one day ago), move to University and subsequent graduation, Marriage exactly one week later, two moves and Parenthood, five moves later…

Our unit of three, a container garden if you will, stayed in one place long enough to break out and entangle our roots with those around us.  We were watered by southern hospitality, and fed by several loving communities of faith and by friendships.

When our only child graduated from university, my Best Beloved and I found ourselves looking at the next phase and feeling a pull towards England. An opportunity to move there presented itself, so we sold up the farm (literally) and moved across the Atlantic Ocean.  We are now living in a part of the UK far from any of our previous homes.

One of my favourite views

We’ve lived in our rented accommodation for eighteen months. It’s a lovely home in an amazing setting.  I’ve grown to love it, and to find it both a balm and an inspiration.  Tentative roots have gone into the garden, the community and the entire region.

I’d like to share my journey in this beautiful place.  Please join me as I explore Cumbria and the Lake District.  I’ll welcome you into my kitchen and garden (even if those locations change, sadly).  We’ll become rooted in a new way in this (sometimes scary, sometimes heartwarming) place called the internet.

Peace,

Herdy Girl