It's changed a lot outside since I last wrote. It's turned from Winter to Spring and then a little further. The apple trees are full of blossom and we're all sneezing, there are beautiful seas of bluebells in the woodlands, everywhere is becoming the richest of greens as new growth emerges and there are clouds of cow parsley along the lanes. Everything is coming back to life like magic and we're in the middle of it all, watching from our house on the hill.
This house hasn't seen us for this amount of time since we were teenagers, three sisters, altogether. We do all the things we did; evenings of kitchen dancing after supper, hysterically laughing at nothing in particular, walking through the fields, singing our favourite musicals and badly, late-night chatting in each others bedrooms, lying on eiderdowns our grandmother made us on the lawn, sometimes shouting but not so much now, afternoons of painting, evenings of cooking and moments of silence. This time with additions of husbands and boyfriends which is equally as lovely. Soon things will slowly move back to normality, we'll all leave for London again, the house will be quiet with only my parents and the ruffled dust will settle. We'll all look back at this time the Earth went to war, the time the house was filled again, the time we had together. It'll be the time we'll never forget.
We've taken no photo's of us three, other than the flower crown moment but I saw this photograph, this is how I see us now.
We've also had to be inventive to keep things interesting. One week we had themed evenings and cooked from different parts of Europe. Tildy turned the sitting room into a cinema with film options and interval treats. Lettie and I made a surprise candlelit speakeasy in the little sitting room with decanters of whiskey, camembert and baguette and a night full of jazz. We've cooked lots of new recipes from our favourite cooks, Mimi Thorisson, Ottolenghi, Diana Henry to name a few.
I've been making arrangements from the garden and fields and using whatever I can find. I've filmed a few short videos of the process, you can follow along here. I found these little dancing forget-me-nots on the side of the road and a few bluebells that had come up in the garden in scattered spots. Everything else was from the garden or grown locally so you can do the same with flowers from either your gardens, hedgerows and fields, local supermarkets and now lots of local British growers are offering non-contact deliveries.
One family favourite lunch is our Mum's pea and feta tart. It's a slightly adapted Debbie Major recipe. It's so luxurious with the cream and creme fraiche combination and is just so delicious. She's written the recipe for you all. It works so well with a simple salad with lemon juice and it's perfectly in time for the sunny bank holiday weekend! Take it away Muma!
Pea, feta and mint tart
Justroll shortcrust pastry - The orginal recipe suggests making the pastry but I tend to use these justroll Pastry blocks. They're just as delicious.
3 large spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
200ml full-fat crème fraîche - I just use the whole tub
100ml double cream
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 x 28g pack mint, leaves picked - just use the whole block
Thinly roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a pie dish. Prick the base with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking paper and a thin layer of baking beans and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges of the pastry are biscuit golden. Remove the paper and beans and return the pastry case to the oven for 7-8 minutes until the base is golden brown. Remove and set to one side. Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas 5.
For the filling, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the spring onions, season lightly and cook for a couple of minutes until they soften. Leave to cool slightly. Put the peas into a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave for 2 minutes, until they have thawed, then drain, rinse in cold water, and dry well on a clean tea towel. Mix the crème fraîche, double cream and eggs together in a bowl with some salt and pepper to taste. Reserve a few small mint leaves and 1 tablespoon of the peas for garnish, then shred the rest of the mint and stir into the egg mixture with the rest of the peas, the spring onions, crumbled feta and some seasoning to taste. Pour the mixture into the tart case and cook for about 30-35 minutes until just set and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving. Once it's slightly cooled, scatter the reserved peas and mint sprigs on top for decoration. Enjoy!