Out-of-season rain
Dashes crowns of princely trees.
Perplexed travelers ask for reasons
Huddling under worn eaves.

So says the Tao. ‘Even the wise ones are surprised when things happen out of turn’ it goes on.. Don’t know about you but 2012 has been a year of surprises, which should be no surprise at all really.

Our Wales chapter is over. Farewell dear Wales; edge of the west, the darker green, the older tongue, it’s shrill fiddle and circle dances, the boon of heartfelt company between long solitudes. When I look at that picture now (the view from our woodland at Trefacwn) a crisper breath fills my lungs and wilderness rolls out around me like a wave.

We spent the winter there making this little building, tucked behind the walled garden at our friend’s place. We’ve always dreamed of building our own home, so we took some time out from fooding (and blogging – sorry dear readers) and put ourselves into a crash course in eco-building.

this is not a piece of cake

We cut the timber for the structure from wind-fall trees at our friend’s woodland and used old railway sleepers for the main structure. The footings were waste-concrete blocks and the walls Welsh wheat straw. The glass was taken from the scrap piles of local glaziers and all the other bits were wombled or recycled or purloined from dusty corners of the out-buildings of our friend’s estate; stand-up geezer that he is. Not so many folk will sponsor such a wacky, unplanned piece of derring-do as this. I mean there’s a tree inside the building for piggies sake..

notice the new branch, growing inside..

Everyone comments on how it ‘feels’. There’s something beyond the spectrum of the senses that you can’t help but notice. It may be stillness. The morning sun floods through the windows as the birds’ dawn chorus faintly pierces the walls, and the trees’ inaudible hum holds the structure as if it’s one of their own. It’s a place to really explore peace. It’s the place our daughter chose to come into the world. I’ll never forget those short days after she was born, when the air shimmered and there was no time, when the birdsong was her music, and even the flowers bowed to her newborn scent.

The rules say you can make a building like that, but you can’t actually live in it. We knew.. and we thought no one would notice if we stayed on up there for a couple of… er, years, after finishing it. But in a wiggly twist of fate, someone told the planners and we got our marching orders. Crowns dashed, just like that.

It’s our biggest artwork to date. A bit like making a big.. a really big cake; not long after you’ve finished it – it’s gone!

Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened.
Pigs on the road again!

Woke at dawn
After the storm
Dew like a veil, hanging still,
Devon’s oaks, silenced
As if the earth
Held her breath.

Reasons are paper dolls
We make for ourselves,
Pantomimes pinned
On the great Dao,
Having its way with us

Peaches and Cream

Peach season! oh happiness. Peaches every day these days. I had peach and dairy cream the other day and realised what a killer combination it is (no pun intended). I wanted to do something similar that I’d feel really good about eating.

Rose tinted Peaches with fresh basil in white chocolate cream.

5 fresh peaches
1 cup hazlenuts, soaked
30g cacao butter
20g coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon mesquite powder
1/2 tablespoon lucuma powder
2 large pinches good quality salt
Rose water
20 or so fresh basil leaves
A large handful of dry hazlenuts

To make the rose water either; soak a large fistful of rose petals in a cup of water overnight, then drain; or cheat and use a good organic rose water (Pukka do a good organic one in a spray – it’s what i used!).

Drain the soaked nuts and blend thoroughly in 3 1/2 cups of water (include the cup of rosewater). Strain with nutmilk bag or muslin cloth to make nutmilk. Put the milk back in the blender jug.

Melt the butters in a bain marie then add them to the blender with the powders and salt and one of the peaches. Blend thoroughly.

Smash up the dry hazlenuts and put them in a hot pan to toast them. They need about 5 minutes pushing around regularly to stop them burning. Turn them out into a seive and shake off any burned skins.

Chop up the rest of the peaches into chunks and put them into two soup size bowls. Cut the basil leaves finely and add them to the peach bowls. Pour over the cream and if you’re using the Pukka spray, now give 6 or 7 good squirts into each bowl and mix it all together.

If possible (!) put the bowls in the fridge for an hour. The cream will thicken up a little bit as the butters cool.

Sprinkle the toasted hazlenuts over the top and garnish with some more basil.

This made two big bowls, it could serve 4 as a pud (I just always want there to be more cream (!) so it was wonderful in a guiltless yet selfish kind of way to quaff this huge bowl of creamy peachy heaven).