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As you can see from my header photo (of Hayling Island), I have an irrational fondness for beach huts. I’m obviously not alone, since many of them around the UK are now so popular, that to buy one will set you back more than the cost of a castle in Scotland. I was particularly taken with these huts on Mudeford Spit, which overlooks Christchurch Harbour on the South Coast. They are also famously expensive – Hut 39 is currently for sale, price £250,000. Many of them are micro designer crash pads, some even having upstairs areas for beds, as well as gorgeous views whichever way you look, with the harbour on one side and a soft sandy beach the other. But there is no road access and residents have to use a toilet and shower block. Still, they really captured my imagination and I really did fancy staying in one for a while!
Over the last few cold weeks, I’ve had a touch of the munchies, which of course, can lead you to scoff too many cakes and crisps. These tasty little nibbles, have been keeping me going, and without overloading on the baddies, as well as being a good excuse to use my gingerbread men cutter!
225g (8oz) wholemeal spelt flour (or regular wholemeal flour)
175g (6oz) butter
175g (6oz) grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon English Mustard
Set the oven to 220 C and grease a baking tray.
Rub the butter into the flour, then add the cheese, pepper and mustard. Bring together into a ball of dough.
Flour the surface and roll out the dough quite thinly and cut out using a gingerbread men cutter (or any other shape!). Place on the baking tray and prick with a fork.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until just browning. Once cooked leave the cookies to cool on the tray and start to crisp up before moving them to a cooling rack. These keep well in an airtight container for a few days.
What does the gardener do during the long winter evenings when pottering in the garden simply isn’t an option? Well, at the moment, I’m dipping into a memoir by Joy Larkcom. Aside from having a glorious name, Joy is a gardening writer, who, during the 70’s, toured Europe to find out how people grew vegetables in different parts of the continent and to bring back rare varieties to the UK. Her work changed how we grow our veg today, as well as recording, in some cases, practices that were disappearing from the landscape. This memoir includes Joy’s writing from that trip, as well as her later discoveries in China and her own gardens back in the UK and later in Ireland. A wonderful companion for those winter evenings.