This summer is almost a sensory overload; I go to peg out the washing and miraculously, real deep warmth envelopes me, the rich honey scent of the clover beneath my feet makes me stand and stop midway. Colour is everywhere, subtle and dramatic, the birds are quieter now, but the bees hum happily, a nice little background music for a perfect summer day.
Not all the colour is outside. Maybe the riot that's going on in the garden and beyond made me buy this fabric! And I finally finished a dress that I started about a month ago. It was a first attempt at shirring, which was scary at first, but actually pretty easy, once I got into the swing of it.
It was based on the Mendocino sundress but I wasn't 100% sure if it was going to work for me, as, shall we say, I'm not a tall willowy type...ahem. But I took some advice from my ever reliable sister, and also found good tips at Weekend Designer. It seems I wasn't alone being unsure, but it worked out quite well - although it probably will stay as a garden and beach dress, but that's just fine with me. I think it helped to have the fabric wide enough to go around me twice, and have the shirring quite far apart - about 2cm. Oh yes, and to try on a variety of different things to go underneath.
My boys like it, "Oh, you're wearing a rainbow, Mum!" And it feels lovely floating around in a gentle breeze....
The other thing I LOVE about summer, are all the special recipes you can really only make with fresh summer food, at its very best. Right now, we are really enjoying the classic French Clafoutis, which is one of my husband's favourites. It reminds him of his childhood. You can make it with lots of different fruit, but the one in the photo is blueberry and cherry - it had a lot of fruit in and was very juicy - yum! Cherry Clafoutis is, however, the classic.
So, here's our recipe, and I have it on the authority of my husband's grandmother that you should leave the cherry stones in for better flavour.
9 soup spoons castor sugar
pinch of salt
5 soup spoons plain flour, sifted
25g (1 oz) butter
1/4 litre (half a pint) milk
a few drops decent vanilla essence
500g (1 lb) cherries
Heat oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees C/180 fan oven
Butter a big flan dish, then wash the cherries and place them evenly in the dish - you can remove the stones beforehand, but it's a bit of a faff. Beat the eggs, sugar and salt then gently add in the flour, beating to make a smooth batter. Melt the butter,allow it to cool a little then add it to the milk, along with the vanilla essence. Mix this in with the batter, ensuring everything is well combined. Pour it over the cherries, stick it in the oven.
I find it take about 30 mins in my hot oven, but it could take 45 mins. Cook it until the batter is set and slightly browned. Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving. It is best eaten slightly warm.