I’ve been experimenting with different pizza bases. My family loves pizza, but I am very fussy when it comes to buying them so I don’t serve it as often as they would like. For me the base has to be thin, the toppings need to be made of the best ingredients. No skimping on cheese or flavour. I am one step away from building an outdoors pizza oven.
This week, I tried an artisan bread mix. Stretched it thin over my pizza stoneware – I told you I was fussy- before letting it rest and expand, but not too much. I really did get it very thin. Go me! It did mean that I had a lot of dough left over. I thought of little loaves but it seemed to be the perfect time to introduce the children to dampers. Cooked over a camp fire, of course.
My children are always game to bring out the fire bowl. Cooking over it, something other than marshallows, certainly seemed to grab their imagination. They couldn’t wait. So after supper we headed up to the top of the garden, to a wilder area. Added advantage that the honeysuckle grows thick in this part of the garden. As the sun went down the fragrance grew stronger. We could watch the bats leaving our roof. Some curious ones, came to check out what the
mad humans were up to that night, before veering off into the woods to hunt.
Some people cook their dampers as balls in a pan over the fire. So that everyone could be involved, we chose to cook them on sticks. After all, they grow on trees and are readily available. No washing up either. We cut a few sticks off one of our hazel tree. It’s not ready to copice this year, making it easy to find thin branches that were perfect for our dampers. We stripped the leaves and twigs from them.
Taking my left over dough, I gave each child a ball of dough. Using their hands, they rolled it into long thin sausages, stretching them more to make them even longer. Then they twisted and wrapped it around the end of their sticks.
Waiting for the hot embers was more than they could bear. The next part took teamwork. The fire bowl is probably a bit small, so they had to be careful not to cross sticks. They changed the height of their dampers, to allow them to cook but not burn. I showed them how to break off the end to check if it was cooked.Once baked, they removed the damper from the stick and dipped the baked bread into homemade blackcurrant coulis. Bliss.
The adults drank coffee brewed on the camp fire. Blankets were passed around, so we could stay out even longer.
It all tasted fantastic. The dough was a good choice. They each made two, which we all ate, in the light, and warmth, of the fire. Watching moths and checking for glow worms. (We found one earlier in the day and were hoping it would shine that night. No luck.) Too cloudy for more than the odd star. They didn’t let that stop them from wishing on it.
“Star bright, starlight, the first star I see tonight…..”
I wouldn’t have blamed them, one little bit, if they’d wished for more evenings just like that one.
Oh, and my pizza. It was declared a huge success. There was disappointment that I hadn’t made two, but then again it would have meant no dampers that evening. I’ll be working with that idea again. Yum.
Linking up with Fiona’s inspirational #CountryKids linky
I love nature and I love it when nature inspires my crafting. I’ve been experimenting with feathers and paint. My original idea morphed into something quite different. This was all inspired by a trip to the North Somerset Butterfly House. One of the best kept secrets in Somerset.
This is my kind of place. It’s no secret that I would love to be an entomologist. Where better to spend a Sunday afternoon than in a butterfly house. I love learning more about minibeasts. Fortunately, so does the rest of the family. As we waited to pay, the Bug Man showed us a hissing cockcroach. Very neat. It’s neck was perfectly protected by the shaped armour on its back and when it pulled in its head, it fitted snug. Nothing sticking out to enable a predator to strike. Fabulous engineering. It’s shiny back enabled it to slip though the forest’s leaf mould easily.
Then on to the butterfly house. First butterfly spotted was this amazing Owl butterfly (above). Amazing patterns on it’s underside.
There were masses of Zebra Longwing (above) fluttering lazily around our heads. Totally unbothered by our presence. The yellow and black peril colours. Apparently they are not fakes. They are poisonous. Only if you eat them though.
The Zebra Mosaic fooled me. I focused on the fake head! Do you see the yellow tip. It looks like the head, while the real head has the same markings as the wings, and blends in perfectly. It is a clever little butterfly. Most butterflies land on tree trunks so that they are facing up. This one lands facing down, with its fake head up the tree. Predators aim at the top where the tasty butterfly’s head should be. In this case, as they will be hopefully fooled, only the tip of the wings are damaged. Leaving the Zebra Mosaic to fly away.
No butterfly house would be complete without the butterfly nursery.
The children loved feeding the terrapins.
So many different types of butterfly. Above is the Common Mormon.
The banana skins on the feeding stations made it easy to study the butterflies. Might try using this technique to attract our garden butterflies, although I suspect the fruit flies might engulf the skins.
The butterfly on the left is a Blue Morpho.
Each butterfly finds its way to survive. Whether by behaviour or markings. Or both. It wasn’t until we got home and looked at the photos that I realised that the Owl butterflies had clever markings too.
I don’t know about you, but I think its markings look a lot like a scaly lizard as you look down on them feeding.
In case you can’t make out……
If you go up to the original, it should jump out at you. Not literally, of course!
Last of all are the Blue Morpho. My inspiration for a spot of crafting. I love the blue, but also the way that another butterfly seems to be superimposed onto it. I think the light behind has allowed the eye markings of the underside, to show through.
They have such a slow flutter, you wonder how they stay up. This one took a rest on my leg. Almost pleading to inspire me.
Back home, I cut feathers into the shape butterfly shape and anchored them with white tack. Using watercolours, I added colour.
Simple. Not sure I’ll get it off the cardboard, but that’s OK. I rather like the effect of the paint hitting the cardboard as the feather bits peter out. I’d like to try this again.
If you are in North Somerset, then I can recommend the Butterfly House. No need to be a budding entomologist. The butterflies are just lovely to watch. The butterfly house is next door to Cadbury’s Garden Centre. Makes a nice stop off as you head down to Cornwall on the M5.
This is NOT a sponsored post in any way, I’m just an unabashed enthusiast!
Linking up to #CountryKids. For more getting out and about family fun, I can recommend hopping on over.