Autumn Foraging at Tyntesfield
At the weekend we went to Tyntesfield National Trust, a beautifully gothic Victorian country house and estate. This one of my favourite NT properties and this visit didn’t disappoint. The trees in the estate were just beautiful, in colours of red, orange and gold. I love autumnal days that are bright and sunny, but cold too so that you get to wrap up in your favourite woolly scarf, and this weekend was just that.
The children completed the Halloween trail, following spooky clues that took us winding through the fallen leaves in the estate, until we ended up at the Orangery which was full of different types of pumpkin. It was perfectly autumnal! Then on the way back up to the car, we walked through a little patch of sweet chestnut trees. We had a great time collecting the chestnuts, although we only had my coat to carry them in so I walked back up to the car with very heavy pockets bulging like hamster cheeks.
When we got home later that day, the children sprawled in front of a film (Nanny McPhee – great film!) and I did some cooking. I made simple roasted chestnuts in the oven and then sprinkled them with salt. I LOVE chestnuts, and they can be expensive to buy, so having a whole fruit bowl full of free ones feels like a major win!
If you’re roasting chestnuts at home, learn from my previous mistakes and make sure you cut them first with a knife! I was so excited a few years ago to have bought a bag of chestnuts and I put them straight in the oven. They exploded with so much force that it scared the crap out of me, I thought we’d had a gas leak explosion! It took me months to remove the insides of the chestnuts from the walls of the oven, they were literally cemented on there.
It was so chilly in the late afternoon that I made a Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese for our family tea. Ooh I hope you try this recipe because it was so good!! I cooked butternut squash gently in almond milk, garlic and rosemary until tender. Then I pureed it and added a huge handful of cheese. Et voila, a thick, cheesy, comforting pasta sauce – and it’s healthy! I mixed it with wholewheat pasta for the family, but I’ve been eating the leftover sauce all week with cauliflower, which also works perfectly.
On the Sunday, I took pity on MrN and made him a gluten-free Carrot Polenta Cake with Orange. I find gluten-free baking a bit disappointing usually (I’m no good at it), but this cake was a surprising success. I soaked the grated carrots in fresh orange juice first and used olive oil instead of butter in the batter. The result was a zingy, fresh cake with a beautiful orange cream cheese frosting. Nom nom!
What a perfect autumn weekend!