Spring must be here or hereabouts as my hay fever has started. We went out yesterday to get herbs from our local garden centre, it was bitter and they had lots of mother’s day style things but nothing in the way of herbs not even the hardier shrubbier ones so we went further out of town to a large garden centre which is part of a national chain and we did find some.
On the way there I noticed what my mum always call the green smoke, that whispy hardly perceivable bud burst, was starting on the hawthorns which make up quite a large part of our hedgerows and field boundaries. Even if we get a cold snap now it will only stall the impending season; we have turned the corner, spring is within touching distance.
So i’m very pleased to say that the next lot of compost is on its way. Maybe not quite enough to fill both beds but certainly enough to fill the first and partially fill the second. My potatoes are going in the far end of the second bed and they haven’t even arrived yet so no panic there. I will be growing a variety called Red Duke of York which I’ve grown before. I don’t see the purpose in growing all purpose potatoes in my limited space so I’m going for a nice red skinned first early which we will use as a salad potato. It’s land cress, lettuce and rocket next and red onions, which again have not yet arrived. A red theme is emerging, n’est-ce pas? Not anything to do with me being a red head I can assure you but, I believe them to be a bit more slug and snail resistant. Don’t say that too loudly because I haven’t actually seen any in the new garden, shhhh! It may be an old wives tale; it’s certainly this old wife’s tale.
On that happy spring filled note I will wish you all a happy Saint David’s Day and be on my way.
It’s been a strange week with the premature death of a friend and more problems and devastation caused by student finance England. So I thought some virtual pudding was in order.
James Martin does a Black Forest trifle over here; this is not that.
It was a pudding that my Mum used to make back in the 70s and 80s as a family favourite (for which read one of dad’s favourites). It probably came from Family Circle. This was inspired by a post over at Amy Bakes.
Take a large shop bought chocolate swiss roll, cut into slices and arrange around glass dish. Take a can of stoned black cherries in juice (or if you’re feeling flush a jar of black cherries in kirsch) and a blackcurrant jelly. We used to use black cherry jelly but I haven’t seen one for a long time – if anyone knows where I can buy them please let me know. Make the jelly as per the instructions replacing most of the cold water with the juice from the cherries.
You can give the swiss roll sponge a bit of a soak with liqueur if you like, then arrange the cherries over and around the slices of swiss roll. Add the jelly and chill until set. Take about a pint of double or whipping cream (whipping cream has slightly lower fat content than double cream: 35% as opposed to 48%). Whip until soft peaks are achieved, we used to whip to pipe but that was all a bit passe; who knows the cup-cake craze may bring back piping! Decorate with soft peaks of cream, some reserved cherries and shavings of dark chocolate. Send everyone out and enjoy with a large spoon.
Tomorrow I will be appearing fashionably late to Handmade Monday 37 (just waiting for my phone to charge to take some piccies).
I started this post way back at the end of August but about half way through discussing how Autumnal it felt for the end of August, WordPress ate my words and refused to spit them back out. It has taken me nearly a month to come back and finish what I started.
In news, I have been having a sort of artisan birth – I would say rebirth but my craft efforts up to now have been more cack-handed than hand crafted; perhaps all this time on my hands has done me some good. I thought about using my creative side to make food for a living but a certain number of errant cats, dog and poorly husband mean it is not a practical solution unless I have separate premises which will never happen; crafting things uses almost the same (metaphorical) muscles but is not health inspected (as far as I’m aware!!)
So that is what I’m doing, along with the Phoenix stuff. I received a lovely commission for a special set of notelets and I hope the lady will be delighted, they are not quite finished but I already am delighted – just waiting for the box to arrive but the label is done and dusted (ever so slightly with gold embossing powder – it sounds gopping but really isn’t). Pics will follow. She has also kindly asked to buy one of these, below:
Infact she almost bit my hand off. I do hope she is pleased. My craftiness has seen me teach myself to crochet, largely inspired by the fantastic work of Lucy over at Attic 24. My efforts are not quite to her standard yet but perhaps one day, I will make something other than a bile yellow face cloth – yay me. Pictures may follow but only once I have got beyond the dishcloth stage.
Knitting and sewing continue as usual although I have actually finished more things than usual which is a good thing.
In other news Arty Daughter has made the trek to Bath to take up her place on the Fine Art degree and Surrealo son has been appearing in the vicinity of Nick Clegg’s left elbow (there must be some freudian meaning there).
In really other news I have started tweeting, not very well, and have made some twitter friends with blogs. Hello to Weekly Bakeoff and Holly. I really do bake; the evidence is somewhere down below. The German Apple Cake I will try to find a recipe for and post here.
This week I have been getting ready for the fete at Merafield View Nursing home next Friday afternoon from 1.30pm, doing some marketing and getting ready for self-employment again. I’ve sorted a business account, spoken to tax credits, investigated changes to our income and we are looking for opportunities for John’s artwork, and he’s going to be trying to do some more illustrative stuff which I actually think suits his style.
He has had so much to overcome during the past few years, it’s quite amazing to me that he is willing to try anything again but the idea of being in this quasi dormant state until death us do part fills neither of us with glee. If the medical professionals could get their fingers out perhaps we would have something of an answer or at least an idea of whether or not stroke number five is a foregone conclusion or just a possibility. I know which one the balance of possibility dictates.
Life, chez nous, is not, contrary to my tone, all doom and gloom. We are basically happy. We have lovely children and we love each other, our cups runneth over.
This afternoon I shall be cheating in the kitchen; I’m going to use a Wright’s Carrot Cake Mix. I haven’t tried it before and bought it out of curiosity, not normally being one for cake mixes. I do sometimes use their bread mixes as they work quickly, even on a wintry afternoon. Obviously full of flour “improvers” and other dubious things to help things along. After that I will return to knitting penguins and jumpers and bells. I will let you all know how I get on, carrot cake is so yummy it might be nice to have a cheat which doen’t involve grating.
Life is to short to have just one knitting project on the go.
In other news and thanks to my ex-sister-in-law I have been spending a lot of time over at attic24, drooling over her crochet work and her life to be brutally frank. If any of you lovely people could actually show me how to crochet I would be immensley grateful.
This little recipe was first published in June 2006 over at Sheweevil’s Moveable Feasts a (very small) collection of recipes. I’m republishing it to banish the dreich, dismal weather outside. I don’t even really remember the programme but was fascinated by the idea of this dessert. Mousse is probably a bit of a misnomer but it sounds more appealing than chocolate pud!
Depending on the variety of chocolate you use this is suitable for both lacto-intolerant and gluten-intolerant people. It’s tasty and healthy and has no added sugar other than that already in the chocolate and the natural fruit sugars of the orange.
I made mine in the blender jug of a Kenwood Chef, which is the one item I would take to a Desert Island.
Here is the recipe, complete with original waffle (as in pointless chattering and not the Belgian incarnation). If you are looking for a good, highstreet source of avocados which won’t break the bank I would recommend Lidl; they seem to know how to store them so they are not bullets – the big supermarkets store them too cold, like everything else – and they are very good value for money.
I didn’t see the whole programme; just caught the end when I was waiting for the Apprentice and to be honest I tried this because I believed it wouldn’t work. I was wrong, it does and is super delish.
(This is not their recipe just my interpretation of what I saw)
1 200g bar of dark chocolate
2 large ripe avocadoes
the juice and zest of 1-2 flavourful oranges.
Melt the chocolate gently until runny. Halve and peel the avocadoes, roughly chop and place in a liquidizer (or food processor) with the juice and zest of the orange. Blend on high speed and add the chocolate. Blend again until completely smooth. Place in the refridgerator and allow to set.
These ingredients make about 3/4 of a pint
I made this for John’s birthday cake back in January and I can almost still taste it.
You can find it on the Delia website and it’s from her Christmas cookbook which I think was revamped for last Christmas but I have the original one, complete with a price tag where Hannah and Thomas tried to sell it (grrr!) There are lots of great recipes in the book especially the chutney ones so it’s well worth adding to your collection.
It’s for my friend Cheryl, who is in need of sustenance in a way that a rich tea biscuit just won’t cut. I don’t actually think you need amaretto in the cream the rum is quite enough. Here in all the loveliness is the recipe
3 oz (75 g) Amaretti biscuits, crushed finely with a rolling pin
1 lb (450 g) dark chocolate (75 per cent cocoa solids) – the best quality possible
5 tablespoons liquid glucose
5 tablespoons rum
1 pint (570 ml) double cream, at room temperature
cocoa powder for dusting
chilled single pouring cream
Start off by sprinkling the crushed biscuits all over the base of the tin. Next, break the chocolate into sections and put them in a heatproof bowl together with the liquid glucose and the rum. Fit the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then leave it until the chocolate has melted and become quite smooth. Stir, then take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes or so until it feels just warm.
Now, in a separate bowl, beat the cream until only very slightly thickened. Fold half into the chocolate mixture and then fold that mixture into the rest of the cream. When it is smoothly blended, spoon it into the prepared tin. Tap the tin gently to even the mixture out, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight. Just before serving, run a palette knife round the edge to loosen the torte, then give it a good shake and turn the whole thing out on to a serving plate (don’t be nervous about this – it’s very well behaved).
To serve, dust the surface with sifted cocoa powder and, if you like, mark the top into serving sections. Have some chilled pouring cream to go with it; if you have any, a couple of tablespoons of amaretto liqueur makes a wonderful addition to the cream.
You will also need a 9 inch (23 cm) cake tin, lined with a circle of silicone paper (baking parchment), and the base and sides lined
The weekend bake-in has begun with a round of chocolate butterfly cakes with coffee icing. The recipe is from Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium (1957), my cookery bible which I have used since I was a little girl and have known all my life. I’m doing these today because John loves chocolate and coffee but it is nobody else’s favourite. I don’t really count as I’m not particular: I love everything! I have a new piping bag and nozzle set (this one, here) and I’ve been itching to try it out since yesterday but with moving mountains and ironing this is the first chance I’ve had. The icing set needed a cake stand like this.
Tomorrow I will be making banoffee pie, not much baking really required but the delicious end result almost qualifies it. Sunday is the marathon. I was going to make bridge rolls but taking up the offer to bring some home from work on Saturday by Arty Daughter seemed too good to pass up. Coconut macaroons will follow; I once visited a ‘bakery’ in Plymouth who had never heard of coconut macaroons, needless to say, they are no-longer trading. Choux buns or eclairs to follow, then a nice moist fruit cake – a boil-in-the-pan recipe, finally a carrot cake, courtesy of Delia. The addition of Surrealo son at the table, who returns from his hectic social whirl in London tomorrow, will make our little band complete. I hope wherever you are and whoever you are with, you have love and good things to eat.