Saturday, 29 June 2013

feeling nostalgic

Mr digandweed loves fruit cake in any shape or form and the other day mentioned the fact that we had not had any for quite a while.
This set me thinking about different sorts of fruit cake, from the grand celebration cakes for weddings or Christmas to the more humble but nontheless delicious fruit loaf.
Into the latter category come Bara Brith and Irish Tea Bread and they always seem to follow the same basic recipe, i.e.soaking the fruit in some sort of liquid before mixing with the other ingredients.
It was at this point that I remembered a recipe mum used to make using a well known breakfast cereal.

It was one of her regular recipes and a favourite when I was growing up. I remember its slightly chewy texture and crunchy crust.
I'm not sure where mum got the recipe from, but it was probably one that she scribbled down from the back of the cereal box.
She would often tear recipes from magazines or newspapers or jot down a menu idea from something heard on the radio or television. These would be pinned to a board in the kitchen, tucked into the letter rack or popped behind an ornament on the mantlepiece. If you opened one of her cookery books more paper would flutter out, each with a little culinary note or thought.
Actually, come to think of it I do exactly the same now!

This recipe uses a mug to measure the ingredients.
The one I used had  250ml  capacity, which is just about right for a 2lb loaf.

Pre heat oven to 175c
You will need:

1 cup all bran cereal
1cup soft brown sugar
1cup dried fruit.
( I used raisins but you could use mixed fruit if you prefer.)
1 cup milk
1 cup self raising flour.

Mix the all bran cereal, the sugar and fruit in a bowl and pour over the milk.
Stir, then cover with a cloth and leave to soak for about 45 minutes.
Add the flour.
 Mix well and pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50mins to 1 hour.

And there you have it!

The recipe is very easy.
So much so that I suggested to mr digandweed, whose culinary expertise currently only extends to beans on toast, that he might like to have a go at making it next time!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

ups and downs

There have been ups....

........ the mad rhubarb plant
......... healthy strawberry plants and hopefully lots of fruit ( with a bit of luck and sunshine)

...... blackcurrant bush heavy with fruit
....... potatoes coming along nicely
but also rather too many downs ...
the french beans just about survived the hail, but were then finished off by slugs.
I planted more which  rotted before they germinated.
My third attempt are looking very small ( this time last year they were romping halfway up the canes)
and about a third of them germinated but produced no leaves.

I've no idea why.
Does anybody know?
Answers on a postcard please!
The salad crops: spinach, beetroot, spring onions and radish ( radish, I know, surely anyone can grow radish!) seem intent on not growing. Germination is very patchy.
I am putting it down to having had the coldest spring in 50 years and also very little rain.
But just as I was starting to become very glum, I chanced upon can you dig it and their hilarious songs.
If you are fighting the slugs, listen to Rap battle: gardener v slug (link on the left hand side of their website, 3rd song down) to cheer yourself up!
Happy growing!


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Delia's rhubarb crumble ice-cream

First we had rhubarb crumble, then it was rhubarb crumble cake and finally we have rhubarb crumble ice cream.

You get the picture.
 We have lots of rhubarb!

If you have read my previous post, you will know that in common with lots of people this year , our rhubarb plant has gone mad.

This recipe from Delia's Summer collection is easy and delicious.

Even without an ice cream maker, it is straightforward to make and produces delicious, soft textured ice cream ( if you remember to transfer it from freezer to fridge about 40 minutes before it is needed) with lovely crunchy crumble bits.
I reserved some of the crumble to sprinkle on top of the ice cream for added crunchiness.

And there is still some rhubarb left.
So what to do?
Rhubarb has featured on a lot of my favourite blogs at the moment.
Which shall I try? -
 Streetcomber's delicious sounding homemade rhubarb vodka
or this luscious rhubarb and fig jam from Colleen at Rus in urbis or maybe these rhubarb muffins from Debs dust bunny.
Lots of lovely inspiration;lots of lovely recipes!


Friday, 7 June 2013

rhubarb crumble cake

The rhubarb has gone mad again this year and produced a copious harvest. I'm not sure what we are doing, but whatever it is the rhubarb loves it.
However, it has also sent up countless hollow, flowering stems. I've been chopping them off  and putting them on the compost heap but apparently, according to an allotment neighbour, I've not been ruthless enough and should have been removing them right at the base.
So that is what I did.
The plant looks desolate now, but will recover I am told!

Meanwhile, our fridge and freezer is full of the stuff.
Good thing we like rhubarb.

At the weekend I made rhubarb crumble cake. I googled it and found lots of recipes.
This one used vanilla which was a nice addition.

A satisfying mix of sponge, fruit and crumble!


Saturday, 1 June 2013

take a walk on the wild side

Last night was a perfect early summer evening, warm and still.
We walked a mile or so up the road from our house to one of our favourite places.

Along the way, mr digandweed, who has a splendid singing voice, was humming the famous Lou Reed song quietly to himself, but the best musical accompaniment came from the orchestra of birds we encountered on the washes.
The plaintive melody of our evening symphony was provided by the Lapwings, to a background of  twittering from the Meadow Pipits and interspersed with percussion from the drumming of the Snipe  as they rose high in the sky before diving quickly like miniature WW1 fighter planes.
Sadly, my photographic skills were not up to capturing the teeming bird life, apart from this slightly blurred shot which I think might be a black tailed godwit in its breeding plumage -(any bird experts please correct me if I'm wrong!)

But I did manage photos of more ordinary ( and stationary!) but no less beautiful animals.


and the backdrop to our evening of magical musical theatre were the fen washlands themselves, tranquil, watery with wide open vistas.

Odd to think that only a few months ago, this landscape was flooded for up to 4 months, providing
food and refuge to thousands of other birds, who have now returned north.