Friday, 26 September 2008

Time To Breathe

It's Friday.

A half hour solitary retreat after dinner.

Happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Barm Brack

As promised. A recipe.

Barm Brack, or Bara Brith in Wales, means Speckled Bread, and is basically a Tea Brack. It is a traditional fruit cake, somewhere between bread and cake, that is eaten at Halloween, and as children, we were enticed to eat it because of the money and the ring that were hidden inside it! Whoever finds the ring will be the first to marry.

You will find recipes that use yeast but bread soda would have been more traditional. This recipe uses baking powder. It also has the addition of lemon and orange zest which would not have been traditional.

As well as the ring for marriage it would also have had: (all wrapped in greaseproof paper)
a coin for wealth
a small piece of cloth for poverty
a pea for plenty
a thimble for a spinster
a button for a bachelor
a matchstick to beat your husband/wife (imagine!!!)

You can guess why most of these have fallen by the wayside...


12oz mixed fruit like raisins and sultanas.
6oz fructose or 8oz sugar.
300ml hot, strong tea.
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
5oz brown flour, 
4oz white flour, (I use spelt)
1 and a quarter tsp baking powder
1 medium egg.

Pour the hot tea over the fruit and sugar and leave over night in the fridge.

The next day stir in the zest.

In a large bowl mix the flours and baking powder, and then add the fruit and the soaking liquid.
Stir in the egg and mix it well.

Turn it into a lined and greased loaf tin, level the surface, and bake it for about an hour and a half at 150c.

I'm lucky I got to photograph this before it was all eaten! Hence the dodgy quality of this pic. It's best eaten thickly sliced with real butter and a big mug of tea. 
Now there's one of my favourite combinations ever. Yum...!

It's also good enough to throw into a cake tin and present it as cake. I make a thin glaze of icing sugar and enough milk to make a slightly runny icing, and if you have it, a drop of orange essence. 
I'd love to hear what you think if you get a chance to try this! 

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Autumn Equinox

The time when day and night are of equal length, after which we will be looking to the darkening evenings. In another few weeks is the changing of the clocks, and the closing in of Autumn, wrapping around us, lulling us, inviting us to stay by the fire and put our feet up and pull out our knitting, this book, that project. Seduced by cosiness!

It's also the second harvest, a time of Thanksgiving, and it's at times like this I long for a garden that produces food. I think about it often, and cannot imagine how we could fit it into our busy life. But we did it, in a small way, before, and we can do it again. With baby steps.

So , for the time being I'll leave you with a peep at our Autumn table-in-progress.

And tomorrow I'll have a yummy recipe to share, which is a seasonal treat from this part of the world.

So, here's to a time of balance and bounty!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

A Gathering of Family

Today the sun was shining. A longed-for clear blue sky, warm sunshine and a gathering of family.

A table-full of food,

a sunny, familiar corner,

and nothing to do but hang out and eat and talk.

It was almost perfect.

Save the missing Stateside dears, both North and South!

Fairy Traps

This is what I found in the garden yesterday when some little friends came for a play. When questioned I was told they are Fairy Traps. The mushrooms are held up by sticks. Underneath the mushrooms are bits of tortilla chips. These are to lure the fairies in, and then the fairies will " bump against the sticks, knock down the mushrooms, and be trapped underneath".
Then Julia, aged four, skipping around near by, pipes up and says: "And we'll have pet fairies then and I'll have a baby one".

Oh, such magic and innocence!

Milkmoon Circle Gathering

Last night, an evening of calm stitchery and friends. It's three weeks since last we met and in that time the evening has drawn in and the dusk had fled the garden by the time they arrived, leaving only a resonant glow in the deep sky.

Each of us had a quiet project to work on and there's nothing like the murmur of friendly voices and laughter to while away an evening.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Turning Year

The days are busy now. There is a sense of purpose in the Autumn that is not there in the Summer. The Summer being a time to just do whatever comes along. A time of living in the present. Each day decides what will happen. It is an easy time, a time to enjoy the bounty of the year, when all things are at their ripest, their fullest.

The Autumn starts to creep in with little sneaking thoughts that things will soon need doing. The feeling gathers quiet momentum as the coming winter is planned for. I have been accused of rudely ushering Summer out the door in favour of Autumn. (Although this year, I'm not quite so eager as I'm sure you've gathered by now!) So, a time of activity is at hand. A walk up the lane will soon become a a dwadling gathering of blackberries. A walk on the beach becomes a collection of driftwood. All around there is a sense of a bustle of activity as we begin to store and preserve for the coming hibernation.

In about ten days is the Celtic festive season of Mabon. Also known as the Equinox. A time of equal light and dark. A time of balance. And most importantly, a time of thanksgiving.

I do hope to have lots of favourite recipes to share with you over the next little while as my kitchen definitely comes into it's own this season! And hopefully a peep at some makings that are being made.

What will you be doing this coming season?

Monday, 1 September 2008

First Day At 'Big' School.

So off he went, as happy as could be. Well ready to go and only one or two wobbly moments. And I think that's why I wasn't emotional about it. I can tell he won't look back!

Of course, the first day back meant sunshine and blue skies, so seeing as they were finished early we headed down to the beach for a few hours with some friends.

Until the rainclouds blew in again! But only briefly. I do hope it's here to stay for a while.