Scones

sultana and cherry scones

Due to unforeseen circumstances I have found myself having to spend quite a bit of time over the last day or so, lounging.  Why?  Because I inadvertently stood on a very sharp thorn whilst burning the final few bits of wooden debris in the garden. Unfortunately I had flip flop style footwear on at the time which allowed the thorn to pierce both the footwear and the foot.

I am aware that I really need to address the attire I decide to wear when gardening, as those who have known me a while will attest that I have an inability to walk past a bit of greenery without it scratching me in some way.  However, every time I venture into the garden, I am convinced that, this time, I will come away unscathed. Which is why in the spring and summer months, I regularly look akin to a self harmer.

Be that as it may, I have, as a consequence, been hobbling around like an old donkey, and therefore decided to self impose restricted movement in order to allow the puncture to heal.  I would like to think this episode was life’s little way of telling me to slow down.  Others may interpret the situation differently.  Either way it has afforded me a guilt free weekend of watching all sorts of items on the television, including a plethora of cookery programmes.  A consequence of which was that this morning I made my best attempt at an omelette, ever.

*takes a small bow*

Buoyed up by this milestone of a success, this afternoon I decided to knock together a few scones for afternoon tea.  Notice the very laissez faire attitude I now have.  It’s amazing what a little minor success can do to a girl’s culinary beliefs.

Anyway, I veered away from my usual recipe and plumped for a more traditional, heavy on the flour, light on the sugar and butter based recipe, which goes like this:

450g plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 55g butter, 250ml milk.  I added sultanas and cherries but they could always be replaced by cheese, just cut out the sugar and add a little english mustard powder.

Bake in a hot oven. gas mark 7, for 10 – 12 minutes, unless you have an oven like mine in which case you will need to keep them in for around 15 – 20 minutes. They’re delicious eaten warm with butter and jam.  Or just butter.  Or just jam.

Whichever is your penchant, there is something deeply satisfying and indulgent about lazy Sunday afternoon tea and scones.

Cherry Crumble and Custard

cherry crumble and custard

Sundays always bring with them a sense of calm in our household.  We do sometimes have things to do, appointments to keep, but whatever there is going on within the day, I always try to make something a little indulgent.

Today it was cherry crumble.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, but hang on, it’s not cherry season yet…  Well this is the thing.  I did a huge cheat and opened one of those tins of morello cherries in a not too sweet sauce, and just popped a crumble on top.

Today’s crumble topping was the usual plain flour, sugar and butter combo, but I also added a tablespoonful of semolina to give it a slight biscuit feel.  I know, totally pushing the boat out.

To compliment the very lazy cherries, I made a very lazy custard using my favourite Bird’s custard powder, sugar and milk.  I have to say it is one of the most satisfying things to make as you watch it turn, very slowly, from a liquid to a solid mass. Obviously the solidity of custard depends on how much milk you use, but as the wee one is a fan of cold custard, I always make it quite thick so that when it cools you can cut through it without it falling apart.

And it is with this indulgence that we have greeted February.  The month where everything starts to notch up a gear as we all begin to feel a slight sense of spring being just around the corner.  Which is all well and good, but secretly, I’m still hoping for a snow day…

Cherry and Almond Cake

cherry and almond cake

I have decided to try and increase my baking knowledge and dip my toes in an area I am unfamiliar with, but would like to conquer.  That may be a little over optimistic. Just to present something which doesn’t taste inedible would be a start.

Of course, I am referring to the vegan family of cakes.  Actually, more specifically, vegan cakes that are not chocolate based.

And why is this?  I hear you ask.

Well, there are a few people in our lives that, for one reason or another, have opted to go down the strict vegetarian or vegan route.  Savoury food doesn’t present a problem, but I am sick and tired of having to whip something up that isn’t really in my repertoire and therefore tastes like cardboard.  Or vinegar.  Or vinegar’d cardboard.  It just seems totally unfair.

So it is to this end that I am taking the bull by the horns and forcing myself to learn. This has been made easier by recently meeting someone who runs an interesting blog called Veggie Runners. Well, interesting if you’re vegetarian and a runner, not quite so compelling if you are neither, but still, they have some great recipes, and this is one of them.

But wait, just before I reel off the ingredients, there’s something you should know. This little number has Chia seeds in it.

For those of you who may not be completely au fait with Chia, they are being hailed as one of the world’s superfoods.

A foodstuff that has an enormous amount of health properties which can only aid in making you feel tip top and Bristol fashion about almost everything.  I would list those properties here but it would take too long, so just click on Chia and read up on them yourself.  Suffice to say they are linked to the Mayans.  Chia being the Mayan word for ‘strength’. You make up your own mind.

So, the ingredients are as follows:

250ml soya milk, 125ml vegetable oil, 225ml soya yoghurt, 70g glace cherries, 250g plain flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 175g brown sugar, 100g ground almonds, 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Whisk the vegetable oil, soya milk and sugar together until frothy then add all the other ingredients.  Mix.  Pour into a greased and lined tin – one of those rectangular ‘tray bake’ style ones – and put into the oven gas mark 4 for 30 – 35 minutes.

It is at this juncture that I have to admit to not using the original flavourings (go to veggie runners and check it out) of rosewater and pistachio nuts, however, to be honest, you could use any combination you fancied.  We just happen to like almond and cherry.  Although after the following conversation, it may just be me.

Wee boy: Ooo cherries

Me: would you like one?

WB: yes please

Eats a cherry

WB: so mummy, what are these?

Anyway, when you bring it out of the oven, let it cool before turning out onto the rack.  It has a similar density and texture to what my auntie Sheilagh used to call tea bread, but does genuinely taste delicious and, to my delight, there is absolutely no after taste of cardboard or vinegar.

We put a very plain liquid icing sugar topping on, and covered in cherries.

You could do whatever takes your fancy.

Eating Cherries

Image

I absolutely love that summertime feeling.  You know the one?  When the sun is shining and it feels warm enough to heat your bones. The sky glows with hope, and everyone you meet has a spring in their step, and a smile on their face.  Well, almost everyone.

The thing is, where I live you can never bank on this sensation in the summer months.  We spend weeks prior to the official start of summer, full of expectation. Then the topic of conversation, which starts around mid April, begins to swerve slightly to the possibility of it being a ‘good summer’.  Of course someone, somewhere will inevitably make a reference to a bygone year, when it truly was a hot one.  Usually the summer of ’76, which just happens to be the first year our family had a summer holiday abroad.

And with this expectation, comes the delight of summer fruits.  All through the winter, and even into spring, we sashay around the fruits on offer, and as enjoyable as they are, by the time strawberries start to show their faces it’s a blessed relief. Not that I have anything against apples, pears, oranges and the like, but the rosy red berries, when they begin to make an appearance, are always an indication that we have officially strolled into summer.  Even when it’s pouring with rain.

So today, in honour of the sunshine and all things summer, we indulged in one of my favourite fruits for the first time.  Cherries.  Plump, deep red, sweet succulent spheres of juicy fabulousness that insist on staining your fingers, face and clothes with absolute gay abandon.

Therefore, it is in honour of this glorious fruit that I have dedicated todays post. Thank-you cherries, you’ve made my day.  And to all those birds that eat our own cherries from the cherry tree at the bottom of the garden before we even get a look in, enjoy.

Generous to a fault, me.

*polishes halo*