This morning, Warwick had his first sighting of our Mad March Hares as they cavorted around the lawn meadow and clump field here at Mornington. Fascinated, he watched two hares as they put on their acrobatic performance, all part of their mating ritual. Rolling down the hill, squaring off against each other, racing across the face of the hill, disappear, only to shoot back in the other direction. The donkeys, Holly and Noddy, ears upright, were concentrating their gaze towards the hillside, this was the first indication that today’s performance had started. The spectacle is so riveting that coffee was late this morning!

Sadly, the timing is so unpredictable that it is difficult to have the camera at the ready, so sorry, no pics. Just great memories. Larger than the rabbit, more details about the Irish Brown Hare are available at:http://www.conserveireland.com/mammals/brown-hare.php

Lengthening daylight hours have brought bulbs and perennials out of their winter hibernation. Slowly, at the moment as we are still a having cold weather. The daffodils are still deciding whether to open and log fires are particularly welcoming in the evening. However, ‘time and tide wait for no man’, so work goes on putting the house back into shape for our ‘season’. So in between laundering, polishing and using a great deal of elbow grease we snatched a day away to The Euro Toques A.G.M. at Brooklodge, Co Wicklow. I was delighted to meet Myrtle Alan, of Ballymaloe, the great doyenne of Irish Cuisine.

Since I wrote the first part of this blog, winter has descended again! We have been fortunate that the snow has not ‘hung around’. However, the log store is going down rapidly.

More Mad March Hares descended on Mornington, last weekend, when we celebrated three family birthdays. Friends and family arrived from far and wide. We had spent days cooking, moving furniture, and, of course, making a birthday cake for, our daughter, Katy. She had particularly requested a chocolate cake just like the one’s Suzie the Cat used to like!

The Saga of the Cat who liked Chocolate Cake; Black-Eyed Suzie was eldest offspring of our first cat, Tippy Tip Toes. She was of an independent disposition, fierce ratter and endowed with great patience. Her sole aim in life was to patrol the stable yard and barns keeping them free of pesky vermin. She was an ‘outside’ cat. Her one weakness was Chocolate Chiffon Cake!

Expecting friends for tea, I had made such a cake, and had left it on the sideboard in the dining room to cool overnight. The next morning a sizeable piece of the cake was missing. Not best pleased, I am afraid I accused children, hubbie, father-in-law, anyone to hand of helping themselves. No one owned up least of all Suzie. Partially eaten cake was dispatched to the hens and a new one made for tea.

On a subsequent occasion, the same depredation of a chocolate cake took place. This time the culprit was caught virtually red-handed, she had fallen asleep next to the cake with a great chunk of the cake missing! I learned my lesson. Screens went on the kitchen window and doors were kept closed! Our cats have long departed to the ‘happy hunting ground’. Cats and guests don’t mix!

So I made a chocolate birthday cake for Katy, whilst our good friend, Kamilika of ‘Just Baked, Mullingar, made Warwick’s cake.

Birthdays 2013 030
Mad march hares
Cordalines revived after the killing frosts two years ago. Last planting of 000 white garlic
Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Cocoa ¼ Cup 1. Mix together into smooth paste.
Boiling Water 3/8 Cup 2. Allow to cool

Plain Flour ¾ Cup-Sieved 3. Sieve together dry ingredients into large bowl.
Baking Powder 2 teaspoons 4. Make well in centre of mix.
Salt ¼ teaspoon
Castor Sugar 7/8 Cup* *Hold back 1/3 Cup to use with egg whites

Egg Yolks 4 5. Make well in centre of dry ingredients.
Cooking Oil ¼ Cup 6. Put oil into well in centre of dry ingredients.
7. Add cooled cocoa mix to egg yolks and oil, etc.
8. Fold together until just mixed.

Egg whites 4 ½ Cup 9. Put into clean, dry mixing bowl.
Cream of tartar ¼ tspn. 10. Add to egg whites
11. Beat egg whites until soft peak stage
Castor Sugar 1/3 cup 12. Beat together with egg whites until stiff and forms stiff peaks
13. Fold egg whites into cocoa / flour mix, in three stages.
14. Using a spatula put mix into 9 inch spring form pan.
15. Bake at 375°f / 160°C. for 50-55min.
16. Remove from oven.
17. Cool upside down on cooling wire until cool.

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