Spring in full bloom

March 9, 2015

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

After a slow start the snowdrops have bloomed and we are waiting for the daffodils to come into flower. We were a little fearful that we might lose some after the ‘big move’ they made last year. We needed to move snowdrops and daffodil bulbs last winter to make room for the three large tanks which needed to be installed as part of our new waste water facility. So we lifted the bulbs to fresh ground and whilst there may need to be a little adjustment after they have flowered this year they have weathered the move well. As a great deal of clearing of undergrowth has also taken place we can now see those snowdrops hidden for recent years now they are in full bloom . We do need to try to remove more of the brambles which have thrived as we have concentrated on the walled garden.

 

 

Renovation of the Stables

The renovation of the stables is moving on as the ground floor has been tiled and the floorboards will be going down  upstairs over the next two weeks. We think this project has been a veritable modern minor miracle.  The  building once the hub of farm life here to virtual dereliction had taken years. When we returned from Canada it was full of old farm equipment, my late mother-in-laws car, old working saddles, travel trunks  and many other ‘items’ which were designated as being ‘might be useful at some time. Needless to say all has been move  or disposed off. The studios will be available for use by guests or for rent by others. Indeed they will be suitable as a destination and use for small boutique weddings or other family gatherings. More news will be posted on our website once the project is complete.

 

Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy

Jams and Chutneys

On a cold and chilly February morning there is nothing more rewarding than making a batch of jam or chutney or jam. Once we had cleaned the freezer and counted the bags of fruit still waiting to be used. we set to work to make some strawberry and raspberry jams to restock the store cupboard. The smell of the jams as they cook welcomes neighbours as they drop in for a chat.

Raspberry Jam

1 kg. Raspberries

1 kg. Granulated sugar or preserving sugar

Method

  1. Prepare jam jars by washing if necessary and put into oven at 100°C
  2. Place raspberries into a heavy based saucepan.
  3. Using a potato masher crush the raspberries to release the juice.
  4. Add a small hazel nut sized lump of butter.
  5. Heat the fruit and stir in the sugar. Making sure that all the grains are dissolved before bringing the mix to a rolling boil.
  6. Boil for 4-5 minutes until setting pint is reached.
  7. To check for setting draw pot from heat, put a little jam on a plate and allow to cool. Jam should wrinkle when pushed or form a flake when poured off a wooden spoon rather than steady drops.

 

Frosty morning-4th February'15 011

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Bluebells and Apple blossom

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets May is upon us

Coming to Ireland? Plan to include s visit to a Food Fair or Farmer’s Markets.  The season of Food Fairs  May is ‘High Season’ for food fairs in Ireland. From The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine to be held 16th-18th May 2014; to

The Sheridan’s Food Festival http://tinyurl.com/lfx3ram From Ballymaloe to Cavan http://tinyurl.com/n9xwvy2

From Multyfarnham to Mayo  Irish food is celebrated. Our recommendation to any person visiting or living in Ireland is to include at least one Food Fair in your itinerary. Celebrate Irish Food and go to a Food Fair in May where Irish food is being celebrated. It is a great way of meeting some of Ireland’s best known or top chef’s.

Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant is appearing both in Ballymaloe and at Sheridan’s Food Fair in Co. Cavan

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

For lists of Food fairs and farmers Markets For links to sites http://goodfoodireland.ie/markets irishvillagemarkets.ie http://www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/guidetofoodmarkets.aspx The season began at Easter here in Multyfarnham with their Country Fair.By all accounts it was a great sale.

Multyfarnham Country Fair

The next Multyfarnham Country Fair is to be held on 28th & 29thJune 2014 at the time the National Cycling Championships which are to be held in Tyrellspass and Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

Bumper Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14 

Parish Flower Sale- Apr'14

Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14

Bumper Cake  and Plant Sale is to be held Saturday,  17th May’14, at All Saint’s Church, Mullingar,

A Busy Garden 

Taking a moment to perch on the patio wall and watch the many birds finding food for their young. It is non stop activity. Nests are well hidden, though as you walk around the garden you may hear the calls of fledglings as you pass by. The  blackbird nesting in one of the yew arches is seemngly oblivious to our passing. Whilst we ignore any noises and resist the temptation of taking a peek! Occasionally a break is taken and you are stopped in your tracks by a bird in full song. This morning, I stopped and had difficulty identifying the bird.

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Lawns mowed, edges shaggy, need clipping!

 

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Is this a chaffinch?

 

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Asparagus , elephant garlic and artichokes share a bed!

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Garlic and shallots were planted last autumn

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Apple blossom and Bbubells

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Overgrown grass laughing now mower belt needs replacing!

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Off to pick flowers

”Are you busy on the 1st of March?” A simple question which elicited another simple question “why?” Our daughter and fiancé had decided to get married! In such a simple way, the advent of a wonderful day was announced. Ferry tickets booked, wedding cake made,  house sitters arranged, an alarm call booked and the morning of departure arrived.

Katy on the way to her wedding

Katy on the way to her wedding

So on the 1st March, St. David’s Day, we waited to take Katy to her wedding. On the way out of the hotel, she was serenaded by the Flint Male Voice choir who were also staying in the hotel. I do not think any bride could have received a more rousing send off. Particularly appropriate as her great grandfather, Evan Evans, was Welsh. As the young couple are living and working in England, they opted for a small family wedding near to their new home in Cumbria. It gave Warwick and I the opportunity to visit an area that we have visited a number of times in the past.

Katy and John in Cartmel

Katy and John in Cartmel

1238120_10152058124626220_679439364_n Walking to reception

Walking to the reception

1798616_10152058134926220_606723512_n Wedding Cake

Katy and John’s Wedding cake with shamrocks and roses

 

Portion of wedding cake

Portion of wedding cake served to guests

* I am including the recipe for the gluten free cake later in the blog.

Another Great Celebration

Last Saturday, nerves jangling and kept sitting on the edge of our seats as the Irish rugby team edged towards a win against France and at the same time winning this year’s  Six Nations Championship. For Brian O’Driscoll, it was his last match in an Irish Jersey so we were already in great spirits on St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, St. Patrick’s Day was an occasion to pack up the car and travel either to the local parade with uniforms and tin whistles or to Pony Club hunter Trials. This year, it was spent in the garden cutting shrubs back as we get ready for the opening of our season and the arrival of our first guests. All day long, we were serenaded by a robin, who hopped from branch to branch, occasionally, dropping down onto the freshly turned soil to hunt for worms or other tasty morsels. At one point, there was a quick scuffle in one bush as two cock robins ‘squared off ‘ against each other. Fighting for territory, no doubt. Dispute over and the hunt for food continued.

Cock Robin, the entertainer in the 'Sheep'snose' apple tree.

Cock Robin, the entertainer,  in the ‘Sheep’snose’ apple tree.

Potato Plantinag and St. Patrick’s Day

Country people traditionally begin planting potatoes about the time of St. Patrick’s Day, beginning with  ‘first earlies’,  Main crop potatoes are planted later. However, the  seed potatoes, we had ‘ chitted’ in February had developed good shoots, so they were planted last week. We laid the potatoes out in tray and covered them with newspapers to keep out the light. In Warwick’s father’s time the men on the farm would sit in the harness room or the coach-house and cut some of the previous year’s potatoes into pieces, ensuring that each piece had shoot buds.This would usually be done in February and was dirty, cold work.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

The Renovation takes shape.

Faced with a semi derelict stable block apparently in terminal decline we took a big step in deciding to convert it into Studios and Exhibition spaces. In partnership with Leader, we started to halt that decline which we began by emptying the stable block last autumn. (see November’s Blog). Now re-roofed with some of the original and other salvaged slates; new floors have been poured  and the plumbing and electrical systems are going in. The project is heading towards completion.  The plan is to  provide facilities for guests staying in the house and other similar accommodation operators in the area.  For small business meetings, family events, possibly even small weddings.

Clumps of daffodils moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Clumps of daffodils and snowdrops  moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Daffodils in Lady's walk wood

Daffodils in Lady’s walk wood

Saffodils 005

Next landscaping project is to conceal lids of tanks!

February Filldyke, once the old name for the month of  February, has been particularly apt this year as dykes or ditches are not only full but overflowing. Poets have written many poems linking weather to months of the year. The Loughan or Pond at Mornington Cottage empty at Christmas is now is filling up.

Baked Lemon Souffle

Baked Lemon Soufflé Recipe is at Bottom of page.

Living in the Midlands of Ireland, we have been spared the storms and resulting high tides that have occurred in the much of the coastal areas of the country.

Builders replacing the roof on the stable block have been blessed to escape the worst of the weather. It is wonderful to see the old building being restored. Old slates have been recycled  for the roof. Old blocked up window spaces have been opened and we are waiting for windows to go in. The plan is to create four studios or exhibition spaces which can be rented out to artists, craft workers or small business meetings. We hope to have the project completed by St. Patrick’s Day. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

South side of Stable Block-Feb'14

South side of Stable Block-Feb’14

Vegetable Gardening 2014

In the last few years growing our own vegetables has become rewarding; it has provided the kitchen with a variety of fresh vegetables for family and guests. Frustratingly, success cannot be guaranteed and can vary from year to year. In 2011 the parsnips were gigantic, whilst in 2013, the crop was disappointingly stunted. This was probably due to the lack of rain in the winter of 2012-2013.

Can you have too much garlic or too many onions?

Onions in Raised bed.

Onions in Raised bed.

I have just been told that we have planted too many garlic and onion sets! So as our crop rotation plan needs to be changed. Now we must work out where the rest of the vegetables can be grown. It may be necessary to plough a patch of ground outside the garden for potatoes and root crops.In the ‘old days’ a patch of ground would be ploughed for oats and barley and for ridges* of potatoes and root crops for the ‘house’**

Pepper and tomato seeds need to be planted this month so we have already purchased and planted same.
Seed potatoes need to be ‘chitted’ this month. Tired of loosing potatoes to blight we have used a variety of ‘blight-resistant’ potatoes for the past three years with great success. Most garden centres and some traditional hardware stores will be carrying them at the moment. Interestingly the main seed companies appear to have an increased selection of such varieties this year.
Shallots and onion sets should be available from the end of the month.
Seeds can be expensive so share your seedlings with friends. Do you really need 40 chilli pepper plants? If not pass on or ‘swop’ the extras on with friends.
It is not too late to split herbaceous plants.
Do check the roots of exchanged plants for weevils and other pests before planting out.
Only a few of the broad bean plants planted out in November have survived this winter, so I plan to start some more in pots in the greenhouse.
We enjoy the sweet early broad beans cooked in very little water with a little butter, salt and pepper and a handful golden oregano leaves.Herb bed needs weeding.

Herb bed needs weeding.

The herb bed with parsley, thyme, rosemary and fennel showing between the weeds.The soil in the new herb bed has sunk down so more top soil will be needed to be added.

Perpetual spinach and Ruby Chard

Perpetual Spinach and Ruby Chard

Perpetual spinach and ruby chard are still being cut for use in the kitchen as are the red cabbage and leeks. We still have parsnips to dig which will probably be served to the donkeys as they are too small for kitchen use.

Globe artichokes have survived thus far!

Globe artichokes have survived thus far!

Globe artichokes appear to have wintered well, so hope there are no late frosts to kill the leaves.

Remains of a pigeon

Remains of a pigeon

“Nature is red in tooth and claw” The remains of a pigeon killed by a hawk lie on the grass between two of the raised beds.

A cock robin sings his heart out from the top of an apple tree.

A cock robin sings his heart out from the top of an apple tree.

A cock Robin singing his heart out in the Worcester Pearman apple tree. The apple trees will need to be pruned in the next week or two; before the sap starts to rise. They also need to be sprayed with dormant spray to prevent codling moths.

Be ready for Shrove Tuesday this year (pancake day)

Shrove Tuesday will be upon us in a couple of weeks.  Here is a contribution to your recipe file.

Lemon soufflé filled crêpes

Lemon soufflé filled crêpes

Lemon Souffle filled pancakes
Lemon Souffle filled pancakes

The rock wood on the side of Knockbody in full autumn colour.

The rock wood on the side of Knockbody in full autumn colour.

We have been blessed with an an ‘Indian Summer’; a period of bright clear days of milder weather. One night of frost and the trees in the Rock Wood have donned their autumn colours. It has been an opportunity to catch up in the garden Work had been delayed by a massive clear-out of the old stable block as we began it’s restoration.Old farm machinery, tractor parts, bedsteads, incubators, horsehair mattresses, butter churn, and a 1961 Vauxhall Victor ‘One Owner’ car.(Warwick’s mother’s car)

Granny's Old Car

Granny’s Old Car

Renovation of the stable block long planned was finally beginning.

Fortunately and coincidentally, our local Community Centre in Multyfarnham held a Scrap Saturday so several trailer loads of old drainpipes, tractor parts, feed bins, paint tins, barbed wire and even Warwick’s old pram headed off to Multy. More trailer loads of recyclables were taken to the Recycling Centre in Mullingar.

Warwick's old pram

Warwick’s old pram

Work has continued steadily. Old slates which had already fallen into one section of the stables were rescued and other parts of the roof taken down. Removal of the panelling in the Harness Room revealed a mass of wheat and oat bran left by the mice which had obviously taken up residence there.The loft above the stables was used to store the bags of wheat, oats and barley after ‘threshing’. The hoist used for lifting the bags of grain into the loft was removed several years ago and stored in the garage. It is still in working order and we plan to install it in the stables once renovated.

Harness Room clearout

Spaces between the batons behind the panelling were full of bran.

Bran left by generations of mice beneath the panelling in the harness room

Bran left by generations of mice beneath the panelling in the harness room

1st Nov;13 010

The stable roof has been removed. Slates saved will be reused in the on the new roof.

Scaffolding on the southside of stableblock

Scaffolding on the southside of stableblock

Halloween

Young callers on Halloween had us completely foxed as to their identity.

Halloween guests whosev completely fooled us as to thir identity

Halloween guests whosev completely fooled us as to their identity

Updating the Septic Tank

Last year Ireland implemented an inspection system for septic tanks. The existing tank installed in 1896 and updated in 1987,  has been deemed unsuitable, so a new sophisticated tank is being installed. Indeed the team are currently working under floodlights!

The project has involved creating a massive percolation field as well as digging a massive hole. Several young trees, roses and shrubs have needed moving and branches cut, to allow access for the digger.

So no doubt we will be left with piles of soil to move and landscaping to be done.

Digging to Australia? No, only hole for new septic tank.

Digging to Australia? No, only hole for new septic tank.

Tank being lowered into ground

Tank being lowered into ground

Christmas Mincemeat

Ingredients for mincemeat

As children, the approach of Christmas was announced not by a massive television advertising campaign but by bowls of dried fruit being stirred as we each made a wish. Steam filled kitchens as the Christmas puddings were boiled seemingly for days. Always with the instruction not to let the pot go dry! These days we continue making our pudding and mincemeat for mince pies. Indeed we have a cookie jar from Canada which is used for storage when deemed the mix has been stirred enough. It is veritably’ pickled’ with  a drop of ‘the hard stuff”

The following recipe is one we have been using for years. Each year we make a batch of our own mincemeat

Mincemeat

(Makes 6-8lb)

1 ½ lb. stoned raisins

1 ½ lb. currants

1 ½ lb  suet*

3 large  lemons (rind and juice)

2lb       soft brown or muscovada sugar

8oz.      mixed peel

2lb       large apples peeled and grated

3Tbsp orange marmalade

8 floz.  Brandy or whiskey

Method

  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir every day for a week.
  3. Put into jars and store for at least a month to ensure development of flavour.

*Vegetable suet is available from Atora

May Day arrived and warmth in the sun has brought the wild flowers into bloom. Primroses, violets and bluebells are carpeting the wood. I spotted a clump of wood anemones in the lady’s walk wood this morning as we explored to check whether the wild bluebells were in flower.

may weekend 006

I am delighted to say they were.

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The leaves are finally opening creating the ‘forty shades of green’ so often referred to in Irish writings.

Warwick has been busy in the garden planting seeds and weeding the onions and garlic planted last autumn; whilst Adam, our gardener, has been rotovating the soil of the vegetable beds.  Weeding fills any spare time.

Holly watching Warwick approaching with a bucket of carrots.

Holly watching Warwick approaching with a bucket of carrots.

Last Tuesday I headed to Ravensburg’s Nurseries in Clara, Co. Offaly to purchase a few replacement shrubs. Their magnolias were in full flower and the air was full of their perfume.

Magnolias in Flower at Ravensburg's Nuseries. Clara, Co. Offaly.

Magnolias in flower at Ravensburg’s Nuseries. Clara, Co. Offaly.

On the way back to Mornington we stopped at Kilbeggan Distillery for a light lunch. The car and coach park was full with tourist coaches. The distillery was purchased recently by the U.S. Company Jim Beam.

www.kilbeggandistillery.com

Kilbeggan Distillery

Kilbeggan Distillery

On Wednesday we were back in the car again and this time we headed to Co. Wexford and to Kilmokea, another member of The Hidden Ireland. We travelled on the N7/ M7, a new motorway thus avoiding  Carlow and Kilkenny. Arriving at Kilmokea is always wonderful as their fruit trees and magnolias were all in full flower and the air was fragrant with their perfume.

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www.kilmokea.com

Frustration on Friday

Attempting to pass Dexter the gardener’s dog in the space between a box hedge and the greenhouse I manage to crash into the greenhouse!!!! The left-hand front wheel promptly fell off!!!!! So I was marooned!  Gravel and wheelchairs are not compatible! So I was pushed back to the house rather than being able to make my own way. The wheel bolt has been replaced and I am mobile once more!

Spring has finally arrived.
April showers and blustery milder weather has announced Spring is finally here. Growth has been very slow, so the donkeys took matters into their own hooves. Breaking through the electric fencing tapes they have had a great time grazing on the newly emerged perennial geranium leaves, pulmonaria and other tasty morsels in the front bed.

Noddy and Holly look as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

Noddy and Holly look as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.

As we emerge from short days of winter to the longer daylight hours of April we have been spending more time in the garden. In the past we have almost been able to tell the date by looking at the plants which have emerged. Snowdrops, often visible in the new year, Daffodils, if not in bloom by Warwick’s mother’s birthday certainly by his own birthday in early March. Primroses, violets and then bluebells all followed in quick succession. Not this year! So at in the middle of April the daffodils have only just emerged into full flower and the wild flowers are still to open fully. With the Gulf Stream back in it’s usual place we have the promise of milder, sunny, showery April days. So it has been “all hands to the plough” so to speak to get the garden in order.

I have just been reminded that this year The Festival of Fires presents Gathering at Uisneach at The Uischneach Inn on  4th  & 5th  May.  Not on the The Hill of Uisneach but at the bottom of the hill at The  Uisneach Inn in Kilare, Co. Westmeath. There will be a 2-day celebration of music, culture and more For details of this exciting event see: http://festivaloffires.com/

On Sunday, 5th May at 11.30a.m. Multyfarnham Country Fair will be taking place in the village park opposite the Catholic Church. Stalls range from jams, chutneys and cakes to chicken, ducks and turf.

A fine cockerel or sale at  Multyfarnham Country Fair

A fine cockerel or sale at Multyfarnham Country Fair

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Newly emerged early rhubarb

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Noddy after rolling in dry leaves

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Blustery day in walled garden at Mornington

Walled Garden Notes

The chitted potatoes have been planted in the walled garden. More potatoes were planted in a newly ploughed area outside the chicken house. Only after the job was done to have our very kind neighbour call in to tell us that as he hadn’t been satisfied the job he had done the first tim, so  he had come back and cross ploughed and harrowed again. Resulting with potatoes no longer in ridges!!!! No doubt they will still come up.

Beetroot and seeds for vegetables and herbs are all planted.

The greenhouse has been tidied and moss removed from the outside of the roof.

Rhubarb and ginger jam is in the process of being made.

Margaret and Julia

Margaret and Julia were friends. Each week, Margaret would mount her ‘sit up and beg’ bicycle and head off to meet her friend Julia. They had first met when working as members of the staff at Ballinagall House. Working from early morning they would have dusted, polished, laid tables, served trays of afternoon tea in the conservatory or small drawing room and polished the brass stair rails weekly.  Ballinagall displayed the finest of Irish craftsmanship and was owned by the Smyth family. In Irish houses, just as in Downtown Abbey, history brought about changes in the fortunes of landed families and the next generation was not always in a position to take on responsibility for the ‘family place’. So after Mrs Smyth’s death the estate was sold, furniture auctioned and staff retired.

When I first saw it it the front door was hanging open, the enormous gilt mirrors were standing propped against the wall in the front hall. Where the gentry had once danced at The Westmeath Hunt Ball, someone had tried to remove the ornamental stone slabs of the floor apparently with mixed success. The brass stair rails were still in place and the fine shamrock plasterwork of the library ceiling still beautiful, although showing evidence of damp; forecasting its’ ignominious end on the floor below. The ornamental lake in the land below the house was long drained, and was now being grazed by cattle, or used for growing barley.

The shelves of the butler’s pantry still housed the remnants of the Meissen and other fine china dinner and tea services which had once been used for the dinner parties and afternoon tea for the ladies. Overlooked by the auctioneers who had catalogued the contents of the house for “The Auction”, the odd cups were being taken over to the stud manager’s house to be used by manager and his wife. Better that they had the dignity of coming to the end of their days ‘in service’ than that they ended in a pile of broken china as the roof finally fell in.

However, back to Julia and Margaret’s story. After Mrs Smyth’s death it was arranged that Julia would go to work for Mrs Harvey Kelly at Clonhugh, whilst Margaret would go to Mrs O’Hara at Mornington. So Julia and her belongings were collected in a donkey and cart and driven over to Clonhugh by young neighbours. Margaret, her bicycle and all her belongings came to Mornington.
The two ladies would meet up each week on their ‘half day’, taking it in turns to mount their ‘sit up and beg’ cycles and ride fearlessly, through the country lanes to each others ‘houses’. There they would ‘take tea’, enjoy the latest ‘chat’* It was on such an occasion that I first met Julia. Margaret had  invited me into to meet ‘her friend’, to take tea and sample her home made cake specially made for the occasion. So on a sunny August afternoon, after a morning of great flurry  in the main kitchen; with a even more  ‘toing and frowing’ after lunch, all was ready. So on the stroke of four o’clock  as instructed by my mother in law I knocked on the door of the servant’s hall and entered to take tea.

*local gossip

‘sit up and beg’ was a type of bicycle often used by women. They were very heavy but allowed a woman to ride in skirts.

Pancakes for Everyone

February 9, 2013

Pancake Day is next week

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day as it is probably better known is on 12th February 2013

Mum’s pancakes were always the best! I have fond memories of arriving home from school on a cold February afternoon in Yorkshire, my mother was sitting on a stool in front of the open fire cooking pancakes. Served piping hot with lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar, they were scrumptious. I believe we ate so many that we couldn’t eat any supper that night.

Pancakes by hand

Pancakes by hand are easy to make.

Here is the basic recipe for the pancakes my mother made.

8oz Plain flour
2 eggs
1/2-3/4 pint milk*

*This will depend on the type of flour used. some fkours are more absorbent than others

Method

  1. Using a large mixing bowl wooden spoon or wire whisk.
  2. Sieve flour into mixing bowl.
  3. Make well in centre and break eggs into well.
  4. Beat eggs and a little milk in centre of well incorporating more flour gradually.
  5. Add remaining milk gradually to make a smooth batter.
  6. Adjust consistency by adding a little more milk at a time.
  7. Allow batter to ‘stand’ for at least an hour*.
  8. * Much better if you can cover bowl of batter and allow to rest overnight.
  9. The batter will thicken and any lumps will come to the surface.
  10. Remove any lumps by pressing against side of bowl.
A food processor can be used to make pancake batter for crepes

A food processor can be used to make pancake batter for pancakes.

  • To cook pancakes
  • Heat frying pan on a medium / high heat, add a little oil or other fat .
  • Pour batter onto hot frying pan. It is a good idea to use a ladle or small container to take batter from bowl.
  • Swirl batter around pan to cover whole base or use back of soup ladle to spread batter across base of frying pan.
  • Allow surface to dry out, edges of pancake will begin to pull away from frying pan, enabling you to put a spatula or turner under the pancake to see the other side.
  • If it is speckled then you can turn it and dry the other side of the pancake.
  • Turn onto a warmed plate.
Pancakes served with lemon juice and sugar

Pancakes served with lemon juice and sugar

Frying pans

Selection of frying pans used in the kitchen at Mornington House

The large black cast iron frying pan was purchased from Simpson Sears in Burnaby, B.C. Canada many years ago. Just five days after I arrived in the country. It travelled with us on camping trips from Northern B.C. through Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Alberta. Used for cooking breakfast, spaghetti sauces, pies and even cakes. It  is has been a faithful servant in our kitchen.The shiny pan on the right is a much used omelette pan; also used for cooking thin crêpes.The other two pans are recently acquired and have non-stick surfaces.

Surprisingly we have relatively little  kitchen equipment. There is only home in the kitchen here at Mornington if a pan or saucepan can perform several tasks. There is no room on the shelves or in the cupboards for a ‘space taker’ with no regular function.

World wide Pancakes 

Every country makes pancakes, crepes, blinis, hot cakes, the names are endless. Teaching in a Canadian high-school with it’s multi ethnic mix of Canadians exploring @pancakeday was always educational. Students were asked to bring a ‘family recipe’ to use to make pancakes. The variety of different pancakes was enormous. From chapatis to Tacos, blinis and It helped to demonstrate the similarities between our traditions rather than our diversities. I loved teaching.
Nowadays, I enjoy sharing recipes and experiences with our friends, family and guests.
We find that little people love making their own pancakes.
The following recipe is the one used by Warwick for breakfast pancakes. (n.b. in Canada these are called ‘Hot Cakes’)

Warwick’s Pancakes

         1 ½ Cup Plain Flour
         2 tsp Baking Powder
    or 1½ cups Self Raising Flour
         2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
        3Tbsp. Cooking Oil or melted butter
        2 Eggs – Beaten
        ¾ -1Cups Milk

Method

  1. Measure flour
  2. Mix dry ingredients and sift together
  3. Beat eggs, add milk and oil or melted butter.
  4. Add liquid to dry ingredients, slowly, to prevent lumps forming; stir do not beat.
  5. Heat a griddle or frying pan: to test temperature sprinkle with a few drops of water if they dance the pan is ready.
  6. With sufficient fat in the recipe and a good pan, no extra fat will be necessary.
  7. If the first pancakes sticks, a small amount of fat maybe added before each lot of pancakes are cooked.
  8. Pour batter onto pan allow about ¼ cup for each pancake.
  9. Bubbles will come to the surface, when first bubbles begin to burst and stay open, flip over with a pancake turner or spatula.
  10. Put pancakes onto warm plate and keep warm in oven.
  11. Serve immediately.

Makes 14-16 pancakes 4-5 inches in diameter.

Serve with maple or blueberry syrup

Happy Cooking

Our New Year resolution was to read the books we received for Christmas. So books now all read and there is an overwhelming need to stop being a ‘couch potatoes’ and get on with ‘things’.’Things’ is a wonderfully all-encompassing word, which covers many tasks. On this occasion it includes tidying the garden ready for guests, pruning roses, cutting down the last of the herbaceous plants, pruning apple trees,  having the donkeys feet and teeth trimmed, sorting sheets and pillowcases, making marmalade  and planting young oak trees grown from acorns, etc.etc.etc!. Quite a mixumgatherum of chores!

Easter week 2 030

Anthony, the blacksmith came and trimmed Holly and Noddy’s feet last week. I gather it was quite a struggle! Noddy takes exception to anyone going near his feet. The following day Mark, the vet came in his role as dentist.  Neither donkey could be persuaded to come anywhere near the barn, so the job was put off until the following day. Mark only being called once the reluctant pair were actually in the barn and the gate closed! It reminded me of one of my early visits to Mornington when I attempted to get close to the work horses, Betty, Colley and Joseph. Once I climbed over the fence and began to slowly walk towards them with a pan of oats the threesome took off to the other side of the Lawn Meadow. So much for the offering of oats!

Work horses at Mornington

Betty and foal Joseph. Work horses were bred at Mornington

In the garden, the garlic, shallots and onions planted last autumn are now showing their first shoots.The broad beans appear to have survived thus far. The rhubarb is well on the way, the translucent stems a flash of colour in an otherwise dull day. I’m looking forward to it’s sharp taste in the first dish of oven poached rhubarb; we serve with yoghurt and granola for breakfast.

March pics 008

 

 

Celebrating Christmas 2012

January 1, 2013

  

Yet another Christmas has come and passed into memories preserved on i-pads, i-phones and yes even cameras. Events carefully planned are over and gone. only the half consumed boxes of truffles left, sitting on the desk in the library, waiting to be offered to any caller not on a New Year de-tox! Meanwhile, the bluetits and finches are keeping Warwick busy refilling the containers on the bird feeder. The house is quieter now as our young have returned to their workplaces. So we are kept busy walking, keeping the fire fed and reading the books given to us for Christmas.
We are always so pleased when our daughter and son can manage to get back ‘home’* to Mornington for Christmas. As Christmas Day itself was to be celebrated with the Peters Family at Ladestown House Stables, we decided to catch up on some family entertaining with a Curry Lunch Party on Sunday, 23rd December.

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Curry Lunch 2012 008

Trifle

Traditional puddings – Trifle, mincepies,  florentines,   chocolate roulade, apple tart and meringues

Late afternoon sun in the orchard and a treat of carrot sticks for Holly and Noddy.

Donkeys and carrots-2012 002

Full of good intentions I had planned to finish this blog before 2012 ended, however, the ‘glitch gremlin’ got in the way and I managed to delete an almost completed blog to the dustbin of history; so I decided to look again at some of the photographs taken from the front steps at Mornington in 2012.

Coffee morning 2012 002

September dawn over Knock Eyon

Marrows and courgettes 2012

A great crop of marrows and courgettes 2012