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

Weddings and Marquees on the lawn at Mornington House. It had always been a ‘lovely idea’ to hold a family wedding on the front lawn at Mornington. Once, we had thought it would be our daughter’s wedding… However, it was our son, Patrick, and his fiancée who chose to hold their nuptials in the Parish church in Multyfarnham and the reception was held at Mornington. Patrick and Sarah are back to their to their new life as Mr & Mrs O’Hara. Sarah is the ‘young’ Mrs O’Hara whilst I have acquired the venerable title as the ‘old’ Mrs O’Hara.

Plans made earlier in the year came to fruition. Fitting a family occasion in between guests’ bookings took a little organisation! Once family members began to arrive the pace stepped up until almost as soon as it had started everything was over and all that was left were memories.

Sweet peas at Mornington

Sweet peas at Mornington

We had grown sweet peas, so many, that it took a friend two hours tp pick those used on the day. Bags of gladioli corns had been purchased from Lidle in March. There was a limited choice of colours.  In the end, few were used were purchase

An armful of gladiolis

An armful of gladiolis

In the days after the wedding we were able enjoy the flowers before they were put on the compost heap! Our daughter came over with her husband and, infant son, Owen. It was a joy to welcome the little fellow to Mornington. Once family members arrived, the whole event took on a life of its own. Thankfully, we had planned ahead, by preparing and cooking dishes to be put in the freezer. It certainly made feeding the nineteen people staying here much easier. Particularly as we have family members who are either coeliac or gluten intolerant.

Tip: Where bread crumbs and white sauce were called for we used crumbs made from gluten free bread or cornflour or rice flour to thicken the sauce.Tht way we were able to serve the dish to everyone     The following recipe is one I have used for many years, with many variations depending which meats I have to hand.     Terrine Maison   8oz Lamb or Calves’ Liver 12oz Chicken Livers 1lb Lean pork, ground* 1lb Pork fat, ground* ½ lean ground veal, ground 5 Tbsp 4 Chicken fillets, skinned ¼ cup Brandy 3 Tbsp heavy cream 2tsp lemon juice 2Tbsp flour ½ tsp spice Parisienne** or Allspice 1 ½ Tbsp salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large Bay leaf or ¼ lb cooked smoked beef tongue or baked ham cut into ¼ʺ cubes Freshly chopped mixed herbs including parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage. Streaky bacon rashers (to line terrine) *For Ground read Minced **Spice Parisienne is a spice and herb blend which includes white pepper, allspice, mace, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, bayleaves, sage, marjoram and rosemary. This is often made by French cooks and varies according to the individual making the blend.   Method

  1. Combine the ground meats in a large mixing bowl. In a heavy frying pan melt 3Tbsp over moderate heat. When the foam subsides sauté the shallots and garlic until softened but not brown. Add to bowl of meat.
  2. In the same frying pan, melt 2Tbsp butter and fry the chicken livers until that have stiffened but are still pink inside. Remove the livers with a slotted spoon and seat them aside on a plate.
  3. De-glaze frying pan using brandy and simmer until reduced to about 2Tbs. Making sure that any brown bits clinging to sides and bottom of pan are included in this liquid. Add to meat mix.
  4. Add cream, lemon juice, flour, egg, spices and herbs to meat mixture. Add generous grinding of black pepper to mix.
  5. Knead vigorously with both hands, then beat with a wooden spoon, (or in an electric mixer with a pastry arm), until all the ingredients are well blended and the mixture is smooth an fluffy.
  6. Fold in the cubes of tongue or ham if they are being used. Remove a spoonful of the mix and cook it to check the seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350◦ C.

I had intended to include some more of the recipes we used. However, Events overtook my ambition. So I am afraid that we will have to wait for another post Or the cookbook!

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.

Bluebells have survived-May'14 008

Lawns mowed, edges shaggy, need clipping!

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 020

Is this a chaffinch?

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 018

Asparagus , elephant garlic and artichokes share a bed!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 019

Garlic and shallots were planted last autumn

Bluebells have survived-May'14 016

Apple blossom and Bbubells

Bluebells have survived-May'14 007

Overgrown grass laughing now mower belt needs replacing!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 006

Off to pick flowers

Pear tree buds beginning  to opento open

Conference pear tree buds beginning to open

 

The April sunshine and occasional showers have brought on the ‘greening of Ireland’  as buds burst open on trees and hedgerows in the countryside. The palate of colours is changing as last years stubble has been ploughed, seeded and sown with this year’s crops. At Mornington the lawns have been cut and daffodils are in full bloom. Seeds sown in the last month are slow to emerge, but the onions, shallots and garlic are growing well.

The lettuce sown last autumn are growing well in the greenhouse. Fuchsia, penstemons and geraniums overwintered in the greenhouse have survived and were ”potted on’ last week, they will be planted out in the flower beds when the night-time temperatures improve.

 


1st April'14 006

 

Stable Block Studios

The stable block conversion into art studios is progressing apace. A little slower than we had hoped, but nevertheless is moving ahead. The studios will be available to rent by artists, sculpters, photographers, writers. They are available to be used by guests staying in bed and breakfast accommodation, either here at Mornington or with other providers in the area.

 

Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.

Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.

 X

Stonework being realigned. new windows will be installed.

 

Anne O’Hara’s Fruit Cake ( Gluten free)

The fruit cake recipe we have used for years was adapted  to be suitable for family members who are gluten intolerant. It has more ground almonds and may need more liquid than regular flour. The cake improves with ‘keeping’  for at least 3-4 weeks before cutting. We were very pleased with the result. Not a crumb was left!

 

Makes 1x 7.5” diameter cake Makes      2x 10” diameter cakes
6 24 A Gluten free flour Available from most food stores.
½ 2 tsp A Mixed spice Sieve together with flour
5 20 oz B Butter Needs to room temperature
5 20 oz B Soft brown sugar We use soft dark moist brown sugar
8 32 oz C Currants
8 20 oz C Sultanas
5 20 oz C Raisons
4 16 oz C Glacé cherries Put into sieve, rinse with cool water to remove syrup. Dry on paper towel. Cut into quarters. When dry coat with a little flour
3 12 oz C Chopped mixed peel
1 4 oz C Lemon Rind Zest only
8 24 oz C Ground Almonds I used additional ground almonds
1 4 oz C Whole Almonds Skinned and cut into quarters lengthways.
4 16 D Eggs Large, at room temperature
Milk

*Read recipe and make sure that you have everything to ready and to hand before you begin.

 

Oven Temperature

Convector /Fan Oven

150°C (Celsius) for 20

125°C (Celsius) for 2 hours 40minutes ** The cake takes roughly 3 hours to cook, depending on oven, tins, etc. etc.

 Method

  1. Line tin with double layer of parchment. Allow paper to stand 2½”-3”above edge of tin.
  2. Mix fruit (C) together in a very large bowl.
  3. Using either a wooden spoon, hand held mixer or food processor cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

 

  1. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl. Add a little beaten egg into sugar/butter mix. Beat in very well after each addition of egg.
  2. If mixture begins to separate start adding flour a little at a time.                                                                         Otherwise when all egg has been added
  3. Foldi n flour a little at a time, alternate with mixing in milk.

NB. Do not beat or cake will have a shiny crust.

  1. Add egg/ sugar/flour mixture to bowl of prepared dried fruit and chopped and ground almonds.
  2. Fold in and mix well.
  3. NB. It may be necessary to add additional liquid. (For the 2 x 10” cakes I use ¼ to ½ cup milk.)1 cup = 8fl.oz.
  4. The mixture needs to be soft enough to allow the fruit moves around in the mixture. Not sloppy.
  5. We wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin.
  • Cut to the same height as the parchment lining the tin.
  • Secure with masking tape by overlapping the tape. Some tapes will become ’unstuck’ in the oven.
  • Add whiskey or brandy when cake is cold after baking.Make holes into bottom of cake with a fine skewer and using a teaspoon pour in brandy or whiskey.

 

The saga of  Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

”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!

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

March garden 013

Newly emerged early rhubarb

Sunny day in april-2013 020

Noddy after rolling in dry leaves

Sunny day in april-2013 009

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.

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.

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