Sunday, 21 March 2010
Spring Birdsong, Holiday Half-Pound Cake Recipe
We needed the rain, especially after having put the muck out and already the fields are have a flush of green about them.
The birds are singing away and the resident population of hedge sparrows are squabbling in their usual cheerful manner in the garden. They provide a constant background chorus to the farm activities from now on and they are fun to watch especially when the ground is very dry and they take dust-baths just outside our kitchen window. The blackbirds are beginning their courting trills and there are wood-pigeons with their velvety cooing sitting in the ash tree in the garden.
The sheep have been moved to fields further away from the main farm and I walked the dogs this morning the bleating of the lambs was echoing across the valley through the early morning Sunday silence. We have still got one or two ewes to lamb and they are being kept down here on the yard until they have produced and then they can go out to the fresh grass with the rest of the flock.
The Farmer and I are going away tomorrow for just four days brief holiday. We have not had any time away for about 18 months and now that Elder Son & KT are back from their long trip we can leave then in charge of everything for a few days. We are going up to a cottage near in the Marches near the Shropshire/ Wales border and will visit some friends there who are flying out to NZ this week to visit their Younger Son and will be seeing ours as well, we hope.
I have a bag of books already packed (I have had to restrain myself from reading them before we get away) and the Farmer & I shall have lovely time with no phone and no computer, just reading, walking and generally being pretty anti-social.
Having organised the reading matter ( I know how to prioritise our needs!) I really ought to think about packing some clothes and food.
It has become something of a family joke that one should never go away without good fruit cake packed into the corner of a bag somewhere. Admittedly I did not send Elder Son & KT off to New Zealand with a large Dundee cake hidden in their baggage, but the Farmer has insisted that we take cake with us this week, so I have made him a good old traditional Half-Pound Cake. If anyone is interested to try it here is the recipe;
8oz. sugar ( I use brown sugar, but granulated is okay)
8oz.currant & sultanas
4oz. glace cherries
8oz. plain flour
1/2 level tspn mixed spice
1tblspn. brandy (or milk, but I prefer the brandy!)
Cream the butter & the sugar until pale & fluffy. Add the eggs a lttle at a time and beat well after each addition.( A spoonful of the flour will help it stop curdling).
Mix the fruit, flour, & spice and fold into the creamed mixture. Add the brandy and mix to a soft dropping consistency
Turn the mixture into a prepared tin (8") and bake for about 21/2 hours at Mark 2 (300 degrees), until a fine warmed skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
This cake keeps well.
The Farmer has just gone off on a tractor to help a neighbour move some trees that have been felled and this afternoon he and the neighbour will be planking them.
I have just taken a couple of bookings for the cottage which is great and now I am off to start organising some lunch.