April 03, 2020

Easy Pound Cake


I absolutely love pound cake or "Madeira cake" as its called here in England. I found this recipe on Southern Living which has to be the easiest and most straightforward I have ever seen. And the taste! Rich and buttery, I challenge you to have just one slice.

You will need a tube or Bundt cake pan for this, which is a neat switch up from the usual loaf style pound cake.

You will need:

1 lb. butter (softened at room temp for 30 minutes)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs (also room temp)
4 cups all purpose flour (I didn't sift the flour, but you may prefer to)
3/4 cup of milk
1 teaspon each of almond extract and vanilla extract

Prehaeat the oven to 300F/150C (this is a slow bake cake). Thoroughly grease the cake pan, don't skimp, and put a very light dusting of flour over the greased surfaces.

Method:

Beat the softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. The butter will become a light yellow colour. This is an important first step since the mixer must incorporate air into the butter, allowing the cake to rise. This process will take up to 10 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer.

Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed until the batter is light and fluffy. The butter should be a fluffy white. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each just until the yolks disappear.

Add the flour to the creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Begin and end with flour. Beat at low speed just until blended with each addition. The batter should be smooth with no bits of flour. If you have some lumps, stir them in gently with a rubber spatula. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 300F/150C for an hour and 40 minutes or until the centre comes out clean when you insert a wooden pick into it. Allow to cool for at least fifteen to twenty minutes in the pan before removing the cake and leaving to rest and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Slice and eat it plain or with a dollop of whipped topping. Fresh berries in season are also wonderful with this cake.

March 20, 2020

Be The Light


I'm not going to comment or post about the current worldwide crisis, except to offer this thought - 


"There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."


Keep safe, keep well, look after each other and know that there is light at the end of this tunnel.

March 18, 2020

Early Spring in the Garden

Primroses and mini daffodils (which haven't quite opened yet) in
a container by the front door. The primroses I put in at the end of February

Thank you weather gods! The jet stream, which has been plaguing the country for months now, is finally shifting for more than a day or two! Spring is making Herself felt more as we make our way towards the end of March. The temps are up a little more, the days are longer and the natural world is coming awake again faster.

I got out into the backyard and did what I love most, dig in the dirt. Two of the trees, one of which I think is a very old cherry tree and the other a Japanese maple, needed fresh compost added to their bases. I dug out the dwarf Alberta spruce that I had moved into the ground from a container when we moved into the house last Spring. I decided it would thrive better in a big pot and I do believe it is looking brighter for the move. 


There are tiny pink buds on the cherry tree! 

The Alberta spruce and my miniature rose bush have done well over the Winter
There are small patches of green on both the lavender bushes, so they survived the wet Winter as well.  


The three tiny iris bulbs I picked up cheaply two weeks ago are blooming along with the camellia bush




I'm trying my hand at carnations this year. Not my favourite flower,
but my late mother loved them and so does my daughter. 
The crocosmia that was in the ground where the lavender is now was dug out at the end of Fall and moved to grow along the back fence. I see it coming up in clumps there, so that will make a pretty display later in the year when its tiny orange flowers appear among the long green leaves. The lawn sort of abruptly ends at a dirt strip that is around eight feet long and a foot wide, running about two thirds the length of the fence.  Crocosmia are vigorous plants and put out lots of shoots, so I'm counting on it to fill in a large part of the bare ground there. 

I have a number of containers with fuschia and geraniums in them, but its too early to see if the plants will come back. They have in the past, so I hope they will again this year.

Hubs mowed the lawn, the second time this year. Yes, you can actually mow your lawn in March, even late February, in England. Despite the cold, wet Fall and Winter the grass grew quite long. We just needed to wait for a couple of dry days then get the mower out. I haven't used the edge trimmer yet, but I can see that I will have to start doing that job soon. I want more solar lights for the back and we have an old metal garden table with two little chairs that need sanding down and spray painting. So that's another project along with the DIY that still has to be finished in the house. 

When the human world seems to be falling apart, it is comforting to know that its business as usual for Mother Nature.