Monday, 24 August 2009

The Long and Rambling Post - Warning This Post May Fill You with a Strange Sense of Ennui

It has just occurred to me that I have not posted for a very long time. Well, what constitutes a very long time in the world of blog anyway. I am assuming that most of you are explaining away my absence by imagining that I finally cracked and garroted the DH with a guy rope is some fit of camping related mania and have been justly sent down for a twenty year stretch. This is not the case. I've just been a bit busy, which is a poor excuse for not blogging, but it's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

The DH has had a lot of time off, which was great, and we've been all over the place, visiting friends and having fun. We've been to the Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Warwick, Worcester, Peterborough (very underrated Cathedral) and been on various second-hand book buying sprees and teas out and yes, even picnics. Now, I do have a few pictures of all of this gallivanting, but I haven't quite got around to attaching the camera cable and software to my new (second hand) PC so I can't post them. Yes, I'm finally blogging on a proper PC and not that bizarre laptop which had half of the keys missing. It's a smashing PC, actually, really fast, it was the DH's old work PC, given to him when his workplace was refurbished. Blimey, I'm rambling. Badly.

It's also been a bit full on with the girls. They've had a lot of friends around to play, and the eldest has had a sleepover. Freya has been Miss Maker all holiday, which is lovely, but those activities need plenty of supervision and we've all got into this rather cosy routine of morning busy-ness, but afternoon slob out movie watching, and this has been great. Favourite movie so far. Hmm, the kids will say Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I will say A Night to Remember (not the orignial Titanic movie - but a bit of 1940s screwball fluff, excellent). Also, Freya has had a course of speech and language therapy over the past week, and this has meant thatI've had to walk her to the clinic every day and wait whilst she sorts out the difference between saying "k" and "t". The good news is that her therapist thinks she's responded so well to treatment that if the work is consolidated she probably won't need any more formal work. I think Freya and her speech problem may deserve a post on all its own. Not that I think many people would be interested in it, but that if our experience helps another worried family out there, then it's worth talking about.

Oh, what else have I been up to? Hmm, I've been knitting like a crazy women (I've gone shrug/bolero crazy and the girls have a shrug for every summer dress they own, but the joys of the "shrug", again, may deserve a post all of its own), I've read many good books (I really, really will do a few book reviews soon), and I've been baking just a little. Here are two good recipes. The first is for Marmalade Cake, as mentioned in the previous post, the second is for Ginger Shortbread - a superb vintage shortbread, a doddle to make and horribly, horribly moreish.
Marmalade Cake
6oz butter, 6oz caster sugar, 3 eggs, 10 oz self-raising flour, 3 level tablespoons of chunky marmalade, 2 oz mixed peel (chopped), grated rind of one orange, 5 tablespoons of water.
Line and grease a seven inch round cake tin. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time., the one tablespoon of flour. Stir in marmalade, peel, orange rind and water. Fold in the remaining flour. Whisk egg whites until just stiff and fold into the cake mixture. Turn into a prepared tin and bake at 350 F, gas mark 4 for one and a quarter hours until risen and firm to the touch. Icing (if wanted): Blend 4 oz of icing sugar with sufficient orange juice to give a stiff consistency. Pour over cake and allow to trickle down sides. Leave to set. Cut slices of crystallised orange in half and use it to decorate the top.
This recipe was taken from The Farmhouse Kitchen by Mary Norwak. A 1970s book which can still be bought for pennies in second hand bookshops and on Abe Books. It's highly recommended and contains many authentic regional country dishes. Here's an extract from the introduction to the book

Whether the windows of her kitchen overlook a green, growing field in Yorkshire of the tall golden wheat of Kansas, the country woman has a bond with her counterparts all over the world. She knows the bounty of the land, but also the fickleness of the weather and its effect on crops and income...The country woman is perhaps the most creative of all good cooks. She works from a pantry supplied by nature as well as the supermarket...
Now for Ginger Shortbread, a recipe taken from Farmhouse Fare, a fantastic little book from 1947, highly recommended to anyone self-sufficient-ish, or green living or simple living.
2 breakfastcupfuls of flour, 1 breakfastcupful of moist brown sugar, 1/2 lb butter, 2 teaspoonfuls of ground ginger, 1 scant teaspoonful of bicarb, pinch of salt.
Mix all the dry ingredients together, work in the butter until it becomes crumbly. Spread into and well-greased dripping-tin and bake in a moderate oven of 3/4 hour. Cut into finger whilst still warm and lift gently from tin with knife blade. This is an economical shortbread which is quickly made, and is a good stand-by as it keeps well in tins.
Now, I used American cup measures rather than breakfast cups, I baked it in a 20cm brownie tin, and I set the oven to about 150c, I also baked it for about 50 minutes. I didn't cut the fingers until the shortbread was nearly cool, and it cut well. It tasted lovely, like a cross between a ginger nut and left over crumble topping. Don't worry about the fact that you don't bind the shortbread, just press it gently into your tin, the moist brown sugar does the binding in the oven, just like it would a flapjack - for this reason you must not use white sugar.
At this point I'm going to award you a medal for getting this far in my post and not snoozing off. But you'll be glad to know that this disorganised ramble is about to finish as I must iron and pack for a trip to Spain! Yes, we're off to Spain for ten days to see my parents. Quelle joi! But before I go I want to tell you, gentle reader, that you're my little coo chi face, my oochi, coo chi better still I'll let Gert Frobe and Anna Quale tell you for me. Enjoy this extreme piece of silliness, my friends and, until anon!


Left-Handed Housewife said...

Yes, I read the whole thing! So happy to find a post when I checked in this morning. You've been missed! I suppose there's no time before Spain to blog about knitting and speech (my son Jack has had ongoing speech problems for years), but hope to hear more about all that and much more when you return. Have a wonderful trip!


Angela said...

Yes you HAVE been missed - I was hoping it was just due to summer holiday busy-ness and not Death From Swine Flu or Worse.
Thanks for recipes. When I have finished dieting [ok I am still only on Day One and it is already a struggle!] I plan on making the shortbread.
bon Voyage xx

Zillah said...

Good to hear from you. I have also mainly been AWOR (Absent Without Reason). Have a lovely time in Spain. Let's catch up when you get back. Seem to have lost the knack of flowing prose!


Gumbo Lily said...

I'm glad you took a little time to update us. Your days sound just right and I loved the Coo Chee Coo song.

Happy Spain Travels.

June said...

My girls were JUST watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and we are in a CooCheeCoo mood around here. Think I'll make Marmalade Cake to go along with it all.

Jodi said...

Dear Bread and Roses, I must tell you that I have a love for anyone who uses the word 'Ennui'; I first discovered it at age 17 while reading a poem. Thanks for the r- ecipes and for bringing back a memory. My hubs and I would sing the Choo Chee Face song to each- other years ago as newlyweds. Nice to meet you!

Yunie 罗 (陈有芳) said...

so happy...that u post again! another thank u from me for the ginger shortbread recipe! gonna try this one!

monix said...

I don't know how you feel about blog awards, DD, but I've just had the temerity to nominate you for one, entirely in the spirit of appreciation of your lovely blog! You can find details here:

Dulce Domum said...

Thank you all for your kind comments!