Scotland really knows how to do winter. The wind is freezing and cuts through jumpers, the sun sets early and come January, we usually get snow.
Sometimes though, the sun shines, the clouds disperse and the winds drop. Only for a few hours but enough for us to get out and tidy up before spring.
We took out the last of the broccoli, cauliflower and kale. I confess, none of them worked: no florets grew and I can’t stand kale. Lots of flowers though!
The raised beds are now clear, apart from some spinach in its second winter, which is much loved by the Bantams. They adore their greens, although unlike our full size hens they won’t eat the stalks.
I had hoped to have everything painted and a hinged lid put into the cold frame – or the bin as it’s used just now – but it’s not happened yet. Hopefully the next couple of months will be easier and we can add it, otherwise we may struggle to get the seedlings past the leap from windowsill to bed.
In spite of some complaining, Wee Bear did help a little and then did that glorious thing of being bored. I love it when she’s bored because she actually goes and does her own thing.
This isn’t quite what I had in mind though…
This cake has to be one of my all-time favourites. Apart from the sugar (which can be left out if you’re a sugar-free person), it is as close to a healthy cake as possible.
When we moved in to our house two years ago, we found a very decrepit old apple tree. It has become so bent that it needs a prop to keep it upright.
I managed to prune it a little, so that the branches don’t cross too much – somehow it has undone last year’s rather wimpy pruning and so I need to do that again quite soon. However, I was delighted with the crop of apples we had this year, after a summer with a little more sun than 2012.
6 medium apples (peeled, chopped, cored)
1 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
3 cups of flour (I use Dove gluten free)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup light oil (corn, sunflower, etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste
Pinch of salt optional
1 cup raisins, chopped nuts
1. Preheat oven to 180/350
2. Place chopped apples in pot with sugar, simmer til sugar begins to melt, do not boil though! Remove from heat.
3. While apple & sugar cooking, mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Add the oil, vanilla extract, to the sugar and apples and blend well.
5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing well. The mixture will be lumpy and thick but don’t panic.
6. Spread evenly into a cake tin (I use a springform one), lined with baking parchment and lightly oiled. Those oil sprays are very handy.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep in the tin until it is cooled.
8. If desired, sprinkle with icing sugar.
Now, I mess with this recipe a lot. I use gluten free flour, I only use half a cup of sugar and sometimes top it up with a few chopped dates. As I’m allergic to nuts, I can’t add walnuts but raisins would more than make up for removing all the sugar, I think.
Go forth and bake! Just don’t blame me when you can’t stop eating it.