Monday, 28 February 2011

One perfect Iris...

On the last day of February, when the garden still looks to all intent and purposes like a muddy field, i drabness broken only by the the simple whites and yellows, I had to note this plucky little iris braving out the northern winds!
I want to bottle its blueness!
How I wish we grew fields of these. Whats the first sign of colour in your garden, which plants foretell the coming of spring for you?

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Snowdrops,snowdrops everywhere...

We've been helping out at our local snowdrop walk at Thorpe Hall this weekend. The beauty of being a helper outer is that you get the walk all to yourself at the start of the day...and it was well worth it!

The snowdrops weren't the only showstoppers, aconites were popping out everywhere; the perfect companion to the simplicity of the white blooms.

I got there first thing on Friday so I got the official first sneak peek.I did my shift on the front gate in my fabbiest flowery wellies then made a dash for it before the rains came - good timing or what!

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

An Inspector calls and calls again...

This is me with my feet up. A rare sight, but exactly where I intend them to be this week, no excuses and guilt free. And this is why...

1. we have finally got our roof structure in place - 'topped out' as they say...After sitting under piles of snow for seven weeks these timbers were lifted into place by BH. I was at work when they had their little ceremony and raised the Yorkshire flag - but was mighty glad to see it in place! So its finally in place and was inspected this week and passed muster - of course!

2...and then on Monday when the world was in a heart shaped haze for Valentines day I got the Ofsted phone call. I don't write about work on this blog for obvious reasons but lets just say when the school inspectors phone to say they're coming for a visit its enough to strike fear into the heart of any school leader. Well, they came, they saw and they left, oh and they said they were very pleased with everything we're doing, so that's good! The inspection couldn't have gone better to be honest but by Friday the adrenaline I'd been running on all week sapped out of me and all I was fit for was to be sent to lie down in a darkened room!

But now the clouds are lifting, there are recipes to be sampled, seeds to be planted, blogs to visit and a whole load of tiles to shift. But first, back to the feet up, for just a bit longer...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Disco Biscuits...

 I love these Rainy Day biscuits of Nigellas. Firstly because they are so easy, and secondly because their melt in the mouth simple flavour just hits the spot. I tend to make up a big batch of dough with the intention of freezing and using it in batches but so far none has made it to the freezer - funny that!

The recipe is simple

175g unsalted butter
200g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
350g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar, add in the eggs and the extract then work in the rest. The dough sits in cling film in the fridge for at least an hour, then its ready to roll.

The biscuits cook very quickly and should stay quite pale. I like them unadorned, I think their paleness is quite elegant. However, my children think this is pretentious nonsense and insist that a biscuit is not worth looking at unless its suitably decorated, oh dear...
 the glitter pixies have been at it again - I swear my children will glow in the dark at this rate!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Stained Glass Jelly ...

Ive been inspired to new heights since reading the Food Librarian Blog - honestly what that blogger cant do with Jelly isn't worth knowing. Jelly is a big favourite of my minifreerangers and to be honest I don't make it enough for them, so inspired by Stained Glass Jello we gave it a shot.

We mixed up a few flavours of jelly and let them set really hard the night before and then cut them up and tipped into one tray. Then we mixed condensed milk with gelatin, let it cool and then poured it in...hey presto!!!

Who knew that jelly had so many possibilities! The minis are putting there orders in already...does anyone know where I can find blue jelly? They wont be happy until we've made a rainbow, or at least the Spurs colours for dad!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rainyday Fudge Cake...

Sometimes on a Sunday, when its too windy for walking and too wet for digging, theres nothing for it but to throw caution to the diet plan and fire up the ovens. My tribe's cake of choice is always of the chocolate variety, so today we decided to go for it and bake a chocolate fudge cake of staggering proportions...

My assistant chef was in full agreement of course!

  We followed Nigellas recipe for Fudge Cake from the Nigella Bites book. The recipe called for:

400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
half teaspoon salt
3 eggs
142 small tub sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water

For the icing
175 dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
275g icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

The dry ingredients are combined in one bowl, the eggs, sour cream and vanilla are blended in another. Then the butter, oil and water are beat together in yet another bowl. This cake is definitely one to make only if you have space to spread out!
Next the dry ingredients are mixed into the butter and oil mixture and last of all, in goes the eggs and cream. It mixes together satisfyingly well and pours easily into two sandwich tins. These bake for 55 mins until they come out skewer clean!

 I was a little surprised at how big they got!!!

The filling is a simple chocolate butter cream with which we filled the cakes up and then slathered all over! We topped it off with icing sugar and glitter  - which you can't see on the pictures but now coats everything, everywhere in our kitchen. I think we'll be finding edible glitter for months to come...
The results were delicious; a dense, fudgey, chocolaty reason not mind rainy days so much after all!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Beach Boy...

This is what my Freerangeboy gets up when I'm hard at work...

Dog Rustling...

Hard to believe he started life a cityboy through and through...

I am wondering when all this fresh air is going to tire him out though! - still waiting on that one...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Snowdrops and rainbow rice...

At last the garden is waking up, not exactly springing into action but definitely rousing from the long winter...
Its been too miserable to explore the garden much so it was a nice surprise to find these waiting to greet us today!

Meanwhile we've been busying ourselves indoors finding 101 ways to entertain children on rainy days, of which there are many here in Gods Own Country! I found the 'recipe' for Rainbow Rice'  at Homemade Serenity - a way with rice that involves no cooking, or eating but did keep the little freerangers occupied for ages! All it took were some squidges of watercolour paint into freezer bags of uncooked rice and a splash of water. We gave it a good mix and shake and left it to dry. The results were almost too pretty to play with...

 Well okay, not quite too pretty to play with...
 Unbelievable, but some leftover paint and a bag of value rice kept them busy for a couple of hours...
Beat that Nintendo!

We'll definitely do it again, maybe making some Diwali patterns later in the year and by then we'll hopefully have hoovered all the bits that these pictures don't show falling off the table!