Therapeutic baking. The other day I stood in the little front garden of this new house and pulled out the weeds that were choking the crocuses and dwarf narcissi. The smell of fresh earth hit me and I remembered how good gardening is for the soul. Today I listened to Radio 4 and baked and it was good.
Cupcakes ready to go.
Blueberry muffins (recipe below, they’re really easy and a million times nicer than the horrible oily ones you get in shops).
Not sure how long this lot will last. But they look pretty with their lilac and pale pistachio coloured icing. Someone seems to have eaten all the sprinkly things from my baking cupboard, though. Several someones, I suspect.
Photos above all taken with iPhone because my camera is dead. A new one is stupendously expensive. It might be fixable, but it looks like the cost of fixing it might be more than my battered old Canon is worth. Sob.
Preheat oven to 190c, 375F or Gas 5.
You need 300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp bicarb of soda
a pinch of salt
2 beaten eggs
175g light brown sugar
250ml natural yogurt (or buttermilk would work, and milk at a push but reduce the quantity a bit)
125ml melted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a biggish bowl
Mix the melted butter, eggs, yogurt, sugar and vanilla in another bowl
Mix the two together, adding the blueberries, and just fold it together a bit (lumpy and bits of flour is fine, undermixing is worse than overmixing these)
Divide them into 12 muffin cups and bake for about 12 minutes.
I can’t remember where I originally found this recipe but I’ve been using it for so long I know the quantities off by heart. You can also do banana (a couple of over-ripe bananas mashed) or chocolate chip (big handful and a mouthful for the cook) or (yum) raspberry and white chocolate chips.
In spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Being a gardening blogger (albeit one with a blogging habit a little like my gardening habit, ie leave everything in autumn, forget about it, then return when the sun shines with renewed enthusiasm) my fancy turns to thoughts of flowers and bees and ooh, gorgeous sunshiny days and the smell of earth and mud under the fingernails.
My friend Melanie (she writes a rather wonderful just-reached-a-million-hits blog as well as being author of several books and one of my favourite people) is venturing into the world of gardening for the first time. So rather than email her, I thought I’d share my thoughts here and you can all have a look. So here you are, M. Just for starters:
First of all, Clematis: Dr Ruppel (I love the blousy, seasidey stripey flowers) and the elegant Niobe which would both grow beautifully in containers or in the ground, depending on how portable you want your garden to be. Clematis are really easy to grow, and give a new garden height and satisfying splodges of colour which make you feel like a proper gardening sort.
Pretty Aquilegia Black Barlow which will self seed year after year and fill your garden with beautiful flowers (which won’t come back true, because aquilegias are contrary beasts). and I think you’ll love Eryngium Alpinum Blue Star.
Depending on your slug situation (I bet you’ve never thought about your slug situation before, have you? Welcome to gardening) hostas are utterly beautiful and also likely to make you feel murderous. Cracked eggshells and copper tape round the pot and incantations by moonlight and coffee grounds and oh, there are a million other things that will help stop slugs having a midnight feast. Well actually they won’t at all, but it’ll make you feel good. Either that or don’t grow hostas. Some people seem to be able to grow huge hulking ones. I bet they use evil blue pellets of doom, though. They’re meaniecats, as child no4 would say. So this Fragrant Blue is a good one to try. And the Prunella Grandiflora Rubra is lovely, too. No idea how it grows, but I think you’ll like it.
Roses. You have to grow lots and lots of roses to fill your garden with scent and bees and beauty. This Black Baccara is utterly gorgeous and will smell heavenly. And after years of loathing them I’ve grown fond of Dahlias but they’re another slug magnet, so if you buy them as tubers rather than established plants (which is cheaper) you’ll need to keep an eye out or they’ll be there one day and completely gone the next.
Look at that. It’s an email to a friend that’s masquerading as a blog post. But hey, it’s a blog post.