Lovely!

Lovely!

My German friend Linde has always been delighted at my use of the word “lovely“.

“It’s so English!” she would say.

Is it? Perhaps.

Sadly, after 18 years of life in another country, speaking another language, I no longer use this adjective for expressing pleasure as often as I should like.

Yet I obviously THINK it; last week I had a lovely surprise: a nomination for the “One Lovely Blog Award”… and my first thought was “How lovely!”

I love this new world of words and pictures I have discovered in the last few months, and the support we all give each other is energizing and inspiring.

A very big THANK YOU to Strawberry Indigo at

http://strawberryindigo.wordpress.com

for nominating me!

Strawberry Indigo is a wonderful writer and writes about so many different things; I particularly like her social commentary page, and her lovely posts on life in general, and plants of course … and the “fresh quotes” are great too!

The rules for this award are simple:

  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  •  Pass the award to other newly discovered blogs.
  •  Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I am passing on this award to three blogs that I have only recently discovered:

A Strawberry Patch

Wonderful photos and posts on nature and gardening, as well as some lovely poetry.

http://astrawberrypatch.wordpress.com/

~~~

Green Tapestry

Anna writes about gardening and plants, with the added extras of  the occasional seasonal poem and lovely photos.

http://www.greentapestry.blogspot.com/

~~~

Lakeside Lane

Diane combines beautiful art photography with atmospheric and uplifting quotes. Simply wonderful. (Or should I say “lovely“!)

http://lakesidelane.wordpress.com/

~~~

Have a look at all these sites, and enjoy some top-class pictures and prose!

Banana Bread Day

Today is Banana Bread Day!

I must confess this is not actually a “World Day”, since it is National Banana Bread Day in the US. But why should only the Americans have all the fun?!

😉

I think everyone has got their own favourite banana bread recipe… but if not, try this one today. (Or bookmark it for after Lent!) It’s simply the best!

Banana Almond Bread                       

Makes two 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inch loaves OR one heart-shaped cake tin

1 cup plain or wholemeal flour
¾ cup ground almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup roughly mashed ripe banana, (i.e. 2-3 small bananas)
1/3 cup butter, room temperature (75g)
2 tbsps milk
2 eggs
1 small banana cut into bite sized chunks

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Mix flour, salt, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda together. Mash bananas and butter together, and mix in milk and eggs.  Combine with the flour mixture.  Fold in the banana chunks.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set.  Cool a little before removing from the tin. Good served warm.

Now if that’s not good enough, how about smothering it in a Nutella frosting?!

(Sorry, no pictures)

I got the idea from Ginger Snap Girl, and just adjusted the quantities to suit my cake. (Her recipe looks good too!)

Enjoy!

Signs of Life

Is this a bud?

(She asks tentatively, trying to veil her excitement).

Yes! My hellebore IS still alive! Every year I am amazed that anything has survived the dry cold frosts and freezing temperatures. And every year my brave little plants push their way up out of the crumbly frozen soil looking for light and warmth…

~~~

(This is, however, nothing compared to the 30,000-year-old flower revived in Russia! See article here.)

~~~

The heuchera in a pot near the front door has also stood up to the frost well.

Candlemas Bells (Snowdrops)

“The Snowdrop, in purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas day.”

(Old English saying)

Well, they’re a bit late this year owing to the big freeze and all the snow we’ve had. But they are now making up for lost time… you can almost see them growing!


The following poem is as dramatic and meaningful to me as the sight of the first little white buds struggling impatiently towards the light.

Snowdrops

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

by Louise Gluck

JOY!

Spring is finally within sight!

We have survived the winter once again!

Traditional English Pancakes

It’s Pancake Day! (Shrove Tuesday)

In Germany this is the height of Fasching (carnival) and in this area the “gypsies” and witches and evil spirits are “driven” out of the towns and villages with a frightening spectacle involving ugly masks and drums… not my idea of fun on a freezing afternoon in February!

Such pagan ceremonies never spread to Britain and fortunately they have kept Shrove Tuesday in their own traditional way… with pancakes. Now that is much more my cup of tea!

When I say pancakes I mean the crepe-style pancakes – not the American ones (which the English call drop scones or Scottish pancakes).

~~~

A memory?

I’m not at school… am I ill? Am I home for the lunch break?  Suddenly there is a buzz outside and Mum goes out the front door. A handful of housewives are gathered, a few curlers poking out from colourful headscarves, floury aprons and scholls, frying pans in hands. Ready for the challenge, they say? Come on, join the fun!

A pancake race!

Hitching up their skirts they quickly establish the rules…. pancakes must be tossed at least once on the way, and the first to reach house number 12 is the winner. (Mrs R is waiting for them up there to check there’s no cheating).

Everyone ready?

And they’re off!

It’s a warm spring day, the midday sun smiling down on them. A few are already puffing, and some start to perspire. Mrs B is doing well, but is no competition for Mrs L – always at the front of things. Mrs W is getting left behind, Mrs M loses her pancake, Mum is somewhere in the middle… Nearly there… it’s very close… 

and Mrs L stumbles!

Mrs B is gaining ground…

Yes! Mrs B tosses her pancake high in the air as she reaches the finishing line!

Cheers all round, pats on the back, a brief chatter… then, as if it was quite a normal day, everyone goes slowly back into their homes and carries on making their pancakes.

~~~

The idea of impromptu pancake races in the streets began not far from my hometown in a small place called Olney on the River Ouse. They have been holding pancake races there since the 15th century! In other parts of Britain it is also still a tradition.

~~~

Despite all the wonderful recipes on the internet for various fillings, the real English will only put two things on their pancake: fresh lemon juice and sugar. The best and only way to eat pancakes on Pancake Day!

I like to take my time making the batter, using my big stoneware pudding basin and a wooden spoon. It’s all part of the fun!

English Pancakes

175g plain flour

pinch of salt

3 eggs

350ml milk

1 dessertspoon vegetable/olive oil

Fresh lemons, quartered

Sugar for sprinkling

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Start to mix, slowly bringing in more flour from the outside until almost all the flour is mixed in. Slowly add milk, little by little, stirring vigorously all the time until you have a smooth batter. Stir in oil, transfer to a large jug, and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Brush a shallow non-stick frying pan with a little oil and heat until it sizzles when a drop of batter is dropped into it. Take off the heat and turn heat down slightly. Pour in enough batter to coat the base. Put back on heat and cook until top is just set, then turn or toss and cook other side until just brown. Careful – it only takes a few seconds!

Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and sugar, roll up and enjoy while still warm.

It’s nice for everyone to have a go at tossing their own pancake… there may be the odd accident, but that’s what this is all about! And that means you can sit down and enjoy yours while someone else is keeping the pan hot!

I’ll post my photos later tonight… can’t cheat and make them a day early now, can I!