Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Marbled cupcakes

If you are feeling inspired by The Great British Bake Off, these are really easy to make and look a bit different. They are also good to give as a birthday present to your father-in-law.

Cream 110g (4.5oz) butter with same quantity of sugar. Do a wee bit extra as creamed butter and sugar is yum!

Beat in 2 eggs, a little at a time.

Fold in 110g (4.5oz) self raising flour using a metal spoon. Add a spoonful of milk if mixture a bit stiff. It needs to drop off the spoon.

Divide mixture in two. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to half and a drop of vanilla essence to the other.

Spoon mixture into bun cases in 12 hole bun tin. Do one teaspoon at a time, alternating the mixture.

Don't mix them!

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Make some buttercream icing with 75g (3oz) butter and 175g (7oz) icing sugar. Spoon icing onto buns. If you are trying to impress even more, then pipe the icing in a fancy swirl.


Eat and enjoy!
Think I need to invest in a cake stand....but they don't last long enough....

Saturday, 25 August 2012

International hen dealing

We've gone international with the poultry dispersing!

The advert in resulted in several sensible enquiries and last night, the roosters left for their new life in Co Cavan.

About a dozen boys of various shapes and sizes were loaded up and away they went.

Hopefully the feed bill will drop significantly.

And now we just have to wait and see if the two chicks and six ducklings are boys or girls...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Random conversations with hen owners

I have a bit of an obsession with my hens, showing eggs in particular (but that's another story).

There are a variety of shapes and sizes free ranging on the farm. However despite best efforts to increase the laying flock, I do nothing but hatch roosters. Whether in the incubator or from a clocking banty....the majority will be crowing loud and clear...

So, what to do? I'm not one for wringing necks. All my animals generally live a long and happy life. I usually advertise the roosters in a local free ad paper. But disaster! It's stopped trading!

I shall miss the randomness of the enquiries. For example, if an advert states "roosters, free to collect" the conversation might go something like this:

Me: (phone rings). Hello?
Caller: Hello there dear. I was phoning about your advert.
Me: Oh yes. The roosters.
Caller: Have you any hens?
Me: No, just roosters.
Caller: Oh. Well what I was looking for was hens.
Me: Sorry, just roosters.
Caller: You see I've got (insert breed) hens and would like some more.
Me: Sorry, I've just got roosters.
Caller: You've no hens available?
Me: No.
Caller: So what kind of hens have you?
Me: I've got (names current breeds on farm and has 10 minute conversation on the various types).
Caller: But you've no hens available.
Me: No.
Caller: Have you any hatching eggs?
Me: No.
Caller: Oh. Sure I'll keep your number and maybe you will have hens later in the year.
Me: Ok, but its unlikely. I've just got roosters available.
Caller: Bye dear.
Me: Bye

PS I currently have an ad on Dissapointingly sensible enquiries so far.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Crucknamara Cottage - a 200 year old cottage in Donegal - heaven!

We have just spent a few days on a family holiday in Donegal. The weather was great (ok, so it rained a bit but we were indoors so it didn't count) and the craic was great, but the best bit, by far, was staying in a 200 year old cottage.

Crucknamara Cottage is just outside Downings. It is small but perfectly formed, having been renovated to retain its fabulous character.

Driving through the surrounding countryside I was struck at how many new "cottages" have been built, which further enhances Crucknamara's uniqueness.

We entertained ourselves on the nearby beach, with a visit to Glenveagh Castle and a short tour of the Atlantic Drive.

But back to the cottage.  There are two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and roomy kitchen with all mod cons.  Wood burning stoves and an open fire were set for our arrival, with bread milk and, of course, tea, provided.  The garden is packed with wild flowers and the hedge is full of bright pink fuchsia.

I can't recommend this cottage highly enough for somewhere to stay if you fancy either some peace and quiet or a family break. We can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

So let's start with baking - Swiss Roll!

An assortment of hens keeps us supplied with eggs. It's waste not want not round here so quite a bit of baking goes on.

My current favourite is Swiss Roll, mainly because it's dead easy but looks tricky.

So, to have a go:
Whisk three eggs with 75g (3oz) sugar until nice and fluffy.
Fold in 75g (3oz) self raising flour.
Pour into lined Swiss Roll tin and bake at 200c for 10 minutes.
Turn onto sugar coated grease proof paper and cool on a wire rack covered with a damp tea towel.
When cool, fill with cream and whatever else you fancy then roll.


PS if it doesn't roll call it a Swiss Tube. Or if it collapses - put in individual glasses, add fruit and cream and call it whatever you like!