Saturday, 24 November 2012

Duck tales #2

A (not) very sad farewell was said to four fawn runner drakes today.

Of the six duck eggs hatched in the incubator, only two were ducks. Could have been worse...

It was impossible to tell the boys and girls apart until they began to moult. The drakes then developed the give-away curly feather on their tails.  They were much bigger than the ducks and developed beautiful plumage.

The other way to tell them apart is by their quacking, or lack of. Drakes make a characteristic rasping noise and ducks quack. Loudly!

Anyway, the boys are off to their new life on a pond with lots of other ducks. And I am looking forward to making duck egg sponge cake in the spring.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Egg shortage!

Winter is definitely approaching - the hens have gone on strike!

In fact, I have had to buy eggs. Really not impressed.

The ladies are moulting and so are putting their energies into fabulous new feathers rather than eggs. Also, egg production is linked to daylight and since the flock is free range and not under artificial lighting, they will have a wee rest until about February.  Read more here.

Buying eggs proved a bit tricky! Clearly they had to be free range, from hens with access to outside rather than barn eggs. Despite the changes to enriched cages for battery hens, they are definitely off limits. Yes, they may be cheap, but at what cost?  Read DARD guidelines on hen welfare here.

The other downside of not having eggs from my own hens is the colour of the yolks. My traditional and ex batts, which have the run of the orchard, produce eggs with bright yellow yolks. This in turn produces lovely yellow sponge cake...

Roll on the spring...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chocolate cake for Arlene

This is a first go to perfect a chocolate cake. My friend Arlene is hunting for a recipe so thought I would give it a go. Of course if I was any sort of decent friend I would have taken her some to try.... But it didn't last long enough!

I will just have to make another one.

This recipe is from Cake Icing and Decorating, another from the St Michael cookery library circa 1978.

Cream 100g of butter with 100g sugar until pale and fluffy (as always I did a bit extra due to my addiction to the mixture).

Beat in 2 eggs, a little at a time. Then, sift in 100g self raising flour and 4tsps cocoa powder.

Fold on the flour then place mixture in cake tin, which is lined and/or greased appropriately.

Bake at 160c for about 20 minutes or until cooked. Turn out into a cooling rack.

The cake didn't rise as much as I thought it might but my cake tin might have been a bit big.

To decorate I used buttercream icing.

Cream 100g butter then add 200g sifted icing sugar. Beat together but if not coming together add 1tsp milk. If you need to add more milk then do it 1tsp at a time.

Spread over the cake. Lick the bowl so as not to waste any!

Enjoy.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Cranberry and clementine chutney

Much as I try to avoid anything Christmassy until at least the 1st December, this needed to be made so it has time to mature.

While most chutney turns a shade of brown, this is a lovely red colour. I'm looking forward to my turkey sandwiches already!

The recipe is based on one from November 2012's Good Housekeeping magazine. I only ad libbed a little....

To a large pan add:
650g chopped apples (I didn't bother to peel them)
6 clementine oranges (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 large onions (peeled and chopped)
200g sultanas
700g cranberries
15 peppercorns (approximately!)
500mls red wine vinegar
500g light brown soft sugar
1tsp chilli flakes

Bring to the boil, stirring, and then simmer for about 45 minutes until fairly thick.

Stir in 300g cranberries and cook for another 5 minutes until they have softened.

Put into sterilised jars and open at Christmas.

Give extra jars as Christmas pressies.

Enjoy!









Friday, 2 November 2012

Choccy Halloween buns

The correct title for this post should be badly decorated Halloween buns but not to worry. They taste good!

Cream 100g sugar with 100g butter. Beat in two eggs. Sift in 100g self raising flour and 3 tablespoons coco powder.

Bake in individual bun cases for 15 minutes or so at 180c.

Decorate and enjoy!

The pumpkin turned out better so there is a pic of him guarding the back door too :-)