I love those early morning moments just on daybreak as the sun announces a new day. It seems like such a special time of the day, everyone and everything is fresh and all the possibilities of the day ahead await you. However there are also those times when the thought of a new day leaves us feeling a little anxious as we step into the unknown or prepare to face events that are going to stir different or difficult emotions in us. It is all part of the journey really isn’t it. And I guess we appreciate those special mornings even more when we have faced the challenges and can experience the calm and peace again. Simple pleasures are a wonderful thing. I’ve had a full week so this morning to be able to just be quieter and do simple things like watch the geese do their happy morning dance, help a guinea fowl get back to her friends and think on a lovely visit I had with family yesterday was very lovely! And of course enjoy a cup of tea or two.
I have discovered an even better date loaf recipe than the previous one I shared a little while ago and have been looking forward to showing you. I have had a couple of very special ladies test it out, as well as my family and they all gave it a big thumbs up. So it has most definately been tried and tested. And an added bonus is, it has half the sugar than my previous recipe and uses wholemeal flour. So not only does it taste great but is healthier too.
This one has 1 cup of all-bran, 1 cup milk, 1 cup dried fruit (I use just under 1 cup of chopped dates), 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 cup whole-meal self-raising flour.
Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
Mix all ingredients together in bowl and leave to sit for at least 1/2 an hour. Then pour into a lined small loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour, some ovens may take less time so check it after 40 mins.
I made this one in the early hours of the morning, before the heat set in. There is also something very lovely about baking in those early hours, when it’s quiet and cool, it almost feels like your one step ahead and it’s such a nice feeling to have something prepared before the day has even properly begun.
I have been getting some lovely cucumbers from the garden, so I decided to make some bread and butter pickles. It’s such an easy one, so if you are new to preserving it’s a great one to try. And a great addition to sandwiches, burgers or on your plate with salad and cold meat.
Simply thinly slice 1 kilo of cucumbers and 1 onion and place in a ceramic or glass bowl with 1/4 cup of salt and enough water to cover. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Strain and rinse the next day. In a pot heat 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 – 2 cups of sugar depending on how sweet you like it. Pickling spices about 1 tbsp, you can add some chilli flakes if you like. Or if you haven’t got any pickling spice a mix of mustard seed and peppercorns will do, whatever you have in your cupboard. A dash of tumeric and some sprigs of dill if you have it on hand.
Heat this mix until sugar has dissolved. Put your cucumbers and onion into hot sterilised jars, push the cucumbers down so they are packed in and pour your liquid into the jars so the cucumbers are covered and put lids on securely. As the jars cool the lids should make a pop sound as the middle part of the lid goes down. If any of them don’t you will need to either water bath them in a pot ( place jars in a pot and cover with water and simmer for at least 10mins) or alternatively store them in the fridge. Leave to pickle for 2-3 weeks before eating.
Well Autumn has arrived which means my brain is starting to imagine what seeds I’m going to start planting out and all the tidying up I need to start doing in preparation for our growing season. And there is a lot of tidying up to be done! With the extreme heat and busy days, I haven’t been in there as much and things are looking a bit crazy, but nothing a couple of days of hard work can’t sort out, and hopefully some cooler overcast days.
My favourite corn seed from Greenharvest has arrived as well as carrot and celery seed and Zaatar seed, which I don’t think I have grown before, it’s a relative of oregano. I have saved broccoli and cauliflower seed from last year and I have tomatoes constantly coming up on their own, so no need to worry about those. I will have lettuce growing, potatoes and beetroot, peas and beans. The flowers will slowly change to the cooler weather varieties as well as the herbs. As I watch my garden and see what’s germinating of it’s own accord from the seed in the soil from previous seasons, I can tell more accurately what is ready to start planting out. Our gardens have a voice if we listen closely enough!
Have a beautiful weekend and don’t forget to do your happy morning dance, even if it’s on the inside. xx